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Author Topic: Chrismation Cold Feet  (Read 8286 times) Average Rating: 0
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YankeeLady
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« on: July 11, 2004, 06:10:48 PM »

Hello everyone!  I've been lurking here for about a year and a half and have found the posts to be enlightening and helpful in general.  I've finally decided to dip my toe into the OC net waters.  Hope the temperature's not too cold!

My question is this.  I've been a catechumen for about 16 months.  In the last 6 months I've come close to being chrismated twice.  My priest felt I was ready but there was always a nagging doubt on my part.  My problem has always been with the church, not theology.  The beauty of Orthodox belief made so much sense to me from the very beginning.  It was like a breath of fresh air after years of breathing the toxic fumes of Protestant fundamentalism.  After years of fearing an avenging god, here was the God of love that scripture actually proclaimed.  I finally felt as if the gospel really was good news after all.

At first Orthodox practice seemed vigorous and refreshing.  But after over two years of study and over a year in the catechumenate, I find all of the demands of church life to be just overwhelming.  I've always been a shy person and someone who prefers solitude (or the company of animals) to people activities.  When I do relate to people, it's to individuals, not to a mass of bodies.  The corporate nature of Orthodoxy has begun to feel oppressive.  I actually find myself feeling extremely depressed during Divine Liturgy.  I can't wait to get out.  There's so much pressure to socialize afterwards at coffee hour and sometimes I just can't bear to talk to anyone.  People keep asking me when I'm going to be chrismated.  Or they want to know about my job search.  It's very awkward and I don't want to appear rude, but I just don't want to discuss those things.

Is it possible to be a happy Orthodox person?  I see so much emphasis on our own sinfulness.  I just can't relate to it right now.  The prayers don't seem relevant.  I'm supposed to ask for help in reaching theosis when I'm really more worried about finding a job and paying the mortgage.  It seems so removed from the concerns of everyday life.

I've tried to discuss this with my priest (a very kind and loving man) but he's so in love with Orthodoxy himself that I don't think he quite understands.  He wants to keep talking and that just makes me more upset.  I want time to put this into perspective for myself but the priest and many of the parishioners just keep pushing.  I don't want to be rude, but how do I get people to just back off?

Has anyone else fallen out of love with Orthodoxy?  I feel there's some truth in the faith and I don't just want to walk away without really exploring all of these issues, but it just seems so unworkable right now.  Any other loners find a way to be a part of church life without losing their sanity?

Hope this doesn't sound like a tirade.  It's not meant to be.  But I always read such glowing accounts of people's journey to Orthodoxy.  Hasn't anyone else just been plain miserable? :-

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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2004, 06:46:49 PM »

Yankeelady,
I know how you feel, and I am Orthodox. I left the church for a number of years over attitudes and politics. Both my wife and I struggle every day to remain Orthodox, not becuase it is convenient or feels good, but because it is true.  The paradox is that an  enounter with of Truth does bring happiness which is more than facile good feelings but-maybe not right away.

The pushy people may just be pushy becuase they care, though they may lack tact in showing it. The sad reality is also that there is a lot of pressure to conform, and some backstabbing and unChristian behavior in many parishes.
I purposely stay away from a lot of that, becuase it undermines my faith. Coffee hour is not liturgy. Worship and go home if you prefer.

Have you ever spent any time at a monastery? many monks and nuns struggle with the same issues of doubt, and are only too acutely aware that "The Orthodox Church is not a very nice church"(direct quote form an old monk)
Niceness and real love and truth are not the same thing.

God made each of us as individuals and some of us are loners. Many, many loners end up being saints. There is a whole aspect of Orthodox spirituality that emphasiszes this aloneness to encounter God. If you can get away to do it, try to find a monastery, preferably one with significant converts like Holy Myrrbearors in upstate New York or Transfiguration in Ellwood City PA.

I hope this helps, and I will keep you in my prayers.

Spyridon
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2004, 11:37:11 PM »

How do they know you are looking for a job in the first place? And is it possible that perhaps you are being selfish by your reaction to people's genuine attempts to be friendly to you?  Or are these people the type that are overly prying and nosy?

anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2004, 12:15:50 AM »

Being a serious introvert myself, I can relate. I was catechized and chrismated at a very large and bustling cathedral church, and had to deal with the constant whirlpool of socializing extroverts. I managed to deal with it by becoming friends with a few people, and trying to remain as anonymous and unnoticeable as possible to everyone else. Just remember: you are not obligated to stay for coffee hour (or at least you shouldn't be). Some may think leaving after the service without talking to anyone is being uncharitable, but it's more a way of dealing with the fact that for introverts having to socialize at any length with large groups of people can be mental and emotional torture. I know I'm not the only one who did so. Heck, a good friend of mine is a reader at his church, and he probably hasn't stayed for coffee hour more than a dozen times in the whole time he's served there. To most people, he's an anonymous guy in a cassock, and that's how he likes it. (It also has the advantage of him being one of the very few truly neutral people in the endless factionalism and battles that go on at that parish.)

I've managed to solve the whole socializing problem for myself permanently (I hope) by joining up with a very small mission parish, where I know everybody personally and can relate to them, as you said, as individuals, rather than as a large and shapeless mass of people yammering away. I'd recommend you find yourself a small parish, or, if possible, a monastery church where you can worship with people who are devoted to (blessed!) silence.
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2004, 12:38:01 AM »



 But after over two years of study and over a year in the catechumenate, I find all of the demands of church life to be just overwhelming.  I've always been a shy person and someone who prefers solitude (or the company of animals) to people activities.  When I do relate to people, it's to individuals, not to a mass of bodies.  The corporate nature of Orthodoxy has begun to feel oppressive.  I actually find myself feeling extremely depressed during Divine Liturgy.  I can't wait to get out.  There's so much pressure to socialize afterwards at coffee hour and sometimes I just can't bear to talk to anyone.  People keep asking me when I'm going to be chrismated.  Or they want to know about my job search.  It's very awkward and I don't want to appear rude, but I just don't want to discuss those things.

Yes, Orthodoxy is not for the timid.  Sometimes I consider it a curse to be born Orthodox.  As for after Divine Liturgy, you can just leave....that is what I did when I went.  I tried to socialize with people but being a young Orthodox in his 20s not many people want to socialize with you to begin with.  So I just left after the dismissal.  Why bother?

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Is it possible to be a happy Orthodox person?  

No.

I am serious here.......being a cradle Orthodox it is hard for me to see anything joyous with being in the world. Emphasis is on suffering without complaint...yeah right.  I have enough misery and I am tired of it totally.  I am sick of hearing of joy in sorrow.  Yeah I like to punch the clown that coined that concept.

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I see so much emphasis on our own sinfulness.  I just can't relate to it right now.  The prayers don't seem relevant.  I'm supposed to ask for help in reaching theosis when I'm really more worried about finding a job and paying the mortgage.  It seems so removed from the concerns of everyday life.

I agree with you somewhat.  I agree that the prayers don't seem relevant when you are trying to find a job.  If you think you are the only one who has a hard time seeing relevancy in Orthodoxy...try being a person in their 20s trying to do the right thing when it seems like everyone else are whores.  I mean trying to see any relevency in abstinence when chances are your future spousehas had more than a few partners is pretty damn hard to do. Many Orthodox would that Orthodoxy is not of this world and that is true....but it is far removed from the struggle for today.

Quote
I've tried to discuss this with my priest (a very kind and loving man) but he's so in love with Orthodoxy himself that I don't think he quite understands.  He wants to keep talking and that just makes me more upset.  I want time to put this into perspective for myself but the priest and many of the parishioners just keep pushing.  I don't want to be rude, but how do I get people to just back off?

Yankeelady, let me tell you it is a lot worse when you are the only college age Orthodox attending a church in the sticks where there are few if any Orthodox around. It sucks totally.  No one really socializes with you, there are no people your age around..so you are stuck with some priest who may mean well but in the end isn't a whole hell of a lot helpful.  As for people wanting to socialize with you after church...damn I wish I was in your shoes.

As for the priest who doesn't quite understand, welcome to the club.  Finding the right priest who understands you is like waiting for Godot.  I mean I am sure the holy fathers deal with the problems of the modern world...it is just that it is not being communicated well enough.  Too much emphasis is on fundraisers and raising money rather than teaching the faith.

Quote
Has anyone else fallen out of love with Orthodoxy?  I feel there's some truth in the faith and I don't just want to walk away without really exploring all of these issues, but it just seems so unworkable right now.  Any other loners find a way to be a part of church life without losing their sanity?

Raises his hand. I have fallen out of love with the religion I was borned into.  In fact, I am disillusioned with it.  Yankeelady, I hear what you are saying because I have been there.  I am a loner.  I have tried the coffee hour thing and it doesn't work.  I have come to the conclusion that church is for those who are married and elderly.  No one is really interested or sputters any relenvency unless you fit into those two cliques.  It is almost like they don't want you there. Orthodoxy is not an inclusive thing.  You have to fit into a certain group in order for it to work for you.


Quote
Hope this doesn't sound like a tirade.  It's not meant to be.  But I always read such glowing accounts of people's journey to Orthodoxy.  Hasn't anyone else just been plain miserable? :-



My journey has been PLAIN MISERABLE.  I have never had more misery in my life since I have returned back to the church.  I don't see any "joy" in sorrow.  Orthodoxy has made me even more enraged at God himself.   Orthodoxy will not bring you happiness...in fact many Orthodoxy would say we are not meant to be happy until we are in heaven with God. Ugh....so much for happiness in this life. Well, back to suffering as always. Angry
« Last Edit: July 12, 2004, 01:02:21 AM by sinjinsmythe » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2004, 01:19:14 AM »

I am not trying to dismiss Sinjin's experiences, as I do not know him personally.  But many times when visiting Orthodox parishes, I have been greeted. I am 24 years old. Sometimes I wasn't.  If you go into it with a sour demeanor, expecting that no one is going to talk to you, it can have an influence on how people perceive you.  Of course, maybe people in your area are just colder? I lived mostly in the South, where people are more friendly in general, it seems...

As for happiness, Orthodoxy makes me happy.

anastasios
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2004, 09:04:01 AM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Lord, Bless!

Orthodoxy is joy!  It is when we remove ourselves from a Western mindset that we can actually appropriate the joy that Orthodoxy has.  The Western mindset is that spirituality is individual and disconnected from the community.  In Orthodoxy "we" the laos are saved in "community."  If you feel detached or emotionally distant it is not because of the defect of Orthodoxy, but rather because you need to rend the garment of your heart and move beyond the face value of Orthodoxy in America.  The heart of Orthodoxy for the layperson is the aescetic life.  When we do not cultivate our relationship with others in our Faith we separate ourselves from God.  The ticket is to give and pour out of ones resources for others.  Have you ever asked to help others in the congregation or the poorer members; there are always those poorer than us.  I volunteer at a local soup kitchen and have become so enriched.  You will never find a religion that does not ask you to support the community of faith.  Even atheists support and love their own.

May Christ our True God who has arisen from Death fill us with His Uncreated Divine Life.  Amin.

Lord, Bless!

In Christ God,


Alexei
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2004, 02:25:47 PM »

Yankee Lady,

Welcome!  Where in the North (I'm assuming) are you from?  I'm a Pennsylvanian originally, though life has now brought me out West.

-----------------------------------
"There's so much pressure to socialize afterwards at coffee hour and sometimes I just can't bear to talk to anyone. "

I found this really hit home with me!  I was born into an Orthodox family and grew up as an Orthodox Christian in Pennsylvania, where it really isn't all that uncommon.  Like it or not, I've always been a "leave shortly after liturgy" type of person!  I don't know, I'm not extroverted either, and often there's not a whole lot to talk about.  I'm really not good at making "small talk" either.  In fact, I read a sermon by an Orthodox priest who said that some people put TOO MUCH emphasis on the coffee hour.  The point of it I think is to make people feel welcome.  I imagine that is what's going on in your case probably.  Maybe some are overdoing it?  At our parish, people make fun of my wife and me since we rarely "hang around" for the small talk.  We just aren't that type of people, but it doesn't mean that we care less about others!

"Is it possible to be a happy Orthodox person?  I see so much emphasis on our own sinfulness.  I just can't relate to it right now.  The prayers don't seem relevant.  I'm supposed to ask for help in reaching theosis when I'm really more worried about finding a job and paying the mortgage.  It seems so removed from the concerns of everyday life."

I know exactly how you feel.  As someone who was born into an Orthodox home, these issues arise a lot as I decided how much role the Church will play in my life, and in deciding should I even stay Orthodox?  We are sinful, and Orthodoxy is quite different from our secular society that tells us constantly how wonderful we are!  Keep it in perspective, though --- God knows that you still need to function, that you still need to have a job, pay your bills, etc.  You're not a monastic, so you're not supposed to spend your life 24/7 praying or living as if you're in a monastery.  You have concerns like the rest of us who live in the world!  

There's a wonderful book called "In Search of Happiness" by the Monks of New Skete (an Orthodox monastery in upstate New York).  They touch on a lot of the issues you do.  My recommendations, for what they're worth and given that you don't even know me, would be just to persist.  All of us who are Orthodox have experienced similar things that you do..... the liturgy seems routine, saying prayers is routine, how does this being good for me at all,  etc. etc.  In this book the Monks talk about how it is important to persist EVEN WHEN we don't get any immediate revelation that our prayers or efforts are making any difference.  They are to God, but in our society of "immediate gratification," it seems strange to us.  The monks also talk about how to persist in our faith even when it seems "dull" and "boring," or when the "newness" of it has worn off.  (I got an excellent condition used copy of the book on amazon.com for about $5, which included shipping.)

If you believe Orthodoxy to be the historic Christian faith that was delivered to the apostles and continues to this day, then I think you should go ahead and be chrismated.  You don't need to be perfect to be chrismated, and indeed, none of us are -- all Orthodox, you should know, are bad sinners who need the "spiritual hospital" that the Church is!

I pray that God stays with your in your journey!  Keep us updated!
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2004, 02:33:29 PM »

sinjinsmythe,

Just a comment or two if I can on your post...  I too was born into an Orthodox home, but I hesitate to use the term "cradle" Orthodox since ALL of us must go through some conscious conversion process if our faith is to be meaningful to us.  There is, really, no difference in being "cradle" or "convert," since true Christians must make a conscious effort to Christ every day.  As you are aware, when you get older and your parents aren't around, no one is forcing you to go to church on Sunday morning.

Which leads me into my next question...... if your experience has been so awful, why on earth do you still go to church?  I think Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote once that it's better to have no "religion" at all in our lives than to have "religion" which makes our lives miserable.  I was pretty down about church, etc., in my late teens and in part of my 20's..... and I did a "church hiatus" where I put going to church on hold until I understood our faith better.  It's much more meaningful to me now!

Going to church to "check off a box and fulfill a requirement" is useless, IMHO.  So why do you still go (if you do)?  What do you get out of it?
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2004, 04:08:34 PM »

Thank you everyone for your replies.  It helps to know I'm not the only one who's a little bowled over by Orthodox togetherness.  I don't want to give the impression I don't enjoy getting to know others at all.  Just not 50 of them at once!

Anastasios, the reason the parishioners know about my job search is because I do stay for coffee hour 2/3 of the time and I have engaged in conversation with many of them.  People ask about your life and you tell them about some of it.  Right now my employment woes are just too painful to talk about.  I can't seem to discuss any aspect of my life without crying about it, so I tend to avoid it in coffee hour right now.

The majority of the parishioners are very nice people and I think, genuinely concerned about one another.  It's a mission church and has a lot of converts as well as cradle orthodox from various ethnic backgrounds.  In many respects, it was a good environment in which to ease my way into Orthodoxy.  I just thought that by now I would feel more comfortable with being a church member, that I would find my niche.  Instead, I feel that I don't really belong there.

I guess that my discomfort with the social aspects of Orthodoxy has led me to question the spirituality as well.  Do I really believe a lot of what the Orthodox church teaches?  Or even basic Christianity, for that matter?  I don't know.  It doesn't seem to make any difference in my life (for good or for ill).  The constant emphasis on struggle just leaves me feeling exhausted and defeated.   This is the joy of faith?  I'm sorry to say, I can relate to Sinjinsmithe in this respect (and he's a young man and I'm a woman of almost 50).  Surely there's more to life than suffering.  I sometimes wonder if God wouldn't be more pleased with us if we just experienced 5 minutes of pure being every day instead of worrying about how we'd messed up all of the time.

You see Gregory2, why I don't feel I should be chrismated.  I think that one should have faith and hope and joy in one's religious practice.  After I left Protestant fundamentalism, I realized I hated the god they preached.  I couldn't believe he actually loved.  The theology of Orthodoxy told me of a God who did love.  It's just the practice that leads me to see him as demanding and distant (too much like the Fundamentalist version).  I don't seem to be able to reconcile faith and practice.

By the way, Gregory2, you asked where I'm located in the North.  I'm in New England.  Sorry this has been such a negative post.  The skies in Connecticut are gloomy today and I guess my mood matches them pretty closely.

I'm really interested though.  Did (or does) anyone else (besides Sinjin--sorry my friend, but I do think you're partly just having the growing pains of early adulthood) have a problem reconciling the positive theology of Orthodoxy with the sometimes severe practice?
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2004, 04:28:48 PM »

I know a few people who are very pious and just can't handle the after liturgy social stuff. So they just leave after Liturgy.
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2004, 05:06:10 PM »

I don't mean to be trite or insensitive to other peoples struggles (we all struggle), but Jesus did say: "In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)  I guess that is where we should get our hope an joy from--in Him.
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2004, 06:03:13 PM »

It is when we remove ourselves from a Western mindset that we can actually appropriate the joy that Orthodoxy has.  The Western mindset is that spirituality is individual and disconnected from the community.

Who are YOU to say such nonsense?

I've been watching you over on the E-Cafe, trying to defend Gregory as if you shared in any real community with him. But you don't!! Stick with your local OCA church, where you have to deal with a real community, and then tell me about your salvation there.

But don't dare to tell me about mine. You haven't a clue about "the Western mindset" if you don't get it from a real Westerner-- like me. The simple truth is that it varies for each person, East or West, makes no difference. Hardly anyone is called to be an anchorite; few others are called to the close, intense community of the monastery. And when it comes to community in the USA, if there's just one village church, it's probably Methodist. Nobody is saved in community; everyone who is saved, is saved in Christ.

I'm getting a little sick of the fatuous burbling about how wonderful the Orthodox life is. Living as a Christian isn't going to make anyone happy all the time. Life is a place of suffering, and the church isn't going to take that away. Thoughtless priests and laymen are going to cause suffering too. It was a lot easier to be a churchman back when I was young and single. But eventually the seriousness of life began to impinge upon me, and now I'm stuck with a child who I can't take to church, a priest who's driving me mad, and a bishop off uncertain orthodoxy, in a denomination which appears to be in the throes of breaking in half. I went to church on Sunday to a parish which sort of gives me the willies, in the Other Diocese where there's little question about the bishop, where there was no music, a dubious supply priest, and a lackluster sermon. But it was better, as a one-off, than my parish.

The point is that sooner or latter the whole church thing is likely to be hard. Then what will you do? Someone who finds the extra-liturgical social life of the parish oppressive doesn't need a blythe, boilerplate dismissal.
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2004, 06:07:01 PM »

Gregory2: I haven't gone to church in over a year.  Frankly I really don't have any real desire to go.

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Yankeelady
 (besides Sinjin--sorry my friend, but I do think you're partly just having the growing pains of early adulthood)

Gee..thanks..... Sad  I am use to be blown off by those who are older than me.  That is one of the reasons why I don't go to church because of that type of attitude.
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2004, 11:27:48 PM »

Glory be to Jesus Christ!  Glory Forever!

Lord, Bless!

Dear Keble et al:

First, the Latin tradition is usually more individualistic in its piety and mystical and ascetical theology.  However, the post-conciliar Latin Church has reversed this trend at least in its Liturgy.  Not all “Western” churches or ecclesial bodies have the same praxis or mentality; of this I should have been more specific; forgive that.  The Anglican Church has a fine tradition of emphasizing the role of the laos—but that is another matter.

Second, if you care to take a look at all of my posts at the E-Caf+¬, I have been nothing other than supportive of the spiritual journey that Nick and his comrades are taking with ROAC.
The only time that I was hurt and offended was when Vl. Gregory was being attacked.  I never met him in person, yes.  But, we have been in correspondence for a few years and he has shown himself to be a goodly man and fine friend.  I respect that in a person of whatever religion.  I will remain in my support of Vl. Gregory even after the Synod makes a judgment.  I am not sorry for my posts at the E-Caf+¬; just that they were not understood and allowed to be unpacked.  However, as I am sure Nick and his crew will be reading this:  No, I am not a member of ROAC and I should have been more sensitive to your feelings and the feelings of people involved.  Lying prostrate before the Lord I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of all those whom I hurt and angered. Lord Have Mercy!

Third, Yes, I am a member of the OCA.  The Diocese of Alaska is great place to practice the Orthodox Faith.  I am very blessed to be here.  I am submitted to Vladyka Nikolai; His Grace has revived this God-Protected Diocese and “it is good to be here.”  

Fourth, I never mentioned the monastic life as the ideal for the Orthodox Christian.  I said the ascetic life.  There is a difference.  And it is in the full Eastern mentality regarding the Mysterion that we can have joy; but again, I never mentioned that there would be an absence of pain or the realities of human life in Orthodoxy.  As per my experience: Orthodoxy has been great joy.  When I was attending St. Herman’s Antiochian Orthodox mission in the Mat-Su Valley up north: it was very community-based.  Most of the parishioners lived in the vicinity of the church and we would go to one of their houses for fellowship.  As an outsider it was hard to fit in at first, but I soon realized that I needed to let go of my need to have what American’s call “personal space.”  This is a journey for many converts and even some cradle Orthodox.  After a while I deeply loved that sense of community and deeply miss it.  But God leads us to where we should be in Him.

Fifth,Take care and Many Years to All of You in the Lord.

Lord, Bless!

In Christ God,


Alexei
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2004, 11:50:47 PM »

Note Bene:

In Orthodoxy we believe that salvation and deification occurs in the Mystical Body, with the Mystical Body, and through the Mystical Body of which we are members very incorporate.  That is the theological construct I was using when I said we are "saved in community"--that community being the Body of Christ: those joined to Him through the Mysteries.

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« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2004, 12:07:51 AM »

I imagine I may get blasted for armchair, amature pseudo-psychology, but I'm risking it anyway, because I care about those who have posted here, though I have not met them.

Sinjinsmythe,

Several times you have expressed incredibly deep levels of pain and depression on this forum.  It pains me to think what it must be like living with such misery.  I hope you don't mind my putting this bluntly:  The feelings you have expressed, their persistance and intensity, are not normal.  No one should have to "just deal" with that kind of pain as a constant feeling, and most people do not.  I strongly encourage you to seek the help of a reputable psychiatrist.  There is a history of clinical depression in my family, and several of those effected have been very resistant at first to the idea getting professional help, but have found their lives improved incredibly with such help, though it took a lot of time and effort.

Yankee Lady:  I, too, am an introvert by nature, but have come to rely heavily on the care and concern of my fellow parishioners, and to feel much care and concern for them.  Of course, the relations I have with them have not developped from interacting with them as a "group," but from individual interactions, over time.  But, of necessity, a lot of that begins during, and is fed by, "coffee hour."

But, it is hard to "stay put" for such interactions, when one is feeling inordinately depressed and/or shy.  The question with shyness (I'm shy, too) is, "Is this keeping me from interacting in ways that are necessary toward fulfilling my nature as a human--and hence, intrinsically, social--being?"  If it's getting in the way, then maybe one needs to seek out help for that, and be wary of any impulse to further isolate oneself.
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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2004, 12:22:16 AM »

Keble, are we to expect an attack--along with ALL CAPS shouting--every time one of speculates on weaknesses of the Western tradition?  It doesn't, I admit, speak well of Orthodox folks if they have to constantly point out what they feel are the weaknesses of the non-Orthodox.  But, I think at times it may be appropriate to broach the subject, and I hope I won't get screamed at if I do.  If it causes you that much distress, perhaps participation in an Orthodox forum is not conducive to your spiritual well-being.

Admittedly, I'm not aware of the goings-on over at the E-Caf+¬.  But, why should discord over there be imported into our forum?
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2004, 08:33:09 AM »

First, the Latin tradition is usually more individualistic in its piety and mystical and ascetical theology.

Look-- how did you learn this? It sounds like the kind of trite rationalization Episcopal priests use to justify jumping denominations. Real western spirituality is too big to summarize in a sentence.

It's this kind of stuff that's leading me to lose my temper. So listen up: you don't know enough yet to make these kinds of sweeping claims, nor to judge among those who encourage you to make these claims.

Quote
Second, if you care to take a look at all of my posts at the E-Caf+¬, I have been nothing other than supportive of the spiritual journey that Nick and his comrades are taking with ROAC.

And I persisted, at least at first, in warning them that they were walking into spiritual danger. Again: nothing obligates you to defend this Gregory. Considering the lengthy record he has of disobedience, conniving, and unsound spirituality, I must frankly wonder how anyone was stupid enough to ordain him to assistant dogcatcher. Even now he disobeys Valentine, and broadcasts that disobedience to the whole world.

The message to YOU ought to be clear: you ought not to trust your own judgement in this. You should be at your local (presumably OCA) parish, learning to live your faith. You trusted Gregory, and he took advantage of your trust. And now you should have a better idea of whom to trust.
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2004, 09:08:57 AM »

Slava Isusu Christu!

Lord, Bless!

Beloved-in-the-Lord Keble:

Good Morning!

I would like to thank you for your passionate posting; I myself was also very passionate on that 'other' board.  However, I am going to fast from such things for now; indeed, I must thank Deacon Nikolai for banning me.  I am content to have no opinions about ROAC any further.  I will be very happy to live my spiritual life in the context of the OCA in Alaska under His Grace NIKOLAI; Who I am sure would also not be very happy that I got involved however distantly with thaat debacle.  I am going to Father Nicholas my Father Confessor for Confession tomorrow and will no longer discuss ROAC or Gregory.

So I am going to have to ask your forgiveness and move on.

Regarding the Latin tradition: I attended Latin Catholic schools through Elementary to High School and like many young fogeys (cit: Serge) I have experience in many other western and non-western spiritual traditions.  I was baptized and chrismated into the Byzantine-Ruthenian Church and came over into the OCA through Father Nicholas Bullock, via Life's Confession, Tonsure, and Chrismation, who is now retired and attached to St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka.  I will be moving there for the Fall.  

I am going to have to lay the axe to this subject and wish you peace and health for Many Years my friend.

Lord, Bless!

In Christ God,


Alexis
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« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2004, 10:30:23 AM »

Wow.

First off, this has been a very interesting thread.  Lots of differing opinion, even more differences in tone.  Guess that's the miracle of the 'Net.

Secondly, a disclaimer: I'm aware, YankeeLady, that I don't know you, nor do I feel what you feel, so if my "advice" (such as it is from a twenty-something year-old young man) is off the mark, I'm sorry.  

The theology of Orthodoxy told me of a God who did love.  It's just the practice that leads me to see him as demanding and distant (too much like the Fundamentalist version).  I don't seem to be able to reconcile faith and practice.

My wife likes to quote somebody -- I forget who -- who says that, if you're going to change something, don't change what you're doing; change why you're doing it.  My priest always stresses that God doesn't need us to do any of this fasting and praying.  It's not for Him; it's for us.  If you fast, try to see it as a reminder that only God -- not even food, really! -- is what you truly need.  Prayer -- God being the same God taking you another step down the same road; the Heavenly King is still the Comforter is still the Spirit of Truth is still the Treasury of good things Who will still give us life...right now we may just be between "pit stops" where we enjoy it.

So, yes, there's prayer and introspection and tears and frustration and boredom and disillusionment.  Welcome to the Church.  Everybody from the Holy Apostles to you and me has to "work out their salvation," but this can be seen as God's demand or as an opportunity to come into closer union with Him.

He's not "mad at us" because we still sin; He died and rose again and renewed our nature anyway, knowing full well the extent of our sin.  He now is always beckoning us to deal with ourselves for our benefit.  He'll help, but we've gotta walk.
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« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2004, 11:58:07 AM »

Keble, are we to expect an attack--along with ALL CAPS shouting--every time one of speculates on weaknesses of the Western tradition?

No-- nor am I likely to erupt every time some makes a bold proclamation of the difference either.

I am uneasy, however, with vague comparisons between East and West, especially in the current context. There are at least two wests on almost any subject; all two often it is the case that Roman and Eastern tradition are more akin than Roman and Protestant.

I am merely annoyed by the above talk and often as not ignore it, because it's just to much bother to have to pop up every time someone makes an unwarranted generalization. The claim that Orthodoxy will make all your problems go away, unlike that nasty Western stuff, that claim makes me angry. It's cultish talk, the kind of evil stuff spread by Michael Travesser and his ilk. It's destructive to faith, and I won't have it.
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« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2004, 02:11:52 PM »

Wow, what a variety of opinions and moods.  I had no idea when I started this thread that it would sprout so many different discussions.  It pains me to see the anger that has sometimes been generated.  I apologize if I have encouraged that in any way.

Sinjinsmythe, please forgive me if I seemed to trivialize your experience.  At the risk of further offending by using the dreaded "when I was your age" language, I do remember my late teens and early 20s as a time of incredible upheaval, discontent, and bewilderment.  I would also affirm what another poster has said about the possibility of a problem with depression.  I have suffered from clinical depression on and off for almost 30 years and I do know how it can color one's thinking.  No doubt it is a factor in the problems I'm dealing with in the church at this time.  Perhaps it is affecting you as well?

If I may ask some questions related to my original post.  Did anyone fall in love with the theology of Orthodoxy but have a sense of disconnect with the practice?  Since I have been reevaluating what I've been studying and experiencing in my catechumenate, I've realized that a lot of the positive aspect for me has been on a very cerebral level.  God and all the wonderful things that Orthodoxy has to say about Him seem like such beautiful ideas, but that is where they remain, in the realm of ideas.  My priest has told me the practice of the faith makes us grow closer to God, but the more I practice, the more distant and abstract He seems to be.  I pray and ask Him to help me to know Him but I've found that there's an element of doubt now about both His existence and His love.  I think the Orthodox (indeed general Christian) emphasis on suffering love has made me afraid of what this God might do in my life if I ask him to get closer.  All this while I question His very existence and He seems more like an idea than a reality.  And yet I'm growing afraid of this unreal reality.  My prayers have started to sound more like, "please help me but please, please, don't hurt me, and by the way, I hope you're there, but not too much!"  I know it sounds strange, but I've grown afraid of someone who's supposed to love me completely but whose existence I doubt.  Strange, huh?  I'm perplexed by this because it seems like regression to my fear of the Protestant fundamentalist god and I don't know how to put the brakes on.

Anyway, thanks for all of your responses.  Many were helpful and thought-provoking.  I'm eager to read more of your insights.  Right now this board seems to be a safer way to stay in touch with Orthodoxy than talking about this with the parishioners (although I am still going to church).  God may not seem too real but they are alarmingly so.

As a last thought.  Keble, you seem to have a lot weighing on you.  You're in my prayers, for what they're worth.  I was raised Episcopalian, although I left the church when I was 18 in the 1970s and can't really speak to the problems that it's experiencing now.  My parents still attend the church of my youth and my Mom is particularly distressed over the events that have recently taken place, although, thank God, her particular parish doesn't have much controversy.  May you find your way through these difficulties with as much peace in your heart as possible.
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« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2004, 05:38:06 PM »

Be patient Yankee Lady.

And remember we worshi God not so that we "can get something out of it." butrather because God wants us to.

Has your parish actively helped in your job search? If you need help, have they freely offered it?

Are the emotions you are feeling more related to general state and is this merely reflected in your worship?
Keep looking for that job. Perhaps you can volunteer somewhere if you have some frree time? It always helps to stay busy.

You are going through a tough time now. I would not make any spiritual decisions right now.
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« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2004, 05:41:50 PM »

Perhaps visiting some other parishes...possibly even in some other jurisdictions, might be a nice change for you and give you some perspective?

In reading what you write, I wonder if your problem might be the parish you are in more than the Church or Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2004, 06:18:00 PM »

If I may ask some questions related to my original post.  Did anyone fall in love with the theology of Orthodoxy but have a sense of disconnect with the practice?  Since I have been reevaluating what I've been studying and experiencing in my catechumenate, I've realized that a lot of the positive aspect for me has been on a very cerebral level.  God and all the wonderful things that Orthodoxy has to say about Him seem like such beautiful ideas, but that is where they remain, in the realm of ideas.  My priest has told me the practice of the faith makes us grow closer to God, but the more I practice, the more distant and abstract He seems to be.  I pray and ask Him to help me to know Him but I've found that there's an element of doubt now about both His existence and His love.  I think the Orthodox (indeed general Christian) emphasis on suffering love has made me afraid of what this God might do in my life if I ask him to get closer.  All this while I question His very existence and He seems more like an idea than a reality.  And yet I'm growing afraid of this unreal reality.  My prayers have started to sound more like, "please help me but please, please, don't hurt me, and by the way, I hope you're there, but not too much!"  I know it sounds strange, but I've grown afraid of someone who's supposed to love me completely but whose existence I doubt.  Strange, huh?  I'm perplexed by this because it seems like regression to my fear of the Protestant fundamentalist god and I don't know how to put the brakes on.

YankeeLady,  I am 48 and I can understand what you are talking about.  It's not strange at all.  I wonder if it's something that can be more familiar to people who are middle aged.  I know of the times of doubt and disconnect.  I am Anglican but I have been interacting (as it were) with things EO for over a decade.  I have found much in EO that is beautiful/thoughtful etc.  But (to give an example) I cannot connect with the Byzantine Liturgy for worship.  It's probably a character flaw on my part, but the lack of silence/quiet in parts of the service can be wearing.  I can worship with "Western" liturgics such as are in the Episcopal church (usually).  

I am also an introvert by nature and have had some depression so I can try to empathize with you.  As well, I can latch onto the more "cerebral".  Regarding the more you practice the farther God seems at times: Have you ever read any C.S. Lewis?  In "The Screwtape Letters" he has a demonic bureaucrat writing to an "apprentice tempter" about the times of "dryness" and the "troughs" that go with the "Peaks" of the spiritual life.  I could also recommend "The Problem of Pain" and other of his works.

May I ask what church you went to after leaving the Episcopal and before you came to the EO?

Respectfully,

Ebor
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« Reply #26 on: July 13, 2004, 06:24:13 PM »

Quote
Did anyone fall in love with the theology of Orthodoxy but have a sense of disconnect with the practice?

I can safely say yes and no.  I understand what you're talking about.  Sometimes I fell so distant from God and I don't like going to church or fasting or anything, but I always go.  I know that sometime in the future the relationship will pay off.  It always does because God is always faithful.

Quote
I know it sounds strange, but I've grown afraid of someone who's supposed to love me completely but whose existence I doubt.  Strange, huh?  I'm perplexed by this because it seems like regression to my fear of the Protestant fundamentalist god and I don't know how to put the brakes on.

I've been afraid of the wrathful God of "you'll burn in Hell if you let alcohol touch your lips" for my entire life.  I also have a lot of time where I just plain doubt.  I tend to try fight that with logic, but it never seems to help.  I say "I do believe; help my unbelief."

Two things help me.  

When I can't pray, I listen to the liturgical music I love most.  I always end up singing along.  Before I know it, there I am praying.  My grandfather passed away last month and I really struggled.  Then I put on a cd that had Easter music.  It was from the New Valaam monastery and was in English.  "Christ is risen from the dead . . ."  I sang those songs and I realized that my doubts had been lost in my singing.  

The second thing is reading.  Not *about* Orthodoxy and history and theology, but about living Orthodoxy.  I particularly like "Prayers by the Lake" by St. Nicholai of Ochrid and Zica.   http://sv-luka.org/praylake/

It's not about the liturgy, the fasts, the prayers, the clothes or the traditions.  It's about what those things lead to.  If you let our enemy show you how difficult the life is, you will only see the immediate and won't see what the life leads to.  Faith isn't about believing in your mind, it's about believing despite what you may think.
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« Reply #27 on: July 13, 2004, 09:23:29 PM »

Cizinec, I too find solace in music.  I don't have any Orthodox music recordings yet, but I like to listen to Gregorian chant and I have several recordings by Anonymous 4 which help me to both feel more peaceful and put me in a frame of mind for a simpler kind of prayer.  That's what I've been focusing on mostly, dropping the formal Orthodox prayers right now(except for the one to the Holy Spirit and the Trisagion) and just speaking directly to God in plain language.  I find myself saying the Jesus prayer at different times throughout the day too.  I feel very in need of God's mercy right now.

Spartacus, I don't think the particular parish is the problem.  There are a few difficult people to be sure, but for the most part it's a good group.  My priest is a particularly decent man.

Re:  the job search.  I haven't really done enough myself (have been really struggling with the fear of the unknown).  I would be too ashamed to ask for the parishioners' help.  The New Englander's fundamental reticence is at work here.  I really do have to exhaust all avenues myself, practically be destitute before I would think it appropriate to ask for help.

Ebor, I'm going to be 47 soon.  Glad to know there's a woman on this board who is my contemporary!  Yes, dear CSL is an old friend.  I'm re-reading 'Til We Have Faces right now.  Finished again The Great Divorce right before Easter.  What a mind!

I know the theory of peaks and troughs you talk of.  The Screwtape Letters is a marvelous book, isn't it?  I used to have a recording of it read by John Cleese which captured the tone wonderfully.  Alas, the tape broke and I don't think that version is in circulation any more.  Oh well.

I don't know whether this is a time of dryness or just a reevaluation of my beliefs.  I hope it doesn't sound blasphemous to anyone, but this year at the Paschal celebration, I found myself asking if Christ 's resurrection really did change anything.  The world is so full of misery and hopelessness that it's hard to believe there's any other reality.  I'm not giving up yet but the shine has worn off.  My priest has told me it's a natural consequence of growing older that we become more cautious and a little more muted in our hopes for the future.  We've come to learn the world doesn't have limitless possibilities.  Perhaps that's all it is.

Re: my spiritual journey.  After I left the Episcopal church at age 18 I was unchurched for about 4 years before having a conversion experience.  I attended a pentecostal church, a baptist church, and assorted others before becoming totally disillusioned (the worst was arriving at a church where I felt really welcomed and comfortable just to see it split in two a few months later with half the church staying put and the other half leaving with the now ex pastor).  I studied Catholicism after that, finally realizing I needed to be rooted in something with a past that reached back more than a few hundred years.  But I just couldn't buy into doctrines like papal infallibility or the immaculate conception.  They seemed man made to me and the clericalism in the Roman church was disturbing.  I found the Orthodox church when I wasn't looking.  A co-worker asked me to look at an article on Beliefnet about the religious order we worked for and while I was browsing I read something by Frederica Mathewes-Green.  Then I started looking at the Orthodox boards there and one thing led to another.  Well, anyway here I am and that's telling you more than you asked for.  Sorry for the rather disjointed synopsis.

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« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2004, 11:44:30 PM »

I like to listen to Gregorian chant and I have several recordings by Anonymous 4 which help me to both feel more peaceful and put me in a frame of mind for a simpler kind of prayer.

Anonymous 4 is very good.  If you ever come across a recording by "The Suspicious Cheese Lords" try it.  They are excellent.  (and I'm not making up the name.  It comes from when the group started out gathering to sing together and someone looked at the piece "Suscipe Quaeso Domine" and parsed the title, shall we say, in an interesting manner. Here's their website: http://www.cheeselords.org/ ) If you like Central American music "Los Calchakis" has a recording of "Missa Criolla" that I think is very good among other things.
 
Quote
Yes, dear CSL is an old friend.  I'm re-reading 'Til We Have Faces right now.  Finished again The Great Divorce right before Easter.  What a mind!

"Til We Have Faces" is a wonderful book.  I'm told that CSL considered it his best work of fiction.  I was thinking of The Great Divorce today while reading the thread about being "sent to Hell"  

Quote

I know the theory of peaks and troughs you talk of.  The Screwtape Letters is a marvelous book, isn't it?  I used to have a recording of it read by John Cleese which captured the tone wonderfully.  Alas, the tape broke and I don't think that version is in circulation any more.  Oh well.

We have a copy of that.  Cleese is a marvelous reader for it.  I wonder if it will be put on CD.

Quote
I don't know whether this is a time of dryness or just a reevaluation of my beliefs.  I hope it doesn't sound blasphemous to anyone, but this year at the Paschal celebration, I found myself asking if Christ 's resurrection really did change anything.  The world is so full of misery and hopelessness that it's hard to believe there's any other reality.  I'm not giving up yet but the shine has worn off.  My priest has told me it's a natural consequence of growing older that we become more cautious and a little more muted in our hopes for the future.  We've come to learn the world doesn't have limitless possibilities.  Perhaps that's all it is.

Your priest sounds like a wise man.  I don't think it's just that the world isn't limitless but that we have seen things droop and fade.  We've  seen broken things that couldn't be fixed.  We see evil and sorrow and pain and we grieve. I know that I do. And somedays I feel worn out and tired of struggling.  But recall that in Screwtape, part of the tempter's plan is to make us think that anything happy or pleasent is ephemeral and an illusion while the painful and grievous and ugly is "Real".  I don't know if you read Tolkien, but there's a bit about holding on to something, that there's some Good in the world and it's worth fighting for.

This may sound silly, but one of the songs in the Lord of the Rings fits to a hymn tune "Kingsfold" that Ralph Vaughn Williams arranged. I heard it on "Sound and Spirit" a while ago and I've found it helpful at times. Here's a midi of the tune:
http://www.ccel.org/cceh/0000/000057a.mid

When Sam is alone on the borders of Mordor, and near dispair he finds himself singing.  The second half is:

Though here at journey's end I lie
in Darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all Shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.

The dryness, the troughs, or the plain slog through.  You're not alone in this, YankeeLady.  Since I have a "Bad Case of Quotations" here's another bit that I've saved and remind myself of from time to time:

"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." -  Anton Chekov

Your spritual journey wasn't too long to disjointed at all.  You've been though some wringers, especially with the one place splitting.  I can't buy the infallibility or I.C either. One reason I'm still Anglican, I guess.  Smiley


Ebor
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« Reply #29 on: July 14, 2004, 10:01:31 AM »

Hi there, Yankee Lady.  Welcome.  Let me try to respond to some of your questions from my own perspective.

“Did anyone fall in love with the theology of Orthodoxy but have a sense of disconnect with the practice?”

Yes.  Unlike many people who are first introduced to Orthodoxy via the liturgy, I learned about it first through reading, and actually read quite a bit about it before I ever darkened the door of an Orthodox church.  I came from Catholicism, so the idea of being in a collective-liturgical type church is not off-putting to me in terms of my own background, but the array of other Orthodox practices are always a struggle for me, and always have been.  

“I pray and ask Him to help me to know Him but I've found that there's an element of doubt now about both His existence and His love.”

One thing that a rather wise priest told me once was that everyone experiences moments of doubt, regardless of how they outwardly appear, and what they may be willing to admit to someone else.  He told me that even priests at times doubt the Eucharist as they are serving the liturgy GǪ to doubt is human.  I don’t think that any of us are immune from doubt.  I guess the struggle really is to manage our doubts and fears so as to prevent ourselves, to the extent we can, from falling down that slope into despair.

“I don't want to give the impression I don't enjoy getting to know others at all.  Just not 50 of them at once!”

Yes, yes.  I guess those of us who are introverted (and we are disproportionately represented on the internet in places like this, for pretty clear reasons) can relate to this.  The thing that we have to remember is that those who are extroverts really, really, really do not understand what it is like to be an introvert because they are not inside our heads.  I honestly think that the introvert/extrovert divide is one of the larger psychological fissures in our own society a place that can be an extremely tiring, irritating place for introverts because it is largely organized around ideas and behaviors that are preferred by extroverts.  Coffee hour is a case in point GǪ I have not spent very much time at coffee hours, by comparison to others, because I find it personally exhausting and not enjoyable.  Now, it may be the case that the extroverts will interpret this - as they often do in other contexts as well - as being aloof, haughty, inconsiderate, mean, etc., but there’s not much we can do about that because it is likely that they will continue to evaluate our own behavior through the prism of their own behavioral expectations, which are wholly extrovert based.  As a result, I have come to believe and accept that they will probably always think that way about introverts when we act according to our personality type.  I think that it is psychologically healthier for introverts to act according to their own personality type and, and this is the critical bit, to stop worrying about what the extroverts think about us, because the likelihood of changing the way they think about us is minimal.  I think that there are a lot of introverts who try to conform to extrovert behavioral expectations (the societal pressure to do this is intense and ubiquitous) and are made very, very psychologically unhappy by this, sometimes to the point of depression.  There are times, of course, when we have to be in larger social groups, but I think as introverts we have to manage our exposure to these situations, when we can, in order to maintain what I would call good mental hygiene.  In any case, regarding coffee hour, I’d recommend either skipping it, or toning down your participation in it to 1-2 times a month, depending on how you feel.  

“The constant emphasis on struggle just leaves me feeling exhausted and defeated.  This is the joy of faith?”

Yes, I understand this feeling as well.  I think sometimes it is fruitful to take a step back and relax.  Trying to live a moral life is always a struggle, but there are times when it’s better to take a step back from the heat of the battle, as it were, and relax and reflect about things a bit in a somewhat different frame from the constant struggle that is referred to in the Fathers.  It’s sometimes important, or at least I have found it helpful, during these periods to peel the onion back a bit, to go back to basics in terms of why I am doing what I am doing GǪ basic issues, I mean, like God, the meaning of life, etc., to refocus on the bigger picture, rather than the multitude of smaller, closer battles in my life.  

I think another poster mentioned the book that has been written by The Monks of New Skete about happiness as an attitude that should be cultivated in Orthodoxy.  They saw themselves that there was perhaps too little emphasis in much of Orthodoxy on joy and happiness, and I would highly recommend their book, which is accessibly written and full of positive ideas about why Orthodox do the things that they do, and how you can go about that from a positive, rather than a dejected and negative, perspective.  Very good stuff here indeed.

“Has anyone else fallen out of love with Orthodoxy?”

Yes and no.  During the period prior to my conversion and for some time thereafter I went through what I would call my “religious phase”.  It was not really sustainable, and I had to step back from that and try to reestablish some balance in my own life.  I still love Orthodoxy, but it is now a part of my larger life, and not always (or I should say often not) the dominant theme in what is happening in my life.  Others may disagree with this approach, but for me it was important to try to reestablish some balance and sense of normalcy.  It’ss possible to do this in the context of Orthodoxy, but you have to be careful.  Why?  Because at the present time Orthodoxy seems to be “long”, if you will, on rather gung-ho converts.  I’m not pointing fingers at anyone by saying that, I was one myself several years ago, and I think it may just be a part of the process of growing into a new faith.  But the problem is that in some parishes these people may, from time to time, play a leading role, and make it harder for someone who wants to take a more moderated approach to their Orthodox faith and praxis GǪ harder in subtle ways like parish atmosphere, expectations expressed either by the priest or at coffee hour, etc.  In Orthodoxy in the USA, we have less opportunity to “melt in” as compared with the RCC or one of the Protestant megachurches, where you can melt in and out rather anonymously and have a more private faith life.  In Orthodoxy our churches are much smaller, generally, and so while it isn’t always possible to be anonymous, it is possible to manage the process better so that we can maintain a more moderated approach without too much conflict GǪ some ways to do this include moderating or eliminating participation in coffee hour, moderating one’s attendance at non-DL services, changing the way you personally relate to the liturgy when you are there and the like.  So I think that it’s possible to have a more moderated approach, but you need to be thoughtful about what you are doing and how you are going about things in order to manage it, depending, again, on the particular parish you are dealing with.

I hope that some of this is helpful, although it does represent only my own experience of some of these things over the last 4-5 years.

B
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« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2004, 12:21:04 PM »

Ebor and Brendan03, I enjoyed reading both your posts.  They were filled with so much wisdom and I can't tell you how much it helps just to know there are other people who have experienced the same things I'm living with right now.

Ebor, thanks for the music suggestions.  I will definitely check them out.  Have you ever listed to the CD "Native Angels" by the group Savae?  It's got music from the 16th to 18th centuries and blends traditional Catholic hymns with melodies and instruments  and native languages from the New World.  I don't think it always works but when it does, it's quite beautiful.

I've always loved "Til We Have Faces".  I first read the book when I was a freshman in college, unchurched, and without a clear idea of what Christianity was and uncertain of what I believed.  I picked up Lewis' book in the library because I liked the synopsis of the novel on the book jacket.  Had absolutely no idea who C.S. Lewis was at the time.  I remember being lifted out of myself by the story.  Sensed that there was something transcendant the author was aiming at and I desperately wanted to get inside whatever it was.  Almost 10 years later (post Evangelical conversion) I picked up the book  and was amazed to realize I had already read it.  

I'd forgotten the part about the tempter's role in convicing us that the misery of this life is the "real" part and the joy and faith and beauty are illusions.  Thanks for reminding me of that.  I tend to have that point of view too much.  Sometimes I think it's partly a defense mechanism.  I try on the worst case scenario thinking in an almost superstitious way.  Kind of like, if I think about the most horrible things that can happen, I can protect myself from the shock of anything bad that actually does come to pass.  Doesn't work of course.  And it's not what scripture recommends.  Whatever's good, true, etc. being those things we're supposed to ponder.

It's funny you should mention Tolkien, too.  I spent the last 2 years re-reading the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings.  I've also been watching the videos of the movies a lot.  Lately I find myself more encouraged and strengthened by the writings of people like Lewis and Tolkien than by overtly "religious" works.   There is so much beauty in those tales.  I could spend the rest of my life reading them and never exhaust their riches.

I liked the Chekov quote, too.  It IS everyday life that's so wearing.  The monotony, the doubts, the sense of loss and disappointment that set in as we age.  Perhaps that's why I love Samwise so much, the real hero of the "Rings" in my estimation.  He's everyman who perseveres to the end.  His victory is just being faithful through it all.  

Brendan03, thanks for the perspective on introvert vs. extrovert.  You're right about how society is structured around extrovert preferences.  I never really thought of it that way.  I think I may start working on giving myself permission to be myself.  I kept telling myself that I was being disobedient by not wanting to take part in all of the socializing.  Come to think of it, even my priest told me that it was up to me to find my own balance in church life.

I will definitely check out the book by the monks of New Skete.  I have been overdosing on the ascetic aspect of Orthodoxy and feeling really inadequate.  There are so many places in scripture where we're told to rejoice.  I can't believe God wants us to be in a constant state of sorrow.  Realistic about our sins and shortcomings, but not beaten down by them.

Thanks, I think I may be able to make some headway.  Please pray for me.
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« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2004, 03:13:56 PM »

Re:  the job search.  I haven't really done enough myself (have been really struggling with the fear of the unknown).  I would be too ashamed to ask for the parishioners' help.  The New Englander's fundamental reticence is at work here.  I really do have to exhaust all avenues myself, practically be destitute before I would think it appropriate to ask for help.


Take some advice from someone who knows very well what you are going through.

RULE No. 1 of finding a new job is to let EVERYONE you know know that you are out of work and looking. There is no shame in this and there is no stygma attached to this as there once was.  FOr years people have been losing jobs through no fault of their own and everyone realizes this. Get over your pride.

Let people know what your skills are.

Squeeze everyone you are even just acquainted with for any contacts or infoprmation they might have! It is called netowrking.

You don't have to literally ask for help...just let everyone know your situation...Any outplacement professional will tell you this.

DO this and you will be pleasantly surprised at what comes your way.
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« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2004, 04:33:11 PM »

Have you ever listed to the CD "Native Angels" by the group Savae?  It's got music from the 16th to 18th centuries and blends traditional Catholic hymns with melodies and instruments  and native languages from the New World.  I don't think it always works but when it does, it's quite beautiful.

I'm not familiar with that group, but I'll look for them.  Thank you for telling me about them.

Quote
I'd forgotten the part about the tempter's role in convicing us that the misery of this life is the "real" part and the joy and faith and beauty are illusions.  Thanks for reminding me of that.  I tend to have that point of view too much.  Sometimes I think it's partly a defense mechanism.  I try on the worst case scenario thinking in an almost superstitious way.  Kind of like, if I think about the most horrible things that can happen, I can protect myself from the shock of anything bad that actually does come to pass.

Boy, does that sound familiar.  Smiley  You are not alone.

Quote
It's funny you should mention Tolkien, too.  I spent the last 2 years re-reading the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings.  I've also been watching the videos of the movies a lot.  Lately I find myself more encouraged and strengthened by the writings of people like Lewis and Tolkien than by overtly "religious" works.   There is so much beauty in those tales.  I could spend the rest of my life reading them and never exhaust their riches.

Have you read any of the volumes of notes and ideas and other material that Christopher Tolkien put together? "The Book of Lost Tales" 2 volumes, "Unfinished Tales" "The Lays of Beleriand" "The Lost Road" and a number of others.  They maybe more for the in-depth Tolkien nut er ahem, fan like me, but it's very interesting to find out more.  Then there's the "Atlas of Middle Earth" an excellent book of maps, drawings and charts.  

I also have been finding refuge as it were in the beauty and faith of Lewis and Tolkien. We have the movies, and have watched them alot but haven't worn the pictures off the disks yet.  Cheesy    Have you ever read any Charles Williams or Dorothy Sayers?
Quote

I liked the Chekov quote, too.  It IS everyday life that's so wearing.  The monotony, the doubts, the sense of loss and disappointment that set in as we age.  Perhaps that's why I love Samwise so much, the real hero of the "Rings" in my estimation.  He's everyman who perseveres to the end.  His victory is just being faithful through it all.  

"His will was set, and only death would break it."  To have that much faith and trueness of heart

Re: introverts and Extroverts, sometimes I think the E.s are out to wear us I.s down.  Wink
It's all a plot.

Quote
There are so many places in scripture where we're told to rejoice.  I can't believe God wants us to be in a constant state of sorrow.  Realistic about our sins and shortcomings, but not beaten down by them.

God made all the Universe and it is "Very Good."  There is much to be glad in.  It's just the looking up and seeing sometimes when we're dragging can be hard.

Hold on.

Ebor
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« Reply #33 on: July 16, 2004, 09:46:01 AM »



I will definitely check out the book by the monks of New Skete.  I have been overdosing on the ascetic aspect of Orthodoxy and feeling really inadequate.  There are so many places in scripture where we're told to rejoice.  I can't believe God wants us to be in a constant state of sorrow.  Realistic about our sins and shortcomings, but not beaten down by them.

Thanks, I think I may be able to make some headway.  Please pray for me.
Quote

I for one will pray for you in your journey. I have been to New Skete and have been blessed by it, as I am sure you will.  My wife and I both experienced " cold feet" before we were chrismated in March.  I can ony assure you that we no longer have that problem and our Jot in Christ is complete. Wink
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« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2004, 10:04:40 AM »

As Alexei has correctly stated, the Christian life is one of ascetic struggle. This notion is not to be confined to monks and nuns but applies to all.

Christian love is demanding and difficult. It is not about loving abstract concepts, e.g. the suffering people of somewhere far away but that person in front of you now. Yes, the one whose attitude gets right up of your nose, etc, etc,.

This suggestion may be unwelcome, but go to church and pray the service and at home too, pray. If a situation is burdensome stay for a little time and then leave. Be patient. At least from the other contributors you now know you are are not alone in your introversion or your unhappiness.

More than one priest has pointed out to me that he too is human. Our Lord demands we love him too. After all what merit is there in loving the charismatic ones, the ones that always seem to get it right.

Have you read on this board the posting, ON BECOMING AND REMAINING AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN. I don't know whether it might have anything to offer? Wink
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2004, 01:50:18 PM »

I am also a 40 year old female and I am going through one of the worst times of my life at the moment, which includes financial hardship.  I personally suffer from clinical depression and take medication which doesn't always help completely (and is not meant to.)

I believe that going through the steps of following the doctrines of your faith during this difficult time is perhaps something to consider.  Sometimes something appears unrelated to your problesm at the moment, but later it all falls into place.

Maintain the routines you have now, go to confession frequently, go to Divine Liturgy, take Holy Communion, pray daily, do the fasts, etc etc.

Remember, faith is not based upon emotions.  And our choices should not be based upon how we "feel". (Which you know of course, but I have to remind myself about this. If I based decisions on how I felt, I would behave in very irratic ways and end up defeating myself.  Instead, every day, get up and think "What is the next good thing I am to do?" (For me it is read the morning prayers in the Orthodox Study Bible and add my own prayers, then read the Lectionary.) Then ask yourself what is the next good thing I am go do?  etc etc.

In time, with working diligently to do the best thing for each moment, you and I can work our way out of our bad situations.

All you can do is what you can do.  Mere human's can try to wave a magic wand to make our troubles go away, but all we get is shoulder and elbow pain.  God has a plan for you (and me.)

Ok, another thought. Since we have eternal life, these times of trouble from that perspective are very brief.
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« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2004, 05:27:19 PM »

Just an update for those of you who replied to my posts on this topic or may have just read it and been able to relate to my situation... Smiley

I'm going to be chrismated two weeks from today, on October 3rd!  If anyone had told me when I first posted about my struggles over this that I would finally take this step, well, I would have told them they were insane!

I'm very anxious about being in front of the whole congregation (even more so because I've invited my parents and some friends to attend) but I'm also so excited!  At times I feel like I'm walking on air and everyone at church has been so kind and so excited, too.

My priest has warned me that I still might get a very intense experience of cold feet as I get nearer to the date, so I'm trying to prepare and not get freaked out by the possibility of that happening (again!)  Your prayers are very appreciated right now.

I know that just like a marriage, chrismation is really the start of my new life, and not the finish line by any means.  Still, I feel so giddy right now that it's like being a kid again (and that's saying a lot for this decidedly middle-aged lady).

I'll be Orthodox in two weeks!  Wow!!! Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: September 19, 2004, 05:47:58 PM »

Congratulations!  Many years! :bounce: :clapper: :cwm4: Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #38 on: September 19, 2004, 07:22:58 PM »

Hang in there.  Your priest is very wise.  If you need to, please e-mail him or call him.    You could always call the person who is going to be your sponsor too.  

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« Reply #39 on: September 19, 2004, 08:34:26 PM »

Congratulations! This is a very encouraging update (for this catechumen)! Many Years! Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2004, 09:13:18 PM »

God be with you as you prepare to receive the Power from on high.
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« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2004, 06:39:23 PM »

Congratulations!  I, too, always get nervous when I have to do things in church, like read or do a procession or whatever, but when the time comes to do it, it just always seems normal.  There's an intense peace that comes just from looking at the icons of Christ and the Theotokos.  So, if you're nervous, just glance at Christ and His mother -- they will calm you and bring you peace.
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« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2004, 03:03:54 PM »

Hello, YankeeLady.  I haven't been here for some time, but your dilemma really hit home for me so I thought I might reply.

My sister and her husband have been married for 11 years.  Prior to marriage, they were engaged for 12 years, shacking up for the last 6 years of that time.  My sister bought 3 different wedding dresses (all in the closet for years!) and was on her 2nd engagement ring by the time they finally decided to get married.  We used to joke (half seriously, of course) that they would either get married or kill each other...They both seemed to have their own separate emotional issues and problems.  Once they actually got married, though, and made that committment, everything else in their lives settled down and they were able to move forward -- financially, emotionally, regarding having children, buying property, etc.  

I mention this because I think that you should go ahead and convert.  Now.  Your priest says you're ready and he is your guide in these decisions.  Once you make that decision and committment, you may find that other problems you are having will clear up rapidly.  Once you are a true member of that parish, you might find exactly your niche and where you fit in to serve.  I'm introverted and fearful of making conversation with others...I found my niche by working in the kitchen frequently during meals and by cleaning at church occasionally.  

Please try to see others' questions regarding your chrismation, job search, etc. for what they are -- interest in you and in your future.  These are likely the same folks who've been praying for you since you were made a catechumen and so they feel they have a "stake" in what's going on with you.  Like family.  

There are always going to be those things that bug all of us about the Church.  Many of these questions will never be answered this side of Paradise but serve only as temptations to us.  Sometimes we overthink things.  If you believe that the Orthodox Church is THE Church, if you believe The Creed in sincerity, if you believe the priest at your parish is guiding you to the best of his ability -- there is no legitimate reason NOT to convert.  Now.

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