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JimCBrooklyn
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« on: July 21, 2010, 05:33:06 PM »

So, I'm inquiring, and today I met with an EO priest for the first time. I'm currently in Russia, and was referred to him as an acquaintance here in StPB of my wife's OCA priest in America. The experience was intensely underwhelming, though I don't think Orthodoxy has anything to do with it.
A) And this was not a major problem, we were alternating between Russian and English; he spoke English fairly well, and I speak Russian fairly well. The important ideas were there, nonetheless.
B) He was a MAJOR progressive, something I just (stupidly) assumed wasn't really around in the ROC. He basically told me that it didn't really matter if I converted, because all Christianity is the same anyway, but Orthodoxy might work better for my family, and has a neat approach, and didn't want to talk at all about the papacy, filioque, doctrinal difference, etc., except for married priests, on which he only said that the Orthodox Church has it right, but not why.

Apparently, he's an awfully accomplished priest out here...

My question is, can anyone get me in contact with an EO priest who might be willing to talk to a currently Roman Catholic EO inquirer, who is more of a traditionalist, i.e., someone who would tell me, from their standpoint, why Orthodoxy?
Thanks,
Jim
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 05:47:44 PM »


...anyone who claims that ..."all Christianity is the same anyway..."...is hardly speaking on behalf of the Orthodox Church. 

You need to be careful.  Priests are human, too.  MANY (not all) priests in post Soviet nations especially....are not in that position due to some higher calling or love of God and Church....  many have paid to get ordained without the least understanding of Orthodoxy.

I don't know this individual.  However, I needed to let you know....that as a layperson...I claim that "all Christianity is NOT the same!"

:-)

..that's all.  Have to run...can't get into it any deeper at the moment.  I am certain others will help momentarily!

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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 05:56:34 PM »

Accomplished as he may be, he is wrong about a lot. If only he were more accomplished in the Truth! I am sorry you were scandalized by this erring priest. Though I think "progressives" are less common in Orthodoxy, especially of the Russian variety, than elsewhere, they are around. But so are all kinds of sinners, among whom I am chief. The Church is not perfect, but it is holy. It is a hospital for those of us who are diseased with sin. So you're gonna find a lot of bad stuff in the Church; but you will also find pure, undefiled doctrine, many saints, God-pleasing worship, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would encourage you to not be disheartened by this meeting. This priest probably meant well, but alas from your account he sounds rather misguided. I'm sure there are many priests with whom you could converse, particularly since you have some Russian. Perhaps someone less "accomplished" perhaps someone in a monastery, I don't know. But just try to keep your eye on the prize and don't be distracted by people who won't take a stand for Orthodoxy.

God bless.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 06:03:38 PM »

Thanks for the encouraging thoughts!

To be clear, I in no way think that this priest was representative of the Church at large, nor do I judge the Church based on the encounter. I've met some Catholic loony priests, (including a former chaplain at my College, who basically told me not to become a Christian 8 years ago, because it was no longer relevant) and some deeply kind, deeply spiritual ones, including my current RC priest.

This priest was not a bad guy, from what I could tell, just an aging liberal with some un-Orthodox ideas about Orthodoxy whose backlash against the USSR era went the WRONG way, and I'd like to get in touch with someone who will, "take a stand".

Even were I to remain Roman Catholic, I would want to know that I got the whole story.
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2010, 01:45:22 PM »

Hi Jim,

It appears that your meeting did not go as well as you had expected.  I am sorry to hear that.  What may be going on here is that you have found something lacking where your at right now.  If this is the case then I have some experience with this.  Now as far as why Orthodoxy?  Any EO priest should have some basic answers to this question but what you need to remember is that even the best argument in favor of EO over RC will not cause you to convert.  Why? Well because you are looking for some excuses that will push you over the edge in favor of EO.  This may fulfill the mind aspect of conversion but without the heart aspect you will most assuredly be moving on even from the EO in a matter of time.

The absolute best thing you can do is truly to pray about it and trust that the Lord will lead you where you belong if you can be still and be led.

Do know that I will be praying for you!

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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2010, 02:35:48 PM »

I actually met with another Priest here in Russia today, an Archpriest, Professor at the St. Petersburg Theological School, and a member of the Synodal Canonization Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church, and it yielded an even more unexpected result:
While the language issue was not a problem (he spoke only Russian, so that made it less complicated, one language), and we actually got along very well and merrily, he had a very surprising response to our meeting. He told me that seeing as,

A) In his mind, the distinction between Orthodoxy and Catholicism are so similar, and the differences so negligible in their weight, and
B) I am already baptized/confirmed RC, and am head of the household

That in his mind, the best solution to our issue is that I remain Roman Catholic, the young children remain so, and are raised as such, and that my wife (who is Russian Orthodox, which is what has spurred this entire period of inquiry on BOTH our ends, each in to the others church) should convert to Roman Catholicism!

I was very surprised that he said this, to say the least...

Father Wesley, thank you for the prayers Smiley

Of course, my expectations are not that any one priest, or any one person, will say any magic words to me that will cause me to convert, or not to convert. Of course, prayer is a major piece. I suppose what I want is for a member of clergy to present to me some basics about Orthodoxy, perhaps a "case" for Orthodoxy, if you want to call it that, and engage in a theological discussion.
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2010, 02:39:24 PM »

When I was enquiring into Orthodoxy in the UK I was told by a senior member of one of the canonical EO churches which I contacted that I should become an Anglican, as that was the Orthodox Church for English people!

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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 03:00:12 PM »

When I was enquiring into Orthodoxy in the UK I was told by a senior member of one of the canonical EO churches which I contacted that I should become an Anglican, as that was the Orthodox Church for English people!

Father Peter

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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2010, 03:15:40 PM »

This is the sort of thing that gives me fits.

I do not know many priests in Russia, but I've heard of Fr. Artemy Vladimirov (I think that's the right name). He serves or served as priest to a parish made up of many Westerners, but he appears/appeared to be very traditional, without being on the fringe. Another solution, since you know Russian, is to visit monasteries--Optina, Valaam, and Pskov would hopefully be good places to start.
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2010, 03:28:03 PM »

I'm rather shocked by your experiences, to say the least. I spent several years in Ukraine as a missionary before becoming Orthodox, and was never, ever spoken to by any Orthodox priest or even lay member in such a fashion. Of course, maybe they were all on the defensive because we were evangelicals of sorts and they viewed us as a threat. However, everywhere I went, the Orthodox folk always made their stand plain and clear that Orthodoxy was the only way!!!
Maybe, however, these priests are using this method of testing your sincerity-I've heard of this technique being used at times.
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2010, 03:29:56 PM »

...
A) In his mind, the distinction between Orthodoxy and Catholicism are so similar, and the differences so negligible in their weight, and
B) I am already baptized/confirmed RC, and am head of the household

That in his mind, the best solution to our issue is that I remain Roman Catholic, the young children remain so, and are raised as such, and that my wife (who is Russian Orthodox, which is what has spurred this entire period of inquiry on BOTH our ends, each in to the others church) should convert to Roman Catholicism!


Huh?  What kind of priests are these men?  Instead of spreading the Word, and growing the flock, they convince people NOT to become Orthodox?  What is wrong with this picture?

Oh my gosh!  How irritated this makes me!!!!!!

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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2010, 03:39:11 PM »

"Huh?  What kind of priests are these men?  Instead of spreading the Word, and growing the flock, they convince people NOT to become Orthodox?  What is wrong with this picture?

Oh my gosh!  How irritated this makes me!!!!!!"




Agreed!!!
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2010, 03:50:03 PM »

Yes I would go to a monastery where prayerful men will hopefully speak truth.
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2010, 10:12:39 AM »

Two unfortunate encounters, but really, does it matter what other people say about Orthodoxy?

Either it's the truth or it's not. Either it really it the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, in fullness and in truth, or it's not.

Of course, two individuals' advice, even if they are priests, or accomplished scholars, about your personal circumstances can and should be evaluated and considered.

But isn't the truth what matters?

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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2010, 12:08:29 PM »

It's all the same. Just smoke a bowl and eat some Cheetos.
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2010, 12:20:54 PM »

Dear JimCBrooklyn--first welcome to the forum!

The two Orthodox priests with whom you had conversations actually may have helped you more than meets the eye by forcing you to think about this in a different way. It is indeed true that there are just a few surface differences between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. That is why it may be possible for us to become united again in the future. However, the few differences include variances in mode of worship, understanding of sin, and the goal for the believers, all of which combined produce a different ethos. But, it is very hard to understand the ethos with the mind only. If your approach to God is intellectual, as Father Wesley suggested, than it may be best to remain a Roman Catholic.

The Orthodox faith is a way of life and requires a holistic approach that is at the same time all encompassing. I know that we have "Sunday Orthodox" folks, only nominally Orthodox and indeed Christian, but I am assuming that you have a serious purpose in your inquiry. I do not think that you can truly be Orthodox if you approach it just with your mind or must be persuaded that Eastern Orthodoxy is superior to your current church.

On the other hand, if you love the Lord, want to become truly a child of God, and to worship the Holy Trinity with all of your being, it does make sense to pursue Orthodoxy. If I were you, I would try it for a whole cycle of services--at least a year's worth. Observe all the fasting, prayer and alms giving practices. Go to all available services--with a minimum of attending Great Vespers and Liturgy each Sunday, Liturgy at all major feasts, and the services of Great Lent (all of them). Attend inquirers and catechumen classes. Read the books that your spiritual father would assign to you. I recommend the last two because as Apostle Paul says we must involve both our heart and minds. At the end of the year, evaluate if you still want such a demanding church. I can only tell you that after a while, you probably will no longer feel that the Orthodox way of life is all that demanding. You may even feel that you are at home, all praise to the Lord!
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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2010, 01:05:53 PM »

Following up on Second Chance's post, I would say the two priests were testing you.
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