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Author Topic: How long does it take?  (Read 2282 times) Average Rating: 0
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texasgypsy
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« on: December 06, 2007, 05:24:27 AM »

I have been a seeker and an inquirer for going on 2 years now.  Family issues hold me back (14 year-old beautiful and wellbeloved daughter who is involved in every program and aspect of our Methodist church. Husband agnostic.  Me, I've grown dissatisfied with a social club  church that is admittedly filled with good works towards widows, orphans, prisoners, sick, you name it.  But somehow worship is being shorted.

I even find myself  dreaming (at night) about the Orthodox church, the incense, the reverence, the awe and silence... But that's my heart. My mind gets caught up in one argument after another.  Major problems with the Theotokos.  I told a priest, I just can't pray, I mean I just can't do it, to a saint or Mary or anybody else but the Almighty God.  It says in Isaiah somewhere, "My glory I Will not give to another."   HOW can I take a chance on displeasing Him? 

And if I did make the leap here, what about those widows, orphans, prisoners, and sick?  I don't see the big outreaches happening in the Orthodox churches like they should be, but this is just my perception.  Convince me if I'm wrong.  God knows, I want to be convinced.

I can't just call up a busy overworked priest every day and quiz him about the Orthodox church.  So I'm reading all I can, because I want to KNOW... What does God require of me...

Question:  My life seems to have been a dismal failure up to now... If I embraced Orthodoxy, would there be fruit in my life?  Or would I just end up joining another social club?   

THank you for your charity and patience, and, ah, gentleness.
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Carole
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2007, 10:20:05 AM »

Texasgypsy -

I am Roman Catholic seeking Orthodoxy and have not yet made the "leap of faith" that I know is required of me.  So you can take my words as worth exactly what you're paying for them.  But here they are anyway.

You wrote:

Quote
I can't just call up a busy overworked priest every day and quiz him about the Orthodox church.  So I'm reading all I can, because I want to KNOW... What does God require of me...

No.  Of course you cannot call him every day.  But you can call him.  Make a series of regular appointments to discuss this if you must.  I have found, personally, that reading is wonderful and helpful, but it is no replacement for the personal counsel of a priest.

You also wrote

Quote
Question:  My life seems to have been a dismal failure up to now... If I embraced Orthodoxy, would there be fruit in my life?  Or would I just end up joining another social club?

That depends largely on you.  If you truly and fully embrace Orthodoxy then you will  not end up joining "just another social club."  But our faith is like nearly everything else in life, what you get out of it depends in great measure on what you put into it.  If you are Orthodox in name only, meaning that you claim to be Orthodox and you attend Divine Liturgy and call it a day, making no efforts toward prayer and fasting then you likely won't see much fruit in your life.  But if you truly embrace Orthodoxy because you feel that it is a whole and right faith, engaging as fully as you are able at any given time in the praxis of the Orthodox Church then you likely will see fruit.

How long does it take?  I've seen the question asked here a number of times (in reading the archives) and in general the answers boil down to the same idea ... It takes as long as it takes.  The journey is different for every person.
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2007, 10:40:09 AM »

Dear Texasgipsy,

I can relate. Even though I was not brought up in a Christian family (rather, in a non-religious secular humanist one), I had my share of being associated with a modernist "liberal" Protestant church. Like you, I, too, felt an acute spiritual void there, because, all those wonderful charities nonwithstanding, it WAS, indeed, a social club and not Church.

Also, like your spouse, my spouse is non-religious, indifferent to religion of any kind, a self-proclaimed agnostic (albeit a cradle Orthodox, baptized and chrismated in her infancy).

I think you should just start attending Divine Liturgies as regularly as you possibly can. That should solve everything!

About the Most Holy Theotokos - we do not worship her, so there is no issue of sharing God's glory with somebody else. She is not a "goddeess," she is completely human, but the first human person in the long procession of saints who lead us, sinners, to heaven. In our prayers, we do not worship her as "goddes" but, rather, communicate with her (because we believe that she is very much alive and watches us and is continuously talking to her Son about us!), ask her for protection and intercession.

My all best wishes to you,

George
« Last Edit: December 06, 2007, 10:40:52 AM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2007, 11:02:41 PM »

Dear Texasgypsy:

Quote
I have been a seeker and an inquirer for going on 2 years now.

Have you taken any opportunities to visit an Orthodox Church for Vespers or any other services?  If only occasionally, perhaps you could start making at least Vespers a regular part of your spiritual journey.

Quote
Family issues hold me back (14 year-old beautiful and wellbeloved daughter who is involved in every program and aspect of our Methodist church.

This is a very significant issue and to be perfectly honest, one that I don't think I would rock the boat with.  If your daughter is involved in church, let her remain so.  She is at a vulnerable age.  You want her to remain on solid ground with which she is familiar.  Let her keep her involvement with the programs and worship services.  Though it may seem largely social, and it probably is, that's okay IMHO. 

If you were to make Orthodox services a regular part of your life, would your husband be willing to make sure your daughter got to her programs and services at the Methodist Church?  That may be a potential solution.

Quote
Major problems with the Theotokos.  I told a priest, I just can't pray, I mean I just can't do it, to a saint or Mary or anybody else but the Almighty God.  It says in Isaiah somewhere, "My glory I Will not give to another."   HOW can I take a chance on displeasing Him?

You are right, you can't take a chance at displeasing Him.  I don't think that by respecting and honoring His Mother, you would be displeasing Him.  If anything, you would be showing Him honor.  Imagine how you feel when someone shows respect and honor to your mother.  As for praying to the Saints, I am sure that you ask others in the church (militant) to pray for you.  I am positive you've asked your friends to pray for your daughter and your husband.  Right?  Asking a Saint to pray for you before the Throne of Grace is just asking another person in the church (triumphant) to pray for you.  They, after all, are in heaven with God, which is where we all hope to be too.   Smiley

Quote
And if I did make the leap here, what about those widows, orphans, prisoners, and sick?  I don't see the big outreaches happening in the Orthodox churches like they should be, but this is just my perception.  Convince me if I'm wrong.  God knows, I want to be convinced.

It is true, you won't see BIG outreaches in the Orthodox Church.  At least not like you see in some of the mega-Protestant churches.  But what you will see is the little outreaches which ripple out like when a pebble is thrown into a pond.  And those ripples spread far and wide.  It is seen in all the little things we do for one another:  pray, cook a meal for someone who is sick, bringing the neighbor's trash can up to their garage door after it is left laying in the middle of the street, shoveling the neighbor's walk, and the list goes on, and on and on.

Quote
I can't just call up a busy overworked priest every day and quiz him about the Orthodox church.

Oh sure you can!  Of course you can!  Maybe not every day, but at least every day of the first week till you get to talk to him and set up a regularly scheduled monthly chat-fest!

Quote
So I'm reading all I can, because I want to KNOW... What does God require of me...

Micah 6:8 "To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."  [paraphrase mine]   The justice and kindness part can be easily seen by many.  You mention it in the ministries of your Methodist church.  But what about the humbly part?  That's harder to see because it's not so much "in the face" as the other ones.  The humbly part is the little pebble in the pond.  It's the trash can thing.  It's the meal thing.  Ya know what I mean?

Quote
Question:  My life seems to have been a dismal failure up to now... If I embraced Orthodoxy, would there be fruit in my life?  Or would I just end up joining another social club?
 

Well Texasgypsy (sorry, don't know your name), you may very well be joining another social club to a certain extent.  But would their be fruit in your life?  I cannot judge that.  I can only speak to my own experience.  Whether there is fruit is not for me to say but I can assure you my spiritual life is beyond anything I had ever imagined possible.  God has blessed me in ways that I cannot put into words. 

Quote
Thank you for your charity and patience, and, ah, gentleness.

You are more than welcome!  Keep asking.  Keep talking.  Keep praying.  God has brought you this far.  He surely will not abandon you now!

Sincerely in Christ,
Trudy (Athanasia)

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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2007, 03:48:11 PM »

On the outreach side, I would recommend you look at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, the IOCC and for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Philoptochos, which is one of the largest women's organizations in the U.S., but largely unknown, I think.  They just quietly go about their charitable works.

As others have noted, and as I have experienced for the brief time I've been Orthodox, the members of the Church are never slow to respond to a need.

As for the time, others have it right.  Take the time.  God will work it out with you.  It took me close to 14 years to convert from the Episcopal Church, and the only "problem" I had was a lack of willingness to leave what was comfortable.  Yet, the Lord was patient nonetheless.

As for the Theotokos, I have to say I now feel a deeper love for her than ever I did as an "AngloCatholic," and yet as my love for her grows, my love for our Lord and Savior grows even more (at the same time, I realize how truly far away I am from loving him as I ought).
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2007, 05:58:07 PM »

Every Sunday after Divine Liturgy there is a meal for everyone. After that meal is over, the people in our parish make dozens upon dozens of sandwiches to take to a local shelter. The women of the parish make blankets for the needy. There are plenty of charitable works in orthodox churches. The WONDERFUL part is that they don't feel the need to advertise that they do so. I grew up very protestant. And everytime we did "good works" we felt the need to shout it fromthe roof tops. It is so different to see people simply do it, without wanting recognition that they are doing it. If one came to the meal after Divine Liturgy and left before everyone else did, you would never know what they are doing.

I would suggest that you buy or check out some books from the library. We always hear about "the communion of the saints." But in actuality, those that have gone before us are NOT dead. They are more alive than you or I. It is really a wonderful thing when you look into it. I understand the reluctance, I really do, but once you really find out what it means, you just can't understand.

EVERYTHING that I have learned about Orthodoxy interconnects so deeply. If I were to find out bits and pieces alone it would make no sense. Much like if you have a 1,000 piece puzzle and you look at a handful of random pieces in your hand it appears as gobbly-gook. Or you can make some sense out of it, but once you have it all together it means SO MUCH MORE than those individual pieces do.

I wish you well on your journey. I am right there with you.
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2007, 10:15:23 PM »

I'll just add: it took me a decade to "get it" about the Theotokos.  And that came about arguing with a muslim. Shocked

Look at the honor given to the Temple at Jerusalem.  The Apostles themselves saw the Lord's devotion to it: "Zeal for Thy House will consume me." (John 3:17).  It is the same with the Theotoks, which is why Elizabeth, when the Holy Spirit filled her, cried out "Blessed are you among women" to the Theotokos.
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texasgypsy
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2007, 09:44:13 PM »

I am very grateful and humbled by the excellent insights and advice you all have taken the time to provide. I'm still trying to get the nerve up to call a priest and actually bring up the C word (catechuman/convert). Again, these viewpoints were exactly what I have been wanting to look into... I do want to mention one thing.  I said my life seems to have been a dismal failure, but I was feeling kind of depressed, and I do believe only God is properly able to make such a judgment.

I'll be back...
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007, 11:36:48 AM »

Welcome  Texas Gypsy to the Convert Issues Forum.  As a fellow Texan who converted to the Orthodox Church, I had a rather rambling trip here that took me from the Methodist Church, The Mormon Church, and the Epsiciopalian Church before I came home to Orthodoxy over 20 years ago. My wife and I have never been more spiritually filled than in the Orthodox Church.  I hope that we at OC,net can assist you in your journey. The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are ignorant of Orthodox teachings and are using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. Due to the simplicity of many of their requests and responses, direct and simple answers with sources if possible are most helpful.

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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2007, 06:04:11 PM »

Like others have said, it takes the time that it takes. I grew up protestant, and after college was feeling that something was missing. I wanted to know more about the "forgotten" history of the church. I wanted to find authentic worship. I was looking for the "first century church." A serious boyfriend of mine was on a similar search. It was through him that I first read orthodox theology (Fr. Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World). That relationship did not last, but my interest in Orthodoxy did. What followed was almost 2 years of reading before I got up enough courage to call the local priest and drag my best friend (or maybe we dragged each other!) to our first Vespers.

I still remember that night. I remember thinking "I'll go, but I'm not kissing any icon, and I'm not going to cross myself." I also remember being quite resistant to the Theotokos, and what I was certain amoutned to worship of her. But we went, and took our questions. And we kept going--even after I had a major nosebleed in the middle of communion during my first Divine Liturgy!

My major questions were answered, and my qualms dwindled. My best friend (EofK) and I were baptized and chrismated on August 19,2006.  For us, we were catuchumens for about 8 months. However, I'd been in the process of becoming orthodox for almost three years at that point.

So again to my point: it takes the time it takes. Ask questions--not only of the local priest, but of people here, and those friendly people at your local parish. My priest, Fr. Andrew, is fantastic. However, he isn't the only source of wisdom around me. I've learned so much from so many people at my parish--not the least of which is my godmother.

Well, there you have a very long answer to your succinct question.  Wink
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2007, 08:31:05 PM »

This is a very common yet interesting question.

For instance, we have a woman who happens to be Lutheran who comes to Sunday Liturgy pretty much every week and she has been doing this for the past 20 or so years.  We treat her like one of the family at church and never bring up the subject of conversion. We figure if she does it it will have to be her decision not by any coersion by us.  "How long does it take" can vary from say 1 year to the example I state above.  She may never convert but she does come to Liturgy nontheless.  The Priest will know when someone is ready.  They seem to have a knack to knowing these things. There are outward signs of interest in conversion but this alone is not sufficient. You will know when it becomes serious enough for a priest to have a sit-down and discuss matters. 
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