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Author Topic: Questions about nature and duration of the Catechumenate  (Read 8032 times) Average Rating: 0
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athanasios2
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« on: July 13, 2008, 08:49:49 PM »

What usually happens if someone dies while a catechumen? I thought I knew the answer to this, but at least in our parish, it turns out that I was wrong. I don't actually expect to die anytime soon, but I am a catechumen, and so the subject is naturally of interest to me. Besides, any one of us my die unexpectedly at any time.

This came up because my 93 year old father, who lives with us, and is still an Episcopalian, went to the Divine Liturgy with us this morning, and asked our priest what would happen if he were to start regularly coming with us; but were to die before even becoming a catechumen. The answer to that was what I expected, which is that only an Orthodox christian can have an Orthodox burial. That prompted my wife to ask about what would happen if someone were to die while a catechumen. The answer to that one did surprise me. A catechumen can't be given an Orthodox burial either!!

I was surprised because I've read in a couple places that catechumens are to receive an Orthodox burial. At the moment I can only think of where one of those is, and that's the entry on the catechumenate in the Orthodox Wiki. Of course that is a pan Orthodox source, and doesn't indicate what the policy of any specific jurisdiction may be. The other reason is that my wife's sister and brother-in-law are ROCOR, and they seem certain that a catechumen would be able to have an Orthodox burial. Since it's natural to assume that ROCOR will be more strict than the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that made it seem likely that if ROCOR does it, then GOARCH would. Or course they could have been wrong about ROCOR.

Anyway, that makes me wonder what usually occurs if a catechumen dies? That also brings up the question of how long does the catechumenate usually last? My wife and I have only been officially catechumens for a couple months, so I'm not saying that that's too long. After all in the early church, the catechumenate usually lasted for 3 years. But I do wonder what the duration usually is now.

In our case, we have been thinking and reading about the Orthodox Church for many years; and finally made our decision about 10 months ago. By the time we started attending the Divine Liturgy at our Greek Orthodox parish we were already convinced about Orthodoxy, and if it had been up to us; we probably would have become catechumens much sooner than we did.

I felt that it was important to ignore the American tendency to want instant gratification, and to wait for God's timing, and to accept our priest's opinion about when it was God's timing. I still think that way about chrismation too. I think that way, but at the moment I don't exactly feel that way. I guess I just realized that I'm further outside the Church that I thought I was; and it was a bit of a shock. I'm not exactly afraid of dying, but I am afraid of dying outside the Church.

Sorry to ramble on so long, but I can't discuss it with our priest at present, since he's on his way to the Archdiocesan Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, and will be on vacation for a week after that.
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2008, 09:04:26 PM »

That's a good question. I think it would be very nice if a catechumen would be able to receive an Orthodox funeral in the event of his/her repose. What happens if an infant born to Orthodox parents  passes away before he/she is baptised?

My catechumenate was very informal and lasted but a few months (2-3?). I really wish it had been much longer.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2008, 09:04:58 PM »

This came up because my 93 year old father, who lives with us, and is still an Episcopalian, went to the Divine Liturgy with us this morning, and asked our priest what would happen if he were to start regularly coming with us; but were to die before even becoming a catechumen. The answer to that was what I expected, which is that only an Orthodox christian can have an Orthodox burial. That prompted my wife to ask about what would happen if someone were to die while a catechumen. The answer to that one did surprise me. A catechumen can't be given an Orthodox burial either!!
Weird!  I'd always been told that even a catechumen IS given an Orthodox funeral and burial.  We do, after all, have specific prayers for the catechumens in our Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2008, 09:08:32 PM »

What do you consider a catechmate? Some one that is going thru the classes, or someone that is about to be baptized. Our family was enrolled into the catechumate at the begining of Lent and then baptized on Lazarus Saturday. Some one just going to classes would be considered an "inquirer" wouldn't they?
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2008, 09:16:20 PM »

What do you consider a catechmate? Some one that is going thru the classes, or someone that is about to be baptized. Our family was enrolled into the catechumate at the begining of Lent and then baptized on Lazarus Saturday. Some one just going to classes would be considered an "inquirer" wouldn't they?
I believe so.  I often confused "inquirer" with "catechumen" when I was a naïve inquirer myself.  Now I understand that the Church reserves the term "catechumen" only for those who have been properly catechized and have made their commitment to being received into the Church known by being enrolled formally into the catechumenate.  Such persons the Church will bury in an Orthodox manner, while she will not grant an Orthodox burial to mere inquirers.
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2008, 09:21:06 PM »

athanasios2,

I'm sure that when my husband and I were catechumens we were told that if either of us should die before making it into the Church, we would receive an Orthodox funeral. Perhaps you might like to clarify this with your bishop, if that is possible.

Quinault,

A catechumen is one who has had the catechumen prayers said over them in Church. I understand that takes place once an inquirer is committed to conversion, but still going through the catechumenate. At least, that has been my experience and the experience of my children who followed us into the Church.
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2008, 09:39:45 PM »

Catechumens are understood to be Christians upon beginning their catechumenate, and should they die before baptism, they are traditionally given an Orthodox funeral.  In order to become a Catechumen however, you must go beyond the phase of just inquiring about the faith.

In order to  be a true catechumen you must go through the service of the Catechumen.

The Sacrament of Baptism is divided into two distinctive services. The first service takes place in the Narthex of the Church and is known as The Service of the Catechumen. For infants this service is combined with the Service of Baptism and usually done at the same time and same day.  However for Adults it is held in Antiochian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, and the OCA as a seperate service done once the inquirer has determined and committed to go into full catechism with eventual baptism or chrismation.

It is this service of the Catechumen that allows a person to be actually called a catechumen and thus eligible to be buried as an Orthodox Christian.

This service, usually takes place in the Narthex of the church and has as several very improtant points within it:
1) first, three prayers of exorcism are read, asking God to “empower,” the Catechumen, “to triumph over Satan and his vile spirits so that having found mercy with You, (God), they may be found worthy of Your immortal, heavenly mysteries and offer up glory to You O God….”
2)The Priest then asks God to bless the Catechumen with a guardian angel to guide, guard and protect them all the days of their life. This is followed by a dialogue between the Priest (representing the Church) and Catechumen 3) The dialogue begins with the Catechumen's backs to the altar and the questions “Do you renounce Satan…?” and “Have you renounced Satan?” The questions and answers “I renounce him” and “I have renounced him” are repeated three times. These statements of repentance are followed by the instructions to the Catechumen to go out the front door of the church and to “blow and spit upon him (Satan).” With this act of defiance of ‘spitting on the devil’ the Catechumen the stands with his/her back to the front door and is facing towards the altar (towards God) and continues the dialogue.

“Do you join yourself to Christ?” “Have you joined yourself to Christ?” The questions are once again asked three times, and responded to three times, with the following confession of faith: “I do join myself to Christ” “I have joined myself to Christ.” A final question is asked, “And do you believe in Him” and answered “I believe in Him as King and as God.” The caechumen, their sponsor, and often the congregation recites the Creed paying further witness to the faith and teachings of the Church.

At this point they are called a Catechumen. A catechumen is defined as “one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in the Church. As such the catechumen attends Church services and special education calsses as they proceed to further illumination until they are then allowed to be baptized and chrismated or in the case of oeconomia being granted chrismated when the priest/bishop deem them ready to enter into full communion.

I do have to note that while the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Russan Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church in America  practice this, to my experience the Greek Orthodox Church does not seprate the two services and performs them all at once meaning that the Church that you are now attending would not see your father as a Catechumen unless he dropped dead between the Catechumen service and the Service of Baptism being held on the same day. It is important to note that if your father was an inquirer in the Greek Orthodox Church , the priest would  most likely perform and emergency baptism for your father.

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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2008, 09:47:52 PM »

My catechumenate was very informal and lasted but a few months (2-3?). I really wish it had been much longer.

2 years was just right for my wife and I!  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2008, 10:01:08 PM »

I felt that it was important to ignore the American tendency to want instant gratification, and to wait for God's timing, and to accept our priest's opinion about when it was God's timing.

Excellent!

I guess I just realized that I'm further outside the Church that I thought I was; and it was a bit of a shock. I'm not exactly afraid of dying, but I am afraid of dying outside the Church.

My priest used this analogy when my wife and I were first catechized:
"Before, you were just lost in the wilderness.  Now, you can see and are are headed towards the fortress of the Church.  You're not officially inside, but you are approaching the doors."

God only holds us accountable with what we've been given.  Make the most of what you have, and don't worry about what you don't yet fully possess.

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted can also be trusted with much."
(Luke 16:10)
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2008, 10:20:52 PM »

What do you consider a catechmate? Some one that is going thru the classes, or someone that is about to be baptized. Our family was enrolled into the catechumate at the begining of Lent and then baptized on Lazarus Saturday. Some one just going to classes would be considered an "inquirer" wouldn't they?

We have gone through the classes, and have been through the liturgy for making catechumens.

I believe so.  I often confused "inquirer" with "catechumen" when I was a naïve inquirer myself.  Now I understand that the Church reserves the term "catechumen" only for those who have been properly catechized and have made their commitment to being received into the Church known by being enrolled formally into the catechumenate.  Such persons the Church will bury in an Orthodox manner, while she will not grant an Orthodox burial to mere inquirers.

Exactly. I never thought inquirers could receive an Orthodox Burial, but we are people who have made our commitment to the Orthodox Church and have gone through the service making us catechumens. Everyone here seems to have the same understanding that I had prior to today as to whether such people are considered Orthodox Christans and can receive an Orthodox burial in the event that they repose before chrismation.

As I said, I don't want to rush God's timing, or rebel against the authority of my spiritual father; but both my wife and I would have already been chrismated if it were up to us. Now I find myself feeling like I want to rush, and get our priest to hurry up. Of course I won't actually try to do that (it wouldn't do any good if I did anyway) but I'd sure like to.
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2008, 11:04:47 PM »

Catechumens are understood to be Christians upon beginning their catechumenate, and should they die before baptism, they are traditionally given an Orthodox funeral.  In order to become a Catechumen however, you must go beyond the phase of just inquiring about the faith.

In order to  be a true catechumen you must go through the service of the Catechumen.
......................

I do have to note that while the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Russan Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church in America  practice this, to my experience the Greek Orthodox Church does not seprate the two services and performs them all at once meaning that the Church that you are now attending would not see your father as a Catechumen unless he dropped dead between the Catechumen service and the Service of Baptism being held on the same day. It is important to note that if your father was an inquirer in the Greek Orthodox Church , the priest would  most likely perform and emergency baptism for your father.

Thomas

My wife and I have been through the service of the Catechumen. I don't know about other Greek Orthodox Parishes, but in ours the making of a catechumen is definitely separate from baptism/chrismation.

My question has to do with whether catechumens like us are able to have an Orthodox burial in the event of reposing before chrismation, and not with my father's status; since I wouldn't even call him an enquirer at this point. I would love for him to become Orthodox; but at the rate he makes decisions, if he lived to be a hundred, he'd still be thinking about it.

On the one hand, I don't expect to die before being chrismated, but on the other hand; I'm 56, I have occasional chest pain if I exercise vigorously, and in the last couple weeks two friends of friends (who were a good 10 years younger than me) have suddenly had heart attacks and died. All these thing coming together have this seeming like bigger issue to me than it otherwise would.
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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2008, 08:09:28 PM »

As a member of the GOA, I am 100% sure that Catechumens, who have explicitly accepted Orthodoxy, are given both an Orthodox funeral and burial. Send your bishop an e-mail if you're concerned that your priest may not fulfill this obligation, though.
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2008, 10:10:28 PM »

As a member of the GOA, I am 100% sure that Catechumens, who have explicitly accepted Orthodoxy, are given both an Orthodox funeral and burial. Send your bishop an e-mail if you're concerned that your priest may not fulfill this obligation, though.

That's good to hear. Now that I'm over feeling upset, I'm inclined to just not worry about it. In the unlikely event that one of us were to die before chrismation, the surviving spouse can contact the Bishop if necessary. When the Bishop is a Metropolitan with a lot of territory to cover, it seems inappropriate to bother him with a concern about an unlikely event.

By the way, I really love and respect our priest; and I really would rather have him be strict and theologically conservative than be too loose and liberal. Having come from the Episcopal Church, I really appreciate the fact that the Orthodox Church (which I now realize IS the Church) has remained true to the faith of the apostles.

Thank you all very much for the replies.
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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2008, 10:40:27 PM »

My catechumenate was very informal and lasted but a few months (2-3?). I really wish it had been much longer.
This is a very troubling topic (that of a short catechumenate.)  I have a feeling (very little concrete evidence) that people are being baptized/chrismated without a long enough catechumenate.  There are a lot of questions being asked on this very forum, by Orthodox Christians, about topics that should have been addressed and memorized during their catechumenate (I guilty of this very thing.)  I can't decide if our churches are doing a poor job, or if our societies are simply too powerful and persausive.  Orthodox Christians of past centuries knew their faith inside and out and they fought and died for it or were imprisoned.  These days we seem to have a 'live and let live' attitude where we have atheist slogans memorized and happily quote them but are completely ignorant of the Lives of the Saints-.  Modernism and it's cousin Ecumenism are literally eating away at the minds of the faithful like a cancer.  I don't mean to sound alarmist (though we do need a wake-up call), nor do I mean to sound as if I'm condemning any one in particular for I'm just as guilty.  Lastly, I apologize for hijacking this thread.  Maybe it's a topic for another thread?
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« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2008, 10:47:37 PM »

Orthodox Christians of past centuries knew their faith inside and out and they fought and died for it or were imprisoned.
And yet, how many Orthodox fled society for the deserts and forests because of the laxness they saw overtake the Church after the reign of Constantine?
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« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2008, 10:59:30 PM »

Gabriel; do you mean a short "inquirer" phase?

The typical length of being an inquirer at my parish is 1-2 years. The typical length of being a catechumate is about 4-6 weeks.
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2008, 11:02:46 PM »

My family and I were brought in lightening fast. But we are an EXTREME exception in our parish, our priest NEVER does this. And he only did so after consulting with us and others. I would rather we were not brought in early, because I would rather that the reason we were brought in early did not exist (my husbands deployment). And we all fully intend to still be active in reading and going to classes. (Well my kids won't be, they are to young for concepts like theosis).
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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2008, 11:14:15 PM »

My priest didn't even want to wait 2 months to baptize me. He wanted to baptize me immediately upon my request-with NO instruction. I was terrified and begged to have more time. Thus it came about that I hadn't even heard of the term "theosis" when I was received into the Church. Sigh. I guess infants haven't heard of it either, so I was in good company.
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2008, 11:17:39 PM »

Gabriel; do you mean a short "inquirer" phase?

The typical length of being an inquirer at my parish is 1-2 years. The typical length of being a catechumate is about 4-6 weeks.

A catechumen is exceptionally different than a mere inquirer.  A catechumen has declared his/her desire to unite themselves to the Church whereas an inquirer is simply curious and not necessarily interested in joining.  A great book on this very topic is Of Water & the Spirit; A Liturgical Study of Baptism by Alexander Schmemann.
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2008, 11:20:15 PM »

My priest didn't even want to wait 2 months to baptize me. He wanted to baptize me immediately upon my request-with NO instruction. I was terrified and begged to have more time. Thus it came about that I hadn't even heard of the term "theosis" when I was received into the Church.
Truly, this is a dreadful shame and very serious problem in the Church.
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2008, 11:30:21 PM »

My wife and I have been through the service of the Catechumen. I don't know about other Greek Orthodox Parishes, but in ours the making of a catechumen is definitely separate from baptism/chrismation.
No offence, brother, but this very sentence demonstrates the need for a more thorough catechumenate.  The Catechumenate being separate from baptism/chrismation is not a matter of ethnic jurisdictions but of Orthodox teaching.
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2008, 11:40:25 PM »

No offence, brother, but this very sentence demonstrates the need for a more thorough catechumenate.  The Catechumenate being separate from baptism/chrismation is not a matter of ethnic jurisdictions but of Orthodox teaching.

Not necessarily, Gabriel (at least from my experience). My priest had never heard of these two services being conducted separately, but I had, and I requested he perform the service of the catechumenate for me and he told me it's only done directly before the Baptismal service. I told him I was quite certain it was and so he contacted the Bishop and the Bishop told him it was permissable to do so, and so then he went ahead and made me a catechumen. Whew. However, he hadn't planned to do so originally.

There was a Russian guy in attendance at my Catechumen service and afterwards he refused to congratulate me and asked me who I thought I was and why was the priest making such a big fuss over me, when he never had a "fuss" like that over him when he was baptised as an adult in Russia. I guess they performed the catechumen service and baptism all together. Anyhow, he told me additionally that he had received absolutely NO instruction from that priest in Russia who had baptized him.
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« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2008, 11:43:41 PM »

^ In my experience, babies are often enrolled into the catechumenate immediately prior to baptism, but this generally isn't done for adults.
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« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2008, 11:46:04 PM »

We didn't have a special service, it was built into a Divine Liturgy, and then we came forward every week at the "prayer of the catechumens." It seems to me that since that is part of the service (the prayer of the catechumens) that typically baptism and being a catechumen are distinctly different. If it is always meant to be done right before you are baptized, why have it in the DL of Basil and Chrysostom?
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« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2008, 11:49:36 PM »

Don't you hear "the doors! the doors!" in your service? Typically all the catechumens had to leave before the prayer of the faithful.
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« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2008, 11:49:51 PM »

Anyhow, he told me additionally that he had received absolutely NO instruction from that priest in Russia who had baptized him.
It seems the priest couldn't give what he didn't have. Sad
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« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2008, 11:52:27 PM »

http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

Quote
The Litany of the Catechumens
Deacon: Catechumens, pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Let us the faithful pray for the Catechumens, that the Lord will have mercy on them.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will teach them the Word of Truth.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will reveal to them the gospel of righteousness.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will unite them to His Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Help them, save them, have mercy on them, and keep them, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Catechumens, bow your heads to the Lord.

Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest: That with us they may glorify Thy all-honourable and majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.


The Litany of the Faithful
Deacon: All Catechumens depart. Catechumens depart. All Catechumens depart. Let no Catechumen remain, but only the faithful. Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Wisdom!

Priest: For to Thee belongs all glory, honour and adoration, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

When the Priest serves without a Deacon, the following four petitions are omitted:

Deacon: For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For peace in the whole world, for the welfare of the Holy Churches of God, and for the union of all men, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For this holy Temple, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He may deliver us from all tribulation, anger, danger and want, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2008, 11:55:16 PM »

Not necessarily, Gabriel (at least from my experience). My priest had never heard of these two services being conducted separately, but I had, and I requested he perform the service of the catechumenate for me and he told me it's only done directly before the Baptismal service. I told him I was quite certain it was and so he contacted the Bishop and the Bishop told him it was permissable to do so, and so then he went ahead and made me a catechumen. Whew. However, he hadn't planned to do so originally.


In a sense, we never really stop being catechumens in that we never stop learning about our faith.  However, it seems that if we're going to baptize/chrismate a person immediately after they've stated that they want to become Orthodox, we may as well throw out the catechumenate altogether.
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« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2008, 11:58:05 PM »

Thank you, Quinault. I'm very, very aware of that element of the Liturgy. Yes, you are right.

Another of my friends from that part of the world, refuses to respect the Orthodox Church, because one day a relative whom she considers to be quite the opposite of a regenerated person, dashed into a church with a buddy for fun and games and asked the priest to baptise him. The priest agreed, and did so, but the whole idea was an impulse, a joke, on the part of the one who received Baptism.
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« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2008, 12:07:34 AM »

To me, the Catechumenate has been replaced with Adult Bible Study where inquirers and Orthodox gather together to discuss the Bible.

The husband in My Big Fat Greek Wedding didn't seem to be a Catechumen for long; After His Baptism, he was congratulated for becoming Greek.   Grin

In today's world, no one asks unbaptized persons to leave Church.  I can think of many reasons why this is true; however, I don't want to take the topic off on a tangent.   Cool
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« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2008, 12:11:25 AM »

SolEX01; could it be the same reason they don't do the decade of sitting outside the church anymore either.
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« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2008, 12:13:50 AM »

^ I never heard of the decade of sitting outside the church.  Can you clarify?  Thanks.   Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2008, 12:14:31 AM »

I wonder if the practice of the catechumenate has become more of an American thing-at least in churches which are mostly made up of American converts? It stands to reason that priests of such parishes would be more aware of the need for instruction than say, those in a more ethnic parish or in an Orthodox country. I think when you live in an Orthodox country, most people just assume folks are going to pick up the Religion by osmosis, if nothing else. I don't think it's actually a deliberate thing-just that they're used to Orthodoxy being the official religion?

Anyhow, I'm off to bed! G'night all who are in this time zone! I'm starting to sound sleep-deprived and saying things I regret and all. Cry Forgive me!
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« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2008, 12:23:56 AM »

I wonder if the practice of the catechumenate has become more of an American thing-at least in churches which are mostly made up of American converts? It stands to reason that priests of such parishes would be more aware of the need for instruction than say, those in a more ethnic parish or in an Orthodox country. I think when you live in an Orthodox country, most people just assume folks are going to pick up the Religion by osmosis, if nothing else. I don't think it's actually a deliberate thing-just that they're used to Orthodoxy being the official religion?

I have a cousin who's married to a former lapsed RC who converted to Orthodoxy.  I think He was a Catechumen for a couple of years until being baptized by a priestmonk on Crete where his Catechumenate was guided by his Spiritual Father at his wife's Church and the Priestmonk in Crete.  He knows the Orthodox faith backwards and forwards and taught me a few new things which I didn't know previously.   Wink  We both lament on the lack of Religious knowledge among the "cradle" Orthodox, especially those in the GOA.  Sunday school attendance is dwindling and I've seen some parents do "drive-thru" Communion where they attempt to time their arrival with Communion .  The parent communes their children before abruptly leaving the Liturgy for the next social event.  If a child thinks it's OK to leave Liturgy after receiving Communion, what will they think Communion signifies?
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« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2008, 12:49:18 AM »

^^Amen! Amen! Amen!
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« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2008, 01:03:59 AM »

SolEX01; could it be the same reason they don't do the decade of sitting outside the church anymore either.

^ I never heard of the decade of sitting outside the church.  Can you clarify?  Thanks.   Smiley

This actually sounds like more of a practice for reconciliation and return to the Church for those excommunicated for serious sins.
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« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2008, 01:10:26 AM »

Taken from OrthodoxWiki:

"A catechumen (Greek: κατηχούμενος) is one who is preparing for baptism in the Church. In modern usage, catechumen can also refer to one who is preparing for chrismation (or another form of reception) to be received from a heterodox Christian communion.

In the ancient Church, the catechumenate, or time during which one is a catechumen, often lasted for as much as three years and included not only participation in the divine services but also catechesis, formal instruction from a teacher, often the bishop or appointed catechist. Exorcists often performed the catechetical role, as well, following their initial prayers of exorcism over the one being made a catechumen, which is the traditional manner of receiving a catechumen into the community of the Church.

Catechumens are understood to be Christians upon beginning their catechumenate, and should they die before baptism, they are traditionally given an Orthodox funeral.

As the Church eventually became the majority religion of the lands in which it sojourned, the catechumenate as an institution gradually died out in many places, as most Christians were being baptized shortly after birth. As Orthodoxy has moved into the West and Far East and begun gaining converts to the faith, the catechumenate has been significantly rejuvenated.

Catechetical instruction in Orthodoxy in America does not typically last the three years which was common in the time of St. John Chrysostom, but typically can last from six months to a year, depending on the practice of the bishop, his jurisdiction, and the level of spiritual maturity of the catechumen. Local parish priests typically oversee the catechesis of those preparing to be received into the Church.

The Orthodox Church has no formal catechism, a single body of work that details the specifics of its faith. This is one difference between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, who does have a specific catechism."

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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2008, 01:15:46 AM »

This actually sounds like more of a practice for reconciliation and return to the Church for those excommunicated for serious sins.

I wonder if a literal decade (10 years) applies or some other period of time?
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« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2008, 01:16:37 AM »

Excommunication used to mean that you could not "commune;" you could not partake of the Euchrist. So there were rules laid out for reconciliation. And sins that now would carry very little penalty, then would have years. My notes from this class are in my car, but I believe it was several decades for adultery or fornication. It was a facinating class. The point of excommunication used to be ONLY of reconciliation, you would start off outside asking for the prayers of those going inside a certain number of years, then you would be allowed in the narthex a certain number of years, then kneeling in the nave a certain number of years, then you could stand in the nave a few years, finally you would be able to partake again. Rarely was someone "disfellowshiped." Which is what the modern day view of excommunication is now.

I will have to find the notes in my car (My Tahoe is a blackhole of toys, clothes and books). But once I find them I will give you the specifics.
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« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2008, 01:24:41 AM »

^ Maybe that explains why I haven't seen some people attend my Church for a very, very, very long time - although I never see such people inside or outside my Church saying these prayers.   angel

The stigma of a Church Discipline no longer appears to exist, AFAIK.

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« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2008, 01:27:41 AM »

Rarely was someone "disfellowshiped." Which is what the modern day view of excommunication is now.

JW's practice disfellowshipping quite frequently.  I know of a disfellowshipped JW - long story for another thread.

I will have to find the notes in my car (My Tahoe is a blackhole of toys, clothes and books). But once I find them I will give you the specifics.

Thank You.  I'm quite interested in the specifics.    Smiley
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« Reply #41 on: July 15, 2008, 01:30:18 AM »

I meant rarely would an Orthodox person be disfellowshiped. I had some JW firiends disfellowshiped too; sad, sad story. Inevitably they went on a long spiral into trouble.
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« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2008, 12:14:00 PM »

A sin is a sin, IMO. Begging for prayers on a church step seems VERY extreme to me, and will not help the person repent any more than being present in the pews; I doubt my bishop would ever prevent someone from entering a church fully, let alone remaining in the Narthex.

I was never formally received into the Catechumenate, just attended the DL every week, went to adult Bible Study every Tuesday, and met with my priest for a few hours a couple times a month from October until Pascha in April. Of course, that was supplemented with a heavy dose of all I learned here.  Wink

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« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2008, 02:40:09 PM »

Quote
This is a very troubling topic (that of a short catechumenate.)  I have a feeling (very little concrete evidence) that people are being baptized/chrismated without a long enough catechumenate.  There are a lot of questions being asked on this very forum, by Orthodox Christians, about topics that should have been addressed and memorized during their catechumenate (I guilty of this very thing.)
Maybe it's just me, but it seems there's so much more to learn and absorb in Orthodoxy than in other churches. There's the history, the ECF, the councils, the heresies, the liturgics, the music, the symbolism of every action, the etiquette, the theology, all those saints' lives, and that's just the  beginning!  At times I despair that, despite my best efforts, I'll never know more that the tiniest percentage of all there is to learn...

Orthodoxy can't just be contained within the covers of the Holy Bible-in a sense it's not as compact as a simple form of Protestantism. I'm not sure if the thought I'm trying to convey makes any sense.
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« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2008, 02:48:14 PM »

The  questions that you pose about  excommunication  are of course best asked of your priest, However, the  points made and the penalties imposed were common in the early  and mid-life of the Church as can be found in "the Rudder".  Most  Orthodox Jursidictions world wide have adjusted or tempered these disciplines based upon cultural and societal , some might read "modern" life in the world. Monasteries often still use the Rudder in determining  penances.

The Catechumenate does not and never has had a strictly set time, based upon the canons, it seemed to vary based upon the setting and what level of persecution was going on at the time. The decline in the use of the active catechumenate actually came about in Orthodox societies where everyone was baptized as children and there was no missionizing being done. Adult catechumenates were found only in mission settings, two centuries ago that was Alaska, the the last to present century in North and South America, Western Europe, Africa, and the islands of the sea as a result of the diaspora and the  devolvement of many heterodox churches that have caused more adults to seek out the Apostolic Church found  wholey in the Orthodox Church. As there actually is not doctrinal or dogma as to the legnth or content of  the catechumenate, each Bishop determines what standards he seeks for the catechumen he will eventually be responsible to the Lord on the day of final judgement.

In my parish, one is not considered a Catechumen until the Service of Catechumen I noted above is done. Once a catechumen , our  parish standards are very clear:
1) Attend at least 20 sessions of Orthodox Instruction on Saturday afternoons.
2) Attend the services for 8 out of the 12 great feasts during the liturgical year. The services of the Great Feasts include the Vespers of the Feast, Orthros, and the Divine Liturgy. Attendance at any of these entail attending the services of the feast. If the Feast happens on a Saturday or Sunday, you would be expected to attend as many of the services as possible. [Note Pascha is the Feast of Feasts and is not included as one of the Great Feasts as it outranks all of them---it will however count as one for the task purpose]
3. Read four books about the Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Christian life.  (We assign the books based upon individual needs of the individual for development of  their understanding of the faith)
4) Participate in the services of the Church on a regular basis. This of course is without need to explain, attend Church services when you are able to, and participate to your best ability singing, praying, and supporting others in prayer.
5) Contribute to the life of the parish through gifts of time, talents, and money. Establish a regular giving of alms to the poor, fasting, donating of your surplus to the church general fund, look at your talents and offer the organizations of the church your services and blessings of your talents.

THis works well and we average 10-20 converst a year using this program.

Thomas

edited to correct language and spelling
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