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Author Topic: Here I go...and a question!  (Read 652 times) Average Rating: 0
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Colin
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« on: October 03, 2010, 12:42:23 AM »

(I apologise if this sounds a bit disjointed, try to bear with me)

Been meaning to post here for a while, finally worked up the courage to do so tonight.

My name's Colin and I'm a college student looking for answers. Over the past few years I've realized that I've needed to become serious about religion and my relationship with God. As a child, I was brought up Evangelical Lutheran (father was staunchly Lutheran until a few years ago, mother was RC until the late 80s when she converted to Lutheranism), but not too long after I was confirmed, I fell into a malaise about religion in general and slipped into a sort of vague Voltairean deism. Never was an atheist, but I now see that deism's pretty close to it. In any case, last year my father decided to leave Lutheranism because of liturgical reforms and began attending an Episcopal church. Wanting to try to get back closer to God, I decided to start going and attended fairly regularly. I enjoyed the services, yes, but I felt there was something lacking.

What was it? Was it sincerity? Partially. The congregation seemed dead half the time, reading the words in the Book of Common Prayer without thinking. What does it mean when we say that we confess a God constituted of three Persons but one in Essence? What are we really asking God when we beg His divine mercy? No one seemed to want to contemplate that. Of course, there's also the whole political aspect of ECUSA over the homosexual priest issue that I won't get into, but I admit that there seemed to be a feeling some days that it got to be more of a political organisation than a church. Anyway, I realized that this wouldn't be enough. But where would I go? I've never wanted to consider Rome as I (being a history student) thought that papal supremacy was a bit silly, among other things.

Enter a course on Byzantine history. Since I was in the graduate section, we had to read Byzantine Theology by Fr. John Meyendorff to get an understanding of how the Orthodox church interacted with the Byzantine state. Yet I took away from it much more than simple history: the theology was mind-blowing. I had never known that there was a church that rejected original sin, let alone a church that did not have something that the West calls canon law. My impression was that Orthodoxy focused more on caring for the spiritual needs of the average Christian than worrying about nagging legalism, which, for someone distressed by the nitpicking of some Western churches, was very comforting. But at the time, being a bit preoccupied with school, it didn't occur to me to actually go to an Orthodox church. Perhaps someday, but not now.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany, and, while there, I visited Leipzig. I knew that there was a Russian church in the city built to commemorate the dead from the battle in 1813, and, being a history buff, I thought it might be an interesting visit. Stepping inside, though, I don't know what happened, as I felt overcome by some profound sense of beauty I'd never encountered before. I can't tell you what it was specifically to this day, but I think it was a combination of everything---the iconostasis, the sound of the monks chanting the divine office, the incense...it felt exactly as Vladimir of Kiev described his first visit to Hagia Sophia: "We no longer knew if we were in Heaven or on Earth." This, I thought to myself, was what God's Church really was- and I prayed something to that effect, saying, "Lord, if You will it, show me the way to Your Church..."

So when I came back to the States, I told myself that once school started, I'd make a point of going to the OCF meetings on campus. To abbreviate this much too long story, I've been going for the past several weeks and have also started attending Vespers and Divine Liturgy at a local Antiochian church. The more I've thought and read about it, the more I've come to realize that this is the way we are meant to worship God and practice what we believe as Christians- I do believe that Orthodoxy represents the true Church of the Apostles.

My question is, then, is it too soon to ask the priest about becoming a catechumen? I'm currently in his Introduction to Orthodoxy class and have been consistently attending both Liturgy and Vespers for the past several weeks, so I was just wondering if now would be a good time or if I ought to wait?

Thanks,

Colin
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PrincessMommy
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2010, 07:07:51 AM »

Welcome to the board, Colin.

I don't think it's too early to approach your priest about the catechumenate.  The worst that could happen is that he may say you need to wait a few more months.  
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 07:08:12 AM by PrincessMommy » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 08:42:44 AM »

Welcome, Colin!  Smiley 

I told my priest very quickly that I wanted to become a catechumen. . . when you FINALLY find what you've been looking for all your life, you know immediately - it was a year later that I actually became a catechumen.  He knew my desire. . .but it is a relationship that is built, so as he described   . . . a long courtship and a quick engagement.  Smiley  I'm thankful that I knew right away, but also thankful that this year has been one of building a wonderful relationship with my new family.  So, my suggestion for you is to tell your priest what is on your heart and always be honest with him, but know that it's a two sided relationship.  Some priests go quickly, some are very careful and watch for a bit to make sure the person coming in is truly committed - and then know that you will become a catechumen when it's the perfect time. 

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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 01:36:20 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Colin!

Orthodox Christianity is, indeed, "experiential." It is not learned by the book, - it comes to you as you participate in Orthodox worship, attend Divine Liturgies, listen to the liturgical singing, look at Holy Icons and Relics, watch your priest do things during the service...

Best wishes to you, and may God illumine your heart and your path to the Truth.
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2010, 02:22:11 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Colin!

Orthodox Christianity is, indeed, "experiential." It is not learned by the book, - it comes to you as you participate in Orthodox worship, attend Divine Liturgies, listen to the liturgical singing, look at Holy Icons and Relics, watch your priest do things during the service...

Best wishes to you, and may God illumine your heart and your path to the Truth.

Great comment, Heorhij...so true! 
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Colin
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2010, 02:54:31 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Colin!

Orthodox Christianity is, indeed, "experiential." It is not learned by the book, - it comes to you as you participate in Orthodox worship, attend Divine Liturgies, listen to the liturgical singing, look at Holy Icons and Relics, watch your priest do things during the service...

Best wishes to you, and may God illumine your heart and your path to the Truth.

That's something that I've found to be so true over the past few weeks! Growing up Protestant, I was taught that all you needed to have faith was pure belief alone and the knowledge that there was a triune God, that Christ died for our sins, etc., and that there was no need for any externals. But in watching the priest prepare the Eucharist, performing metanoia during the Trisagion, and everything else, I'm constantly aware of the fact that I'm worshipping the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's a sort of total involvement, or perhaps better said, total immersion in the Liturgy, that I've never encountered in any other Church I've attended. As I said in the first post, I often felt as if I was going through the motions and did not understand why we did what we do. In Divine Liturgy, though, it becomes a bit of a paradox: mystical (and how couldn't it be, 'We who mystic'ly represent the Cherubim') yet at the same time so clear (For Thou art a merciful God who loves mankind and unto Thee we ascribe Glory)...

I realise that could be better said, but regrettably words aren't cooperating with me at the moment. What I mean is that I've felt more of a connection to God in the past few weeks than I have in many, many years- and I don't want to give that up!
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2010, 10:50:33 PM »

Colin, I had an experience quite like yours!!!!!

       as my priest wrote in a Parish bullitin about me "It took him a while to know what hit him...".   Orthodoxy is indeed beautiful, and even moreso than ANY OTHER Church, because Orthodoxy is the True Church. 

I had been going to Church for about 2 months when I asked Father about becoming a catechumen.  well, I was quite eager, to say the least, to enter the Church.  about 5 months after that, I actually became a catechumen.  2 months after that, I was chrismated and became an Orthodox Christian.  it's a very interesting journey!  and it can only lead you to one place:  The Lord. 

I wish you every good thing on your journey to the Orthodox Church!!!!!!!
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2010, 01:42:08 PM »

...this is the way we are meant to worship God and practice what we believe as Christians- I do believe that Orthodoxy represents the true Church of the Apostles.

You said it, brother!  Wink

If you haven't already done so, talk to the priest about becoming a catechumen.

Welcome home, and blessings on your journey.

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Colin
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2010, 02:37:36 PM »

Thanks, Katherine. I'm going to ask the priest after catechism class on Thursday.

It's good to be home Smiley
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