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Author Topic: Catholics discovering Orthodoxy  (Read 24484 times) Average Rating: 0
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spartacus
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« on: May 18, 2004, 12:29:43 PM »

May God Bless all who read these words...

This is my first post here. This last Pascha, my wife, three children and I were chrismated into the Orthodox Church in America at ST. Joseph's in Wheaton, IL! What Joy.

My wife and I were both cradle Catholics. Although my wife's faith was very strong as a Catholic, she does not focus too much on the theological aspects of her faith. I on the other hand was considered a rebelious Catholic in Catholic grade schools because I read the Bible without supervision. For me this created some doubts and when I was to be confirmed as a Catholic as a teenager I just could not bring myself to do it....My wife and I were still married in the Catholic Church and tended to be rather devout -- For Catholics in the US anyway. Although I always had issue with some of the Roman DOgma, traditions and practices.

Two years ago a priest in our Parish was accused of sexually abusing two teeneaged girls (This week he pled Guilty and will be getting 8 years). My wife just could no longer bring herself to go that parish anymore. The local diocese would not allow us to register at neighboring Parishes either (trying to stem the exodus).

Eventually, we stopped attending Mass all together and this was accompanied by an emptiness in our hearts.

I was not aware of OCA and had the mistaken impression that to be Orthodox one also would need to be able to indentify with a particular ethnicity here in the US. By the Grace of God and the powerful tool of Google I discovered the OCA! I wrote the website and was shocked to receive a reply in less than an hour inviting us to attend Liturgy in English not 15 minutes from our home. The national Communications Director for OCA happens to be the Rector priest at St. Josephs and happened to be the one replying to my e-mail inviting me to his parish. A quick phone call prior to our first Liturgy set everything up.

We had no idea what to expect.....Our family of five piled into our minivan that Sunday Morning not knowing what to expect...to say we were collectively nervous walking in the front door would be an understatement. What a moving experience that First Liturgy was for us. We were greeted at the door by another priest who happened to be former Catholic Deacon. We had seats reserved up front for us and happened to be -- we discovered later -- surrounded by many other former Catholics.

The congregational singing was absolutely, astoundigly beautiful. I was awestruck witnessing the parishioners receiveing Holy Communion. At Fellowship afterwards we learned about 25% of the Parishioners are former Roman Catholics -- most of them former devout Catholics -- a former Catholic nun, deacon, eucharistic minister, chorul directors...

The Orthodox Liturgy was actually more "Catholic" than any Catholic Mass I have ever attended...many times more reverant without being stiff...

Further exploration revealed that Theologically -- my personal beliefs were actually Orthodox my whole adult life. Where I had problems as a Catholic accepting some things...I found Orthodoxy saw those things as I did in regards to Purgatory, Original sin...and many more.

After our First Divine Liturgy we made it clearly known to the children that my wife and I would make final decsiions about converting...but we wanted to know what their thoughts and feelings were. Overall it was positive (they liked Sunday School asopposed to CCD class) Our oldest one said she felt closer to God at Orthodox Liturgy and everyone agreed.

My point in sharing all this is to find out how common it is in other parts of the US and around the World to have Roman Catholics convert these days. There is a high percentage in our very healthy parish at St. Joseph's...and we have more Catholic visitors and guests all the time...this last Sunday two Catholic Seminarians were at Liturgy. There is now a massive scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church in the US. Legal costs and settlements could actually bankrupt it in the not-too-distant future. This is I think is revealing a funadamental error in Roman Catholic tradition -- that of having a supposedly celibate priesthood where the Church is run entirely by men who lack the benefit of fully experiencing love, family and the responsibility of parenthood as God intended.

I know my Parish is very healthy and growing at Light speed. 16 years ago there were only 12 Parishioners worshipping in private homes. At Pascha this year we must have had well over 700 people and probably about 200-300 attending every week...and some of them driving very great distances to do so. Not all the growth is from former Catholics. St Joseph's ministers to immingrants by offering an ENglish class for them Saturday Mornings, There are converts from other denominations and faiths. Cradle Orthodox are registering into the Parish all the time.

I welcome your feedback on this matter and look forward to reading responses and learning how it is in other areas regarding Catholics converting and the health of individual parishes.
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2004, 12:56:58 PM »

spartacus,
Many Years!
(I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes from reading your post.)

The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox parish I normally attend is comprised of about 10% converts from the Roman Catholic Church. So, fear not, your experience is not unique in that regard.

Welcome to the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, indeed.

Demetri
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2004, 01:08:01 PM »

Welcome Spartacus to OCNet,

May you & your family find enlightenment and comfort.

Although my particular journey is proceeding as a long and winding road, I walk it humbly and with patience.

james
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2004, 01:09:24 PM »

Many years to you Demetri...

I am curious...given the apparent ethnic identity of your Parish...what do you do to make non-ethnics feel welcome or let them know that ethnicity is not required.

It is this apsect of Orthodoxy in America that prevented my family and me from discovering it sooner. Frankly we thought we had to be and/or speak Armenian, Russian or Greek.

What language is your Liturgy in?
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2004, 01:12:19 PM »

Thank you for the welcome James,

Forgive me for being new and asking stupid questions...but where exactly are you in your journey? Are you Orthodox? Are you a Roman Catholic?
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2004, 01:19:05 PM »

Welcome, spartacus!  Thanks for sharing your journey with us; I look forward to reading your posts.  Smiley

There is at least one formerly Roman Catholic family in the OCA parish I attend, too.  (Actually, I think there are more.)
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2004, 01:25:54 PM »

Spartacus,

Welcome to the forum! It was great to read your story. Although the majority of Orthodox Christians in America attend parishes with an "ethnic" prefix attached to "Orthodox Church", a good number of these parishes do use a good amount of Enlgish, or English exclusively. For example, my parish is of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. However, our services are almost exclusively English. Another example is the Antiochian Archdiocese. Though this jurisdiction has its roots in Antioch, it is hailed by some as being the most active in evangelizing to Americans- through English services and other means. Sometimes the "Russian","Greek" "Antiochian", etc. in the jurisdiction or church's name is just an indicator of the jurisdiction's history or roots, or what tradition this particular church or jurisdiction tends to hold services in. Sometimes though, this "ethnic" title really is an indication that you are going to hear services entirely in Greek or Russian, and that the parish mostly ministers to ethnically Greek, Russian, etc. people. It really depends on the parish!

Anyway, happy to see you here and in the Orthodox Church!

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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2004, 01:37:12 PM »

Spartacus,

Your question is not stupid, I am currently a older RC who began exploring further then the Western Church 2 years ago, after experiencing some painful events in my life.

I have had numerous discussions with Eastern Catholic and Orthodox priests and are following their valued advice.

 My ethic roots are Polish & Italian, with roots deep in the RCC, both groups of grandparents were from the old countries.

At times it is difficult, but nothing comes easy.

Look forward to your posts.

james
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2004, 01:39:45 PM »

Many years to you Demetri...

I am curious...given the apparent ethnic identity of your Parish...what do you do to make non-ethnics feel welcome or let them know that ethnicity is not required.

It is this apsect of Orthodoxy in America that prevented my family and me from discovering it sooner. Frankly we thought we had to be and/or speak Armenian, Russian or Greek.

What language is your Liturgy in?

Well, spartacus, in this area of Pennsylvania "ethnic" is rather the norm ("non-ethnics" are a decided minority) and so this isn't a real issue in the ACROD parish I attend. The Old World Carpatho-Rus area itself spans so many countries itself that ethnicity takes on a different meaning- we've Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, Lemkos, Russians, generic "Americans", and a token Greek(me). All services are 100% English (excepting Panakidas -memorial services- if the family requests Slavonic.) Congregational signing helps a great bit as well. A newcomer or visitor to the parish had best be prepared to be greeted by 30 or 40 people after church with the priest and his wife among them. A returning visitor will find the same welcome, again, and again.
True, other jurisdictions can be more clanish, but that is slowly ending.
You've found a good home in the OCA.

Demetri
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2004, 01:42:52 PM »

Welcome Spartacus...  
Very good story, I highly appreciate it... even though I do prefer Divine Liturgy in Slavonic.  ;-)
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2004, 01:49:49 PM »

Ok now you got me confused...It's my understanding that OCA is the heir of the Russian Orthodox Church that first came to the continent in ALsaka a little more than 200 years ago...WHat exactly is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia?
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2004, 01:54:25 PM »

Spartacus,

Christ is Risen!

Welcome to the forum.   I too, am a convert from the RCC.  I too was captivated by the beauty of the Liturgy.  I felt then and there that this was the proper way to worship Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Many Many years!!!

JoeS
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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2004, 02:00:36 PM »

I know of which you write James.....

From my perspective, The OCA today is closer to the ROman Catholic Church of my youth than anything The RCC in America is today. I am only 37 and have seen so many changes...changes with little or no explanation...One week it's sinful to eat before Holy Communion...the next week kids are eating crackers in the pews.

I am convinced that most Roman Catholics if they were to be raised from the dead today -- would feel more at home in an Orthodox Liturgy than they would at any Modern Roman Mass. But that is just my perspective.


From my perspective I think it is the Roman Church that has changed....I just found the home where I was always intended to be.

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spartacus
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« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2004, 02:03:12 PM »

Many Years to you JoeS....

Yes I know what you mean...I think my family undertook one the fastest conversions our Parish had ever seen....It just seemed like we were coming home.
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2004, 02:06:34 PM »

Ok now you got me confused...It's my understand that OCA is the current incarnation of the Russian Orthodox Church that first came to the continenet in ALsak a little more than 200 years ago...WHat exactly is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia?

Spartacus,
It's a confusing topic. After the Russian Revolution a group of Russian bishops found themselves outside the borders of Russia. St. Tikhon, forseeing this possibility, issued a Ukaze(official statement) saying that if bishops found themselves unable to communicate with the Russian hierarchy in Russia, they would be allowed to set up a temporary church administration which would act to unify and maintain the faithful displaced by the revolution. This group became known as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. By St. Tikhon's Ukaze, they would be allowed to exist independently until the time that normal relations could take place between the Church in Russia, and those bishops and faithful outside Russia. This group was first headed by Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky.  The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia(ROCOR) still exists today, scattered throughout the world. The Church's headquarters are presently in New York. Now, since communication is possible between ROCOR and the Church in Russia, dialogue is taking place to heal the wounds caused by the Russian Revolution. The problem is, it's not that simple. During the Soviet period, Metropolitan Sergius(head of the church in Russia) declared that the "Joys and sorrows of the Soviet state are the joys and sorrows of the Church".  This, along with other statements and actions which alligned the Church with the Soviet state, caused the ROCOR to break relations with the Church in Russia, considering it to be enslaved and a tool of the Soviet state. Many in Russia also broke off relations with the official Church headed by Metropolitan Sergius, creating a new kind of Russian catacombs. Having formerly been under the control of the Soviet state, relations between ROCOR and the Church in Russia were not good for many years. Now, however, things are being sorted out.

I would see the "ROCOR in Russia thread", and the "ROCOR and the Russian Church" thread here at OC.net for more info.

Also, the History of ROCOR from St. John Maximovitch:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/resistance/roca_history.aspx


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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2004, 02:06:46 PM »

Is there an over/under yet for how long it will take RB to respond, telling spartacus to go back to the RCC? Grin

Congrats spartacus! and Many Years!
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« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2004, 02:10:07 PM »

Greetings Spartacus and welcome to OC.net!

We have an interesting mix in this forum spanning multiple jurisdictions, and have a diversity of opinions here.  You will also find a number of people here who share similar backgrounds and experiences as you have.
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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2004, 02:10:29 PM »

Spartacus,
It's a confusing topic. After the Russian Revolution a group of Russian bishops found themselves outside the borders of Russia. St. Tikhon, forseeing this possibility, issued a Ukaze(official statement) saying that if bishops found themselves unable to communicate with the Russian hierarchy in Russia, they would be allowed to set up a temporary church administration which would act to unify and maintain the faithful displaced by the revolution. This group became known as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. By St. Tikhon's Ukaze, they would be allowed to exist independently until the time that normal relations could take place between the Church in Russia, and those bishops and faithful outside Russia. This group was first headed by Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky.  The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia(ROCOR) still exists today, scattered throughout the world. The Church's headquarters are presently in New York. Now, since communication is possible between ROCOR and the Church in Russia, dialogue is taking place to heal the wounds caused by the Russian Revolution. The problem is, it's not that simple. During the Soviet period, Metropolitan Sergius(head of the church in Russia) declared that the "Joys and sorrows of the Soviet state are the joys and sorrows of the Church".  This, along with other statements and actions which alligned the Church with the Soviet state, caused the ROCOR to break relations with the Church in Russia, considering it to be enslaved and a tool of the Soviet state. Many in Russia also broke off relations with the official Church headed by Metropolitan Sergius, creating a new kind of Russian catacombs. Having formerly been under the control of the Soviet state, relations between ROCOR and the Church in Russia were not good for many years. Now, however, things are being sorted out.

I would see the "ROCOR in Russia thread", and the "ROCOR and the Russian Church" thread here at OC.net for more info.

Also, the History of ROCOR from St. John Maximovitch:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/resistance/roca_history.aspx


So why is ROCOR not part of OCA?
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« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2004, 02:12:59 PM »

Is there an over/under yet for how long it will take RB to respond, telling spartacus to go back to the RCC? Grin

Congrats spartacus! and Many Years!

I use the name Spartacus very intentionally and am known by this handle on other boards....IS RB that guy who thinks he should receive Holy Communion wherever the Spirit moves him? Can't wait to hear from him.....
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2004, 02:13:27 PM »

So why is ROCOR not part of OCA?
Politics.
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« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2004, 02:13:40 PM »

Well, like I said, I'd take a look at the ROCOR and the Russian Church thread for more on that. In addition to the facts noted in this link, it should also be noted that ROCOR is not just a Church in America, but spans the entire globe. Thus, uniting under the Orthodox Church in America would not make sense.

See here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php?board=7;action=display;threadid=3457
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« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2004, 02:17:14 PM »

Spartacus,

What I have discovered over the last few years is just how much I didnt know about Faith.  Its like a whole new world of learning our there for the grabbing.  After 3 years as an Orthodox Catholic Im still reading as much as I can get my hands on.

Did you experience Lent, Holy Week and/or Pascha?  If you did then you know where Im coming from.

In Christ,

JoeS    Wink

















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« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2004, 02:28:30 PM »

spartacus,

Many years, and welcome to the Faith!  Fr. John Matusiak came to our parish in Fort Worth, TX during Lent to talk about a building plan; sounds like you definitely second his glowing report of St. Joseph's!  Our parish is around 60/40 convert/cradle (Ukranian/Russian) -- though maybe my numbers are off -- and we're really blessed with good relations all around.

Quote
Ok now you got me confused...It's my understanding that OCA is the heir of the Russian Orthodox Church that first came to the continent in ALsaka a little more than 200 years ago...WHat exactly is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia?

There was a really good explanation of this, I think, from Tikhon29605 in another thread.  Here it is:

Quote
Re:ROCOR and Russian Orthodox Church
-½ Reply #4 on: Sun, May 16, 2004, 04:17:35 PM -+  

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The ROCOR and the OCA are BOTH spiritual children of the Moscow Patriarchate.  The Bolshevik Revolution and resulting Communist persecution of the Orthodox Church in Russia after 1917 fragmented Russian Orthodoxy and that still affects us to this day.  What is today the OCA was in 1917 the North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.  After the Communist Revolution in Russia, Patriarch Tikhon (who had been Bishop of the North American diocese and had a very close connection with the Orthodox in America) told the North American Diocese to "believe NOTHING from Moscow until the Church in Russia is free."  Then the Communists murdered Patriarch Tikhon and installed a puppet bishop in his place who demanded that the Orthodox in America take an oath of allegience to the atheistic Soviet gov't!  The North American diocese snorted at such a notion, and at the Cleveland Sobor declared itself as "temporarily self-governing" until the matter could be settled.
    Our dear ROCOR brethren have a different origin.  They were mostly Russians from Russia who fled to the West when the Communists began killing off all the Orthodox bishops and priests. They included Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky, the Bishop of Kiev.  After fleeing to Constantinople, the ROCOR people eventually found refuge in Serbia, where they re-constituted themselves with a Holy Synod of Bishops at Karlovsky. From there, ROCOR moved to Germany for a while, and then finally to Jordanville, New York, where Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary is located.

Hope that answers some questions, and again, a very warm and hearty welcome!  -íCristo ha resucitado!  Christ is risen!
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« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2004, 02:36:03 PM »

I too, am a convert from the RCC.  I too was captivated by the beauty of the Liturgy.  I felt then and there that this was the proper way to worship Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Yeah...Vatican II has done more to drive people to the Orthodox Church than pretty much anything else.  Now the East pretty much has the only solidly apostolic environment out there...WR Orthodox parishes are coming into their own, though....
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« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2004, 03:32:44 PM »

Spartacus,

A old member of the forum and I discussed the OCA a few times, it was one of the first sites I visited beside the GOA when I started exploring.

Don't pen me in......yet, like I said on another thread, I don't wear blinders nor judge one's path. There are many righteous brethern out there, they are in flux, like me.

I am glad that you & family found the path to Orthodoxy.

james
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« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2004, 04:48:53 PM »

Yeah, ROCOR was/is made up of the people who made it outta Russia during or after the Russian Revolution and their decendants.  Most of the ones in America now didn't make it out of Europe right away, and there are still ROCOR in Europe... and Australia, and South America, etc etc.  The OCA was... well, pretty much what Bogo said.
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« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2004, 04:49:03 PM »

spartacus,

Many years, and welcome to the Faith!  Fr. John Matusiak came to our parish in Fort Worth, TX during Lent to talk about a building plan; sounds like you definitely second his glowing report of St. Joseph's!  

Many Years to you Pedro,

Yes I was truly blessed and fortunate to have Father John Matusiak answer my request for guidance. He is a remarkable man -- and an excellent priest.

The First Liturgy we attended was the First Litury of Lent...My wife and I were immediately struck by the fact that Father John began the liturgy by asking the congregation to forgive him for his failings.....Not exactly something one sees in the RCC!

When I inquired about the process of conversion and how long it would take....he responded by telling me 6-12 months maybe longer...maybe less...My second time asking him this...he was less time specific...and the 3rd time when I asked him less than two weeks before Pascha..."well we could just chrismate you all on Pascha" was his response...You attend regularly. Your family seems confortable with us and mixes with others...and on top of all you get it (i.e. believe and try to follow Orthodox teachings).."

Then he asked me these questions....

Q. If you wanted to talk to a priest who would you call?
A. You

Q. When someone asks where you go to Church what would you say?
A. ST. Joseph's OCA

Q. SO do you want us to chrismate you on Pascha?
A. Let me talk to my wife, we'll have an answer after SUnday Liturgy

At Liturgy that Sunday Fr. John announced to the congregation that our family of five would be Chrismated on PAscha along with three others who also happened to be former Catholics...My wife looked at me with questioning eyes that seemed to say "I thought we were going to give him our answer after Liturgy?"

"Well I guess he just put us in the 'Yes' column," I said without waiting for her to ask.

Father John...perceived what was in our hearts I think more clearly than we did...although he would never claim such a thing.

Oh Father John would not appreciate me tooting his horn so loudly and so I will end this now.
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« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2004, 04:51:20 PM »

Yeah, ROCOR was/is made up of the people who made it outta Russia during or after the Russian Revolution and their decendants.  Most of the ones in America now didn't make it out of Europe right away, and there are still ROCOR in Europe... and Australia, and South America, etc etc.  The OCA was... well, pretty much what Bogo said.  

Well although the Chrism still is not dry on me yet....This ROCOR sure does not seem "orthodox" in their administartive approach.....

Is this based on nationalist pride or patriotism for the motherland?
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« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2004, 04:58:03 PM »

Yeah...Vatican II has done more to drive people to the Orthodox Church than pretty much anything else.  Now the East pretty much has the only solidly apostolic environment out there...WR Orthodox parishes are coming into their own, though....

I think VaticanII was just the beginning....I know in my former parish there are a great number of RCs who feel wounded not only by the pedophile priest that was in our midst...but the day after Pascha (Easter) the Parish Music Director was arrested and charged with the murder of his homosexual lover some years ago in another state....followed some days later by the news that a priest was being charged in Ohio in the ritual slaying of a RC nun in a hospital many years ago...

Again...I think the requirement of celibacy among the RC priests -- a requirement based on earthly concerns more than spiritual...has served to fill the RC priesthood with many priests who are deficient human beings. This I think will be the cause of the eventual total collapse of the RCC in the US....Just my opinion here.
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« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2004, 05:03:01 PM »

Well although the Chrism still is not dry on me yet....This ROCOR sure does not seem "orthodox" in their administartive approach.....

Is this based on nationalist pride or patriotism for the motherland?

What, exatly, is unOrthodox about their approach?
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« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2004, 05:04:31 PM »

Spartacus,

What I have discovered over the last few years is just how much I didnt know about Faith.  Its like a whole new world of learning our there for the grabbing.  After 3 years as an Orthodox Catholic Im still reading as much as I can get my hands on.

Did you experience Lent, Holy Week and/or Pascha?  If you did then you know where Im coming from.

In Christ,

JoeS    Wink

Yes there is nothing that compares to the enthusiasm of a true convert. We did the entire Lenten Journey....My wife balled here eyes at her first Orthodox Confession...it was quite a powerfully moving experience for our children to see their mother like that.

Pascha...Wow!!!

"Christ Is Risen!!!" was shouted in ten different languages!!!
....and answered in more.  







Fixed quotes.   John

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« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2004, 05:07:15 PM »

Well although the Chrism still is not dry on me yet....This ROCOR sure does not seem "orthodox" in their administartive approach.....

Is this based on nationalist pride or patriotism for the motherland?
In defense of ROCOR (of which I am not a member),  they're purpose was to preserve Russian Orthodoxy in exile while the Church in their motherland was under extreme persecution.  This is now no longer the case, and the original reason for the seperation has passed.  They have been faithful in preserving the Russian traditions of Orthodoxy, but the time has now come for a reconcilliation with their mother Church.
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« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2004, 05:26:17 PM »

What, exatly, is unOrthodox about their approach?

Well if I were to move to Greece, I would go to the Greek Orthodox Chruch...In Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church....

I can understand the desire to maintain a "Church-in-exile" if you will....given the circumstances of Russia...it just seems odd to choose to be separate from OCA which was grafted from the Church whose roots go to St. Petersburg...and was severed by the communists.

Again this is the perspective of a new convert...I guess my question is...do Parishioners in ROCOR in the US consider themselves Orthodox Christians who happen to be of Russian descent...Or Russians in-exile who happen to be Orthodox Christians?
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« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2004, 05:39:36 PM »

Well if I were to move to Greece, I would go to the Greek Orthodox Chruch...In Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church....

I can understand the desire to maintain a "Church-in-exile" if you will....given the circumstances of Russia...it just seems odd to choose to be separate from OCA which was grafted from the Church whose roots go to St. Petersburg...and was severed by the communists.

Again this is the perspective of a new convert...I guess my question is...do Parishioners in ROCOR in the US consider themselves Orthodox Christians who happen to be of Russian descent...Or Russians in-exile who happen to be Orthodox Christians?

The Russian Church Abroad is concerned with the same things as the other Orthodox jurisdictions- proclaiming the gospel, ministering to their flock, etc. However, another one of the goals was to maintain the Russian Orthodox tradition so that it would not be lost due to the communist revolution. You will find people in ROCOR who, to a greater or lesser degree, are very concerned with being Russian. In the OCA this mentality is also present...people become obsessed sometimes with creating an "American" Orthodox Church, and lose site of making America Orthodox. The national banners fly just as high in this respect.  In the US, about 1/3 of ROCOR is comprised of converts. So this should tell you something about what ROCOR holds in the highest regard.

You said: "Well if I were to move to Greece, I would go to the Greek Orthodox Chruch...In Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church...."

This makes sense, of course...but history has dealt us a different hand. The OCA is relatively small in America, compared to the combined number of parishes of other jurisdictions in the US. ROCOR is not the only group "out of the loop" in this respect, as there are many "ethnic" jurisdictions here. It does make sense to have one local Church in each country, and many are working towards that. However, many argue that autocephaly in America is pre-mature as we haven't developed the characteristics of an autocephalous Church. Many believe we still need the spiritual support of one of the Patriarchates from the various "mother countries".

The "Church in exile" mentality was not built upon identifying with an ethnic make-up, per se. This mentality was and is about preserving traditional Orthodoxy. As was mentioned, the question of submission to a Soviet dominated Church has played a huge role in this question of preservation. In addition, the question of ecumenism, liturgical innovation, and the calendar have also been devisive issues which many Churches are wrestling with here in America. Some feel the innovations of certain jurisdictions here in America are incompatible with traditional Orthodoxy. That being their mentality, they do not wish to merge with a hierarchy which will compromise their traditional perspective.
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« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2004, 05:43:13 PM »

I'd keep in mind also that it was the OCA who tore apart the unity of the Russian Churches here in America. On two occasions the OCA submitted to ROCOR, and on two occasions the OCA broke away, preferring to govern themselves without canonical basis for doing so. Then, after over 20 years of self-appointed self rule, the OCA gained autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate- a move which is still considered uncanonical by a good number of the Autocephalous Churches.
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« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2004, 05:46:35 PM »

Well if I were to move to Greece, I would go to the Greek Orthodox Chruch...In Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church....

I can understand the desire to maintain a "Church-in-exile" if you will....given the circumstances of Russia...it just seems odd to choose to be separate from OCA which was grafted from the Church whose roots go to St. Petersburg...and was severed by the communists.

Again this is the perspective of a new convert...I guess my question is...do Parishioners in ROCOR in the US consider themselves Orthodox Christians who happen to be of Russian descent...Or Russians in-exile who happen to be Orthodox Christians?

Both.  The immigrants/Russions/whatever consider themselves to some degree of both and the converts just consider themselves Orthodox (many, sad to say think they're "more Orthodox than thou", but I digress and don't won't to necessarily point fingers).  ROCOR is considered more conservative on average.
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« Reply #36 on: May 18, 2004, 06:01:44 PM »

I'd keep in mind also that it was the OCA who tore apart the unity of the Russian Churches here in America. On two occasions the OCA submitted to ROCOR, and on two occasions the OCA broke away, preferring to govern themselves without canonical basis for doing so. Then, after over 20 years of self-appointed self rule, the OCA gained autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate- a move which is still considered uncanonical by a good number of the Autocephalous Churches.

Well this is all news to me and from my perspective seems like politics....

I believe with every fiber of my being that Orthodoxy is the fullest and truest expression of Christian faith....Speaking from my perspective though...I think this trait of needing to identify with a motherland is a hinderence in spreading the word. If the Church is ever to grow to its fullest extent here in North America...it can not be perceived as being Russian, Armenian, Greek, or anything else...America is all these things and more...Shouldn't the Orthodox Church reflect that? How much of this division internationally is based on a perception that the US and Canada are not long-enough established nations to be worthy of being independant I wonder.

Yes it is wonderful that we have such a mix of ethnic flavors in North America...but like every fine meal...the flavors should be experienced when one begins to smell and taste -- they should not hit you in the face before you even enter the dining establishment.
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« Reply #37 on: May 18, 2004, 06:27:01 PM »

Exactly, spartacus.  This is the ugly stepchild/monkey-on-the-back of Orthodoxy in America (perhaps the world?).  But keep in mind, it happened mainly due to historical geo-political circumstances.  You have to have patience - something converts generally are challenged with.  That's why converts and cradles balance each other well.  If you were born 20 or so years ago, you probably would've been much less likely to become Orthodox.  A lot has happened to Orthodoxy for the better (on the American front) in the last 20 years.  The perception is not that America and Canada are not established enough as nations, but the maturity of the Orthodox presence in those two countries - at least from the viewpoint of the EP (and possibly a few others) regarding the OCA and a couple of other Churches.

Also, tread carefully with that extension regarding Ethiopia.  Even though much progress has been made with many Oriental Orthodox Churches, they aren't in Communion with the Eastern Orthodox yet even though many would say that 1500 yr old discrepancies are being resolved.
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« Reply #38 on: May 18, 2004, 06:33:08 PM »

Well this is all news to me and from my perspective seems like politics....


Some of it is politics, some of it is Church discipline, and some of it is what each group perceives to be taking a stand for the truth and integrity of Orthodoxy. As for your other points, I pretty much agree. There should be one self-governing Church in America, ministering to all peoples. It's just a question of when, and most importantly how. That's the tricky part.
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« Reply #39 on: May 18, 2004, 06:39:48 PM »

Elisha...very good points.  We should not rush ourselves into a premature situation that will cause more division than unity.  We are working towards unification now, and it may take 20-50 years, but it will happen.  The key is to be faithful and pray for God's will to be done, no matter what that is.
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« Reply #40 on: May 18, 2004, 06:54:57 PM »

Also, tread carefully with that extension regarding Ethiopia.  Even though much progress has been made with many Oriental Orthodox Churches, they aren't in Communion with the Eastern Orthodox yet even though many would say that 1500 yr old discrepancies are being resolved.
I said I would go to the Church...I said nothing about Holy Communion...However as a new convert from Catholicism...I think some people here have been tending to focus more on what divides rather than what unites ...Welcome to the OC.Net huh?

I am glad I came here after I converted....I probably would have been turned off if I came before I discovered Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #41 on: May 18, 2004, 07:33:27 PM »

Spartacus, I agree that you have an excellent priest.  Whenever I have e-mailed a question to him on the OCA site (he is the one that handles the Q & A section), he has always e-mailed me back with an answer very promptly.  He answers your questions rather or not he decides to post them on his site.  Please let him know that I think his most recent answer on confession (the topic was why we need to confess before a priest) was a masterpiece.
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« Reply #42 on: May 18, 2004, 07:34:34 PM »

By the way, I think his answer on that topic could be a good one to share with Christians who ask why we should have to confess before a priest instead of just confessing it to God.
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« Reply #43 on: May 18, 2004, 08:06:53 PM »

Forgive me, but as a textbook (however closet) pessimist, I'd like to ask the Orthodox here a question.

Do you feel just a wee bit of the beauty of your Divine Liturgy is lost when it is totally English (don't get me wrong, I understand English does not mean loss of incense, degradation of icons or your holy sanctuaries, etc.)?

It seems that things take on somewhat of a different life when things become, well, American (however one wishes to describe it).

Forgive me if this seems somewhat sophmoric, but that's how I somewhat see it.

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« Reply #44 on: May 18, 2004, 08:22:43 PM »

Forgive me, but as a textbook (however closet) pessimist, I'd like to ask the Orthodox here a question.

Do you feel just a wee bit of the beauty of your Divine Liturgy is lost when it is totally English (don't get me wrong, I understand English does not mean loss of incense, degradation of icons or your holy sanctuaries, etc.)?

It seems that things take on somewhat of a different life when things become, well, American (however one wishes to describe it).

Forgive me if this seems somewhat sophmoric, but that's how I somewhat see it.
No.  If anything, I find the liturgy to actually be enhanced when I can clearly understand everything that is said and done.  Frankly, I find it distracting, and find myself not quite as attentive and prayerful when I can't understand what is being said, when attending liturgies in foreign languages.
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