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Author Topic: Adopting an Orthodox life outside the Church  (Read 2902 times) Average Rating: 0
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Agabus
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« on: May 26, 2009, 11:39:18 PM »

After a long and often backtracking struggle, I am able to admit what has been true for a while now — I am philosophically Orthodox, and I believe Orthodoxy is the Church.

The problem is that there is no way for me to become ecclesiastically Orthodox, due primarily my location but also to my personal economics (even if it was possible for me to drive as far as I would have to to attend liturgy, I can't afford to).

That said — and God willing, it will not always be that way — what are the best practices I can adopt to become the best pre-catechumen I can in anticipation of the day I can officially unite with the Church?
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Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 11:55:57 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

First off, are you sure there are no parishes that are driving distance from you?

You may want to check this site out:

http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/


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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 11:57:30 PM »

Wait.  I just saw "Church of Japan" in your profile.  Are you in Japan?  I seem to recall that there are some Orthodox Churches there.
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Agabus
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009, 12:22:36 AM »

Wait.  I just saw "Church of Japan" in your profile.  Are you in Japan?  I seem to recall that there are some Orthodox Churches there.
Sorry, that was my attempt at being funny in my longing for communion.

I'm well acquainted with orthodoxyinamerica.org. I am constantly checking it to see if any new missions have started closer to home. There is a mission that is 50 minutes away in good traffic, which is not terrible, but they only meet once a month, on Thursdays when I am working. After that mission, every other EO church within driving distance is 1.75 to 2 hours away, which is not a problem for some people but is for me due to my current situation.
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Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH
Salpy
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009, 12:36:19 AM »

Well, maybe you can work it out where you go to the church that is 2 hours away periodically, maybe once a month or once every two months.  I know it's not easy.  It would be good, though, to try to establish a relationship with a priest who can advise you, at least over the phone or by e-mail.

Meanwhile, at home, have you tried to set up a home altar of some sort?  You may want, at the very least, to get a basic prayer book and start praying at home. Here is just one prayer book, there are probably others:

http://www.light-n-life.com/shopping/order_product.asp?ProductNum=POCK100

Also, you can start reading, if you haven't already.

I also know that there are sermons and such over the internet.  Perhaps others can offer suggestions.
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2009, 12:37:28 AM »

Christ is risen!

Welcome, Agabus and best wishes in your desire to eventually become Orthodox. So... what to do in your present situation? I would suggest contacting one of the closest Orthodox churches via e-mail. Perhaps there are others in your vicinity with whom you might be able to carpool. Then again, the priest might be able to better advise you and set up a reading schedule for you as well as helping you develop a simple rule of prayer. It would be important to establish this connection with a priest and follow his counsel. We are well intentioned and while our advice might be reasonably sound, the Orthodox way would be to follow the lead of an ordained priest.
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2009, 01:33:42 AM »

Dear

It's not unusual to be in an isolated situation.  We have people in our parish who get to Services only a few times a year.

1. Start by getting yourself a copy of the Jordanville Prayerbook.

It costs $15 from Jordanville Monastery
http://www.jordanville.org/news_080623_1.html

2.  It is useful to *hear* how the Orthodox say (intone) their prayers and so there is a teaching CD available where a priest reads the Morning and Evening Prayers using the text from the Jordanville Prayerbook.

"Morning and Evening Prayers According to the Jordanville Prayer Book" read by Fr Victor Potapov.
http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/kiosk/e_Kiosk_title.htm

3.  Ask these places for a 2009 Church Calendar so you can begin to see when the Feasts and the fasting periods occur.  You will start to get a feel for the Church's annual cycle which has such an impact on the faithful


4.  Setting up a prayer corner at home.... Do you have addresses where you could obtain icons, an oil lamp, and such like for home use?  Christ our Lord, His mother, the Saints for whom you have a special love....

5. Fasting.... I don't know your home situation but are you in a position where you could start to adopt the spiritual practice of fasting... say, by avoiding meat on Wednesdays and Fridays?

God bless your journey.
Fr Ambrose
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Thomas
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2009, 09:37:40 AM »

Beloved in the Lord,Agabus

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum! We are here to provide a a place on the OC.Net where you may ask your questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. As many of those posting in this area are ignorant of Orthodox teachings and are using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. We try to provide direct and simple answers with sources if possible are most helpful


In view of your distance from a local Orthodox Church, I endorse the suggestion that you  visit at least monthly the Church closest to you to attend the Divine Liturgy.  Call ahead to introduce yourself to the pastor and make an appointment to meet with him to discuss the possibility of getting one on one education or suggested readings with discussion.  On Sundays and Major Feast days, if you have access to a computer go to the website www.goarch.org the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website to watch the Divine Liturgy available  on several sites there.  It will usually be a combination of English and Greek but will enable you to learn the pattern of worship so you will be comfortable with it when you visit the local church.

I wish you all the best in your journey to Orthodoxy.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2009, 09:50:20 AM »

Get yourself these CDs:

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Tone 1) by the Romeiko Ensemble.

The Divine Liturgy in English in Byzantine Chant by Cappella Romana.

One is Greek, the other English. Both contain the entire text of the Liturgy in the CD booklet. Listen to both a few times and follow along with the text and you'll feel a lot more comfortable when you finally manage to visit a church, regardless of the language used there.


Personally, I think the Mount Lebanon Choir's recording of the Liturgy in English is nicer than the Cappella Romana one, but unlike the Capella Romana and Romeiko Ensemble recordings it doesn't contain the prayers of the priest and so it's less helpful as a teaching tool.
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2009, 11:43:10 AM »


If you have a good Internet Connection, turn on AncientFaithRadio.

You will realize you are not truly alone, as thousands are tuned in, right along with.

It's a great source of Orthodox spiritual music, sermons and stories.

Welcome!

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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2009, 11:53:06 AM »


If you have a good Internet Connection, turn on AncientFaithRadio.

You will realize you are not truly alone, as thousands are tuned in, right along with.

It's a great source of Orthodox spiritual music, sermons and stories.

Welcome!



Great suggestion. Here's the link: http://ancientfaith.com/

You could also add the OCN to that: http://www.myocn.net/
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2009, 03:50:49 PM »

You may also view live Divine Liturgy on the Greek Orthodox website on Sundays and on the Carpatho-Russian website in English (soon) as well.
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Agabus
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2009, 12:08:12 AM »

I have done all of these suggestions in some form (except buying CDs — I've found a few Divine Liturgies in .mp3 format free online). If anyone knows where I can hear the daily prayers in a Russian tradition in English online, I'd appreciate it. I use the prayers from the SRAA's red prayer book in daily prayer, and at the moment I have a couple of icons I've printed myself — a Pantocrater and the Jerusalem icon of the Theotokos. That's the best I can do right now, but I've framed those two and it's a start. The closest store selling Orthodox icons (and other supplies, like incense I didn't get from the local yogi) is — of course — attached to one of the far-off churches, so those I've got will have to do for the moment.

(Anyone have any advice o how to build a proper prayer corner? Right now it's a couple of icons, a Bible and an incense burner sitting on top of a bookcase...)

I've contacted the two closest priests via email, with limited — thus far — correspondence.

Incorporating fasting should be fairly easy. For [western] Lent a couple of years ago, my wife and I both adopted a strict vegan fast similar to what Orthodox proper do, and while we don't stick to it quite as strictly as we used to, reverting to it shouldn't be hard for me.

And Ancient Faith Radio helps me get through those long weekends at work alone.
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Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2009, 12:16:57 AM »


(Anyone have any advice o how to build a proper prayer corner? Right now it's a couple of icons, a Bible and an incense burner sitting on top of a bookcase...)

If you click on the "icon corner" tag below, you'll find some useful threads.
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2009, 03:20:31 AM »

Anyone have any advice o how to build a proper prayer corner? Right now it's a couple of icons, a Bible and an incense burner sitting on top of a bookcase...

This sounds perfect!  All that St. Seraphim of Sarov had in his monastic cell was an icon of only the Theotokos, which was 'technically' canonically improper as it was modeled after Roman Catholic iconographic influences, and this was enough to aid him to transfiguration.  I made a large fuss over my prayer corner this first year encountering Orthodoxy, and now I wish that I had not.  I went over to a poor friend's house and all he had was a picture of the Theotokos he had printed off the internet and a coffee mug he used to hold some incense.  It was truly humbling for me, as I had used so much money to have a proper censer, hanging lampadas, and plenty of 'extra' icons to enhance the spiritual setting.  In the end, I now feel that it's almost gaudy and showy and I wish that I had taken a humbler route.  It was done with good and pious intentions out of a newly kindled zeal, but if nothing else understand that whatever you have is all you need.

Christ has Ascended! (Christ is Ascending?)  The grammar with "Christ is Ascended" always trips me up!  Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2009, 08:38:46 AM »

In the end, I now feel that it's almost gaudy and showy and I wish that I had taken a humbler route.  It was done with good and pious intentions out of a newly kindled zeal, but if nothing else understand that whatever you have is all you need.

Let your icon corner grow with you.

By that I mean, simply add icons as you begin to learn of Saints and feel close to them and desire to pray to them.  After reading about Saint Seraphim you may want an icon of him as a visual reminder of him in your icon corner.. or you may have a love for the epistles of Saint Paul or feel a closeness to Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr.    Just add icons as you encounter these Saints.  Let them speak to your heart.

These are the icons which I have in my icon corner

Our Saviour
His holy Mother (Kazan)
The Holy Prophet Elijah
Saint Nicholas of Myra
Saint Ambrose of Milan
Saint Ambrose of Optina
Saint Seraphim of Sarov
Saint Nil Sorsky
Saint Sava of Serbia
Saint Paraskeva of Serbia
Saint Basil of Ostrog
Saint Patrick of Ireland
Saint Brigid of Kildare
Saint Kevin of Glendalough
Saint Xenia of Petersburg
Saint Dorothea of Caesaria
Saint John Maximovitch
Saint Anthony the Roman

It seems a lot but they all fit into a fairly small space since they are all tight up against one another.  Each one of these Saints means a lot to me.  The "collection" has been growing for 30 years.   Smiley
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Agabus
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2009, 11:50:49 AM »

Just a quick update:

We — my wife, children and I — have been attending an OCA parish a couple of times a month since August, and while I would like to make it more often, my work/living/financial situation still doesn’t make that possible. Sometimes we make Vespers, sometimes Liturgy.

Perhaps the funniest thing to happen so far was what finally got me to publicly venerate icons. I’m coming from a Baptist/OPC Presbyterian background, and it’s been hard for me to shake some of my iconoclastic concerns. But one week my four-year-old was observing other people venerating the icons, and when he asked me what they were doing and I explained it to him, he looked up at me and asked, “Why aren’t we?”

And so we did. Now, I just have to make sure he doesn’t interrupt someone else while they are doing it — he made a break for the Church’s patronal icon as soon as we walked in the door Saturday.

Maybe the only setback was the fact that the priest assigned to the parish recently took an unexpected leave of absence, and now Liturgy will only be served twice a month on Saturdays by a priest from a parish two hours to the north (as of this week Met. Jonah assigned him as priest-in-charge), which — in practical terms — means I won’t be able to make a Liturgy in the month of December due to my schedule.

I know this is not an uncommon experience for the Orthodox in the United States, but it’s no fun, nonetheless.

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Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2009, 03:52:01 AM »

After a long and often backtracking struggle, I am able to admit what has been true for a while now — I am philosophically Orthodox, and I believe Orthodoxy is the Church.

The problem is that there is no way for me to become ecclesiastically Orthodox, due primarily my location but also to my personal economics (even if it was possible for me to drive as far as I would have to to attend liturgy, I can't afford to).

That said — and God willing, it will not always be that way — what are the best practices I can adopt to become the best pre-catechumen I can in anticipation of the day I can officially unite with the Church?

I got baptized, and I can almost guarantee I'm in a more remote location than you are.  (Unless you're also in Communist China in which case message me and I'll hook you up.)

Edit:
Oops!  Get me, not reading the whole thread.  So glad you got this resolved.
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Agabus
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2009, 04:10:51 PM »

I got baptized, and I can almost guarantee I'm in a more remote location than you are.  (Unless you're also in Communist China in which case message me and I'll hook you up.)

Edit:
Oops!  Get me, not reading the whole thread.  So glad you got this resolved.

It's not very fun to have to make the drive, but I'm thankful that it isn't as difficult to get to a parish as — oh — living in Communist China.
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Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2009, 05:35:29 PM »

After a long and often backtracking struggle, I am able to admit what has been true for a while now — I am philosophically Orthodox, and I believe Orthodoxy is the Church.

The problem is that there is no way for me to become ecclesiastically Orthodox, due primarily my location but also to my personal economics (even if it was possible for me to drive as far as I would have to to attend liturgy, I can't afford to).

That said — and God willing, it will not always be that way — what are the best practices I can adopt to become the best pre-catechumen I can in anticipation of the day I can officially unite with the Church?

Hi there. So sorry you haven't a church near you, that must be a pain.

What I'm going to say isn't the same at all, but maybe it will be useful all the same. I'm most certainly not Orthodox, but my partner is. Because of that, I had to make a conscious decision to live a life that was, if not entirely Orthodox, at least very mindful of and thoughtful about Orthodoxy.

The strange thing is - and this might encourage you - that, even though I don't want to convert to Orthodoxy, I have found when I introduced Orthodox elements into my life (like cooking fasting food so we can both eat it), I thought harder about what we are actually doing as Christians, and why. It made me a better Christian just to be aware of, and observe, some of these rules that dictate our daily life.

I know this isn't at all the same as your situation, but what I'm thinking is, if it can make a difference to me, someone who isn't Orthodox, to maintain a very incomplete Orthodox lifestyle, then surely you will feel the benefit of keeping to those traditions you can until you find a church or a church is brought to you.
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