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Author Topic: How can I overcome this?  (Read 1124 times) Average Rating: 0
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Erich
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« on: January 19, 2010, 03:59:12 AM »

Hello everyone.

I have a small problem, and I'm not sure if anyone has experienced it, but it is severely impeding on my spiritual life.

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God..."

I was born into a non-religious family. So non-religious that my parents can't even remember what I was baptized because they did it to keep my grandmother off their back. I can count on two fingers the number of times I had been to church from birth until adulthood, and I have only once taken communion at a non-denominational protestant church, which I don't recognize as valid (grape juice and cookies, if you will).

Throughout my teenage years I was spiritually deprived and confused and was constantly looking for this "truth" and this God fellow I had never really come to known. I played with Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and especially Atheism. I knew who Jesus was, but I never gave Him much thought or consideration. It wasn't until two years ago I decided to begin my search. I finally found what sounded interesting and acceptable for my belief system, and that was Orthodox Christianity. I even found a Russian Orthodox monastery on an island not far from where I lived! I began to attend services, and life was good. Until I began to think.

I constantly reminisced about the culture back home, in Germany, which was extremely catholic in the region that I grew up. I felt like I was betraying who I was, and that I couldn't accept this exotic and odd religion. I called it off with the priest. I never attended a catholic service.

A month or two later, I began to attend Orthodox services again and went for quite a while. As Holy Lent and Pascha approached, I was to be baptized on the Saturday prior to Pascha and receive my first communion. I was delighted, but then suddenly had a change of heart to the Catholic culture and called it off.

Time went by, and I took up going back to the monastery. I was intending on eventually becoming tonsured a monk there, and I pulled the on/off spiel another time. Then, I went back up last summer, this time determined I had finally made up my mind. I came extremely close to moving in with the monks there, but then...I had a change of heart. This time my priest was extremely offended (or so I believe) and told me I was unstable. I must agree.

I attended a Vatican II catholic church service not long after, and was absolutely appalled. Soon, I found a traditionalist "sedevacante" church not far from me and have been attending service and catechism there. While the culture surrounding traditional catholicism is what I am most used to, I don't believe in a lot of Catholic teachings, such as the scholastic perception of God, among others. I have been feeling the urge to go back to the monastery for a month now, and want to dearly, but I don't want to keep doing what I did to the priest if I decide to change my mind again.

Another thing is that I'm in a sort of limbo. I refuse to take protestant communion because, let's face it, Christ didn't break cookies and pass a chalice of grape juice at the Last Supper. I know I wasn't baptized Catholic, so I can't take any catholic communion, and even they don't serve it completely-just the wafer, and no wine. I feel that the only whole and truly complete communion can be taken in the Orthodox manner - but I can't take communion.

Has anyone else experienced this?
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2010, 11:18:01 AM »

Not the specific details, perhaps, but it is understandable to experience hesitation and doubts when approaching a lifechanging decision like this.

FWIW, my advice would be to attend services and catechumen classes (or whatever they have) at a local Orthodox parish, just immerse yourself in the normal life of the parishes, potlucks, Sunday School and all.
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believer74
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2010, 11:23:36 AM »

I would relax and take your time to learn.  God will guide you at the right time.
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ignatius
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2010, 12:02:46 PM »

Hello everyone.

I have a small problem, and I'm not sure if anyone has experienced it, but it is severely impeding on my spiritual life.

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God..."

I was born into a non-religious family. So non-religious that my parents can't even remember what I was baptized because they did it to keep my grandmother off their back. I can count on two fingers the number of times I had been to church from birth until adulthood, and I have only once taken communion at a non-denominational protestant church, which I don't recognize as valid (grape juice and cookies, if you will).

Throughout my teenage years I was spiritually deprived and confused and was constantly looking for this "truth" and this God fellow I had never really come to known. I played with Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and especially Atheism. I knew who Jesus was, but I never gave Him much thought or consideration. It wasn't until two years ago I decided to begin my search. I finally found what sounded interesting and acceptable for my belief system, and that was Orthodox Christianity. I even found a Russian Orthodox monastery on an island not far from where I lived! I began to attend services, and life was good. Until I began to think.

I constantly reminisced about the culture back home, in Germany, which was extremely catholic in the region that I grew up. I felt like I was betraying who I was, and that I couldn't accept this exotic and odd religion. I called it off with the priest. I never attended a catholic service.

A month or two later, I began to attend Orthodox services again and went for quite a while. As Holy Lent and Pascha approached, I was to be baptized on the Saturday prior to Pascha and receive my first communion. I was delighted, but then suddenly had a change of heart to the Catholic culture and called it off.

Time went by, and I took up going back to the monastery. I was intending on eventually becoming tonsured a monk there, and I pulled the on/off spiel another time. Then, I went back up last summer, this time determined I had finally made up my mind. I came extremely close to moving in with the monks there, but then...I had a change of heart. This time my priest was extremely offended (or so I believe) and told me I was unstable. I must agree.

I attended a Vatican II catholic church service not long after, and was absolutely appalled. Soon, I found a traditionalist "sedevacante" church not far from me and have been attending service and catechism there. While the culture surrounding traditional catholicism is what I am most used to, I don't believe in a lot of Catholic teachings, such as the scholastic perception of God, among others. I have been feeling the urge to go back to the monastery for a month now, and want to dearly, but I don't want to keep doing what I did to the priest if I decide to change my mind again.

Another thing is that I'm in a sort of limbo. I refuse to take protestant communion because, let's face it, Christ didn't break cookies and pass a chalice of grape juice at the Last Supper. I know I wasn't baptized Catholic, so I can't take any catholic communion, and even they don't serve it completely-just the wafer, and no wine. I feel that the only whole and truly complete communion can be taken in the Orthodox manner - but I can't take communion.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Grace and Peace my dear brother on the journey,

I completely know where you are coming from and where you want to go. I share much of your challenges and I too suffer from a 'double-mind' too.

Offer it up at the foot of his Cross and speak to the Parish Priest about your ordeal and if he is anything like mine he'll give you very good direction. God Willing.

Peace and God Bless.
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Marc1152
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2010, 01:22:31 PM »

In the West if you try several different spiritual paths you are thought of as a dilettante.

But in the Far East( Japan, etc.) there is the idea that a person who tries 100 times before finding the right spiritual path is to be comended.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
Al Lipscomb
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 12:18:00 PM »

Not yet baptized but ready to move into a monastery?

I think you need to walk a bit before you try and run.
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2010, 02:05:43 PM »

Not yet baptized but ready to move into a monastery?

I think you need to walk a bit before you try and run.


Ditto my friend.  You'll find the Orthodox lifestyle can be very often demanding and this is most certainly true for monastics.  There is nothing wrong with taking your time, and possibly giving yourself a break on things.  The Church will always be here and will take you in when you're ready.  It's a big decision.  Don't let yourself think you need to rush, or let anyone rush you for that matter.
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Formerly known as "mctavix"
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2010, 02:07:14 PM »

It's hard enough being an Orthodox layman if you do it properly.  Take a stab at that before running to the desert.
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FatherGiryus
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2010, 03:39:49 PM »

Before anyone can consider himself a Christian, he ought to think more about the basic calling of a Christian, and that's endurance.

Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13)

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;  (2 Timothy 2:12)

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  (Hebrews 12:7)


If you have no endurance for anything, then you simply cannot be saved.  You will not be able to follow sound advice and to keep yourself on the right track.

There are two things you most likely lack based on what you have said and common experience: fear of God and love of God.  One who fears God will make his decisions with great certainty, as will one who loves God with fervor.  Your actions indicate neither.

If you really think you are serious, then you may ask God for the gift of discernment.  However, I warn you that this prayer is very difficult, because it comes with great hardship and suffering.  If you ask God to make His will known to you, more often than not it comes with uncontrollable and unexpected circumstances that will push you to the edge of your ego and then over the cliff.  The plunge will not kill you, but it will shatter your pride.  I say this as one who has been to that place several times.  It is extremely unpleasant but the only thing that works for an egomaniac like me (and perhaps you).

If you want shame, humiliation, loss of control... well, then you will find the truth is not in you or your decision-making faculties (which is your problem area) but in the Person of Jesus Christ.  When you surrender to Him and the circumstances He places you in, then you will be ready.  As long as you are still making your own decisions, then you will continue to chase your own tail.

I'm sorry to have to make this sound so gruff, but I am trying to get through a difficult message in a matter of a few paragraphs.  The truth is that it is a hopeful message, that out of suffering you will be saved if you stop trying to save yourself.  God is merciful and kind, and He has a place for all of us who heed His voice.  You will find that doing the same thing over and over again begets the same results, so you know you need to try something different.

(Unsolicited Advice Alert!) On a practical level, you must first make a decision, right or wrong, and stick with it until God makes the next decision for you.  So, pick a place and resolve to stay there for (let's say) three years, either a parish, monastery, etc. where there are spiritual people who have a proven track record of helping others in a healthy and constructive way.  You must not leave no matter what your (deluded) heart tells you.  If God wants you out, He will do it Himself and it will be beyond your control, then you get to take the next step.  If you make the decision to leave before God forces the situation beyond your control, then you have failed and you will be back to square one and tail-chasing.  In order to endure, you will have to turn, in all your suffering and doubt, to God.

All this should be done under the care of a single spiritual director (not people you meet on the internet, but someone you can see on a daily basis) who knows you and to whom you are willing to be completely obedient and honest.  Then listen to him. (/Unsolicited Advice Alert!)

I apologize if I have overstepped any bounds, but this is just my opinion and you can take it or leave it.

In the meantime, consider your love for God and what is really motivating you to deliberate the way you do.
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2010, 01:17:50 PM »

It's hard enough being an Orthodox layman if you do it properly.  Take a stab at that before running to the desert.

Absolutely true.
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