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Author Topic: Insufficient Catechism of Cradles  (Read 2475 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 11, 2007, 09:04:20 AM »

This quote was given by FrChris on another thread (Forgive me father for co-opting it)


Quote
Plus, let's face it---many Orthodox were horribly catechized. Most were unaware that there really is a palpable difference between the Church and those of other groups who yearn for the Truth but were unaware that the Spirit resides among those that society despised. So you had a terrible brew of lay ignorance and societal discouragement.
 

This is my latest beef -- the insufficient catechism of cradles such to the point that the converts know more about the faith than those with a heritge of Orthdoxy.

I run into more cradles that say "I know nothing about the Divine Liturgy" or who make no bones about Christians in other confessions. How could we evangelize Orthodoxy if we do not know the faith ourselves? Why would you want anyone to become Orthodox?

Then there's is the cop out line. Well, if we offered a Sunday School class or re-catechism no one would come. I was shocked recently when a Sunday School teacher askedthe question of her 4 - 6 year olds - - "Who knows what an icon is?"  Three out of maybe 12 kids raised their hands (I am proud to say that my daughter was one of the three who knew what an icon was."

Frankly, I find it shameful and frustrating because I wish I could shout, "You people - you're Orthodox by birth - - do you know the treasure of spirituality you have been given so much that people are converting just to get in on what you already have!

Forgive the rant.

Any thoughts

Suggestions
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007, 09:53:16 AM »

Any thoughts
Yes.
Nobody is "Orthodox by birth", and "conversion" is not something that only the non-Orthodox need to do.
"Convert" comes from the latin "convertere", meaning "to turn around". This is something we all need to do every day.
In the Septuagint and Koine Scriptures, I don't think one can find the word "convert". The word which is often translated as "convert" in the KJV etc. actually means "return" in Koine. From our perspective, "converting" to Orthodoxy is actually a "returning home"- and we all therefore need to "convert" because we all fall into sin (and sometimes heresy as well) and stray from home. And if we stray into heresy because we have not been catechized correctly, then we too are neophytes when we return home- no matter how long ago we were baptised.
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2007, 10:23:57 AM »

The need for all of us to convert should be apparent - not just in that some 'cradle' folk fall away from Orthodoxy, but in that so many 'converts' do as well. And not every convert is all that well catechized - it really depends on what the bishop expects before he'll allow reception of a convert, and whether one's priest does the job of catechism. (It also makes some difference if the priest himself has the theological training, and whether he is a sectarian - not every priest is perfect. Priests sometimes make mistakes as well, and some aren't as good at catechism - same way some aren't that great at preaching, liturgics, chanting, etc.)

It is never too late to be catechized - rather than being jealous of others, it would be better to simply dig into the depths of the Faith. Many parishes have had such demand from their members and created classes for those who need a 'refresher' or missed out on catechism growing up.
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2007, 10:50:32 AM »

I apologize if I have offended anyone. It truly was not my intent.

My statement quoted above was not meant to insult any 'cradle' (although of course all who are Orthodox are 'cradles' since we are given new life through the Church) but to describe the level of catechism in most Orthodox Churches in places like the US of about 30-40 years ago. Papist was asking why we didn't have a greater emphasis on missionizing the US or whatever country to  which the Orthodox had emigrated.

In a parallel thread discussing Episcopal-Orthodox relations as well as recieving the Eucharist in non-Orthodox churches, the practice used to be for Orthodox to receive there if no other reasonable alternative was present. I can imagine what effect this had on folks recently emigrating:

-They are likely to be having problems with language and customs in their newly adopted home;
-There likely is not an Orthodox church anyway near them or near where they have a means of transport;
-One of the few other families of similar background says 'Well, just go over to this church until another church we like better comes by';
-and then, 5 years down the road, the fact that there is a huge difference among the Church and other groups kind of gets blurred in the minds of folks who have no one else to talk to about religious matters.

In past conversations with religious educators in the GOA, 50 years ago there were no catechetical materials they could get their hands on. 40 years ago they could get some books, but often the books were low quality as well as from Europe and didn't seem to be useful. 30 years ago they could get books printed in the US in both Greek and English, but the parish emphasis wasn't so much on education as much as it was on everybody just getting along.

In my own parish, I have about 180 kids enrolled in catechism classes and/or youth groups where I work in a religious lesson. The sad thing is that this is only a fraction of the kids within the parish---some parents just are clueless, some are from Europe and just figure that the kids will absorb the lesson somehow through osmosis or whatever, and others live so far that they can't make it to church consistently, so they shrug their shoulders and say 'it can't be done'.

And I'll bet those folks wind up going to a different church local to them, perpetuating the ugly cycle.

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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2007, 11:44:41 AM »

Sadly this is a common thread between both Orthodox and Catholics.  Poor catechesis seems to be rampant in both Churches.

My daughter (age 11) converted to Catholicism at age 7.  Because of her active participation in our adult catechesis (RCIA), her active participation in the first sacraments preparation with children of her own age, our home schooling catechesis and the fact that she had reached the age of reason she was fully received into the Catholic Church and received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

A friend of hers, who is Catholic and who has received the Sacraments of First Reconciliation (Confession) and First Holy Eucharist had offered to drive her to the local parish's religious education classes.  To which my daughter replied, "Thank you for the offer.  But we do religious ed as part of my home schooling and I've already been Confirmed so I don't go to parish religious ed classes."

Her 10 year-old friend's response was, "What's 'Confirmed'?  What does that mean?"

For a ten year-old child to be unable to name the seven sacraments is a clear indication of where religious education (both in the parish and at home) has gone seriously wrong.

It is a sad state of affairs for both Churches.  One which the laity must work very hard to change.  First by educating ourselves, second by educating our children and third by volunteering our assistance to our parishes.
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2007, 11:56:00 AM »

Carole:

You seem like a good parent and will properly catechize your child at home as well as what she receives in church. Which, brings up my next rant. Catechism begins at home. I fully intend to inculcate the faith at home in my child to supplement her learning in church but I view it as my initial responsibilty.
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2007, 12:02:09 PM »

Catechism begins at home. I fully intend to inculcate the faith at home in my child to supplement her learning in church but I view it as my initial responsibilty.

As a priest, that is music to my ears! If only more folks understood things that way, instead of thinking that:

-catechism isn't something that matters; or
-catechism is too hard for anyone but experts; or
-catechism occurs without explanations; or
-catechism is only done to inculcate fear.
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2007, 12:39:20 PM »

Carole:

You seem like a good parent and will properly catechize your child at home as well as what she receives in church. Which, brings up my next rant. Catechism begins at home. I fully intend to inculcate the faith at home in my child to supplement her learning in church but I view it as my initial responsibilty.

I pray that I am a good parent - a good steward of precious soul that God has entrusted to my care. 

And on your rant - Absolutely!  It is amazing to me how much I have learned through the process of teaching my child about the faith here at home.  Of course there are always those tough questions for which I have no answer except, "Let's ask our priest about that."  Teaching my child has been my greatest learning tool.  I'm thankful for every insightful answer that has sent me scrambling for reference materials. Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2007, 01:30:00 PM »

I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's apparent the problem exists.  The disinterest and apathy I think begins with the parents, and the apple ends up not falling very far from the tree.  There are always exceptions, but I think that is the main problem.  Parents who don't care, don't attempt to learn, investigate on their own will have kids who don't get answers from them and who come to assume this type of nominal interest in the church is normal.  I think one problem is people tend to view church as a "Sunday obligation" as well, and that explains why attendance at non Sunday services is so abysmally low based on what I've seen.

Part of the blame certainly falls on churches as well, either through emphasizing things they shouldn't, or not emphasizing things they should.  I can think of a number of examples.
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2007, 11:04:12 AM »

Catechism is something I continue every day of my life. We can always learn about our faith, even if it's just keeping in touch with Orthodox news throughout the world (which happens to be my favorite topic to look in to).

I was shocked at the Bible Study class when others were brainstorming things we should discuss throughtout the year.

-What is the difference between Catholics and Orthodox?
-What does Doxology mean? (This topic went on for 2 nights, after which I found beaten it to death)
-What do the basic parts of the liturgy mean, such as the Creed.

Because I was the only convert in the class, I didn't want to reject these ideas as too basic. Nevertheless, I found myself bored to tears for the few weeks.
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2007, 03:32:02 PM »

Its where one has to be careful as a convert - best to suffer through the boredom than open one's mouth. I had a friend who was cradle Antiochian who told me one night that she felt *intimidated* by the converts: they were all running around knowing Scripture, having read all these Church Fathers and Orthodox theologians, liturgy geeks who attended services that most in her family rarely went to. Her concerns were echoed by a few other members of her parish who thought converts were 'scary'. A little bit of stress was also over cultural items the cradle Orthodox had picked up here in America from Protestant churches (Sunday school, wearing double-breasted suits, Contemporary Christian Music, Parish council wars, Protestant anti-Catholic polemics, Televangelists/Marian apparitions/Vassula Ryden, etc.) that the new converts knew were not part of the Orthodox faith, and often rejected as baggage from Protestantism. After all, every adult convert has a specific list as well as all encompassing statements of rejection of error they must make - as well as statements about what they submit to in Orthodoxy (it wouldn't hurt for those baptized as children were aware of what all is included and rejected in those services - I'm making sure my little cradle Orthodox children do.)

 So, their Orthodoxy might not be the Orthodoxy that their ancestors had in the Old World, but they wouldn't know it - what they have in their American parishes is all they've known (as well as what they've picked up from attending Episcopal, Methodist, Catholic/Maronite, Presbyterian, Baptist churches.) That's besides all the stuff about converts who try to coopt the heritage of their new parish, and get neck-deep into ethnic folklore, politics, or much else that the folk raised in that culture are likely not to care about or even be aware of anymore.
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2007, 04:13:28 PM »

Catechism begins at home. I fully intend to inculcate the faith at home in my child to supplement her learning in church but I view it as my initial responsibilty.

My wife and I are well aware that we have an amazing responsibility on our hands, one for which we pray daily for grace from God to accomplish, since we haven't the slightest idea how it's "traditionally gone about," if at all: we are two converts raising a cradle...soon to be TWO cradles, Lord willing...and thankfully there are some cradle families who've done a fantastic job catechizing their little ones, but...my goodness.  What a task that will be.

Aserb, your feelings really resonate with me, and I'm so glad to hear this.  I also echo ozgeorge in that we ALL are supposed to be "converts" to faith in Christ.

I suppose our initial catechism is daily prayers at home (evening and -- when time permits -- morning, though the latter will increase with wifey staying home next year), along with "Who is that?" or "What's Father got?" kind of questions during liturgy -- Hope knows when "Fada Babu" (Father Basil) brings out the "Boo" that has the stories about "Jee-Jee" in it...

...We're working on it...
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2007, 09:12:35 PM »

I have enjoyed reading many of your replies. My post initially began as a rant. A rant that stems from concern. You see, I was raised by a cradle Orthodox and learned zip, nada, nyet about the Orthodox faith. It is my belief, and who knows, that had I had a better catechial upbringing that I would have never strayed for 20+ years into the desert of Evangelicalism. Yet, the Evangelicals were more than willing to inculcate me and anyone else into the faith with a zeal that shames Orthodox. If Orthodox do not inculcate their children, if there is nothing special about Orthodoxy and people jsut rely on "tradition" (with a little "t") to keep children then why be Orthodox. Taken to the extreme - why be a Christian. (I am ranting again - someone stop me.)  Embarrassed
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2007, 09:32:35 PM »

The answer our priest gives us is that we all must be serious about our faith: attending services, studying the Scriptures, reading the Fathers and Lives of the Saints, praying at home, and living morally according to the teaching and canons of the Church. I'm sure that most clergy would be glad to catechize if folk ask. Most clergy would be *thrilled* if people simply showed up to the services, let alone classes.

That zeal for teaching - that's not distinctively Evangelical. It is Orthodox as well - just not the proselytizing. As we do, simply let folk know we are here - those who come are led by the Holy Spirit, they are responding to God's Will. We evangelize those folk, rather than unwelcome striving with others to change their minds and hearts that don't want to change.

And again - I don't know of one Orthodox priest who is happy with just nominal Orthodox parishioners. If they love their people, they wish all of them would take their faith seriously enough to apply to worship, prayer and study within the life of the Church.
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2007, 10:10:39 PM »

aserb and Carole - I don't care whether you are Orthodox or Roman Catholic (and each of you are obviously one or the other- dah, I wonder which?). But you both make the heart of Jesus sing I believe. Many blessings on your both!
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2007, 08:37:59 AM »

...the Evangelicals were more than willing to inculcate me and anyone else into the faith with a zeal that shames Orthodox. If Orthodox do not inculcate their children, if there is nothing special about Orthodoxy and people jsut rely on "tradition" (with a little "t") to keep children then why be Orthodox. Taken to the extreme - why be a Christian. (I am ranting again - someone stop me.)  Embarrassed

Take a breath, brother.  Smiley  Again, I really identify with your frustration.  I'll just echo my priest here, who was counseling me when I was ranting about many of the same things (still do, at times, but still).  He told me that lots of people talk about "The Church needs to do this" or "that," and he just tells them to "be the change they want to see in the Church."

That, of course, will lead to the clashing together with other people in the Church, but that's how we living stones get banged together in order to be able to fit into the House of God (paraphrase of Hopko).

Frustrating?  Undoubtedly.  But you can make things different in your house, and that light shining out in your parish may, if God wills, reach out to others.
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2007, 08:31:14 AM »

DavidBryan:

Excellent answer. I find however, that this works better in my immediate family as we are in daily contact. I ddi not mean to imply that all cradles had an insufficient catechism. I find that some of the older parishonres (60+ years) may have had a better catechism. I catch them mouthing the words and hymns in the liturgy or outright singing and chanting with the cantor/choir in two languages.

But there is so much to know, such a feast in Orthodoxy. Where do you begin. Even in mu current frustration which is that many do not understand the meaning of the Divine Liturgy, I realize that I do not understand it totaly. Books I have found on the Divine Liturgy are either etherial tomes or oversimplifications. Sigh!  Embarrassed
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« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2007, 09:37:52 PM »

I don't want to belabor this topic.  But I think that it is we should never underestimate the INTRINSIC VALUE of being "cradle" orthodox.  My father, who is a priest and theologian, tried to teach my brother and I TONS OF STUFF about Orthodoxy.  We never cared to really pay attention. 

When I went to seminary I thought that I would be WAAAAAY behind because I never spent serious time studying.  However, I saw more and more in class that I just intrinsically knew answers to really academic questions.  I had never picked up a theological text outside of scripture (which I read rarely anyway).  Yet, I had answers about deeply academic questions regarding the 7 Ecumenica Councils, etc.  How?  I firmly believe because of the INTRINSIC knowledge that was instilled in me just by going to church and being part of that life. 

Take it for what its worth... Wink
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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2007, 09:46:43 PM »

I don't want to belabor this topic.  But I think that it is we should never underestimate the INTRINSIC VALUE of being "cradle" orthodox.  My father, who is a priest and theologian, tried to teach my brother and I TONS OF STUFF about Orthodoxy.  We never cared to really pay attention. 

When I went to seminary I thought that I would be WAAAAAY behind because I never spent serious time studying.  However, I saw more and more in class that I just intrinsically knew answers to really academic questions.  I had never picked up a theological text outside of scripture (which I read rarely anyway).  Yet, I had answers about deeply academic questions regarding the 7 Ecumenica Councils, etc.  How?  I firmly believe because of the INTRINSIC knowledge that was instilled in me just by going to church and being part of that life. 

Take it for what its worth... Wink

Here is (sorta) a second.  I was 11 (or 12?) when my family converted, so I have called myself "psuedo-cradle" before (it was 20 years earlier this year).  I have sung in the choir for about 14 years now at least and echo similar comments.  I try to make it to most services and they have been in English for the most part.  My praxis has been similar - weak as the above - something I struggle with, but I still go to church.  I sing in two different Men's Slavonic choirs (all Slavonic) through two other churches.  After a Vigil we sang, one of the singers (a cradle), asked me if my dad was a priest or if I had gone to seminary (no to both) because I seemed to know the service so well.  Well, I just like music and like to sing and try to pay attention to the texts of what I'm singing.  It is powerful stuff!
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« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2007, 09:52:24 PM »

I don't want to belabor this topic.  But I think that it is we should never underestimate the INTRINSIC VALUE of being "cradle" orthodox.  My father, who is a priest and theologian, tried to teach my brother and I TONS OF STUFF about Orthodoxy.  We never cared to really pay attention. 

When I went to seminary I thought that I would be WAAAAAY behind because I never spent serious time studying.  However, I saw more and more in class that I just intrinsically knew answers to really academic questions.  I had never picked up a theological text outside of scripture (which I read rarely anyway).  Yet, I had answers about deeply academic questions regarding the 7 Ecumenica Councils, etc.  How?  I firmly believe because of the INTRINSIC knowledge that was instilled in me just by going to church and being part of that life. 

Take it for what its worth... Wink

Makes sense.  I can still name off papal bulls and explain Roman Catholic doctrine just from being around my Nonna a lot when I was younger (my parents are not overly devout Roman Catholics) and going to Church, which came in handy at a Roman Catholic Elementary School and High School.  Well, in religions classes at least.  Tongue  And it is still coming in handy, there have been a lot of Serbs at the Church I go to ask me about the things "Croats believe".   LoL  Tongue  Obviously, both cradle and converts bring something to the Church, neither should be looked down upon.  My fiancee has taught me a lot about the Orthodox Church and various Serbian Orthodox traditions, while she has learned things about Orthodoxy from me as well (which I learned from her Priest).
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« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2007, 09:56:43 PM »

 And it is still coming in handy, there have been a lot of Serbs at the Church I go to ask me about the things "Croats believe".   LoL  Tongue  

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sounds like something I would do!  Honestly thought, what DO they believe?  I've always been afraid to ask.  I usually just try to pit them with "all other RC's" and just leave it so that I don't have to try to figure out how they rationalize everything.   Wink Tongue
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« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2007, 10:14:36 PM »

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sounds like something I would do!  Honestly thought, what DO they believe?  I've always been afraid to ask.  I usually just try to pit them with "all other RC's" and just leave it so that I don't have to try to figure out how they rationalize everything.   Wink Tongue

LOL!  Pretty much a very ethnocentric version of Roman Catholicism.  Vatican City is in the heart of Rome but I have never witnessed a 'version' of Roman Catholicism like that of ethnic Croats from Italians.  Oh, I have gotten some fun questions, especially from the elderly age bracket.   Tongue  "Roman Catholic? Ustasha?"  Which was odd since one of the Priest was actually baptised Orthodox but raised Roman Catholic.  They are a great bunch and I love explaining things *strokes ego*, though it was hard explaining why I didn't go to an "Italian Orthodox Church".
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