An official teaching? That's actually rather hard to come by in Orthodoxy on a lot of matters. And a forum like this is exactly where all the possibilities come out. That's why you so often see us saying "Ask your priest". Orthodoxy is a living faith meant to be lived out in the context of the Church community. Variations will happen. Sort of like everyone on your street obviously lives on the same street. The houses may be more or less similar, but how households are run will show a great deal of variation in spite of a whole list of similarities. In the same way what constitutes behaving as a good Orthodox Christian may vary slightly even from one parish to another.
However, would it be wrong to join in praying the Lord's Prayer? I've tended to join out of respect and because the Lord's Prayer is the same in all Christian denominations.
You won't really get one answer on this one. There are plenty of Orthodox who think that praying in the services of the heterodox is unacceptable and also plenty who think it is fine as long as the contents of the prayers are not heterodox.
is there an official teaching on this? it's just that one poster here said that it's a sin to go to a Catholic church to pray there, - yet others are saying that some Orthodox believe it's acceptable...
what if an Orthodox person just walks into a Catholic cathedral, not during a service, but when it's empty, and just says a few of their own prayers there? is that a sin?
thanks for the reply, I guess I just don't really understanding,how an can something be a sin if there's no official teaching on it and the guidance of priests varies?
I don't see a problem with saying a prayer if I just happen to be in a RC or Protestant church as a visitor for a family event, or as a tourist in any one of many architecturally or historically significant buildings, just as it's not wrong to say a prayer in a park, while driving on a highway, or sitting it the dentist's chair! However, to say to oneself: "I want to go to pray somewhere. I think I'll choose that nice RC church on the other side of town." That's an entirely different situation. I would wonder why that choice is being made when other more usual (for an Orthodox Christian) options are available.
in the case of my family, the Orthodox church is in another city, and my dad's company makes him work on sundays. Sometimes when we've visited other cities as tourists, we visited cathedrals that were Catholic. Other times, I went to Mass and couldn't get there on my own and needed a ride, and invited my parents too because otherwise they would just be in the parking lot. does the EOC consider this a sin? my parents had nothing against being inside a Catholic church so they prayed there as they would pray anywhere, but they don't see it the same as on the street, etc, cause it is a church with holy images etc. According to the Orthodox church are we all sinning?
Dear Little Flower,
I believe you are having difficulty understanding the Orthodox point of view because your understanding of the concept of "sin" is very typically Catholic (or, being fairer to our Catholic friends, stereotypically Catholic).
You are conceiving of a sin as an offence against God's moral code. It's kinda like, murder is a sin because it breaches section 67 of God's Crimes Act
aka the Bible. There is no room for "grey" in this kind of assessment: whether the sin has been committed or not is a matter of fact. Orthodoxy doesn't conceive of sin in that way.
In the Orthodox conception, sin is whatever is harmful to your spiritual state. God has revealed certain "laws" which we are bound to follow, but those laws themselves are given to us for our spiritual benefit. Not only that, sometimes the laws are not "thou shalts" or "thou shalt nots", but are ambiguous spiritual principles which must be applied to varied and shifting facts. So, what is spiritually harmful for me might not be spiritually harmful to you, depending on the circumstances. This is why we Orthodox always fall back on "ask your priest".
Can I give you an example? Say, for instance, person A is very well-grounded in Orthodox Christianity, having a sound understanding of the scriptures and a deeply patristic-influenced mindset. For person A to attend a Catholic church and sit through the Mass, privately praying, is probably not spiritually harmful to him/her. But, for person B, who is not particularly well-grounded in Orthodox Christianity and could very easily fall into the trap of thinking Orthodoxy is little more than Catholicism-without-a-Pope or Catholicism-with-funnier-hats, attending the Catholic mass (especially often) could be of great spritual detriment.
Try not to think about your actions in terms of black and white categories. Try to assess your actions like this: "is what I am doing spiritually harmful in some way?". Remember, things that appear innocuous can actually be causing you to take a wrong spiritual path. That is why spiritual fathers and mothers are so important in Orthodoxy -- they serve to put us back on the right path when we go wandering.
I apologise if this post is a bit of a Orthodoxy 101, but I think it will help you to get your mind around the Orthodox understanding of sin.