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Jenny
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« on: October 15, 2003, 09:07:29 PM »

Hi everyone,

In a couple of weeks, I will become a catechumen in the Orthodox Church (OCA).    I want so much to be Orthodox, but I have some fears.  When I told the priest at church that I was ready to be a catechumen, I was elated.  But by the next day, anxiety and doubts set in.  

Some of you may or may not know this, but I almost entered the Catholic church a couple of years ago.  I didn't enter mostly because of the objections of my husband to the Catholic Church (I also had some theological doubts).  Since then, I have been reading about the Orthodox church and talking with the priest at the church I've been attending, both of which have helped me to understand the Orthodox view of the church, the papacy and primacy.  However, I still have some lingering doubts.  I just read _Upon This Rock_ by Stephen Ray and _Jesus, Peter & The Keys_.  Some of the passages still really bother me.  For instance these quotes from _Upon This Rock_:

"And in sooth Peter's confession obtained a worthy recompense...Oh, in thy designation by a new name, happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of the building up of that which was to scatter the infernal laws, and the gates of hell, and and all the bars of death!  O blessed keeper of the gate of heaven, to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority prejudged in heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth, acquire in heaven too a like state of settlement."   Hilary of Poitiers (c.  A.D. 315-367/368)

"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head--that is why he is also called Cephas---of all the Apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all."  --Opatus of Milevis, a defender of the faith against the Donatist schism (367 A.D.)

"It is to Peter himself that He says, 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.'  Where Peter is, there is the Church.  And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal."   -- Ambrose of Milan (c. A.D.  340-397)

I also think of the encyclical (can't remember the name) which said that if one believes that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation but remains outside of the church then they are damned.  I did believe at one time that the Catholic Church was necessary for salvation.  While I doubt it now, I wonder: what if I'm wrong?  What if the Orthodox Church isn't right and I'm damning my soul?

Another consideration of mine is my husband.  Whatever I decide to do will affect him greatly.  I want to at least make sure I'm making the right decision.  He's not happy about me not being Presbyterian any more, although he would prefer the Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church.

I went to a Byzantine Catholic Church for a while, but after going to an Orthodox Church, I can't go back.  There was so much missing in the Byzantine Catholic Church.  I was literally moved to tears the first time I went to Vespers at the Orthodox Church (they did not have Vespers at the Byzantine Catholic Church...they had Divine Liturgy on Saturday nights as well as Sunday mornings).  The priest at the Orthodox church is a wonderful, holy man.  The sermons are so focused on Christ and denying ourselves in order to take up our cross and follow him.  The homilies at the Catholic Church (both Latin and Byzantine) are watered down and seem empty.  The spiritual life at the Orthodox church is so rich and deep, I am totally drawn to it.   But those doubts about the papacy keep nagging me.  

Did anyone else go through this when converting?   I'm also wondering how many of you struggled between converting to Catholicism and converting to Orthodoxy before choosing Orthodoxy.

Thanks for any input.

Jenny
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2003, 09:22:48 PM »


Jenny:


When quoting the early church fathers one must take ito consideration the context which such quotes were written.  For every quote you gave I can give another quote to counterbalance it.  Examples from my files -

"Petrine texts were interpreted allegorically. As we have seen, they were referred by Origen and his
successors to 'the Church; or 'the faithful,' and not to Peter himself Commenting on Matt. 16:18, Origen
stated that 'the Rock' was 'every imitator of Christ from whom they drank, who drank from the spiritual
Rock that followed them.' The Church and its constitution were built on such a Rock. The passage referred
to the apostles as a whole and not only to Peter. Elsewhere, Peter is seen as the pattern of all who had a
tight disposition for the Church to be built. The 'keys of the kingdom' were given to all who believed in the
confession Peter made and repented their faults. Origen's lead was followed. In the fifth century, we find
the Alexandrian Monophysite patriarch, Timothy Eluros (454-77), writing to the Church of Constantinople
and referring to Peter's Rock as 'meaning the orthodox faith,' and not Peter's successors." (W.H.C.
Frend, The Rise of Christianity, p. 400)

The church fathers on Peter -

In fact, Cyprian, unwilling to grant even a simple primacy to the Bishop of Rome, considers that "the whole body of bishops is
addressed in Peter." St. Cyprian rightly concludes that the "Rock is the unity of faith, not the person of Peter." (De Catholicae
Ecclesiae Unitate, cap. 4-5)

"I believe that by the Rock you must understand the unshaken faith of the apostles." (St. Hilary, 2nd Book on the Trinity)

Rome, which relies on the "witness" of history to claim jurisdiction over all believers, is shorn of any defense when she is confronted
with these writings. Is it any wonder that patristics (or the study of the Fathers) is given such a minor place in Roman seminary
curricula? Or can one doubt that with such massive evidence against her, the Church of Rome was forced to edit manuscripts, present
forgeries, and doctor the testimony of ancient observers in the faith?

  So complete is the witness of the Fathers that Ignaz von Dollinger, universally acclaimed as the patron of Church history in the late
  nineteenth century, who left the Roman Church upon the proclamation of the doctrine of infallibility, writes with candor and certain
                                          knowledge:

  "Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages in the Gospels (Matthew 16:18, et. al.) NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM applies
these passages to the Roman bishops as Peter's successor. How many Fathers had busied themselves with these texts, yet not one of
   them whose commentaries we possess, Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Theodoric... has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Peter is the consequence of the
commission and promise to Peter. Not one of them has explained the Rock or foundation on which Christ will build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to
his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter's confession of faith in Christ, often both together. Or else they thought Peter was the foundation equally
            with the other apostles, the twelve being together the foundation stones of the Church." (Ignaz von Dollinger, The Papacy and the Council, p. 91)

"This one (Peter) is called a rock in order that on his FAITH (Rock) he may receive the foundations of the Church."  - St.
             Gregory Nazianzen, 26th Discourse

"The Rock on which Christ will build His Church means the faith of confession." - St. John Chrysostom, 53rd Homily
             on St. Matthew

"The Rock (petra) is the blessed and only rock of the faith confessed by the mouth of Peter. It is on this Rock of the
             confession of faith that the Church is built." - St. Hilary of Poitiers, 2nd book on the Trinity

Hilary wrote the first lengthy study of the doctrine of the Church in Latin. Proclaimed a "Doctor of the Church" by the Roman See in 1851, he is called
the Athanasius of the Western Church.

             
             In his Letter to Nestorius, St. Cyril says:

             "Peter and John were equal in dignity and honor. Christ is the foundation of all -the unshakeable Rock upon which we
             are all built as a spiritual edifice."

"Christ is the Rock Who granted to His apostles that they should be called rocks. God has founded His Church on this
             Rock, and it is from this Rock that Peter has been named." - St. Jerome, 6th book on Matthew

"Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was not of the person but the faith of St. Peter of which it was said, 'the
             gates of hell shall not prevail'; certainly it is the confession of faith which has vanquished the powers of hell."

             "Jesus Christ is the Rock. He did not deny the grace of His name... to Peter because he borrowed from the Rock the
             constancy and solidity of his faith- thy Rock is thy faith, and faith is the foundation of the Church. If thou art a Rock,
             thou shalt be in the Church, for the Church is built upon the Rock... (the profession of faith in Christ Jesus)." - St.
             Ambrose: The Incarnation

(Note: St. Ambrose often spoke disparagingly of the Bishop of Rome as usurping the legitimate rights of other bishops in the Church. Cf. On the
Incarnation, On St. Luke, and On the 69th Psalm.)

St. Augustine, one of the most renowned theologians of the Western Church, claimed by the Roman See as "Father and Doctor", says:

"In one place I said... that the Church had been built on Peter as the Rock... but in fact it was not said to Peter, "Thou art the Rock," but rather "Thou art
Peter." The Rock was Jesus Christ, Peter having confessed Him as all the Church confesses Him, He was then called Peter, "the Rock"... (ed, for his
faith) ...Between these two sentiments let the reader choose the most probable." (St. Augustine, Retractions - 13th Sermon; Contra Julianum 1:13)

St. Augustine also adds: "Peter had not a primacy over the apostles, but among the apostles, and Christ said to them "I will build upon Myself, I will not
be built upon thee." (ibid.)

To Augustine, this made Peter somewhat less than an infallible teacher, without his fellow bishops and all the faithful by his side. It is this statement by
Augustine which Pope Hadrian VI (1522-25) had in mind when he declared:

"A Pope may err alone, not only in his personal, but official capacity."

In still another letter Augustine quotes Cyprian, with whom he is in full agreement:

"For neither did Peter whom the Lord chose... when Paul afterwards disputed with him... claim or assume anything and arrogantly to himself, so as to
say that he held a primacy and should rather be obeyed by newcomers..."

Finally, Augustine concludes, near the end of his earthly life, with these words on the "Rock of the Church":

"Christ said to Peter... I will build thee upon Myself, I will not be built upon thee. Those who wished to be built among men said, 'I am of Paul, I am of
Apollos, I am of Cephas' - however, those who did not wish to be built upon Peter but upon the Rock say, I am of Jesus Christ." (Retractions, 13th
Sermon)

What do the Canons say?

Canon 6 at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325 AD), which states:

             "The Bishop of Alexandria shall have complete control and jurisdiction over Egypt, Libya and the Pentapolis. As also the
             Roman bishop over those as are subject to Rome. So too, the Bishop of Antioch and the rest of the bishops shall have
             complete control and jurisdiction over those faithful who are under them."

The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) looks up to Rome as a prestigious See of apostolic origin ...but ecclesiologically, according to this Council, Alexandria,
Antioch and Rome arc on an equal level, each endowed with the SAME power within its provincial boundaries."

Canon 3 (381 AD) "The bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the bishop of Rome, because his city is New Rome"

Canon 28 (451 AD) "...the most holy Church of Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old
Rome, because it was the royal city. And the One Hundred and Fifty most religious Bishops, actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges (
isa presbeia ) to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging that the city which is honoured with the Sovereignty and the Senate, and enjoys equal
privileges with the old imperial Rome..."

Canon 36  (692 AD) "...we decree that the see of Constantinople shall have equal privileges with the see of Old Rome..."  

Through the Canons of the Church, we see that Rome held a "Primacy of Honor". Further, it seems this Primacy of Honor moved to the New Rome,
Constantinople, after the collapse of the Western half of the Roman Empire to the barbarians.

"For no one [of us] has set himself up to be bishop [of bishops ], or attempted with tyrannical dread to force his colleagues to
         obedience to him, since every bishop has, for the license of liberty and power, his own will, and as he cannot be judged by another,
         so neither can he judge another. But we await the judgment of our universal Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, who one and alone hath
         the power, both of advancing us in the governance of his Church, and of judging of our actions [in that position]." - Council of
         Carthage

----------

You may also want to access the following website -

http://aggreen.net/peter/st_peter.html

Orthodoc

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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2003, 10:05:49 PM »

Hi everyone,

In a couple of weeks, I will become a catechumen in the Orthodox Church (OCA).    I want so much to be Orthodox, but I have some fears.  When I told the priest at church that I was ready to be a catechumen, I was elated.  But by the next day, anxiety and doubts set in.  

Some of you may or may not know this, but I almost entered the Catholic church a couple of years ago.  I didn't enter mostly because of the objections of my husband to the Catholic Church (I also had some theological doubts).  Since then, I have been reading about the Orthodox church and talking with the priest at the church I've been attending, both of which have helped me to understand the Orthodox view of the church, the papacy and primacy.  However, I still have some lingering doubts.  I just read _Upon This Rock_ by Stephen Ray and _Jesus, Peter & The Keys_.  Some of the passages still really bother me.  For instance these quotes from _Upon This Rock_:

"And in sooth Peter's confession obtained a worthy recompense...Oh, in thy designation by a new name, happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of the building up of that which was to scatter the infernal laws, and the gates of hell, and and all the bars of death!  O blessed keeper of the gate of heaven, to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority prejudged in heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth, acquire in heaven too a like state of settlement."   Hilary of Poitiers (c.  A.D. 315-367/368)

"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head--that is why he is also called Cephas---of all the Apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all."  --Opatus of Milevis, a defender of the faith against the Donatist schism (367 A.D.)

"It is to Peter himself that He says, 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.'  Where Peter is, there is the Church.  And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal."   -- Ambrose of Milan (c. A.D.  340-397)

I also think of the encyclical (can't remember the name) which said that if one believes that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation but remains outside of the church then they are damned.  I did believe at one time that the Catholic Church was necessary for salvation.  While I doubt it now, I wonder: what if I'm wrong?  What if the Orthodox Church isn't right and I'm damning my soul?

Another consideration of mine is my husband.  Whatever I decide to do will affect him greatly.  I want to at least make sure I'm making the right decision.  He's not happy about me not being Presbyterian any more, although he would prefer the Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church.

I went to a Byzantine Catholic Church for a while, but after going to an Orthodox Church, I can't go back.  There was so much missing in the Byzantine Catholic Church.  I was literally moved to tears the first time I went to Vespers at the Orthodox Church (they did not have Vespers at the Byzantine Catholic Church...they had Divine Liturgy on Saturday nights as well as Sunday mornings).  The priest at the Orthodox church is a wonderful, holy man.  The sermons are so focused on Christ and denying ourselves in order to take up our cross and follow him.  The homilies at the Catholic Church (both Latin and Byzantine) are watered down and seem empty.  The spiritual life at the Orthodox church is so rich and deep, I am totally drawn to it.   But those doubts about the papacy keep nagging me.  

Did anyone else go through this when converting?   I'm also wondering how many of you struggled between converting to Catholicism and converting to Orthodoxy before choosing Orthodoxy.

Thanks for any input.

Jenny

Hi Jenny,
I'm Catholic (Roman) and I believe Jesus specifically changed Simon's name to Peter to indicate that the was being chosen by Jesus as the head of the Church on Earth. That is why Jesus gave Peter the office of the Keys and said the many things he said to Peter only.
That being said. The Orthodox Churches are a wonderful choice for many people and in your situation it may be the best choice possible. The Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox as be completely valid. If my wife would convert from Lutheranism (non practicing) to Orthodox I would convert for her and for unity's sake. I say that because it really would be a miracle for her to convert to Catholicism with all the anti-Catholic stuff she was brought up with. But perhaps she would consider Orthodoxy. I'm waiting for the opportunity to open the door for that discussion. When ever God wills it.
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2003, 10:08:56 PM »

Jenny,

I'm also a catechumen who's leaving the Roman church, and I'm certainly aware of the trepidation and anxiety that beset those who even entertain the thought of leaving the church. Much of my anxiety has dissipated and you can be assured that yours will too. Eventually the facts of history will be difficult to brush aside and will convince you. And yes, the big issue with me was the Papacy.

I have Stephen Ray's book "Upon This Rock" in my library and used to rely on it extensively in my apologetics work.  When i started having my doubts about the Papal claims I decided to concentrate on the history and the writings of the Fathers; instead of taking Ray's quotes at face value I did some research of my own and invested in more books. I concluded that Ray's book is unreliable and totally flawed from start to finish. Much of the quotes of the Fathers are out of their proper context, some are even falsified. Let me give you an example of one.

On page 54 in the footnotes you'll find a quote from St. John Chrysostom which is as follows:

"See how Paul speaks after Peter, and no one restrains: James waits and starts not up, for he (Peter) it was to whom had been entrusted the government (primacy)" (Acts of the Apostles, Homily 33 in Berington and Kirk, Faith of Catholics, 2:34).

Sounds totally Roman Catholic doesn't it. I looked into this quote and found something totally different:

"After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up[2] (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. "And after that they had held their peace, James answered," etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others  to say, while he himself appears in the milder part."

If I could offer you any advice I would say keep attending Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox Church you're attending, pray alot, study the history of the Church and the Papal claims in detail, the Carolingian Empire, Feudalism and the events leading up to the excommunications of 1054.

Personally I don't like making what I see as a false dichotomy in denying Peter himself as the Rock; the great Greek theologians after the Schism such as Cabasilas and Symeon of Thessalonica never did, some of the early Fathers never did...we can have it both ways once properly understood.

If you have any queries you can PM me.

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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2003, 10:38:13 PM »

Please talk to your priest about your thoughts--I think he could reassure you a lot.  Also, he could address your questions or refer you to some good reading mat4erials that will answer them.

Also, your doubts about it are normal.  I know I was elated when my priest told me that I would be chrismated on Holy Saturday (2001).  A couple of days later, I was all concerned that I would be ready for it.  I had to know that I was ready to give God everything, including my past, which I was afraid to deal with.  There were things in my past that I was scared to deal with.  I talked with my priest about something else (and didn't tell him about my doubts), and you know what he says right out of the blue?  "Don't worry, I won't chrismate you before you're ready".  He went on to say that one day we'd both just know that I was ready.  I also wanted to know that I was ready, since I was a Baptist, and, of course, they baptize you almost immediately after you walk the aisle.  There is no preparation time where you learn about the faith.  Also, I guarantee you that Satan is going to cause you trouble during this time.  He's going to be raising a lot of doubts.  Does your priest have e-mail?  Maybe you could e-mail him about your questions if you have a hard time finding a time to talk to him.  

Also, it's a good idea to ask your priest your questions.   He knows you and where you're at, and I don't think any of us are theologians here.  We could give you wrong information.  I have to admit that I like to e-mail my priest because then I have the answers in writing and can refer to them later.  I have a folder for his e-mails alone.  Also, I belong to a mission that has no resident priest, so we only see him once a month for vespers and liturgy.  After vespers, he almost always has 4 or 5 confessions to hear and he is very tired, since he works a full-time job on top of being resident priest for his own mission and the serving priest for ours.  If I e-mail him about it, he can answer it when he has time.
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2003, 08:50:48 AM »

I agree with much of what is said here.  I was a former Byzantine Catholic that became Orthodox recently.  The Roman Church will put up a stong strory in defense of the papacy, but Orthodoc makes some good points on what the church fathers say on the matter.  

It is also important that you discuss this with your priest.  A dialog with him would benefit you.  

Doubt is normal and at times like this, katherine 2001 is correct, Satan likes to throw confusion into the process.  Stay focused on the Savior.  Pray.  Pray is the most important action you can do at this time.  Also read the Gospels.

I would also recommend that you read one of the Church fathers.  St. John Chrysostom would be my recommendation.  Even a collection of Church fathers may be a good aid.
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2003, 10:31:27 AM »

I also think of the encyclical (can't remember the name) which said that if one believes that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation but remains outside of the church then they are damned.  I did believe at one time that the Catholic Church was necessary for salvation.  While I doubt it now, I wonder: what if I'm wrong?  What if the Orthodox Church isn't right and I'm damning my soul?

Dear Jenny,

There was a time when I, convinced (or maybe "dazzled", I don't know) by the arguments the Roman Catholic Church put forward for their view of the papacy, considered entering the Roman Catholic Church.  This lasted for years, and in my heart you could say I was converted already, even though not on paper.  But when I started reading things which made me see that the Roman Catholic Church has changed certain practices of the undivided Church, as well as adding things that didn't need to be there, I had what I thought was a major crisis, and it's the crisis you describe above.  

I had believed in the RC dogmas in my heart, and I felt it was necessary at the first opportunity to join, and so I was OK with the notion that if I didn't join, my salvation would be in peril.  But now, I was doubting it, and I really worried about my eternal fate, same as you seem to be doing now.  Some people told me then that if I had doubts based on my honest interpretation of all the information available to me, then I didn't really believe it anymore, and God would not hold that against me if I continued on in the Orthodox Church.  That didn't really help me, though, so I continued to worry.  

After a while, though, I began to realise the truth of what they said.  I believed the RC teachings because I didn't have any other information available to me, or I didn't think the information available to me was sufficient enough to cast doubt on the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.  In such a situation, of course I believed: there was no alternative.  But now, doing more reading, and more investigating, I'd found that the Orthodox response to these issues not only sufficiently countered the RC claims, but made even more sense, and squared with history.  So I genuinely didn't believe, and not for any reason other than that my reading and investigating cast doubt on my previous ideas.  God is not so angry that he'd cast you away for this, if you did this honestly, and not for any bad reason.  When I realised this, it made life a whole lot easier.  I hope you will come to this realisation in time, and be at peace.  There's enough to make one nervous about converting without this, I'll bet.  Smiley

God bless, and welcome to the Church!
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2003, 08:10:04 PM »

"When quoting the early church fathers one must take ito consideration the context which such quotes were written.  For every quote you gave I can give another quote to counterbalance it.  Examples from my files -"

Thank you, Orthodoc, for all these quotes.  I would like to read more of these in context, but I'm not sure where to start.   I guess an Orthodox bookstore would have some books of the church father's writings.  

And thank you for the link to the website.  It looks like there are some good articles on there.

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2003, 08:18:00 PM »

"If my wife would convert from Lutheranism (non practicing) to Orthodox I would convert for her and for unity's sake. I say that because it really would be a miracle for her to convert to Catholicism with all the anti-Catholic stuff she was brought up with. But perhaps she would consider Orthodoxy. I'm waiting for the opportunity to open the door for that discussion. When ever God wills it."

Hi Saint Polycarp,

I hope she will convert at some point.  I understand the anti-Catholic stuff; my husband was baptized Catholic, but his mother re-married a Southern Baptist and he was brought up in an anti-Catholic household and church.  It would be a miracle for him, too, to convert to Catholicism.

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2003, 08:34:16 PM »

"Sounds totally Roman Catholic doesn't it. I looked into this quote and found something totally different:

"After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up[2] (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. "And after that they had held their peace, James answered," etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others  to say, while he himself appears in the milder part." "

Wow!  That is a big difference!!!  Thanks, Byzantino.  

I did just PM you with some further questions.

Jenny
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2003, 08:38:05 PM »

Please talk to your priest about your thoughts--I think he could reassure you a lot.  Also, he could address your questions or refer you to some good reading mat4erials that will answer them.

Also, your doubts about it are normal.  I know I was elated when my priest told me that I would be chrismated on Holy Saturday (2001).  A couple of days later, I was all concerned that I would be ready for it.  I had to know that I was ready to give God everything, including my past, which I was afraid to deal with.  There were things in my past that I was scared to deal with.  I talked with my priest about something else (and didn't tell him about my doubts), and you know what he says right out of the blue?  "Don't worry, I won't chrismate you before you're ready".  He went on to say that one day we'd both just know that I was ready.  I also wanted to know that I was ready, since I was a Baptist, and, of course, they baptize you almost immediately after you walk the aisle.  There is no preparation time where you learn about the faith.  Also, I guarantee you that Satan is going to cause you trouble during this time.  He's going to be raising a lot of doubts.  Does your priest have e-mail?  Maybe you could e-mail him about your questions if you have a hard time finding a time to talk to him.  

Also, it's a good idea to ask your priest your questions.   He knows you and where you're at, and I don't think any of us are theologians here.  We could give you wrong information.  I have to admit that I like to e-mail my priest because then I have the answers in writing and can refer to them later.  I have a folder for his e-mails alone.  Also, I belong to a mission that has no resident priest, so we only see him once a month for vespers and liturgy.  After vespers, he almost always has 4 or 5 confessions to hear and he is very tired, since he works a full-time job on top of being resident priest for his own mission and the serving priest for ours.  If I e-mail him about it, he can answer it when he has time.

Hi Katherine,

That's a really good idea.  I just looked at the calendar from church and he does have an e-mail.  I don't know why I didn't think of that before.   I will talk to him about these questions.

The priest where I go to church is full time there, but he's pretty busy, so it's hard to talk to him on the phone for very long.  And the church is almost an hour away, so it's kind of hard to swing by to talk.

Thanks,

Jenny
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2003, 08:39:52 PM »

I agree with much of what is said here.  I was a former Byzantine Catholic that became Orthodox recently.  The Roman Church will put up a stong strory in defense of the papacy, but Orthodoc makes some good points on what the church fathers say on the matter.  

It is also important that you discuss this with your priest.  A dialog with him would benefit you.  

Doubt is normal and at times like this, katherine 2001 is correct, Satan likes to throw confusion into the process.  Stay focused on the Savior.  Pray.  Pray is the most important action you can do at this time.  Also read the Gospels.

I would also recommend that you read one of the Church fathers.  St. John Chrysostom would be my recommendation.  Even a collection of Church fathers may be a good aid.

Thanks, Justinianus.  Do you have a recommendation for the best collection of Church fathers?

Jenny
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2003, 08:44:44 PM »

I also think of the encyclical (can't remember the name) which said that if one believes that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation but remains outside of the church then they are damned.  I did believe at one time that the Catholic Church was necessary for salvation.  While I doubt it now, I wonder: what if I'm wrong?  What if the Orthodox Church isn't right and I'm damning my soul?

Dear Jenny,

There was a time when I, convinced (or maybe "dazzled", I don't know) by the arguments the Roman Catholic Church put forward for their view of the papacy, considered entering the Roman Catholic Church.  This lasted for years, and in my heart you could say I was converted already, even though not on paper.  But when I started reading things which made me see that the Roman Catholic Church has changed certain practices of the undivided Church, as well as adding things that didn't need to be there, I had what I thought was a major crisis, and it's the crisis you describe above.  

I had believed in the RC dogmas in my heart, and I felt it was necessary at the first opportunity to join, and so I was OK with the notion that if I didn't join, my salvation would be in peril.  But now, I was doubting it, and I really worried about my eternal fate, same as you seem to be doing now.  Some people told me then that if I had doubts based on my honest interpretation of all the information available to me, then I didn't really believe it anymore, and God would not hold that against me if I continued on in the Orthodox Church.  That didn't really help me, though, so I continued to worry.  

After a while, though, I began to realise the truth of what they said.  I believed the RC teachings because I didn't have any other information available to me, or I didn't think the information available to me was sufficient enough to cast doubt on the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.  In such a situation, of course I believed: there was no alternative.  But now, doing more reading, and more investigating, I'd found that the Orthodox response to these issues not only sufficiently countered the RC claims, but made even more sense, and squared with history.  So I genuinely didn't believe, and not for any reason other than that my reading and investigating cast doubt on my previous ideas.  God is not so angry that he'd cast you away for this, if you did this honestly, and not for any bad reason.  When I realised this, it made life a whole lot easier.  I hope you will come to this realisation in time, and be at peace.  There's enough to make one nervous about converting without this, I'll bet.  Smiley

God bless, and welcome to the Church!  

Thank you!  And thank you so much for sharing this.  It's good to know I'm not alone...there have been others who have feared before me!  There is a lot to be nervous about, that's for sure.   Smiley  I am praying for peace.

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2003, 04:14:01 AM »

Dear Jenny,

Father Paisios of Mount Athos had some good advice for converts to orthodoxy from western christian traditions. I think he was thinking chiefly of former Protestants but I'm sure former Catholics would also find this beneficial.

His advice was for us not to spend a lot of time reading up on orthodox theology, but rather to read the lives of the saints (on top of the bible, particulary the gospels) so as to gain a solid grounding in orthopraxis, learning to live an orthodox life by following the example of the saints who have gone on before us.

We converts, particularly former Protestants like myself, have a tendency to dive deep into the theological stuff (I have over 1GB of orthodox/patristics websites downloaded on my hard drive) but all too often we remain stuck in our former scholastic mindset and can easily fall into intellectual pride because of our "right knowledge". Of course, no amount of "right knowledge" will save us unless it also translates into "right faith" and "right living".

It is good particularly to read the lives of relatively modern saints as they lived in our times and so leave us without excuse. Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis (also known as Saint Nectarios of Aegina), Saint John of Krondstant, Saint Kosmas Aitolos, Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Saint Xenia Of St Petersburg and Saint Silouan the Athonite are all wonderful examples and I'm sure others could add many more to this list. There are also many others who have not yet been canonized though many agree that they will be, such as Father Porphyrios, Father Arseny, Mother Gavrilla, Father Sophrony and Father Paisios.

I've personally found reading their lives and writings to have had far greater impact on my life than any amount of theological works I have read. Not that they aren't important too, it is just that our ability to understand them properly is impaired so long as we fail to subdue our flesh.

I found the above links through a quick search on the Internet, but they only give us a small sip. I recommend you buy or borrow the books if you can. Shop around too as the prices can vary quite a bit.

John.
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2003, 07:18:36 AM »

Jenny....just remember....the evil one always finds ways to distract those on the right path. There are many here who can help you by sharing their own doubts and resolutions, but ultimately, discuss everything with your spiritual father, because with all the different backgrounds and thoughts, clarification may result, but so may confusion.  And one who has done much reading in Orthodoxy and theology and the Fathers will be able to read them with a different understanding than a catechumen....so even if everyone says read this set of patristics, or this prayer book...ask your spiritual father, and pray for guidance before reading.   May God bless you, and welcome to the forum...and to Orthodoxy....and hopefully tonight will decide that the RED SOX will be playing your Marlins...

Vicki

Thank you, Vicki.  I will discuss everything with my spiritual father and I will pray.

And I'm sorry it's not the Red Sox who will be playing my Marlins. Sad

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2003, 07:29:04 AM »

Quote
I found the above links through a quick search on the Internet, but they only give us a small sip. I recommend you buy or borrow the books if you can. Shop around too as the prices can vary quite a bit.

John.

Dear John,

Thank you for the links!  One thing I have not done is read the lives of the saints.  Due to my Presbyterian background I have a tendency to study the theology and forget about the lives of the people who lived the theology.

Quote
I've personally found reading their lives and writings to have had far greater impact on my life than any amount of theological works I have read. Not that they aren't important too, it is just that our ability to understand them properly is impaired so long as we fail to subdue our flesh.

Very good point.  I will see what books the Orthodox bookstore at my church has when I go this weekend.

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2003, 07:52:07 AM »


Thanks, Justinianus.  Do you have a recommendation for the best collection of Church fathers?

Jenny


Prodomos also makes some good poins.  Reading the lives of some of the modern saints would be a great help on how the saints lived their lives in the modern world.  Since I am a historian of the Roman Empire, my readings gravitate around the 4th to 6th centuries, but saints lives from more modern times can be sometimes more easy to relate to.  

I would recommend that you look at some of these Orthodox On-Line book stores:

www.light-n-life.com
http://www.sjkp.org/
http://www.skete.com/
http://www.easternchristian.com/

they all have lives of the saints books.  You can find a book on a particular saint that goes into detail, or a book that list many lives and gives less detail.  You could pick a particular month of the year and buy a book that has biographies for the saints in that moth.

Also, the portal button at the top of the page here can give you others.
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« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2003, 09:48:32 AM »

If you want to start reading the writings of the Church Fathers, you should ask your priest for recommendations.  There may be some works that he wouldn't want you to read yet.  For instance, I'm not allowed to read the "Philokalia".  I have heard that even a lot of monks aren't allowed to read it, so now I don't feel so bad.  

Definitely ask your priest for recommendations about which writings you should start with.  St. Vladimir's Seminary Press (SVS) has a Popular Patristic series and most of them cost $9.95, which is pretty affordable.
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« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2003, 11:35:25 AM »

Prodromos,

I also thank you for your list and suggestions.


james
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2003, 06:27:44 AM »

You are welcome guys Smiley

I'll pass the thanks on to Father Paisios next time I visit his grave.

John.
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« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2003, 07:15:08 AM »

Hi everyone,

This past Sunday I became a catechumen in the Orthodox church  at the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Miami, Florida.  It was really wonderful.  Our bishop happened to be there so he came up and kissed me three times and congratulated me.  

I was a lot more emotional than I thought I would be.  I still have some issues I'm trying to work through, so in the car on the way there I felt more nervous than emotional.  But when Father was praying over me I started tearing up and I had to bite my lip to keep from losing it completely.  Fortunately, I didn't really start crying in front of all those people!

In Christ,

Jenny
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« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2003, 08:34:18 AM »

Congratulations Jenny!  Your description of the event is very moving.  I pray that you are spiritually enriched by your journey to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2003, 09:13:36 AM »

Congratulations Jenny!  Your description of the event is very moving.  I pray that you are spiritually enriched by your journey to Orthodoxy.

Thank you, Justinianus.  

And thank you to everyone for your encouraging words and prayers.  I really appreciate them.

Jenny

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« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2003, 11:16:03 AM »

Jenny,

Glory to God!  I am glad to hear that after much prayer and deliberation, you have decided to enter the Church.  You were indeed fortunate to have vladyka there, he is a saintly man.  I hope that Fr. Phillip is well.

And now for my standard warning.  Now that you're a catechuman, hell has declared open warfare upon you, you must constantly keep vigil, as there is nothing the demons hate more than to see a sincere seeker enter the Church.  At times the people, the services, the jurisdictional bickering , etc.  We must remember this exchange between Christ and St. Peter:

Joh 6:67  Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"
Joh 6:68  Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;
Joh 6:69  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

I will pray for you.
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« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2011, 10:38:34 PM »

Have you considered traveling to see one of the Monasteries that have sprung up in America? If your having doubts, I think maybe seeing the "Pros" and having a chance to talk with them and see the way that they Live the faith could help.
Just my two cents.

TD Andreis
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« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2011, 11:45:01 PM »

Congratulations Jenny!
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