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Author Topic: Mixed relationships. Opinions?  (Read 6844 times) Average Rating: 0
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Liz
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« on: August 16, 2009, 05:34:47 PM »

Hi all.

I was just wondering if people could give me some guidance and opinions - and especially, if you have any knowledge of a situation similar to mine.

I am hoping to marry my partner, who is an Orthodox Christian. I am somewhat nervous about how to give this marriage the best possible start, so I want to do everything right. My partner's family don't speak my language, and most of my family still living are not Christian, so I am a little isolated. I have found that many Orthodox people react very strongly against my relationship with my partner, and think that it is wrong that we live together (in a Christian context - it is too expensive for us to rent two rooms, so we share the one). It also seems that many Orthodox people do not think there is any potential for a good life together, since we do not attend the same church for worship. We do pray together and I can honestly say that, in my adult life, I have never felt so close to God as in the last year with my partner. However, neither of us can convert, and so we expect to continue living with the two strands of Christianity.

So tell me: do you have any experience of successful mixed marriages? Are there any things that we could do to make everything work better? And how should we think of bringing up children? We will shortly speak in more detail to my vicar and my partner's priest. I assume that both will follow the normal guidelines, and insist that any children be brought up in the Church. However, since both the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches permit marriages to members of the other Church, I assume that our situation is not a new one, and so I'd like to know what others think might be a good solution.

Sorry if that's too many questions!

Thanks,

Liz
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2009, 06:00:22 PM »

I have a very close friend who was in a similar situation to yourself.  She is a High Church Anglican, while he is Romanian Orthodox.  Her family had been here for generations, though the Anglican Church was still very much part of her culture.  His family came here much more recently, in fact, I believe he is first generation Canadian.  When they met, they were both medical interns, so money wasn't overly abundant and both had insane hours.

Both were (luckily) very open to each others' cultures, and strove to immerse, learn and experience what life was like for the other one.  Both, experienced rather harsh discrimination from their future 'in-laws'.  The fellow's parents wanted him to marry a Romanian girl, move back to Romania, be active in the Romanian Church, attend various cultural functions, etc.  While her family was disapproved since he didn't fit the whole WASP ideal they saw fit for her.  He wasn't a "normal" Christian, he was ethnic, "brown", etc. 

What really caused an uproar within the Romanian family was when they moved in together (though much had to do with him 'moving out' I think).  They saw it as a sin, even though financially it only made sense, and called her the most horrible names.  They said she was some temptress sent to destroy their son, and how they should have never left Romania.  After they got engaged, the Romanian family even threatened to boycott the wedding, since they said it would be an embarrassment to their family.

Well, now they have been married for 4 years and have a 8 month year old son.  They had him baptised in the Romanian Church, but both now attend services at each other's Churches in addition to their own.  ie. Saturday at an Anglican parish, Sunday at an Orthodox one.  They honestly found an incredible strength as a couple to endure what they did, from family, friends, fellow parishioners, etc.  Of course, come the baptism, everyone suddenly became friends and cheerful again.   Tongue

I think what was key was they clearly loved and respected each other, not only the person, but their culture, faith and the hardships they were enduring for each other.

Sorry if this doesn't help much.  All the best to you both!
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2009, 06:28:24 PM »

Dear Liz,

To your question of successful mixed marriages, here's my two cents, for all they are worth.

I have converted to Orthodoxy in early 2007, and my wife - even though technically a cradle Orthodox, - is an agnostic. To her, my prayers at home, my icon corner, my fasting, my insistence on going to Divine Liturgies are absolutely weird. She does not understand me. She has completely different philosophical, religious convictions. But she loves me, and we, therefore, have no real problems. She thinks I am cuckoo, but she loves this cuckoo and she is ready to make some sacrifices for this cuckoo's sake.

All other members of my extended family (my mother, my daughter, my son-in-law and his parents and siblings, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and two nieces), and all the numerous friends of my family, and all of my own friends from the times of me being a university student and later, - all of them are pretty much like my wife. But, again, they love me and therefore the difference in our religious beliefs is not a problem.

So, from the side of agnostics and atheists (my daughter, of all the above-listed people, is more of a serious, angry, militant atheist than an agnostic) there is no problem.

How will it be for you, what reaction you will have as a non-Orthodox from the side of those who are really Orthodox - I do not know and cannot forsee. But generally, I know, I know very well, I know with every cell and molecule and fiber of my soul, that mixed marriages, mixed religious convictions in a family can be something that is not at all harmful to you.
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2009, 07:02:42 PM »

I believe that in general (although there are always exceptions and you may be one of them), mixed marriages do not have as much success as those marriages in which the couple is of the same belief. Indeed, we are specifically told in the scriptures themselves, "be you not unequally yoked together," so it seems to me that you immediately have two strikes against you. Furthermore, spiritual considerations should outrank financial ones and living together violates yet another scriptural injunction. You say that you cannot convert. I'm not sure what that means since will not seems to be a more appropriate descriptive. All of us "can" convert but we choose to either not convert or to convert based upon a number of factors. My opinion is that the chance for a solid, Christian marriage is not a strong one. Are children something that will be considered in the future? If so, how will they be raised? Will your future husband observe the fasts and feasts of the Church and will you accommodate him in this observance? Considering that fasting is every Wednesday and Friday, several special days (i.e. St John the Baptist Day), four Lenten periods which make up for more than 1/3 of the year, that would be quite an accommodation on your part.

Bottom line: you should both sit down with his priest and see what he has to say since he is the one that will have to render a judgment that could affect your fiance's spiritual path.
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2009, 07:03:14 PM »

I am hoping to marry my partner, who is an Orthodox Christian.
Firstly, congratulations are in order.

I am somewhat nervous about how to give this marriage the best possible start, so I want to do everything right. My partner's family don't speak my language, and most of my family still living are not Christian, so I am a little isolated. I have found that many Orthodox people react very strongly against my relationship with my partner, and think that it is wrong that we live together (in a Christian context - it is too expensive for us to rent two rooms, so we share the one). It also seems that many Orthodox people do not think there is any potential for a good life together, since we do not attend the same church for worship. We do pray together and I can honestly say that, in my adult life, I have never felt so close to God as in the last year with my partner. However, neither of us can convert, and so we expect to continue living with the two strands of Christianity.

To begin, it would be much better if you weren't living together before marriage, but this is a pastoral matter between the two of you and your priests.

The second thing I would say is that "love" is a verb rather than simply a feeling.  All marriages take courage, patience and lots of other verbs.  Can a mixed marriage work?  The short answer is "Absolutely!" Smiley  

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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2009, 07:17:48 PM »

Thanks, Nebelpfade and Heorhij, for you wise words! They cheered me up no end, and I will be thinking carefully about what you've both said.

Douglas - I think 'cannot' convert is correct here, since one can hardly fake faith. But perhaps you meant something different, so please explain if there's something I'm missing?

(Also - I am editing this post after re-reading - I don't think fasting is a difficult accommodation. It seemed to come quite naturally, and one gets used to it quickly. At least, that's my experience thus far.)

Since it's come up from two people here, and I've also heard some objections in the past, could anyone try and explain to me why living together is so frowned upon? We only do so because we live in a very expensive town, where the benefits of sharing a room in a house (we live in one of those houses that are split into rooms rented by several people who all share kitchens/bathrooms) are financially very clear. I really cannot see why any Church should object to this, but no one has yet been able to give me any answers - I suspect that people sometimes do not take 'living together' literally, which is how I intend the phrase.

Many thanks for the replies,

Liz.
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2009, 07:19:54 PM »

Hi Liz,

My husband was a member of the Episcopalian church when we married. I was raised Orthodox. We married in the Orthodox Church and our children were baptized in the Orthodox Church.  After 13 years of marriage, my husband converted to Orthodoxy.

You all should discuss which church you will be married. If your husband marries in your church, he will be forbidden to have Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. In essence, he will have excommunicated himself from Orthodoxy by marrying in a non-Orthodox church. He will need to discuss this situation with his priest.

My husband was allowed to marry in my parish without being excommunicated in his church. I also insisted that our children be raised Orthodox and that he at least attend Divine Liturgy with us as a family even if he never converted. It is REALLY important for children to have a stable faith community to grow up in so when they reach their teen years, they can make the faith their own.

Something that happened during this time, which I could not have predicted, was as my children grew older, they noticed daddy did not get in communion line with us on Sunday. They were  really unhappy about the situation and let him know but he had some other issues with the Episcopalian church too, so one thing lead to another, and he ended up in catechism class at our parish.

I would recommend discussing which church will you be married in and which church will any future children be baptized? Also decide, which church will the family attend? Are there any faith issues which differ in the two churches which might cause you to have disagreements in the future in relation to how the children will be spiritually guided? You both will need to make sure you are on the same page with these issues otherwise you may find you both have very different views about your future family's goals.



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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2009, 07:28:21 PM »

Hi Liz,

My husband was a member of the Episcopalian church when we married. I was raised Orthodox. We married in the Orthodox Church and our children were baptized in the Orthodox Church.  After 13 years of marriage, my husband converted to Orthodoxy.

You all should discuss which church you will be married. If your husband marries in your church, he will be forbidden to have Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. In essence, he will have excommunicated himself from Orthodoxy by marrying in a non-Orthodox church. He will need to discuss this situation with his priest.

My husband was allowed to marry in my parish without being excommunicated in his church. I also insisted that our children be raised Orthodox and that he at least attend Divine Liturgy with us as a family even if he never converted. It is REALLY important for children to have a stable faith community to grow up in so when they reach their teen years, they can make the faith their own.

Something that happened during this time, which I could not have predicted, was as my children grew older, they noticed daddy did not get in communion line with us on Sunday. They were  really unhappy about the situation and let him know but he had some other issues with the Episcopalian church too, so one thing lead to another, and he ended up in catechism class at our parish.

I would recommend discussing which church will you be married in and which church will any future children be baptized? Also decide, which church will the family attend? Are there any faith issues which differ in the two churches which might cause you to have disagreements in the future in relation to how the children will be spiritually guided? You both will need to make sure you are on the same page with these issues otherwise you may find you both have very different views about your future family's goals.

/



Thanks, Tamara. What we were hoping was that we could bring children to services at both churches, but I realize (and am worried about the fact that) this may not be practical. I already feel slightly sad that my partner and I do not attend church together; however, my partner's priest (who sounds very sensible and intelligent) has instructed my partner that it is best if we pray together as a couple and share as much of a religious life as we can. I would hate not to be able to take my children for a blessing, as this was (and is) one of the most important and strengthening parts of my childhood. I'm just not sure - as you seem to be stressing - that one can reasonably partake in worship at two churches where there are children concerned. May I ask, does the Orthodox Church positively object to the existence of other Christian communities, or is it that you feel that children would be confused or upset by the presence of two Churches in their lives?
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2009, 07:53:11 PM »

Dear Liz

On the "impossibility" of converting: I quite agree that sincerity of faith is paramount, and there are few sadder spectacles than conversion for convenience or self-interest. This is simply hypocrisy. But, no-one, least of all me, can see what the future holds. But, as others have said, conversion to Orthodoxy does not need to happen, and, in many, many cases, doesn't happen before a mixed marriage goes ahead. But do not think that such things are set in stone. God's grace works where He wills, and there are any number of cases of folks from any religious background (and, sometimes, none at all), rock-solid in their beliefs, where, years later, something beyond comprehension or human logic happens.

This is but one case of which I have personal knowledge: a man, born and raised Anglican, entered the priesthood, being of a distinguished lineage of clergy and organmasters, and who holds academic honors in various Biblical scholarly disciplines, including a PhD in Syriac studies. Some 15 years ago, he and his family were baptised into the Orthodox faith. He is now an Orthodox priest, and an asset to the parish he serves.

Another: Russian man marries an Anglican woman. They raise two children; they attend their respective churches, but there is no rift in their relationship. Both maintain their respective faiths. After some 30 years of married life, and two children, a new priest joins this man's parish. The new priest begins serving a second English-language liturgy, in addition to the longstanding Slavonic one served by the principal priest. The aforementioned couple begin attending the English liturgies. Four years later, I was honored to be present at the woman's chrismation.

By all means, marry the man you love, for the right reasons. And let the grace of God do the rest.
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2009, 09:16:54 PM »

could anyone try and explain to me why living together is so frowned upon?

Prejudice.
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2009, 09:18:40 PM »

God's grace works where He wills

Exactly.
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2009, 09:19:55 PM »

What we were hoping was that we could bring children to services at both churches

There is one Church. Smiley

Good luck with us Orthodox. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2009, 09:34:31 PM »



By all means, marry the man you love, for the right reasons. And let the grace of God do the rest.


That pretty much summarizes it all, IMHO. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2009, 10:58:36 PM »

Thanks, Tamara. What we were hoping was that we could bring children to services at both churches, but I realize (and am worried about the fact that) this may not be practical. I already feel slightly sad that my partner and I do not attend church together; however, my partner's priest (who sounds very sensible and intelligent) has instructed my partner that it is best if we pray together as a couple and share as much of a religious life as we can. I would hate not to be able to take my children for a blessing, as this was (and is) one of the most important and strengthening parts of my childhood. I'm just not sure - as you seem to be stressing - that one can reasonably partake in worship at two churches where there are children concerned. May I ask, does the Orthodox Church positively object to the existence of other Christian communities, or is it that you feel that children would be confused or upset by the presence of two Churches in their lives?

You are welcome  Smiley

First off, deciding which church you are to be married in will decide the fate of your husband's faith. If you choose to be married in the Anglican Church then there will be no need to attend an Orthodox Church because he will be excommunicated from Orthodoxy once you are married. In that case, it would make sense to raise the family as Anglicans.

If you are married in the Orthodox church, you could bring your children to services at both churches but what church will they receive communion in? Which church will they be baptized in? If they are baptized in the Anglican church they will not be allowed to receive communion in the Orthodox Church because our two churches are not in communion with one another. And if they are baptized in the Orthodox Church the Anglican Church may allow your children to receive communion from it but the Orthodox Church will excommunicate them if they receive in the Anglican Church. I think this point is vital to discuss before you are married. I don't know how Anglicans view the Body and Blood of Christ. Do you believe you are partaking of His actual Body and Blood? For us it is a mystery and we believe it to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ. This is a point of dogma which may confuse your children if the two churches believe differently about this sacrament and your family attends both parishes. And it is the type of question your future little ones will ask you, among many other questions.  Wink

The reason why I believe it is important to raise your children in one parish community is because they will become a part of whatever community you belong to. The priest of the parish will develop a relationship with them which will be a part of their spiritual development through Holy Confession (if they are Orthodox) and through catechism. They will make deep friendships with the other children and families in the parish. If you are constantly shifting them from one faith community to another, they are likely to never establish these kinds of deep roots needed for them to shift from practicing the faith of their parents to making the faith their own. In Orthodoxy, we believe we are saved as a Holy Community, not as individuals. The Holy Communion issues will be enough to make them wonder why the two churches are not in communion and they will want answers about those questions from both of you. You both will need to be well versed in your churches' theology to answer their questions adequately.

So I guess what I am trying to say is, it is possible to raise children in two different communities but you will have your work cut out for you with the confusion which will result from it. And you will need to find ways to make sure they establish themselves in one of the parishes so they have a real home in Christianity in order for them to retain their faith.
If I were to guess, the church you choose to have them baptized and commune in will most likely become their primary community, and the other church will be secondary (one that you just visit but do not partake of the sacraments).


« Last Edit: August 16, 2009, 11:05:26 PM by Tamara » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2009, 05:08:20 AM »

Thanks all, these replies really made me smile.  Smiley

Tamara - can I ask, at what age do children usually start receiving communion? In the Anglican Church, you don't receive communion until you are confirmed, which could be as young as thirteen, but increasingly, happens when you are close to adult. Before that, during communion, children go up with their parents to the altar rail, but they do not put their hands out to receive the Eucharist, and instead the vicar will bless them. I think it's a lovely and important thing, so I'd be sad if my children couldn't receive this. Of course, as adults I would want them to decide for themselves which religion (or none) they belonged to.

(Btw, you ask about how we see the Eucharist. This is a difficult thing for me to explain; it's not so simple as it's sometimes made out. Basically, it is true that Anglicans view the Eucharist as a symbol: the bread and wine are 'in remembrance' of Christ's body and blood. However, the words of the service also say: 'This is the body of Christ. Though we are many, we are all of one body, for we all share in the Body of Christ'. So, there is also an implication that the 'remembrance' is not simply looking backwards, as to a past event.

If you look closely at an old-fashioned Anglican service book, you will see many turns of phrase that have been very carefully chosen to allow many different people to satisfy their different views on complex issues! I suspect this is one such, as the Anglican Church was inclined to be cautious and laconic. An story says that Elizabeth I was asked what she believed of the Eucharist while the country was under the Catholic rule of her sister. She responded,

'Christ was the Word that spake it
He took the bread and brake it,
And what that Word did make it,
That I believe, and take it.'

A digression there - sorry I can't answer your question better, but it is not a simple question, I think.)
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2009, 08:22:53 AM »

can I ask, at what age do children usually start receiving communion?

They receive Holy Communion at their Christening (usually at about 3 to 10 months old). In Orthodoxy, children are full members on the Body of Christ. Thus, they are Baptized, Chrismated and Communed all in the same service. At any Orthodox Divine Liturgy, you are bound to see parents and godparents bringing babies, toddlers and very young children up to the Holy Chalice to receive the Eucharist.
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2009, 08:46:16 AM »

Liz:

More generally, you should check out this web site for additional resources regarding interfaith marriages: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/marriage/interfaith/

It's put together by Fr. Charles Joanides, who is a psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist. Many portions of his books are on the site, along with other things, including Questions You Should Consider Before Intermarrying.
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2009, 10:05:36 AM »

could anyone try and explain to me why living together is so frowned upon?

Prejudice.


Common sense.

I can only be brief now: the secular stats on living together are dismal: those who live together have MUCH higher divorce rates than those who don't.

As for mixed relationship, I married someone who was a returning Orthodox (she returned about a year or two before we met, and that had something to do with how we met).  It didn't work out.  I know a lot of mixed marriages that have.  So their are no guarentees.

One thing, don't put off deciding what to raise the children until they are born.  It is asking for trouble.
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2009, 11:40:59 AM »

Thanks all, these replies really made me smile.  Smiley

Tamara - can I ask, at what age do children usually start receiving communion? In the Anglican Church, you don't receive communion until you are confirmed, which could be as young as thirteen, but increasingly, happens when you are close to adult. Before that, during communion, children go up with their parents to the altar rail, but they do not put their hands out to receive the Eucharist, and instead the vicar will bless them. I think it's a lovely and important thing, so I'd be sad if my children couldn't receive this. Of course, as adults I would want them to decide for themselves which religion (or none) they belonged to.

(Btw, you ask about how we see the Eucharist. This is a difficult thing for me to explain; it's not so simple as it's sometimes made out. Basically, it is true that Anglicans view the Eucharist as a symbol: the bread and wine are 'in remembrance' of Christ's body and blood. However, the words of the service also say: 'This is the body of Christ. Though we are many, we are all of one body, for we all share in the Body of Christ'. So, there is also an implication that the 'remembrance' is not simply looking backwards, as to a past event.

If you look closely at an old-fashioned Anglican service book, you will see many turns of phrase that have been very carefully chosen to allow many different people to satisfy their different views on complex issues! I suspect this is one such, as the Anglican Church was inclined to be cautious and laconic. An story says that Elizabeth I was asked what she believed of the Eucharist while the country was under the Catholic rule of her sister. She responded,

'Christ was the Word that spake it
He took the bread and brake it,
And what that Word did make it,
That I believe, and take it.'

A digression there - sorry I can't answer your question better, but it is not a simple question, I think.)

Dear Liz,

Pensateomnia has answered your questioned and given you an excellent resource for more information. My children were baptized, chrismated and communed at two months old. They have been receiving Holy Communion since that time. I believe that receiving Holy Communion weekly has greatly contributed to their development as Orthodox Christians so I understand your interest in this subject. The questions you are asking are really important ones to discuss before marriage. Before marriage my husband and I spoke to one another about these issues and we each spoke to our respective priests to further discover any other issues which needed to be wrestled with before marriage. May God bless you and your future fiance.  Smiley

sincerely, Tamara
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2009, 02:58:35 PM »

First off, deciding which church you are to be married in will decide the fate of your husband's faith. If you choose to be married in the Anglican Church then there will be no need to attend an Orthodox Church because he will be excommunicated from Orthodoxy once you are married. In that case, it would make sense to raise the family as Anglicans.

I've never heard of it. I know many mixed marriages which were made in RCC and the Orthodox spouse wasn't excommunicated.
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2009, 03:04:39 PM »

I've never heard of it. I know many mixed marriages which were made in RCC and the Orthodox spouse wasn't excommunicated.

Very common, in most of the Orthodox world. Technically, the Orthodox spouse has excommunicated themselves by failing to receive the Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage before entering the married state. In order to be a member in good standing, your marriage must be celebrated by an Orthodox priest, with the blessing of an Orthodox bishop, in the Orthodox manner.

That said, the Polish Church may have a special agreement with the RCC, which recognizes the RC sacrament as sufficient out of pastoral necessity. You should ask your priest (I'd be curious to know the answer). IIRC, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria entered into some sort of agreement like this with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

In the diaspora, some people get around this by having a Wedding Mass in one partner's Roman Catholic Church and then, an hour or two later, an Orthodox marriage in the other partner's church. Since the Orthodox one is technically the most recent one, that manages to agree with the letter of the law, and usually placates all the extended family members. ;-)

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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2009, 04:01:32 PM »

I've never heard of it. I know many mixed marriages which were made in RCC and the Orthodox spouse wasn't excommunicated.

Very common, in most of the Orthodox world. Technically, the Orthodox spouse has excommunicated themselves by failing to receive the Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage before entering the married state. In order to be a member in good standing, your marriage must be celebrated by an Orthodox priest, with the blessing of an Orthodox bishop, in the Orthodox manner.

That said, the Polish Church may have a special agreement with the RCC, which recognizes the RC sacrament as sufficient out of pastoral necessity. You should ask your priest (I'd be curious to know the answer). IIRC, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria entered into some sort of agreement like this with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

In the diaspora, some people get around this by having a Wedding Mass in one partner's Roman Catholic Church and then, an hour or two later, an Orthodox marriage in the other partner's church. Since the Orthodox one is technically the most recent one, that manages to agree with the letter of the law, and usually placates all the extended family members. ;-)



My priest would not have allowed it. And I have not heard it is common practice here in North America.
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2009, 04:35:18 PM »

My priest would not have allowed it. And I have not heard it is common practice here in North America.

It's actually a matter for the Bishop, as are all canonical matters related to marriage, especially inter-Christian marriage. In fact, parish priests have to request the canonical approval of the Bishop to officiate at any Orthodox wedding, since the official document of ecclesiastical marriage includes the Bishop's signature. Before the Bishop can give his canonical approval, he must verify that at least one of the future spouses and their sponsor(s) are Orthodox Christians in good canonical and spiritual standing with the Church, AND that the other spouse, if not an Orthodox Christian, has received an acceptable Trinitarian Baptism. At least, that's how it's done in the ancient patriarchates, in Greece, and, IIRC, Romania. I imagine it is the same elsewhere. Would be curious to hear from clergy not in the EP, though.

That said, North America does tend to have a parochial mindset, and I have observed clergy who are quite lax when it comes to canonical procedures involving permission from the Bishop for liturgical matters.

Anyway, no, it is not common to have a double ceremony. It is officially discouraged, but allowed in some cases if there is pastoral need. I doubt many people request it anyway, because that would be one long day!!
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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2009, 06:52:02 PM »

My priest would not have allowed it. And I have not heard it is common practice here in North America.

It's actually a matter for the Bishop, as are all canonical matters related to marriage, especially inter-Christian marriage. In fact, parish priests have to request the canonical approval of the Bishop to officiate at any Orthodox wedding, since the official document of ecclesiastical marriage includes the Bishop's signature. Before the Bishop can give his canonical approval, he must verify that at least one of the future spouses and their sponsor(s) are Orthodox Christians in good canonical and spiritual standing with the Church, AND that the other spouse, if not an Orthodox Christian, has received an acceptable Trinitarian Baptism. At least, that's how it's done in the ancient patriarchates, in Greece, and, IIRC, Romania. I imagine it is the same elsewhere. Would be curious to hear from clergy not in the EP, though.

That said, North America does tend to have a parochial mindset, and I have observed clergy who are quite lax when it comes to canonical procedures involving permission from the Bishop for liturgical matters.

Anyway, no, it is not common to have a double ceremony. It is officially discouraged, but allowed in some cases if there is pastoral need. I doubt many people request it anyway, because that would be one long day!!

Before we were allowed to be married, my husband had to show documentation that he had either been baptized or confirmed in the Episcopal Church otherwise we wouldn't have been allowed to marry.
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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2009, 09:32:24 PM »

n/t
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« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2009, 04:32:34 PM »

Besides the good advice and information that you have already received, there is also the matter that the Orthodox Church considers marriage a sacrament, like baptism and the Eucharist. This is a totally different understanding and mindset from Protestant idea, no matter how seriously an individual regards marriage as sacred.

As the priest said to my husband and I: "Turn and look at each other. This is the person that God Himself has given you to help you reach salvation."

May I suggest reading Fr. John Meyerndorff's book on Orthodox marriage? Fr. Charles Joanides also has some wise things to say about potential pitfalls of mixed marriages.

Also it seems to me that it all depends on what your "non-negotiables" are, while bearing in mind that Orthodoxy and Anglicanism are not simply two different "flavors" of Christianity.

Can two people with fundamentally different faiths have a happy and successful marriage? Of course, there is anecdotal evidence to support this.

However, as someone who is celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary today, I can assure you that marriage is works. Love does not always find a way. Differences and problems are not solved by marriage and indeed get bigger and more serious after the wedding. Especially when children come along.

For me, marrying a partner who shared my faith was of paramount importance. I did not want the deepest and most significant and meaningful part of my self and my life to be a cause for negotiation, compromise or to be a source of conflict. Marriage is hard enough without all that.
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« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2009, 08:00:44 PM »


For me, marrying a partner who shared my faith was of paramount importance. I did not want the deepest and most significant and meaningful part of my self and my life to be a cause for negotiation, compromise or to be a source of conflict. Marriage is hard enough without all that.

Excellent advice.
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2009, 06:34:28 PM »


For me, marrying a partner who shared my faith was of paramount importance. I did not want the deepest and most significant and meaningful part of my self and my life to be a cause for negotiation, compromise or to be a source of conflict. Marriage is hard enough without all that.

Excellent advice.

Agreed.  God is formost in my life.  If my wife coud not share the most important aspect of my life with me, what kind of a relationship were we really entering?  We are told that "the two shall become one flesh".  How can we be one flesh with two religions?  My wife agreed to join my Church when we were married.  Later, when we converted to Orthodoxy, we converted together.  We just celebrated 28 years together last weekend.  With all that we have gone through in these years, it would be unimaginable to have done it without a common faith.
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« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2009, 03:13:12 AM »

Many years!
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« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2009, 09:21:19 AM »


With all that we have gone through in these years, it would be unimaginable to have done it without a common faith.

Amen, brother!

Once upon a time, my husband and I were having serious problems, to the point that divorce was the most probably outcome. Naturally my priest knew what was going on and one Sunday he called us up to the chalice to receive Holy Communion side-by-side as a couple. I can't tell you what a beautiful, salvific and enlightening moment that was. And it would not have happened if we had been of different faiths.

I truly believe that if we did not share a common faith, we would not have celebrated our 35th anniversary on Tuesday (I'm looking a my beautiful arrangement of yellow roses as I type this!)
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« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2009, 03:56:00 PM »

Thanks all for the replies. I have a lot to think about. I have been trying to talk to my partner about how we would bring up children, but it makes him very worried and I think he finds the question difficult. He doesn't like to think about the differences between our two faiths - he's inclined to think that my Protestantism and his Orthodoxy are so similar that there won't be problems. I'm still not convinced. May I just ask for clarification: if a child who had been accepted into the Orthodox Church were to attend an Anglican service, what would be the correct way for him or her to proceed? Would a blessing from an Anglican priest be irrelevant, or actively undesirable, from the Orthodox point of view?

I'm not asking these questions because I've hardened my heart to converting, or because I've not tried to consider the options - but at the moment, I think I must accept that neither of us are likely to convert.
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« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2009, 06:13:36 PM »

Thanks all for the replies. I have a lot to think about. I have been trying to talk to my partner about how we would bring up children, but it makes him very worried and I think he finds the question difficult. He doesn't like to think about the differences between our two faiths - he's inclined to think that my Protestantism and his Orthodoxy are so similar that there won't be problems. I'm still not convinced. May I just ask for clarification: if a child who had been accepted into the Orthodox Church were to attend an Anglican service, what would be the correct way for him or her to proceed? Would a blessing from an Anglican priest be irrelevant, or actively undesirable, from the Orthodox point of view?

I'm not asking these questions because I've hardened my heart to converting, or because I've not tried to consider the options - but at the moment, I think I must accept that neither of us are likely to convert.


Dear Liz,

I don't think any lay person here can answer your question authoritatively. I would encourage you to speak to your fiance's priest and see what he has to say. Your fiance shouldn't be troubled by difficult questions if he wants to start your marriage off on solid footing as you seem to wish to do. Don't give up until you feel you have all of your concerns addressed. There are similarities between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism but there are also many dogmatic differences.
If you wait to address those differences later, when you have children, you might have many more difficulties. Better to address them now, head on, and without fear.

God be with you, Tamara  Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2009, 06:34:06 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2009, 04:47:30 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2009, 06:31:44 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2009, 06:32:14 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...
Lutherans (ELCA) just voted to allow clergy in non-mixed marriages. Grin

From the OED:

Quote
mixed, adj.
c. For, involving, or comprising both sexes.
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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2009, 07:04:05 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Funny.  The divorce rate is near or over 50%.  I would assume that those people "loved" each other at one time.  Sorry, I don't buy what you are selling.  Granted, oneness of Faith is not everything, but neither is "love".
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2009, 07:18:20 PM »

Besides the good advice and information that you have already received, there is also the matter that the Orthodox Church considers marriage a sacrament, like baptism and the Eucharist. This is a totally different understanding and mindset from Protestant idea, no matter how seriously an individual regards marriage as sacred.

As the priest said to my husband and I: "Turn and look at each other. This is the person that God Himself has given you to help you reach salvation."

May I suggest reading Fr. John Meyerndorff's book on Orthodox marriage? Fr. Charles Joanides also has some wise things to say about potential pitfalls of mixed marriages.

Also it seems to me that it all depends on what your "non-negotiables" are, while bearing in mind that Orthodoxy and Anglicanism are not simply two different "flavors" of Christianity.

Can two people with fundamentally different faiths have a happy and successful marriage? Of course, there is anecdotal evidence to support this.

However, as someone who is celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary today, I can assure you that marriage is works. Love does not always find a way. Differences and problems are not solved by marriage and indeed get bigger and more serious after the wedding. Especially when children come along.

For me, marrying a partner who shared my faith was of paramount importance. I did not want the deepest and most significant and meaningful part of my self and my life to be a cause for negotiation, compromise or to be a source of conflict. Marriage is hard enough without all that.

QFT!
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2009, 07:20:34 PM »

Thanks all for the replies. I have a lot to think about. I have been trying to talk to my partner about how we would bring up children, but it makes him very worried and I think he finds the question difficult. He doesn't like to think about the differences between our two faiths - he's inclined to think that my Protestantism and his Orthodoxy are so similar that there won't be problems. I'm still not convinced. May I just ask for clarification: if a child who had been accepted into the Orthodox Church were to attend an Anglican service, what would be the correct way for him or her to proceed? Would a blessing from an Anglican priest be irrelevant, or actively undesirable, from the Orthodox point of view?

I'm not asking these questions because I've hardened my heart to converting, or because I've not tried to consider the options - but at the moment, I think I must accept that neither of us are likely to convert.


As Tamara has already stated, an Orthodox priest would be best suited to answer your question regarding children receiving a blessing in the Orthodox Church.

If I may be so bold to ask, what are your objections to Orthodoxy? Perhaps if we provided explanation/clarification as to the details of our faith, this would help you.
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« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2009, 08:18:35 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Funny.  The divorce rate is near or over 50%.  I would assume that those people "loved" each other at one time.  Sorry, I don't buy what you are selling.  Granted, oneness of Faith is not everything, but neither is "love".

Sorry, I don't understand: what is it that you do 'buy'?
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« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2009, 08:41:46 PM »

Thanks all for the replies. I have a lot to think about. I have been trying to talk to my partner about how we would bring up children, but it makes him very worried and I think he finds the question difficult. He doesn't like to think about the differences between our two faiths - he's inclined to think that my Protestantism and his Orthodoxy are so similar that there won't be problems. I'm still not convinced. May I just ask for clarification: if a child who had been accepted into the Orthodox Church were to attend an Anglican service, what would be the correct way for him or her to proceed? Would a blessing from an Anglican priest be irrelevant, or actively undesirable, from the Orthodox point of view?

I'm not asking these questions because I've hardened my heart to converting, or because I've not tried to consider the options - but at the moment, I think I must accept that neither of us are likely to convert.


As Tamara has already stated, an Orthodox priest would be best suited to answer your question regarding children receiving a blessing in the Orthodox Church.

If I may be so bold to ask, what are your objections to Orthodoxy? Perhaps if we provided explanation/clarification as to the details of our faith, this would help you.


Hi. I am going to speak to an Orthodox priest. I'm not 'objecting' to Orthodoxy exactly - don't worry about that! It's more that I am aware that my partner and I have different views, and some of these I cling to. The most important is the blessing, I think. In the Anglican Church, a child is christened as a baby, but not confirmed until much later (confirmation is considered an adult decision). So, as a child, one usually goes to the altar rail during Communion for a blessing. This is such an important part of life. You are blessed and you feel cared for and in touch with God - it is crucial. I really feel that my children should be taken for blessing. It is important.

Insofar as there are things in the Orthodox Church that keep me from converting, I would say it is mainly the Eucharist. I believe the Anglican doctrine. Also, however, my view of saints and of tradition is different from that of the Orthodox Church.

I hope that makes sense!

Liz xx
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« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2009, 10:41:14 PM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Funny.  The divorce rate is near or over 50%.  I would assume that those people "loved" each other at one time.  Sorry, I don't buy what you are selling.  Granted, oneness of Faith is not everything, but neither is "love".

Sorry, I don't understand: what is it that you do 'buy'?

That all that is needed for a successful marriage is that both parties love each other initially.  It is my belief that love builds as the relationship grows.  I have known too many people who were "deeply in love", married, and divorced five years later because there was nothing to sustain the relationship when the initial chemical high often confused with love wore off.  Granted, I have also seen divorce after 25 years of marriage when there was no love.  Like so many things in life, marriage is a complicated relationship with many interconnected aspects.  While statements such as "all you need is love" may sound cute and sell songs, they bear no relation to reality and indicate a poor understanding of the subject.  Marriages that work "against all odds" do happen, but they are the exception and not the rule.  Just because a couple of people have survived jumping from an airplane with no parachute does not mean that I am in any mood to give it a try myself, or suggest it to anyone for that matter.

To be clear on the subject of mixed relationships, I do believe they can work.  I also believe that the odds are against such a relationship (given that they are no better than 50/50 to begin with).  Given all the factors that work against a marriage, I would be looking for things that help, not additional stress points.  While I don't claim to be an expert in the field, I do believe that my wife and I both coming from parents married once with 50+ years together, and our own 28 years together, should count for some knowledge of the matter.  In all three cases, my parents, my wife's parents, and my wife and I, the FIRST thing we did was decide upon a common religion.  All three were "mixed" courtships with common religion agreed to before (or shortly after) the wedding.  Was this the deciding factor?  I can't say.  But from conversations that I have had with my parents, the in-laws, and my own experience, I can certainly say it helped.
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« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2009, 12:50:17 AM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Funny.  The divorce rate is near or over 50%.  I would assume that those people "loved" each other at one time.  Sorry, I don't buy what you are selling.  Granted, oneness of Faith is not everything, but neither is "love".

Sorry, I don't understand: what is it that you do 'buy'?

Liz: He's essentially saying that he doesn't fully accept your statement that: "...if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters." He doesn't accept that and I'm afraid I don't accept it either. Statistics in fact prove that it takes more than love to sustain a marriage (as hard as that may be to accept). Many folks who are in love, marry and their marriages do not last. So obviously there has to be more and the key thing (for an Orthodox Christian) is the sacramental marriage granted by an Orthodox Church. The bond one feels with one's spouse when we go forward to receive the Lord's Body and Blood is unparalleled. I know that as I watch my wife confess and then follow her up to the chalice... nothing else can equal this. And this will be something that will be impossible in a mixed marriage.
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« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2009, 01:03:45 AM »

Hi. I am going to speak to an Orthodox priest. I'm not 'objecting' to Orthodoxy exactly - don't worry about that! It's more that I am aware that my partner and I have different views, and some of these I cling to. The most important is the blessing, I think. In the Anglican Church, a child is christened as a baby, but not confirmed until much later (confirmation is considered an adult decision). So, as a child, one usually goes to the altar rail during Communion for a blessing. This is such an important part of life. You are blessed and you feel cared for and in touch with God - it is crucial. I really feel that my children should be taken for blessing. It is important.

Insofar as there are things in the Orthodox Church that keep me from converting, I would say it is mainly the Eucharist. I believe the Anglican doctrine. Also, however, my view of saints and of tradition is different from that of the Orthodox Church.

I hope that makes sense!

Liz xx

These are reasonable concerns, and it is good that you are being quite sober about your decision regarding faith. I applaud you for taking this so seriously. Smiley

If it is any comfort to you, in the Orthodox Church an infant is baptised and chrismated as an infant, and the baby can receive the Eucharist from that point foward. So rather than just receiving a blessing, the baby actually receives the Eucharist, which is so much more.

Rather than get into a debate over the Eucharist over here, I would invite you to explore some of the threads that have been written about the Eucharist on this forum. If nothing else, they may help clarify our viewpoint to you, and give you and understanding for the basis of our beliefs.

You may find this thread helpful:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19850.0.html

And if you have access to the private boards, you may find this thread helpful:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14613.0.html

(If you don't have access to the Private Forums, just PM Fr. Chris and he'll be happy to help you.)

If you are interested, I would be happy to recommend some books on Orthodoxy. Let me know, and I will PM you with a list of titles.

I pray that God blesses you and your intended on your journey together, and that you find the answers you seek.

God bless you both,

Maureen



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« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2009, 01:11:26 AM »


You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Heorhij,

I was wondering...when you and your wife first met, were you both atheist or agnostic? If so, how many years were you married before you became a Christian which then lead you to become an Orthodox Christian?

Tamara
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« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2009, 03:20:44 AM »

Liz, you wrote:

Quote
So, as a child, one usually goes to the altar rail during Communion for a blessing. This is such an important part of life. You are blessed and you feel cared for and in touch with God - it is crucial.

Handmaiden beat me to it, and expressed it far better than I could:

Quote
If it is any comfort to you, in the Orthodox Church an infant is baptised and chrismated as an infant, and the baby can receive the Eucharist from that point foward. So rather than just receiving a blessing, the baby actually receives the Eucharist, which is so much more.


In other words, as any cat can tell you, why have milk or water when you know there's cream to be had?  laugh

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« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2009, 05:56:50 AM »



Liz: He's essentially saying that he doesn't fully accept your statement that: "...if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters."
He doesn't accept that and I'm afraid I don't accept it either. Statistics in fact prove that it takes more than love to sustain a marriage (as hard as that may be to accept). Many folks who are in love, marry and their marriages do not last. So obviously there has to be more and the key thing (for an Orthodox Christian) is the sacramental marriage granted by an Orthodox Church. The bond one feels with one's spouse when we go forward to receive the Lord's Body and Blood is unparalleled. I know that as I watch my wife confess and then follow her up to the chalice... nothing else can equal this. And this will be something that will be impossible in a mixed marriage.

Um, sorry, not my statement.
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« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2009, 06:01:30 AM »


Handmaiden beat me to it, and expressed it far better than I could:

Quote
If it is any comfort to you, in the Orthodox Church an infant is baptised and chrismated as an infant, and the baby can receive the Eucharist from that point foward. So rather than just receiving a blessing, the baby actually receives the Eucharist, which is so much more.


In other words, as any cat can tell you, why have milk or water when you know there's cream to be had?  laugh



Yeeees - except, you see, for me it's not 'so much more', because I don't believe in the Eucharist the way you do. I also feel that blessing is quite important for a child, because it's a physical way of seeing the Church's love for you. I think you need to experience that, as well as experiencing communion later. But these are just my worries, and I'm sure we'll work through them!
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« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2009, 08:51:42 AM »


You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Heorhij,

I was wondering...when you and your wife first met, were you both atheist or agnostic? If so, how many years were you married before you became a Christian which then lead you to become an Orthodox Christian?

Tamara

Hi Tamara,

I don't know. My wife and I first saw each other in fall 1981. I was not baptised back then, but I felt a very strong attraction to Christ pretty much all my life, so when my wife and I met, I was not really an agnostic or atheist.

I am not sure I ever "converted." There was no single moment that would separate me not being an Orthodox and me being an Orthodox. I am not sure that I "am" an Orthodox and she is "not" just because she has a lot of doubts regarding faith. I have them, too.
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« Reply #49 on: August 24, 2009, 10:25:41 AM »


Handmaiden beat me to it, and expressed it far better than I could:

Quote
If it is any comfort to you, in the Orthodox Church an infant is baptised and chrismated as an infant, and the baby can receive the Eucharist from that point foward. So rather than just receiving a blessing, the baby actually receives the Eucharist, which is so much more.


In other words, as any cat can tell you, why have milk or water when you know there's cream to be had?  laugh



Yeeees - except, you see, for me it's not 'so much more', because I don't believe in the Eucharist the way you do. I also feel that blessing is quite important for a child, because it's a physical way of seeing the Church's love for you. I think you need to experience that, as well as experiencing communion later. But these are just my worries, and I'm sure we'll work through them!

Hi Liz,

Since those of us who are responding to you are Orthodox and we don't know what Anglican practices are, would mind explaining what is involved with the blessing the child receives from the priest when they kneel at the altar? Besides receiving the Holy Eucharist, Orthodox priests bless infants and children before they leave the church. But the priests will bless them whenever they see them too, even if they are not in church.

thank you, Tamara
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« Reply #50 on: August 24, 2009, 10:28:53 AM »

I also feel that blessing is quite important for a child, because it's a physical way of seeing the Church's love for you.

Orthodox worship and piety are full of physical expressions of blessing -- something that children in particular pick up on and tend to enjoy quite a bit. Children are blessed at least once a day by their parents (with the sign of the cross), and by the priest at every worship service. In addition to the Eucharist, which they obviously understand as a great blessing, they also get to receive the blessed bread; venerate Icons (which they love); be anointed with holy oil at Vigils and at other times of the year; be sprinkled with and receive holy water, etc.
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« Reply #51 on: August 24, 2009, 10:48:53 AM »



Hi Liz,

Since those of us who are responding to you are Orthodox and we don't know what Anglican practices are, would mind explaining what is involved with the blessing the child receives from the priest when they kneel at the altar? Besides receiving the Holy Eucharist, Orthodox priests bless infants and children before they leave the church. But the priests will bless them whenever they see them too, even if they are not in church.

thank you, Tamara

Thanks, that's a sensible question and I should have explained more fully earlier. In our Communion service, after the Confession of Sins and the repetition of the Creed, we all observe the vicar preparing the table. The words used here stress the symbolic, memorial nature of the bread and wine, and the fact that we who share them are part of one Body, the Church in Christ. This will be done, usually, with the vicar standing in good view of the congregation. The vicar will then go up to the altar with the bread and wine. A rail, which at a height such that you can kneel and it will be more or less level with your chest, stands between the altar and the rest of the church; the vicar will stand behind it. Then, those members of the congregation who wish to (it's usually everyone) will go up to this rail and kneel in a row along it. Adults will place their hands out, cupped, over the rail, and will be given a piece of bread and a sip from the shared chalice. Children, and anyone who is not confirmed, kneel with their parents but they are taught not to put their hands out over the rail, and by this sign the vicar knows that they cannot yet receive the Communion (because they are not confirmed). Instead, he or she will bless them by putting one hand on their heads and saying a few words.

The important part, to me, is that this makes a child feel very cared for and very much part of the Church - but not weighed down with adult responsibilities. Because we believe that the bread and wine are a living, powerful symbol, but NOT the literal Body and Blood of Christ, there isn't a sense that the child is being 'left out', but rather that they are specially cared for. That's the best explanation I can give, and I know it mightn't feel the same to someone else - but to me it is very important.

You see, because I am not Orthodox, although I think a blessing from an Orthodox priest is also a kind and caring gesture, it does not carry quite the same weight as the special blessing you share in during the Anglican service.
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« Reply #52 on: August 24, 2009, 10:55:24 AM »

Ah, there aren't really any "mixed" relationships...

 Smiley

Well, that is a nice thing to say (and think)! Thanks ...

You are very welcome, Liz, and thank you for understanding. I really do believe that if you and your guy love each other, nothing else matters.Smiley

Funny.  The divorce rate is near or over 50%.  I would assume that those people "loved" each other at one time.  Sorry, I don't buy what you are selling.  Granted, oneness of Faith is not everything, but neither is "love".

Dear Punch, I was not "selling" aanything, just expressed my opinion. In my parish (very small one), a large part of families, older and younger, are mixed. One of the spouses is a Greek Orthodox and the other is a Methodist or some other Protestant denomination. That does not seem to bother anyone. Right now, off top of my head, I can recall maybe three mixed older couples and three mixed couples who are in their 30-s or late 20-s. They have kids and they seem to be very happy people. In addition, in just a few weeks one more young girl from our parish, a daughter of a mixed Greek-NonGreek couple, will marry an Episcopalian. We all are very happy for her.

"Love" in quotation marks is certainly overrated, but love without quotation marks is not. I love my wife. That she is not an enthusiastic Orthodox does not matter one bit to me.
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« Reply #53 on: August 24, 2009, 11:01:56 AM »



Hi Liz,

Since those of us who are responding to you are Orthodox and we don't know what Anglican practices are, would mind explaining what is involved with the blessing the child receives from the priest when they kneel at the altar? Besides receiving the Holy Eucharist, Orthodox priests bless infants and children before they leave the church. But the priests will bless them whenever they see them too, even if they are not in church.

thank you, Tamara

Thanks, that's a sensible question and I should have explained more fully earlier. In our Communion service, after the Confession of Sins and the repetition of the Creed, we all observe the vicar preparing the table. The words used here stress the symbolic, memorial nature of the bread and wine, and the fact that we who share them are part of one Body, the Church in Christ. This will be done, usually, with the vicar standing in good view of the congregation. The vicar will then go up to the altar with the bread and wine. A rail, which at a height such that you can kneel and it will be more or less level with your chest, stands between the altar and the rest of the church; the vicar will stand behind it. Then, those members of the congregation who wish to (it's usually everyone) will go up to this rail and kneel in a row along it. Adults will place their hands out, cupped, over the rail, and will be given a piece of bread and a sip from the shared chalice. Children, and anyone who is not confirmed, kneel with their parents but they are taught not to put their hands out over the rail, and by this sign the vicar knows that they cannot yet receive the Communion (because they are not confirmed). Instead, he or she will bless them by putting one hand on their heads and saying a few words.

The important part, to me, is that this makes a child feel very cared for and very much part of the Church - but not weighed down with adult responsibilities. Because we believe that the bread and wine are a living, powerful symbol, but NOT the literal Body and Blood of Christ, there isn't a sense that the child is being 'left out', but rather that they are specially cared for. That's the best explanation I can give, and I know it mightn't feel the same to someone else - but to me it is very important.

You see, because I am not Orthodox, although I think a blessing from an Orthodox priest is also a kind and caring gesture, it does not carry quite the same weight as the special blessing you share in during the Anglican service.

Thank you Liz. Your explanation was very helpful. Have you shared these thoughts with your fiance? Does he understand how important this blessing is to you?
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« Reply #54 on: August 24, 2009, 11:11:34 AM »

We've spoken about it a little, Tamara. It's difficult: he thinks we can just leave all of this until such time as we decide to have children (which I don't think will be particularly soon!). It might be that he is thinking (or unconsciously allowing himself to assume) that I will convert. We do discuss theology, and often it's lovely because we agree on a lot. However, he tends to minimize the differences that remain, and I find it quite difficult, sometimes, to know whether or not his view is likely to be shared by the Church as a whole (or by his priest). I think he's liable to go into things happily assuming that the priest will say, 'oh, yes, fine', and it seems to me this is a slightly dangerous attitude. I want to have a clear sense of the likely 'issues' before we get to them.

... Much of this, I know, sounds as if I'm just looking for problems, but it does help to get the perspectives of a big group of people - thanks all!
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« Reply #55 on: August 24, 2009, 11:18:22 AM »

Your attitude is very refreshing and very mature. It's such a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill person today embarking upon marriage. I'm certain that meeting with his priest and laying all of these things on the table as it were, will help to clarify the Orthodox perspective better than any of us could. God bless.
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« Reply #56 on: August 24, 2009, 11:20:08 AM »

We've spoken about it a little, Tamara. It's difficult: he thinks we can just leave all of this until such time as we decide to have children (which I don't think will be particularly soon!). It might be that he is thinking (or unconsciously allowing himself to assume) that I will convert. We do discuss theology, and often it's lovely because we agree on a lot. However, he tends to minimize the differences that remain, and I find it quite difficult, sometimes, to know whether or not his view is likely to be shared by the Church as a whole (or by his priest). I think he's liable to go into things happily assuming that the priest will say, 'oh, yes, fine', and it seems to me this is a slightly dangerous attitude. I want to have a clear sense of the likely 'issues' before we get to them.

... Much of this, I know, sounds as if I'm just looking for problems, but it does help to get the perspectives of a big group of people - thanks all!

Is he a very devout Orthodox Christian? I think you are very wise to try and tackle these issues now and to discuss them with his priest. Trying to minimize them now only to have them become points of contention later will really put a strain on your marriage. As others have stated, marriage is stressful enough.
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« Reply #57 on: August 24, 2009, 11:51:11 AM »

Thanks, Douglas Smiley

Tamara, I'm not sure how to tell how devout he is. I'd be interested to get a better sense of it, actually. He's the only Orthodox person I know, and before I met him I knew virtually nothing about Orthodoxy bar the merest outline of pre-Schism stuff. I come from a liberal Anglican background, and we live in a very liberal kind of place, so when I first met him I thought he must be a very strict and devout member of his Church. I'm gradually realizing that this view may have been a bit off-mark, and that lots of Orthodox seem to be similar. So, if any of this can help work out where he stands on the devout-o-meter:

He fasts, but not from olive oil (I heard some people do), and not on Wednesdays (he's thinking about changing that). We have an icon corner at home here, and he prays quite a lot, I think. He attends church - at first I thought he didn't go very often, but apparently its a Russian habit to go less than we Anglicans do, who really should attend Communion once a week. He does believe very firmly in chastity (and, if you're homosexual, in celibacy), but on the other hand, he wouldn't go around criticizing friends of ours who don't adhere to this - and he doesn't mind that, before I met him, I didn't.

I'd say he's devout in that he very clearly has Christian thinking underlying everything else, even though he doesn't make a great fuss about it. I know his parents are quite religious (his mother teaches Sunday school; his dad goes through phases of telling him he should be a priest). But I don't know how typical these attitudes and actions are for an Orthodox person, really.
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« Reply #58 on: August 24, 2009, 12:25:35 PM »

Liz,
Thank you for loving one of our brothers in the Faith, for caring for him, and for accepting his love and care for you.
God is Love, therefore Love is the most powerful thing in the Cosmos and can overcome anything.

George
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« Reply #59 on: August 24, 2009, 01:03:50 PM »

Thanks, Douglas Smiley

Tamara, I'm not sure how to tell how devout he is. I'd be interested to get a better sense of it, actually. He's the only Orthodox person I know, and before I met him I knew virtually nothing about Orthodoxy bar the merest outline of pre-Schism stuff. I come from a liberal Anglican background, and we live in a very liberal kind of place, so when I first met him I thought he must be a very strict and devout member of his Church. I'm gradually realizing that this view may have been a bit off-mark, and that lots of Orthodox seem to be similar. So, if any of this can help work out where he stands on the devout-o-meter:

He fasts, but not from olive oil (I heard some people do), and not on Wednesdays (he's thinking about changing that). We have an icon corner at home here, and he prays quite a lot, I think. He attends church - at first I thought he didn't go very often, but apparently its a Russian habit to go less than we Anglicans do, who really should attend Communion once a week. He does believe very firmly in chastity (and, if you're homosexual, in celibacy), but on the other hand, he wouldn't go around criticizing friends of ours who don't adhere to this - and he doesn't mind that, before I met him, I didn't.

I'd say he's devout in that he very clearly has Christian thinking underlying everything else, even though he doesn't make a great fuss about it. I know his parents are quite religious (his mother teaches Sunday school; his dad goes through phases of telling him he should be a priest). But I don't know how typical these attitudes and actions are for an Orthodox person, really.

I think it's wonderful that you are addressing all of this before your marriage. It is quite wise and mature, and shows a responsible attitude. It is much wiser to go over these issues before you are married with children than after. Bravo to you! Smiley

As far as the differences and how important they are, they are best discussed between the two of you and his priest.

As far as the "devout-o-meter" goes, well, that is between him and God. He is a struggiling sinner trying to get closer to God -- in other words, he's no different than  you or I. Smiley

Church attendance and fasting practices are best left to be discussed between an individual and their Spiritual Father. While it may be easy for us on the outside to say he should do this or that, we don't know where he is with his walk with Christ, or what surrounding circumstances are in his life.

God bless you both on your journey. Smiley
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« Reply #60 on: August 24, 2009, 01:44:35 PM »

Liz,
Thank you for loving one of our brothers in the Faith, for caring for him, and for accepting his love and care for you.
God is Love, therefore Love is the most powerful thing in the Cosmos and can overcome anything.

George

Ditto. What George said.
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« Reply #61 on: August 24, 2009, 01:50:12 PM »

Thanks, Douglas Smiley

Tamara, I'm not sure how to tell how devout he is. I'd be interested to get a better sense of it, actually. He's the only Orthodox person I know, and before I met him I knew virtually nothing about Orthodoxy bar the merest outline of pre-Schism stuff. I come from a liberal Anglican background, and we live in a very liberal kind of place, so when I first met him I thought he must be a very strict and devout member of his Church. I'm gradually realizing that this view may have been a bit off-mark, and that lots of Orthodox seem to be similar. So, if any of this can help work out where he stands on the devout-o-meter:

He fasts, but not from olive oil (I heard some people do), and not on Wednesdays (he's thinking about changing that). We have an icon corner at home here, and he prays quite a lot, I think. He attends church - at first I thought he didn't go very often, but apparently its a Russian habit to go less than we Anglicans do, who really should attend Communion once a week. He does believe very firmly in chastity (and, if you're homosexual, in celibacy), but on the other hand, he wouldn't go around criticizing friends of ours who don't adhere to this - and he doesn't mind that, before I met him, I didn't.

I'd say he's devout in that he very clearly has Christian thinking underlying everything else, even though he doesn't make a great fuss about it. I know his parents are quite religious (his mother teaches Sunday school; his dad goes through phases of telling him he should be a priest). But I don't know how typical these attitudes and actions are for an Orthodox person, really.

I know a few folks here are telling you that love is all you need to make a marriage work but being honest about what your expectations are in the marriage beforehand will really help avoid lots of pain later. I hope the Orthodox priest can help answer some of your questions. And I hope your fiance will be brave enough to discuss your concerns.

God Bless you both.

Tamara  Smiley
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« Reply #62 on: August 24, 2009, 02:02:23 PM »

It might be that he is thinking (or unconsciously allowing himself to assume) that I will convert...However, he tends to minimize the differences that remain, and I find it quite difficult, sometimes, to know whether or not his view is likely to be shared by the Church as a whole (or by his priest). I think he's liable to go into things happily assuming that the priest will say, 'oh, yes, fine', and it seems to me this is a slightly dangerous attitude.


You have identified some very important points and I think you are very wise to have a thorough discussion beforehand so that you can identify potential "landmines." Much of this conversation, though, IMHO, should be taking place between the two of you and his priest, as a part of premarital counseling.

Also, when you mentioned that his parents have an idea that he should be a priest, that could be another potential problem. In order to be ordained, an Orthodox priest must have a wife who is Orthodox also. If he doesn't feel that he is called to the priesthood, it might be a good idea for him to tell his parents that. To avoid you getting blamed for his not becoming a priest, you see.


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« Reply #63 on: August 25, 2009, 05:58:33 AM »

HandmaidenofGod - sure, I was just thinking about the answer to Tamara's question.

Katherineofdixie - your name always makes me smile! Thanks for the wise advice. I suspect 'how to deal with in-laws who don't speak your language' is always a bit, ahem, 'interesting'.

Everyone - thanks for the encouragement  Smiley

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« Reply #64 on: August 25, 2009, 10:12:16 AM »

Liz it is refreshing to read through this thread. I admire your commitment to 'make sure' of some things before entering marriage.

I would definitely enter into a time of talking with your fiance's priest so that your questions can be answered and you aren't relying only on your love's ideas and beliefs. Any issues, present or future can be addressed. Obviously since I am a convert myself I would have to favor the Chrismation, and blessing of a priest under apostolic tradition versus those appointed by their own desire/whim/dream. And as far as chrismation, baptism and blessing go, again I would favor the original tradition for my children over a later invention of protestant origin. But that's me and I had more than three decades of the protestant version to string me along. I can't speak for you or what you will decide in the future, but I would not put off talking to a priest over any and all issues. Your man remaining in communion with his Orthodox roots is paramount for him, and adding the strain of children would be a matter difficult for any marriage to withstand. You aren't always going to agree on seemingly simple things in your marriage, children or other matters, and its not simply "LOVE" that sees you through those disagreements. Love may be the catalyst for attempting to get through those difficulties and misunderstandings, but its blood sweat and tears to be married. To my mind, setting up a marriage firmly and decidedly rooted right off the bat is incredibly important.  I have been married only 17 years, but with this man pretty much since I was 14. That is basically 24 of my 38 years of life! Despite the incredible effort to bring us together, more than once, and quite a bit of divine interference, this does not mean we have had an easy road to hoe at all. So to anyone entering into marriage at all I suggest making things as clear and simply defined ahead of time as possible!!
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« Reply #65 on: August 25, 2009, 10:25:39 AM »

I would have to favor the Chrismation, and blessing of a priest under apostolic tradition versus those appointed by their own desire/whim/dream.

Thanks for you message. However, I find one small part of your language bordering on the offensive. Yes, this is an Orthodox forum and therefore, of course, I do expect wholehearted disagreement with Protestant beliefs, but I think referring to a priest 'appointed by their own desire/whim/dream' is taking it a little far. Anglican priests believe that they are under apostolic tradition. I sincerely doubt that any of them are acting on a 'whim' or a 'dream'.
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« Reply #66 on: August 25, 2009, 02:22:25 PM »

Liz it is refreshing to read through this thread. I admire your commitment to 'make sure' of some things before entering marriage.

I would definitely enter into a time of talking with your fiance's priest so that your questions can be answered and you aren't relying only on your love's ideas and beliefs. Any issues, present or future can be addressed. Obviously since I am a convert myself I would have to favor the Chrismation, and blessing of a priest under apostolic tradition versus those appointed by their own desire/whim/dream. And as far as chrismation, baptism and blessing go, again I would favor the original tradition for my children over a later invention of protestant origin. But that's me and I had more than three decades of the protestant version to string me along. I can't speak for you or what you will decide in the future, but I would not put off talking to a priest over any and all issues. Your man remaining in communion with his Orthodox roots is paramount for him, and adding the strain of children would be a matter difficult for any marriage to withstand. You aren't always going to agree on seemingly simple things in your marriage, children or other matters, and its not simply "LOVE" that sees you through those disagreements. Love may be the catalyst for attempting to get through those difficulties and misunderstandings, but its blood sweat and tears to be married. To my mind, setting up a marriage firmly and decidedly rooted right off the bat is incredibly important.  I have been married only 17 years, but with this man pretty much since I was 14. That is basically 24 of my 38 years of life! Despite the incredible effort to bring us together, more than once, and quite a bit of divine interference, this does not mean we have had an easy road to hoe at all. So to anyone entering into marriage at all I suggest making things as clear and simply defined ahead of time as possible!!

Um, you might want to read up on the history of Angicanism before you make such pronouncements. The Anglican Church is not like your mainstream Baptist Church, and is quite sacramentel in nature, and has traditions going back to the 4th Century. You may disagree with Anglicanism, but your statement about it being made up is patently false.
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« Reply #67 on: August 25, 2009, 04:10:26 PM »

A good resource would be a book called "When You Intermarry" by Fr. Charles Joanides, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese who has written and researched this subject extensively.

http://www.amazon.com/When-You-Intermarry-Inter-Christian-Intercultural/dp/1584380993
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« Reply #68 on: August 31, 2009, 03:57:22 PM »

At this point the topic of discussion of mixed relationships was split into a discussion of Anglicanism and Orthodoxy.  That topic was split off of this topic and may now be found the the Protestantism and Orthodoxy Discussion Forum.  Your comments were all good, they just needed to be placed into the proper forum. Please continue that discussion there and the discussion of  Mixed Relationships, Opinions? here

Thomas
Convert Issues Forum Moderator
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Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
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