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JimCBrooklyn
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« on: April 03, 2011, 10:36:55 AM »

It really is odd, I always start new threads in 2's. I won't start a thread for 2 weeks, and then I get 2.

I'm having some concern about my sponsor-to-be at chrismation. He is a truly nice guy, and has become a close friend to me since I've been in Russia, as he is a PHD student from the states in the same field as I am, that is, Russian Studies/Literature and also theology, and he is a workout junkie, like me, so we spend a lot of time together. He converted to Orthodoxy about 9 years ago, and even entered Seminary at one point. His faith remains a major part of his life; as I said, one of his areas of study is theology, he lives with a very religious family of a former notable priest, that has 4 sons who are priests (one of whom is guiding me through catechesis) and he regularly attends multiple services in a week.

That said, his whole outlook on the church, as time goes by, is revealed to me more and more, and for whatever reason, it seems that at one point, maybe 3-5ish years ago, he went from being quite zealous and theologically fairly conservative to something else. For instance, he very openly and unapologetically practices premarital sex with his girlfriend (though he doesn't commune as a result, unless he confesses, which is only before major feasts) and doesn't really see it as wrong. He makes no attempt at any sort of fast during Lent, saying that it would be way too hard whilst in Russia, where it's so difficult to get quality food in the first place, let alone whilst fasting (I think it's quite the opposite, as while I agree that nutrition is not very good over here, there is at least a cultural understanding of the Orthodox fast, and a lot of stores/restaurants that accomodate that, not to mention that he lives with a family that strictly fasts). Though he attends many services, he rarely attends a full service, citing the Slavonic language barrier as a good reason to not have to stick around. He takes shots at Orthodox monasticism at just about every chance, calling it unrealistic and distorted, and questions the idea of a "true church", yet he still asserts that he loves the church, and finds more beauty and truth in the liturgy than in anything else. Above all, he insistently cautions me not to get too zealous, and will often try to quell my practice in strange ways, i.e., if I merely express that I'm even having a tough day, even if I don't mention the fast (which I never do), he instantly suggests I stop fasting, that it's probably getting me moody...

I don't know what to make of this. On one hand, it was awfully miraculous that I, an inquirer struggling as a foreigner in Russia to find guidance in the church, stumbled upon another American, who was a convert and had the same interests I did, who oh-by-the-way lived with a family of wonderful priests. Like I said, he cares a lot about his faith, and he is a friend, and he is the only observant Orthodox person outside of my wife and her family that I am personally very well acquainted with.

On the other hand, I don't know what to make of some of his approaches and positions. Am I just being super-judgmental here? I try not to judge him or others at all, but as he is directly involved in my spiritual life, it's tough...

This is also, like most of the tough questions I come here with, something I'd be very uncomfortable discussing with my priest, as he is well-acquainted with this man, and I know for a fact is not aware of many of his practices and positions.
I await the wisdom of others...

In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 01:02:28 PM »

That's a tough one. Let me get the ball rolling by asking you a question... is it safe to assume that, regardless of what you do, you'll eventually be moving, and thereafter not be in close/in-person contact with your sponsor?
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2011, 01:06:46 PM »

That's a tough one. Let me get the ball rolling by asking you a question... is it safe to assume that, regardless of what you do, you'll eventually be moving, and thereafter not be in close/in-person contact with your sponsor?
We will, going forward, be moving back to NY, and thereafter spending about 60-75% of our time there, and the rest of the time in here in Petersburg. He lives in LA, and will for the foreseeable future, that is, once he returns to the US in June after a year abroad.
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2011, 01:50:04 PM »

I don't want to be offenisve, but: try finding someone who actually lives the faith, and not just does it lip service. If he sees no big deal in pre-marital sex (!!!)...If he sees no big deal in not even attempting some sort of fast during Lent...while living with a family of priests (!!!) (is the woman with whom he is having said pre-marital sex a priest's daughter?) ...and if you yourself are wondering if these are in fact big deals and you say that he is in fact an observant Orthodox...This is BAD. BAD on both sides, yours and his. No, he is not an observant Orthodox, not by far.

This guy is probably himself burned out and needs a boost of faith. As they say: a blind man cannot (should not) lead another blind man. So be careful.

And yeah, getting over-zelous is not good. But not being zelous at all is not good either. You're not being super-judgmental, you're not being judgmental enough. In the sense that people do mistakes and we need to be able to see them and appreciate them as wrong.

------

Not to mention that he shouldn't receive Holy Communion at all for the simple reason that he is not planning on stopping the pre-marital sex. Remember, for a good confession one needs to have true contrition, and true contrition means that you will do your best to avoid that particular sin in the future.
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2011, 02:01:26 PM »

Jim,

Did you or did your Priest choose your sponsor?
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2011, 02:22:44 PM »

I don't want to be offenisve, but: try finding someone who actually lives the faith, and not just does it lip service. If he sees no big deal in pre-marital sex (!!!)...If he sees no big deal in not even attempting some sort of fast during Lent...while living with a family of priests (!!!) (is the woman with whom he is having said pre-marital sex a priest's daughter?) ...and if you yourself are wondering if these are in fact big deals and you say that he is in fact an observant Orthodox...This is BAD. BAD on both sides, yours and his. No, he is not an observant Orthodox, not by far.

This guy is probably himself burned out and needs a boost of faith. As they say: a blind man cannot (should not) lead another blind man. So be careful.

And yeah, getting over-zelous is not good. But not being zelous at all is not good either. You're not being super-judgmental, you're not being judgmental enough. In the sense that people do mistakes and we need to be able to see them and appreciate them as wrong.

------

Not to mention that he shouldn't receive Holy Communion at all for the simple reason that he is not planning on stopping the pre-marital sex. Remember, for a good confession one needs to have true contrition, and true contrition means that you will do your best to avoid that particular sin in the future.
No, no, no, she's not a priest's daughter. She's a lapsed catholic back in the states.

And no, I'm not wondering at all about those moral issues. I have no questions about the immorality of premarital sex. I think, to be fair to him, he doesn't think that premarital sex is not wrong, per se. He knows enough about Orthodoxy (and trust me, intellectually at least, he knows plenty) to know that such a position would be untenable. It's more like, he just wants to do it, so he's gonna do it, and he doesn't think it's the end of the world, and they "love eachother and are loving about it", so God won't care too much. In my eyes, this is a totally juvenile and unbalanced approach, but I'm saying this from the standpoint of having had the luxury/curse of being an atheistic, drugged-out teen/young adult who had his share of premarital sex. I know it hurt my soul, A LOT, but for him I think it's a new phenomenon, and he's having a bit of a backlash against authority...

I think you're right on point: he is burned out. Trouble is, I don't know who else to go to...

orthonorm: it was just sort of, initially, an obvious thing. I didn't know about some of his more radical leanings, (nor does my priest). I think we all just assumed he would be...
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2011, 02:30:53 PM »

sounds like he's an important friend that you should keep.
not sure about the sponsorship side of it, though.
could you maintain the friendship if you asked for another sponsor?
i would look for someone else if i was you.
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2011, 02:45:19 PM »

At first I was leaning towards sticking with your friend, though if you will be returning and spending a good chunk of time in Russia (and attending, I assume, the same parish)... well that complicates things IMO. Is he the kind of guy that is going to have issues if you said you'd like to change? I think most people wouldn't be happy about that...  I don't know, tough one...
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 06:50:45 PM »

To the OP, Do you really have to be baptized in Russia?  Would your world come to an end if you were baptized anywhere else but Russia?

No one is perfect; Looking at my own personal situation, I don't know if I ever could (or want to) be an Orthodox Sponsor for anyone.  I won't do it for my own relatives.  I would even suggest that you find an older woman (older couple) in the US to be your sponsor.   Undecided
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 07:14:57 PM »

Matthew 10:24 - “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master."

I can't speak for anyone else, but my sponsor is a HUGE source of wisdom and growth for me.  She truly believes what she walks and isn't afraid to kick me in the tail sometimes if I need it.  She does not compromise her own values - she is not double minded.  I want to have a single heart and a single mind before my God.  I know that I will never get there unless those who mentor me ARE THERE.  I can only learn from those who truly practice their faith.

I hope for you, the same.
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2011, 02:28:17 AM »

To the OP, Do you really have to be baptized in Russia?  Would your world come to an end if you were baptized anywhere else but Russia?

No one is perfect; Looking at my own personal situation, I don't know if I ever could (or want to) be an Orthodox Sponsor for anyone.  I won't do it for my own relatives.  I would even suggest that you find an older woman (older couple) in the US to be your sponsor.   Undecided
No, my world wouldn't come to end, I don't have any sort of objective national preference about it, though:
A) Mean an awful lot to my wife, and to her family here, which represents every single Orthodox person that we know, anywhere.
B) I've been meeting with my priest here constantly, and will maintain a relationship with him, both here and in the states, going forward. He is just a superb priest, and I'd rather have him chrismate me (I'm baptized RC, and thereby won't be baptized again) than anyone else.
C) I've been approaching this entire Lenten season, under his direction, as preparation for my chrismation...
D) The issue of not knowing any other good sponsor candidates here would be compounded tenfold in the states...

To SolEX: is it appropriate for a man to have a woman as his sponsor? I thought that was not OK. Maybe you thought that both my wife and I were becoming Orthodox, and that we would share a sponsor? She is already Orthodox, a cradle.
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 09:59:28 AM »

IMHO---Work with your priest to get the right sponsor / godfather. Like your own parents, your sponsor should be part of your life now and until you die. He should be someone who will build you in the faith not  bring about questions of your faith by his behavior. Remember that  after your parents your sponsor/godfather becomes your guide through life and its many situations. He also becomes the example of how to live an Orthodox life , as well as, someone who should be praying for you daily .

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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 12:18:15 PM »

Please seek your priest's guidance, not necessarily to expose your friend's sin but to protect you as you go forward. Orthodoxy requires hard choices at times. There may be some short term pain for you both, but he needs a a wake up call too, it seems. Our life of faith is a marathon of daily taking up our cross, denying our "false" self, and and allowing Christ to reveal/refine our true self as we follow Him. These thoughts are a paraphrase from a homily by St. Nikolai Velomirovic. May I pray for you both?

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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2011, 12:22:11 PM »

IMHO---Work with your priest to get the right sponsor / godfather. Like your own parents, your sponsor should be part of your life now and until you die. He should be someone who will build you in the faith not  bring about questions of your faith by his behavior. Remember that  after your parents your sponsor/godfather becomes your guide through life and its many situations. He also becomes the example of how to live an Orthodox life , as well as, someone who should be praying for you daily .

Thomas

What he said. Share your concerns with your priest. This is a really important deal - your sponsor/godparent will become part of your family.

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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2011, 01:40:48 PM »

Ugh. I totally understand everyone's thoughts and sentiments, and they are probably correct, but I just can't imagine saying, "hey, Father, that friend of mine who lives with your family sleeps with his girlfriend, and has questionable theology..."

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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2011, 02:11:46 PM »

Ugh. I totally understand everyone's thoughts and sentiments, and they are probably correct, but I just can't imagine saying, "hey, Father, that friend of mine who lives with your family sleeps with his girlfriend, and has questionable theology..."



If he lives in his house, I'd think your priest did get at least some hints about your friend's bad habits...Assuming that they talk to each other...so you might not come so much out of the blue with him if you talk to him about this. Maybe the priest even has some better suggestions about a good sponsor...
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2011, 02:13:12 PM »

Ugh. I totally understand everyone's thoughts and sentiments, and they are probably correct, but I just can't imagine saying, "hey, Father, that friend of mine who lives with your family sleeps with his girlfriend, and has questionable theology..."



Well, okay - how about, "Father, upon further reflection, and as I've gotten to know him better, I am uncomfortable with some of his personal choices and theological opinons."
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2011, 02:17:08 PM »

...he doesn't think that premarital sex is not wrong, per se. He knows enough about Orthodoxy (and trust me, intellectually at least, he knows plenty) to know that such a position would be untenable. It's more like, he just wants to do it, so he's gonna do it, and he doesn't think it's the end of the world, and they "love eachother and are loving about it", so God won't care too much...

You know, I'm praying about just such a situation with my god-daughter. She has left the Church because, in their first pre-marital counseling session, the priest told her it was a big "no-no" for she and her fiance to live together and sleep together. She actually told me, "I don't think it's wrong!"
It really opened my eyes to how pervasive this attitude is.
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2011, 02:51:53 PM »

To the OP, Do you really have to be baptized in Russia?  Would your world come to an end if you were baptized anywhere else but Russia?

No one is perfect; Looking at my own personal situation, I don't know if I ever could (or want to) be an Orthodox Sponsor for anyone.  I won't do it for my own relatives.  I would even suggest that you find an older woman (older couple) in the US to be your sponsor.   Undecided
No, my world wouldn't come to end, I don't have any sort of objective national preference about it, though:
A) Mean an awful lot to my wife, and to her family here, which represents every single Orthodox person that we know, anywhere.

Are you becoming Orthodox because you believe that the Orthodox Church is the true faith or do you want to "fit in" with your wife and her family in Russia?  Sounds to me that everyone is rushing to have you chrismated and yet, you are the deciding factor in whether or not you want to become an Orthodox Christian.

B) I've been meeting with my priest here constantly, and will maintain a relationship with him, both here and in the states, going forward. He is just a superb priest, and I'd rather have him chrismate me (I'm baptized RC, and thereby won't be baptized again) than anyone else.

Does your Priest speak English or are you fluent enough in Russian to interact with him?


C) I've been approaching this entire Lenten season, under his direction, as preparation for my chrismation...

People wait years to become Orthodox Christians.  Sounds like your chrismation is on the fast track.  Maybe the time has come to take a step back....


D) The issue of not knowing any other good sponsor candidates here would be compounded tenfold in the states...

Finding a sponsor is a process that takes time and a mystery in and of itself.  If you're concerned about the lifestyle of your proposed sponsor and you're not comfortable sharing that with your Priest, perhaps you need to find a sponsor on your own.


To SolEX: is it appropriate for a man to have a woman as his sponsor? I thought that was not OK. Maybe you thought that both my wife and I were becoming Orthodox, and that we would share a sponsor? She is already Orthodox, a cradle.

Since you are being chrismated, a woman can serve as your sponsor.  My personal opinion is to identify an older married couple and have them be your sponsor.  How about the parents of your proposed sponsor?   Huh
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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2011, 05:45:14 PM »

To the OP, Do you really have to be baptized in Russia?  Would your world come to an end if you were baptized anywhere else but Russia?

No one is perfect; Looking at my own personal situation, I don't know if I ever could (or want to) be an Orthodox Sponsor for anyone.  I won't do it for my own relatives.  I would even suggest that you find an older woman (older couple) in the US to be your sponsor.   Undecided
No, my world wouldn't come to end, I don't have any sort of objective national preference about it, though:
A) Mean an awful lot to my wife, and to her family here, which represents every single Orthodox person that we know, anywhere.

Are you becoming Orthodox because you believe that the Orthodox Church is the true faith or do you want to "fit in" with your wife and her family in Russia?  Sounds to me that everyone is rushing to have you chrismated and yet, you are the deciding factor in whether or not you want to become an Orthodox Christian.

B) I've been meeting with my priest here constantly, and will maintain a relationship with him, both here and in the states, going forward. He is just a superb priest, and I'd rather have him chrismate me (I'm baptized RC, and thereby won't be baptized again) than anyone else.

Does your Priest speak English or are you fluent enough in Russian to interact with him?


C) I've been approaching this entire Lenten season, under his direction, as preparation for my chrismation...

People wait years to become Orthodox Christians.  Sounds like your chrismation is on the fast track.  Maybe the time has come to take a step back....


D) The issue of not knowing any other good sponsor candidates here would be compounded tenfold in the states...

Finding a sponsor is a process that takes time and a mystery in and of itself.  If you're concerned about the lifestyle of your proposed sponsor and you're not comfortable sharing that with your Priest, perhaps you need to find a sponsor on your own.


To SolEX: is it appropriate for a man to have a woman as his sponsor? I thought that was not OK. Maybe you thought that both my wife and I were becoming Orthodox, and that we would share a sponsor? She is already Orthodox, a cradle.

Since you are being chrismated, a woman can serve as your sponsor.  My personal opinion is to identify an older married couple and have them be your sponsor.  How about the parents of your proposed sponsor?   Huh
1) It has nothing at all to do with fitting in with my wife or here family. We were married in the RC church, and for 3 years of our marriage, not to mention 5 years of dating prior, I was an active RC.
When my wife and I, a year ago, decided to investigate one another's faiths, one of my major assumptions about her faith was that it was merely a cultural impulse on her end. Without sounding haughty, I am the father, and head of the household, and I tend to set our precedents. No one has ever accused me of bending to her will. I could stand to do more of this. I assumed that this mutual search would be more of a formality, finally getting her to drop the Russian-ness and realize that Rome was where it was at. Instead, she quietly watched me discover the truth of Orthodoxy. I don't think she has ever said an evangelistic word to me. She would not want this to be a reason.
Her family is incredibly non-presumptuous, and constantly defers to mine in inter-family affairs to an extent that I don't believe they should, based on their feelings of social inferiority, something which makes me uncomfortable. I mention them, and my desire to be chrismated here, only because if I am chrismated here, the joy and celebration can be shared with other Orthodox that are near and dear to us, as opposed to in the states, where we know no one in the church. Additionally, it means something to me to have the chance to be chrismated here in the same church, by the same priest, who chrismated my 2 children earlier this year.
I love Russia, but I am an American. Believe me, the Russian-ness of the church was initially a hurdle I had to get over to accept Orthodoxy, not a selling point, but your concern on this point is a good one. Forgive me if I am very defensive about this; it has been a common attack of my RC friends who don't wish me to leave the Roman church.

2) He does not speak English, but My Russian is fluent enough that we converse very comfortably, even about complex matters of faith.

3) As for the fast track, I was concerned about this at first, too, and inquired about it, as my experience reading on this site told me that most people take a LONG time to become Orthodox, at least in the states. My priest feels that I am prepared, and generally, things like this are quicker here, from what I've seen. I don't feel that I am in a position to question my priest, who is a very respected priest here, from a very holy family. If he directed me otherwise, I would follow suit. I gave him no pressure to go fast, nor did anyone else.

4) His parents are not Orthodox. He is an American convert from a nominal Protestant background.

5) All in all, I just don't know that his views are a good reason to postpone my own chrismation? I am not in any way influenced by his negative views, nor is my faith shaken.

One possibility came to mind, something my wife suggested. I will be meeting a few times with a priest here, starting this week, who is a good friend of my priest.He is a fluent English-speaker, because though my Russian is probably good enough to confess in Russian (I did it once in the RC church, and a number of times in French), I expressed a desire to make my first confession in my native tongue, so we are meeting to prepare me. Perhaps I should mention this to Him?
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2011, 07:23:38 PM »

Item 5 of your latest post Jim, is of interest to me. Let it be a celebration with the Orthodox you know, especially with your wife's family. Informing the english speaking priest would be preferable to postponing or returning to the states, IMO. Your current sponsor/friend must know on some level that his commitment is lagging.

Who sponsored your children, could they step in as a sponsor for you too?
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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2011, 11:00:18 PM »

A small disclaimer - I knew a RC who struck up a long-distance Internet relationship with a divorced Russian woman (in Russia) who was (according to him) a non-practicing Orthodox Christian.  When the couple got together in Russia, they attended RC services in Moscow.

1) It has nothing at all to do with fitting in with my wife or here family. We were married in the RC church, and for 3 years of our marriage, not to mention 5 years of dating prior, I was an active RC.
When my wife and I, a year ago, decided to investigate one another's faiths, one of my major assumptions about her faith was that it was merely a cultural impulse on her end. Without sounding haughty, I am the father, and head of the household, and I tend to set our precedents. No one has ever accused me of bending to her will.

I apologize if it came across that way.

I could stand to do more of this. I assumed that this mutual search would be more of a formality, finally getting her to drop the Russian-ness and realize that Rome was where it was at. Instead, she quietly watched me discover the truth of Orthodoxy.

Fwiw, she rediscovered her own Orthodox praxis by your example of finding the Orthodox faith.  Both of you are contributing to your children's development of the Orthodox faith.  As you have seen on other threads, the Orthodox faith is nearly taken for granted in most Orthodox Christian nations (e.g. Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, et al).

I don't think she has ever said an evangelistic word to me. She would not want this to be a reason.

Her family is incredibly non-presumptuous, and constantly defers to mine in inter-family affairs to an extent that I don't believe they should, based on their feelings of social inferiority, something which makes me uncomfortable.

Social inferiority = xenophobic complex - they're afraid of you and others who have come to Russia after the end of the Cold War.  With the passage of 2 decades, such xenophobic tendencies have lessened.

I mention them, and my desire to be chrismated here, only because if I am chrismated here, the joy and celebration can be shared with other Orthodox that are near and dear to us, as opposed to in the states, where we know no one in the church. Additionally, it means something to me to have the chance to be chrismated here in the same church, by the same priest, who chrismated my 2 children earlier this year.

When you return to the US as an Orthodox family, even for a short term, there will be Orthodox Churches that will welcome you with open arms.  I know my Church would and that would be a universal statement among the members of this forum.   Smiley

I love Russia, but I am an American. Believe me, the Russian-ness of the church was initially a hurdle I had to get over to accept Orthodoxy, not a selling point, but your concern on this point is a good one. Forgive me if I am very defensive about this; it has been a common attack of my RC friends who don't wish me to leave the Roman church.

There is no Russian in Christ.   Wink

2) He does not speak English, but My Russian is fluent enough that we converse very comfortably, even about complex matters of faith.

3) As for the fast track, I was concerned about this at first, too, and inquired about it, as my experience reading on this site told me that most people take a LONG time to become Orthodox, at least in the states. My priest feels that I am prepared, and generally, things like this are quicker here, from what I've seen. I don't feel that I am in a position to question my priest,

You should ask questions because the praxis of Orthodoxy is different in Russia than it is in USA.  The point is to look for consistent answers to questions of faith and not for inconsistencies.  If your Priest said that it was OK to have 2 mistresses, for example, then I would find another Priest.  Your proposed sponsor's lifestyle is an inconsistency (so is mine) and when you mentioned that he was a convert, that raised the red flag for me.  You might as well look for Russian sponsor and be prepared to deal with the hurt feelings of the convert who practices pre-marital sex even though he can confess it away (which is true).  In any worst case scenario, a Priest can also serve as a sponsor.

who is a very respected priest here, from a very holy family. If he directed me otherwise, I would follow suit. I gave him no pressure to go fast, nor did anyone else.

Thank you for the clarification.   Smiley

4) His parents are not Orthodox. He is an American convert from a nominal Protestant background.

See previous.  Fwiw, he might be burning out from being a convert.  Find another sponsor....

5) All in all, I just don't know that his views are a good reason to postpone my own chrismation? I am not in any way influenced by his negative views, nor is my faith shaken.

It is good that your faith is not shaken; however, if there is tension between the two of you - it is better to find another sponsor.

One possibility came to mind, something my wife suggested. I will be meeting a few times with a priest here, starting this week, who is a good friend of my priest.He is a fluent English-speaker, because though my Russian is probably good enough to confess in Russian (I did it once in the RC church, and a number of times in French), I expressed a desire to make my first confession in my native tongue, so we are meeting to prepare me. Perhaps I should mention this to Him?

Express your concerns and ask questions and see if Priest #2's answers are consistent with Priest #1's answers.
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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2011, 04:32:27 AM »

Item 5 of your latest post Jim, is of interest to me. Let it be a celebration with the Orthodox you know, especially with your wife's family. Informing the english speaking priest would be preferable to postponing or returning to the states, IMO. Your current sponsor/friend must know on some level that his commitment is lagging.

Who sponsored your children, could they step in as a sponsor for you too?

A very, very good, very pious woman who is a close family friend of my wife's. The only issue was that I barely knew her, and I thought that women were sort of out for us guys, but perhaps that isn't so...
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2011, 04:44:27 AM »

A small disclaimer - I knew a RC who struck up a long-distance Internet relationship with a divorced Russian woman (in Russia) who was (according to him) a non-practicing Orthodox Christian.  When the couple got together in Russia, they attended RC services in Moscow.

1) It has nothing at all to do with fitting in with my wife or here family. We were married in the RC church, and for 3 years of our marriage, not to mention 5 years of dating prior, I was an active RC.
When my wife and I, a year ago, decided to investigate one another's faiths, one of my major assumptions about her faith was that it was merely a cultural impulse on her end. Without sounding haughty, I am the father, and head of the household, and I tend to set our precedents. No one has ever accused me of bending to her will.

I apologize if it came across that way.

I could stand to do more of this. I assumed that this mutual search would be more of a formality, finally getting her to drop the Russian-ness and realize that Rome was where it was at. Instead, she quietly watched me discover the truth of Orthodoxy.

Fwiw, she rediscovered her own Orthodox praxis by your example of finding the Orthodox faith.  Both of you are contributing to your children's development of the Orthodox faith.  As you have seen on other threads, the Orthodox faith is nearly taken for granted in most Orthodox Christian nations (e.g. Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, et al).

I don't think she has ever said an evangelistic word to me. She would not want this to be a reason.

Her family is incredibly non-presumptuous, and constantly defers to mine in inter-family affairs to an extent that I don't believe they should, based on their feelings of social inferiority, something which makes me uncomfortable.

Social inferiority = xenophobic complex - they're afraid of you and others who have come to Russia after the end of the Cold War.  With the passage of 2 decades, such xenophobic tendencies have lessened.

I mention them, and my desire to be chrismated here, only because if I am chrismated here, the joy and celebration can be shared with other Orthodox that are near and dear to us, as opposed to in the states, where we know no one in the church. Additionally, it means something to me to have the chance to be chrismated here in the same church, by the same priest, who chrismated my 2 children earlier this year.

When you return to the US as an Orthodox family, even for a short term, there will be Orthodox Churches that will welcome you with open arms.  I know my Church would and that would be a universal statement among the members of this forum.   Smiley

I love Russia, but I am an American. Believe me, the Russian-ness of the church was initially a hurdle I had to get over to accept Orthodoxy, not a selling point, but your concern on this point is a good one. Forgive me if I am very defensive about this; it has been a common attack of my RC friends who don't wish me to leave the Roman church.

There is no Russian in Christ.   Wink

2) He does not speak English, but My Russian is fluent enough that we converse very comfortably, even about complex matters of faith.

3) As for the fast track, I was concerned about this at first, too, and inquired about it, as my experience reading on this site told me that most people take a LONG time to become Orthodox, at least in the states. My priest feels that I am prepared, and generally, things like this are quicker here, from what I've seen. I don't feel that I am in a position to question my priest,

You should ask questions because the praxis of Orthodoxy is different in Russia than it is in USA.  The point is to look for consistent answers to questions of faith and not for inconsistencies.  If your Priest said that it was OK to have 2 mistresses, for example, then I would find another Priest.  Your proposed sponsor's lifestyle is an inconsistency (so is mine) and when you mentioned that he was a convert, that raised the red flag for me.  You might as well look for Russian sponsor and be prepared to deal with the hurt feelings of the convert who practices pre-marital sex even though he can confess it away (which is true).  In any worst case scenario, a Priest can also serve as a sponsor.

who is a very respected priest here, from a very holy family. If he directed me otherwise, I would follow suit. I gave him no pressure to go fast, nor did anyone else.

Thank you for the clarification.   Smiley

4) His parents are not Orthodox. He is an American convert from a nominal Protestant background.

See previous.  Fwiw, he might be burning out from being a convert.  Find another sponsor....

5) All in all, I just don't know that his views are a good reason to postpone my own chrismation? I am not in any way influenced by his negative views, nor is my faith shaken.

It is good that your faith is not shaken; however, if there is tension between the two of you - it is better to find another sponsor.

One possibility came to mind, something my wife suggested. I will be meeting a few times with a priest here, starting this week, who is a good friend of my priest.He is a fluent English-speaker, because though my Russian is probably good enough to confess in Russian (I did it once in the RC church, and a number of times in French), I expressed a desire to make my first confession in my native tongue, so we are meeting to prepare me. Perhaps I should mention this to Him?

Express your concerns and ask questions and see if Priest #2's answers are consistent with Priest #1's answers.

I wish I knew how to break up quotes the way you do! Huh

The issues between my family and hers are complex; I come from an essentially aristocratic Northeastern and Southern American family with the business to boot, they come from Soviet squalor, and it's always a sticky path to walk. I often feel that they tolerate things they otherwise wouldn't, based on this, and I wish they wouldn't. BUt that's another topic completely. I suppose i was just illustrating that they would never dare, right or wrong, to pressure me into anything.

I look forward to getting to know an Orthodox parish back in the US well. Your words about this are very encouraging. There are about 3-4 parishes roughly equidistant from where we live in the US (now in upstate NY), OCA, ROCOR, GOA and Ukrainian. That's something we'll have to tackle then!

I assure you that this priest does not share any of the sponsor's views, btw, nor have I seen any strange views from him at all. In fact, the first couple of priests I spoke with here, starting about a year ago, told me that being RC was basically the same, and that I may as well not bother looking into Orthodoxy; I had to persevere a bit. This clued me in to the issue of semi-common inconsistencies amongst some Russian priests (after all, it's still a rebuilding church), and my priest, IMO, is a strong example of one who is not misguided. Can a priest serve as a sponsor, like you said?

I think you're right on on convert burnout syndrome. It sounds to me like he went super-hard in the beginning, then had a bad experience with a priest, met a girl, and got cynical whilst living a semi-tough lifestyle as a student in Russia. I'm praying a lot for him, and I ask all of you to as well!

Thank you very much for the input, seriously. I have some good ideas to chew on here. I'm curious to see what they both say, and I may try to find a gentle way to discuss this stuff with my proposed sponsor, maybe even in the Banya!

In Christ,
Jim



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« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2011, 09:59:45 PM »

I wish I knew how to break up quotes the way you do! Huh

One learns quickly from the more prolific posters on this board.   Grin  Basically it's:

...

Requires a lot of cutting and pasting with the mouse.  Some people use text editors where it is easier to edit the code that the forum uses.  It's a skill that can be acquired with practice.   Wink

The issues between my family and hers are complex; I come from an essentially aristocratic Northeastern and Southern American family with the business to boot, they come from Soviet squalor, and it's always a sticky path to walk. I often feel that they tolerate things they otherwise wouldn't, based on this, and I wish they wouldn't. BUt that's another topic completely. I suppose i was just illustrating that they would never dare, right or wrong, to pressure me into anything.

I look forward to getting to know an Orthodox parish back in the US well. Your words about this are very encouraging. There are about 3-4 parishes roughly equidistant from where we live in the US (now in upstate NY), OCA, ROCOR, GOA and Ukrainian. That's something we'll have to tackle then!

I'm an optimist; the only time that I didn't feel welcome in an Orthodox Church was when I was having a very bad day which rubbed people the wrong way.  Otherwise, I never had any negative interaction with an Orthodox Church.

I assure you that this priest does not share any of the sponsor's views, btw, nor have I seen any strange views from him at all. In fact, the first couple of priests I spoke with here, starting about a year ago, told me that being RC was basically the same, and that I may as well not bother looking into Orthodoxy; I had to persevere a bit. This clued me in to the issue of semi-common inconsistencies amongst some Russian priests (after all, it's still a rebuilding church), and my priest, IMO, is a strong example of one who is not misguided. Can a priest serve as a sponsor, like you said?

Yes.  My Priest has 2 Godchildren.  At least you were able to identify and sort out inconsistencies from Priests in what you said is a rebuilding Church.  I don't know why some Priests would persuade you to remain RC unless they didn't want to bother catechizing you.

I think you're right on on convert burnout syndrome. It sounds to me like he went super-hard in the beginning, then had a bad experience with a priest, met a girl, and got cynical whilst living a semi-tough lifestyle as a student in Russia. I'm praying a lot for him, and I ask all of you to as well!

He's in my prayers.  Even as cradle Orthodox, I go weeks without attending Church; I'm not proud of that because I can do better.   Sad

Thank you very much for the input, seriously. I have some good ideas to chew on here. I'm curious to see what they both say, and I may try to find a gentle way to discuss this stuff with my proposed sponsor, maybe even in the Banya!

In Christ,
Jim

I wish my words help you with your situation.

I wish you the best in your cathecumenate because the day of your Chrismation and your reception into the Orthodox Church will be a huge day for you and your family.   Smiley  You've seen firsthand the consequences of convert burnout; At least remember the things you need to do to avoid making similar mistakes; recover from your own mistakes or prevent reaching a level of convert burnout.

In Christ,
SolEX01
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« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2011, 03:46:28 PM »

i have been orthodox 2 years, i never heard of 'convert burnout'. for me, the more i love God, the happier i get. people keep telling me i look calm  Smiley my friend has been orthodox 3 years, she looks great!
so i think it maybe it's not that common?
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2011, 04:10:20 PM »

i have been orthodox 2 years, i never heard of 'convert burnout'. for me, the more i love God, the happier i get. people keep telling me i look calm  Smiley my friend has been orthodox 3 years, she looks great!
so i think it maybe it's not that common?

Convert Burnout doesn't occur in every convert to Orthodox Christianity; however, the zealousness of some converts tends to go too far with the result of apostasy.  There's been a book written on the subject which I'm sure has been discussed on this forum:

Quote
Converts to the Orthodox Church are sometimes stunned by the ethnic ghetto they seem to have landed in. Cradle Orthodox are no less amazed by these zealous sometimes apparently nutty converts. And priests seem to often not have a clue as to how to deal with the mixed blessing of newcomers. How on earth can we all understand each other? More importantly what can we learn from each other?

I've added the tag, burnout, to the bottom of this thread with the hope that it pointed to other threads on the subject (or others will mark similar threads with the burnout tag).   Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2011, 07:00:16 AM »

Well, this certainly didn't develop in a positive way.  Embarrassed

In short, the man who was going to be my sponsor and I ended up having a major argument while at the gym, of all places, about a number of things, and it ended badly. I don't imagine, at this point, that there is any way he will be my sponsor, though I do believe we will patch up our friendship. In the midst of our discussions, mostly post-argument facebook messages, the religious issues really came to light, and he even had the maturity to concede that his current position, with regard to traditional Orthodoxy, made him a poor sponsor candidate, and that this was an "immense failure" on his end.

I am meeting with my priest today.
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« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2011, 02:37:50 PM »

Lord have Mercy.

Could the dispute between you and your former sponsor have caused your Priest to change his mind and receive you by reciting the Nicene Creed?   Huh
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« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2011, 02:41:46 PM »

No. We discussed this today, and it wasn't of much consequence to him, either way. He understands where I'm coming from, and believes that I made the correct decision. He will serve, in effect as my sponsor. The first time I was told about my reception, it was also described in this way, and that was prior to a dispute. I highly doubt he knew of the dispute before I shared it with him, either, as my former sponsor lives with his family (mother, younger siblings), not with him.

All of this confusion is so...Russian.  Huh
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« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2011, 02:50:41 PM »

No. We discussed this today, and it wasn't of much consequence to him, either way. He understands where I'm coming from, and believes that I made the correct decision. He will serve, in effect as my sponsor.

"He" = Your Priest?

The first time I was told about my reception, it was also described in this way, and that was prior to a dispute. I highly doubt he knew of the dispute before I shared it with him, either, as my former sponsor lives with his family (mother, younger siblings), not with him.

All of this confusion is so...Russian.  Huh

As you jump over your own proverbial Onion Domes while balalaika music is played in the background....   Wink
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