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Author Topic: Going to church by myself  (Read 8087 times) Average Rating: 0
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brown87
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« on: June 14, 2010, 01:01:56 PM »

Hi all,

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

How could I make myself known to others, or feel "welcome" at least? Or further more, how can I feel not so bad for myself and just go? It's going to be intimidating to go there by myself with most are there with family and/or friends.
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2010, 01:07:47 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

Lots and lots of people go to church by themselves.  There's nothing unusual about that at all.  Just go.   Smiley

Chances are someone will come up to you and greet you.  Play it by ear.
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2010, 02:01:17 PM »

The first time you go anywhere alone it's going to feel odd until you start to feel "at home". You never know, you might walk in and see someone you know.
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2010, 02:09:18 PM »

Hi all,

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

How could I make myself known to others, or feel "welcome" at least? Or further more, how can I feel not so bad for myself and just go? It's going to be intimidating to go there by myself with most are there with family and/or friends.

I am also a single male of a similar age who attends church by himself. It can get awkward at times, but just remember that you go to Church to worship God, not because of what others think. Just go. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2010, 02:17:08 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

If for some reason there is no Liturgy at my church, I go to another parish where I am not known.  I go alone.  I stand alone.  But, when I enter or leave I plaster a huge smile on my face and greet everyone who looks my way with that smile.  I decided that if I "look" at people and convince myself I belong...I will.

I've visited a Serbian church (with that smile) a few times.  While only the priest and his wife know my name, others have gotten "used" to me and smile back, nod their heads or mumble something in Serbian to me.

It doesn't matter that you are "alone".  God is there...and He is the One you've come to see.

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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2010, 02:24:54 PM »

Hi all,

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

How could I make myself known to others, or feel "welcome" at least? Or further more, how can I feel not so bad for myself and just go? It's going to be intimidating to go there by myself with most are there with family and/or friends.

I go alone all the time.  It did not take long for someone to introduce themselves to me even though I made it a little difficult, as I would leave immediately after Liturgy in order to make it home in time to take my wife to work.  Eventually, people will introduce themselves to you (or the other way around!).  These things take time. 

Liza has a great way of approaching it.  Smile and be in "the moment," so to speak, knowing you are there to worship God.  Everything else will fall into place in its time.
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2010, 03:39:35 PM »

Thanks for the replies. I'll try and go to see how it works out. I feel bad I know absolutely no one. I just hope people don't feel bad for me, or think I'm a "loser" for being so young and going by myself. I guess I have the feeling I'll walk in and everyone will be looking at me or wondering what's wrong with me.

I have friends in the real world but none that would ever go to church with me, and my family doesn't live nearby. So my options are limited.
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2010, 03:44:00 PM »

I just hope people don't feel bad for me, or think I'm a "loser" for being so young and going by myself.

No one who goes to church is a loser.   Smiley

You won't be the only one there without family, and after being there a while you'll have friends.  In addition to going to Sunday liturgy, see if they have a Bible study, or some sort of evening service.  Those gatherings tend to be smaller and you'll find it easier to make friends there.
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2010, 03:46:46 PM »

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

I doubt they'd feel "bad" for you, but the older women very well may try to set you up "with very good, very beautiful grand daughter...is very good for you."

Had that happen to me many times -- most recently a few weeks ago...which my wife didn't appreciate!  laugh
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 04:04:11 PM »

Also if there is a coffee hour afterwards, don't feel shy about going. If nothing else take second to meet the priest. You might find other folks in your age bracket there.
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2010, 04:08:24 PM »

I usually go to church alone. It's never been a problem. I'm pretty socially awkward, but people have always been very friendly and welcoming, though no one is throwing grand-daughters at me  Cheesy.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2010, 04:19:55 PM »

I usually go to church alone. It's never been a problem. I'm pretty socially awkward, but people have always been very friendly and welcoming,

Ditto.
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2010, 05:04:30 PM »

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

I doubt they'd feel "bad" for you, but the older women very well may try to set you up "with very good, very beautiful grand daughter...is very good for you."

Had that happen to me many times -- most recently a few weeks ago...which my wife didn't appreciate!  laugh

Said grand daughter "has great, wonderful personality!  You love her!" too Wink
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« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2010, 11:30:32 AM »

I look at it from a different perspective than you. I actually like going to church alone. But I am a little older than you, 49.If there is something I really want to do, aside from church, I'll go by myself, (movies, dinner, festivals, art shows, etc) It doesn't bother me. It's actually kind of nice from my perspective!  Just go, And remember, you really aren't there by yourself!!!!  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2010, 09:31:17 PM »

So, it appears the best answer is for me to man up, or rather be a real man that is - and just go, correct?  Grin I'll try, but it seems so hard, sad, and depressing to go alone, especially at my age.
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2010, 10:18:50 PM »

I'm 31 years old and have been going to Church alone for years. It's not that big a deal. Don't worry, people will not point and stare at you!  laugh

After Church, go to coffee hour, introduce yourself to people, make small talk.

I think you will see that it's not as big a deal as you are making it out to be.
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2010, 10:26:01 PM »

So, it appears the best answer is for me to man up, or rather be a real man that is - and just go, correct?  Grin I'll try, but it seems so hard, sad, and depressing to go alone, especially at my age.

I was 26 and alone the first time I went to an Orthodox church. I stayed for coffee hour afterward and talked to a few people. I personally found the experience to be positive, but that's just my experience.
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2010, 03:35:15 PM »

So, it appears the best answer is for me to man up, or rather be a real man that is - and just go, correct?  Grin I'll try, but it seems so hard, sad, and depressing to go alone, especially at my age.

You are assuming that other people will think this way, but you really don't know what they are thinking.  It also seems like you might think this way about other people who attend Service alone.

For one thing, it's a Church, not a club house; people are in Church to pray.  I always go by myself, because then I can concentrate on the richness of God and the Service  and not on the person's needs I am with (do they want to leave early, etc).

Remember, it doesn't matter what other people think, anyway; what matters is your conversation with Christ.

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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2010, 01:41:18 AM »

I am a 23 year old, socially inclined single male, and yet I still enjoy going to church by myself. I like the experience being "alone" and yet simultaneously united with the rest of the congregation in worship. It is the best way to truly focus my heart and mind on the Recipient of our adoration, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Going to church alone is very normal to me, seeing as my parish is about half convert. Many of these converts made the journey to Orthodoxy alone (as did I), as their family and friends did not follow them. Thus, I typically see plenty of people come to church alone. Coffee hour is where you should get to know others at your parish. Do not be afraid to let others know it is your first visit. I actually visited a Coptic church for the first time this week, and after the service I made several fast friends simply by being willing to talk and get to know people. The incredible kindness of the people there helped things along, too.
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2010, 04:43:44 PM »

I am a 21 year old male, and I always go by myself. My Protestant girlfriend does not like to go to church with me so early (her church is in the evening). However, not going with people can make it easier to focus on worship. It's even harder in the Latin Church because we are very personal people - we don't like going out of our way to make new relationships with strangers, and even with our friends, we are quickly eager to leave the ekklesia and return to our homes. It's also hurt by a priesthood shortage and corresponding parish size (my parish is very orthodox as Catholic parishes go, but we have one priest and 4,000 families).

However, going alone can be a joy, and it can be frustrating. Especially when I was a catechumen, it felt like I was denied all contact, because I barely knew anyone else at my parish (the pastor and a few members of the choir three times my age). However, because of the relatively small size of Orthodox parishes, I recommend as others have said, staying for the coffee hour and getting to know everyone. Sharing the bond of Christianity with other people can be very uplifting, and knowing that you worship in communion with these other people, whom you know, will only increase your desire to attend Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2010, 09:14:45 AM »

Just to add my voice to the chorus... I also go to Church alone. Admittedly, I used to go with my wife and kids, and some people might know me from then, but I think most people don't know me. I've found (in this situation, as in life generally) that a smile can do wonders. Too bad I don't smile much! But it's good to try. Also, it can help if you build a relationship with just one person, maybe try to sit by them or talk to them each time you go. When other people see that you are friendly with someone they already know, you won't seem so out of place yourself.
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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2010, 01:13:27 PM »

Sorry I haven't updated. But I've been going to church by myself. I've met some great people so far. First time was very discomforting but I went and introduced myself to the priest and things went from there. Skipped out the next week because I didn't think it would work out but pulled through and went the following. So I'm on track now. It definately wasn't easy but I did it. I've already gotten involved with church activities and love it! So the "reward" of the fear was well worth it.  Grin
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« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2010, 10:11:05 PM »

I'm going to church by myself and converting and I'm only 16 so I'm a little biased I see no problem with it
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« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2010, 11:41:00 PM »

I'm 19 and attend church by myself most of the time. I've been going alone since I was 16.
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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2010, 07:46:08 PM »

I usually go to church alone. It's never been a problem. I'm pretty socially awkward, but people have always been very friendly and welcoming,

Ditto.

Same here.  I go alone, am *very* socially awkward, and have never had an issue.  Actually, at my parish there are a large amount of people that come alone.  In my experience, those of us who are socially awkward and come alone tend to find each other quite quickly at the coffee hour.  I don't think you'll have a problem. 
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« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2010, 12:50:56 AM »

I've been going to church alone for 40 years, but I tend to be a loaner and it has never bothered me.  You are going to be with God, His Angels and the Saints.  You light a candle when you arrive, saying a silent prayer, and venerating an icon(s) of the patron or feast of the parish, again, praying.  And from when you enter the nave, you're following the service, participating prayerfully.  You'll greet the celebrant upon leaving.  If you want to be friendly, you can choose to look at people, church goers (even a self-centered one like me) tend to at the least greet their fellow Christians.
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« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2010, 12:52:33 AM »

We never go to church alone; we go with the whole cosmos!
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« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2010, 10:36:40 AM »

I started going to Orthodox Liturgy by myself.  you'll make friends fast, don'y worry!  I was 15, so I'm sure you could do it!  people will be more focused on the liturgy, anyway.  if you wish, go early and ask someone to stand by you and explain things.  (this is a great way to meet your future godparents!)
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« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2010, 10:45:29 AM »

I just hope people don't feel bad for me, or think I'm a "loser" for being so young and going by myself.

quite the contrary!  people will appreciate more young people in the Parish, a sign of growth!  I attended a Greek Church in town today, the oldest Greek Church in the American mid-west that still stands in it's original location.  the regular attendants only filled up about 1/5 of the Church.  then the 15-or-so of us from the OCA Church down the street made the priest exclaim how happy he was to see so many people!  it really is sad when a Church dies off... Embarrassed
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« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2010, 05:32:00 PM »

people will appreciate more young people in the Parish,

This is very true.
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« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2010, 05:33:04 PM »

I'm curious??? Should the Holy Orthodox Church introduce DAYS OF OBLIGATION and make it a Mortal Sin  ,like the Roman Catholic Church does,by not attending Holy Liturgy On Sundays ,and Major Holy Days..... Grin
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« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2010, 05:38:30 PM »

I'm curious??? Should the Holy Orthodox Church introduce DAYS OF OBLIGATION and make it a Mortal Sin  ,like the Roman Catholic Church does,by not attending Holy Liturgy On Sundays ,and Major Holy Days..... Grin

In the first place, that would require introducing the hard delineation of "venial sins" and "mortal sins".

However, I do think it is already generally recognized that intentionally not attending Divine Liturgy when once is capable of doing so is a sin.
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« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2010, 05:54:12 PM »

As I recall, there are ancient canons that excommunicate us for failure to participate in the Divine Liturgy for 3 consecutive Sundays.  

However, as the Orthodox Church has its own sanctified and venerable traditions, it has no need to look to the West to mimic its practices or innovate for any reason.
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« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2010, 09:44:53 PM »

I go by myself most of the time, have since I was 23 or 24. I think God appreciates even more when it takes more heart* for us to go. So be of good cheer, friend. You are in many ways not alone.

*As opposed to more physical strength. People recovering from surgery or ill with infectious disease should tend to their recovery rather than go great distances and where out their bodies when doctors would tell them to do otherwise, IMO.
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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2010, 10:19:41 PM »

So, it appears the best answer is for me to man up, or rather be a real man that is - and just go, correct?  Grin I'll try, but it seems so hard, sad, and depressing to go alone, especially at my age.

It will be fine.

Be sure to write back and tell us how it went. I'm betting you will be happy.
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« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2010, 05:59:48 PM »

I go to church by myself. I've made some friends at church by now, though.  Cheesy When I started going to the parish, I was very shy, but now I look forward to each Sunday. It's great.   angel
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« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2010, 08:05:10 PM »

I'm curious??? Should the Holy Orthodox Church introduce DAYS OF OBLIGATION and make it a Mortal Sin  ,like the Roman Catholic Church does,by not attending Holy Liturgy On Sundays ,and Major Holy Days..... Grin
I think that they should do as alwayse, and mandae at lease one lenten service to recieve communion on Holy Pascha, but "days of obligation" is just WAY to western for me!  let's stick to what works, and stay with the old traditions, shall we?! Wink
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« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2010, 11:24:24 AM »

I think that Orthodoxy is a religion solely for monks and nuns. It seems that they are the only ones who practice Orthodoxy. Roman Catholicism seems to be more of a religion of the simple man, of every man. 
The sense of the duty of Sunday obligation is that the people regularly are instructed in the Faith. What type of Christian is the person who doesn't keep with his community?
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« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2010, 11:50:26 AM »

Hi all,

I'm a 24 year old single male and have been wanting to go to church for a while now. I have been wanting to go to church but I would be going by myself. Would anyone find this awkward? I mean, wouldn't it seem a bit goofy for someone of my age to go there and sit by myself not knowing anyone? I'd have a feeling people might look at me and think it's sad I'm there alone and feel "bad" for me.

How could I make myself known to others, or feel "welcome" at least? Or further more, how can I feel not so bad for myself and just go? It's going to be intimidating to go there by myself with most are there with family and/or friends.

Hi Brown87 - welcome! I'm pretty new here too. 

I go to church alone - but I never go to church alone. . .I've found in the Orthodox Church that I go to my family and am there with my family.  I've never gone to church with my husband as he is an unbeliever.  In the beginning, before I knew anyone, I was so taken by the ability to so deeply enter into His Presence that I was awed, so even in not knowing anyone, I was not alone. 

At first I did not go to the picnics and such . . .as that felt strange to be without him. . .but I was invited by my priest to go and just see. . .I went the first time, and I won't miss another one.  I don't feel alone. . .or abandoned by my husband.  Not even just a little.  Having this being said, I do not leave the responsibility of relationship building with who comes up to me. . . I go up to people too - and spend time with them and get to know my brothers and sisters who I share such a wonderful common belief. 
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« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2010, 02:34:58 AM »

I am a 20-year-old male, and I also go to church alone mostly. When I began attending the Orthodox church I go to, it was alone, of my own volition and not out of rejection by anyone else who might go with me. After finding the church, I decided to just go, expecting to be awkward (not knowing the liturgy and being new to the people) and thus having the same fears that you have. I had the same fears and reservations, so I e-mailed the rector to make sure I would be welcome unannounced. He said, verbatim, "Don't worry, just come!" So I did, and, aside from not knowing "what to do" in the liturgy, it was incredibly rewarding.

I have, though, taken my mother with me several times, when I could (she has only Thursdays and Fridays off of work, no exception), and she is glad to when possible, to see the beauty of the churches and liturgy. As a result of my "awkward" attendance, nearly every member of the parish has taken it upon themselves to become acquainted with me, to find out who I am, why I visit, and most importantly, to urge me to keep returning so that they can get to know me better as part of the parish community. I get vocal "Welcomes," pats on the back and "Please visit again/more"s on top of big smiles and "Hello"s and every other gesture of acceptance. In a just a few weeks' time, there are but few regular practitioners who haven't taken the coffee hour after Divine Liturgy as an opportunity to sit next to me purposefully to see who I am and to talk (not about the Church, but what I do, how old I am, where I live, etc.); when in line for the after-liturgy lunch, the people in front and behind me start conversations, and the people fixing and serving the food act no different. The ones who haven't [yet] done anything of the sort are non-native-English-speakers who aren't comfortable (understandably) with many people at all other than the priest and Matushka and others of common language. The Matushka and priest were, of course, the first to beeline right to me to welcome me and introduce themselves, and I feel it to be the most beautiful community structure I've ever encountered. At the very large Greek Cathedral with many hundreds of members, the priest literally came right to me as a clearly new person and introduced himself and offered sweets and pastries from the offerings to the Theotokos on that particular feast day. I visited a church on the other side of the country (Boston) on vacation, and the priest knew I was new and welcomed me heartily, with a blessing and all. At the parish I now visit regularly, near every clergyman has at least patted me on the back and said "Welcome." But even in small towns in my state, I'm Just Another Brick in the Wall in the communions of the Roman Catholic parishes I've visited.

Though a loner in nature, I do try to acquaint with people and offer them common courtesy and respect, but in no community of any other type have I ever experienced the welcome offered by Orthodox faith communities.
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« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2010, 09:57:48 PM »

I started going to church last year by myself. One person spoke to me the whole time. That persons husband later became my sponsor. Now that I am converted and have a God family more people talk to me. So ts pretty cool.
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« Reply #41 on: September 26, 2010, 10:12:22 PM »

But even in small towns in my state, I'm Just Another Brick in the Wall in the communions of the Roman Catholic parishes I've visited.

To be fair, I think in Roman Catholic parishes it's simply more common for parishioners to drift between parishes from Sunday to Sunday. My mother isn't a "regular" at any certain parish, but she goes to mass every week. It just depends on the time that's convenient for her and my grandmother. So maybe they weren't being rude, but they just are used to seeing a rotation of new faces. Never mind the fact that they celebrate multiple services every Sunday, while the Orthodox tend to be more community focused, only having one Liturgy served per altar per day.
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« Reply #42 on: September 30, 2010, 02:53:39 AM »

But even in small towns in my state, I'm Just Another Brick in the Wall in the communions of the Roman Catholic parishes I've visited.

To be fair, I think in Roman Catholic parishes it's simply more common for parishioners to drift between parishes from Sunday to Sunday. My mother isn't a "regular" at any certain parish, but she goes to mass every week. It just depends on the time that's convenient for her and my grandmother. So maybe they weren't being rude, but they just are used to seeing a rotation of new faces. Never mind the fact that they celebrate multiple services every Sunday, while the Orthodox tend to be more community focused, only having one Liturgy served per altar per day.
Of course, that's to be expected. I was mainly meaning that in the Roman Catholic parishes I've visited, there was no sense of community. I was simply another warm body, "Another Brick in the Wall" as I chose to identify it as, meaning I was simply another pew-filler. In the Orthodox parish I visit, I was immediately recognized on my first visit, and the regular people attempted to find out about me personally and make me one with the community of theirs, whether I was actually Orthodox or not.

In Roman Catholic parishes, I'm just another ambiguous personage; the priest would have offered me communion if I had gotten in line for it. The Orthodox priest would have denied me communion by my unfamiliarity, because he didn't know my name and I hadn't contacted him beforehand explaining myself (if I was from out of town, etc.).
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