Author Topic: Mistakes you made as a catechumen  (Read 3073 times)

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Offline Shiny

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Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« on: February 10, 2011, 05:54:20 AM »
My biggest blunder was I was at a prayer service at our Metropolis HQ and there was this nice fellow doing it (I assumed he was a priest) and giving a nice short little sermon. Anyway, I was conversing with a gentlemen when this "priest" came up to our group. He was totally anticipating me to give him a kiss on the hand, but I forgot to. And the friend I made one-upped me by kissing his hand, and kissing both sides of the cheek. I couldn't generate too much of a conversation, I was pretty nervous and shy.

Two months later, I was curious on what the Metropolitan looked like and lo and behold it was him! Couldn't believe it, I screwed up big.

Oh and there was a time when the priest came to greet me, and instead of kissing his hand I nearly ate it...

My grace and elegance needs to be worked on for sure.

Anybody else?
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2011, 10:52:45 AM »
It wasn't while a catechumen, but when my husband was being made a reader, he was so nervous that he kept on reading, until His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah had to forcefully shove him in the back to get him to stop!

(fyi, part of the service involves the Bishop opening the Bible, and pointing to a part to be read (chanted) aloud. When he's ready for you to stop, he taps you on the shoulder.)
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Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2011, 11:18:08 AM »
everyone makes little blunders as a catechumen, as your just starting out.  I remember that I thought of myself as "in the club" way too soon.  I also found that this is the wrong attitude to take.  the (non Orthodox) religous I was exposed too brought up my conversion in the first tconversation about their faith I had with them.  I was used to a quick, fast paced faith.  Orthodoxy is more gratual with the conversion process.  I'm now an Orthodox Christian, and I love it.  sometimes I miss my old Church, but that passes.   Orthodoxy suprised me in that the priest didn't ask me if I wanted to join up at the first service.  but, as I gratually went back, it began to happen.   I think that most Churches need to be that way.  a true "conversion of heart" cannot happen in one 20 minute conversation. 

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 11:30:24 AM »
We all make mistakes in Church from the first day as a catechumen to an experienced Patriarch. I have seen Bishops, priests, deacons, choir directors, cantors, altar boys ---everybody-- from one time or another make a mistake. I suspect that God doesn't mind as long as you learn from your mistakes!

Offline Alpo

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 12:07:16 PM »
As of behaviour, mine was probably sitting with legs crossed next to a monk in a monastery church.

But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.
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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 05:03:33 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

Ditto. As many of you have seen me post, I came from the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian) and was very satisified with scholastic, systematic theology. When inquiring into Orthodoxy, theology is what concerned me most, and what always occupied my mind. I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.
"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Offline JimCBrooklyn

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 05:10:26 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

Ditto. As many of you have seen me post, I came from the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian) and was very satisified with scholastic, systematic theology. When inquiring into Orthodoxy, theology is what concerned me most, and what always occupied my mind. I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.

That sounds like terrific advice.
It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 05:51:42 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.

Amen!
"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 06:08:42 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

Ditto. As many of you have seen me post, I came from the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian) and was very satisified with scholastic, systematic theology. When inquiring into Orthodoxy, theology is what concerned me most, and what always occupied my mind. I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.

That sounds like terrific advice.

Yes, and it was so counter-intuitive to me, coming from that theological background. I would have never done it on my own, and would have eventually given up trying to understand Orthodoxy. When the praxis began, I didn't know what I was doing...or what most of it meant. The prayers were weird, chanting was odd, and candles? The only times we used candles growing up is when the power went out or my Mom decided the house needed refreshing and bought a bunch of aromatic candles.

But, it was the best thing I ever did. I finally stopped thinking about God like He was some abstract concept and began realizing Him as a person. I mean, Protestants talk about having a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" but what they mean and what theosis means are not the same thing. Then, I just fell in love with the Church, her saints, the Theotokos etc. In practicing Faith, I gained faith, my questions were answered and my doubts faded.

And so, the best advice this former scholastic has is, stop worrying about knowing about it, and just know it. Pray (individually and with the Church in your local parish), fast, read the Scriptures and the Fathers, keep the commandments, abstain from sin. The Holy Spirit will make things clear in time.

Not to say that I'm now some perfect ascetic. Lord, have mercy. I wasn't good at any of those things starting out, and I still continue to fail in them each and every day (not to mention that I'm still just a catechumen!) But, as the monk answered when he was asked about what is done in the monasteries, "We fall down, and we get back up. Then we fall down again, and get back up again."
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 06:10:29 PM by Benjamin the Red »
"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 06:24:18 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

Ditto. As many of you have seen me post, I came from the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian) and was very satisified with scholastic, systematic theology. When inquiring into Orthodoxy, theology is what concerned me most, and what always occupied my mind. I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.

That sounds like terrific advice.

Yes, and it was so counter-intuitive to me, coming from that theological background. I would have never done it on my own, and would have eventually given up trying to understand Orthodoxy. When the praxis began, I didn't know what I was doing...or what most of it meant. The prayers were weird, chanting was odd, and candles? The only times we used candles growing up is when the power went out or my Mom decided the house needed refreshing and bought a bunch of aromatic candles.

But, it was the best thing I ever did. I finally stopped thinking about God like He was some abstract concept and began realizing Him as a person. I mean, Protestants talk about having a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" but what they mean and what theosis means are not the same thing. Then, I just fell in love with the Church, her saints, the Theotokos etc. In practicing Faith, I gained faith, my questions were answered and my doubts faded.

And so, the best advice this former scholastic has is, stop worrying about knowing about it, and just know it. Pray (individually and with the Church in your local parish), fast, read the Scriptures and the Fathers, keep the commandments, abstain from sin. The Holy Spirit will make things clear in time.

Not to say that I'm now some perfect ascetic. Lord, have mercy. I wasn't good at any of those things starting out, and I still continue to fail in them each and every day (not to mention that I'm still just a catechumen!) But, as the monk answered when he was asked about what is done in the monasteries, "We fall down, and we get back up. Then we fall down again, and get back up again."


The old-timers in many Slavic communities, including my father, would refer to this as having 'duch' ( If you put it Google translator as Slovak, you can hear the approximate pronunciation. I don't have Cyrillic script but the pronunciation would be similar in Ukrainian I think.)  which roughly means 'soul' in the sense of having the spirit within you or even in the sense that African Americans would understand it. This is not a theological or intellectual concept, yet it is not just raw passion or emotion. Tough to exactly define in English but I think that you found it when you realized that you were not getting where you needed to be through scholasticism or 'high theology.'  It was this 'duch' that passed the faith down through the generations without the benefit of higher education or even basic literacy. This is not to say that gaining a better and more complete understanding of Orthodoxy doesn't require "book learnin' " but rather that the theology will become more readily accessible with that understanding of the spirit or 'duch.' I am sure that the Greeks and Arabs have similar terms for the same thing. Good luck!

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 06:29:21 PM »
Too much reading, which led to a theological overload and a subsequent spiritual drain. Diving headlong into such titles as Lossky's "Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church' without a proper spiritual foundation wasn't my brightest idea...  ::)

Offline FrChris

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 06:33:09 PM »
But I'm starting to think that my biggest mistake was that I was exploring pretty much only doctrines. I should have tried to acquire Orthodox worldview and piety instead of trying to transform myself as an armchair theologian.

Ditto. As many of you have seen me post, I came from the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian) and was very satisified with scholastic, systematic theology. When inquiring into Orthodoxy, theology is what concerned me most, and what always occupied my mind. I wrestled with "high theology" for months, and never really got anywhere. It wasn't until I was instructed in a prayer rule and introduced to piety by our parish priest that things really came into focus.

This is one of the reasons why I am not a big fan of folks asking a question similar to "What should I read to inquire into Orthodoxy?". Sure, reading is good, but our faith is not just in our heads: it should also be in our heart and our gut.

So, when someone asks me that question, I may steer them towards some reading of something...usually the person him or herself has a list already in their head, and I just affirm it. What I really recommend to them, though, is that they start to attend church services and get to know the parishioners. Only then will the inquirer start to understand the phronema and praxis of Orthodoxy. That will help folks to "flesh out" the theology that they are reading...and while important, the Faith is sooooo much more than theological understandings.
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Offline Entscheidungsproblem

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2011, 06:41:10 PM »
Read too much Seraphim Rose (the works he authored, rather than translated), though it was under the instruction of a Priest.
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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 06:42:01 PM »
Didn't explore my options deeply enough

Offline Dnarmist

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 06:42:27 PM »
Read too much Seraphim Rose (the works he authored, rather than translated), though it was under the instruction of a Priest.
Do you no longer practice the faith, judging by your Faith status on the left?

Offline smithakd

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2011, 07:45:00 PM »
This is one of the reasons why I am not a big fan of folks asking a question similar to "What should I read to inquire into Orthodoxy?". Sure, reading is good, but our faith is not just in our heads: it should also be in our heart and our gut.

So, when someone asks me that question, I may steer them towards some reading of something...usually the person him or herself has a list already in their head, and I just affirm it. What I really recommend to them, though, is that they start to attend church services and get to know the parishioners. Only then will the inquirer start to understand the phronema and praxis of Orthodoxy. That will help folks to "flesh out" the theology that they are reading...and while important, the Faith is sooooo much more than theological understandings.

So true, Fr Chris.  A bit of reading is just a good start.

Perhaps such inquirers should be directed to the Octoechos and such?

I know that the mistakes I made were focused on speed - I was far too assuming in what I was going to do and how I was going to fix things that were wrong.  Would that I tried to fix myself with the same fervour!
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2011, 10:33:15 AM »
And so, the best advice this former scholastic has is, stop worrying about knowing about it, and just know it. Pray (individually and with the Church in your local parish), fast, read the Scriptures and the Fathers, keep the commandments, abstain from sin. The Holy Spirit will make things clear in time.

Well said, sir!
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2011, 10:36:22 AM »
...but rather that the theology will become more readily accessible with that understanding of the spirit or 'duch.'

Excellent point, this is my experience as well. I too am a "theology geek," but it was a dead end for me. It was in the doing that the understanding came, even if I was just "going through the motions," without any real understanding. And that is counter-intuitive for me also. Not at all the way I function generally!
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2011, 12:09:46 PM »
Read too much Seraphim Rose (the works he authored, rather than translated), though it was under the instruction of a Priest.

I read too little. I think that it was his biography which transformed me from an armchair theologian into a Christian. I haven't read any of those books he authored though.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 12:10:20 PM by Alpo »
Quote from: Severian
the people on this forum have to stop taking themselves so seriously. None of us are some modern-day Athanasius, we all just have nothing better to do.

Offline smithakd

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2011, 07:06:32 PM »
I think that it was his biography which transformed me from an armchair theologian into a Christian.

Amazing book.  I read that in a day, it was very inspiring for me.
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Offline KBN1

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2011, 08:28:34 PM »
I talked about it too much.  I also probably talked like an idiot.

edit:  come to think of it, those didn't end with my catechumenate...
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 08:29:16 PM by KBN1 »

Offline Shiny

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2011, 08:58:52 PM »
I think that it was his biography which transformed me from an armchair theologian into a Christian.

Amazing book.  I read that in a day, it was very inspiring for me.
What book is this?
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Offline myrrhbear

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2011, 09:04:39 PM »
So many blunders I can't think of them all right now.

 Grabbing the visiting archbishop's hand and giving it a good shake when I first met him, (my first encounter with anyone Orthodox, not really a catechumen yet) then wondering why he wouldn't shake my hand when I was leaving!

Loudly and confidently when it was my turn, chanting a verse during vespers, that was just previously chanted by someone else!

It's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know to be true, but really isn't, that gets you into trouble!
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Offline smithakd

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2011, 09:39:43 PM »
I think that it was his biography which transformed me from an armchair theologian into a Christian.

Amazing book.  I read that in a day, it was very inspiring for me.
What book is this?

"Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works", by Hieromonk Damascene.  Published by St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.
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Offline smithakd

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2011, 09:41:04 PM »
It's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know to be true, but really isn't, that gets you into trouble!

I think this quote should be enshrined as a mandatory line for catechumens to memorise ^_^
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Offline Entscheidungsproblem

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2011, 11:55:04 PM »
Do you no longer practice the faith, judging by your Faith status on the left?
Left the Catechumenate after a number of years.  Now I'm an atheist.
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2011, 12:07:47 AM »
I read that in a day, it was very inspiring for me.

Nobody reads a book that is over a thousand pages long in a day.

Offline smithakd

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2011, 02:02:43 AM »
I read that in a day, it was very inspiring for me.

Nobody reads a book that is over a thousand pages long in a day.

If by 'nobody' you mean 'most people', then that's probably accurate.
If by 'nobody' you mean 'not a single person on earth', then I proved you wrong about six years ago.  The book was just that good.
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Offline Dnarmist

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #28 on: February 12, 2011, 02:22:11 AM »
Do you no longer practice the faith, judging by your Faith status on the left?
Left the Catechumenate after a number of years.  Now I'm an atheist.
Ah I see, I'd be really interested in hearing your story if you were obliged to give it.

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2011, 02:49:44 PM »
I talked about it too much.  I also probably talked like an idiot.

edit:  come to think of it, those didn't end with my catechumenate...


I hear ya.... ;)
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Offline myrrhbear

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2011, 05:28:06 PM »
Still talking about it! That's what fora are for! :D
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Offline Agabus

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2011, 08:56:24 PM »
The biggest mistake I made was thinking I knew a damn thing about Orthodoxy, or being a Christian, or prayer.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 08:56:58 PM by Agabus »
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2011, 11:17:12 PM »
Didn't explore my options deeply enough

Yes, I agree, so many Orthodox jurisdictions to choose from...  ;)

Offline TinaG

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2011, 12:30:09 AM »
My biggest mistake was emphatically telling my (Baptist) husband that he had to convert or we wouldn't be in heaven together!  ::)  That was 19 years ago and he is even more dead set against Orthodoxy (and as a matter of fact, any organized religion)
On the spiritual path somewhere between the Simpsons and St. Theophan the Recluse, but I still can't see the Springfield city limits sign yet.

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2011, 12:44:19 AM »
My biggest mistake was emphatically telling my (Baptist) husband that he had to convert or we wouldn't be in heaven together!  ::)  That was 19 years ago and he is even more dead set against Orthodoxy (and as a matter of fact, any organized religion)

Ya, that'll set the sparks flyin' for sure!

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2011, 02:05:42 AM »
My biggest blunder was I was at a prayer service at our Metropolis HQ and there was this nice fellow doing it (I assumed he was a priest) and giving a nice short little sermon. Anyway, I was conversing with a gentlemen when this "priest" came up to our group. He was totally anticipating me to give him a kiss on the hand, but I forgot to. And the friend I made one-upped me by kissing his hand, and kissing both sides of the cheek. I couldn't generate too much of a conversation, I was pretty nervous and shy.

Two months later, I was curious on what the Metropolitan looked like and lo and behold it was him! Couldn't believe it, I screwed up big.

I have a hard time understanding what is such a big deal here.
I stopped posting here in August 2011 because of stark disagreement with the policies of the administration and moderating team of the forums. If you desire, feel free to PM me, message me on Facebook (link in profile), or email me: cddombrowski@gmail.com

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Mistakes you made as a catechumen
« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2011, 10:00:24 AM »
The biggest mistake I made was thinking I knew a damn thing about Orthodoxy, or being a Christian, or prayer.

So true, for me also.  :-[
"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom