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Author Topic: How does one "live" Orthodoxy?  (Read 1189 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ai
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« on: July 19, 2011, 08:09:08 PM »

Hi!

From all of the posts I read in this forum, it seems like Orthodox Christianity is something to be lived rather than just something to believe in. Exactly, how do you "live" your faith? For example: fasting, prayer, etc. My main question is, how do you live your faith OUTSIDE of church after Sunday? Is prayer done everyday of your life? What if you miss prayer? Religiously/spiritually, what do you do during the week?

In Western Christianity, I see this is the case there they go to a sermon on Sunday and thats it. From what I learned from everyone in here, in church, you actually worship instead of sitting there and being lectured at by a preacher. I got a different feeling when I heard a recording in Arabic of the Gospels (with a translation in English of course) and it felt so different..it felt real and so touching. It's as if Jesus is actually there. Im sorry, I dont know how else to explain.

I know Orthodoxy is more than just the icons but there is a certain icon of Jesus that I like for some reason. I cant find it but he is holding an open book that says something from the Gospels like "My sheep hear my voice and I know them". I cant remember exactly.

What about when you are in public? Do you extend your practice to others and keep in mind the teachings in the Gospels as you live your everday life? How do you remember what you were taught?

Thanks everyone!  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 08:49:27 PM »

Although this may not exactly be the answer you want, in terms of specifics, the following does an admirable job of covering all the bases...

-----------------------

This speech by Father John Moses was presented at the Southern Missions Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, on November 8, 2003. The congregation of St. Mary of Egypt Russian Orthodox Church sponsored the conference.

http://www.allsaintsofamerica.org/orthodoxy/orthodoxlife.html

A popular musician once said that you should never begin a concert with an apology. While this may be good advice for musicians, I don't know if it is good Orthodox theology. When Fr. John Townsend asked me to give this speech, I thought that he was kidding me. When he told me the topic, Living the Traditional Orthodox Life, I was convinced that my beloved friend had finally "flipped his scufia," so to speak.

Here is my apology:

I am a recent convert only 9 years old. I have been a priest for almost 8 years. I am supposed to tell you how to live a traditional life? May the Lord have mercy on my presumption and may you forgive the poverty of my words. Still, the Fathers say that we should never give advice unless asked. So, since Fr. John has laid this mantle upon me, I will try do my best.....
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 09:14:55 PM »

How does one live Orthodoxy...?  In my case, poorly! Wink  I think a lot of it boils down to cultivating the virtues... love, repentance, humility, etc. I tend to read and talk, but that's probably not a very good way of going about it, especially for someone inexperienced in the more crucial things. So... prayer is the place to start I guess, with the guidance of a priest or spiritual father if possible. Trying to do something every day to take a step forward, in cooperation with God. It can often be something that seems fairly mundane. Something "normal," like helping you aunt or grandmother get to the doctor, that might help you make more progress than read a dozen books. Which is not to say that spiritual reading is not profitable, only that it's only when we stop focusing on theory and actually start living things out that we make progress. It's sort of like putting together that complicated doo-dad you buy for Christmas: it's all well and good to read the instructions and try to get some understanding of the overall scheme of things, but until you start actually working on it, all the info in the world won't be of any worth.

So... read Scripture, then put it into action. Read the Church Fathers, what they say about love, or repentance, and how to make those real in your life... then do it. Read that contemporary spiritual work, by all means--but when you've read the last page, you may have finished the book, but (hopefully) you've only begun to actually profit from the text, because the profit comes when you can actually use the information. Sometimes using that information will be overt action--giving your time, going to confession, speaking more gently and peacefully to someone. Or it could be something more internal, perhaps understanding your sinfulness or fallenness more, or perhaps on the other hand getting a real sense of how special you are as being made in the image of God and capable of striving for likeness with God.

One good thing about reading and discussing is that you come across methods and activities which help you in the spiritual life. Prayer, yes, and fasting, and the sacraments of course. But then there are other things, such as praying the Jesus Prayer when you find yourself having issues (e.g. annoyance or anger), adding prostrations or bows to your prayer rule, admiring God's creation, or reminding yourself how lucky you are to have X, Y, and Z. Then there are many ascetic practices beyond that (sleeping on the floor, restrictions on food, etc.), but for most of us we're probably doing good just trying to get the basic stuff covered--saying our prayer rule, fasting when appointed, reading a bit of the Bible each day, trying to learn what the Church/Fathers teaches about this or that, and generally just being a decent human being. And we may slip up every day, but that's ok, as long as we are trying. And maybe we'll only take one step forward that day, and that's fine. Theosis will go on for eternity.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 09:16:20 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 09:31:31 PM »

For me, a large part of it is learning to cultivate humility. Humility in our attitude before God in prayer and before each other in all ways.
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 09:56:49 AM »

For me, a large part of it is learning to cultivate humility. Humility in our attitude before God in prayer and before each other in all ways.

Yes, and for me, being aware of my sins and striving, mostly in small ways, such as keeping my mouth shut when I really want to put someone in their place!
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 09:25:44 PM »

Although this may not exactly be the answer you want, in terms of specifics, the following does an admirable job of covering all the bases...

-----------------------

This speech by Father John Moses was presented at the Southern Missions Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, on November 8, 2003. The congregation of St. Mary of Egypt Russian Orthodox Church sponsored the conference.

http://www.allsaintsofamerica.org/orthodoxy/orthodoxlife.html

A popular musician once said that you should never begin a concert with an apology. While this may be good advice for musicians, I don't know if it is good Orthodox theology. When Fr. John Townsend asked me to give this speech, I thought that he was kidding me. When he told me the topic, Living the Traditional Orthodox Life, I was convinced that my beloved friend had finally "flipped his scufia," so to speak.

Here is my apology:

I am a recent convert only 9 years old. I have been a priest for almost 8 years. I am supposed to tell you how to live a traditional life? May the Lord have mercy on my presumption and may you forgive the poverty of my words. Still, the Fathers say that we should never give advice unless asked. So, since Fr. John has laid this mantle upon me, I will try do my best.....
Fr. John is the priest just up the road from us. He's an excellent priest. Very humble and a great sense of humor. I enjoyed his speech.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 10:17:51 PM »

Don't let yourself miss a day of prayer!  Don't EVER do that!  If you miss one day, you will miss two, and then three, and then four, and it will be VERY difficult to get back into the habit of praying daily!  I don't mean to harp on the point, but I have had a problem lately with making myself pray, and it all started when I decided to let myself not pray one day, don't ever do that.

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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 10:45:33 PM »

there are a lot of ways to pray, yours might not be mine. Saying something is pretty or awesome is prayer, since we suppose God made it and if we recognise its beauty we are praying. 
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 11:15:13 PM »

Don't let yourself miss a day of prayer!  Don't EVER do that!  If you miss one day, you will miss two, and then three, and then four, and it will be VERY difficult to get back into the habit of praying daily!  I don't mean to harp on the point, but I have had a problem lately with making myself pray, and it all started when I decided to let myself not pray one day, don't ever do that.

This is very good advice. I recently derailed my prayer life through this very kind of negligence and it is proving very difficult (as it always does) to get myself back on track. The importance of consistency can't be stressed enough.
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 12:02:18 AM »

Repentance is the standard of Orthodox life.  If we don't have that, we can't offer God our true prayers, fasting, vigils etc. 
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 01:08:36 AM »

Don't let yourself miss a day of prayer!  Don't EVER do that!  If you miss one day, you will miss two, and then three, and then four, and it will be VERY difficult to get back into the habit of praying daily!  I don't mean to harp on the point, but I have had a problem lately with making myself pray, and it all started when I decided to let myself not pray one day, don't ever do that.

This is very good advice. I recently derailed my prayer life through this very kind of negligence and it is proving very difficult (as it always does) to get myself back on track. The importance of consistency can't be stressed enough.

Absolutely!
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 02:07:20 AM »

Repentance is the standard of Orthodox life.  If we don't have that, we can't offer God our true prayers, fasting, vigils etc. 
Absolutely, and despair and presumption are the opposite of repentance, and often our greatest obstacles. This might be the single most important thing that I have to constantly remember.
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2011, 03:21:12 AM »

By doing a whole lot of prayer and trying to live as Jesus did.
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2011, 08:33:48 AM »

step 1: read the Bible and lives of the Saints
step 2: imitate them
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 08:53:08 AM »

Pray Without Ceasing.

Let your breath be your guide.  Let inhaling be a reminder to pray. 
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« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2011, 09:15:23 AM »

The idea of having to 'live' Orthodox Christianity is tied to the idea of theosis (participating in the energies of the divine nature) and the concept of salvation as a continuous, lifelong, process. These two ideas alone pretty much mandate that you will have to work every day for the rest of your life on permitting God to shape you into a worthy member of the body of Christ, i.e., the Church. All Orthodox are called on to be saints and servants.

In addition to attending church for about 10 hours every week, and saying daily prayers, and observing the fasts, you are also working to acquire humility, which is the quickest and surest way to get closer to God--according to the Saints and Church Fathers. (I wouldn't know.) Humility being the result of sincere repentance, you'll be repenting a lot, too. Since Christ is standing wherever you happen to be standing, you'll also want to get to a point where you are no longer capable of feeling anger, no longer allow sinful thoughts to run unchecked through your mind, and no longer withhold your immediate forgiveness from those who have wronged you. By the time you understand how much work needs to be done, they'll be fitting you for a casket.

So, coming to church twice a month, downing the Eucharist, socializing for twenty minutes and forgetting about God until the next time you make it to church are out of the question. Your life is, to a greater or lesser extent, inseparable from that of the church.

This is, obviously, an ideal. Of course, you can attend church casually--'a concert and a lecture' as Father Thomas Hopko calls it--but you'd be missing out on the church's most illuminating and transfiguring secrets. It would be like ignoring a banquet or not consummating a marriage.
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2011, 09:55:45 AM »

Exactly, how do you "live" your faith? For example: fasting, prayer, etc. My main question is, how do you live your faith OUTSIDE of church after Sunday? Is prayer done everyday of your life? What if you miss prayer? Religiously/spiritually, what do you do during the week?

Prayer should be done every day.  When I miss a day, that is covered by the Gospel -- I don't take out a whip and flagellate myself or anything.  But I do try not to miss a day (and I fail far too frequently).  Spiritually, I try to pray over meals, I listen to Orthodox podcasts, I read, I have a prayer rope in the car so I can say the Jesus Prayer while stuck in traffic, I try to be kind to my neighbor, I try to raise my kids right and love my wife, etc. 

Quote
What about when you are in public? Do you extend your practice to others and keep in mind the teachings in the Gospels as you live your everday life? How do you remember what you were taught?

I try and I fail and I try again.  It's like learning to walk.  When you're a year old, you stumble and fall.  A lot.  When you get older, you stumble and fall less, but you still do it on occasion.  I'm quite certain I sin more than I stumble and fall, and I'm pretty uncoordinated, but the idea is you progress.  Then, when you get really old, you stumble and fall more still (I liken this to the saints, as they approach theosis, having the self-understanding that they are in fact greater sinners -- in their proximity to holiness, they recognize their sin far better than we do ours).  But we get up and keep walking.  And sometimes a neighbor helps us up.

I think it is easy to take sin far too lightly.  But I also think it is possible to take our own personal sin way too seriously in the sense that we begin to doubt our salvation, which is nothing less than doubting the promises of God.  Humility, I think, demands that we recognize that even the tiniest sins we commit are still grievous and unconsciounable, while still clinging to the promises of a loving God Who would have that no man perish.  He has given us His Gifts so that we may be strengthened, forgiven and united in Him.  We live from those Gifts, and we try to cultivate an honest recognition of our sinfulness and unworthiness in humility and repentance, but without despair.  That's easier said than done, obviously, but that's the basic framework we ought to be operating from.
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2011, 01:11:23 PM »

I love this thread.  Thanks for starting it Ai.
And thank you to all those who have posted, the answers are so helpful.

As an inquirer who was drawn in by wanting to learn more about icons (originally...though it is more than that now..) I also would add to all the above items...trying to study about the icons each day, write or work on an icon daily which of course includes the prayers that go along with that.  They are saving my sanity right now as I deal with a serious illness.

The humbleness needed for this discipline must be why so many monks were iconographers!
Lord have mercy on me.
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2011, 01:24:19 PM »

Although this may not exactly be the answer you want, in terms of specifics, the following does an admirable job of covering all the bases...

-----------------------

This speech by Father John Moses was presented at the Southern Missions Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, on November 8, 2003. The congregation of St. Mary of Egypt Russian Orthodox Church sponsored the conference.

http://www.allsaintsofamerica.org/orthodoxy/orthodoxlife.html

A popular musician once said that you should never begin a concert with an apology. While this may be good advice for musicians, I don't know if it is good Orthodox theology. When Fr. John Townsend asked me to give this speech, I thought that he was kidding me. When he told me the topic, Living the Traditional Orthodox Life, I was convinced that my beloved friend had finally "flipped his scufia," so to speak.

Here is my apology:

I am a recent convert only 9 years old. I have been a priest for almost 8 years. I am supposed to tell you how to live a traditional life? May the Lord have mercy on my presumption and may you forgive the poverty of my words. Still, the Fathers say that we should never give advice unless asked. So, since Fr. John has laid this mantle upon me, I will try do my best.....

That article was a real wake-up call for me. In fact, it just shows that many of us Western Christians are way too worldly and that we need to cut out the video games, TV, and other vain things in life.
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« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2011, 10:44:19 AM »

How to be Orthodox? Be yourself.

Only striving to be a better self, the self God meant you to be, by using all the tools that our Church provides for us.
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« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2011, 04:17:37 PM »

may God have mercy on all of us.
these are great answers. i would add:
1. love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength.
2. Love your neighbour as yourself.
(mark 12:29-34)

also don't forget mark 10:17-22; if you love money and possessions, you will have a problem doing 1 and 2 above.
orthodox Christianity is about a relationship with God, born of His love for us and continued by our love for Him.
reading the Bible (you should read or listen to the new testament all the way through, even if you are slow it should only take a year) and attending church and praying are the ways to deepen that relationship.

you can try taking your Bible to a remote island and read it alone (not recommended, no-one to discuss it with), or you can try the method that Jesus instituted for learning God's love which is the church.
the church is not perfect, so it is a great place to perfect your patience, love and humility!
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