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nrse
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« on: December 20, 2010, 09:52:43 PM »

i have been attending Vespers at the orthodox church for about a year now...started going to Liturgy at the beginning of Great Lent last spring....have been meeting with my priest  every week or 2 for instruction since July...i have expressed my dear wish to be chrismated....i feel i truly need the grace of the sacraments...we have covered parts of several books together and have had wonderful discussions...i have read several others and have several waiting to be read....but we have not gone over the sacraments yet and until then Father does not feel comfortable chrismating me...while i understand the reasonableness of that (and submit to his judgement for me) - i am impatient to get there...our current lesson is not on the sacraments so it may be months before we get through the material or even start it....sigh...i am frustrated and fight impatience....can anyone give me any encouragement or coaching?

love and prayers, lynn
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2010, 10:19:52 PM »

Lynn,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I felt the same way during my catechumate(don't worry the waiting pays off) My best advice to you is to PRAY and read the Scriptures! If I might suggest commend yourself to the Mother of God she will take care of you! Don't dispair Our Lord will give you the graces you need as you prepare to recieve the Mysteries.

You'll be in my Prayers,
Seraphim
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 10:23:07 PM »

If you can participate in the Church's services and keep an icon corner and have a prayer rule.  With this a patron saint you can turn to.  Perhaps some study on your own through your priest and lots of prayer.
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2010, 10:25:07 PM »

Yes I am struggling with the patience as well, but as the others have mentioned keep praying about it and keep reading the Holy Scriptures.
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2010, 10:32:40 PM »

Didn't St. Ambrose of Milan spend 20 years in the catechumenate?

In any event, a long catechumenate is IMHO a good thing. The first five years see many converts fall away from the Church. If you make it that long, then your priest can see that you are serious about the faith and receive you through baptism and charismation. Just be patient, and remember that you remain a member of the parish in good standing like any cradle Orthodox.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 10:33:01 PM by CRCulver » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2010, 10:42:12 PM »

Just be patient, and remember that you remain a member of the parish in good standing like any cradle Orthodox.

It seems from this statement that it devalues baptism and christmastion slightly no? I mean in the sense that you are an equal with one who is cradle orthodox, eventhough you haven't partken in these Holy Mysteries.
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2010, 10:59:53 PM »

It seems from this statement that it devalues baptism and christmastion slightly no? I mean in the sense that you are an equal with one who is cradle orthodox, eventhough you haven't partken in these Holy Mysteries.

What I posted was said repeatedly by my first priest. He'd even comfort converts by saying that a catechumen would still get an Orthodox funeral if he died before charismation. I certainly don't see such a statement as devaluing the sacraments, but rather encouraging the catechumen to stay in the race, and suppressing any tendency of charismated members of the parish to pride.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 11:00:43 PM by CRCulver » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2010, 11:08:59 PM »

Take comfort that your priest takes your instruction so seriously. 
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2010, 11:34:28 PM »

I started coming to church in December, thinking I would be accepted into the church no later than the following Pascha. Imagine my surprise when I realized it would be another 18 months before I would be Orthodox. It often takes 3 years to get in, and it may take even more. Almost every thing in Orthodoxy is a test to your sincerity and commitment. Keep in mind that the journey is as precious as the destination.
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2010, 11:42:38 PM »

In many ways, I would also agree with the oft-voiced opinion that it is good to have a long period of instruction; had RCIA been longer than 7 months, then perhaps I would have had more time to definitively settle the question of Orthodoxy or Catholicism. As it was, however, I enrolled in RCIA in September, and was confirmed the following April this year. Eight months after that, I'm wondering more than ever if Orthodoxy is for me.

Feel blessed that you are being made to take lots of thinking time before you take the step; it gives you time to really figure out if it's the step you want to take. "Leap before you think" is not always the best policy.
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2010, 12:02:24 AM »

Lynn,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I felt the same way during my catechumate(don't worry the waiting pays off) My best advice to you is to PRAY and read the Scriptures! If I might suggest commend yourself to the Mother of God she will take care of you! Don't dispair Our Lord will give you the graces you need as you prepare to recieve the Mysteries.

You'll be in my Prayers,
Seraphim


Very nice advice.  Especially about the Mother of God.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 10:16:42 AM »

Just be patient, and remember that you remain a member of the parish in good standing like any cradle Orthodox.

It seems from this statement that it devalues baptism and christmastion slightly no? I mean in the sense that you are an equal with one who is cradle orthodox, eventhough you haven't partken in these Holy Mysteries.

I don't think CRCulver's statement devalues anything, but rather emphasizes the humility and patience required for the catechumen, and for all. It was three years from the time I started going to Orthodox churches until the time I was received into the Church as a communicant. I was offered a five week program by another priest. I did not feel this was the right course for me, though. Still, during that time, I dealt with the same things you are experiencing, even the fear that I would die before being received. This is all from the enemy of our salvation. However, it helped me greatly to stick with the program, keep going to church, keep praying and reading. Also, the prayers of St. Barbara the Virgin Martyr were greatly helpful. And reading the lives of the saints. If you happen to die as a catechumen, you can still receive a church funeral, so I've been told. Anyway, look on this time, if you can push yourself to do so, as a time of blessedness. You are being tested a little through waiting. Thank God. This is for your benefit, believe me. I have known many who have been received without proper preparation and catechesis and have later left the Church, even as much as a couple weeks after baptism. Let us attend. The time of the catechumenate is extremely important for spiritual formation. Though one cannot partake of the sacraments yet, one should not consider oneself without the grace of God. His eye is on the catechumen, too, and His providence will take care of you.
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2010, 01:42:50 PM »

ah, yes. all converts get that feeling!  I, too had it.  I fear if I'd bugged my priest any more about starting former lessons, he's have sent me to the Greek Church down the street!   Cheesy  in a column for our diocese about pan-Orthodox vespers, he refers to me as the "eager catechumen".

all will happen in time.  (of course, many people told me this and I didn't listen)  just take things slowly.  if it's God's will, you will be chrismated!   Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2010, 12:38:34 AM »

I had this problem, but recently I have become comfortable with the idea of a long catechumenate. This came one day after I realized that, despite all the playing at it I have done through the years, I still don't know how to pray. I used to think I wasn't good at prayer, but now I've realized that I never even really knew how. This period of instruction has been a particularly intense experience for me as someone who thought he had filled his head with the wisdom of God... But I am a fool, and this fool stumbles at prayer; I am glad Father is not one who rushes to the oil, lest I stumble at the cup and partake unworthily.

Though I am very eager to make my confession, I take comfort knowing that, should I die, I will receive an Orthodox funeral (and I have made this intention clear to my loved ones). Lord willing, I will one day be an Orthodox Christian.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2011, 02:41:43 AM »

Take comfort that your priest takes your instruction so seriously. 

Humility is the basis for all the other virtues that we will spend a lifetime attaining. I was/am so independent minded that being subject to my spiritual father was vitally important to being received into the ark,the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I often felt a certain sense of humiliation watching young children and teenagers receive the Eucharist, it was good for my soul to just wait and trust God's timing as it was administered by my priest. I too yearned to receive. Now, in retrospect, I realize my one year as an inquirer and catechumen prior to Baptism/Chrismation was rather short and may have been shortened for the sake of my 7 children. I probably would have benefited from a longer catechumenate. Father Joseph would say on occasion that the Church is patient, implying that we must be also.

May God grant us all many years to seek his kingdom. . . Nikolai

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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2011, 03:52:23 PM »

Friends- thank you all for the encouragement....and dearest Nikolai your response is so timely- i am especially struggling lately...and just as you said, i too am independent (had to be- widowed young, with 6 children to raise)...and my anguish at seeing an infant and toddler receive, as well as a dear couple who were chrismated at another church with no catechesis at all (they have now joined me in meeting with Father)...it is difficult now with this couple joining our discussion, to address personal issues such as this....but if i understood Father last time we met, he mentioned now, 3 years!...(we have been meeting since last May)-that has thrown me into a sea of discouragement, my heart aching so!... i am so torn- i trust Father and yet it seems so strange....he tells me i am "family" yet i am not served at the table....it is a very small historical church with very small congregation and i am the only one who cannot receive....when we started Father said i would know when- when i said "i know" he said "not yet"..there has been book after book to go through...each time it has been- after this we will get to the sacraments, yet each time there has been another book...Father has spoken of 2 previous catechumens (both men) - who left the church shortly after being chrismated...i fight resentment of these men thinking they may have put me in a situation of feeling i must prove myself somehow....i am pouring my heart out here yet acknowledging that humility is sorely needed in my soul...the benefit of receiving our Lord surely would assist me in growing wouldnt it? what could possibly compare?...i have spoken with Father once about this- would it be disrespectful to approach him a second time? ....my Sweet Jesus, Son of an all compassionate God have mercy on me a sinner!
lynn
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2011, 04:07:19 PM »

Friends- thank you all for the encouragement....and dearest Nikolai your response is so timely- i am especially struggling lately...and just as you said, i too am independent (had to be- widowed young, with 6 children to raise)...and my anguish at seeing an infant and toddler receive, as well as a dear couple who were chrismated at another church with no catechesis at all (they have now joined me in meeting with Father)...it is difficult now with this couple joining our discussion, to address personal issues such as this....but if i understood Father last time we met, he mentioned now, 3 years!...(we have been meeting since last May)-that has thrown me into a sea of discouragement, my heart aching so!... i am so torn- i trust Father and yet it seems so strange....he tells me i am "family" yet i am not served at the table....it is a very small historical church with very small congregation and i am the only one who cannot receive....when we started Father said i would know when- when i said "i know" he said "not yet"..there has been book after book to go through...each time it has been- after this we will get to the sacraments, yet each time there has been another book...Father has spoken of 2 previous catechumens (both men) - who left the church shortly after being chrismated...i fight resentment of these men thinking they may have put me in a situation of feeling i must prove myself somehow....i am pouring my heart out here yet acknowledging that humility is sorely needed in my soul...the benefit of receiving our Lord surely would assist me in growing wouldnt it? what could possibly compare?...i have spoken with Father once about this- would it be disrespectful to approach him a second time? ....my Sweet Jesus, Son of an all compassionate God have mercy on me a sinner!
lynn

I know it can seem like the Eucharist is being dangled in front of you like the proverbial carrot, but that is not the case.  You are in the womb of the church and being fed and nourished as you grow.  So you certainly are part of the family. 
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2011, 05:18:28 PM »

The legnth of the catechumenate is ver individualized, mine was about a year, I know of one who had a 5 year catecumenate. Pray and read all assignments and discuss them regularly with your priest.

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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2011, 06:02:00 PM »

the journey is as precious as the destination.

well said!  I wish I would have realized this sooner.
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2011, 06:57:42 PM »

Nrse, so which is your Orthodox jurisdiction - OCA or a Russian one (ROCOR, ROC (MP))? It's not the same...

In any case, best wishes to you, and, if your priest is still finicky about your chrismation, just go to any other jurisdiction - GOA, Antiochians, UOC-USA etc. Maybe you will have a better luck there. Understand one fundamental thing, it's still One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2011, 07:11:35 PM »

Friends- thank you all for the encouragement....and dearest Nikolai your response is so timely- i am especially struggling lately...and just as you said, i too am independent (had to be- widowed young, with 6 children to raise)...and my anguish at seeing an infant and toddler receive, as well as a dear couple who were chrismated at another church with no catechesis at all (they have now joined me in meeting with Father)...it is difficult now with this couple joining our discussion, to address personal issues such as this....but if i understood Father last time we met, he mentioned now, 3 years!...(we have been meeting since last May)-that has thrown me into a sea of discouragement, my heart aching so!... i am so torn- i trust Father and yet it seems so strange....he tells me i am "family" yet i am not served at the table....it is a very small historical church with very small congregation and i am the only one who cannot receive....when we started Father said i would know when- when i said "i know" he said "not yet"..there has been book after book to go through...each time it has been- after this we will get to the sacraments, yet each time there has been another book...Father has spoken of 2 previous catechumens (both men) - who left the church shortly after being chrismated...i fight resentment of these men thinking they may have put me in a situation of feeling i must prove myself somehow....i am pouring my heart out here yet acknowledging that humility is sorely needed in my soul...the benefit of receiving our Lord surely would assist me in growing wouldnt it? what could possibly compare?...i have spoken with Father once about this- would it be disrespectful to approach him a second time? ....my Sweet Jesus, Son of an all compassionate God have mercy on me a sinner!
lynn

Lynn, are you a catechumen? If so, you are being prayed for around the world every time the Liturgy is celebrated. You know the part, where the priest prays that the catechumen be found worthy to be received into the Church. We are truly in a cosmic community of the saints in heaven, the monastics and the faithful here on earth. Where ever you are in the continuum please trust that it is all from God for the salvation of your soul! If I understand correctly, one's spiritual father (I'm assuming he is your parish priest) bears a certain responsibility for the souls that he brings into the Church, so b/c of those who left he may be extra cautious for your sake as well as his. I realized at some point during the inquiry period that the only thing I "had to prove" was being faithful to attend at every opportunity possible. Please guard yourself from resentment and offense towards others including your priest. The enemy of your soul would have you despair and retreat. This struggle for you on some level indicates the value of what you are pursuing. Nikolai
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2011, 07:53:10 PM »

Nrse, so which is your Orthodox jurisdiction - OCA or a Russian one (ROCOR, ROC (MP))? It's not the same...

In any case, best wishes to you, and, if your priest is still finicky about your chrismation, just go to any other jurisdiction - GOA, Antiochians, UOC-USA etc. Maybe you will have a better luck there. Understand one fundamental thing, it's still One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church.

Forgive me, I don't think this is a good precedent... This is from the perspective of a former evangelical who has "shopped" for the perfect fit in fellowship. If Lynn has engaged well with her priest then it may well be to her soul's benefit take up this "yoke" for the sake of obedience. Our dear Lord Himself learned obedience through the things that He suffered(Hebrews 5:7-10). It's possible she may delay the process by leaving... the priests in our part of the country all know one another regardless of jurisdiction and are able and do confer with one another.

Lynn, I can't fully appreciate all that you are dealing with, the best advice is to trust your priest even if it seems counter-intuitive. There is a story of a monastic disciple who was harshly treated by his elder even unto death and spoke from his grave to said elder about obedience never ceasing. The elder repented of his harsh ways and entered more seriously into asceticism. I continue to wonder if I'm able to bear up under this "narrow way" and participating in Confession and the Eucharist just digs deeper into the junk of my life that needs to be healed. It is not a magic potion, but is for healing, therapy at the depth of one's soul can be rather painful.

Forgive me, Nikolai
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« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2011, 08:30:20 PM »

Nikolai- although baptized RC (my priest assures me that i am family on that account), i passionately lived 35 years of evangelical/pentecostal faith before coming into orthodoxy...so you speak well to my heart....we are on a little peninsula and there is no other church nearby-so i could not go to another church even if i wanted to...the church hopping i have seen and lived with (deceased husband and now husband) has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth for that practice....i trust my  priest....forgive me when i whine from time to time....but the encouragement i have received here, from all of you, is priceless and comforting...
love and prayers, lynn
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