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Author Topic: Warped view of Orthodox converts  (Read 6071 times) Average Rating: 0
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Tony
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« on: December 06, 2002, 07:33:57 PM »

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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2002, 09:52:04 PM »

[I got this from a Orthodox-Catholic debate board. I don't understand what this person is talking about. I don't know any Orthodox priests that are wooing young Catholics in becoming Orthodox. ]

[The words below are just plain ridiculous.]

Yes they are.  But, ufortunataley all too common in Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic discussion groups.  It seems that there are many within the Papal Catholic structure that can't accept the fact that someone would leave it for the truth, doctrinal stability, and spiritualty of Orthodox Catholicity.  So they try and explain it by making up stories like the one mentioned and the other popular one that states most Fundemental Protestants choose Orthodoxy because it allows them to retain their hatred of the Pope.

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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2002, 02:59:14 AM »

Well, there are some Catholics who claim that the Orthodox Church "target" those catholics who have been allienated by liturgical abuse and innovations in their parishes.

It is clear that the Orthodox priests have never proselitized and don't do so. I think it is totally fair for Orthodox to be an option for so many good christians who have been expelled from their Churches by the constant spirit of liberalism and modernism in the West. If the Catholic Church claims that Orthodox must not receive them, they would be doing exactly what the MP does, and this is not correct.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2002, 10:00:50 AM »

[Well, there are some Catholics who claim that the Orthodox Church "target" those catholics who have been allienated by liturgical abuse and innovations in their parishes.]

Rather than a target its more like a 'beacon' that draws them to a more ancient and truer form of the undivided 'Catholic and Apostolic Church'.  All the ex Papal Catholics in my parish came on their own.  No one put target in front of them.  Most, if not all, had read books and studied up on the church before attending their first Divine Liturgy.  One searched eleven years before accepting the OCC.

How about those who are ex papal Catholics, tellings us why they made the switch.

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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2002, 10:04:57 AM »

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I don't know any Orthodox priests that are wooing young Catholics in becoming Orthodox.

Neither do I. My experience of Eastern Christianity in the US and Britain is that the Western inquirer seeks out a relatively passive Church. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, just that it is, which is understandable considering how small the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches are in these countries.

From the quotation:

Quote
Nor have I complained bitterly at the flagrant wooing of misguided Roman Catholic youth by savvy old Orthodox priests, who cater to their disaffections.

Considering the public scandal now of rapacious gay priests seducing teen boys, the criminal bishops covering up for them and an archdiocese, Boston, that has declared or is about to declare bankruptcy, perhaps this person should realize he is living in a glass house and shouldn't throw stones.

Hmm. As much as I like the historic and magisterial Catholic Church (remember this while reading the harsh description below), a choice between non-pervert priests, under an orthodox bishop in a communion of same, offering a historic orthodox liturgy with solid trinitarian theology and a sober, liturgical Marian and sanctoral piety vs. protestantized churches and services, badly played guitars, charismania and bogus apparition-mania (-+-Ç-¦-+-¦-ü-é-î/prelest', delusion?), theology got from mainline Protestantism (PC) and old gay letches lurking in the sacristy, or being in communion/under de facto control of same (witness byzcath's pathetic censorship/ridicule/silencing of anti-liberal postings - even though two of the three moderators are putatively orthodox; funny how homos get free rein OTOH), seems pretty self-evident to me.

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the other popular one that states most Fundamental Protestants choose Orthodoxy because it allows them to retain their hatred of the Pope

IMO that's at least partly true.
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2002, 11:43:29 AM »

Orthodoc,

Quote
Rather than a target its more like a 'beacon' that draws them to a more ancient and truer form of the undivided 'Catholic and Apostolic Church'.  All the ex Papal Catholics in my parish came on their own.  No one put target in front of them.  Most, if not all, had read books and studied up on the church before attending their first Divine Liturgy.  One searched eleven years before accepting the OCC.

This has been my situation as well (as a former RC).  It is precisely because Roman Catholics (at least the doctrinally concerned ones who are precisely the type which make the switch from RC-ism to Orthodox Christianity) have a sense of "the true Church" that this kind of care is taken in making their decision (where as for a Protestant, the issue is more coming to accept for the first time that there is such a thing as a "true, single Church").

Quote
How about those who are ex papal Catholics, tellings us why they made the switch.

For me, the disillussionment with Roman Catholicism and the lovable qualities of Orthodox Christianity have gone hand in hand.

1) Yes, I had become more than a little annoyed at modern RC liturgical decadence.  In short, if I would not be so flip in receiving an audience with the Queen, how on earth could I fellowship with those who were so casual and pedestrian in their reception of an audience with God?  It had crossed the line to not simple experimentation, but entertainment and satisfaction of man; in short, the service and even worship of man and his interests, and not God.

2) The scandals have not played a big role per se (at least in and of themselves.)  What is more bothersome is the role the heirarchy has in the matter, including the Pope.  In short, visible organizational unity and apparent harmony still matter to Rome more than the unity of the Fathers and the Orthodox Church has always struggeled (by the grace of God) to maintain (the authentic unity founded in the bonds of a single faith).  In addition, due to my experiences as an RC traditionalist, I came to realize how profoundly unprincipled Rome really is - subjegation is ultimatly what matters, not Orthodox unity.

3) I simply came to realize that the claims of the Papacy (and the claim of RC apologists) that try to convince one of the Church's "need" for the Papacy, are false.  While one perhaps could make a good argument for the utility of a Patriarch who presides as "first amongst equals" and has canonical rights perhaps beyond those of his brothers for receiving appeals and arbitrating in inter-Church matters, this is a far different thing than what Rome has grown to want or demand.  It should be quite obvious to any honest person, that the Papacy has not protected the RCC from heterodoxy (even by it's own qualifications), since a great deal of modern Catholicism would have been deemed "heterodox" by Catholicism's immediate ancestors (I can't help but imagining Pius X throwing a fit if he walked in on a typical "New Mass").  IN short, Orthodoxy does not need the snake oil that RC apologists insist is necessary for a "healty Church".

4) On the far more positive (and rewarding) end of the discussion, is what Orthodoxy has which Catholicism utterly lacks, and has lacked even before the recent events of Vatican II (which in a sense only made manifest what was inherently true for centuries).  In a sense, errors have compounded upon errors in RC-ism.  Thus, you have oddities all over the place in old school RC-ism.   Even a great deal of the popular piety in RC-ism (which still survives in more conservative and traditionalist circles) strikes me as supersticious and prone to "trinket-ism" (a scapular for this, a scapular for that, even the big popular "brown scapular" which if worn will keep you from going to hell if you die wearing it).  Orthodoxy on the other hand has maintained the proper way; the liturgy never became purely the realm of the clerics, thus leaving the lay people to come up with corporate/private religious celebrations of their own.  Orthodox Christianity does much to keep the lay people "Orthodox" via liturgical action.

5) Most importantly, Orthodox Christianity is curative, and produces (at least in my expereince) spiritual health, even where devestation once reigned.  In Catholicism (particularly the traditional kind), it's very hard to have a truly positive view of God.  As one Orthodox writer wrote, calling Him "the good God" in the Catholic milieu is almost like charming a curse, hoping that flattery will keep one from destruction.  Honestly, it was only in seeing things through an Orthodox lense, seeing Scripture through that lense, that I could really have the conviction of St.John the Divine, that "God is love".  While He punishes, it is without fail as St.Paul says to the Hebrews - the punishment of a father, Who if He did not punish men, would be showing a total lack of concern for them, as a bad father does towards his illegitimate children.  Suddenly, I could believe the loving, warm image of the prodigal son and his father, who years to see his return and who lovingly embraces him the moment his son is willing to let down the pride and approach him with even just a little humility.  Roman Catholicism is filled on the other hand, particularly in the popular piety, with what amounts to a savage image of a blood thirsty deity, who lacks the very good qualities that he is seemingly expecting from his followers.  There is no forgiveness really, but satisfaction of an offended sense of honour, and this satisfaction is absolutely necessary.  In a way, as other Orthodox writers have noted, this is a pagan view, as it implies a force or power even above God which compels Him to act in certain ways (blasphemy, to be sure.)

The above of course could be elaborated on for pages and pages more.  But I think it briefly reflects my thinking.

Seraphim

P.S. - if only the priests WERE soliciting conversions to Orthodoxy!  Such is not a crime, to be sure.
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2002, 12:09:26 PM »

Well written, Seraphim.

Quote
In addition, due to my experiences as an RC traditionalist, I came to realize how profoundly unprincipled Rome really is - subjegation is ultimatly what matters, not Orthodox unity.

Which may be why people like Hans K++ng aren't excommunicated and the indult-Mass people are expected to be in communion with him.

Quote
It should be quite obvious to any honest person, that the Papacy has not protected the RCC from heterodoxy (even by its own qualifications)

In practice, totally true.

Quote
Even a great deal of the popular piety in RC-ism (which still survives in more conservative and traditionalist circles) strikes me as supersticious and prone to "trinket-ism" (a scapular for this, a scapular for that, even the big popular "brown scapular" which if worn will keep you from going to hell if you die wearing it).

OK, to be fair and balanced, 1) it can degenerate into superstition (I can do whatever I want and my lucky sacramental will save me) but let's not get Protestant - abusus non tollit usum, 2) Orthodoxy is chock-a-block with sacramentals, too - icons, votive candles, belts (the Russian ribbon with Psalm 90 written on it, which soldiers used to wear into battle), holy water that's blessed and drunk, prosphora that's eaten on weekday mornings, holy oil from shrines for the sick - and that's a good thing.

Quote
Orthodoxy on the other hand has maintained the proper way; the liturgy never became purely the realm of the clerics, thus leaving the lay people to come up with corporate/private religious celebrations of their own.  Orthodox Christianity does much to keep the lay people "Orthodox" via liturgical action.

An ideal that Orthodoxy has come closer to than the West historically has (and what the liturgical movement there was aiming for) - even the layman's prayer manuals have many of the same prayers as the monks' offices - but in Russian Piety Nicholas Arseniev describes how centuries ago in Russia people would bring their favorite icon from home into the church and spend the Liturgy praying before it, except at the Great Entrance when everybody's attention would be on the priest at the solea.

There are many levels of involvement in the Church, for those who are prepared to commune and for those who aren't, everything from praying the hours at home and receiving Communion regularly to the person who just lights a candle at his favorite icon, gets his jar of holy water and that's that.

The kind of distortion in the West that produced Calvinism ('Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God') also produced the Jansenism one sometimes sees among well-meaning Catholics today.
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2002, 12:13:35 PM »

Please, Seraphim, when you have time, more of the same.

You are an Orthodox Christian truly infused with the spirit of Orthodoxy, a rare--very rare--gift.

In Christ,

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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2002, 12:33:38 PM »

As a [mostly] italian, life long rather devout Roman Catholic, who is in the process of becoming Orthodox, I think that many factors influenced/are influencing my constant conversion.

I had committed a small crime years ago that mandated I do community service.  Grin I was given the phone number of a priest in the area, whom I had never known existed, and was told he was "a catholic of the eastern rite." A bit perplexed, I called and made an appointment to see him.

Upon arriving, I was immediately in a state of awe, as I saw a priest wearing a riassa, which I had never seen before, as well as a church with a plethora of icons, and a strange feeling of mystery that I had honestly never experienced before.

Anyway, it was over the next few years that I read and re-read practically anything and everything I could on eastern christianity. Meyendorff, Schumemman, Lossky, Hierotheos, and many other authors began to fill my shelf. I saw Orthodox theology and spirituality as a complete, full and beautiful expression of faith, especially in areas where Latin theology seemed vague and unclear.

After I began studying,I became aware of the whole concept of "uniatism", but at the time it didn't really phase me. The reason being, was because I had begun taking a step in an unknown direction. At that time, I wanted to stay close to the confines of what I had grown up knowing, because I wasn't sure where this whole east thing was going to lead me. Of course, through prayer and study, I realized the inheritant problems and flaws of being a 'uniate'. For me, it was a halfway house of sorts. It was a stepping stone on the journey to Orthodoxy.

For those who commented that Orthodox priests are coercing Catholics into converting, I can honestly say that that never happens and is very untrue. Conversion can only come from within yourself, that is, noone can force it upon you. Every Orthodox priest I have come across has been friendly, patient, and very accomodating.


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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2002, 01:09:40 PM »

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How about those who are ex papal Catholics, tellings us why they made the switch.

There were first a number of earlt stimuli that made me realize something was wrong with the current Roman Church.  The fact that RCism 50 years ago was an almost entirely different church was very troubling.  I have lived my entire life seeing only the post VAt-II liturgy and it just is awful - it really is.  The church was being over-run by liberals and I wondered why.  If the Pope was to be such a source of unity why are there 30,000 other forms of protestantism besides RCism?  I'd heard bits and pieces about the East and found them incredibly intersting.  So I decided to check things out (one of the first Orthodox webpages I went to was www.oldworldrus.com) and saw how much unity the Orthodox have without the Pope.  Reading about the liturgy alone was enough to make me want to convert.  So I decided to go to Vespers at the local GOA parish and talk to the priest afterwards.  We set up a meeting that week and the rest just fell into place.  Father has given me a steady diet of reading and his is now guiding me into an Orthodox prayer life.  There is no exact date set for when I'll enter Orthodoxy (via Confession, Chrismation, and Holy Communion) but it should be in the near future.  The book for me that really made everything fall into place is Two Paths and I would recomend it to any Roman Catholic at all concerned about the legitimacy of his church.
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2002, 04:52:40 PM »

    Again I post here the  good article by Father John Garvey of the OCA Albanian Diocese on Converts to Orthodoxy- it has kept me from many temptations of this mentality of bashing the Church i grew up in and against seeing the Orthodox Faith as some sort of "conservative haven" to shut us up against life.



           http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/dioceses/NY/Jacobs-Well/Articles/1996-FALL-Garvey.html



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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2002, 05:04:39 PM »

I think that these reactions of Catholics who think that the Orthodox Church looks for dissaflected catholics appear because of their own lack of ability to reconcile people to their Church. The Bishops, priests and the liberal majority in Catholicism have been very uncharitable with a minority who rejects the spirit of protestantism, and the never ending innovations there. They've caused the "falling away" of their members, they themselves invite them to go out: "the doors are open", "you're a dinasaur" and other phrases have become frequent.

In my case, my origins are Orthodox, but when my familly came here they joined the majority of Roman Catholics, and became catholics de facto, none of them identify themselves as Orthodox (my granmother's father who was french-greek, left his familly very soon). I have returned to the faith of the Orthodox Church for similar reasons, I got seriously dissapointed by what you said, but I don't feel angry or rancor. I think it is good to be healthy in our feelings.
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2002, 05:06:53 PM »

Depends on what you mean by 'conservative haven' - I really don't like your using that as a putdown. Conservatism in religion is not a fantasy world - it is the compass and roadmap for this one and the next.
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2002, 05:17:46 PM »

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I think that these reactions of Catholics who think that the Orthodox Church looks for dissaflected catholics appear because of their own lack of ability to reconcile people to their Church.

I think for a lot of people thier feelings towards what is happening in the Roman Church was their first wake up call that the True Church was somewhere else. In my case the Holy Spirit used me lack of contentment to lead me to Orthodoxy.  I spoke too harshly of old Rome in my previous post and do somewhat regret that.  Since my spiritual Father had me read The Way of a Pilgrim I am starting to see that the errors of old Rome aren't why I want to become Orthodox - it is because Orthodoxy offers what nobody else does -Theosis.  Yes, I will always be a critic of old Rome, but I am not bitter because she laid the foundation that would eventually lead me to New Rome.
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2002, 05:29:26 PM »

Depends on what you mean by 'conservative haven' - I really don't like your using that as a putdown. Conservatism in religion is not a fantasy world - it is the compass and roadmap for this one and the next.


    Well, Serge, I feel the same way with your overuse of the term "liberal" as well.  So this works both ways as I'm sure you know.  Grin

              I would say that Our Lord and the Orthodox Faith is the Compass and Roadmap and not "conservatism" or "liberalism" as the misplaced uses of those terms signify.


                                                       Brian
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« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2002, 06:58:54 PM »

Speaking of "disaffected" Roman Catholics, I have some thoughts.

Often this label is used in a way that is negative; I suppose it's meant to call into question the intentions of those who leave Roman Catholicism for Holy Orthodoxy, or at least imply that somehow their judgement was impaired.

However, after some reflection I must ask; are these disaffected people wrong for being just a little annoyed with Rome, and the system it's established?  Is it wrong to feel betrayed, when you have in fact been betrayed?  Upset, when your trust has been trampeled upon?  No longer trusting, when you have been repeatedly lied to?

While I know resident Roman Catholics (or any RC reading this) will have problems with those assessments, I have a hard time seeing how any Orthodox Christian would find them shocking.  Heterodoxy is not simply some error in dry, academic gnosis - as if to say, "you don't have the right secret knowledge, don't pass go, don't collect $200."  No heterodoxy affects one's path adversly, is based on lies and misunderstandings, and thus has bad spiritual side effects.

There should be no question for an Orthodox Christian, that Rome's errors began (and continue) because of a heterodox mind, a diseased mindset which has wrong ideas regarding the substance of the faith, and the nature of the Church of Christ.  There should also be no question, that there is at least one material lie (even if unwittingly repeated by RC's) involved here; that the RCC is the Church of Christ, or that at best that the Orthodox Church is simply an ignorant lung of this Papal religion.  THAT would be, I think, beyond dispute.

With this said, why do Orthodox (or at least some of them) buy into the scare tactic of being wary of the "disaffected" convert?  Indeed, given everything that's been said here by those who left the RCC, and many similar stories, would it not be amazing if they did not have at least some wariness or disdain for at least the most sickly parts of their former confession?  Indeed, were everything peachy, why would they leave in the first place?

Indeed, this neo-con trick becomes transparant, when one realizes, that as far as the "angry convert" labelists go, there can be no such thing as a "well considered" and sober conversion from RC-ism to Orthodoxy!

Perhaps the sting of heresy is lost in an ecumenical age, an age where the world in general doesn't understand why anyone has ever fought wars, or even bothered to argue with passion over something as 'unimportant' as an (gasp) "idea".  I suppose bread and butter are more important (to such minds) than such 'doctrinaire' notions as "Orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy",  or the logical consequences of such thinking (that there can really be no concord or treaty between the two, despite ecumenistic fantasies).  Of course, the "fanatics" and "bitter former RC's" (who were starteled and shaken into seeking Orthdoxy) are in good company, for setting their priorities differently than the "get along" crowd. (St. Matthew 4:4)

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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2002, 10:12:18 PM »

One thing I've noticed is that no matter what the religion, its members assume that only uneducated people left their faith and the people who converted to their faith did so out of pure intentions because they studied the issues.  It's not possible for every religion to be right about their assumptions.  

I think it's wise to be wary of the "disaffected convert."  This is admittedly judgmental but most of my least favorite on-line folks (across the spectrum and on many different boards) are converts.  Look at the triumphantist RC converts like Dave Anderson and then look at some of the triumphantist Orthodox converts over on the Indiana List.  I see what I call the "angry young man" syndrome in a lot of converts which I don't see in cradles (either RC or Orthodox).  Of course a convert will always be different from a cradle because a convert made a conscious decision to reject the religion of their family, childhood, culture, etc.  

The thing to worry about is that once someone rejects the religion of their family, childhood, etc. it's not as hard to reject their second religion.  

It just seems like some of the most angry triumphantist on-line types are male converts to any religion so I think there's a reason to be wary of converts.  
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2002, 11:21:40 PM »

Jennifer,

There definitely is something to what you're saying.

Minor correction: I think you mean Dave Armstrong, not Anderson.
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« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2002, 01:24:18 PM »

Jennifer,

What about "Angry Old/Young Woman" syndrome?  Bobby and I got "dissed" by a lady at an Antiochian parish one time who when we said we were Byzantine Catholics, hissed at us! She was a convert.

Also I know a young woman who is an Orthodox convert whose family disowned her and is now one of the most judgmental people I know. She stares at people in Church and is generally unpleasant to be around.

I'll admit that probably more men are like that than women, but I don't like the specific label "angry young man" syndrome.

In Christ,

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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2002, 02:24:22 AM »

I think part of the problem with those of us coming from a heterodox background, is that when we discover the true faith, we spend far too much time learning the truth and forget about living it. It probably stems from our Western rationalistic background and it is very hard to shake off. When I consider all that I have learned over the past ten years, it is humbling to think that an illiterate villager up in the mountains of Greece or Russia or <insert favorite orthodox country here> is probably far more orthodox than I.
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2002, 09:14:00 AM »

How right you are!

And by living in the past, converts spoil the present and imperil their future, plus, while they might be masters of church trivia, they suffer spiritually. I wonder what their prayer life entails? And is Orthodoxy just an exotic and passing  fancy for most of them?

And what did St.Paul have to say about putting the past behind us and pressing on to the goal "that is ahead?"

May Jesus be the spark that consumes us.

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« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2002, 10:24:54 AM »

Couldn't agree more , Prodromos. Unfortunately for many, the final judgement won't be a game of Orthodox Jeopardy.

Bobby
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2002, 12:09:25 PM »

Well, I thought, since we are in the convert self flagulation stage, I would add my $0.02.  Tongue

To be fair, I did feel somewhat betrayed by the RCC in her quest for new inovations post-VII.  But, this betrayal soon disappeared once I started investigating the Orthodox Faith.  I dont harbour any ill will towards my former faith but I have to admit at first I did.  I just feel remorse for all those who are dealing with all the new masses which are now in vogue.   Maybe they will get their act together maybe they wont.   I cannot be concerned anymore what the RCC does, for I have found the true Faith.  I dont feel self rightious but I do have a better sense of what is required for my salvation, and this wasnt apparent while practicing my former faith.  I was looking for a more fully and ancient way of expressing my love for God and in Orthodoxy I have found this.  Roll Eyes

JoeS

 
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2002, 12:23:15 PM »

As my priest has said, many Orthodox converts have the appropriate zeal and head knowledge, but lack what the cradles have in
having the spirituality down pat. One can't really be taught a mind-set so much as absorbing it, but he recommends that all converts read
"Journey to Heaven" by St, Tikhon of Zadonsk. If anyone is interested in reading it, I know it is available at Saint John of Kronstadt Preaa as well as probably a number of other places as well.
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« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2002, 05:32:49 PM »

Initially, we (converts) may not have the spirituality as you say, but its a step by step growth process with each day bringing us closer to what Orthodoxy is all about.  With some it takes longer.  When I was Chrismated, I didnt consider myself as Orthodox as I could have been but with time I find myself increasingly more aware of what Orthodoxy has to offer. Smiley

JoeS

As my priest has said, many Orthodox converts have the appropriate zeal and head knowledge, but lack what the cradles have in
having the spirituality down pat. One can't really be taught a mind-set so much as absorbing it, but he recommends that all converts read
"Journey to Heaven" by St, Tikhon of Zadonsk. If anyone is interested in reading it, I know it is available at Saint John of Kronstadt Preaa as well as probably a number of other places as well.
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« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2002, 09:19:47 PM »

But I have seen that many converts are more religiopus and try to be more into the spirit of Orthodoxy than craddle Orthodox, there are many craddle who do not practice their religion and don't go to Church. I think this happens in most Churches and religions.

Maybe it also depends on the country, in USA, most who declare themselves religious do so because they practice. Here for example, most people do not go to Church very often and many do not practice religion (I think the Orthodox and Protestants here are more practican thatn catholics, for example. Only 30% of catholics go to Church here.)
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