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Author Topic: It's been a while - and I could use some advice  (Read 1690 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carole
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« on: September 26, 2009, 12:07:13 AM »

Or at the very least someone to tell me that I am being stupid.

It's been several months since I was last here. In that time my life has gotten terribly complicated.  My husband and I are having some very serious marital issues and at this point we are living in the same house but sleeping in separate rooms and living not quite separate lives ... but close to it.  This has, as you can imagine, been a very difficult situation for our 13-year-old daughter.  Heaped on top of the fact that her parents are considering divorcing (well, my husband is considering divorce, I do not consider it an option) she has had to make the transition from homeschooling to a public high school and I have started attending college.  There have been a lot of changes in a very short period of time.

That's the background.  Now to the "issue."

I was talking to my daughter tonight and she was telling me that she doesn't really pray any more - she tries to talk to God but thinks that she is "boring Him."  And that while she knows that He exists she doesn't feel "close" to Him or spiritually motivated in any way.  We've been attending the Catholic Mass for the past 6+ months.

Tonight she told me in no uncertain terms that she doesn't feel Catholic and that she hasn't felt "close to God" since we moved to Alabama (away from our Eastern Rite Catholic parish) except when she's attended the Divine Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox parish here.

I am still on the fence about leaving the Catholic Church to join the Orthodox Church (it's a big step and right now, perhaps more than ever, I am afraid to make any more life-altering decisions).  But my daughter has always been more drawn to and more certain of Orthodoxy than I have.

My first question is - Can a 13-year-old convert to Orthodoxy even if her parents do not?

The other part of the situation is that I want to do everything I can to help her spiritual life along. I feel she needs to have the comfort of a strong faith, particularly in light of all that is happening in her life.  To that end I want to take her to the Divine Liturgy.  But ... and this is the part where I'm probably being stupid ... I feel awkward because it will be just she and I going.  My husband hasn't been to Confession or Mass since before we had our last big fight and he announced that he isn't sure he wants to be married any more - he has no apparent interest in going to church.  But we've been to this small parish several times as a family.  I feel really uncomfortable going because I know that the priest and his wife will ask us how we have been and where my husband is.  I am ashamed to tell them that we are there alone because I've helped to mess up my marriage so badly. 

Am I being stupid?  Should I just suck it up and go? And if they ask about my husband, do I lie to the priest?  Or just try to bypass the conversation?
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Carole
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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 12:18:27 AM »

Or at the very least someone to tell me that I am being stupid.

It's been several months since I was last here. In that time my life has gotten terribly complicated.  My husband and I are having some very serious marital issues and at this point we are living in the same house but sleeping in separate rooms and living not quite separate lives ... but close to it.  This has, as you can imagine, been a very difficult situation for our 13-year-old daughter.  Heaped on top of the fact that her parents are considering divorcing (well, my husband is considering divorce, I do not consider it an option) she has had to make the transition from homeschooling to a public high school and I have started attending college.  There have been a lot of changes in a very short period of time.

That's the background.  Now to the "issue."

I was talking to my daughter tonight and she was telling me that she doesn't really pray any more - she tries to talk to God but thinks that she is "boring Him."  And that while she knows that He exists she doesn't feel "close" to Him or spiritually motivated in any way.  We've been attending the Catholic Mass for the past 6+ months.

Tonight she told me in no uncertain terms that she doesn't feel Catholic and that she hasn't felt "close to God" since we moved to Alabama (away from our Eastern Rite Catholic parish) except when she's attended the Divine Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox parish here.

I am still on the fence about leaving the Catholic Church to join the Orthodox Church (it's a big step and right now, perhaps more than ever, I am afraid to make any more life-altering decisions).  But my daughter has always been more drawn to and more certain of Orthodoxy than I have.

My first question is - Can a 13-year-old convert to Orthodoxy even if her parents do not?

Yes. But the parents would have to consent, and she would have to find godparents.


Quote
The other part of the situation is that I want to do everything I can to help her spiritual life along. I feel she needs to have the comfort of a strong faith, particularly in light of all that is happening in her life.  To that end I want to take her to the Divine Liturgy.  But ... and this is the part where I'm probably being stupid ... I feel awkward because it will be just she and I going.  My husband hasn't been to Confession or Mass since before we had our last big fight and he announced that he isn't sure he wants to be married any more - he has no apparent interest in going to church.  But we've been to this small parish several times as a family.  I feel really uncomfortable going because I know that the priest and his wife will ask us how we have been and where my husband is.  I am ashamed to tell them that we are there alone because I've helped to mess up my marriage so badly. 

Am I being stupid?  Should I just suck it up and go? And if they ask about my husband, do I lie to the priest?  Or just try to bypass the conversation?

I don't know why you should lie to the priest (always a bad idea).  Speak with him privately, he should know about what's going on for the issue of your daughter's conversion.  I have experience with marital problems (nasty divorce):bottling up doesn't help.  God preserve you!
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Carole
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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 12:27:09 AM »


My first question is - Can a 13-year-old convert to Orthodoxy even if her parents do not?

Yes. But the parents would have to consent, and she would have to find godparents.

Thank you.  She would have the consent of her parents.  While I would never condone or support her decision to "convert" to a Protestant sect - I would support 100% her desire to become Orthodox.


Quote
Am I being stupid?  Should I just suck it up and go? And if they ask about my husband, do I lie to the priest?  Or just try to bypass the conversation?

I don't know why you should lie to the priest (always a bad idea).  Speak with him privately, he should know about what's going on for the issue of your daughter's conversion.  I have experience with marital problems (nasty divorce):bottling up doesn't help.  God preserve you!

If she decides to convert, of course I would talk to the priest and fill him in on everything that is going on.  I guess I'm just worried about taking her to the Divine Liturgy because I know that we will be recognized (as we have been on our past infrequent visits) and we will be asked how we've been and likely where my husband is.  I still can't talk about the situation without crying and honestly, I just feel so embarrassed to have to tell anyone what is going on. 

I know it is stupid ... and I won't stand in the way of my daughter having a solid faith that she can rely on during this difficult time.  I'm just dreading the inevitable questions.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and give me your thoughts.  I really appreciate it.
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Carole
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2009, 12:42:57 AM »

Not to be off-topic, but I'll say a prayer for you. 
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2009, 12:46:35 AM »

Not to be off-topic, but I'll say a prayer for you. 

Thank you!  I appreciate that more than you can possibly imagine.  If you could - please add a prayer for my daughter.  As hard as this situation is for the adults involved it is many many times worse for her.
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Carole
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 01:33:05 AM »

If people ask about the whereabouts of your husband at church, you don’t have to answer any questions about him with more than a simple “Oh, he couldn’t make it today.”  If it is a large Greek church, there may be so many people that you won’t meet the same individuals again for weeks.   If the priest asks about your husband or if you want to talk with him,  be truthful. The priest may be able to provide you with helpful support.

Advice my wise godmother previously gave me about teens: 
“Teens must sometimes temporarily reject their parents’ beliefs so that they can later claim those beliefs to be their own.”  Sadly, many teens go through this stage of asserting their independence from God.  It seems to occur at the same time that they are asserting their independence from their parents.

Traditions are important to children and most adults.  You stated that your daughter did not feel close to God since moving away from the Byzantine church.  If you are attending a RC church, this church sounds, looks and smells very different from the Byzantine traditions where she grew to know and love God.  Could this be a reason why she doesn’t feel close to God? 

Moving is also one of the most stressful factors that one can experience   Could the stress of moving/separation from old friends be a factor in your daughter’s feelings of separation from God?

When adults move there are massive boxes piled to the ceiling and other extraordinary stresses.  Sometimes during these annoyances one can forget to pray with their children or even to pray by themselves.  What might happen if you began to pray more with her or to pray in front of her more frequently?

Does the Greek church have a Sunday school for teens? It might have a youth group, basketball team, dance group  and other fun activities. It is hard for some teens to enter into new groups and clubs but she might enjoy these activities at the Greek church.  If she meets new friends there, she will feel happier about going to places to worship God (Divine Liturgy, Sunday school and church camp).  If some of the service is in Greek, find a DL book and follow along.  You will soon be easily singing with everyone.

Parenting and marriage are very difficult jobs. Certainly the many changes in your family’s life will show up in many forms in your daughter’s life.   I will pray for God’s will to be done in your marriage and for God to send your family love and comfort.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 01:36:57 AM by ms.hoorah » Logged
Carole
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 09:18:29 AM »

If people ask about the whereabouts of your husband at church, you don’t have to answer any questions about him with more than a simple “Oh, he couldn’t make it today.”  If it is a large Greek church, there may be so many people that you won’t meet the same individuals again for weeks.   If the priest asks about your husband or if you want to talk with him,  be truthful. The priest may be able to provide you with helpful support.

I wish it was a large parish, but it isn't. It is a very small, tightly knit community in a very heavily Evangelical Protestant area.  Every visitor is noticed (you cannot help but stand out) and repeat visitors are remembered.  We attended the DL there quite frequently as we were investigating Orthodoxy and trying to discern where we belong.  There is no doubt we'll be seen, remembered and asked - at the very least by the priest and presbytera.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
Advice my wise godmother previously gave me about teens: 
“Teens must sometimes temporarily reject their parents’ beliefs so that they can later claim those beliefs to be their own.”  Sadly, many teens go through this stage of asserting their independence from God.  It seems to occur at the same time that they are asserting their independence from their parents.

I don't think this is an issue of rejecting the beliefs of her parents.  We have been contemplating for many years (even before we left our Byzantine Catholic parish) becoming Orthodox.  Reading, asking questions, attending the Divine Liturgy.  It is something she has been praying about and contemplating for about 4 years.  I believe that the recent changes in our family situation have pointed out to her that she needs to make a decision about where she needs to be.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
Traditions are important to children and most adults.  You stated that your daughter did not feel close to God since moving away from the Byzantine church.  If you are attending a RC church, this church sounds, looks and smells very different from the Byzantine traditions where she grew to know and love God.  Could this be a reason why she doesn’t feel close to God?


It may be a part of it.  But as I said earlier she's been thinking about what it would mean to be Orthodox for years.  She definitely feels more comfort and spiritual fulfillment from the traditions of the Eastern Churches.  But she also has more doctrinal and theological agreement with the Orthodox than with the Catholic Church, too.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
Moving is also one of the most stressful factors that one can experience   Could the stress of moving/separation from old friends be a factor in your daughter’s feelings of separation from God?

It is possible.  But we moved three years ago and she has developed many more friendships and acquaintances and found many more social outlets since moving than she had before we moved.  So I don't think that is as much of a factor.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
When adults move there are massive boxes piled to the ceiling and other extraordinary stresses.  Sometimes during these annoyances one can forget to pray with their children or even to pray by themselves.  What might happen if you began to pray more with her or to pray in front of her more frequently?

I think the praying part of her situation is situational and probably has more to do with the overall spiritual dryness she's feeling right now.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
Does the Greek church have a Sunday school for teens? It might have a youth group, basketball team, dance group  and other fun activities. It is hard for some teens to enter into new groups and clubs but she might enjoy these activities at the Greek church.  If she meets new friends there, she will feel happier about going to places to worship God (Divine Liturgy, Sunday school and church camp).  If some of the service is in Greek, find a DL book and follow along.  You will soon be easily singing with everyone.

They do have a youth groups and kids her age there.  Not a lot.  But more than the small Latin Mass parish which we attend now.  I think that part of what she misses from Florida is being a part of a real parish community.  Here the Latin Mass is said at one parish with a priest who drives from another parish.  There is no real sense of community.  And it is very difficult to get to speak with the priest as his primary parish is more than an hour away.  In addition to her preference for the DL and her theological agreement with the Orthodox the idea of belonging to a faith community is probably also very appealing for her.

Quote from: ms.hoorah
Parenting and marriage are very difficult jobs. Certainly the many changes in your family’s life will show up in many forms in your daughter’s life.   I will pray for God’s will to be done in your marriage and for God to send your family love and comfort.

Thank you.
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Carole
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2009, 11:10:47 AM »

Been through a divorce myself. It could be likened more to a death than anything else and its repercussions go on for years to come. (in my case, I remarried but the effects of the divorce continue due to the children involved)

About all I can offer is that it is my belief the situation with your daughter's current dry spiritual condition might be alleviated were the marriage of her parents to be salvaged. That is the order of the day. Somehow you have to convince your husband to go with you for counseling and the best situation, it would seem to me, might be with the priest of the Greek Church. It might be worth exploring (then again... I could be wrong since I don't know the persons involved). Nevertheless... pride, being right, getting even and a host of other things that will in time seem incredibly petty (but currently are of utmost importance)... all of these things must be set aside in a supreme effort to save the marriage and love the life-partner with whom God has blessed each of you. Speak to your husband about it. Pray for him and extend yourself towards him as never before. Love is hard to rebuff.
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Carole
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 01:21:25 PM »

Been through a divorce myself. It could be likened more to a death than anything else and its repercussions go on for years to come. (in my case, I remarried but the effects of the divorce continue due to the children involved)

About all I can offer is that it is my belief the situation with your daughter's current dry spiritual condition might be alleviated were the marriage of her parents to be salvaged. That is the order of the day. Somehow you have to convince your husband to go with you for counseling and the best situation, it would seem to me, might be with the priest of the Greek Church. It might be worth exploring (then again... I could be wrong since I don't know the persons involved). Nevertheless... pride, being right, getting even and a host of other things that will in time seem incredibly petty (but currently are of utmost importance)... all of these things must be set aside in a supreme effort to save the marriage and love the life-partner with whom God has blessed each of you. Speak to your husband about it. Pray for him and extend yourself towards him as never before. Love is hard to rebuff.

Thank you, Douglas.  I agree that reconciliation between us is the best thing - and obviously the only truly Christian thing to do.  Which is why I will not entertain any thoughts of divorce.  If he wishes to leave he obviously will, but I will not cooperate with what I see as a grave error (and possibly a sin).  So I am hanging in there, doing everything I can to prove to him that I am choosing to love him and to honour our marriage - no matter what.  With regard to praying for him and extending myself to him, that is what I am trying to do and have been doing for the past 3 months.  Though the "Love is hard to rebuff," sentiment is hard for me to believe right now because he's doing a marvelous job of rebuffing my every attempt.

I think I will go to the DL on Sunday and I will talk to the priest both about my daughter's conversion and my own concerns about conversion.  I think a huge problem for all of us has been the lack of a consistent presence of a church community and a priest. 

Thank you again for your kind words.  Please, if you think of it, keep us in your prayers.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 01:23:02 PM by Carole » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 01:23:13 PM »

Carole, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry you are facing such trials in your life right now. Sad
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 01:41:13 PM »

Carole, you are in our prayers.  Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2009, 01:19:23 AM »

Carole, Welcome back.   Smiley

Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 07:43:52 AM »

Tonight she told me in no uncertain terms that she doesn't feel Catholic and that she hasn't felt "close to God" since we moved to Alabama (away from our Eastern Rite Catholic parish) except when she's attended the Divine Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox parish here.
Your girl is going to save your family!

Quote
I feel really uncomfortable going because I know that the priest and his wife will ask us how we have been and where my husband is.  I am ashamed to tell them that we are there alone because I've helped to mess up my marriage so badly.
What?! Are you kidding? You will have the chance to talk to an Orthodox spiritual father/confessor and you will miss the chance to take his advice?

Carole, the situation sounds awful, but if you believe that your marital problems should be taken care of first, then I suggest you should be moving more slowly. Still, why not try to talk with your daughter about Orthodoxy and teach her a few things?
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 08:22:09 AM »

Carol,
I don't know you yet I empathize with your circumstances.  As a parent it is always in our nature to want the best for our child and especially spiritually.  When things are not good in our marriages and in the rest of our lifes it would be a natural response to want to offer stability to a thirteen year old who has already gone through a number of changes already; yet she is only thirteen.  This age is a time when making choices for themselves is like the changing of the tide, today she doesn't want the Catholic church but the Orthodox; next year she might want something different.  I believe it is important to look at this in this aspect as well because of the nature of things within the framework of your home.  One more move away from your husband doing things without him, is doing something seperate from him with your daughter involved.  What does your husband think about all of this?  Have you sought his input on your daughters feelings about the Orthodox church?  This really would be a joint decision by the two of you as it is his daughter as well.  To me if it were something in anyway that was going to bring you together it would be seeking his input not doing it without his approval.  Secondly, I would encourage you to pray before talking to a priest which is a place which you and your husband have visited; I would suggest you approach your husband about the both of you speaking to the priest together, which is fair.  The idea is interdependent not independent.  I am all for the Orthodox church yet I am for what brings unity in a marriage first.  I pray for God's wisdom, knowledge and insight in your circumstance.. 
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2009, 09:22:11 AM »

Carol,
I don't know you yet I empathize with your circumstances.  As a parent it is always in our nature to want the best for our child and especially spiritually.  When things are not good in our marriages and in the rest of our lifes it would be a natural response to want to offer stability to a thirteen year old who has already gone through a number of changes already; yet she is only thirteen.  This age is a time when making choices for themselves is like the changing of the tide, today she doesn't want the Catholic church but the Orthodox; next year she might want something different.

She has been steadfast in her desire to become a member of the Orthodox Church for more than 3 years.  It was my uncertainty and waffling that kept her in the Catholic Church.  I am beginning to think that doing so was detrimental to her.

Quote from: MariM
I believe it is important to look at this in this aspect as well because of the nature of things within the framework of your home.  One more move away from your husband doing things without him, is doing something seperate from him with your daughter involved.

We're already going to church without him as he has not, since this situation began three months ago, gone to Mass once.  If it were not for me insisting on taking my daughter to Mass she would not have been to church at all in the past three months.  He has removed himself from that aspect of our lives already - abdicating his responsibility to see to her religious and spiritual formation.

Taking her to visit the Orthodox parish and giving her a chance to explore her desire to seek to join the Orthodox Church is really not that different from taking her to Mass by myself.

Quote from: MariM
What does your husband think about all of this?  Have you sought his input on your daughters feelings about the Orthodox church?  This really would be a joint decision by the two of you as it is his daughter as well.  To me if it were something in anyway that was going to bring you together it would be seeking his input not doing it without his approval.

None of this is being done without his knowledge or tacit approval.  Both he and my daughter were more certain about becoming Orthodox than I was.  I was the one who balked.  I was the one who wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.  We would probably be well on our way to joining the Orthodox Church as a family were it not for my cold feet.

I told him yesterday that we were going to be attending the DL (partially in hopes of enticing him to accompany us).  He said, "Fine," and then moved on to another subject.  Later that day I brought up the idea of dd choosing to convert, even if neither her father nor I did.  I told her that if that was what she wanted I would do whatever was necessary to ensure that she was able to attend the DL.  My husband was with us during that conversation and he said, "Me, too."  So he is not opposed to her making this decision if that is what she feels is right.

Quote from: MariM
Secondly, I would encourage you to pray before talking to a priest which is a place which you and your husband have visited; I would suggest you approach your husband about the both of you speaking to the priest together, which is fair.  The idea is interdependent not independent.  I am all for the Orthodox church yet I am for what brings unity in a marriage first.  I pray for God's wisdom, knowledge and insight in your circumstance.. 

I have approached my husband several times about speaking to a priest together.  Each time he has acted as though I haven't spoken or said, "I'll think about it."  While never actually coming to a decision.  I have reached a point where I need spiritual guidance about this situation and if my husband won't go with me, despite repeated requests, then clearly I must proceed on my own.
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2009, 01:10:50 PM »

My prayers are with you Carole... I believe God is the God of our impossibilities.  God Bless you and your daughter.
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« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2009, 02:19:46 PM »

I have approached my husband several times about speaking to a priest together.  Each time he has acted as though I haven't spoken or said, "I'll think about it."  While never actually coming to a decision.  I have reached a point where I need spiritual guidance about this situation and if my husband won't go with me, despite repeated requests, then clearly I must proceed on my own.
^Agree.  IMO, if your husband is unwilling at this time to go to marriage counseling, go by yourself.   Try to make the appointment at a time when your husband could attend it he changes his mind.  Even if he doesn’t want to attend, you can still share with him what you learned when you come home. Pray without ceasing.  James 5:16  “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. OCnet posters will also pray for you.

If your husband says its ok for your daughter to go to DL, go and worship God.  It is possible that your husband may begin to attend with you someday.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 02:28:18 PM by ms.hoorah » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2009, 09:25:54 AM »

Carole,

The members of the OC.net have given  you some very good advice which I will summarize here:
1) go into marriage counseling ( invite your husband but still get counseling for yourself if he does not attend)
2) allow your daughter to meet with a priest and discuss becoming Orthodox as you note that she has been "She has been steadfast in her desire to become a member of the Orthodox Church for more than 3 years"
3) Invite your husband to be a part of these decisions.
4) Contact a priest yourself for your own needs and decisions.
5) Most important continue to pray individually and as a family about these issues.

May the Most Holy Trinity watch over you and provide guidance as you under-go these times of trials.

Thomas
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« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2009, 11:26:42 AM »

Dear Carole,
I will be remembering you in my prayers also.

One thing to consider in this hurricane of change is that you don't have to make any decisions now. Since your husband knows of your plans, make an appointment to speak to the priest of the Orthodox Church and let him know about your daughter's desire to convert, and your current marital problems. You can share as much or as little as you feel comfortable. If you think the priest is understanding and receptive, you may want to ask for marital counseling.
Then begin attending Divine Liturgy and other services with your daughter.
Don't make any decisions but simply go and pray and worship.
God will reveal His plans and will guide you.
Fr. Michael Oleska once told me that our only responsibility is to do the "next right thing" (though often, that's difficult and challenging enough) and to leave the greater planning to God.
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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2009, 12:10:06 PM »

Dear Carole,
I will be remembering you in my prayers also.

One thing to consider in this hurricane of change is that you don't have to make any decisions now. Since your husband knows of your plans, make an appointment to speak to the priest of the Orthodox Church and let him know about your daughter's desire to convert, and your current marital problems. You can share as much or as little as you feel comfortable. If you think the priest is understanding and receptive, you may want to ask for marital counseling.
Then begin attending Divine Liturgy and other services with your daughter.
Don't make any decisions but simply go and pray and worship.
God will reveal His plans and will guide you.
Fr. Michael Oleska once told me that our only responsibility is to do the "next right thing" (though often, that's difficult and challenging enough) and to leave the greater planning to God.

What wonderful counsel. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
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Tags: divorce 
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