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Author Topic: RC to Orthodox converts...share your stories here!  (Read 24370 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #180 on: March 24, 2014, 12:42:48 PM »

Wow, I was going to say there sure are alot of Catholics converting before I realized I was in the RC convert thread haha.
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« Reply #181 on: May 19, 2014, 01:32:59 AM »

I'm not sure if this belongs here or not but here's my story.

I was raised in a multi-religious household and was a Buddhist, Protestant, Catholic and as of now, hopeful to convert to Orthodoxy. As a Buddhist, I hardly know anything about the religion at all but didn't bother to give it much thought. Buddhism was also more of a cultural identity rather than a religious one as I never knew anything about it. After a few years, my mother somehow decided that Christianity is a better religion compared to Buddhism and decided to attend a Baptist church since being about 10 years old at the time, many of my schoolmates are part of that church. I just followed my mother and soon learned about the tenets and doctrines of Christianity and quickly adopt it as my own through 'learning' at Sunday School. Most of the time, I would go for socializing with the other kids of my age there and not to learn about God or study the Scriptures but then, I was young.

This continued for about 2 years before my mother moved to Methodism and naturally I followed. Unlike my former Baptist church however, the Methodist Church my mother attended largely caters to the Chinese speaking community which means that its Sunday School classes are all in Chinese which while ironically being a Chinese myself, I could not speak nor understand the language. Because of this, I hardly learned anything during my short stint with the Methodist Church. The only thing I remembered was a Bible Study class about the Prophet Daniel being fed to the lions and emerging alive. I didn't really know the significance of the story and honestly acted indifferently.

Eventually, my mother decided to be a Catholic since she reasoned that the Catholic Church is the oldest denomination and most traditional, it must be the True Church or the best amongst all and soon enrolled me for Catechism Class to get Baptized. This is the place where I finally learned something and during a lesson, it is where I have learned about the Eastern Orthodox Churches, at least in name when one of the teachers were describing about Holy Communion and the Eucharist. I honestly didn't give much thought about it. At 12 years of age, I got Baptized and soon continued Catechism classes be be confirmed into the faith the following year. While I did learned something during those classes, I went just to play and socialize with my friends each week. I only went another three years because at that time, I had a crush on one of the girls there so, I decided to continue on with the classes in hopes of getting close to her. Well, it never happened  but I still did learn a thing or two about Catholicism but still barely enough to even call myself a Cradle Catholic even despite attending Mass weekly which honestly at times, it was just to see whether the girl I had a crush on is there or not. Eventually, I was confirmed into the Church and rather than reading Sacred Scripture or knowing about the Church, I only went to Church because my mother went. Ironically, my mother wasn't Baptized at the time and she was already meditating daily on the Scriptures and spending private times on Devotions to the Virgin Mary.

Fast forward to college, and being enrolled in a Protestant institution(operated by the Methodist Church), I soon gotten involved with the Christian Fellowship there which is sort of like Campus Crusade for Christ for those who don't know. Basically, it is just an hour of praise and worship and then a lecturer or pastor from some church preaching from the Scripture. Being in a majority Protestant environment, I eventually have to learn more about my Faith to defend it. This process of learning began at Catholic Answers, which after a while, I moved on to other Apologetic websites and eventually, History where I learned more about the Church Fathers which being a Catholic at the time, I thought that they are all Catholics, until I naturally came across the Eastern Orthodox Churches in my journey of Learning. From there, I decided to learn and read more about Orthodoxy which in my country, nearly everyone would not even know exist. Even Christians I asked don't even know of its existence but I suppose it's not their fault given that Orthodoxy have a very small presence in my country. Still, I learned about Orthodoxy and naturally, I gotten interested and found myself with a form of Christianity which was to me at the time, foreign to me. Of course, while learning about Orthodoxy, I found myself questioning about my Catholic faith. The only reason why I have a respect for the Catholic Tradition to begin with was because of the intellectual side of it in the form of theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. Though I no longer consider myself a Catholic, I still have respect for him.

Through my study of Orthodox theology through whatever online resources I could find, I could only find myself being drawn to it but yet, I thought nothing could have swayed me away from the Catholic Church, especially given that I have to on a regular basis, cope with listening Protestant doctrine, learn how deprave we are and how we have no Free Will at all. Eventually, however, I found myself slowly desiring for the real Divine Liturgy and slowly become theologically inclined towards Orthodoxy away from Catholicism. I still believe in the Communion of Saints, the Real Presence, Theotokos, Faith + Works, yet, I slowly dropped my belief in the Pope being the head of the Church, transubstantiation, Icons being just a mere image for veneration(It's more than that!!) and Papal Infallibility just to name some Catholic beliefs or doctrines which after knowing more about Orthodoxy, have ceased to believed.

Unlike some of my Former Catholic brothers and sisters here however, my family is actually willing to allow me to be an Orthodox Christian though my mother wasn't particularly happy at one point when I attended a vesper service at an Orthodox Church after contacting a person affiliated with that Church, belonging to the Russian Orthodox, online. Of course, the concern was merely because she thought the Church was not legally recognized church. She rather have me to go to the more recognizable and visible Protestant churches rather than the Orthodox. At that time, it took a lot of explanation to clear up misunderstandings and inform her about the legality of the Church. Eventually, my mother was fine with it after I told her that the Orthodox Churches are all more recognized by the Catholic Church than the Protestant ones. She was fine with it after that. Of course, this may simply be because of the multi religious makeup of my Family since my Family as a whole are evenly divided of Protestants, Catholics and Buddhists.

As of now however, I'm technically still Catholic  Sad I can only begin to attend an Orthodox Church on a regular basis and hopefully be able to become a Catechumen after I further my studies overseas(Most likely UK). I really do hope that by God's Grace, it would happen and I can finally be a member of the True Body of Christ. Until then, I would want to give a round of applause to my former Catholic brothers and sisters here for being able to pull through so much just to be in Union with the True Body of Christ. Your efforts are inspirational and without a doubt, the Holy Spirit must have guided you all into the arms of the Mother Church which have been waiting for her children to come back.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 01:37:16 AM by sakura95 » Logged
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« Reply #182 on: May 20, 2014, 12:33:00 AM »

I've been contemplating telling my story on this thread for awhile, so here it goes:

I was born into a Catholic family and was baptized as an infant.  From that point on things get rather hazy as to what I believed.  The catechists at my home parish were flat out horrible, and I don't remember having a clear grasp of what made us "Catholic", I just knew were weren't like those crazy sola scriptura fundamentalist protestants and I kinda had a thing for Francis of Assisi (not because of his faith, but because he was all about the environment).  To sum up my beliefs upon my confirmation at age 17: Jesus was a good guy who was all about helping the poor (and little else), the Church was only a human institution, only really really evil people like Hitler were actually going to hell, all paths claiming to lead to God lead to God, etc... and all the while I met not one person at my home parish who challenged these beliefs.  In fact, the only reason I went through with the sacrament was to not break the heart of my grandmother, who is still a devout Catholic.

Needless to say, I was only one step away from falling completely away from what little faith had been instilled in me as a child, and shortly after being confirmed I was ready to declare myself a "free-thinker" and became a closet (I was afraid of the backlash from my family) agnostic/atheist.  It felt good for awhile, but over time I just became more cynical.  Music became my God, Neil Young and Bob Dylan were my patrons, science was my bible, and liberal politics was my muse.  From a materialist view, I should have been on top of the world.  I was young and about to enter college with my whole life ahead of me.  But on a spiritual level, outside of losing myself in distractions, I could only feel good about my lack of belief when I was putting down the "unwashed masses" who still clung to their religion.  At the same time however, I never felt comfortable leveling those accusations at people I actually knew whose faith I experienced first hand.  At one point during that summer, I can remember just being completely fed up with it all.  I was miserable.  I needed a reason to believe. 

Coming from a materialist worldview, I started reading books about the relationship between science and God.  The work of Catholic biologist Dr. Ken Miller (who teaches at Brown University) and the Protestant Francis Collins (who headed the human genome project) really made an impact on me.  I had taken my first step from atheist to deism, but I still wasn't completely satisfied.  At this point I turned to the writings of Jewish physicist Gerald Shroeder. Dr. Shroeder was able to harmonize my need for scientific evidence with the god of Genesis, which allowed me to believe in a personal god again.  After this step, I realized I had hit a crossroads, it was either Judaism or Christianity.  In other terms, who was Jesus? On a side note (and because I really didn't know where else to put this in my story), it's worth mentioning that at no point in my search did I ever seriously consider polytheism or Islam.  There was one creation of the physical universe, so from there I reasoned that there must be one god.  Why I never considered Islam is a trickier question, and one I still don't have a concrete answer for.  I have my reasons now, but they came rather late in my conversion process.

The Jesus question was one I straddled for several months. I set about trying to solve it by learning, the same way I had dealt with my earlier questions, but this time I had prayer.  While throughout this whole process I had never stopped attending my home parish for weekly Mass (trying to keep up appearances), in private I only felt comfortable calling upon "the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob".  My major breakthrough came by reading the writings of Anglican New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright.  Wright's book How God Became King, really cemented in me the belief that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  It was Jesus or bust from this point out.

Catholicism seemed like a natural home base once I had found Jesus.  At no point had I externally broken away from the Church of Rome (as an atheist, I probably attend Mass more regularly than most Catholics), but internally I still felt no affinity for her hierarchy or her teachings.  I set about solving this by learning as much I could about Catholicism.  It didn't take long for me to be swept off my feet.  I was in love, and for about four months I ate, breathed, and sweated Catholicism.  But even after all this I still wasn't completely satisfied.  No matter where I went, from my "spirit of Vatican II" home parish to the local Cathedral, something was missing.  While intellectually I had assented to Rome's doctrines, I was never able to find my niche in Catholic spirituality.  I eventually realized that what I wanted more liturgical tradition than what was being offered at the college I attended (if I wasn't part of the youth culture, it had no place in the liturgy) or what I could find in town (historic parish building, same bad liturgy).  I became an advocate of the Latin mass, said my daily prayers out of the 1962 missal, would only read from the Douay-Rheims... a "more Catholic than the Pope" attitude.  But then one day, out of the blue, I was browsing a traditionalist Catholic Facebook page and something just felt wrong. Then it hit me: Why were all the things that define traditional Catholicism absent from the church until the 11th century?

I started reading articles on orthodoxinfo.com, attending catechumen classes at a local parish, made myself a makeshift icon corner, and started saying my morning an evening prayers from an Orthodox prayer book... but I still couldn't bring myself to miss Mass with my family (I stayed at home for college) to attend a liturgy.  I was caught between two worlds.  Fate forced my hand rather abruptly when I got the news one morning that my grandfather had been diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer.  Within two months he was dead.  My grandfather really meant a lot to me, and in the wake of his passing I felt the need to be there for my grandmother (who has just buried her own mother eight months earlier) in any way I could.  I felt like that despite all my reservations I had to remain Catholic.  I cobbled together what ever proof I could of Rome's assertions and forced myself to close the case.  Rome had won, end of discussion.

But my questions still remained in the back of my mind, and the spiritual void was in no way filled by my forced conclusions.  I flirted briefly with sedevancantism, and considered joining the Society of St. Pius X.  I stopped praying in front of my icons (despite the fact that I had only Christ, the Theotokos, and my guardian angel) for fear that it would somehow make me Orthodox... it was a rather pitiful state.  Finally I was forced to face the facts, the issue had not been resolved.  I had to defeat the Orthodox position on papal primacy once and for all if I was ever going to get any peace.  So I asked: "If St. John Chysostom appealed to Rome when he was exiled, why don't the Orthodox accuse this beloved Saint of Papism? For if he really saw Rome as the head of the Church as Catholic apologists claim, it would be absolutely erroneous for the Orthodox to venerate him today."

Needless to say, real story of St. John Chrysostom was a lot more complex than I had been led to believe by Catholic apologists.  I consulted the fathers in their proper context, and found that many of the claims for Roman supremacy taken form the writings of the fathers are a mix of half truths, biased translations, and blatant distortion on the part of Catholic apologists.  It was during this time I affirmed another long held suspicion, that many of the spiritual practices of the post-schism Western church were at direct odds with the teachings of the spiritual masters of the undivided Church, yet Orthodoxy had retained these teachings intact.  A straight line ran from St. Anthony of Egypt to Elder Paisios.

I then set up a meeting with the priest who had held the catechumen classes that I had attended several months before.  He rightly viewed my new found enthusiasm with skepticism, but was willing to take me on again.  I let my parents know that this was something I was considering seriously, and after three painful weeks I was finally able to attend my first Vespers.  From that point on I knew that this was something I had to do.  I immersed myself in Orthodoxy, and found that what had been lacking in Catholicism was present in abundance.  Here was everything I had ever wanted, and things I didn't even know were missing.  I felt home for the first time in my life.  Ever step I took from that point on only pulled me in deeper.

I could go on and on at this point, but hopefully you get the idea.  Telling my grandmother was rather painful, but once I got that out of the way things really opened up and she's been respectful and supportive of my decision.  Same with my parents, although I don't think that either of them will be converting anytime soon.  My biggest falling out was with my friends from college who were Catholic, but my new parish family has filled that gap.  Smiley

God bless.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 12:48:55 AM by Sam G » Logged

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« Reply #183 on: August 17, 2014, 04:57:44 PM »

During Catholic RCIA, I realized that the Novus Ordo was pretty wretched. I stuck it out, but became a "trad" almost immediately. About five years into my time as a Catholic, I had an Advent season (either 2010 or 2011) in which I took out some Orthodox icons, read some books about Orthodox people, and felt otherwise strongly inclined to Orthodoxy. In January or February, it left me. That happened one or two more years in a row, and then I missed a year of it. This past Advent (2013) it happened again but it lasted longer, well into February. Then in late May it struck again! Harder than ever! Here in Vienna (Austria) I've been visiting four Orthodox churches in particular: Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek, and Russian. Mainly at the moment I am just trying to sort out where I want to 'come in for a landing'. I dislike pews, organs, and the new calendar; I feel Orthodoxy is better without those things. But in America where I live, they are quite normalized. I am not yet a catechumen, but I am working on figuring out which button on the flashlight to push, to light the way. My favorite prayer book is
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« Reply #184 on: Yesterday at 05:20:09 PM »

Hello to all!!  This is my first post in the forum, and I have to admit Im kind of nervous.  Ok then, I am still a RC (at least legally) however have had my heart set to the East, first as a Byzantine Catholic (Melkite) and now attending as much as I can to the GOC in Mexico City.  I think my trip from West to East has been quite"accidented" for saying it somehow.

I am Spaniard, living in Mexico for most of my life, from a very conservative RC family; my dad (may his memory be eternal) was a devout RC, member of the Opus Dei and tried to be fully congruent with his life, of course with his ups and downs.  He made his best efforts to keep the family together in prayer (im an only son), so I recall from early childhood, everynight before dinner the three of us would pray the rosary, have dinner together, blessing the food, Mass every Sunday (my dad would go every day if possible, but never imposed it on my mom or I) and in general I believe he did a great job on preaching by the example.  Funny enough, even though he was Opus Dei and a devout Catholic, he never really accepted some things like Papal Infallibility, Supremacy of Jurisdiction and was quite critical of the changes after VII.  As for my mother, she is also a very devout RC, but never liked Opus Dei and was more critical than my dad in a lot of things.  Anyway, that is my background and I grew very fond on going to Church, even in my early teens I tried to go every afternoon to Mass, and had my own private devotions, always more focused on Our Lord than to the Saints and (Im ashamed to say it) even I was not too devout of the Theotokos.

When I started University, I joined a University that is owned by Opus Dei, but was in that strange stage of late teens when you are rebellious to everything established (as to why I chose an ultra conservative University... I don't know!) and was kind of having some distance from the Church.  On those years I fell in love with a girl, very devout and conservative, we went out for 2 years and she broke up with me.  At such time we started facing a lot of health problems at home, my father some heart problems but the most delicate was my mom that had several brain strokes, she was diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, deep veins stenosis and some other things.  So as you can imagine I fell on a tough emotional situation.  First I tried to get some counsel from the University Priests, but for whatever reason I did not get any help at all, on the contrary, I got that kind of advise as "you must have done something and now you need to atone for your sins", which made me feel even worse.

During those years, the health situation of my parents went up and down, got a bit more stable, but I found myself away from the RC Church, hurt and feeling alienated, so I started looking to other things, started getting into the occult (tarot, runes, "angels", etc.), even "learned" to read the tarot, and I found myself in a trap... I kept on craving for more and more of that kind of things.  I could not understand how, even though we were passing so difficult times (my father had a heart attack, which thanks God he survived at that time, lost his job,) at home both my parents kept praying and all... while I kept going into darker places (thanks God never so dark as to Ouija boards or Satanism).  After I graduated from the University, I joined the Rosicrucians (AMORC) and after my third grade, in the courses and meetings at the Lodge, one of the Teachers gave a long lecture on Jesus, challenging the teachings of the Rosicrucians of Jesus being only a Teacher and not the Christ.  I remember feeling something so strange that day, that when I was driving back home could not stop my tears.  That same night, I got home and strange enough there was a cousin I had not seen in years and she asked me if I could go with her on Sunday to the Divine Liturgy (her father was Russian).  I was surprised and asked her what was the Divine Liturgy and why did she wanted me to go knowing I had gone away from any church.  She just told me "please, I want you to come with me" and I accepted.  I have to admit I was a complete ignorant about the Orthodox Church... I asked my father and he told me that the Orthodox were our "Eastern brethren that have some differences with Rome, but they are Apostolic and Catholic as well, but go, you'll understand later... it's freedom somehow"... honestly I was more confused.

So I went to the Divine Liturgy and I think the only word I can say on how I felt is "shocked".  The Church is small but the candles, the Icons, the bells... it was electric, it was like something or I'd rather say Someone, was welcoming home.  I remember feeling that the Divine Liturgy went extremely fast and I felt hungry for more... I said that to my cousin and she told me I should start coming every Sunday... funny enough I agreed.  So I started attending every Sunday, just staying at the back in a small corner where I would not bother anyone, feeling like I was coming back home.  On my free time I started studying everything I could about Orthodoxy, online mostly, I purchased and read The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way of Bishop -Kallistos Ware, and a lot of things started making sense to me, however my RC background still had a HUGE weight on me.

After about a month or so, the Priest came to me at the end of the Divine Liturgy, gave me the antidoron and sat to talk.  I explained him everything I had gone through and told him "I feel I should become Orthodox, but the separation still hurts very much".  He told me that I would find my time, but invited me to go with the Melkites (there is only one Melkite Church in Mexico), and told me that if after being with them, and seeing what it was to be an Eastern under Rome I felt like coming back to the Orthodox, the doors would be open.  So I went to the Melkites, and was received by Abbouna Antoine Mouhanna, the then Apostolic Administrator, with open arms.  I stayed there for several years, and Abbouna after hearing a very long confession, became my spiritual father, until his passing away in 2004.  Thanks to him I started reading other books like The way of a Pilgrim, the Philokalia (Im still struggling studying it) and Byzantine Theology by John Meyendorff as well as the Mystical Theology of the Orthodox Church.

After his passing away, I think I fell into a comfort zone, going to the RC Church but my prayers and beliefs every day turning more and more Orthodox. I believe some of you will understand that the ethnic background, and being raised in a mostly RC country is a huge influence.  However, since last year I started having a huge health crisis with my mother, that ended up in her losing a leg due to gangrene... and during the hardest time of this, I went back to the Greek Orthodox Church and found myself again at home... It is something I can't explain in words, but attending the Divine Liturgy, whenever there are Vespers going as well and being received by the Greek community as one of them (although they laugh at me that I cant speak greek... yet!) has been like being born again.  I spoke with our Auxiliar Bishop Pancratios and with Father Athanasios, and will start Catechism lessons this same month, if the group gathers, if not they will be guiding me on my studies.  I still have a lot of doubts and feel kind of strange and afraid, but after all, I believe that the faith of my father, the strength of my mother and above all, God's grace and the Theotokos loving hands are guiding me towards the East...

Sorry for the long post!  If I didn't make you fall asleep until now, I really appreciate you reading it!  and please forgive if I make silly or non sensical questions... I have been lurking for some months so I will try to focus on whatever has not been asked yet!

May God bless you all

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« Reply #185 on: Yesterday at 07:27:33 PM »

Hi, Bernardo. Welcome.  Smiley

Charlie Rose: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Fran Lebowitz: Everything. There is not one thing with which I am satisfied.

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