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PavelSim
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« on: September 15, 2009, 06:13:21 AM »

For a few month I am researching orthodox church and its teaching. I would like to ask you if you can answer a few questions
1) Do you know anybody/did you hear about anybody who was really delivered from the power of darkness (different degrees of possesion and/or outside influence of unclean spirits) in the orthodox church?
2)  Was this deliverance lasting, i.e. was is sustainable? If not why?
3) Is membership in the orthodox church necessary condition to be actively delivered by God/ starets/ orthodox priests? (The reason I ask you is that two priests said to me that using of orthodox treasures by non orthodox people is not recommended - however similar logic/schemes are used by most other christian and non christian sects - i.e. enter our holy sect and God will work miracles and if not than it is not God will to fix the particular problem).
3) How about people who are outside one true orthodox church - do they have any chance to be delivered? Could they be delivered in other christian churches or in sociates where christianity is not preached - muslim, hindu, budhist, agnostic and secular countries/ societies?
4) Is (previous) catholic baptims sufficient for entry to orthodox church?  One priest said yes the second recommended full immersion baptism?
5) Is former baptism in baptist church sin to be confessed?
6) How long is on average catechumen period? Why is it much longer than the cases shown in the new testament?
7) How about finances? Are they audited and controlled by laity people? What is Gods wiew on frauds with money happened in one american orthodox church a few years ago (do not remember details)? Why the people did not get word of knowledge/ prophecy not to support such a church?  I see double standard - converts who lied about their possesion to apostols in the new testaments died immediately - the priest who lie or representatives of churchus who manipulate are not punished by God at least in most of cases. 
Cool Kalistos Ware wrote in the Orthodox way that the problem that infinately good God knew in advance even before acts of creation that his creatures will stay for eternity in hell is a  mystery? Has anybody better explanation? 
9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith? What is the view of orthodox saints on the divisions of churches? Do the orthodox saints recognise sainthood of other christian saints - ie. for example did athonite starets recognised Padre Pio or coptic saints?

In Christ,

Pavel a bit critical but honestly asking
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 08:17:20 AM »

1. Personally not. But a few of my close relatives have seen such people and how demons are exorcised.
3. To be delivered what: items, sacraments, help?
4. Generally - yes, but it all depends on dioceasan Bishop's decision.
5. I think no.
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 09:13:16 AM »

9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith?

I don't think God is so hidden as much as we have trained ourselves not to see Him- we persist in this rigorous training and then blame God that He is hard to see (I know because I've done it- but maybe that's just me). I think that's why Orthodoxy is so enriched by the sacramental life which, among other things stresses communion with the Most High.

I also believe that the point of the Fathers, Councils, and ultimately of the Holy Scriptures is that Jesus is actually perfect in His unity without confusion or division. If we see division I believe that comes from us trying to make logical sense of the incarnation. Humanly speaking, Jesus should be a divided being, we see contradictory properties within one person- we can't work it out in our minds, thus we then assume that it cannot be true. Yet in perfect Mystery, He is easily able to be all of those things and be unified. We can no more comprehend this then we can God creating something from nothing- can we?

I think that the Holy Spirit has led many believers into one faith- but whether many people chose to follow Him is a different manner.
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Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2009, 10:23:13 AM »

Pavel,

Welcome to the Convert issues forum!

 You have asked some very deep questions and I am sure that eventually all of them will be fully answered. You will find that in Orthodoxy in United States of America, we have many jurisdictions that are basically based upon the country of origin that the people of the jurisdiction originally migrated to the United States from.  As a result of this there are many customs or as we often say "small t" traditions that are based upon that home church. The same may be said for the interpretations of the "How-to's" that are followed by those mother churches---some will allow a person to be chismated if they were baptised in a "heterodox Christian church" ( other than orthodox Christian church) thru the use of  "economy" (i.e. Christian mercy) granted by the Orthodox Bishop responsible for the diocese of the parish---others will not allow the use of economia for this purpose and require all converts to be baptized by an Orthodox priest only. It is intersting to note however that those churches in communion with their national mother church will accept those from other jurisdictions for communion once they are viewed as Orthodox by their own jurisdiction (i.e. EP Greeks can commune in an MP Church, Antiochians can commune in a JP Church, Serbians can commune in an Antioch church etc.)

Now here are my responses to your questions (remember these are only my responses as an individual, not as the forum moderator):

1) Do you know anybody/did you hear about anybody who was really delivered from the power of darkness (different degrees of possesion and/or outside influence of unclean spirits) in the orthodox church?
2)  Was this deliverance lasting, i.e. was is sustainable? If not why?


Yes, I have known several, over my 20 years in the church have been released from their bondage to Satan  when they were exorcised at their baptism. I have never seen an exorcism done after baptism although I have heard of cases over the years but have not followed up.  All Orthodox Christians have the prayers of exorcism prayed for them prior to baptism and chismation.

3) Is membership in the orthodox church necessary condition to be actively delivered by God/ starets/ orthodox priests? (The reason I ask you is that two priests said to me that using of orthodox treasures by non orthodox people is not recommended - however similar logic/schemes are used by most other christian and non christian sects - i.e. enter our holy sect and God will work miracles and if not than it is not God will to fix the particular problem).

I have heard this also. I believe that the reason is basically, if a person denies the Truth of Orthodoxy and the "True Belief/Right Belief" that the word Orthodox means, why would they wish to practice that belief. To do so may put them into peril much as did Magician Magnus when he wanted the power that the Apostles had but rejected how it was achieved.


3) How about people who are outside one true orthodox church - do they have any chance to be delivered? Could they be delivered in other christian churches or in sociates where christianity is not preached - muslim, hindu, budhist, agnostic and secular countries/ societies?

From a recent  answer to similar question onthe Convert Issues Board I quote the following:
"You ask, will the heterodox be saved. Why do you worry about them? They have a Savior, Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such concern. Study yourself and your own sins. I will tell you one thing, however, should you being Orthodox, and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever."   St. Theophan the Recluse


"many of those who on earth considered themselves to be alien to the Church will find that on the day of Judgment that they are her citizen; and many of those who thought themselves to be members of the Church will, alas, be found to be alien to her."  St. Augustine

4) Is (previous) catholic baptims sufficient for entry to orthodox church?  One priest said yes the second recommended full immersion baptism?

Some jurisdictions will allow a person to be chismated if they were baptised in a "heterodox Christian church" ( other than orthodox Christian church) thru the use of  "economy" (i.e. Christian mercy) granted by the Orthodox Bishop responsible for the diocese of the parish---others will not allow the use of economia for this purpose and require all converts to be baptized by an Orthodox priest only. The decision is held in the hand of the local bishop who holds the charism (gift of the Holy Spirit) to make that decision.


5) Is former baptism in baptist church sin to be confessed?

The baptism is not needed to be confessed as a sin, however there must be a renunciation of former heterodox or heretical beliefs. Slavic traditions have a formula, specific to the beliefs of the church one is departing, that is read renouncing such beliefs. In my jurisdiction, the person affirms their belief in the Orthodox Church by confessing the Nicene Creed during the  being made a catechumen and during their Baptism/Chrismation and  does not have to do anything else.


6) How long is on average catechumen period?

The Catechumen period varies from individual to individual and priest to priest. The rule generally is that when the individual and the priest both agree that the person is ready they enter the church.  Catechumen are part of the church but not in full communion, they are Christians in training.

Why is it much longer than the cases shown in the new testament?

Historically the Early Church Fathers note that once the Apostolic Age was completed that the catecumate became a longer period versus the immediate baptisms of Pentecost. Many of those at Pentecost had actually seen or heard Jesus speak and were Jews themselves steeped in the messianic prophecies. The Apostles when they spoke , spoke as first hand witnesses to the Jews and non-jews in the Greek and Roman world. Jews generally were admitted quickly, the righteous ones ( gentiles who attended Jewish synagogues) likewise had a shorter catechumenate , whereas those who were coming from pagan groups had longer catechumenates. My readings show that the catechumenate developed to provide those wishing to become Christian the ability once baptized to face heavy persecution  by giving them knowledge of what they were entering and strengthening them for the persecutions that they would face.

7) How about finances? Are they audited and controlled by laity people? What is Gods view on frauds with money happened in one American orthodox church a few years ago (do not remember details)?

This is a good question but primarily one that is asked only in the diaspora that we find in the United States and the other non-traditional homes of Orthodox Christians. In the old country, the churches are supported by the state, they are audited and finances are controlled by the government through the bishops. In the United States each parish, diocese, and Metropolitinate is responsible for  raising their own funds, paying salaries, investments , etc. The American ( and other nationality) jurisdictions are facing a difficult  change of model for financing and fiscal responsibility which it is apparent there are many varying ideas of how it should be done---some want to continue  the old world model but with the  Senior Bishop in total control of funding assisted by the Holy Synod of Bishops---others wish for a Corporate Model with a board of Directors, comptroller and a treasurer who control all funds---while others wish to use the Trust model with a board of trustees with a treasurer who cosigns checks authorized by the Trustees. Parishes genera ll utilize the Corporate model as many members of the Parish Council are often business men and this is the model they are most aware of. Dioceses and Metropolitantes have chose the Trust model with Trustees. The problem in all of these models is that they all wish to self audit versus utilize external audit systems that would greatly strengthen the model.

 Why the people did not get word of knowledge/ prophecy not to support such a church?  I see double standard - converts who lied about their possesion to apostles in the new testaments died immediately - the priest who lie or representatives of Churches who manipulate are not punished by God at least in most of cases. 
 Kalistos Ware wrote in the Orthodox way that the problem that infinitely good God knew in advance even before acts of creation that his creatures will stay for eternity in hell is a  mystery? Has anybody better explanation? 


We support the Church because it is God's Church, not Bishop so and so's Church. We know that God is actually the one in control and in his good time will rectify the situation and bring it back into line with His wishes and desires.  Bishops, Priests, and Laity in these situations have challenged those who exhibited corruption and the party who was responsible eventually was disciplined. Orthodox Christians know that all final judgement is in the hand of God and that He will exact the final penalty for those who have done harm to the Church and His people.

9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith? What is the view of orthodox saints on the divisions of churches? Do the orthodox saints recognise sainthood of other christian saints - ie. for example did athonite starets recognised Padre Pio or coptic saints?

To the Orthodox God is neither hidden nor Jesus divided. Within the Orthodox Church is found everything that is necessary for Salvation. It is not divided nor is it of varying faith. Orthodox Christians only look within when it comes to Saints and practices.  We stand as a light upon a hill that is not hidden we call all heterodox and non-believers to come and taste the cup of Salvation found in the One Holy Orthodox Church.  The Athonite Startets and historic Saints of the Church would have responded likewise.

Thomas
« Last Edit: September 15, 2009, 10:26:55 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 10:39:23 AM »

For a few month I am researching orthodox church and its teaching. I would like to ask you if you can answer a few questions
1) Do you know anybody/did you hear about anybody who was really delivered from the power of darkness (different degrees of possesion and/or outside influence of unclean spirits) in the orthodox church?
2)  Was this deliverance lasting, i.e. was is sustainable? If not why?
3) Is membership in the orthodox church necessary condition to be actively delivered by God/ starets/ orthodox priests? (The reason I ask you is that two priests said to me that using of orthodox treasures by non orthodox people is not recommended - however similar logic/schemes are used by most other christian and non christian sects - i.e. enter our holy sect and God will work miracles and if not than it is not God will to fix the particular problem).
3) How about people who are outside one true orthodox church - do they have any chance to be delivered? Could they be delivered in other christian churches or in sociates where christianity is not preached - muslim, hindu, budhist, agnostic and secular countries/ societies?
4) Is (previous) catholic baptims sufficient for entry to orthodox church?  One priest said yes the second recommended full immersion baptism?
5) Is former baptism in baptist church sin to be confessed?
6) How long is on average catechumen period? Why is it much longer than the cases shown in the new testament?
7) How about finances? Are they audited and controlled by laity people? What is Gods wiew on frauds with money happened in one american orthodox church a few years ago (do not remember details)? Why the people did not get word of knowledge/ prophecy not to support such a church?  I see double standard - converts who lied about their possesion to apostols in the new testaments died immediately - the priest who lie or representatives of churchus who manipulate are not punished by God at least in most of cases. 
Cool Kalistos Ware wrote in the Orthodox way that the problem that infinately good God knew in advance even before acts of creation that his creatures will stay for eternity in hell is a  mystery? Has anybody better explanation? 
9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith? What is the view of orthodox saints on the divisions of churches? Do the orthodox saints recognise sainthood of other christian saints - ie. for example did athonite starets recognised Padre Pio or coptic saints?

In Christ,

Pavel a bit critical but honestly asking

1. I do not know anyone like that personally, but I have heard stories.

2. From what I heard, sometimes lasting, sometimes not.

3. We do not know God's plans regarding salvation of those who are outside of the Church. God certainly CAN save anyone who does not resist Him (as for those who do resist, He does not force anything on them).

4. As Mike has pointed out above, it depends on a particular Orthodox jurisdiction. Some require re-baptism, some don't.

5. I am not sure that baptism can be viewed as "sin." Some bishops see a Heterodox baptism as "non-valid" or "devoid of Grace," but still even they hardly call it a sinful act.

6. People say, between one year and three years. Sometimes it is shorter (in my own case it was only about a month, because I am originally from Ukraine and my priest saw that I knew quite a lot about Orthodoxy).

7. AFAIK, Orthodox parishes do not own property; all posessions of a parish are, legally speaking, the property of the bishop. No one is forced to give. Fraud perhaps happens, occasionally, because people are sinful, but the Church does all She can to prevent theft or fraud.

8. I am not an expert in theology, but I think God never "planned" Hell. God certainly knew, before all ages, that His creation can fall; but He also, before all ages, knew that if men fall, God the Word will become man and save the fallen humanity.

9. God is not "occult" - He is "transcendent," meaning principally different from His creation. As Prof. Karl Bart put it, He is "entirely OTHER." Whatever we, humans, think about Him in our imperfect, weak human mind, He is most definitely NOT "it." We cannot penetrate into the Divine Nature. However, God is also "immanent," meaning accessible, close, intimately related to each and every one of us. In the Person of Christ, the "fullness of Deity" "dwells corporally" (St. Paul). Christ is not "divided" - He is one Person; the two natures, Divine and human, are united in this one Person perfectly, without confusion, without division, inseparably, forever. In other words, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. As God, He is eternal, without beginning, without change, without passions, and different from us humans. As man, he is exactly like each and every one of us, except sin.

About other questions, I am afraid I am even less of an expert.

Good to have you aboard! I hope and pray you will find everything you need!

--George
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2009, 02:37:30 PM »

Thanks you Mike,  ironsiderodger, Thomas and George for your answers and opinions. I am most interested in first three answers and your answers are similar I heard from a few orthodox people/priest. I am a bit sceptical given my life experience with other so called christian churches but I will see...

My question number 9 was not well formulated. I meant church is Jesus body and as such this body is very divided. But my view of church is a bit wider than orthodox view and I see your position that orthodoxy is true church and other are schismatics and heretics. The word occult is not well used in relationship with God - the word hidden is better.

Number 7 was related to  forced tithing and similar schemes in pentecostal and charismatic churches. Orthodoxy is not immune as I found this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_scandal_in_the_Orthodox_Church_in_America

Question number 8 is important from the ethical point of view - but St. Paul in Romans wrote s-thing like "that God as a potter has right to create certain vessels to celebrate and certain to destroy...".

I would like to add question 10) Why we people have duty to forgive everyone and the Holy Spirit has not this duty. Moreover this sin against Holy Spirit is again speculative and not well defined (except the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira given their improper property fillings...) and churches manipulate with people quilts. I see this that we are forced to be better than creator. Moreover the heavenly conflict between God and fallen spirits is again a mystery and we stupid people play a role of fantocinny or leads.
My personal inclination is that I prefer direct, open and honest behaviour but His ways are different and highers than ours...

In Christ,

Pavel
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2009, 03:37:44 PM »

Quote
I would like to add question 10) Why we people have duty to forgive everyone and the Holy Spirit has not this duty. Moreover this sin against Holy Spirit is again speculative and not well defined (except the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira given their improper property fillings...) and churches manipulate with people quilts. I see this that we are forced to be better than creator. Moreover the heavenly conflict between God and fallen spirits is again a mystery and we stupid people play a role of fantocinny or leads.
My personal inclination is that I prefer direct, open and honest behaviour but His ways are different and highers than ours...
We have the duty to forgive because we can't judge. God is our judge in Christ's person, we are here only to LIVE and SPREAD the Gospel in the world. We can't judge, so we must forgive. Also, Jesus himself forgave his murderers on the Cross. But yes, there is a sin against the Holy Spirit, and there are some hints of what this sin might be.
In one of his epistles, st. John the evangelist confirms that there's a kind of sin leading to death. St. Paul says that we musn't ignore that there's a list of sins which would exclude us from the Kingdom of Heaven, and that this sin is against our body as "the temple of the Holy Ghost". This list includes sins such as adultery, fornication, sodomy, sorcery, drunkenness and others. A similar list appears in the Apocalypse. You can be sure that the "sin against the Holy Spirit" is more a tendency to violate oneself, which violates our personal sanctity as living icons of Christ. At baptism, the wicked man of sin is washed away and our souls and bodies are filled with Christ's grace, restoring our primordial existence as "sons of God" in the image and likeness of the heavenly Father. This way, we are icons of Christ - we are indeed Christians - as we have received the same anointing. When one practices one of the sins aforemantioned, he is making his own body an unholy temple for the Holy Spirit received at Chrismation (aka Confirmation in the Western churches). This is a sacrilege God just can't forgive because a persistence in these evil actions is a fruit of exercise of free will: God can't OBLIGE people to love him, and those who practice a sin contrary to the Spirit persist in refusing his grace, and will do so even after death for all eternity. God created us with a free will so that we might accept him freely and voluntarily, so he respects our choice to embrace sin and refuse Him as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

In Christ,  Alex

PS: Anyway, welcome! I encourage you to ask us all info you want, I hope OC.net might help you find, if you'd like, a new home, or at least, a new group of friends to discuss with.
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2009, 05:31:27 PM »

Just trying to add some cents though the previous posts were good enough.
3) Is membership in the orthodox church necessary condition to be actively delivered by God/ starets/ orthodox priests?
Well, you have to be baptized and follow a certain proccess before taking part in the Eucharist. Salvation is not offered by the Church or a priest, they just help you earn it.

Quote
3) How about people who are outside one true orthodox church - do they have any chance to be delivered? Could they be delivered in other christian churches or in sociates where christianity is not preached - muslim, hindu, budhist, agnostic and secular countries/ societies?
Check Romanks 2:12-16. I believe that ignorance is excused. A true sin would be to completely acknowledge Orthodoxy and then willingly abandon it.

Quote
7) How about finances? Are they audited and controlled by laity people? What is Gods wiew on frauds with money happened in one american orthodox church a few years ago (do not remember details)? Why the people did not get word of knowledge/ prophecy not to support such a church?  I see double standard - converts who lied about their possesion to apostols in the new testaments died immediately - the priest who lie or representatives of churchus who manipulate are not punished by God at least in most of cases.
That depends. In countries where the Church is close to the state, it gains certain benefits. I guess that it works just as another religious organization in other countries. Still, I cannot deny the fact that in some independent parishes (usually small ones in remoted areas, like villages) the temple is being mantained by the laity (cleaning the place, arranging the icons, taking care candles and so on).
Financial scandals have been a problem even long before king Solomon's reign. Plus, the fact that some people of a certain sect are corrupted and sinful doesn't mean that their sect's teachings are not true.
I don't think we should compare man A in the New Testament with man B in the US. Maybe it seemsto us that they are both guilty for the same crime, but each man's case is to be viewed independently; only God can judge here.

Quote
Cool Kalistos Ware wrote in the Orthodox way that the problem that infinately good God knew in advance even before acts of creation that his creatures will stay for eternity in hell is a  mystery? Has anybody better explanation?
Sorry, but I can't understand that question.Could you possibly be talking about predestination and God arranging everything (people dommed to be sent Hell or something)?

Quote
9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith? What is the view of orthodox saints on the divisions of churches? Do the orthodox saints recognise sainthood of other christian saints ?
It's because we can't understand Him. Go on and make the same question to a faithful monk who has spent his life searching for God. He will probably disagree with you on this. As for the rest, why should God force people to believe in Him (violation of free will) or scare them? The Church officially does not venerate any non-Orthodox or heretics. But the laity may show some certain respect to others though, like Blessed Augustine or Saint Patrick, for example.
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 11:16:25 AM »

The Church officially does not venerate any non-Orthodox or heretics. But the laity may show some certain respect to others though, like Blessed Augustine or Saint Patrick, for example.

Tangent alert! St. Patrick is an Orthodox saint. "St. Patrick is also venerated in the Orthodox Church, especially among English-speaking Orthodox Christians living in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and in North America."
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2009, 04:58:57 PM »

I've seen that before, but I don't think that there have been held any Councils concerning his veneration, no?
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2009, 05:03:14 PM »

I've seen that before, but I don't think that there have been held any Councils concerning his veneration, no?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but St. Patrick was venerated as a saint for centuries before the Schism, and I don't believe that councils decide on who does or does not get venerated anyway. Did a council decide on every single saint and martyr?
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2009, 02:43:21 AM »

Alex, Gamma Ray and Katherina thank your for answers. Definitely they are very usefull for me. I consider this forum to be very friendly place.
Theological questions can be found elsewhere in history of this forum, books etc.
I am most interested in personal experience of believers. If anybody else gives me his/her  opinions related to questions 1, 2 and 3 I would appreciate that very much.
Gamma Ray the question 8 was related to predestination or rather prior knowledge of God that his creation (part of it) will be not good enough and finally will end up in ever lasting hell/ separation from God. Why anybody in eternity who is in heaven should enjoy that if he/she knows that certain beings in hell suffer for eternity? But this and similar questions do not help me in the time being and I put these questions rather aside. In the time of crises these questions always jump to me.

In Christ,

Pavel 
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2009, 03:19:13 AM »

I've seen that before, but I don't think that there have been held any Councils concerning his veneration, no?

My Church has them both put it Her calendar.
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2009, 07:23:43 AM »

I've seen that before, but I don't think that there have been held any Councils concerning his veneration, no?

Sorry GammaRay, but I think your wrong (nothing personal). If we were to wait for the Councils to proclaim somebody's veneration, then there would be no saints. No Council has ever proclaimed a saint - canonization is just the sealing of a pre-existent veneration by laypeople in the Orthodox church. Ecumenical Councils are only interested in dogmas and canons, their subject is God and his relationship to the Church members. St. Patrick has been honoured in the past - and still is in a part of our Orthodox church which is in communion of the see of Constantinople. The degree of his acceptance as an Orthodox saint is more then clear. The same on blessed Augustine, who is leasted as a saint dispite his errors (but not necessarily heresies). Most of his doctrines (such as purgatory) have never been neither embraced nor entirely condemned in his version, other ideas (such as the Filioque) have been voluntarily manipulated, distorted and corrupted by the Roman church, and some other concepts (such as original sin) are personal opinions a part of which has been officially used by the Church to condemn Pelagianism, so he can be considered an Orthodox saint who made lots of imprecise affirmations on doctrine also due to the bad Latin translations of his time of both Bible and Early Christian writers (Augustine was admittedly ignorant of the Greek originals).

You would have given a good example, on the contrary, using two other examples such as Isaac the Syrian and Francis of Assisi. The first one is an Orthodox saint even if he lived in the Assyrian Church of the East (also known as "Nestorian", no matter how valid this name might be) long after her schism from Orthodoxy; the second is venerated in some monastic communities of Roman Catholic origin by toleration of the hierarchs despite he lived in the heretical RC Church.

I hope you would understand what I mean, so that we might together help PavelSim get the true message of Orthodoxy, and not just figuring out a wrong model of us.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2009, 07:58:42 AM »

Dear PavelSim,
Quote
I am most interested in personal experience of believers. If anybody else gives me his/her  opinions related to questions 1, 2 and 3 I would appreciate that very much.
my personal experience of Orthodoxy is still moving the first steps, but here I found very good apologists and a certain freedom of opinion. Of course, Orthodoxy is more then a list of dogmas, canons and rituals: it's a mindset, a lifestyle, a personal/spiritual holistic experience which can change one's life entirely. While Orthodoxy can be understood from its theological contents, I suggest you to attend in person a Divine Liturgy and "sense" the mystic behind it. The gates of our churches are open to everyone, and asking opinions doesn't necessarily imply a will to convert. if you can find an Orthodox church, enter, experience the angelical harmony of its chants and gestures, then if you have questions try and approach the priest. He will almost surely be glad to answer your questions, and he won't expect that you convert of course.

On the first questions, I can try and answer from my point of view, but that's difficult.
1. I never personally witnessed a demonic possession in Orthodoxy, but I'm sure the Devil exists. My cousins (a male and a female) were once possessed and exorcised in the RC church, so I can say that I'm a witness of how God works over the Devil who cannot resist Him. I know that the Orthodox Church is one of those Christian communions who practises almost systematically exorcisms. The entire Christian life begins with an exorcism before Baptism, and there are many rituals to exorcise in our liturgical texts, which are associated to some great saints of our early centuries. Even a great contemporary RC exorcist, Fr Amorth, praises the Orthodox church among those Christian confessions preserving and exalting the "sacramental" (I would say a Mystery or Sacrament, being instituted and ordered by Jesus himself) of exorcism.
2. An exorcism is/can be effective or not, and it could last or not. I think the central reason for an in effective or short-living exorcism is a lack of faith in the victim. Evil cannot enter a saint - he can only tempt saints (and for a saint, being tempted is somehow a further instrument of sanctification, since even Christ underwent temptation in the desert...). The Devil, says Jesus, tries to lead in temptation even the saints, but the Holy Temple of God (our body and soul sanctified by the Holy Ghost) will close the gates to Satan before he can enter. Sometimes, a victim of Satanic possession or control is successfully freed and then his/her heart which once welcomed the Devil is now ready for a SINCERE conversion, and in this case I think Satan could never come back.
3. From a canonical point of view, I don't know of cases of Orthodox exorcisms celebrated on unorthodox victims. Yet, I think the exorcist might value case and case... Jesus and the Apostles didn't demand from the victims of possession any specific profession of faith BEFORE the exorcism was performed on them... that's because a person under demoniac possession just can't confess the Christian faith: that's a slave. Of course, this is my personal opinion, and I have no knowledge of canons regarding this aspect, and even the canons are subject to the discernment of the local bishop, the only rightful interpreter of canon law except for the Ecumenical Councils themselves.
In point one I partially discussed the question of exorcisms outside the boundaries of the institutional Orthodox Church. As I witnessed at least one exorcism when I was RC, and I know of a friend of mine who performed an exorcism successfully (he is a former RC seminarist, and he used a rite at the disposal of laypeope, obviously). The question of exorcisms outside the so-called Catholic Churches (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and, under some circumstances, Anglicanism and Old Catholicism) is a little more difficult, especially when we get outside of Christendom into pagan religions. I dunno - as probably nobody knows -whether this rituals might be effective or not, but since no-one can put limits on Divine Providence, let's say they MIGHT serve their purpose in extreme cases according to God's infinite love and mercy, and we can't just "test" their validity from within our Church.
Hope this helps.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2009, 02:13:00 PM »

Thank you, all, for helping me understand the veneration of Saints!! Smiley

PavelSim, I've met people who have witnessed exorcisms, if that counts for something.
Also, I once met someone who was a fortune-teller (Tarot cards). He had been drawn away from God and could not even pray anymore. One day, after realizing what had happened to him and after some strong headaches, he prayed to God again and threw away the Tarot cards. He's an Orthodox now, but the whole thing did not initially start at any parish, it was straight from God.
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2009, 03:19:43 AM »

Dear Alex and Gamma Ray,

thank you for your answers and personal views. I attended a few liturges in a few parishes and I like it. I do not understand the whole liturgy but I have one book to study it. Certain things seemed strange to me as kissing the hand of the priest but I do not consider these obstacles as fundamental...
The reason I ask questins about deliverance is that I suffer for more than six years from headaches that started suddenly after I visited one tarot card reader (and in one year period before that I visited more occultist because my health and other problems I had). After that I became christian - went to many churches (but was not a member) but it did not help. Maybe the sort of oppositions I experienced were very strong and sophisticated. I lived and still live in the prelest but I think many so called Christians live in prelest as well and do not know that. I became a bit sceptical.
I consider orthodoxy as the last chance... 

In Christ,

Pavel
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« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2009, 03:56:22 AM »

I consider orthodoxy as the last chance...

Then you and I have something in common.
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2009, 07:33:21 AM »

Dear PavelSim,
I suspected your questions 1 through 3 had to be very important for you personally (otherwise, why would you have put them in the beginning of the list?). Anyway, some on this forum know of my personal experience some months ago, when a "presence" manifested beside my bed by night. I'm not yet Orthodox, but the only thing I could do was to pray and remember that God is my rock, my refuge, my protective wings, my shield stopping all arrows pointing at me from the Devil. Keep this faith, and pray a lot. The Orthodox Church has got lots of prayers with an exorcistic character (but not necessarily true exorcisms); icons and the cross can also protect you from those demonic assaults. I recommend you to have a talk with an Orthodox priest, anyway. Nobody knows the Devil better then his best enemy: a holy man fighting evil everyday in church life.
A little suggestion: don't search a religion that could solve your physical problem; look for a church who might deliver your entire person - body and spirit - from the action of the Devil. Your body is heavily afflicted by these headaches, and I know what you can feel (that's another experience I had with a pitonissa 8 years ago, and headaches followed exactly as for you). Probably you think that you just might be "evil" yourself, of something similar. Do not even think that. Satan painfully attacks the good ones: the wicked are already in his possession and make no resistence, while the good people are his battlefield and are tormented by the demonic powers. Like st. Paul's thorn in the flesh, use this occasion to reach sanctity.

My prayers are for you, dear PavelSim. The Lord guard your soul from the Devil.

In Christ,   your brother Alex
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« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2009, 10:02:39 AM »

The Orthodox see Salvation as a continual process. In the same way, your treatment should also be continual and not just something that happens like *poof*. For a start, try getting baptized and try to acknowledge your Lord through His Word and the Church's views. The most important thing is praying. When you and your spiritual father/confessor decide together that you should receive the Eucharist, then do it.
Do not be disappointed in case it takes some time, just don't give up!

PavelSim, I think that you alone are going to be the answer to questions 1 and 2. Wink
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