Author Topic: Eternal Status of Catechumens  (Read 1437 times)

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Offline athanasios2

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Eternal Status of Catechumens
« on: September 21, 2008, 08:44:09 PM »
I guess it's time for my dumb question of the month. I am a catechumen in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and I posted a question a while back asking if a person who dies while still a catechumen can have an Orthodox burial. Now I have a related question.

If a person dies while a catechumen, what is generally thought to be their likely eternal destiny? I know that if a catechumen becomes a martyr (as often happened in the early centuries of the church, and probably still happens in some parts of the earth) they are considered to have been baptized in their own blood. That makes sense, but what about the ordinary present day catechumen in the US who keels over from a heart attack, and dies without warning? They haven't been baptised, and there are no special circumstances like martyrdom.

I realize that salvation is a life long process, and our eternal destiny isn't certain until the judgement; but let's give our hypothetical catechumen the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he or she truly believes the teaching of the Orthodox Church, and is truly repentant of their sins.

I guess all that could be summed up by asking, "Am I, a Catechumen who is absolutely committed to the Orthodox Church, an Orthodox Christian?" If someone says, "Of course!", then I have to ask "Why?" Although I've believed myself to be a Christian all my life, I only have heterodox baptism and confirmation, and I'm not able to receive any of the mysteries of the Church; and although I've made confession periodically since my life confession, I can't receive absolution until after Orthodox baptism and chrismation.

I really am asking because I don't know; and I'm beginning to think that my priest believes that the early Church had the right idea about the Catechumenate lasting three years or more.

I'm also getting frustrated because I don't seem to have much opportunity to ask these questions of my priest. He seems to be pretty much unavailable outside of business hours, and I'm pretty much unavailable during business hours. I've sent him some e-mails, but I don't think he's read them. I'm reliably informed that, although he has a computer, he's pretty uncomfortable with technology.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. ???

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Eternal Status of Catechumens
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 08:55:15 PM »
The priest who catechised me was of the opinion that this is a question beyond our capability to answer. I know that people like to feel that they can claim that they know that so and so is in heaven (or that alternative place), but this is a decision for God to make for He knows the heart of each of us - Christian and otherwise. Each of us relies on His awesome mercy. I believe that we can take comfort in believing that when we ask for His mercy we will receive it.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2008, 08:58:48 PM by Riddikulus »
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Offline Simayan

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Re: Eternal Status of Catechumens
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 09:16:28 PM »
I was told that even though we don't know who will go to heaven for sure, a catechumen will be looked upon the same as a baptized Orthodox Christian. Less about legalism and more about intent, he said, because someone could believe all Orthodox teachings and live an Orthodox life, yet never be around a priest to be baptized.
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Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Eternal Status of Catechumens
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2008, 09:54:24 PM »
I was told that even though we don't know who will go to heaven for sure, a catechumen will be looked upon the same as a baptized Orthodox Christian. Less about legalism and more about intent, he said, because someone could believe all Orthodox teachings and live an Orthodox life, yet never be around a priest to be baptized.

Very good point, Symeon.
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Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian Orthodox Christian (1900-1975)

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Eternal Status of Catechumens
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2008, 10:02:15 PM »
In the Greek Orthodox Church, a Catechumen who dies before baptism or chrisimation is given the full Orthodox funeral reserved for Orthodox Christians. There is a different (and much simpler) funeral service the non-Orthodox when a GO Priest is called to perform it.
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Offline Symeon

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Re: Eternal Status of Catechumens
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008, 10:14:51 PM »
I posted some quotations from St. Ambrose and St. Augustine to the effect that unbaptized catechumens are saved a while ago on this forum. I'll see if I can dig them up.