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Ascent
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« on: May 18, 2011, 03:58:28 AM »

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I would be very appreciative if I could get answers from Orthodox Priests or Patriarchs too, but answers from everyone are welcome.

I'm Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy. I feel I might be called by God to Orthodoxy because it is TRUE orthodoxy and the Church is unchanged since Christ instituted His Church, the Rites are ancient and have no risk of corruption, the Liturgy seems to be beautiful, there is high reverence for God in the Church, etc..... basically, Christ is truly present in the Orthodox Church.

However, I have a few important questions:

Is it a sin for an Orthodox Christian to believe in the Immaculate Conception (IC) since the IC is not accepted dogma of the Orthodox Church?

Would a Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy be precluded from entering the Faith if he/she still believes in the Immaculate Conception?

Does the Orthodox Church have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament like the Catholic Church?

Would it be discouraged for a convert to Orthodoxy (or any cradle Orthodox) to pray the Rosary or any of the other prayers from the Catholic Church, given he/she would still devoutly and faithfully pray the Orthodox prayers too?

Would wearing the Brown Scapular be allowed, discouraged or looked upon with indifference?

Thank you and God Bless all of you. May the Holy Theotokos pray for each of us and may She give us Her Motherly protection and guidance!


« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 04:01:57 AM by Ascent » Logged
Maria
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2011, 04:14:26 AM »

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I would be very appreciative if I could get answers from Orthodox Priests or Patriarchs too, but answers from everyone are welcome.

I'm Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy. I feel I might be called by God to Orthodoxy because it is TRUE orthodoxy and the Church is unchanged since Christ instituted His Church, the Rites are ancient and have no risk of corruption, the Liturgy seems to be beautiful, there is high reverence for God in the Church, etc..... basically, Christ is truly present in the Orthodox Church.

However, I have a few important questions:

Is it a sin for an Orthodox Christian to believe in the Immaculate Conception (IC) since the IC is not accepted dogma of the Orthodox Church?

Would a Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy be precluded from entering the Faith if he/she still believes in the Immaculate Conception?

Does the Orthodox Church have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament like the Catholic Church?

Would it be discouraged for a convert to Orthodoxy (or any cradle Orthodox) to pray the Rosary or any of the other prayers from the Catholic Church, given he/she would still devoutly and faithfully pray the Orthodox prayers too?

Would wearing the Brown Scapular be allowed, discouraged or looked upon with indifference?

Thank you and God Bless all of you. May the Holy Theotokos pray for each of us and may She give us Her Motherly protection and guidance!





I converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy.

Please do read: The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware, who is now known as Metropolitan Kallistos.

(1) Regarding the IC: Metropolitan Kallistos in his book mentioned above said that believing in the Immaculate Conception is okay although there are some priests who will disagree with his statement. Please realize that the Orthodox Church has not made a dogmatic statement about the Immaculate Conception so that it remains a theologumen - a theological opinion.

(2) Regarding Adoration: We do not have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament although some of the WRO (Western Rite Orthodox) Churches may have this devotion. I was taught that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began when the laity rarely received Holy Communion. Since we are encouraged to receive Holy Communion at every Divine Liturgy, we do not need to have adoration too since we praise. worship, and adore Christ in the Divine Liturgy.

(3) Regarding the Rosary: Praying the Holy Rosary is allowable especially if you use the form suggested by St. Seraphim of Sarov who gave the Rosary to his nuns as a rule of prayer.

(4) My husband was told that he could wear the Brown Scapular or Scapular metal. He still wears his Scapular metal.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 04:17:29 AM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 04:36:22 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 04:38:03 AM by lubeltri » Logged
Maria
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2011, 04:41:59 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Maria and others, Just a friendly reminder

The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are ignorant of Orthodox teachings and are using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. Due to the simplicity of many of their requests and responses, direct and simple answers with sources if possible are most helpful.

The convert forum is not a place for combative debate, arguement, or sarcasm (no matter how witty) that may blur the purpose of the forum.. 

Thank you for your following these guidelines to the edification and spiritual growth of the forum inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted.


Thomas
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« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 09:51:33 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2011, 04:47:22 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

-

Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.
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Maria
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2011, 05:01:37 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.
. . .

Yes, you are correct. During my inquiry state, I did go to different Orthodox churches. At the first one I attended, an Antiochian one, the priest was a convert from Protestantism and had a nasty anti-Catholic streak in him. My husband did not like him at all. So, we visited the Greek and OCA churches. In the OCA, we found a sizable number of anti-Catholic ex-Catholics, and that did not appeal to either of us. The Greek Church was more open to us as former Catholics, and so we were received there by Holy Chrismation.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 05:04:16 AM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2011, 06:22:23 AM »

Christ is Risen! Welcome to the forum Ascent.

Does the Orthodox Church have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament like the Catholic Church?
We recently discussed this very topic in another thread. The question in that thread was "is the Eucharist worshiped in the Orthodox Church". The conclusion is yes, but we do not have a specific service for this purpose. The only time the Eucharist is used in the Church is when it is being distributed to the faithful, and during that time I think it is quite correct to say it is being adored.
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 06:28:15 PM »

Christ is Risen !

I hope you are doing just fine Ascent.  I was reading your questions and I find them really interesting.  Nevertheless, they are not easy subjects and they are not as well easy to explain in a couple of sentences.  I'll do my best  Wink

(1)   About the Immaculate Conception, our Orthodox Church does not believe in this dogma and DOES NOT approve it for the following reasons. 

For this purpose, immaculate means the birth of Virgin Mary without a spot, or without a sin,  this referring to Ancestral Sin.  So in catholic tradition, Virgin Mary was born without the Ancestral Sin.  In being born like this, she would always have tended towards good, because she would have been born without the human natural tendency for evil since the fall; her nature would have been spotless and sinless.  In having no Ancestral Sin within her, she would not have any idea of sin within her, no evil thoughts, not even would have to make the warfare and spiritual struggles any other human being would have to do so as to overcome sin and temptation, because she would have been freed from it.  Our Orthodox tradition firmly believes that it was through her personal warfare and spiritual battles and conscious struggling against evil and sin that she approached God’s plan; and not because she was freed from it by her spotless nature.  If this was the case, what would Her personal merits be, if she’s freed from sin?  And freed from sin since her own nature?  In other words, she would not have been born with the normal characteristics of a human being, but she would be somewhat beyond the nature of humanity.

In our orthodox tradition, the entrance of "disorder" to humanity comes from the  Fall, which is the disobedience from Adam and Eve and it enters the whole humanity and kind of wrecks our nature.  Throughout biblical history, humanity has blamed the first woman, Eve for this "error".  But God in his divine plan, not only he gives us Salvation back by giving us His Son, but he dignifies women by giving us back his Salvation through a woman, Virgin Mary.

Orthodox theologians say that if Virgin Mary was conceived without the Ancestral Sin, she would not really be able to make a choice between "YES giving birth to the Savior" or NO.  She would always tend to good, saying yes instantly, and because of her immaculate nature, there would be no other way she could have possibly reacted or responded to Archangel Gabriel.  But the value of the Theotokos is of having chosen YES over NO, on top of her natural human “sinful” condition by stating: “I am the Lord’s servant, may YOUR WORD be fulfilled on me” (Lc 1:38).  That’s why She is our lovely mother, and to whom we can pray to intercede before Christ our Lord because she understands our struggle against sin.  She is not some kind of super deity with no Ancestral Sin, but our lovely mother which shared our own sinful nature, an example that sin is defeatable.   

This is the value of the Theotokos.  She is the Second Eve, through by which Salvation is restored to us, to humanity.  She is the representation of humble humanity before God, she is the FIRST SAINT above all saints (PANAGIA), and through her voluntarily chosen deeds, she is more honorable than cherubim and incomparably more glorious than seraphim.

The idea of being born somewhat like an angel (immaculate, without a natural tendency for sin, as it is our human nature) would not fit in this explanation of Salvation.

Even more so, some orthodox theologians go further to explain that until the moment of the Annunciation, she became immaculate.

May God Bless You.

Marco.
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 06:59:51 PM »

I have to say that I admire your concern for in-depth concepts about the Christian faith.  Keep on looking for the Truth and it shall be revealed to you, not only through the word, but through the spirit.  These are my wishes for you.

(2)   About The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

In established and well-set parishes, you will see inside the temple (the inner part that is protected and separated by the iconostasis) two tables, a small one to the left, and a big one in the center just in front of the Holy Gates.  It is on top of this big table, the altar, that you will find among other things, the Tabernacle.

The tabernacle is a small box, usually in the shape of a church, were the Holy Gifts will be kept ALWAYS throughout the whole year (these Holy Gifts are renewed every Holy Thursday).  You will always find lit an oil lamp in front of it.  So if it is true that there is no specific service for the Adoration of the Holy Gifts, They are always present in any service that will take place in the church.  Feel free to put yourself into His presence  Wink

This tabernacle which protects the Holy Gifts is also a representation of the Theotokos protecting in Her womb our Savior.

In Christ,

Marco.
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 08:09:54 PM »

Dear Ascent:

Christ is Risen!

These theological issues will be resolved for you over time, as you attend Orthodox church regularly, and become acquainted with Orthodox theology. Truth never fails to make itself known.

Welcome.



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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2011, 12:05:07 PM »

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I would be very appreciative if I could get answers from Orthodox Priests or Patriarchs too, but answers from everyone are welcome.

I'm Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy. I feel I might be called by God to Orthodoxy because it is TRUE orthodoxy and the Church is unchanged since Christ instituted His Church, the Rites are ancient and have no risk of corruption, the Liturgy seems to be beautiful, there is high reverence for God in the Church, etc..... basically, Christ is truly present in the Orthodox Church.

However, I have a few important questions:

Is it a sin for an Orthodox Christian to believe in the Immaculate Conception (IC) since the IC is not accepted dogma of the Orthodox Church?

Would a Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy be precluded from entering the Faith if he/she still believes in the Immaculate Conception?

Does the Orthodox Church have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament like the Catholic Church?

Would it be discouraged for a convert to Orthodoxy (or any cradle Orthodox) to pray the Rosary or any of the other prayers from the Catholic Church, given he/she would still devoutly and faithfully pray the Orthodox prayers too?

Would wearing the Brown Scapular be allowed, discouraged or looked upon with indifference?

Thank you and God Bless all of you. May the Holy Theotokos pray for each of us and may She give us Her Motherly protection and guidance!

Immaculate Conception:

The IC is not necessary in Orthodox theology, because all infants are born guiltless. The IC is necessary in Catholic theology because of Original Sin, which we do not have. Rather we believe in Ancestral Sin, which is similar but not exactly the same. In the context of Orthodoxy, in fact, we believe IC degrades the Mother of God, because it implies she could only be sinless by special dispensation, while we believe she is sinless by virtue of her own perfect obedience. (See: http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/library/st_john_maximovich/on_veneration_of_the_theotokos.htm)

I don't think anyone would be prevented from converting if they believe in the IC, but you should talk to a priest about that to be sure. As long as you hold it as a personal opinion and recognize it is not a dogma of the Church, that would be fine I think.

Eucharistic Adoration:

We do adore the Eucharist, but only in the context of the Divine Liturgy. We also reverence towards the Tabernacle when walking past or into a Church. But we do not have a special service of adoration, because the Eucharist is for eating, not for worship in its own right.

Using non-Orthodox prayers

We have several Western prayer books that have been approved by Orthodox Bishops. To use non-approved prayers might be okay, but it could also be an obstacle to acquiring an Orthodox way of thinking or "phronema". Best to discuss this with a priest, who would be your go-to person in your prayer life in any case.

Brown Scapular

I am not aware that we have any of these kinds of devotions in Orthodoxy, wherein we are promised some kind of outcome for doing things like wearing a scapular. You probably could do so as part of your personal piety, but understanding that we cannot officially vouch for any apparitions of the Mother of God, nor any promises made by her, which occurred outside the Orthodox Church.

Your best bet is to meet with the priest at whatever parish you are interested in attending, and discuss these questions with him. Certainly my thoughts aren't the final word on anything.

Welcome to the forum! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2011, 01:57:53 PM »

Thank you very much everybody! I really appreciate your help. These answers are very sincere and well meaning, plus informative. Thank you for your prayers, too. God Bless all of you. Pray for me, and know that I will pray for all of you.

I will keep praying about it; and my next step will be to visit several Orthodox Churches in my area, and of course, talk to the Priests. 

Thanks again!

In Christ Through Mary,

Ascent
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 02:05:49 PM by Ascent » Logged
Maria
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2011, 02:20:13 PM »

Thank you very much everybody! I really appreciate your help. These answers are very sincere and well meaning, plus informative. Thank you for your prayers, too. God Bless all of you. Pray for me, and know that I will pray for all of you.

I will keep praying about it; and my next step will be to visit several Orthodox Churches in my area, and of course, talk to the Priests. 

Thanks again!

In Christ Through Mary,

Ascent

You are welcome.

You might find this discussion on the Rosary very interesting.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16419.msg289093.html#msg289093
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2011, 08:45:05 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

-

Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.

Thanks for agreeing with me, as that is almost always the advice I give when such questions are asked.
I do think that this touches on one of the aspects of Orthodoxy that it one of her greatest strengths while at the same time it is a weakness. That is, the lack of  'Here is Orthodoxy's answer to ___________'

You will get Orthodoxy's answer if you ask fundamental questions about the divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy, the lack of a 'universal pastor' as in the Roman Church and a few others, beyond that it can become a  cacophony of seemingly unrelated noise.

Those of us who are Orthodox, either by birth or by choice, come to accept, and even embrace that as part of the essence that makes us 'us'. We may even get angry with each other and act out among ourselves, but in the end, we usually end up standing together. Others, more used to Western order, are perplexed and find Orthodoxy simply incomprehensible as a result.

For centuries, European music lovers adored the complex harmonies involved with great symphonic music and elegant Ballet and operatic scores. From the time of Bach through and beyond Tchaikovsky, the music halls of Europe were filled with the wonderful and inspiring works of these great artists whose melodies linger in our minds to the present times. Their works were generally harmonic, structured in a way that audiences could follow the underlying story lines and they were often inspiring (i.e. the 1812 Overture or the Messiah.)

In 1913, a young virtually unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky stood the world of music on its head with the premiere in Paris of his seemingly revolutionary work, The Rite of Spring, original French title, Le sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svyashchennaya). To the ears of the audiences of its day, and indeed to many of us living today, it was discordant, brash and contradictory. Indeed, it is said that a near riot broke out at its Paris premiere. Today it is has an honored place among musicologists and audiences and is regarded as having set the stage for 20th century music and ballet. Yet, to many it remains confusing, loud, contradictory and foreign. Much like Orthodoxy when compared to some of the western variants of Christianity which are more akin to Bach or Beethoven.

As to Stravinsky's music, you either 'got it' or you didn't. As to Orthodoxy, many either 'get it' or they simply don't.

The analogy is obviously imperfect, but I hope it helps.
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2011, 11:37:37 AM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

-

Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.

Thanks for agreeing with me, as that is almost always the advice I give when such questions are asked.
I do think that this touches on one of the aspects of Orthodoxy that it one of her greatest strengths while at the same time it is a weakness. That is, the lack of  'Here is Orthodoxy's answer to ___________'

You will get Orthodoxy's answer if you ask fundamental questions about the divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy, the lack of a 'universal pastor' as in the Roman Church and a few others, beyond that it can become a  cacophony of seemingly unrelated noise.

Those of us who are Orthodox, either by birth or by choice, come to accept, and even embrace that as part of the essence that makes us 'us'. We may even get angry with each other and act out among ourselves, but in the end, we usually end up standing together. Others, more used to Western order, are perplexed and find Orthodoxy simply incomprehensible as a result.

For centuries, European music lovers adored the complex harmonies involved with great symphonic music and elegant Ballet and operatic scores. From the time of Bach through and beyond Tchaikovsky, the music halls of Europe were filled with the wonderful and inspiring works of these great artists whose melodies linger in our minds to the present times. Their works were generally harmonic, structured in a way that audiences could follow the underlying story lines and they were often inspiring (i.e. the 1812 Overture or the Messiah.)

In 1913, a young virtually unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky stood the world of music on its head with the premiere in Paris of his seemingly revolutionary work, The Rite of Spring, original French title, Le sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svyashchennaya). To the ears of the audiences of its day, and indeed to many of us living today, it was discordant, brash and contradictory. Indeed, it is said that a near riot broke out at its Paris premiere. Today it is has an honored place among musicologists and audiences and is regarded as having set the stage for 20th century music and ballet. Yet, to many it remains confusing, loud, contradictory and foreign. Much like Orthodoxy when compared to some of the western variants of Christianity which are more akin to Bach or Beethoven.

As to Stravinsky's music, you either 'got it' or you didn't. As to Orthodoxy, many either 'get it' or they simply don't.

The analogy is obviously imperfect, but I hope it helps.

Ah, music, or rather chant. Great analogy.

And, Yes, there are some Orthodox Christians who love Byzantine Chant and others who hate it the so-called exotic chant (or rather hate the diabolus). But, that is a topic for yet another thread.

Yes, theologumena do cause some strife because Orthodoxy does not attempt to define every dispute.
If we did, the books and DVDs written and taped to resolve these disputes would overflow our libraries and fill our landfills

« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 11:41:35 AM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2011, 02:19:11 PM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

-

Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.

Thanks for agreeing with me, as that is almost always the advice I give when such questions are asked.
I do think that this touches on one of the aspects of Orthodoxy that it one of her greatest strengths while at the same time it is a weakness. That is, the lack of  'Here is Orthodoxy's answer to ___________'

You will get Orthodoxy's answer if you ask fundamental questions about the divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy, the lack of a 'universal pastor' as in the Roman Church and a few others, beyond that it can become a  cacophony of seemingly unrelated noise.

Those of us who are Orthodox, either by birth or by choice, come to accept, and even embrace that as part of the essence that makes us 'us'. We may even get angry with each other and act out among ourselves, but in the end, we usually end up standing together. Others, more used to Western order, are perplexed and find Orthodoxy simply incomprehensible as a result.

For centuries, European music lovers adored the complex harmonies involved with great symphonic music and elegant Ballet and operatic scores. From the time of Bach through and beyond Tchaikovsky, the music halls of Europe were filled with the wonderful and inspiring works of these great artists whose melodies linger in our minds to the present times. Their works were generally harmonic, structured in a way that audiences could follow the underlying story lines and they were often inspiring (i.e. the 1812 Overture or the Messiah.)

In 1913, a young virtually unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky stood the world of music on its head with the premiere in Paris of his seemingly revolutionary work, The Rite of Spring, original French title, Le sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svyashchennaya). To the ears of the audiences of its day, and indeed to many of us living today, it was discordant, brash and contradictory. Indeed, it is said that a near riot broke out at its Paris premiere. Today it is has an honored place among musicologists and audiences and is regarded as having set the stage for 20th century music and ballet. Yet, to many it remains confusing, loud, contradictory and foreign. Much like Orthodoxy when compared to some of the western variants of Christianity which are more akin to Bach or Beethoven.

As to Stravinsky's music, you either 'got it' or you didn't. As to Orthodoxy, many either 'get it' or they simply don't.

The analogy is obviously imperfect, but I hope it helps.

Ah, music, or rather chant. Great analogy.

And, Yes, there are some Orthodox Christians who love Byzantine Chant and others who hate it the so-called exotic chant (or rather hate the diabolus). But, that is a topic for yet another thread.

Yes, theologumena do cause some strife because Orthodoxy does not attempt to define every dispute.
If we did, the books and DVDs written and taped to resolve these disputes would overflow our libraries and fill our landfills



I should have added that to me, the seemingly discordant voices of Orthodoxy are her greatest strength, while the Roman Church's attempts to define and legalize every concept is her greatest weakness. Again, this probably underscores, in spite of our inherent prejudices regarding each other, that we probably do have some things to learn from each other.
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2011, 02:42:13 PM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

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Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.

Thanks for agreeing with me, as that is almost always the advice I give when such questions are asked.
I do think that this touches on one of the aspects of Orthodoxy that it one of her greatest strengths while at the same time it is a weakness. That is, the lack of  'Here is Orthodoxy's answer to ___________'

You will get Orthodoxy's answer if you ask fundamental questions about the divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy, the lack of a 'universal pastor' as in the Roman Church and a few others, beyond that it can become a  cacophony of seemingly unrelated noise.

Those of us who are Orthodox, either by birth or by choice, come to accept, and even embrace that as part of the essence that makes us 'us'. We may even get angry with each other and act out among ourselves, but in the end, we usually end up standing together. Others, more used to Western order, are perplexed and find Orthodoxy simply incomprehensible as a result.

For centuries, European music lovers adored the complex harmonies involved with great symphonic music and elegant Ballet and operatic scores. From the time of Bach through and beyond Tchaikovsky, the music halls of Europe were filled with the wonderful and inspiring works of these great artists whose melodies linger in our minds to the present times. Their works were generally harmonic, structured in a way that audiences could follow the underlying story lines and they were often inspiring (i.e. the 1812 Overture or the Messiah.)

In 1913, a young virtually unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky stood the world of music on its head with the premiere in Paris of his seemingly revolutionary work, The Rite of Spring, original French title, Le sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svyashchennaya). To the ears of the audiences of its day, and indeed to many of us living today, it was discordant, brash and contradictory. Indeed, it is said that a near riot broke out at its Paris premiere. Today it is has an honored place among musicologists and audiences and is regarded as having set the stage for 20th century music and ballet. Yet, to many it remains confusing, loud, contradictory and foreign. Much like Orthodoxy when compared to some of the western variants of Christianity which are more akin to Bach or Beethoven.

As to Stravinsky's music, you either 'got it' or you didn't. As to Orthodoxy, many either 'get it' or they simply don't.

The analogy is obviously imperfect, but I hope it helps.

Ah, music, or rather chant. Great analogy.

And, Yes, there are some Orthodox Christians who love Byzantine Chant and others who hate it the so-called exotic chant (or rather hate the diabolus). But, that is a topic for yet another thread.

Yes, theologumena do cause some strife because Orthodoxy does not attempt to define every dispute.
If we did, the books and DVDs written and taped to resolve these disputes would overflow our libraries and fill our landfills



I should have added that to me, the seemingly discordant voices of Orthodoxy are her greatest strength, while the Roman Church's attempts to define and legalize every concept is her greatest weakness. Again, this probably underscores, in spite of our inherent prejudices regarding each other, that we probably do have some things to learn from each other.

Yes, virtue lies in the middle. Or does it?
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2011, 02:57:12 PM »

Ascent,

If you encounter a priest who says "no" to all of these questions, you can always find another one who will say yes.

That was my experience when I was inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago.


Ah the joys of meeting fellow ROAMIN Catholics who roam from priest to priest. :rolleyes:

Well, that's what one does. You did the same when you left the Catholic Church. You chose what jurisdiction you wished to enter, and thus whether you'd get "baptized" or just re-chrismated. You also chose a priest who approves the wearing of the brown scapular. I must congratulate you on that one. Even I didn't find an Orthodox priest who told me that was acceptable.

-

Ascent,
The truth is, this is not a place to find a definitive answer to those questions, and I'm afraid you may not find one elsewhere. The best thing, I suppose, is just go with the opinion of the priest of the parish you are joining---if you've chosen one already. But like I said, opinions will vary.

Thanks for agreeing with me, as that is almost always the advice I give when such questions are asked.
I do think that this touches on one of the aspects of Orthodoxy that it one of her greatest strengths while at the same time it is a weakness. That is, the lack of  'Here is Orthodoxy's answer to ___________'

You will get Orthodoxy's answer if you ask fundamental questions about the divinity of Christ, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy, the lack of a 'universal pastor' as in the Roman Church and a few others, beyond that it can become a  cacophony of seemingly unrelated noise.

Those of us who are Orthodox, either by birth or by choice, come to accept, and even embrace that as part of the essence that makes us 'us'. We may even get angry with each other and act out among ourselves, but in the end, we usually end up standing together. Others, more used to Western order, are perplexed and find Orthodoxy simply incomprehensible as a result.

For centuries, European music lovers adored the complex harmonies involved with great symphonic music and elegant Ballet and operatic scores. From the time of Bach through and beyond Tchaikovsky, the music halls of Europe were filled with the wonderful and inspiring works of these great artists whose melodies linger in our minds to the present times. Their works were generally harmonic, structured in a way that audiences could follow the underlying story lines and they were often inspiring (i.e. the 1812 Overture or the Messiah.)

In 1913, a young virtually unknown Russian composer named Igor Stravinsky stood the world of music on its head with the premiere in Paris of his seemingly revolutionary work, The Rite of Spring, original French title, Le sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svyashchennaya). To the ears of the audiences of its day, and indeed to many of us living today, it was discordant, brash and contradictory. Indeed, it is said that a near riot broke out at its Paris premiere. Today it is has an honored place among musicologists and audiences and is regarded as having set the stage for 20th century music and ballet. Yet, to many it remains confusing, loud, contradictory and foreign. Much like Orthodoxy when compared to some of the western variants of Christianity which are more akin to Bach or Beethoven.

As to Stravinsky's music, you either 'got it' or you didn't. As to Orthodoxy, many either 'get it' or they simply don't.

The analogy is obviously imperfect, but I hope it helps.

Ah, music, or rather chant. Great analogy.

And, Yes, there are some Orthodox Christians who love Byzantine Chant and others who hate it the so-called exotic chant (or rather hate the diabolus). But, that is a topic for yet another thread.

Yes, theologumena do cause some strife because Orthodoxy does not attempt to define every dispute.
If we did, the books and DVDs written and taped to resolve these disputes would overflow our libraries and fill our landfills



I should have added that to me, the seemingly discordant voices of Orthodoxy are her greatest strength, while the Roman Church's attempts to define and legalize every concept is her greatest weakness. Again, this probably underscores, in spite of our inherent prejudices regarding each other, that we probably do have some things to learn from each other.

Yes, virtue lies in the middle. Or does it?

No. But that is a commonly assumption made by those who object to dialog, particularly between the Roman Church and the Orthodox.
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2011, 03:21:14 PM »

I think St. Thomas Aquinas made the comment that virtue lies in the middle.

I agree with you that sometimes a compromise (middle ground) is not the best way to go especially when it involves one's faith.
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2011, 06:45:13 AM »

Is it a sin for an Orthodox Christian to believe in the Immaculate Conception (IC) since the IC is not accepted dogma of the Orthodox Church?

Well, it's not necessarily sinful to believe in something that is "not accepted dogma". There are numerous theological opinions present within the Orthodox Church that are accepted as individual opinions but have not yet been confirmed as dogma or condemned as heresy. It has always been that way. But some might be inclined to regard the Immaculate Conception as a heresy. I don't personally think that it is Orthodox, and I think an Orthodox person believing in it might be problematic, but I would not yet go so far as to say that you cannot be Orthodox and believe in the IC.

Would a Catholic interested in converting to Orthodoxy be precluded from entering the Faith if he/she still believes in the Immaculate Conception?

Probably not. But some Priests might require you to renounce it. I don't know.

Does the Orthodox Church have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament like the Catholic Church?

The Orthodox do not save the Holy Gifts for any purpose other than Holy Communion. Yes, once consecrated they can be adored/worshiped in the context of the Communion service. But they will not be used outside of that context.

Would it be discouraged for a convert to Orthodoxy (or any cradle Orthodox) to pray the Rosary or any of the other prayers from the Catholic Church, given he/she would still devoutly and faithfully pray the Orthodox prayers too?

Some of the prayers might be discouraged if they are heterodox. It depends. As to the Rosary in particular, I think it is one of the acceptable devotions.
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2011, 06:45:14 AM »

(3) Regarding the Rosary: Praying the Holy Rosary is allowable especially if you use the form suggested by St. Seraphim of Sarov who gave the Rosary to his nuns as a rule of prayer.

Why can't the original form be used?
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2011, 06:45:14 AM »

The IC is not necessary in Orthodox theology, because all infants are born guiltless. The IC is necessary in Catholic theology because of Original Sin, which we do not have. Rather we believe in Ancestral Sin, which is similar but not exactly the same.

Ancestral sin is basically the Latin doctrine minus hereditary guilt. The IC teaches that Mary was born without ancestral sin. So the issue is still relevant even with guilt taken out of the equation.
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« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2011, 11:46:22 PM »

Given Orthodox Theology, there's no room for the Immaculate Conception.

But, you don't have to simply "Let go" of it, once you understand why we don't have that doctrine, and why it's not needed, it will make sense.

Promise Smiley

Best bet: Sit down with a Priest, and have him explain it from the top, the Orthodox concept of sin and the reason for the Cross, and everything inbetween.

Grace will work in his words, just be open to it.

God bless brother, and stay on the straight.
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« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2011, 02:39:54 AM »

Given Orthodox Theology, there's no room for the Immaculate Conception.

But, you don't have to simply "Let go" of it, once you understand why we don't have that doctrine, and why it's not needed, it will make sense.

Promise Smiley

Best bet: Sit down with a Priest, and have him explain it from the top, the Orthodox concept of sin and the reason for the Cross, and everything inbetween.

Grace will work in his words, just be open to it.

God bless brother, and stay on the straight.

I have talked with older Greek Orthodox Priests who believe in Original Sin, and they are very concerned about this new generation of Greek Orthodox Priests who not only do not believe in Original Sin, but who also do not believe that the Theotokos remained ever sinless. These older Greek Orthodox Priest also believe that Mary remained sinless from her birth or conception because that is what the Holy Services for Mary's feast days indicates. If you want proof, just read Timothy Ware's (Metropolitan Kallistos) The Orthodox Church. He indicates that an Orthodox Christian can believe in Original Sin and in the Immaculate Conception.

In addition, the account in St. Luke does not mention that Holy Mary's sins were forgiven her at the moment of the Incarnation as some Orthodox theologians have recently come to believe. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and then she conceived the Christ Child within her womb. She was already sinless before the Incarnation occurred as she was the Holy of Holies. Incidentally, the 20th century saint, St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, believed that Mary was ever sinless. Other Orthodox theologians held that Mary was immaculately conceived and teach that Mary's own parents, Joachim and Anna, did not conceive her in lust. Yes, all these beliefs remain theologumena because there has never been a Orthodox council which stated infallibility that Mary was or was not immaculately conceived or that she did or did not remain sinless. Orthodox Christians have not taken it upon themselves to define all of the events in the Bible.
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« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2011, 02:41:49 AM »


I have talked with older Greek Orthodox Priests who believe in Original Sin, and they are very concerned about this new generation of Greek Orthodox Priests who not only do not believe in Original Sin, but who also do not believe that the Theotokos remained ever sinless. These older Greek Orthodox Priest also believe that Mary remained sinless from her birth or conception because that is what the Holy Services for Mary's feast days indicates. If you want proof, just read Timothy Ware's (Metropolitan Kallistos) The Orthodox Church. He indicates that an Orthodox Christian can believe in Original Sin and in the Immaculate Conception.

In addition, the account in St. Luke does not mention that Holy Mary's sins were forgiven her at the moment of the Incarnation as some Orthodox theologians have recently come to believe. Incidentally, St. Silouan of Mt. Athos believed that Mary was ever sinless. Other Orthodox theologians held that Mary was immaculately conceived because her own parents did not conceive her in lust. Yes, all these beliefs remain theologumena because there has never been a Orthodox council which stated infallibility that Mary was not immaculately conceived or that she did not remain sinless. The Orthodox have not taken it upon themselves to define all of the events in the Bible.

Very informative. Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2011, 10:25:14 PM »

Given Orthodox Theology, there's no room for the Immaculate Conception.

But, you don't have to simply "Let go" of it, once you understand why we don't have that doctrine, and why it's not needed, it will make sense.

Promise Smiley

Best bet: Sit down with a Priest, and have him explain it from the top, the Orthodox concept of sin and the reason for the Cross, and everything inbetween.

Grace will work in his words, just be open to it.

God bless brother, and stay on the straight.

I have talked with older Greek Orthodox Priests who believe in Original Sin, and they are very concerned about this new generation of Greek Orthodox Priests who not only do not believe in Original Sin, but who also do not believe that the Theotokos remained ever sinless. These older Greek Orthodox Priest also believe that Mary remained sinless from her birth or conception because that is what the Holy Services for Mary's feast days indicates. If you want proof, just read Timothy Ware's (Metropolitan Kallistos) The Orthodox Church. He indicates that an Orthodox Christian can believe in Original Sin and in the Immaculate Conception.

In addition, the account in St. Luke does not mention that Holy Mary's sins were forgiven her at the moment of the Incarnation as some Orthodox theologians have recently come to believe. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and then she conceived the Christ Child within her womb. She was already sinless before the Incarnation occurred as she was the Holy of Holies. Incidentally, the 20th century saint, St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, believed that Mary was ever sinless. Other Orthodox theologians held that Mary was immaculately conceived and teach that Mary's own parents, Joachim and Anna, did not conceive her in lust. Yes, all these beliefs remain theologumena because there has never been a Orthodox council which stated infallibility that Mary was or was not immaculately conceived or that she did or did not remain sinless. Orthodox Christians have not taken it upon themselves to define all of the events in the Bible.
That is very fascinating. I was always under the impression that all Eastern Orthodox Christians were opposed to belief in Original Sin and the Immaculate Conception. It is cool to find out that these things are also compatible with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2011, 11:47:45 PM »

I have talked with older Greek Orthodox Priests who believe in Original Sin, and they are very concerned about this new generation of Greek Orthodox Priests who not only do not believe in Original Sin, but who also do not believe that the Theotokos remained ever sinless.

That the Theotokos never committed a sin is different from the Immaculate Conception, which wrongly teaches that from birth she was granted a sort of "divine protection" that in effect made it impossible for her to commit a sin.

Meanwhile, the Church teaches that she was sinless by her own choice. She willingly submitted to God and willingly maintained her purity. This was not something bestowed upon her from the outside. It was her own choice. The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.

Which is why St John of San Francisco called that dogma "zeal not according to knowledge".

"This teaching, which seemingly has the aim of exalting the Mother of God, in reality completely denies all Her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Her mother, when She could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God's grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after Her birth, then in what does Her merit consist? If She could have been placed in the state of being unable to sin, and did not sin, then for what did God glorify Her? if She, without any effort, and without having any kind of impulses to sin, remained pure, then why is She crowned more than everyone else? There is no victory without an adversary."

http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/library/st_john_maximovich/on_veneration_of_the_theotokos.htm#immaculate_conception

As for Original Sin, there is a fine distinction between Original Sin and Ancestral Sin. I cannot articulate the distinction very well, but I was taught it as a catechumen and every priest I've spoken to—young and old, conservative and liberal—about it agrees there is a difference.

What I can say is that the Immaculate Conception is only necessary if you believe in Original Sin. If you don't, as the Orthodox don't, then the IC is altogether unnecessary. The Theotokos was born personally guiltless because all children are personally guiltless. (IIRC)

Quote
These older Greek Orthodox Priest also believe that Mary remained sinless from her birth or conception because that is what the Holy Services for Mary's feast days indicates.

They say she was immaculate. They do not say she was conceived immaculately and preserved from the taint of sin, as the Latin dogma says. There is a difference here.

"... all the cited references speak only of the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary and of Her immaculateness, and give Her various names which define Her purity and spiritual might; but nowhere is there any word of the immaculateness of Her conception." —St John, ibid.
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2011, 11:51:29 PM »

The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.
The notion that she could remain sinless apart from God's grace sounds blasphemous.
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2011, 11:54:08 PM »

The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.
The notion that she could remain sinless apart from God's grace sounds blasphemous.

She couldn't, of course. But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has. She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not. All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.
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« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2011, 12:03:40 AM »

Why would her virtues be worthless, if she had protection given to her by God? God gives us all different things... are all virtues, then, not worth it?  Huh Huh Huh
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« Reply #30 on: June 01, 2011, 12:09:37 AM »

She couldn't, of course.
Right.

But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has.
How do you know?

She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not.
I would take it farther and say that we cannot. How come she can and we can't?

All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.
We are not capable of remaining sinless our entire lives, nor are we born that way. Grace starts at Baptism.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.
Being born without original sin does not mean that she was not capable of falling into sin nor does it mean she did not have free will. Adam and Eve were born in this state and they still fell. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception does not in any way remove the virtuousness of the Mother of God. She could have fallen, but she did not.
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« Reply #31 on: June 01, 2011, 12:10:10 AM »

Why would her virtues be worthless, if she had protection given to her by God? God gives us all different things... are all virtues, then, not worth it?  Huh Huh Huh

Can you praise a blind man's virtue for never viewing pornography? The question itself doesn't even make sense.

If she was conceived immaculately, preserved completely from sin and the ability to sin, virtue and non-virtue are meaningless. The Theotokos, then, was not simply given something different. She was removed from the normal human experience. In the basest sense, she was a robot. She had no freedom to commit sins or virtues. The Annunciation was an illusion at best, since she was pre-programmed with God's will.

Holiness and immaculateness comes from synergia. We work it out in concert with God. God does not simply bestow holiness upon people apart from their participation.
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« Reply #32 on: June 01, 2011, 12:14:17 AM »

The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.
The notion that she could remain sinless apart from God's grace sounds blasphemous.

She couldn't, of course. But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has. She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not. All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.

Have you ever attended Vespers and Matins services for the feasts of the Holy Theotokos and read the readings?

It is mentioned in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Services that Mary was immaculate/grace filled even before her conception.
I will have to look for the reference, but I do remember reading/chanting it.

BTW, Catholics looked to the East when developing their doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
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« Reply #33 on: June 01, 2011, 12:29:48 AM »

But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has.
How do you know?

The teaching of the complete sinlessness of the Mother of God (1) does not correspond to Sacred Scripture, where there is repeatedly mentioned the sinlessness of [Christ]. But concerning the rest of men it is said, Who is pure of defilement? ... (Job 14:4).

(2) This teaching contradicts also Sacred Tradition, which is contained in numerous Patristic writings, where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth, as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. ...

(3) The teaching that the Mother of God was purified before Her birth, so that from Her might be born the Pure Christ, is meaningless; because if the Pure Christ could be born only if the Virgin might be born pure, it would be necessary that Her parents also should be pure of original sin, [and so on back to Adam] ...

(4) The teaching that the Mother of God was preserved from original sin, as likewise the teaching that She was preserved by God's grace from personal sins, makes God unmerciful and unjust; because if God could preserve Mary from sin and purify Her before Her birth, then why does He not purify other men before their birth, but rather leaves them in sin? It follows likewise that God saves men apart from their will, predetermining certain ones before their birth to salvation.

(5) This teaching, which seemingly has the aim of exalting the Mother of God, in reality completely denies all Her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Her mother, when She could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God's grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after Her birth, then in what does Her merit consist?

http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/library/st_john_maximovich/on_veneration_of_the_theotokos.htm#immaculate_conception

She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not.
I would take it farther and say that we cannot. How come she can and we can't?

Why can't we? We are not controlled by fate. But a newborn is personally blameless like Adam, and aside from living in a corrupted and sinful world (which the Theotokos also lived in), is a blank slate. From a young age however, we allow our temptations to turn into passions, and we refuse to control them. At that point, it becomes a lot harder to return. But it is not impossible, as the multitudes of saints show. And especially some of the holy virgin-martyrs, I would daresay they approach the Theotokos' level of holiness.

The only thing that will always separate us from the Theotokos is that she is the God-bearer. Aside from that, all her virtues, are reachable by anyone who decides to cooperate fully with God from the beginning. Unfortunately most of us don't, and so we spend much of our lives regaining the lost ground of purity, instead of making new progress toward theosis.

All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.
We are not capable of remaining sinless our entire lives, nor are we born that way. Grace starts at Baptism.

This is where we start getting into Original Sin vs. Ancestral Sin issues.

An infant cannot commit sins. He has no personal guilt for anything, just like the Theotokos. He has inherited a corrupted human nature, yes, but then, so did the Theotokos. If grace begins with baptism, then it doesn't matter, because most children don't manage to commit sins by the time they are baptized anyway.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.
Being born without original sin does not mean that she was not capable of falling into sin nor does it mean she did not have free will. Adam and Eve were born in this state and they still fell. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception does not in any way remove the virtuousness of the Mother of God. She could have fallen, but she did not.

Then what was the Immaculate Conception and why was it necessary?
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« Reply #34 on: June 01, 2011, 12:34:16 AM »

The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.
The notion that she could remain sinless apart from God's grace sounds blasphemous.

She couldn't, of course. But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has. She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not. All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.

Have you ever attended Vespers and Matins services for the feasts of the Holy Theotokos and read the readings?

It is mentioned in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Services that Mary was immaculate/grace filled even before her conception.
I will have to look for the reference, but I do remember reading/chanting it.

BTW, Catholics looked to the East when developing their doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Yes I have been to those services. I don't recall ever hearing that the Theotokos was conceived immaculately. Please do share those references when you're able. I did read awhile back a list of supposed IC references in Orthodox hymnology, and none of them actually said what they were purported to say.

But I do stand with St John on this.
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« Reply #35 on: June 01, 2011, 03:21:48 AM »

I don't think there is any support for the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God being a "theologoumenon," a matter of "theological teaching" that may or may not be believed. While it is certainly not doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, neither is it a "teaching," supported by scripture or works of the Church Fathers.  I think an Orthodox theologian would consider it a false teaching, an innovation, that must not be believed or it must be renounced.  "Theologoumena," "theological opinions," are "teachings" of the holy Orthodox, not false teachings of other Christian denominations.  Orthodoxy commemorates the "Conception of St. Ann" on the date when the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the Immaculate Conception.
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« Reply #36 on: June 01, 2011, 03:48:46 AM »

I don't think there is any support for the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God being a "theologoumenon," a matter of "theological teaching" that may or may not be believed. While it is certainly not doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, neither is it a "teaching," supported by scripture or works of the Church Fathers.  I think an Orthodox theologian would consider it a false teaching, an innovation, that must not be believed or it must be renounced.  "Theologoumena," "theological opinions," are "teachings" of the holy Orthodox, not false teachings of other Christian denominations.  Orthodoxy commemorates the "Conception of St. Ann" on the date when the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the Immaculate Conception.

Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) would disagree with you in his book The Orthodox Church.

If I am not mistaken, Mary's conception in St. Anne is honored on December 9 by Orthodox Christians, while the Immaculate Conception is honored by Catholics on December 8.
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« Reply #37 on: June 01, 2011, 04:28:44 AM »

The Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Theotokos, because it says she was incapable of retaining her purity without extraordinary grace.
The notion that she could remain sinless apart from God's grace sounds blasphemous.

She wasn't sinless. She was without personal sin, not without ancestral sin, and needed to be healed of it by God's grace.
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« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2011, 04:31:03 AM »

It is mentioned in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Services that Mary was immaculate/grace filled even before her conception.

LOL. You're clearly very confused if you're going to imply the Origenistic pre-existence of souls that isn't even so hinted at in the Roman doctrine of the IC.
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2011, 04:58:23 AM »

I've got a couple of questions.

where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth,
If infants don't sin, then how did she have sanctity from birth?
as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. ...
Cleansed of what?

She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not.
I would take it farther and say that we cannot. How come she can and we can't?

Why can't we? We are not controlled by fate. But a newborn is personally blameless like Adam, and aside from living in a corrupted and sinful world (which the Theotokos also lived in), is a blank slate. From a young age however, we allow our temptations to turn into passions, and we refuse to control them. At that point, it becomes a lot harder to return. But it is not impossible, as the multitudes of saints show. And especially some of the holy virgin-martyrs, I would daresay they approach the Theotokos' level of holiness.
If someone can become perfect, why doesn't this leads to "merits" and the idea of earning salvation? I think I have an answer forming, but I'd like to hear your view if you don't mind.
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« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2011, 05:31:24 AM »

I've got a couple of questions.

where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth,
If infants don't sin, then how did she have sanctity from birth?
as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. ...
Cleansed of what?

The Adamic curse.
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« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2011, 06:22:51 AM »

I've got a couple of questions.

where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth,
If infants don't sin, then how did she have sanctity from birth?
as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. ...
Cleansed of what?

The Adamic curse.
Ok.
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« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2011, 04:13:59 PM »

It is mentioned in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Services that Mary was immaculate/grace filled even before her conception.

LOL. You're clearly very confused if you're going to imply the Origenistic pre-existence of souls that isn't even so hinted at in the Roman doctrine of the IC.

That is what the Holy Services books say. Do you presume to prescribe a revision of those Holy Services?

I am still trying to find the passage but I may not have the service book needed.

In the meantime, I have looked at Saint Gregory Palamas: The Sermons from Mt. Thabor Publishing.
Very revealing stuff.

Regarding the Most Holy Theotokos on the Feast of the Holy Dormition, St. Gregory writes on page 290:

"In accordance with this worthiest of vows [made by Saints Joachim and Anne], the Mother of God left her father's house in extraordinary fashion while still an infant to live in God's house. For the space of many years she stayed there, strange as it seems, in the Holy of Holies, provided with indescribable nourishment by attending angels: food, which Adam never reached the point of tasting, otherwise he would not have fallen away from life, as was the case with the all-pure Virgin, who now passes from earth to heaven - even though for Adam's sake and to show herself his daughter, she, like her Son, yielded for a short time to nature."


and then on page 292:

"Standing between God and the whole human race, she alone made God a son of man, and men sons of God, rendered the earth heaven and made mankind divine. She alone among women was declared the Mother of God by nature transcending every nature."
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« Reply #43 on: June 02, 2011, 08:16:50 AM »

It is mentioned in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Services that Mary was immaculate/grace filled even before her conception.

LOL. You're clearly very confused if you're going to imply the Origenistic pre-existence of souls that isn't even so hinted at in the Roman doctrine of the IC.

That is what the Holy Services books say. Do you presume to prescribe a revision of those Holy Services?

I am still trying to find the passage but I may not have the service book needed.

In the meantime, I have looked at Saint Gregory Palamas: The Sermons from Mt. Thabor Publishing.
Very revealing stuff.

Regarding the Most Holy Theotokos on the Feast of the Holy Dormition, St. Gregory writes on page 290:

"In accordance with this worthiest of vows [made by Saints Joachim and Anne], the Mother of God left her father's house in extraordinary fashion while still an infant to live in God's house. For the space of many years she stayed there, strange as it seems, in the Holy of Holies, provided with indescribable nourishment by attending angels: food, which Adam never reached the point of tasting, otherwise he would not have fallen away from life, as was the case with the all-pure Virgin, who now passes from earth to heaven - even though for Adam's sake and to show herself his daughter, she, like her Son, yielded for a short time to nature."


and then on page 292:

"Standing between God and the whole human race, she alone made God a son of man, and men sons of God, rendered the earth heaven and made mankind divine. She alone among women was declared the Mother of God by nature transcending every nature."
We argued this before with another person named Mary/Maria. I don't think you'll find our refutation of her arguments very edifying of your position.

Starting with this post: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29625.msg505977.html#msg505977
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« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2011, 09:50:49 PM »

That the Theotokos never committed a sin is different from the Immaculate Conception, which wrongly teaches that from birth she was granted a sort of "divine protection" that in effect made it impossible for her to commit a sin.

She couldn't, of course.
Right.

But she was not born with some special grace that nobody else has.
How do you know?

She simply submitted herself wholly, and we do not.
I would take it farther and say that we cannot. How come she can and we can't?

All people are born with the ability, with the help of grace, to not sin; not just the Mother of God. But we do sin because we choose to.
We are not capable of remaining sinless our entire lives, nor are we born that way. Grace starts at Baptism.

To say she was less capable of sinning than we are sounds blasphemous to me. She had no free will then. Her virtues are worthless because she was preserved from the battle altogether.
Being born without original sin does not mean that she was not capable of falling into sin nor does it mean she did not have free will. Adam and Eve were born in this state and they still fell. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception does not in any way remove the virtuousness of the Mother of God. She could have fallen, but she did not.
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