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Chrissy
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« on: June 19, 2010, 08:26:55 PM »

Hello everyone. I thought I'd introduce myself because I can tell I'm going to be spending some time here. I've been around the Protestant block, you might say. I was confirmed as a Lutheran, joined a non-denominational Christian group in college, and also attended Episcopal and UCC churches. No place ever felt exactly right. Last year, my sister began RCIA and started telling me about all she was learning. She convinced me to look beyond Protestantism, but I still wasn't sold on the Catholic Church after all that Lutheran indoctrination. I did some eye-opening investigation of Orthodoxy online (I didn't even know I'd been reciting a modified Creed all my life), read Bishop Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, and was sufficiently convinced that I needed to give Orthodoxy a try. I attended my first Divine Liturgy in April. I couldn't completely follow the DL, I didn't know anyone, but I came away feeling more at home than I ever have in a church service. The feeling of peace I have after attending Divine Liturgy or Vespers is unlike anything else I've ever experienced.

Right now I am an inquirer. I've had several meetings with my parish priest, who has been really helpful answering my questions and giving me books to read, but I haven't offically become a catechumen yet. The closer I get to saying, "This is where I need to be," the more doubts I have. I don't doubt Orthodox teachings or that this really is the Church; it's more my own feelings of unworthiness and doubt that I'll follow through if I make the commitment. I know it's not something to take lightly. When I expressed my doubts to my priest, he told me not to let the demons scare me away. Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step?  


~Chrissy
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2010, 09:04:54 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Chrissy.  I hope that you will become an active member of OC.net and we all look forward to helping you with your journey. 

I, too, was raised Lutheran, confirmed in that tradition and very active up until I decided that I should become Catholic.  During my college and grad school days, I did not become Catholic simply because the Catholicism that I witnessed was not the Catholicism of history; it was a watered down and near Protestant version and that is NOT what I wanted.  After getting my job up here in Omaha, I decided one day to simply go to an Orthodox Vespers.  I'd never been to one before and I just wanted to see one "for the heck of it."  Anyway, I went and I never stopped going and was chrismated just under a year later.  After that time, I never, ever had any doubts that this is where I was meant to be.  There was some apprehension, to be sure, especially since I knew my parents were hostile to the idea of me becoming Catholic so how would they take this?  Would I end up missing Lutheranism?  All my concerns proved unjustified.  My parents are OK with it and I don't miss Lutheranism at all especially since, imho, what I left really wasn't Lutheranism, but the Baptist faith with some Liturgy.  Maybe I was fortunate that the demons' assault on me was not as it has been on you.  The key is to make sure you are not doing this alone.  Reading books and going to Liturgy and talking with the parish priest are all well and good and necessary for this step in your journey.  But you need support and help.  I was very fortunate that the first person who reached out to me at the church was a tonsured reader and he frequently called me and invited me out with his family to talk with me and help me on the way.  Eventually, this person became my godfather and he is now a priest.

I hope that there is someone there among the laity that can be there to help you along the way as well.  Just as when you go to the gym, it helps to have a training partner, so it helps to have a partner with this journey--someone to pray for and with you as well as just being your friend in the process.  Hopefully someone will seek you out.

Good luck with everything and, again, welcome.
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2010, 09:37:54 PM »

Welcome!

In answer to your question about converts feeling an external pressure against the Church, I can say that this has been my experience.  It seems that I've had to run the gauntlet just to get to the point that I'm at now.

The feelings of unworthiness are normal, speaking not just from my own experience, but the testimony of the great saints that have gone on before.  I have yet to read of a saint who felt worthy of the great gifts our God has bestowed upon us, even after they've spent years in isolation or a monastery or having taken on the episcopate.  In fact, it seems as if the feeling of unworthiness grows the closer to God one gets (this is not from my experience, just from what I've heard/read.  On the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" I'm somewhere around the Serpent).

I will second the wishes of luck on your journey.
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2010, 11:07:12 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Chrissy.  I hope that you will become an active member of OC.net and we all look forward to helping you with your journey. 

I, too, was raised Lutheran, confirmed in that tradition and very active up until I decided that I should become Catholic.  During my college and grad school days, I did not become Catholic simply because the Catholicism that I witnessed was not the Catholicism of history; it was a watered down and near Protestant version and that is NOT what I wanted.  After getting my job up here in Omaha, I decided one day to simply go to an Orthodox Vespers.  I'd never been to one before and I just wanted to see one "for the heck of it."  Anyway, I went and I never stopped going and was chrismated just under a year later.  After that time, I never, ever had any doubts that this is where I was meant to be.  There was some apprehension, to be sure, especially since I knew my parents were hostile to the idea of me becoming Catholic so how would they take this?  Would I end up missing Lutheranism?  All my concerns proved unjustified.  My parents are OK with it and I don't miss Lutheranism at all especially since, imho, what I left really wasn't Lutheranism, but the Baptist faith with some Liturgy.  Maybe I was fortunate that the demons' assault on me was not as it has been on you.  The key is to make sure you are not doing this alone.  Reading books and going to Liturgy and talking with the parish priest are all well and good and necessary for this step in your journey.  But you need support and help.  I was very fortunate that the first person who reached out to me at the church was a tonsured reader and he frequently called me and invited me out with his family to talk with me and help me on the way.  Eventually, this person became my godfather and he is now a priest.

I hope that there is someone there among the laity that can be there to help you along the way as well.  Just as when you go to the gym, it helps to have a training partner, so it helps to have a partner with this journey--someone to pray for and with you as well as just being your friend in the process.  Hopefully someone will seek you out.

Good luck with everything and, again, welcome.

Thank you for the welcome! I'm glad to hear your journey to Orthodoxy was smoother than you feared. My family's okay with it, too, even if it's all very foreign to them. I'm shy by nature, but I'm starting to get to know the other parishoners slowly. I hope some of them will become friends and mentors. Coincidentally, the reader was the first person who introduced himself to me at this parish. He's made a point of saying hello and checking in on me periodically at Liturgy or Vespers, and I can see this relationship developing over time. I'm also trying to keep a look-out for activities I could be involved in that might help me meet more people. Unfortunately, I can't sing!
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2010, 11:23:32 PM »

Welcome!

In answer to your question about converts feeling an external pressure against the Church, I can say that this has been my experience.  It seems that I've had to run the gauntlet just to get to the point that I'm at now.

The feelings of unworthiness are normal, speaking not just from my own experience, but the testimony of the great saints that have gone on before.  I have yet to read of a saint who felt worthy of the great gifts our God has bestowed upon us, even after they've spent years in isolation or a monastery or having taken on the episcopate.  In fact, it seems as if the feeling of unworthiness grows the closer to God one gets (this is not from my experience, just from what I've heard/read.  On the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" I'm somewhere around the Serpent).

I will second the wishes of luck on your journey.

Thank you for the welcome, and best wishes on your journey as well.

You're right. There'd probably be a bigger problem if I felt worthy of God's gifts. Then the temptation to be self-satisfied in my own humility comes in and I'm back at square one. As far as the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" is concerned, I haven't even fully stepped onto it yet. I'm worried about falling off. The important thing is to keep on it without stepping off, right?

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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2010, 11:25:27 PM »

Welcome to the forum.
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2010, 11:31:44 PM »


Thank you for the welcome, and best wishes on your journey as well.

You're right. There'd probably be a bigger problem if I felt worthy of God's gifts. Then the temptation to be self-satisfied in my own humility comes in and I'm back at square one. As far as the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" is concerned, I haven't even fully stepped onto it yet. I'm worried about falling off. The important thing is to keep on it without stepping off, right?

Actually, I believe you'll find that the important thing if you find yourself to somehow have stepped off, is stepping right back on again  Wink
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2010, 09:51:05 AM »

Welcome Chrissy,

I hope that you will find the Convert Issues forum to be place where you as an inquirer may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum.  WE try to provide an understanding of the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. WE try to keep our answers direct and simple with sources if possible,

For those who are converts, this forum is a safe place to discuss issues that arise after one converts in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. WE try to avoid jurisdiction debates and you may find a the topic that will be split and sent the appropriate OC.Net forum to continue the discussion or debate if it strays from the guidelines of our Forum Purpose.

Again I want to welcome you warmly to the Convert Issues Forum and hope you will enjoy your time as a member here.

In Christ,
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2010, 03:32:47 PM »

Another former Lutheran here. I found the Orthodox Church through a combination of circumstances (I really do believe there are no such thing as coincidences, btw!). As a part of the discernment process for the ordained ministry, my pastor-mentor directed me to study Christian history, although I'm not sure he meant for me to take it as far as I did! I'm something of a history geek, so the more I read, the more interested I became and the further back I went, to find a Church that really didn't look much like the Lutheran Church at all, particularly in its modern configuration.
At the same time, my husband, who was working as a job developer/coach for people with disabilities, was assigned a girl who was Greek Orthodox. (Her father eventually became my husband's godfather).
Needless to say, like so many others, when I began to read about Orthodoxy, I found the New Testament Church, the Church of the Apostles.
Once you get whacked over the head with this uncomfortable reality, that the Church that Christ founded actually still exists, and that most of what you thought you knew is wrong, feelings of unworthiness are perfectly natural!
Of course, when you become Orthodox, those feelings of unworthiness actually increase!
 Wink
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2010, 04:31:54 PM »

I doubt that Lutherans would be very open to converting to Catholicism in the first place.  Lutherans are culturally very anti-Catholic, more so then say Anglicans or Methodist.  German Lutherans are the worst anti-Catholics, almost as bad a southern baptist.

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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2010, 05:23:17 PM »

Welcome Chrissy!
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2010, 05:31:31 PM »


Thank you for the welcome, and best wishes on your journey as well.

You're right. There'd probably be a bigger problem if I felt worthy of God's gifts. Then the temptation to be self-satisfied in my own humility comes in and I'm back at square one. As far as the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" is concerned, I haven't even fully stepped onto it yet. I'm worried about falling off. The important thing is to keep on it without stepping off, right?

Actually, I believe you'll find that the important thing if you find yourself to somehow have stepped off, is stepping right back on again  Wink

Although it is hard, stepping right back on again is crucial. I pray that your falls will not be too many and that you will have a trust in and love for the Lord that will enable you to get up and keep on going. Even if it may be two steps forward and one step back. Do not be discouraged for that is the evil one's favorite tool.
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 05:48:56 PM »

Another former Lutheran here. I found the Orthodox Church through a combination of circumstances (I really do believe there are no such thing as coincidences, btw!). As a part of the discernment process for the ordained ministry, my pastor-mentor directed me to study Christian history, although I'm not sure he meant for me to take it as far as I did! I'm something of a history geek, so the more I read, the more interested I became and the further back I went, to find a Church that really didn't look much like the Lutheran Church at all, particularly in its modern configuration.
At the same time, my husband, who was working as a job developer/coach for people with disabilities, was assigned a girl who was Greek Orthodox. (Her father eventually became my husband's godfather).

Very interesting story! I don't believe in coincidences, either. Since my jurisdiction is ACROD, many of you won't be surprised that I'm in the Pennsylvania coal region. I moved here in October for a job, not knowing the area at all or having any other ties to it. After I decided to visit an Orthodox church, I found one (there are several, actually) within a 10-minute drive from me.
 
Quote
Once you get whacked over the head with this uncomfortable reality, that the Church that Christ founded actually still exists, and that most of what you thought you knew is wrong, feelings of unworthiness are perfectly natural!
Of course, when you become Orthodox, those feelings of unworthiness actually increase!
 Wink

Yeah, I'm trying to prepare myself for that. I imagine the immense feelings of relief and gratitude will be some consolation. :-)
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2010, 06:12:50 PM »

I doubt that Lutherans would be very open to converting to Catholicism in the first place.  Lutherans are culturally very anti-Catholic, more so then say Anglicans or Methodist.  German Lutherans are the worst anti-Catholics, almost as bad a southern baptist.

I understand your point, but speaking for myself and from personal experience with other Lutherans, I think "very anti-Catholic" is a little strong. One of the issues that caused me to separate myself from the non-denominational group I belonged to in college was that many of them thought Catholics weren't really Christian. I've never heard anything like that in any Lutheran church (ELCA) I've attended. Of course, anyone who took their Lutheran catechism seriously would be skeptical of some of Catholicism's claims, but that isn't the same thing as saying the Pope's the anti-Christ or Catholics aren't Christian. All I know right now is Orthodox worship and teaching resonate with me in a way nothing else has.
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2010, 06:30:21 PM »


Thank you for the welcome, and best wishes on your journey as well.

You're right. There'd probably be a bigger problem if I felt worthy of God's gifts. Then the temptation to be self-satisfied in my own humility comes in and I'm back at square one. As far as the patented "Orthodox Closeness to God Scale" is concerned, I haven't even fully stepped onto it yet. I'm worried about falling off. The important thing is to keep on it without stepping off, right?

Actually, I believe you'll find that the important thing if you find yourself to somehow have stepped off, is stepping right back on again  Wink

Although it is hard, stepping right back on again is crucial. I pray that your falls will not be too many and that you will have a trust in and love for the Lord that will enable you to get up and keep on going. Even if it may be two steps forward and one step back. Do not be discouraged for that is the evil one's favorite tool.

I appreciate the advice both of you have given, and I can definitely use your prayers. I have been praying for guidance. Even as new as I am and the small taste I've had, I can't imagine wanting anything else.
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2010, 11:02:33 AM »

I doubt that Lutherans would be very open to converting to Catholicism in the first place.  Lutherans are culturally very anti-Catholic, more so then say Anglicans or Methodist.  German Lutherans are the worst anti-Catholics, almost as bad a southern baptist.

I understand your point, but speaking for myself and from personal experience with other Lutherans, I think "very anti-Catholic" is a little strong. One of the issues that caused me to separate myself from the non-denominational group I belonged to in college was that many of them thought Catholics weren't really Christian. I've never heard anything like that in any Lutheran church (ELCA) I've attended. Of course, anyone who took their Lutheran catechism seriously would be skeptical of some of Catholicism's claims, but that isn't the same thing as saying the Pope's the anti-Christ or Catholics aren't Christian.

I agree. That's my observation/experience also. My husband, a former Catholic, said when his family moved to the South years ago, they were viewed with suspicions by all the Baptists and Methodists, who earnestly tried to convert them - to Christianity! They were the only Catholic family in the neighborhood. But of course, this was some time ago.
My family were German Lutheran, and while they might have disagreed with the Catholic Church on many issues, there was never any idea that Catholics were demons or not really Christian.
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« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2010, 02:23:22 PM »

Welcome to the forum! May God bless you on your journey!
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« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2010, 05:11:14 PM »

Hello everyone. I thought I'd introduce myself because I can tell I'm going to be spending some time here. I've been around the Protestant block, you might say. I was confirmed as a Lutheran, joined a non-denominational Christian group in college, and also attended Episcopal and UCC churches. No place ever felt exactly right. Last year, my sister began RCIA and started telling me about all she was learning. She convinced me to look beyond Protestantism, but I still wasn't sold on the Catholic Church after all that Lutheran indoctrination. I did some eye-opening investigation of Orthodoxy online (I didn't even know I'd been reciting a modified Creed all my life), read Bishop Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, and was sufficiently convinced that I needed to give Orthodoxy a try. I attended my first Divine Liturgy in April. I couldn't completely follow the DL, I didn't know anyone, but I came away feeling more at home than I ever have in a church service. The feeling of peace I have after attending Divine Liturgy or Vespers is unlike anything else I've ever experienced.

Right now I am an inquirer. I've had several meetings with my parish priest, who has been really helpful answering my questions and giving me books to read, but I haven't offically become a catechumen yet. The closer I get to saying, "This is where I need to be," the more doubts I have. I don't doubt Orthodox teachings or that this really is the Church; it's more my own feelings of unworthiness and doubt that I'll follow through if I make the commitment. I know it's not something to take lightly. When I expressed my doubts to my priest, he told me not to let the demons scare me away. Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step?  


~Chrissy


The demons won't leave you alone after Chrismation. Spiritually speaking I fell flat on my face in July of 2008 (about a year and some months after I was Chrismated), and so having a routine prayer life is key. If you have that then you should be fine.









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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2010, 05:25:35 PM »

Another former Lutheran here. I found the Orthodox Church through a combination of circumstances (I really do believe there are no such thing as coincidences, btw!). As a part of the discernment process for the ordained ministry, my pastor-mentor directed me to study Christian history, although I'm not sure he meant for me to take it as far as I did! I'm something of a history geek, so the more I read, the more interested I became and the further back I went, to find a Church that really didn't look much like the Lutheran Church at all, particularly in its modern configuration.
At the same time, my husband, who was working as a job developer/coach for people with disabilities, was assigned a girl who was Greek Orthodox. (Her father eventually became my husband's godfather).

Very interesting story! I don't believe in coincidences, either. Since my jurisdiction is ACROD, many of you won't be surprised that I'm in the Pennsylvania coal region. I moved here in October for a job, not knowing the area at all or having any other ties to it. After I decided to visit an Orthodox church, I found one (there are several, actually) within a 10-minute drive from me.
 
Quote
Once you get whacked over the head with this uncomfortable reality, that the Church that Christ founded actually still exists, and that most of what you thought you knew is wrong, feelings of unworthiness are perfectly natural!
Of course, when you become Orthodox, those feelings of unworthiness actually increase!
 Wink

Yeah, I'm trying to prepare myself for that. I imagine the immense feelings of relief and gratitude will be some consolation. :-)

I don't know what part of Pennsy you are in but South Western PA has over 140 Orthodox Parishes. At least that is what I counted in the phone book.

I use to pass up 3 or 4 on my way to Church. Now I don't think I pass up any......well one. Yeah one! I pass up one now.






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« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 05:26:06 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2010, 05:57:02 PM »

Welcome to the forum! May God bless you on your journey!

Thank you and God bless you, too!
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2010, 06:03:56 PM »

The demons won't leave you alone after Chrismation. Spiritually speaking I fell flat on my face in July of 2008 (about a year and some months after I was Chrismated), and so having a routine prayer life is key. If you have that then you should be fine.

I'm determined not to be Christmated until I'm ready for battle (well, in as much as I can be ready). You all have such helpful advice. I've already grown dependent on the Jesus Prayer. I wish more Western Christians knew it.









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« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2010, 12:11:37 PM »

I've already grown dependent on the Jesus Prayer. I wish more Western Christians knew it.


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« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2010, 12:07:52 PM »

Hi Chrissy, I am also a newbie here and also only converted last summer from Methodist to Romanian Eastern Orthodox here in Romania where 87% of the country profess this denomination.

Re your comment "Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step? "

I was a little afraid to take this as in my former life it was not the norm but when I followed the correct procedure with fasting, prayer and confession I had no fear of taking the Communion and all resistance was lifted. And I experienced afterwards something I have never felt before which lasted for me for 1 1/2 hours and for my wife about 4 hours and was described as the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I think that the steps you take before the Communion are crucial preparation and then the prayer said after taking it.

I wish you a beautiful journey and I pray it is as beautiful journey for you as mine is for me.

Sincerely in Christ, Mark (A sinner!).
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« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2010, 02:22:05 PM »

Welcome Mark to the Convert Issues Forum!

Thank you for your very edifying comment on this topic. I hope that you will find the Convert Issues forum to be place where you as an inquirer may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum.  WE try to provide an understanding of the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. WE try to keep our answers direct and simple with sources if possible,

For those who are converts, this forum is a safe place to discuss issues that arise after one converts in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. WE try to avoid jurisdiction debates and you may find a the topic that will be split and sent the appropriate OC.Net forum to continue the discussion or debate if it strays from the guidelines of our Forum Purpose.

Again I want to welcome you  Mark warmly to the Convert Issues Forum and hope you will enjoy your time as a member here.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 02:22:43 PM by Thomas » Logged

Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
katherineofdixie
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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2010, 03:02:22 PM »

Re your comment "Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step? "


I had actual physical symptoms (I really hope this doesn't sound too weird).  Embarrassed

I experienced pressure, almost like a sinus headache, which went away when I decided to be chrismated.

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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom
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« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2010, 05:33:05 PM »

Thomas, thank you for my warm welcome.
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Chrissy
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« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2010, 05:55:28 PM »

Hi Chrissy, I am also a newbie here and also only converted last summer from Methodist to Romanian Eastern Orthodox here in Romania where 87% of the country profess this denomination.

Re your comment "Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step? "

I was a little afraid to take this as in my former life it was not the norm but when I followed the correct procedure with fasting, prayer and confession I had no fear of taking the Communion and all resistance was lifted. And I experienced afterwards something I have never felt before which lasted for me for 1 1/2 hours and for my wife about 4 hours and was described as the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I think that the steps you take before the Communion are crucial preparation and then the prayer said after taking it.

I wish you a beautiful journey and I pray it is as beautiful journey for you as mine is for me.

Sincerely in Christ, Mark (A sinner!).

Hello, Mark! It was very encouraging to hear about your beautiful journey. I still have quite a way to go, but I love hearing from people who have gone ahead of me and been blessed by their decision. Thank you.
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« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2010, 06:00:01 PM »

Re your comment "Truly, it does sometimes feel like there's some outside force trying to keep me away from the Body of Christ. Have any converts experienced anything like this before? How did you know it was time to take the next step? "


I had actual physical symptoms (I really hope this doesn't sound too weird).  Embarrassed

I experienced pressure, almost like a sinus headache, which went away when I decided to be chrismated.



Oh dear. The day after I discussed all these fears with my priest, I woke up with laryngitis! I didn't make any connection then, and I'm not sure what to make of it now, but it is odd.


« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 06:02:07 PM by Chrissy » Logged
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