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Author Topic: I'm Converting  (Read 13828 times) Average Rating: 0
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Byzantino
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« on: August 27, 2003, 04:04:13 AM »

Hey all,

Guess i'll make it official and let you all know that I've found my Mother Church in Holy Orthodoxy. Many things have happened this year which have immensely enriched my relationship with God; my journey to Eastern-rite Catholicism from Roman-rite was, I believe, God's way of preparing me for Orthodoxy. After devoting MANY hours to research over the past few months I've come to the conclusion that the claims of the Roman Catholic Church where they are at odds with Orthodoxy don't stand up in light of history and scripture, and gradually my skewed understanding of Orthodoxy (thanks mostly to amateur cut-and-paste RC 'net apologists) was set straight. Having to abandon the beliefs that I so ardently defended for years was quite challenging, and the paradigm shift initially caused a few hours of lost sleep, but things have turned out for the best.

It's shaping out to be a fun-filled journey!

Thanks for your support,

Byzantino
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2003, 08:10:35 AM »

Byzantino,

Congrats on your discovery! Perhaps somewhere down the road I'll be able to join you.  I'm a lifelong Baptist so I still have some longheld Protestant beliefs to reconcile.  Reading arguments back and forth from each side makes my head spin sometimes :cwm30: !  However, I'm still somewhat drawn to Orthodoxy so we'll see.  Well, guess I need to get to work :bounce:. Later

DT
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2003, 08:53:58 AM »

God bless you Byzantino, I came to Orthodoxy from Catholicism myself and I will keep you in my prayers.

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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2003, 11:12:05 AM »

Byzantino...

I wish you well in your catechumenate, but make sure you are constantly vigilant, as in times like this we are constantly preyed upon by the enemy.  To combat the preying, I will make with the praying. Smiley  

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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2003, 11:54:43 AM »

Congratulations, Byzantino! Welcome home!

May God bless you and grant you many years!


Byzantino,

Congrats on your discovery! Perhaps somewhere down the road I'll be able to join you.  I'm a lifelong Baptist so I still have some longheld Protestant beliefs to reconcile.  Reading arguments back and forth from each side makes my head spin sometimes :cwm30: !  However, I'm still somewhat drawn to Orthodoxy so we'll see.  Well, guess I need to get to work :bounce:. Later

DT

DT -

I hope you will ultimately come home, as well.

I know it's not easy, and I will pray for you.
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2003, 09:48:56 PM »

Byzantino,

Congrats on your discovery! Perhaps somewhere down the road I'll be able to join you.  I'm a lifelong Baptist so I still have some longheld Protestant beliefs to reconcile.  Reading arguments back and forth from each side makes my head spin sometimes :cwm30: !  However, I'm still somewhat drawn to Orthodoxy so we'll see.  Well, guess I need to get to work :bounce:. Later

DT

DT - I find myself in a similar circumstance...though I cannot exactly articulate why.  I am interested in your thoughts...care to elaborate?  Gumby
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2003, 10:58:03 PM »

Thomas,
That spinning head smiley is the coolest one I've ever seen! Where did you find it?

Athanasius
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2003, 11:16:33 PM »

The Eastern Catholics are good evangelists for the Orthodox.  That's how I got here from there.  Many years to you!
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2003, 09:09:53 AM »

Hey all,

Guess i'll make it official and let you all know that I've found my Mother Church in Holy Orthodoxy. Many things have happened this year which have immensely enriched my relationship with God; my journey to Eastern-rite Catholicism from Roman-rite was, I believe, God's way of preparing me for Orthodoxy. After devoting MANY hours to research over the past few months I've come to the conclusion that the claims of the Roman Catholic Church where they are at odds with Orthodoxy don't stand up in light of history and scripture, and gradually my skewed understanding of Orthodoxy (thanks mostly to amateur cut-and-paste RC 'net apologists) was set straight. Having to abandon the beliefs that I so ardently defended for years was quite challenging, and the paradigm shift initially caused a few hours of lost sleep, but things have turned out for the best.

It's shaping out to be a fun-filled journey!

Thanks for your support,

Byzantino

Hi Byzantino,
I have a question. It in no way is meant to be a negative one. In my own search I have also considered Orthodoxy but certain questions I have are still there. One is that Jesus gave the Church the great commission to go to all the world. Since the schism in 1054 the Latin Church has continued that commission. But from what I can see the Orthodox haven't. One of the marks of the Church is that it would go to all the world to evangelize. The Orthodox don't seem to meet that particular criteria. (The only time they did is when they were united with the Latin Church.) How did you reconsile that problem in your case?
Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2003, 01:40:38 PM »

Polycarp --

The Orthodox actually did missionize Rus extensively even *after* the schism hardened.  The mission began around the time of the schism, but didn't end then -- instead it extended for some time.  And, of course, thereafter the Russians spread Orthodoxy eastward with them across North Asia and into Alaska, notably translating the scriptures and services into several Aleutian languages.  Today, Orthodoxy is still the largest religious affiliation among the Alaskan Aleuts -- see www.alaskanchurch.org.  Orthodox Churches are also scattered across North Asia, inlcuding in Japan, where there is a small but significant community -- but all of us Christians know that with a few exceptions East Asia has not generally been fertile ground for mission.

I have heard this argument raised by more than one of my Roman Catholic friends, and the reality of the matter is that the Latin Church spread the way it did because the Western European countries that were "discovering" (read: Taking Over) the remainder of the planet were often Catholic -- the Spanish, who colonized Latin America, California and the Philippines, the French and Belgians who colonized much of central Africa, etc.  Places where the Protestants colonized, like the USA, have remained mostly Protestant, with inroads coming through immigration of Catholics, not really through mission.  During the "Age of Discovery", the Orthodox world was either (1) enslaved by the Ottoman Empire or (2) living under the relatively backward and isolated Tsarist Russian Empire.  When the Russians began to catch up a bit, they did missionize the places where their empire took them ... but there was no place for the Greeks, the Balkan Slavs or the Middle Eastern Orthodox to missionize, and no means to do it.  That's why things have shaken out the way they have ... not because of some self-satisfied smugness that some RCs would accuse of Orthodoxy, but rather simple brass-tacks history and the fact that the RC enjoyed the spsonsorship of powerful, expansionist regimes during the "Age of Discovery" and utilized this well to expand the Catholic Church substantially beyond its Western European roots.

Today, we are faced with a different missionary situation altogether.  Orthodoxy, right now, is primarily engaged with re-missionizing itself.  The Gospel needs to be brought to people throughout the Orthodox world who are suffering the effects of living under a militant atheist regime for many years -- that's simply priority number one right now, and a LOT of effort is going into it.  In spite of that, however, there is quite a lot of quite missionary work going on throughout the world -- we do not seek, for the most part, to poach other Christians, but our door is open, and our open doors have attracted a good many visitors in North America and Western Europe in the last 10-20 years, a good many of whom have ended up joining our ranks.  In a sense, many of us are convinced that this kind of "open door mission" is the most effective way for Orthodoxy to missionize in our contemporary society.  (And, of course, as some former Eastern Catholic-tiurned-Orthodox priests have mentioned to me, the revitalization of the Eastern Catholic Churches has proven to be of great benefit to Orthodoxy as a missionary venue -- not because we poach Eastern Catholics, but rather because many Latin Catholics, like Byzantino, first approach Orthodoxy through the relatively safe venue of Eastern Catholicism -- after all "it's still Catholic" -- and fine their way eventually to the Orthodox Church -- one Orthodox priest friend of mine once admonished me not to be too critical ofthe Eastern Catholics, saying "If there weren't any Eastern Catholic churches around, do you think you'd be Orthodox right now?")  Nevertheless, one would hope that when Orthodoxy gets back on its feet more fully in a few decades time we will also see increased Orthdodox efforts to bring the Gospel to those places on Earth where Christianity in general hasn't been very succesful -- such as East and (much of) Southeast Asia, and parts of sub-saharan Africa.  


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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2003, 02:02:47 PM »

Saint Polycarp(the poster Smiley ) I'm not sure I agree...

Orthodox have had extensive missions since the Schism

Alaska
China
Japan
Africa(Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and others)
South America(there's a very large mission church in Brazil as well as others)
Australia
And perhaps the land most in need of missions work...America.


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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2003, 02:57:20 PM »

Fr. Luke Vernonis, Missionaries, Monks, Martyrs: Making Disciples of All Nations, Life and Light publishing, documents Orthodox missionaries past and present.

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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2003, 06:19:42 PM »

Polycarp --

The Orthodox actually did missionize Rus extensively even *after* the schism hardened.  The mission began around the time of the schism, but didn't end then -- instead it extended for some time.  And, of course, thereafter the Russians spread Orthodoxy eastward with them across North Asia and into Alaska, notably translating the scriptures and services into several Aleutian languages.  Today, Orthodoxy is still the largest religious affiliation among the Alaskan Aleuts -- see www.alaskanchurch.org.  Orthodox Churches are also scattered across North Asia, inlcuding in Japan, where there is a small but significant community -- but all of us Christians know that with a few exceptions East Asia has not generally been fertile ground for mission.

I have heard this argument raised by more than one of my Roman Catholic friends, and the reality of the matter is that the Latin Church spread the way it did because the Western European countries that were "discovering" (read: Taking Over) the remainder of the planet were often Catholic -- the Spanish, who colonized Latin America, California and the Philippines, the French and Belgians who colonized much of central Africa, etc.  Places where the Protestants colonized, like the USA, have remained mostly Protestant, with inroads coming through immigration of Catholics, not really through mission.  During the "Age of Discovery", the Orthodox world was either (1) enslaved by the Ottoman Empire or (2) living under the relatively backward and isolated Tsarist Russian Empire.  When the Russians began to catch up a bit, they did missionize the places where their empire took them ... but there was no place for the Greeks, the Balkan Slavs or the Middle Eastern Orthodox to missionize, and no means to do it.  That's why things have shaken out the way they have ... not because of some self-satisfied smugness that some RCs would accuse of Orthodoxy, but rather simple brass-tacks history and the fact that the RC enjoyed the spsonsorship of powerful, expansionist regimes during the "Age of Discovery" and utilized this well to expand the Catholic Church substantially beyond its Western European roots.

Today, we are faced with a different missionary situation altogether.  Orthodoxy, right now, is primarily engaged with re-missionizing itself.  The Gospel needs to be brought to people throughout the Orthodox world who are suffering the effects of living under a militant atheist regime for many years -- that's simply priority number one right now, and a LOT of effort is going into it.  In spite of that, however, there is quite a lot of quite missionary work going on throughout the world -- we do not seek, for the most part, to poach other Christians, but our door is open, and our open doors have attracted a good many visitors in North America and Western Europe in the last 10-20 years, a good many of whom have ended up joining our ranks.  In a sense, many of us are convinced that this kind of "open door mission" is the most effective way for Orthodoxy to missionize in our contemporary society.  (And, of course, as some former Eastern Catholic-tiurned-Orthodox priests have mentioned to me, the revitalization of the Eastern Catholic Churches has proven to be of great benefit to Orthodoxy as a missionary venue -- not because we poach Eastern Catholics, but rather because many Latin Catholics, like Byzantino, first approach Orthodoxy through the relatively safe venue of Eastern Catholicism -- after all "it's still Catholic" -- and fine their way eventually to the Orthodox Church -- one Orthodox priest friend of mine once admonished me not to be too critical ofthe Eastern Catholics, saying "If there weren't any Eastern Catholic churches around, do you think you'd be Orthodox right now?")  Nevertheless, one would hope that when Orthodoxy gets back on its feet more fully in a few decades time we will also see increased Orthdodox efforts to bring the Gospel to those places on Earth where Christianity in general hasn't been very succesful -- such as East and (much of) Southeast Asia, and parts of sub-saharan Africa.  


B

I don't mean this as an argument. Rather I'm speaking out of ignorance of Orthodox history on my part to a certain degree. I am always interested in learning more about the Church, her development and her history.
I realize that the Orthodox had a different expierence than the latins since the schism. Yet it seems that there was and still is no real cooperative effort among the Orthodox Churches to evangelize. Has there ever been any effort orgainzed among the various Orthodox Churches as a cooperative mission? Rome specifically sent missionaries to evangelize all of Europe and as European Explorers discovered more lands, missionaries were sent litterally everywhere in the world. 1000 years is a long time to let the "prime directive" of the Church to sit on the back burner so to speak.
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2003, 06:22:49 PM »

Saint Polycarp(the poster Smiley ) I'm not sure I agree...

Orthodox have had extensive missions since the Schism

Alaska
China
Japan
Africa(Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and others)
South America(there's a very large mission church in Brazil as well as others)
Australia
And perhaps the land most in need of missions work...America.




Extensive? In the past 1000 years the Orthodox have been evangelizing Africa, South America etc? Or is this a new effort?  Is it an organized effort among all of the Orthodox or are individual National Churches sending out missionaries on their own?
Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2003, 07:40:48 PM »

Saint Polycarp

With all due respect, and no offense meant here, some of your questions are based on a decidedly modern Roman (or Latin) understanding. Asking what joint missionary ventures are being done is not really a relevant question. Very few (if any) of the early missionaries (after the first century) were part of an organized, church-wide, effort to missionize. If anything, there were disputes over missionary work, not cooperation! (think of Rome vs. Constantinople regarding who would missionize Bulgaria in the 9th century, for example).

The Orthodox has continued the historic practice of keeping geographic/ethnic labels; though now it is "Greek Orthodox," and "Russian Orthodox," rather than "The Church of God at Ephesus," and "the Church of God in Galatia," simply because the Church is too large to mention every city and town that has a Church (plus, in the very early Church there were many more bishops as compared to the size of the total flock--nearly a bishop for each Church, if I understand the works of Saint Ignatius correctly, so it would have been more fitting to treat each individual city as a Church unto itself, whereas in time, things eventually changed as numbers grew). The Church also kept the same ecclesiology (though you would perhaps disagree), and remained sort of a loose confederation ruled by the Holy Spirit and Christ our God and the Unoriginate Father, rather than a Democracy, with Rome as the President (veto powers and executive order powers and all). Therefore, that Russia sends out missionaries seperate from Greece or Jerusalem is not only not wrong, but is actually closer to the early Church's practice than "joint" missionary attempts.

I will have to admit though that I'm unaware of any "extensive" missionary activity currently. Certainly nothing like we saw in Alaska among the native peoples there a few centuries ago. ROCOR, for example, which has made some efforts to missionize South America, has maybe 50 churches throughout south america, but half that many priests, and a handful of deacons. For all its efforts (and in individual cases there have been some wonderful success stories), the missionary activity can hardly be called extensize. Japan is another example of an attempted missionizing that didn't really go anywhere. Tens of thousands converted when Saint Nicholas was there laboring. After he died, the numbers either kept at that level or fell. In the 100+ years since he died, there has been little to no growth. We have had some missionary activity in Africa... but then so has every other Christian Joe on the planet. Every major Christian group (from Anglicans and Church of God, to Catholics and Orthodox) could boast of growth in Africa. But it's certainly not extensive. And we really need to work on things so that it does become extensive.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2003, 08:20:41 PM »

PS. I should also note (since many might not realise this, coming from outside an Orthodox perspective), that in Orthodoxy missionary activity starts within. Saint Seraphim of Sarov has that famous saying about gaining a peace which will convert thousands around you. Saint Justin Popovich said something similar, saying that ascetics were Orthodoxy's only missionaries, and that asceticism was Orthodoxy's only missionary school. In Orthodoxy, you need to get yourself right before you can focus on others. We Orthodox don't, by in large, see missionary activity as a "calling unto itself," as though you can train someone enough to do good missionary work. For an Orthodox Christian, good missionary work can only be done by an ascetical, religious, pious person. Therefore, while calling for increased missions is not a bad thing, such a calling will get no fruit if there is not a simultaneous increased devotion to working out our own faith with fear and trembling. If we do not fear and tremble before our God, and they cannot see our God working in us, then our witness is no better than the Islamic or Buddhist man's witness. Without the action, our words simply become one more selection that a person may choose if it catches his interest.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2003, 09:20:01 PM »

www.ocmc.org is your best source...it has in detail the activities of worldwide cooperation in Orthodox missiology.  Actually the Orthodox were just as active in missiology between the Schism and now.  The break came in the early part of the twentieth century when the two largest centers of Orthodoxy (Russia and Greece) were giving the most concentrated effort of missionary activity, matrydom, to the Bolsheviks and the Turks.  In the twentieth century alone, I've seen estimates of anywhere from 20,000,000 to 120,000,000 martyred for Christ in Orthodox lands.  Many other Orthodox lands also suffered greatly and were able to offer their broken bodies and spilt blood to Christ, which is why in the information age you don't hear as much about previous missionary efforts.  When the modern history books and infomercials on missions were being created, most Orthodox were struggling for their lives.

It should also be noted that the Orthodox approach to mission work is very different from that of the west.  To my knowledge, no peoples were converted by swordpoint or to gain material wealth from their rich missionary patrons.  

You should really spend some time at www.ocmc.org.  It has all of the information you are looking for.  For information on historical missiology in Orthodoxy I don't have any specific texts or sites I can refer you to, but those who spend more time reading than I will surely point you in the right direction.
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2003, 03:34:06 AM »

First a big thankyou to all for your prayers. I'm certainly going to need them from now onwards as I can already see little obstacles placed in front of me, e.g. I can't find my baptism certificate which is needed for my application for catechism, and I've come down with a bad case of the flu which means I won't be able to attend my first Orthodox Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

Polycarp, it's great to have you on this board. You've brought up some excellent points. I would have to say, personally, that Rome's historical success in the field of evangelisation isn’t a very convincing premise to support the conclusion of her being the One True Church, any more than the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Pentecostals can claim to be the true church because of the significant inroads they’ve been making respectively in evangelising the world. As an aside, here in Australia the latter group has in recent years launched an avid crusade to win converts; to my great dismay each Pentecostal I happened to speak to as they were distributing their flyers on the street were former Catholics.  

It’s understandable that you get the impression that Orthodox evangelisation dwarfs that of the Catholic Church. Let’s face it, the Roman Church had so many financial benefits bestowed upon her, which, together with the strong religious zeal and sense of superiority characteristic of the post-schism centuries, made it a force to be reckoned with. Catholics always seem to be in the spotlight too. I think Orthodoxy would benefit greatly from having a well-known public figure, such as a Mel Gibson or a Mother Teresa.

Ultimately my criterion of truth is the purity of a Church’s doctrine; it’s this factor which has compelled me to become Orthodox, in a spirit of love and peace accompanied with gratitude to the Catholic Church. Though I don’t like poking sticks at the Papacy (and since my imagination is over-active because I’ve been in bed all day) there’s no doubt in my mind that Pope Pius IX and his cohorts got away with murder at the Vatican Council. If late 19th Century society enjoyed the freedoms, technological benefits (e.g. internet) and free access to other resources facilitating the learning of religion with which we’re blessed today, there probably would’ve been no dogma of Papal Infallibility. No well-informed person would’ve accepted it, especially in an environment without repression of free expression. And no index of forbidden books (or index of forbidden websites for that matter Smiley ) preventing us from getting the other side of the story.  

 
Regards,

Byzantino

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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2003, 10:12:15 AM »

Hi Polycarp --

"Has there ever been any effort orgainzed among the various Orthodox Churches as a cooperative mission? Rome specifically sent missionaries to evangelize all of Europe and as European Explorers discovered more lands, missionaries were sent litterally everywhere in the world. 1000 years is a long time to let the "prime directive" of the Church to sit on the back burner so to speak."

As I explained above, the answer to this is history.  During the periods when the kind of missionization on a global scale was made possible, the Orthodox were either under the Turks (lasted more or less from 1300s through late 1800s) or living in the Russian Empire.  This precluded any kind of united effort because the Turks simply would not allow it.  The Russians, for their part, were latecomers to the "Discovery" game, but they did take the Orthodox Church with them across Central Asia and into East Asia and Alaska, as noted above.  When the Church began to get back on its feet in the Balkans and the former terrotory of the Byzantine Empire following the demise of the Ottoman regime, the Russian Church promptly became subject to persecution on a massive scale, and again coordination across church lines in Orthodoxy became very problematic.  Really, from the late 1300s until 1990, much of the Orthodox world was living under oppressive, anti-Orthodox regimes who, to varying degrees at different times, controlled the Church and its doings.  That, more than anything else, explains why Orthodoxy as a whole wasn't engaged in a direct missionary effort on a coordinated basis during this period.  Rest assured, if most of Western Europe had been occupied by the Turks, from 1300 to 1850 and then subsequently spent most of the 20th Century under the Soviet communists, the Catholics wouldn't have been missionizing the planet the way they did during the "Age of Discovery", and the focus would have very much been on survival.

Brendan
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2003, 11:35:56 AM »

Read the writings and articles about Archbishop Anastasios on mission.

anastasios
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2003, 12:21:13 PM »

Quote
From Paradosis: The Orthodox has continued the historic practice of keeping geographic/ethnic labels; though now it is "Greek Orthodox," and "Russian Orthodox," rather than "The Church of God at Ephesus," and "the Church of God in Galatia,"

While geographic labels have practical value - they tell us where a church is located - ethnic labels have outlived their usefulness and IMHO are a detriment.

Unfortunately ethnicity is portable - it hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Orthodox Church in this country.

I left a sect (the Missouri Synod Lutherans) that belonged to my own ethnic group for the TRUTH, not so I could join someone else's ethnic group.

Sorry, Paradosis. I know the main point of your post was not to argue for ethnic exclusivity; so I am not really arguing with you. It's just that the whole importation into this country of apparent ethnic limits on the Universal Church (which is what ethnic titles imply and how they are interpreted by most Americans) is a pet peeve of mine.

Quote
From Paradosis: The Church also kept the same ecclesiology (though you would perhaps disagree), and remained sort of a loose confederation ruled by the Holy Spirit and Christ our God and the Unoriginate Father, rather than a Democracy, with Rome as the President (veto powers and executive order powers and all). Therefore, that Russia sends out missionaries seperate from Greece or Jerusalem is not only not wrong, but is actually closer to the early Church's practice than "joint" missionary attempts.

And that failure to cooperate and act jointly has created the jurisdictional mess in which we in this country now find ourselves.


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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2003, 12:29:21 PM »

I would agree with you that geographic, rather than ethnic, labels are best. That's one reason I'm in favor of an Orthodox Church of "North America" (or the Americas) rather than a Church of the United States, a Church of Canada, etc. Thankfully this seems to be where we are at, and heading to.

I would also agree that acting together helped create the jurisdictional mess, I'm not saying that we shouldn't act jointly at all. I just don't think we need to have a joint group like SCOBA directing all the missionary activity. And if such a thing did happen, it'd be something unusual, and not in line with historical practice (not that it'd be a bad thing, there's nothing wrong with new methods for reaching people... I'm using one as I type Smiley ).
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2003, 12:57:16 PM »

Linus7<<While geographic labels have practical value - they tell us where a church is located - ethnic labels have outlived their usefulness and IMHO are a detriment.

Unfortunately ethnicity is portable - it hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Orthodox Church in this country.

I left a sect (the Missouri Synod Lutherans) that belonged to my own ethnic group for the TRUTH, not so I could join someone else's ethnic group.>>

Good points!  I didn't come form the MS Lutherans, Linus, but from the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics, who were quite open to the use of English and the acceptance of non-Slavs into their often shrinking parishes, at least in my admittedly very limited experience, so that's not an issue with me in my background.

But now I live in a middle-sized city where there are only two Eastern Orthodox churches, and both have strong ethnic labels attached to them.  There is St. George GREEK Orthodox Cathedral and there is St. Peter and St. Paul RUSSIAN Orthodox Church (the latter, even though OCA, is still strongly ethnic).  Because of their strong ethnic identity, IMHO, neither of these parishes attracts much interest from those outside their respective ethnic groups.

But like you, I did not become Orthodox to join a particular ethnic group (I am Polish-Czech-Ukrainian ethnically).  I sought the TRUTH and found its fulness in Holy Orthodoxy.  Unfortunately, in my present very ethnic RUSSIAN OCA parish, I am sometimes forced to make compromises and learn at least some Slavonic to sing in the choir or remain silent during some of the chants of the Divine Liturgy.

I agree with you that ethnic labels have outlived their usefulness and are a detriment.  My two former OCA parishes officially dropped the ethnic designations in their parish names and used almost exclusively English in their services.  They also were "open" to others and saw large numbers of converts from outside their "Russian" ethnic group.  I think missiology here requires that.

Hypo-Ortho

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« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2003, 02:16:38 PM »

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From Paradosis: The Orthodox has continued the historic practice of keeping geographic/ethnic labels; though now it is "Greek Orthodox," and "Russian Orthodox," rather than "The Church of God at Ephesus," and "the Church of God in Galatia,"

While geographic labels have practical value - they tell us where a church is located - ethnic labels have outlived their usefulness and IMHO are a detriment.

Unfortunately ethnicity is portable - it hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Orthodox Church in this country.

I left a sect (the Missouri Synod Lutherans) that belonged to my own ethnic group for the TRUTH, not so I could join someone else's ethnic group.

Sorry, Paradosis. I know the main point of your post was not to argue for ethnic exclusivity; so I am not really arguing with you. It's just that the whole importation into this country of apparent ethnic limits on the Universal Church (which is what ethnic titles imply and how they are interpreted by most Americans) is a pet peeve of mine.

Quote
From Paradosis: The Church also kept the same ecclesiology (though you would perhaps disagree), and remained sort of a loose confederation ruled by the Holy Spirit and Christ our God and the Unoriginate Father, rather than a Democracy, with Rome as the President (veto powers and executive order powers and all). Therefore, that Russia sends out missionaries seperate from Greece or Jerusalem is not only not wrong, but is actually closer to the early Church's practice than "joint" missionary attempts.

And that failure to cooperate and act jointly has created the jurisdictional mess in which we in this country now find ourselves.




Hi Linus,
You have stated in a nut shell one of the problems I have had with considering becomming Orthodox. It seems to me that the Church is meant to be One Holy Catholic and apostolic meaning all inclusive. The only apostolic Church which has done this continually from the beginning is The Roman half of the Catholic Church. In spite of the many problems she has suffered at the hands of bad leaders, bad politics etc.  She is truly the only branch of the Catholic Church which has maintaind this Catholicity without national or ethnic bounds.
As a prevatican II Catholic I have been dissappointed with how the reforms that were intended have been carried out. Here in the states at least, I feel they have been misunderstood and our bishops have turned us into quasi-protestants. I feel that it is important to stick with the Church and do my best to make it better.  But honestly seeing the Orthodox continue in the ancient tradition that I once loved and miss is tempting.

Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2003, 02:30:14 PM »

Hi Polycarp --

"Has there ever been any effort orgainzed among the various Orthodox Churches as a cooperative mission? Rome specifically sent missionaries to evangelize all of Europe and as European Explorers discovered more lands, missionaries were sent litterally everywhere in the world. 1000 years is a long time to let the "prime directive" of the Church to sit on the back burner so to speak."

As I explained above, the answer to this is history.  During the periods when the kind of missionization on a global scale was made possible, the Orthodox were either under the Turks (lasted more or less from 1300s through late 1800s) or living in the Russian Empire.  This precluded any kind of united effort because the Turks simply would not allow it.  The Russians, for their part, were latecomers to the "Discovery" game, but they did take the Orthodox Church with them across Central Asia and into East Asia and Alaska, as noted above.  When the Church began to get back on its feet in the Balkans and the former terrotory of the Byzantine Empire following the demise of the Ottoman regime, the Russian Church promptly became subject to persecution on a massive scale, and again coordination across church lines in Orthodoxy became very problematic.  Really, from the late 1300s until 1990, much of the Orthodox world was living under oppressive, anti-Orthodox regimes who, to varying degrees at different times, controlled the Church and its doings.  That, more than anything else, explains why Orthodoxy as a whole wasn't engaged in a direct missionary effort on a coordinated basis during this period.  Rest assured, if most of Western Europe had been occupied by the Turks, from 1300 to 1850 and then subsequently spent most of the 20th Century under the Soviet communists, the Catholics wouldn't have been missionizing the planet the way they did during the "Age of Discovery", and the focus would have very much been on survival.

Brendan

Hi Brendan,
Thank you for your opinion. However the Latin Church has had similar and possibaly even worse problems what with all the European kings and Emperors, Dictators etc. who have always tried to use the Church for their own personal gain. Even to the point of corrupting the Papacy and college of Cardinals at times. Yet through all this, the Latin Church maintained the apostolic faith and continually maintained a vigorus world wide evangelization.  It seems to me that this could have happened only by the grace of God and the guidance of The Holy Spirit. Thus I can't discount the Catholic Church as be totally valid and worthy of being considered Catholic/Christian on an equal footing with any of the other ancient apostolic Churches.  
I have concluded that from a faith point of view it dosen't matter whether we are Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or Coptic etc. We are all part of the One Holy Catholic and apostolic Church and seperated by man made walls. Let us tear them down!

Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2003, 04:59:13 PM »

Polycarp, do you live in an area that has more than Orthodox church?  Try attending them until you find one where services are done in English and people are accepting of non-ethnic folks.  Actually, I have known people who did attend very ethnic parishes, but were accepted wholeheartedly by others.  So, even an ethnic parish can be a good experience.  However, I have known people that had bad experiences with ethnic parishes.  

There is a Serbian parish an hour away from where I live.  It is an old parish (over 100 years old).  In fact, it is +Bishop NIKOLAI of Alaska's (OCA) home parish.  The current priest is the one who insisted that the services be done in English, and he is a native Serb.  He just came here maybe 8 years ago.  He couldn't speak English when he came.  He speaks beautiful English now (I don't think that having an American wife hurt in this).  He started doing the services in English not all that long after he came.  The only things still in Slavonic are using "Amin" instead of "Amen" and one of the recitings of the Lord's Prayer is still done in Slavonic.  All the rest of the service is done in English.  Also, he opened the church to non-Serbian people, making it clear that the church was open to anyone who wanted to be Orthodox, whether they were Serbian or not.  The main thing is to give it a chance.  Yes, some churches are ethnic clubs that don't welcome anyone who is not of that ethnic group, but others are not that way.  We only have two cradle Orthodox in our OCA mission--one is 60 years old and grew up in a Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) and our Reader's youngest daughter, who was born after the family converted (she's 6).  The rest of us are converts.  It's the same way with the other two OCA parishes in Montana.  There are more cradle Orthodox in Billings, which is much bigger, but they are very accepting (there are many converts in that church as well and the cradle Orthodox are a mixture of Greek and the different Slavonic jurisdictions.
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2003, 05:30:26 PM »

Hi Katherine,
There are two OCA churches in my general area. There are two Greek Orthodox Churches also. I will probably take teh time to visit them in the fall.
Peace,
Polycarp
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2003, 05:15:11 PM »


I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy myself and am happy that Anasasios pointed me to this board.  I have been on the Byzantine Catholic board for some time and some of the discussions there have been enlightening, I can already see from the number of topics and discussions on this board, it is also a good place to be.

I can understand some opf what Byzantino has related.

I myself was a strong Roman Catholic in my youth and in college.  I had many discussions in college with Protestant fundamentalists defending the faith.  At the time I knew very little about the Orthodox Church.  

One of the blessings that has come from my marriage to my wife (she is Orthodox) is learning about Eastern Christainity and its worship. My spiritual journey took me to Roman Catholicism to Byzantine Catholicism to finally Orthodoxy.  I have learned much over the years and feel blessed by the journey and my new home in the Orthodox Church.  

Even as a stong Catholic in the past, there were doctrines and attitutes in the Roman Church that always caused reservations in me. In my exploration of the Orthodox faith over the years I have found many of my questions answered and understanding of faith more clear.  I feel more spiritual freedom, because I do not have the reservations on doctrine (especially on the role and authority on the Papacy and all the "innovations" that seem to make the faith confusing) I had as a Roman Catholic.

I hope to make positive contributions to this forum.

Joe
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« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2003, 05:35:28 PM »

Welcome, Justinianus (Joe)!

Glad you're here!  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2003, 06:29:02 PM »

I have a question for Orthodox who are former Catholics, especially Byzantino (and then I will promptly shut up Wink )

When you come to Orthodoxy, do you get to keep what you've learned from the RCC? Do you despise your Roman Catholic past as "the old man of sin?" In retrospect, do you consider Catholic sacraments valid? Do you consider the RCC to have apostolic succession or not?

Just curious. I myself can't imagine converting. (But the sight of priestesses in my Church would send me careening your way.... Tongue)
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« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2003, 07:42:27 PM »


    Culture Warrior,

         Although this might not be specific to many of your questions, this is a good article by an OCA priest, Father John Garvey who converted from Catholicism.  I find that I must read it again and again when I notice myself getting into the "Convert's Syndrome"  Grin


              http://www.jacwell.org/articles/1996-FALL-Garvey.html


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« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2003, 08:47:07 PM »

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When you come to Orthodoxy, do you get to keep what you've learned from the RCC? Do you despise your Roman Catholic past as "the old man of sin?" In retrospect, do you consider Catholic sacraments valid? Do you consider the RCC to have apostolic succession or not?

1)   You get to keep a lot from the RCC.  The basic concepts of Tradition, liturgy, sacraments, councils, Marian veneration, ascetism (although this is almost gone from moderan RCism).  But the focus and exact attitude towards each is shifted.  But coming from a background that accepts all of those is a HUGE stepping stone, for which I am very thankful.

2)  Yes, I do consider all the time before Orthodoxy to be the old man of sin, but that is more a reflection of my personal failings and has little to do with the RCC.

3)   No, I do not believe Latin sacraments to be grace filled.  The anology I have heard and makes sense to me is to compare Orthodoxy to a tree.  By schism and heresy the Latin Church cut itself off from the tree; over time the branch slowly withers and dies.  

4)  Not in the sense that Orthodoxy does.  Their lines lost grace when heresy was infused into them.

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« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2003, 09:45:58 PM »

That's why I could never convert. I've received too many graces from the Eucharist. I know they're real.  Cool
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« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2003, 10:33:40 PM »

I look back on my RC past with enormous gratitude as I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for the myriad of graces I received from God as a RC, which were, as i discern, in preparation for my journey to Orthodoxy. Nothing irritates me more than a former Catholic who repudiates his or her past with acrimony and venomous hatred, a la the "Former Catholics for Christ" type.

Do I believe RC sacraments to be grace filled? I certainly do, but only where the ministers are orthodox by RC standards and the Mass isn't celebrated like a circus. RC has produced too many great saints which would otherwise have been impossible were the sacraments devoid of grace; the greatest probably being Padre Pio, a man who had all the special gifts of the Holy Spirit.  


"That's why I could never convert. I've received too many graces from the Eucharist. I know they're real. "


My Protestant friends follow the same line of reasoning for not converting to any other Church. But I certainly don't reproach them or anyone for that matter who acts in good faith and with honest conviction.
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« Reply #34 on: September 08, 2003, 11:12:11 PM »

It should be noted that the Orthodox teaching isn't that miracles and other supernatural happenings are limited to within the Church....it is more that they are ordinarily within it.  Saint Paul even says that the pagans in a limited way knew God, so it is with the non-Orthodox.  The difference being that non-Orthodox Christian are MUCH MUCH closer to Orthodoxy.


Also thinking about it I would like to make a revision to point two:  There are things that I repent of that are directly associated with Latin doctrine.  The biggest that comes mind are belief in evolution and the "scholastic" mindset.
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« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2003, 11:14:23 PM »

Joe(Justinias), welcome to the forums!  Look forward to seeing your contribution to the discussions.
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« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2003, 11:57:27 PM »

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My Protestant friends follow the same line of reasoning for not converting to any other Church. But I certainly don't reproach them or anyone for that matter who acts in good faith and with honest conviction.


Please expound on this.

A religion that says Roman Catholic sacraments are not valid, or grace-filled, must be false, because I know them to be real. (Regardless of clown masses, or orthodoxy of priests).

Do your protestant friends base their line of reasoning on the Eucharist? That would be curious indeed!
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« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2003, 12:05:55 AM »

A religion that says Roman Catholic sacraments are not valid, or grace-filled, must be false, because I know them to be real. (Regardless of clown masses, or orthodoxy of priests).

With all due respect, CW, I would think such an opinion would be just that--an opinion.  Your view is at least as subjective as those of the religion(s) you are condemning.
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« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2003, 12:16:50 AM »

I was in your same boat at one time, academically speaking I could see Orthodoxy was right with the Papacy and Filioque but I didn't see the need to convert.  Two things happened though that changed everything.  I read "The Way of a Pilgrim" and visited an Orthodox monastery (www.stanthonysmonastery.org) for the first time in my life.  Then I saw that Orthodoxy wasn't just another denomination of Christianity, but it was something completly different than anything else.  There were some issue that I struggled with, grace being in the Latin church one of them....even now there are a few things that I have trouble with.  But what is present in Orthodoxy is nowhere else, and I realized you CAN'T just pick and choose.
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« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2003, 04:31:51 AM »

Hi Culture Warrior,

I certainly mean no offence by this whatsoever nor do I want to provoke anything. Their line of reasoning basically follows yours in that personal feelings take too much priority in their criteria for determining truth. It begs the question, and is a form of argumentation that can be used by anyone to justify virtually any belief system.

To my knowledge Orthodoxy places a question mark over the "validity" of Roman Catholic sacraments, and doesn't say outright that they are false. Individual Orthodox are free to hold whatever opinion on this matter.

My argument is not a deductive one but rather a causal inference - I believe the RC sacraments, on the basis of the effects they have had on many Roman Catholic saints (extraordinary holiness and manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are nourished by the Sacraments), are grace-filled.
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« Reply #40 on: September 09, 2003, 08:26:11 AM »


Like Byzantino, I look back on my RC past with great gratitude and no ill feeling.  The Church helped me to develope in many positive ways and I learned of the great love of Christ for all humanity through the life of the Church.  The sacraments I received as a RC have meaning for me and did help me to spititually grow in the Christian life.  I learned of the importance of Tradition and the Sacraments in the life of the Church.     Receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation from an Archbishop in a giant cathedral is an experience I will always remember as will the great piety of my Grandmother who was a devout RC.

I was a very acitive RC in my College days and had a desire to become a priest after I completed my military service.  Meeting my wife and subsequently moving spitually to Eastern Christianity stopped it.

I have known many good RC priests, especially the chaplains in the military.  They were good men of strong character.  

I have retained my great love of Latin.  I studied the language for six years and continue to read the Vulgate Bible and say the Our Father and Creed (minus the filoque) in Latin.  I would be interested in seeing a version of the Divine Liturgy in Latin if one exists.  I also have plans to read some of St. Ambrose in the original Latin sometime.

The way I can relate the situation is through a analogy of sorts.  As a Roman Catholic I was looking at Christ with eye glasses with the wrong prescription.  I could see Him, but it was a bit blurry and sometimes I had to strain my eyes.  As an Othrodox, I have the eye glasses of the correct prescription.  I see Him clearly and can appreciate his full glory.  

GLORIA IN EXCELIS DEO!
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« Reply #41 on: September 09, 2003, 08:56:14 AM »

I would be interested in seeing a version of the Divine Liturgy in Latin if one exists.

Dear Joe,

Send me an email at enlightenedsince1981@excite.com; I might have something you'd be interested in.  Wink
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« Reply #42 on: September 09, 2003, 09:28:12 AM »

Joe(Justinias),

in case you didn't notice, I sent you a private message.
Click here! (hope that is the correct URL)

John.
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« Reply #43 on: September 09, 2003, 10:23:15 AM »

Byzantino writes:

Quote
I certainly mean no offence by this whatsoever nor do I want to provoke anything. Their line of reasoning basically follows yours in that personal feelings take too much priority in their criteria for determining truth. It begs the question, and is a form of argumentation that can be used by anyone to justify virtually any belief system.


No offense taken. Wink I think it is not the same, although I can see your point. I can support my "opinion" with reason, scripture, and Tradition. Probably patristics too, although I'm quite novice in this area. (Novice as in I hadn't given it a previous moment's thought before joining this board).

Mor Ephrem writes:

Quote
With all due respect, CW, I would think such an opinion would be just that--an opinion.  Your view is at least as subjective as those of the religion(s) you are condemning.  


Point taken, but see above. It is an opinion that can be supported by ample historical, scriptural and experiential data. Is the validity of Orthodox sacraments "just an opinion?"

It is a moot point, however, because as it was said earlier, the Orthodox do not have a unified doctrinal position on this. They simply haven't yet realized that Catholicism is a valid Church with valid sacraments.
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« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2003, 09:08:30 AM »

That's why I could never convert. I've received too many graces from the Eucharist. I know they're real.  Cool

In the Protestant church I have personally witnessed a woman healed of Cerebral Palsy, a man healed of retinal scarring which had left him blind in one eye, and a close friend have a broken wrist healed such that there was no indication of it having ever been broken.

Do I believe that the Protestant church is part of the body of Christ? No.
Do I believe that God works where He will where ever there is faith, even if that faith is misguided? Yes.

unworthy John.
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