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« on: July 22, 2010, 09:38:16 AM »

as in Keep it Simple Stupid (no disrespect intended)...just more struggle- my priest calls it podvig....i was raised RC but left that in my mid 20"s and pretty much have been Assembly of God...i am now 60 and Catholicism is far behind me....but i suspect my priest thinks it is still much of me (perhaps since he was previously RC priest)....protestantism by comparison is incredibly simpler- lacking the extensive doctrine....Orthodoxy appears so much richer and deeper and, ....well i have trouble describing what i think and feel for example, when i read "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" by Lossky...

but here is the rub- when it comes right down to it isnt the Creed the litmus test? and yet my priest tells me he wont crismate me unless i believe in the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it" ( i know, double negative, and my husband is English teacher too..sorry)- that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church? sigh...there are just soo many things- far from the 16 Tenets of the Assembly of God (not all of which are accepted even by the clergy)

i am beginning to feel like a little brat and apologize- but i feel more comfortable being bratty here, anonymously- rather than to my dear priest- i do challenge him; he is kind and patient- nevertheless please do pray for him as he deal with this sinner..
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2010, 10:10:18 AM »

as in Keep it Simple Stupid (no disrespect intended)...just more struggle- my priest calls it podvig....i was raised RC but left that in my mid 20"s and pretty much have been Assembly of God...i am now 60 and Catholicism is far behind me....but i suspect my priest thinks it is still much of me (perhaps since he was previously RC priest)....protestantism by comparison is incredibly simpler- lacking the extensive doctrine....Orthodoxy appears so much richer and deeper and, ....well i have trouble describing what i think and feel for example, when i read "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" by Lossky...

but here is the rub- when it comes right down to it isnt the Creed the litmus test? and yet my priest tells me he wont crismate me unless i believe in the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it" ( i know, double negative, and my husband is English teacher too..sorry)- that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church? sigh...there are just soo many things- far from the 16 Tenets of the Assembly of God (not all of which are accepted even by the clergy)

i am beginning to feel like a little brat and apologize- but i feel more comfortable being bratty here, anonymously- rather than to my dear priest- i do challenge him; he is kind and patient- nevertheless please do pray for him as he deal with this sinner..

Welcome to the forum! I hope that your spiritual; journey will bear fruit soon.

I think you just need to reread your own words:

"...the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it"....that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church?" (my emphasis)

Wouldn't you agree that it is beneficial to believe in a thing that enriches your spirit and prayer life?

Now, it may be true that belief in sinlessness of the Theotokos is "advanced" Orthodoxy and thus is not required of all catechumens by every Orthodox priest. But, who is to say? I do not think that you and I are capable of discerning the right answer; that is why we have bishops and priests, and it was so from the earliest of times, wasn't it?

I think you know the main issue. I am thinking of Frederica Mathewes-Greene's analogy of the Orthodox Church to the Marine Corps--hard and demanding: "...Something about Orthodoxy has immense appeal to men, and it’s something that their wives—especially those used to worshiping in the softer evangelical style—are generally slower to get. The appeal of joining this vast, ancient, rock-solid communion must be something like the appeal of joining the marines. It’s going to demand a hell of a lot out of you, and it’s not going to cater to your individual whims, but when it’s through with you you’re going to be more than you ever knew you could be. It’s going to demand, not death on the battlefield, but death to self in a million painful ways, and God is going to be sovereign." http://www.frederica.com/facing-east-excerpt-1/

So, it is indeed a matter of podvig, of spiritual struggle, but this struggle is often against our own prideful nature, against our individual opinions, feelings and whims. So, it turns out that this little issue between you and your priest is so much more than a difference of opinion.
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2010, 11:49:26 AM »


I think you just need to reread your own words:

"...the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it"....that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church?" (my emphasis)

Wouldn't you agree that it is beneficial to believe in a thing that enriches your spirit and prayer life?


If only "belief" were that easy!

I know many Christians today think of "belief" as a switch a person can turn and off at will, but I don't see faith that way at all. What you're saying sounds a bit like Pascal's Wager, which is in essence "I'll fake belief and trick God, and trick myself, that'll do it!" Smiley

One cannot force one's self to actually believe in something they do not believe in. They can trick everyone else, including their priest, and even convince themselves they "believe" it, but deep down if a person doesn't believe, they will know it in their heart. And certainly God will know if the person is merely faking belief in a doctrine, or if he/she sincerely believes it. This is the wisdom of Orthodox IMO, of not making every single doctrine a test of one's Orthodoxy. The test is the Creed, and participation in the life of the Church.

Of course what it comes down to might be what does one mean by "belief" to begin with? Historically "belief" meant something different than it has come to mean today. (mental ascension to various opinions of the world, God, and the afterlife) Faith and belief are not just holding ideas about something, but rather is something more akin to trust, commitment and just "living" you're life, and "being" Orthodox. If we start demanding mental ascension to various ideas that we've never asked people to ascend to before, that to me, seems a bit overly Western in thinking of faith and religion in general. Rather than being Orthodox, we worry about "thinking" about Orthodoxy. As though we can make neat and tidy boxes, put our way of life into them, and then tell people here, "believe" this stuff, otherwise you're not one of us.

To put it more clearly what I'm trying to say, Orthodoxy is much more a way of being, that it is a way of thinking.




Quote
Now, it may be true that belief in sinlessness of the Theotokos is "advanced" Orthodoxy and thus is not required of all catechumens by every Orthodox priest. But, who is to say?

I'm not sure who is to say, but I am pretty sure it is not up to the individual whims of a parish priest to decide either. Each jurisdiction has it's own requirements, and one should adhere to those requirements, including the priests. Priests should not start demanding things of catechumen's based on their own personal piety, but on whatever guidelines are set forth by the Bishop, and the Bishop should follow the guidelines of one's jurisdiction.


I have always been taught, have always read, and have always learned that the issue of something like the sinlessness of Mary is not essential to being Orthodox. The Creed is supposed to be the bottom line...after all it is the Creed that we recite when we join the Church. We don't recite the Magnificat, or the Akathist hymn, but the Creed. If individual priests start demanding of catechumens more than the historic Church has asked of it's catechumen's then where is the submission to tradition,  obedience and all the other nifty catch phrases we as Orthodox like to toss about?


Quote
So, it turns out that this little issue between you and your priest is so much more than a difference of opinion.

Indeed! It is much more than a difference of opinion. If the OP is portraying an accurate view of things, it seems to me, this priest may be overstepping his authority. I have never heard of a priest making this issue a requirement for conversion. Not that I'm have the corner on experiences within Orthodoxy, not by a long shot. But this to me just seems a bit, over zealous.

This is not a dogma of the Church. If a priest were to require this, what stops another priest from requiring the next potential convert to believe that Jesus was born without a placenta? that's part of Holy tradition as well, and has a history of support, but I don't believe it, even though my priest probably does. (though I've never asked him and he's never asked me, which is how it should be, personal piety is personal, not public IMO) Or perhaps a priest might make someone believe in Creationism before becoming Orthodox? Or perhaps priests might start making potential converts believe in Toll Houses, or other versions of what happens when we die. Some Orthodox believe in something close to purgatory, should we require that based on the whims of a priest?  Or maybe other doctrines that are actually not required or necessary for Salvation, even though they might have a venerable and long history within the living tradition of the Church.

I do realize there is far more support for the sinlessness of Mary than for say, a literal 6 day creation, (which has little support in the Fathers actually) and I realize this is almost universally accepted in the Fathers, however the bottom line is it is NOT a dogma, not a pronouncement of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, and not in the Creed, so I just don't see how a priest can put this requirement upon someone. This just really seems like a scandalous requirement to me. As long as one not actively preaching against this doctrine, and as long as one is open to the possibility that it's true, I don't see why he would be so strict on this. Maybe there is something the OP has forgotten to mention. (perhaps he/she was hostile to the idea for a long while and he wants to be sure that hostility is gone?)

Or maybe this requirement is far more common that I'm aware of and I've just been exposed to a bunch of liberal priests in the upper midwest...lol! That could be the case as well. And I might be causing scandal to everyone else. if so, God forgive me!



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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2010, 12:07:00 PM »


I think you just need to reread your own words:

"...the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it"....that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church?" (my emphasis)

Wouldn't you agree that it is beneficial to believe in a thing that enriches your spirit and prayer life?


If only "belief" were that easy!

I know many Christians today think of "belief" as a switch a person can turn and off at will, but I don't see faith that way at all. What you're saying sounds a bit like Pascal's Wager, which is in essence "I'll fake belief and trick God, and trick myself, that'll do it!" Smiley

One cannot force one's self to actually believe in something they do not believe in. They can trick everyone else, including their priest, and even convince themselves they "believe" it, but deep down if a person doesn't believe, they will know it in their heart. And certainly God will know if the person is merely faking belief in a doctrine, or if he/she sincerely believes it. This is the wisdom of Orthodox IMO, of not making every single doctrine a test of one's Orthodoxy. The test is the Creed, and participation in the life of the Church.

Of course what it comes down to might be what does one mean by "belief" to begin with? Historically "belief" meant something different than it has come to mean today. (mental ascension to various opinions of the world, God, and the afterlife) Faith and belief are not just holding ideas about something, but rather is something more akin to trust, commitment and just "living" you're life, and "being" Orthodox. If we start demanding mental ascension to various ideas that we've never asked people to ascend to before, that to me, seems a bit overly Western in thinking of faith and religion in general. Rather than being Orthodox, we worry about "thinking" about Orthodoxy. As though we can make neat and tidy boxes, put our way of life into them, and then tell people here, "believe" this stuff, otherwise you're not one of us.

To put it more clearly what I'm trying to say, Orthodoxy is much more a way of being, that it is a way of thinking.




Quote
Now, it may be true that belief in sinlessness of the Theotokos is "advanced" Orthodoxy and thus is not required of all catechumens by every Orthodox priest. But, who is to say?

I'm not sure who is to say, but I am pretty sure it is not up to the individual whims of a parish priest to decide either. Each jurisdiction has it's own requirements, and one should adhere to those requirements, including the priests. Priests should not start demanding things of catechumen's based on their own personal piety, but on whatever guidelines are set forth by the Bishop, and the Bishop should follow the guidelines of one's jurisdiction.


I have always been taught, have always read, and have always learned that the issue of something like the sinlessness of Mary is not essential to being Orthodox. The Creed is supposed to be the bottom line...after all it is the Creed that we recite when we join the Church. We don't recite the Magnificat, or the Akathist hymn, but the Creed. If individual priests start demanding of catechumens more than the historic Church has asked of it's catechumen's then where is the submission to tradition,  obedience and all the other nifty catch phrases we as Orthodox like to toss about?


Quote
So, it turns out that this little issue between you and your priest is so much more than a difference of opinion.

Indeed! It is much more than a difference of opinion. If the OP is portraying an accurate view of things, it seems to me, this priest may be overstepping his authority. I have never heard of a priest making this issue a requirement for conversion. Not that I'm have the corner on experiences within Orthodoxy, not by a long shot. But this to me just seems a bit, over zealous.

This is not a dogma of the Church. If a priest were to require this, what stops another priest from requiring the next potential convert to believe that Jesus was born without a placenta? that's part of Holy tradition as well, and has a history of support, but I don't believe it, even though my priest probably does. (though I've never asked him and he's never asked me, which is how it should be, personal piety is personal, not public IMO) Or perhaps a priest might make someone believe in Creationism before becoming Orthodox? Or perhaps priests might start making potential converts believe in Toll Houses, or other versions of what happens when we die. Some Orthodox believe in something close to purgatory, should we require that based on the whims of a priest?  Or maybe other doctrines that are actually not required or necessary for Salvation, even though they might have a venerable and long history within the living tradition of the Church.

I do realize there is far more support for the sinlessness of Mary than for say, a literal 6 day creation, (which has little support in the Fathers actually) and I realize this is almost universally accepted in the Fathers, however the bottom line is it is NOT a dogma, not a pronouncement of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, and not in the Creed, so I just don't see how a priest can put this requirement upon someone. This just really seems like a scandalous requirement to me. As long as one not actively preaching against this doctrine, and as long as one is open to the possibility that it's true, I don't see why he would be so strict on this. Maybe there is something the OP has forgotten to mention. (perhaps he/she was hostile to the idea for a long while and he wants to be sure that hostility is gone?)

Or maybe this requirement is far more common that I'm aware of and I've just been exposed to a bunch of liberal priests in the upper midwest...lol! That could be the case as well. And I might be causing scandal to everyone else. if so, God forgive me!


Hi NP! A usual you are making great points. I always look forward to reading your posts. So, I approach this with some trepidation.

First, the OP's problem was not with the sinlessness of the Theotokos but with this particular belief being a pre-condition for her chrismation.

Second, I presume that this priest, as a deputy-bishop, represents the views of his bishop.

Third, I saw this as a power struggle between the OP and her priest over "prerequisites" for chrismation. Generally speaking, I tend to side with the priest in such disagreements because the larger issue is obedience to the Church as represented by the priest. Now, I am not a stranger to disagreeing with the authorities but, in this instance at least, I felt that the OP should consider exactly why she has a problem here.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 12:08:39 PM by Second Chance » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010, 10:19:06 AM »


Third, I saw this as a power struggle between the OP and her priest over "prerequisites" for chrismation. Generally speaking, I tend to side with the priest in such disagreements because the larger issue is obedience to the Church as represented by the priest. Now, I am not a stranger to disagreeing with the authorities but, in this instance at least, I felt that the OP should consider exactly why she has a problem here.

I ask the OP's forgiveness, but this is how it seemed to me also.
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 10:19:43 AM »


I think you just need to reread your own words:

"...the sinlessness of Mary....now, i dont "not believe it"....that is, i understand the thinking process of the teaching and it makes sense to me...its just that i think so much of the teaching/tradition of Orthodoxy is rich for theological discussion and the enrichment of spirit and prayer life...but to require it for acceptance into the church?" (my emphasis)

Wouldn't you agree that it is beneficial to believe in a thing that enriches your spirit and prayer life?


If only "belief" were that easy!

I know many Christians today think of "belief" as a switch a person can turn and off at will, but I don't see faith that way at all. What you're saying sounds a bit like Pascal's Wager, which is in essence "I'll fake belief and trick God, and trick myself, that'll do it!" Smiley

One cannot force one's self to actually believe in something they do not believe in. They can trick everyone else, including their priest, and even convince themselves they "believe" it, but deep down if a person doesn't believe, they will know it in their heart. And certainly God will know if the person is merely faking belief in a doctrine, or if he/she sincerely believes it. This is the wisdom of Orthodox IMO, of not making every single doctrine a test of one's Orthodoxy. The test is the Creed, and participation in the life of the Church.

Of course what it comes down to might be what does one mean by "belief" to begin with? Historically "belief" meant something different than it has come to mean today. (mental ascension to various opinions of the world, God, and the afterlife) Faith and belief are not just holding ideas about something, but rather is something more akin to trust, commitment and just "living" you're life, and "being" Orthodox. If we start demanding mental ascension to various ideas that we've never asked people to ascend to before, that to me, seems a bit overly Western in thinking of faith and religion in general. Rather than being Orthodox, we worry about "thinking" about Orthodoxy. As though we can make neat and tidy boxes, put our way of life into them, and then tell people here, "believe" this stuff, otherwise you're not one of us.

To put it more clearly what I'm trying to say, Orthodoxy is much more a way of being, that it is a way of thinking.




Quote
Now, it may be true that belief in sinlessness of the Theotokos is "advanced" Orthodoxy and thus is not required of all catechumens by every Orthodox priest. But, who is to say?

I'm not sure who is to say, but I am pretty sure it is not up to the individual whims of a parish priest to decide either. Each jurisdiction has it's own requirements, and one should adhere to those requirements, including the priests. Priests should not start demanding things of catechumen's based on their own personal piety, but on whatever guidelines are set forth by the Bishop, and the Bishop should follow the guidelines of one's jurisdiction.


I have always been taught, have always read, and have always learned that the issue of something like the sinlessness of Mary is not essential to being Orthodox. The Creed is supposed to be the bottom line...after all it is the Creed that we recite when we join the Church. We don't recite the Magnificat, or the Akathist hymn, but the Creed. If individual priests start demanding of catechumens more than the historic Church has asked of it's catechumen's then where is the submission to tradition,  obedience and all the other nifty catch phrases we as Orthodox like to toss about?


Quote
So, it turns out that this little issue between you and your priest is so much more than a difference of opinion.

Indeed! It is much more than a difference of opinion. If the OP is portraying an accurate view of things, it seems to me, this priest may be overstepping his authority. I have never heard of a priest making this issue a requirement for conversion. Not that I'm have the corner on experiences within Orthodoxy, not by a long shot. But this to me just seems a bit, over zealous.

This is not a dogma of the Church. If a priest were to require this, what stops another priest from requiring the next potential convert to believe that Jesus was born without a placenta? that's part of Holy tradition as well, and has a history of support, but I don't believe it, even though my priest probably does. (though I've never asked him and he's never asked me, which is how it should be, personal piety is personal, not public IMO) Or perhaps a priest might make someone believe in Creationism before becoming Orthodox? Or perhaps priests might start making potential converts believe in Toll Houses, or other versions of what happens when we die. Some Orthodox believe in something close to purgatory, should we require that based on the whims of a priest?  Or maybe other doctrines that are actually not required or necessary for Salvation, even though they might have a venerable and long history within the living tradition of the Church.

I do realize there is far more support for the sinlessness of Mary than for say, a literal 6 day creation, (which has little support in the Fathers actually) and I realize this is almost universally accepted in the Fathers, however the bottom line is it is NOT a dogma, not a pronouncement of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, and not in the Creed, so I just don't see how a priest can put this requirement upon someone. This just really seems like a scandalous requirement to me. As long as one not actively preaching against this doctrine, and as long as one is open to the possibility that it's true, I don't see why he would be so strict on this. Maybe there is something the OP has forgotten to mention. (perhaps he/she was hostile to the idea for a long while and he wants to be sure that hostility is gone?)

Or maybe this requirement is far more common that I'm aware of and I've just been exposed to a bunch of liberal priests in the upper midwest...lol! That could be the case as well. And I might be causing scandal to everyone else. if so, God forgive me!



Who said anything about forcing oneself? Just accept! Just trust! That's what I did when it came to the issues of "ever virgin" and "chillism". Well, I had the help of knowing that there were indeed ancient Christians that believed  our blessed Mother to be "ever virgin", and I knew that there were ancient Christians that argued against "chillism", and so that helped me trust and accept too.

Another thing that helped was "priority". I asked myself what was more important, the Eucharist and other Mysteries or my personal belief in chiilism and Mary not being ever virgin? I told myself that the Eucharist and other Mysteries were way more important therefor It was ok to compromise my convictions on the issues of "chillism" and " not ever virgin". I dropped those beliefs without a problem, and so it is possible.


But yeah, you don't have to force yourself. I once tried to force myself to become a 5 point calvinist some 10 years ago because the girl I was gonna marry was one. But I just couldn't do it. My bones and chest were on fire when I tried. But in this case with EO, I was so tired and alone in the protestant world, and so tired of fighting/arguing, debating, defending my beliefs.

I was so tired that I just wanted a place to settle, lay my head down and rest. A place where I knew I didn't have to fight anymore if I didn't want to. For I knew that the Church would and could defend the truth, and how I really didn't have to defend anything if I didn't want to.

And so I gave in. I accepted and I trusted!  


You don't have to force yourself if you simply trust that what was told to you was true. You don't have to understand the "why" right away. Eventually you will find reasons to believe.

But you don't always need "reasons" initially. And partially re-programming ourselves is possible........that's what free will is all about.......we have the ability to partially re-adjust our programming.

The accumulation of what we either accept or reject over a period of time through prayer, internal wrestling with God and self, the reading of books, watching tv, movies, talking to other people, listening to the radio, mp3's........etc. can help in the area of what we can and can't believe.












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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 10:32:33 AM »

...I was so tired and alone in the protestant world, and so tired of fighting/arguing, debating, defending my beliefs.

I was so tired that I just wanted a place to settle, lay my head down and rest. A place where I knew I didn't have to fight anymore if I didn't want to. For I knew that the Church would and could defend the truth, and how I really didn't have to defend anything if I didn't want to.

And so I gave in. I accepted and I trusted!  

So true and so beautifully said. This is how I felt also.
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 11:04:45 AM »


Who said anything about forcing oneself? Just accept! Just trust!

Believe it or not, I pretty much agree with what you're saying. For us faith is much more about trust, commitment, living and being Orthodox than it is about mental ascension to various points. If I read your post correctly, (and if I'm wrong, just let me know) you had a few hang ups about the Ever Virginity of Mary, and the 1000 yr reign of Christ, but you took things out of your own hands and simply trusted the 2000 year old wisdom of the Church. But you didn't necessarily ascribe to it in the affirmative until later on, once you had become Orthodox. You "trusted" the Church, were Chrismated, then later on came to "believe" that it was in fact true. If I've misread your post please tell me, but that's how I read it, and that's how the issues I had hang ups about were treated as well.

However, my reading of the OP, was that for his/her priest, simply trusting was not enough for him. He (the priest) wants the OP to "believe it" (mentally ascend to it) before the chrismation hence my strong reaction against what seems to be a fairly strict and rigid requirement, quite uncharacteristic of what is typically required of potential converts.


  
Quote

You don't have to force yourself if you simply trust that what was told to you was true. You don't have to understand the "why" right away. Eventually you will find reasons to believe.

But you don't always need "reasons" initially. And partially re-programming ourselves is possible........that's what free will is all about.......we have the ability to partially re-adjust our programming.

Again, I basically agree with you! However, it seemed from the OP, that his priest wasn't satisfied with your scenario, but rather he needed the "reasons" and to be pre-programmed right now, before his conversion. I could very well have read the OP wrong. And as I said, there might be something he had forgotten to mention, like a previous hostility to the doctrine, that the priest has the wisdom to realize he must let go of before becoming Orthodox. But at least from the original post and question, it really seemed like the priest was going beyond typical requirements, but of course I don't know for sure. I can only go by words on the screen, which sometimes I'm not very good at seeing the intention behind.

I actually agree with you for the most part, and what little disagreement I might have is of no consequence to the OP. Smiley

As I said though I may have totally misread what he was asking/saying, and in that case I'm just acting a fool. Wink


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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 11:34:32 AM »


First, the OP's problem was not with the sinlessness of the Theotokos but with this particular belief being a pre-condition for her chrismation.

Which is the point I take issue with as well. Making it a pre-condition for chrismation just seems very out of the ordinary.


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Second, I presume that this priest, as a deputy-bishop, represents the views of his bishop.

See, I never presume that...LOL! I guess it in part because in my jurisdiction bishops tend to be much more "hands off" than hands on, especially in my neck of the woods. (I mean we see our bishop once every 5 or 6 years) And perhaps also, because I've been in and seen the inner workings of the hierarchy just enough to know that plenty of Bishops actually might prefer to make weird things requirements to being chrismated  if it was up to their own personal preferences. My point is that it is not up to their own personal preferences or piety. However considering the OP is coming home via the OCA, things might be quite  a bit different and I believe Bishops in the OCA tend to take a more pastoral approach generally speaking. With that said, It's not unheard of that even Bishops do and say things out of the ordinary at times.


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Third, I saw this as a power struggle between the OP and her priest over "prerequisites" for chrismation. Generally speaking, I tend to side with the priest in such disagreements because the larger issue is obedience to the Church as represented by the priest.

I see you're point. However, if indeed the priest is requiring something out of the ordinary, shouldn't someone call him on it? I'm not suggesting that is the job of a Catechumen, but it is someone's responsibility. A priest, Bishops, or Patriarch's authority is not absolute, not even close. For example, I once heard a story about a catechumen's priest explaining authority to him, and that this priest said something like, "if I told you to go dig a 6 foot hole today, and then tomorrow told you to fill it back in, you must do it, because I'm a priest who has authority over your spiritual life!" That of course is utter nonsense. But priests are humans like everyone else, and can and do get caught up in their role as pastors. I once had a priest argue with me that I should take up the habit of drinking alcohol, because NOT to drink alcohol was offensive to cultures where drinking is part of the social network. And to refuse to drink a glass of wine was offensive to the person offering it to me. I of course refused and the priest didn't much care for that. And had he ordered me to drink, (which BTW he came really close to doing) I would have refused. Definitely not the same situation here, but it does show that priests are no strangers to being seduced by their position.


Certainly clergy have an authority, and we should be obedient to them, even when we disagree with them, I've done that many times. And it is good to be humbled and to just be obedient when every fiber of our being says to rebel. I totally agree. When I was considering becoming Orthodox, I had a problem with not being "rebaptized" by 3 fold immersion. I thought the Church was wrong on the issue, and WANTED to be baptized "the correct way". But my priest and I had several long conversations about the issue, and in the end he realized that I was worried that I wouldn't be baptized correctly, and that I was concerned and wondered, "would I be really Orthodox"...he simply said that like he himself was a child of obedience, I should trust that the Church was making the right decision no simply doing a chrismation, and if it turned out that God really wanted everyone to be baptized by 3 fold immersion, it would be the hierarchs of the Church that would have to answer for it, not me. I was simply being an obedient son to the Church. That to me made sense, (even though I still disagreed) and I went ahead and got chrismated. Over time I came to see the wisdom on how the GOA and most American Orthodox Churches handle this issue, and so I definitely see your point, now that I take a second hard look at the situation.


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Now, I am not a stranger to disagreeing with the authorities but, in this instance at least, I felt that the OP should consider exactly why she has a problem here.

You know, as I reflect back on my experience, I believe I may be changing my mind here. If the OP is sincere about becoming Orthodox, and already is open to the point of doctrine about the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her only complaint is that he is requiring this of her, then she should probably just let it go. If the priest is doing something wrong, he will answer for it at some point down the road.

However if indeed he is using this specifically as a test of her Orthodoxy, then I still stand by my original opinion. I guess it all depends on the context of this pre-condition. maybe she can clear it up for us.

NP

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NorthernPines
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2010, 11:36:12 AM »

my husband is English teacher too..sorry)-

I sincerely apologize for refering to you as a "he" in my previous posts. Somehow I drifted right past this part that you had a husband!

Smiley

NP
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2010, 04:14:25 PM »

Obviously we can't know what anyone's motivation is in this situation. We don't know whether the priest is trying to help the OP get over some spiritual hurdles so that she can be chrismated or whether he's being all rigid and requiring this because that's the way he is.
However since most of us think that it's a bit unusual, and the OP seems to like and respect him, except for this, FWIW, my money would be on his insisting on this unusual requirement for her own good, spiritually speaking.

A good long talk about this, with humility and willingness to be instructed on the OP's side would seem to be in order.
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2010, 08:10:01 PM »

Dear Nrse:  When I converted (from Protestantism), Fr. George of blessed memory, who was the founding priest of my parish, told me, "Nobody becomes Orthodox overnight."  Please feel at liberty to tell your priest what I've told you.
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2010, 10:12:38 PM »

you have all been so gracious, so patient and kind....thank you ..i take to heart every suggestion and encouragement....thank you all for the gentle teaching on obedience....

i AM female btw- all 60 years of me lol....i have found it hard to drop some of the anti-Mary teaching i’ve sat under for 35+ years-(although i can tell you i pushed back against some of it over the years! and then would be accused of having a feminism streak!!)... having been protestant for so long, it is difficult to shed those clothes quickly...

i do have great respect and fondness for my priest...Father appears to have a strong personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin (i sometimes wonder if this relates back to his RC training- or am i overthinking here? - i trust he is fully Orthodox in this)....my feeling on the whole issue of Mary is shyness that i can really talk with her now......but as far as her personal life- that is not my business- i am grateful to know she prays for me although astounded she would even take time to think of me at all....the rest of it is between her and God...Theotokos says more about Jesus than about Mary i would guess....

there is just so much to wrap my brain around!! the teachings on the Trinity which i feel is paramount and so glorious....changing the metaphor in my head from legal/judicial to medical (which is relatively smooth since i am a hospice nurse and never quite "got" the judicial anyway) ...the deep, aching, hopeful anticipation of partaking in the Eucharist as it was meant to be....the liturgy, communion of saints, infant baptism....(if someone would have told me 5 years ago that i would have accepted infant baptism i never would have believed it!...and yet it "fell" away just like that!!!! and i have no idea where it went to so to speak)  am still learning and have so much to learn....never mind the whole new “lingo”- dropping the “lingo” of evangelicalism and picking up the language of Orthodoxy so that i can make myself understood and understand...btw- i am often being referred to as ”OP”- what does that stand for? Wink

parts of this journey i “get”- i just “get” without even thinking about it- its like its been part of me all of my life- and that is so encouraging and what drives me forward....but others are so foreign and strange- like trying to get a square peg in round whole...

do not want a power struggle-my son in law is a protestant pastor-i have seen the devastation caused by power struggles... another of the things i disliked so much re protestantism is the attitude- “Well if i dont like it here i can just go down the street” ...well, no- this time it feels more like committing to marriage--for life...no... no power struggle....

i will take the suggestion to talk with Father, and in fact, had already decided to do that- he is easy for me to talk with...we just have a long break here with his traveling and then my traveling....and i am so inpatient.....

it is Friday night, its been a long week and i am tired- and tiredness loosens my tongue....forgive me dear ones and pray for me....

love and prayers, lynn
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2010, 10:52:50 AM »

What do you mean by the sinlessness of the Theotokos?  Do you mean that you don't hold her sinlessness even in a glorified state?  It would be tough to pray Orthodox prayers with that position:  "It is truly meet to bless you O Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and the Mother of our God, more honorable than the cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the word, true Theotokos we magnify you."   Here we have the affirmation that she is sinless now ("most pure"--could also be translated immaculate), and also that she was sinless and "without defilement" gave birth to God the Word.   While it is true that the Creed is a prerequisite, if you are not secure on the truth of the prayers of the Liturgy, there is still an issue.   That a woman is superior to men and angels is quite different than the tradition you were in over the past 35 years, but it is not an insurmountable object, because the woman is the one chosen from all of humanity to give humanity to the Word of God.   She didn't win a random lottery drawing, but was chosen.   Continue to pray and let the Spirit, and not past convictions, guide you. 
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2010, 12:50:38 PM »

I would quite agree, but, coming from a Protestant background as I do (even one modified by 20 years as an Episcopalian), I am obliged to agree with Fr. George's dictum, which I quoted earlier.  Getting one's head around Mary and the dogmas and pious beliefs concerning her, is a rough go, and it doesn't happe overnight.
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2010, 10:43:38 AM »

One of the things that I have learned since I became Orthodox is humility, and I'm pretty darned proud of that! Wink

But seriously, before when I was a Protestant, I thought I was a pretty good sort and much smarter than the average bear.

Orthodoxy has gently (and sometimes not so gently!) disabused me of both those notions.

So if there's some Church teaching or theological point that I can't wrap my head around, I accept it, figuring that the Church knows better than I do and has been doing theology a lot longer.

Oddly enough, later on, I've noticed a couple of things: either I begin to understand it, or it doesn't seem like such a big deal that I don't.
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