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Valdamarr
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« on: October 26, 2010, 12:14:00 PM »

I do not know why, but whenever I begin thinking of returning to the catechumenate or actually converting, I get very anxious.  I also sometimes have nightmares when I am praying and considering my return that seem almost demonic, or at least a type of spiritual opposition.  From there it is very easy to fall into despondency, something that has happened in the past, and my initial reason for leaving the catechumenate.  I have used Western (Anglican and Roman Catholic) prayer/office books for years as my "prayer rule", and whenever I pick up the Jordanville - which has many beautiful prayers that, even away from Orthodoxy, I now realize have become a part of my prayer vocabulary - the anxiety is increased.  Orthodox prayers and prayer books are much more fast-paced than Western liturgical forms, and I wonder if that is why I feel an increase in anxiety when using them.  Western forms, such as the old Roman Breviary and the Book of Common Prayer, flow more gently and feel more contemplative than Eastern forms.  It seems that using such forms is making it more difficult for me to stay spiritually calm and stave off anxiety.  I really cannot explain this anxiety, but it can be very, very intense at times, making me want to walk away from it and reconcile with the Roman Church.  I have a melancholic disposition that makes it more difficult still.  Even as I type, I am thinking I should go back to Rome through one of the traditional priestly societies.

Has anyone else experienced this heavy, excessive anxiety while trying to convert?  How did you overcome it?
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 12:53:14 PM »

I'm not a convert but the first steps towards reconciliation are always difficult and often bring about discomfort. In these times we should pray to the saints of intersection on our behalf and for god to grant us bravery to continue forward.
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 12:56:03 PM »

I do not know why, but whenever I begin thinking of returning to the catechumenate or actually converting, I get very anxious.  I also sometimes have nightmares when I am praying and considering my return that seem almost demonic, or at least a type of spiritual opposition.  From there it is very easy to fall into despondency, something that has happened in the past, and my initial reason for leaving the catechumenate.  I have used Western (Anglican and Roman Catholic) prayer/office books for years as my "prayer rule", and whenever I pick up the Jordanville - which has many beautiful prayers that, even away from Orthodoxy, I now realize have become a part of my prayer vocabulary - the anxiety is increased.  Orthodox prayers and prayer books are much more fast-paced than Western liturgical forms, and I wonder if that is why I feel an increase in anxiety when using them.  Western forms, such as the old Roman Breviary and the Book of Common Prayer, flow more gently and feel more contemplative than Eastern forms.  It seems that using such forms is making it more difficult for me to stay spiritually calm and stave off anxiety.  I really cannot explain this anxiety, but it can be very, very intense at times, making me want to walk away from it and reconcile with the Roman Church.  I have a melancholic disposition that makes it more difficult still.  Even as I type, I am thinking I should go back to Rome through one of the traditional priestly societies.

Has anyone else experienced this heavy, excessive anxiety while trying to convert?  How did you overcome it?

Do you feel anxious in the liturgy as well? How do you feel in comparision to the RC liturgy?
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2010, 01:39:06 PM »

I was very anxious before my baptism, but I knew that I would really be moving deeper into peace. The liturgy uses the word peace so many times. If you feel no peace, then pray to God about the issues your having, and maybe speak with your priest.
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2010, 01:54:44 PM »


Has anyone else experienced this heavy, excessive anxiety while trying to convert?  How did you overcome it?

It is the Devil.  I went through much the same as you.  When you come close to the Truth, the demons will torment you.  There were many times shortly after I converted that things were so bad for me that I wondered if I had made the right decision.  Even now, when I see how far many Orthodox Churches have strayed from their traditions, I wonder if it would have been better for me to have stayed a Lutheran.  But, I asked God to show me the Truth.  I begged Him to keep His promise that he who seeks shall find, he who knocks shall have the door opened, he who asks shall receive.  I know in my heart that God wants my Salvation, as he does yours.  Does He not tell us that a loving father will not give his children a snake when they ask for a fish?  So, when I was shown the Orthodox Church, the devil became far more active in my life because he wanted to steal from me the very precious gift that God was trying to give me, that is becoming a part of His Holy Body.  The Orthodox prayers are not necessarily more fast paced, they are longer.  Yes, often times you will hear a reader rush through the prayers like there is some kind of a prize for finishing a Liturgy in the shortest time.  But that does not mean that you need to pray this way when you are alone.  Look at the prayers.  Ponder on each word.  And if you don’t finish, don’t worry.

There is a story about a monk who asked another monk to explain to him how he should live.  As the other monk started reading to the first one, the first monk got up and walked out.  This confused the other monk (understandably).  Some months later, the first monk returned.  When the other monk asked where he had gone, he replied that it has taken this long to learn how to do the first thing the monk had read.  He was not ready to hear more.  If God has put into your disposition to pray slowly, do so.  Maybe it is more important that you pray one prayer with meaning and understanding than to rattle off a whole rule without meaning and understanding.  This was told to me by a Priest in the ROCOR when I was starting out on my journey toward the Orthodox Faith.
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2010, 02:18:07 PM »

Thank you for your replies.

Do you feel anxious in the liturgy as well? How do you feel in comparision to the RC liturgy?

I do not feel the anxiety so much during the Liturgy.  In fact, I would say I feel more peaceful at liturgies.  I feel something different at, for instance, Latin Masses; I feel very calm there, and a bit more at home since I am a westerner.  I think the latter fact accounts for the calmness and sense of peace/contemplation I feel at the traditional Mass.

Punch, I think you are probably right that it is the Enemy trying to thwart me.  I also feel anxious about returning to the Roman Catholic faith, but not to the extent I feel about Orthodoxy, and I really cannot explain or point to one particular thing that makes me anxious about becoming Orthodox.  It is simply terrifying to me; and yet, neither can I turn away from it without any peace.  I have met with the local priest and had a lengthy discussion with him, but that was back in February, and I have not been attending Liturgy.  He said he will welcome me back as a catechumen when I am ready (I was formerly a catechumen in an Antiochian parish in another city), and I am not quite ready just yet.  I am thinking of going to a Russian (language) Divine Liturgy this Saturday, as they are few and I think I can actually make myself go this time.  Sunday, it will either be DL or traditional Latin Mass.

Praying about all of this.
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2010, 03:09:51 PM »

I do not know why, but whenever I begin thinking of returning to the catechumenate or actually converting, I get very anxious.  I also sometimes have nightmares when I am praying and considering my return that seem almost demonic, or at least a type of spiritual opposition.  From there it is very easy to fall into despondency, something that has happened in the past, and my initial reason for leaving the catechumenate.  I have used Western (Anglican and Roman Catholic) prayer/office books for years as my "prayer rule", and whenever I pick up the Jordanville - which has many beautiful prayers that, even away from Orthodoxy, I now realize have become a part of my prayer vocabulary - the anxiety is increased.  Orthodox prayers and prayer books are much more fast-paced than Western liturgical forms, and I wonder if that is why I feel an increase in anxiety when using them.  Western forms, such as the old Roman Breviary and the Book of Common Prayer, flow more gently and feel more contemplative than Eastern forms.  It seems that using such forms is making it more difficult for me to stay spiritually calm and stave off anxiety.  I really cannot explain this anxiety, but it can be very, very intense at times, making me want to walk away from it and reconcile with the Roman Church.  I have a melancholic disposition that makes it more difficult still.  Even as I type, I am thinking I should go back to Rome through one of the traditional priestly societies.

Has anyone else experienced this heavy, excessive anxiety while trying to convert?  How did you overcome it?

I wonder if it would help if we look at this from the perspective of exercising? There are different levels of requirements on our body if we stroll, walk, jog or run. Unless we are in real bad physical shape, for most of us, strolling or walking at a leisurely pace would not strain our lungs, hearts or muscles. On the other hand, unless we are in top condition, we would fail miserably at a marathon. I wonder therefore if your anxiety stems from you fearing that the "Orthodox approach" will accentuate your already melancholy disposition and make you even more miserable.

Well, may be your anxiety is indeed justified--may be you are to walk first before attempting to run. I see two questions that you must face. The first is, no matter how gently you start, are you willing to eventually to go as fast as you can? The second question may be, why do you think that Orthodox prayers are exclusively "fast paced"?

My contribution to the first question would be thus: It seems to me that one becomes a Christian to follow the Lord and that He would never ask us to do more than we can bear. However, we often think that we can bear only so much while in truth we can bear more, particularly as we grow in Him. So, are we to aim for being comfortable, happy and content or are we to aim for growing in Him (not that one excludes the other)? It seems to me that, just as an athlete training for a marathon, you would warm up and train, with discomfort and even pain along the way.

My contribution to the second question would be to pray at first those prayers that are not as intense or demanding, or as you said "fact paced." There are many positive prayers in Orthodoxy. How about the following, some short, some a bit longer; some simple, others more complex?

- The Lord's Prayer

- Lord have mercy.

- Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner

- The Trisagion prayers (O heavenly King...Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us...
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us...Our Father, who art in heaven...)

- The Creed

- Evening prayers: Now that the day has come to a close, I thank thee, O Lord, and I ask that the evening with the night may be sinless; grant this to me, O Saviour, and save me....

- Morning prayer of Metropolitan Philaret: Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me. Amen.

- Evening prayer for forgiveness: O Lord our God, if during this day I have sinned, whether in word or deed or thought, forgive me all, for thou art good and lovest mankind. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep, and deliver me from all influence and temptation of the evil one. Raise me up again in proper time that I may glorify thee; for thou art blessed: with thine Only-begotten Son and thine All-holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

- Prayer to the Holy Trinity: The Father is my hope; the Son is my refuge; the Holy Spirit is my protector. O All-holy Trinity, glory to thee.

- Prayer of the hours: Thou who at every season and every hour, in Heaven and on earth art worshipped and glorified, O Christ God; long-suffering, merciful and compassionate; Who lovest the just and showest mercy upon the sinner; Who callest all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come. O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Thy commandments. Sanctify our souls. Purify our bodies. Correct our minds; cleanse our thoughts; and deliver us from all tribulations, evil, and distress. Surround us with Thy holy angels; that, guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith, and unto the knowledge of Thine unapproachable glory. For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

--First antiphon: Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul,  And forget not all His benefits...

--Second Antiphon: Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord in my life, I will chant unto my God for as long as I have my being...

- Third Antiphon: In thy kingdom, remember us, O Lord: when Thou comest in thy kingdom. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...(the Beatitudes)

- Psalm 33: I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth...

- Psalm 104: Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty...
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Valdamarr
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 04:40:08 PM »

Second Chance, it is not that I find the Jordanville as a prayer rule to be too much, as much as it is foreign to my sensibilities.  That, and the "fast pace" I mentioned.  For some reason, Orthodox prayers easily lend themselves to speed, or at least, they do to me.  The prayers of the old Roman Breviary, or those of the Book of Common Prayer, seem to lend themselves to contemplation; they progress gently and with a sort of quietness that I appreciate tremendously.  Of course, I can use Western prayer and office books in accordance with Orthodox principles (behold, the Western Rite), but I wonder if, with my religious baggage, it is wise to do so.

The main thing is the anxiety I feel about becoming Orthodox.  I mention the use of Orthodox prayers only because they seem to increase the anxiety, and I cannot begin to understand why that is so.
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2010, 04:50:37 PM »

Thank you for your replies.

Punch, I think you are probably right that it is the Enemy trying to thwart me.  I also feel anxious about returning to the Roman Catholic faith, but not to the extent I feel about Orthodoxy, and I really cannot explain or point to one particular thing that makes me anxious about becoming Orthodox.  It is simply terrifying to me; and yet, neither can I turn away from it without any peace.  I have met with the local priest and had a lengthy discussion with him, but that was back in February, and I have not been attending Liturgy.  He said he will welcome me back as a catechumen when I am ready (I was formerly a catechumen in an Antiochian parish in another city), and I am not quite ready just yet.  I am thinking of going to a Russian (language) Divine Liturgy this Saturday, as they are few and I think I can actually make myself go this time.  Sunday, it will either be DL or traditional Latin Mass.

Praying about all of this.

The Truth is terrifying.  How many times are we also told “be careful what you ask for, you may get it”?  Knowledge is also terrifying.  That is the origin of the saying “ignorance is bliss”.  There is no going back, and that is scary.  Our excuses have been removed.  We sing in the Liturgy, “We have seen the True Light, We have received the Heavenly Spirit. We have found the True Faith. We worship the Indivisible Trinity: for He hath saved us.”  What is left to go back to?  I think that you should consider re-entering as a catechumen.  But take your time.  In times past, people remained a catechumen for much longer than they typically do today.  Speak with your priest about this.  It is really not a race, but a journey.

BTW – the Slavonic Liturgy is beautiful.  What church are you thinking of attending Saturday?  As to the Latin Mass, some of my favorite music comes from the 16th and 17th Century Venetian masses.  I particularly like the pieces written by Giovanni Gabrielli.  I wish that I could stand in St. Mark’s Cathedral about 1600 and listen to a Mass from that period.  Something was lost when these were scrapped for the Tridentine Mass, which is, however, still beautiful in its simplicity.
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2010, 10:32:46 PM »

it is Satan.  he and his demons will try to through you off, once you find the truth.  I felt much of what you are going through.  trust me, have faith in God, and God ALONE.  I will pray for you.
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2010, 11:25:26 PM »

I know the feeling of being torn between two options and the frustration of not being able to settle down with one. My advice would be not to let yourself be bound by time restraints, as this can further your frustration/anxiety. Take your time, investigate the faith, attend the liturgies, but don't feel pressured like you need to push things along at a certain pace, or that you have to come up with a decision by a certain time. I would take solace in the fact that you find peace in the liturgy and continue to attend services and gradually immerse yourself in the church life, at your own comfortable pace. It's tempting to try to take it all in at once and jump right into Orthodoxy full force, but it is just too easy to become overwhelmed this way; I speak from experience.

Also, it seems like some of your stress is related to commiting to the catechumenate. I would just attend services for a while and not worry about the catechumenate, after all, you can still attend services, etc. without being an 'official' catechumen. Once you're good and ready, you'll know it! Wink
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2010, 11:39:00 AM »

Thank you all once again for your replies and prayers.

Punch, I believe the Divine Liturgy on Saturday will be in modern Russian, though I might be wrong.  (It is being held at the local mission of the OCA here in North Texas.)  It will be my first time at a non-English DL, although I have been to Greek parishes that also used Arabic and Greek during the Liturgy.  There is indeed a plethora of beautiful music from the Latin tradition.  I have a great interest in Sarum, and in the "lost" Western liturgies in general.  Trent attempted to bring more uniformity by codifying the Mass we now call Tridentine, and was largely successful, but at the cost of some beautiful and venerable liturgies.

I am still unsure of how I will proceed in the matter of converting, but I think I will take it much more slowly than I previously did when yesterday was not soon enough to be chrismated!

As an aside, this morning at prayers I purposely went more slowly than is natural with the Jordanville Prayer Book, and it felt more comfortable.  I am not sure what it is about these prayers, but even with the Old Rite Prayer Book and the Antiochian Prayer Book, they seem to speed along very quickly if one is not paying attention.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2010, 01:34:56 PM »

Patience, persistence, conviction. Feelings can be very moody and not at all accurate barometers. Even a feeling of peace, for example, may be deceptive. You are in the process of making a very serious and difficult decision with consequences. It's going to be hard. It's also going to take time. You have to allow for time to build your conviction for whatever decision you make. Pray what you can, do what you can, read what you can, and go about your business. Since you are returned or returning to the catechumenate, try to talk with the priest or catechist, but also form relationships with other Orthodox at the parish. It is a difficult time, but there are many things to work through. The anxiety you feel with regard to Orthodoxy may be because there you are confronting the grace of God which may call to mind (consciously or subconsciously) certain passions  or sins. We all have them.
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2010, 09:54:38 AM »

Patience, persistence, conviction. Feelings can be very moody and not at all accurate barometers. Even a feeling of peace, for example, may be deceptive. You are in the process of making a very serious and difficult decision with consequences. It's going to be hard. It's also going to take time. You have to allow for time to build your conviction for whatever decision you make. Pray what you can, do what you can, read what you can, and go about your business. Since you are returned or returning to the catechumenate, try to talk with the priest or catechist, but also form relationships with other Orthodox at the parish. It is a difficult time, but there are many things to work through. The anxiety you feel with regard to Orthodoxy may be because there you are confronting the grace of God which may call to mind (consciously or subconsciously) certain passions  or sins. We all have them.

Thank you.  I definitely think that patience is an important part of the process for me, if not for all.  I have a tendency toward extreme traditionalism and have flirted with 'True Orthodoxy' in the past, but looking back, that was what really got me in trouble in the first place and made me despondent.  As to forming relationships, that is a difficult thing for me.  I am very introverted, shy, and awkward.  I know I need to be in relationships with others, but it is disturbing to me and causes its own anxiety.  I will pray about it and work on it, but it is no easy thing for me to let others into my world.
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2010, 09:59:17 AM »

As to forming relationships, that is a difficult thing for me.  I am very introverted, shy, and awkward.  I know I need to be in relationships with others, but it is disturbing to me and causes its own anxiety.  I will pray about it and work on it, but it is no easy thing for me to let others into my world.

Something to think about: relationships are not really about you. One of the least known secrets of forming relationships is to listen. Hardly anyone really listens to anyone else nowadays. People assume that forming relationships means talking a lot or being an extrovert. Whereas, asking a question and really listening to others is not only less stressful for the introvert, it's actually a wonderful thing to do for other people.
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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2010, 10:46:13 AM »

As an aside, this morning at prayers I purposely went more slowly than is natural with the Jordanville Prayer Book, and it felt more comfortable. 

Sorry but I am going to be blunt: Who gave you the idea that there is a prescribed or natural pace to praying? Readers at church tend to read quite fast but I am not aware of one rubric that says the pace must be so. Frankly, during the readers' part of Vespers or Matins, I consider myself blessed if a few sentences or phrases from the psalms sticks in my mind. For example, at last night's Vespers, it was just one such phrase from one of psalms. (Quite a few more from the prayers, but that is because I am much more familiar with the latter). I feel blessed also as I am part of a family that is praying together, not only in my own parish but also across the world, and I am praying as the people of Israel and later the New Israel prayed for so many centuries. Of course, if I had been more diligent, I would have memorized the psalms and the speed would not be a factor.

There is no such thing as a natural pace because we must pray both in our hearts and our minds (Saint Paul). This means that each one of us potentially has a different speed. So, pray with meaning, pray with your heart and pray at your own speed.
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2010, 10:51:29 AM »

Whenever I feel anxiety, I sit myself down and chant....very, very slowly....the Jesus Prayer:  Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner.

You will find your breathing slowing down to the rhythm of the prayer itself, which in turn helps to slow down the physical responses (respiration, heart beat, etc).

Hope this helps!
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« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2010, 12:32:56 PM »

As to forming relationships, that is a difficult thing for me.  I am very introverted, shy, and awkward.  I know I need to be in relationships with others, but it is disturbing to me and causes its own anxiety.  I will pray about it and work on it, but it is no easy thing for me to let others into my world.

Something to think about: relationships are not really about you. One of the least known secrets of forming relationships is to listen. Hardly anyone really listens to anyone else nowadays. People assume that forming relationships means talking a lot or being an extrovert. Whereas, asking a question and really listening to others is not only less stressful for the introvert, it's actually a wonderful thing to do for other people.
Very insightful.
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2010, 12:57:11 PM »

Patience, persistence, conviction. Feelings can be very moody and not at all accurate barometers. Even a feeling of peace, for example, may be deceptive. You are in the process of making a very serious and difficult decision with consequences. It's going to be hard. It's also going to take time. You have to allow for time to build your conviction for whatever decision you make. Pray what you can, do what you can, read what you can, and go about your business. Since you are returned or returning to the catechumenate, try to talk with the priest or catechist, but also form relationships with other Orthodox at the parish. It is a difficult time, but there are many things to work through. The anxiety you feel with regard to Orthodoxy may be because there you are confronting the grace of God which may call to mind (consciously or subconsciously) certain passions  or sins. We all have them.

Thank you.  I definitely think that patience is an important part of the process for me, if not for all.  I have a tendency toward extreme traditionalism and have flirted with 'True Orthodoxy' in the past, but looking back, that was what really got me in trouble in the first place and made me despondent.  As to forming relationships, that is a difficult thing for me.  I am very introverted, shy, and awkward.  I know I need to be in relationships with others, but it is disturbing to me and causes its own anxiety.  I will pray about it and work on it, but it is no easy thing for me to let others into my world.


If you will permit me to be blunt, it may be a good idea to get out of your own head. You seem to be occupied with yourself and your own feelings, and this is keeping you back. You don't have to "let others into your world," as you say, you have to work on taking an interest in others. Maybe there is something you can do to help others in need--a soup kitchen, nursing home, etc. Maybe there are others at church or around you who look lonely or have no one to talk to. It takes effort, but it's necessary to move out of oneself because, really, it's not all that great in there and this causes depression when we focus on it in the wrong way. We need a balance between introversion and extroversion. People who are mainly extroverted may be running away from things inside them, too. Ask Jesus to help you. May God give you wisdom.
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« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2010, 12:03:10 PM »

As to forming relationships, that is a difficult thing for me.  I am very introverted, shy, and awkward.  I know I need to be in relationships with others, but it is disturbing to me and causes its own anxiety.  I will pray about it and work on it, but it is no easy thing for me to let others into my world.

Something to think about: relationships are not really about you. One of the least known secrets of forming relationships is to listen. Hardly anyone really listens to anyone else nowadays. People assume that forming relationships means talking a lot or being an extrovert. Whereas, asking a question and really listening to others is not only less stressful for the introvert, it's actually a wonderful thing to do for other people.

You (and Shanghaiski) are right.  The more I isolate myself, the more self-centered I become, though there is also chronic physical illness that, I believe, contributes to this in more ways than one.  It can be hard to break free of that, but with practice it may soon improve.  I will, with God's most gracious and ready help, work on overcoming these issues.
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« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2010, 12:17:14 PM »

As an aside, this morning at prayers I purposely went more slowly than is natural with the Jordanville Prayer Book, and it felt more comfortable. 

Sorry but I am going to be blunt: Who gave you the idea that there is a prescribed or natural pace to praying? Readers at church tend to read quite fast but I am not aware of one rubric that says the pace must be so. Frankly, during the readers' part of Vespers or Matins, I consider myself blessed if a few sentences or phrases from the psalms sticks in my mind. For example, at last night's Vespers, it was just one such phrase from one of psalms. (Quite a few more from the prayers, but that is because I am much more familiar with the latter). I feel blessed also as I am part of a family that is praying together, not only in my own parish but also across the world, and I am praying as the people of Israel and later the New Israel prayed for so many centuries. Of course, if I had been more diligent, I would have memorized the psalms and the speed would not be a factor.

There is no such thing as a natural pace because we must pray both in our hearts and our minds (Saint Paul). This means that each one of us potentially has a different speed. So, pray with meaning, pray with your heart and pray at your own speed.

I don't believe there is a prescribed pace for prayer.  However I do think that there is a pace that is natural to the one praying, and the meter or rhythm of the words can directly influence that pace.  Readers often read very rapidly, but that has little to do with the pace that seems to come naturally to me when using Orthodox prayer books; they simply seem to flow more rapidly, if I let them, than the old Roman Breviary or the Book of Common Prayer.  I am very accustomed to the slower, more contemplative pace that I use when praying with Western liturgical books.  Orthodox prayers simply seem to flow at a quick pace for me.  I do not know why, they just do.  I suspect it is the cadence and meter of the words that lend themselves to speedy recitation.  Western prayers, because I am accustomed to them and love them very much are very soothing to me, and I savor them with great relish in the worship of God.

We are all different Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2010, 01:53:11 PM »

I do not know why, but whenever I begin thinking of returning to the catechumenate or actually converting, I get very anxious.  I also sometimes have nightmares when I am praying and considering my return that seem almost demonic, or at least a type of spiritual opposition.  From there it is very easy to fall into despondency, something that has happened in the past, and my initial reason for leaving the catechumenate.  I have used Western (Anglican and Roman Catholic) prayer/office books for years as my "prayer rule", and whenever I pick up the Jordanville - which has many beautiful prayers that, even away from Orthodoxy, I now realize have become a part of my prayer vocabulary - the anxiety is increased.  Orthodox prayers and prayer books are much more fast-paced than Western liturgical forms, and I wonder if that is why I feel an increase in anxiety when using them.  Western forms, such as the old Roman Breviary and the Book of Common Prayer, flow more gently and feel more contemplative than Eastern forms.  It seems that using such forms is making it more difficult for me to stay spiritually calm and stave off anxiety.  I really cannot explain this anxiety, but it can be very, very intense at times, making me want to walk away from it and reconcile with the Roman Church.  I have a melancholic disposition that makes it more difficult still.  Even as I type, I am thinking I should go back to Rome through one of the traditional priestly societies.

Has anyone else experienced this heavy, excessive anxiety while trying to convert?  How did you overcome it?

Keep in mind, as well, that in the Book of Common Prayer the Morning and Evening Prayers correspond not to the Morning and Evening Prayers of the Orthodox prayer books but to the services of Matins, Vespers, and Compline (Cranmer drew from Matins, Lauds, and Prime for the morning prayers and from Vespers and Compline for the Evening).  And the Roman Breviary is the Horologion.  This possibly  accounts for why you feel the pacing to be a little "off".

As with any prayer rule consult your priest, but you might want to substitute the First Hour for morning prayers (or Matins, if you're a trooper) and Small Compline for your evening prayers.  A Book of the Hours can be found on many Orthodox book store sites (there is also the Dynamic Horologion or the following link http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/horologion.htm has reader's hours if, like me, you happen to be a little broke) and Small Compline is IIRC in the Jordanville.
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"Funny," said Lancelot, "how the people who can't pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are."  TH White

Oh, no: I've succumbed to Hyperdoxy!
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