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Author Topic: Centralized Book for Pratical Convert Issues?  (Read 10045 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: September 21, 2008, 06:22:22 PM »

I am wondering there are any books which deal with things that Orthodox converts need to be familiar with on a very practical level.  Basically if there is some sort of informal "rule book" about rituals and taboos in the church.  I have heard that many Orthodox are expect to utter certain prayers upon entering a church.  I have heard that prostrations are inappropriate at certain times.  Then I was very surprised to hear about rules regarding menstruation and communion. 

Is there a single, practical place to go for this kind of information?  The canons of the church are too numerous to begin to explore as a beginner, so it seems like there should be some sort of reading material that covers the things that the everyday parishioner will encounter as they attend services throughout the year and the ritual expectations that accompany those experiences.
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 07:54:26 PM »

I'm afraid that such a thing doesn't exist. But fwiw, learning as you go has it's own rewards. It's good to get into the mode of thinking of things as a process. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 10:13:55 PM »

Many people find Fr. Peter Gillquist's Becoming Orthodox useful, as well as Bp. Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way. But no, we don't have anything like an official catechism book.
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2008, 01:39:45 PM »

I found Fr. Alexander Schmemmen's For the Life of the World to be helpful in understanding the sacraments when I was in the catechumenate.  I also really like The Orthodox Way.  Both books briefly explain customs regarding sacrements of the Orthodox church. 

You might also check out these threads:
Things You Wish You Had Known About Baptism

Things I Wished I Had Known Before Visiting an Orthodox Liturgy

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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 02:40:48 PM »

Here is an online catechism. http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2008, 06:34:00 PM »

Thank you all for all of the book suggestions and links, but I have already done extensive introductory reading, and have even read many of the specific books that you listed.  All of the issues addressed in these texts are theological, philosophical, and historical.  What I am interested is in ritual guidance and the huge array of customs that accompany the Orthodox experience.  Yes, the sacraments as a ritual are covered, but many other things are not.  So if anyone knows of a source for the peculiarities of the rituals of the faith, and the apparently numerous taboos, I would appreciate a link. 

Or maybe someone on here could just answer.  I'm looking for common rituals and taboos, the type of things you encountered in Orthodoxy that you were surprised or alarmed by, even after being within the church for some time.
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2008, 06:53:42 PM »

You'll find that there are many variations in these practical matters, depending on the different "flavours" of Orthodoxy. Slavs, Greeks, Romanians, Arabs, etc have all evolved these in slightly different ways. For instance, Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, etc) will tend to do a small prostration (touch the floor with the hand) after crossing themselves very frequently, whereas Greeks do this less commonly. Best to watch what happens in the church you attend, and ask your priest or Godparents for advice.
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2008, 11:21:37 AM »

^Indeed, things change from parish to parish.  Not long ago we were discussing whether or not to venerate icons before receiving communion.  This is a common practice in my OCA parish but others mentioned it was frowned on in theirs.  I agree, the best thing is to seek out people within the parish who regularly attend and ask them lots of questions.  I've been at St. Thomas for nearly three years now and I still have tons of questions about protocol.  Bishop Job came to visit us this last weekend and those are usually the times when I'm most conscious of my blundering!
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2008, 12:04:16 PM »

I don't think the picayune details of church ritual (such as whether to cross yourself once or three times before venerating an icon, whether to venerate icons while in line for Communion, etc.) were ever meant to be communicated via a book, lest we make Orthodoxy merely another book religion.  Orthodoxy is something to be lived and communicated largely by word of mouth and through the worship of the parish community; it's traditions are meant to be passed on from parent to child, from elder to youngster.  You just can't learn this all from a book; you really have to go and experience it for yourself.  And remember, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2008, 04:38:10 PM »

Recently, my priest said I could stop going to classes and be chrismated any time I like.  I said there are still so many things I don't know about Orthodox practices.  I don't know all the rules about kissing icons, when to cross myself, things like that.  I mentioned reading that icons are supposed to be dusted with rose water, things like that.  My priest said those things aren't necessary, that you can dust with Pledge for example.  There are a few things he's already told me, but he never went into a lot of detail.  I've asked about communion during menstruation, and he said he'd never heard of restricting it.  Basically, knowing all the practices/customs isn't the important thing.  And based on what I've seen just on this forum, they often change from one parish to another!
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2008, 07:29:59 PM »

If you want a book about how the liturgy was formed there is a great one called "The shape of the Liturgy." And a great book on the Liturgical year is The Year of Grace of the Lord: A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church.

I bought it to send to my husband on deployment. But I had a chance to look thru it and I really enjoyed it. I also would suggest picking up an Orthodox study bible. The notes have been really helpful to me. And if you don't have a prayer book already I would pick one up. Although the orthdox study bible has some prayers in the back. And teh lectionary helps a great deal because it puts together scriptures that otherwise you may not have put together.

Prostrations/fasting are not to be done for a period of time after Pascha. But really you need to speak to your priest to have his point of view. For example; something like headcoverings is required at one parish-yet makes you a snob at another. One parish is OK with margarine during Lent, another says that it is to be avoided. One parish has a priest that is always greeted in a certain way (kiss the hand, ask blessing) another priest is upset when you do so...the list can go on and on. We learn most thru observation. So go to as many Liturgies, Matins, Vespers and other services as you possibly can and observe everyone politely.
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2008, 07:41:22 PM »

http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2007/01/guidelines-for-conversion.html

I love this link from alexp4uni on the other thread.
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2008, 08:54:42 AM »

Recently, my priest said I could stop going to classes and be chrismated any time I like.  I said there are still so many things I don't know about Orthodox practices.  I don't know all the rules about kissing icons, when to cross myself, things like that.  I mentioned reading that icons are supposed to be dusted with rose water, things like that.  My priest said those things aren't necessary, that you can dust with Pledge for example.  There are a few things he's already told me, but he never went into a lot of detail.  I've asked about communion during menstruation, and he said he'd never heard of restricting it.  Basically, knowing all the practices/customs isn't the important thing.  And based on what I've seen just on this forum, they often change from one parish to another!


Dear OFG,

You are right, one of the things I learned about 5 years after being Chrismated is that Orthodoxy has many small "t"raditions these  may be called  local pious customs. Too many converts take these pious customs and try to make them "T"raditions only to be confounded as they visit other parishes and nation jurisdictions and finds they are not there. It does not make that  parish or jurisdiction less Orthodox but does help you to learn the Holy Traditions  versus the  pious customs that have evolved within the many local chursches of the Holy Orthodox Church.  True Holy Tradition is observed by all canonical Orthodoxy and is what ties all of the churches together into the Holy Orthodox Church.

Thomas
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