Just thought I'd share this with you. With the permission of the person who wrote it of course.
Over the span of 20+ years I have sponsored fifteen adults and five infants who were received into Orthodoxy in our parish. Paulette is one of four that have been received in the last two years. We have a small internet discussion group within the parish where we keep in touch and further discuss Bible Study topics at Father's Bible Study Class or events within the parish. This is Paulette's second year where she experiencing 'The Canons Of St Andrew Of Crete'. This is her reaction, and I must admit it brought a tear to my eyes. So much so that I asked if I could share it here. Partly because it is an example how one can evangelize rather than proseltyze.
I have sponsored four conversions in the last two years. Our parish was the first Orthodox Catholic Church they had entered at the time and never left. All four will tell the same story which is that they sensed they had come home the first time they entered. All four were dissatisfied with their church affiliation at the time so did some surface research on Orthodoxy before they came. All four were encouraged to come back by what they saw, what they sensed, what they heard (all in English), how they were greeted, and the friendliness of the parishioners. Three were from Roman Catholic backgrounds and one is still attending a Protestant Bible College in the area. There have been seven over the last few years who have converted from that particular college. Of the three remaining all are professionals. One is a Philadelphia policeman from what he calls a 'redneck Irish devout don't go to church Roman Catholic family'. His aunt is a RC nun who is not too happy and has told him our sacraments are nothing but empty ritual. He has read many books on Orthodoxy and told me the first time we met - "Bob, you don't have to convince me Orthodoxy is the true religion. I already know, that's why I'm here!" He told me that he had decided to visit various Christian denominations first. Leaving Orthodoxy for last so that he would have something to compare it against when he finally came to visit. This included a visit to both a Ukrainian Catholic Church and a Byzantine Catholic Church. When he finished , my only question was - "If you are getting such grief from your family, why do you still chose Orthodoxy over either the UGCC or the BCC? It would make life easier for you. I did this as a test which he passed with flying colors. He looked at me amazed I asked such a question and replied - 'That's easy THEOLOGY!' It was then I knew he was ready and told my priest why. He knew enough about Holy Orthodoxy to know it is not based on what is on the outside, but by what is on the inside which makes us what and who we are. Many Orthodox Catholics as well as Roman and Greek Catholics have not yet firgure this out. His young son was baptised last Saturday and I was a Co -sponsor. Sorry I got off topic to make a point. But, getting back, here is Paulette's beautiful post -
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 10:03 PM
Subject: Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
I love these services. I can't even put into earthly words how beautiful the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is and it's so hard to describe it to someone who hasn't "experienced" it.
It's really amazing when you think about what's being said. I mean, we're talking to our souls - cautioning them to stop and think about what we're doing and what we've done and where we're heading and what we need to do to change. But it's even more than that... as if that wasn't enough already!
The only thing that makes me speechless is when someone asks me about Othodoxy. Seriously. There are just no words that can ever do it justice. I mean, no matter what I try to say or how I describe it, it just sounds so completely lame. And I'm not even talking about the physical beauty of the churches. I mean, the theology, the services, every single thing about Orthodoxy - even the things I don't even understand yet - I love. And when I don't understand something about it, I trust the Church to lead me in the right direction. I never EVER thought I would be able to say that about any faith or church or religion. This is how I know I'm standing in this radiant light of TRUTH even though I'm not even nearly inside of it. With any other philosophy or faith I "tried", the more I learned, the less I believed and the more I doubted. But with Orthodoxy, all I want to do is go deeper and deeper into this radiant light. To me, this is TRUE beauty. This is what life is. How do you describe this to people? I just can never find the words.