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Tgebar
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« on: August 25, 2011, 05:07:22 AM »

Hello everyone! This is my first post, and so I will make a brief introduction, but reserve a more full introduction for any section devoted to such a thing. My name is Tyler Gebar, and I am a young student of Pittsburg State University at Pittsburg, Kansas.

The issue I wish to discuss is the proper behavior for an inquirer of the Church to exhibit. I have attended services regularly over the summer holiday at the All Saints Orthodox Church of Salina, Kansas under the guidance of Father Daniel Griffith. Father Daniel has been an excellent guide, as well as exceedingly kind and patient. However, there are some issues I feel I have failed to communicate with him due to, perhaps, the vague nature of my questions. Unfortunately while I am in Pittsburg I am unable to attend services, as I am four hours away from my hometown of Chapman, which is about 35 minutes away from Salina. Because of this, any communication with Father Daniel during the semester must be established over the telephone. I'll be talking about some basic, mostly practical issues, but I'd like to assure you all that I will be referring to Father Daniel as to how he feels about my relation to them.

- Prayer rules: As an inquirer who is not yet a catechumen, what is appropriate prayer? Father Daniel recommended to me the morning and evening prayers from the Jordanville Prayer Book that I recently ordered, but I was wondering if there were any specific points I should keep in mind when engaging in prayer due to my lack of connection with the Church, or perhaps any other prayers I should consider. Daily prayer is a practice that I have found wonderful in all of its aspects, and is a part of the day that I much look forward to, so any help here is greatly appreciated!

- Jesus Prayer: I come to Orthodoxy from a background in antiquated philosophy, particularly Neoplatonic thought. This has unfortunately colored some of my perspectives of Orthodox ascetic practice, and I cannot help but be in awe of and excited to engage in some of the practices such as the aforementioned prayer. Father Daniel recommended attempting to recite the Jesus Prayer whenever possible, and he even blessed a prayer rope I ordered on the altar during one of the liturgies that I attended, recommending using it whenever I felt compelled to pray, or to pray for those who are ailing, and so forth. However, I have read some material saying that an inquirer should not consider engaging in such practices. What's the consensus here?

- Tracing the sign of the cross: This is something I do often during morning and evening prayer, of course, but also when leaving the house, before and after meals with a blessing, when I leave and return home from classes with a prayer for lessons, and before and after I return home from work with the prayer for tasks. I also trace the sign frequently during services, obviously. Is this proper behavior for someone in my position? Father Daniel explained to me the meaning of the sign, of the position of the hands, and recommended doing it to the capacity of my understanding and as I felt comfortable with it.

- Icon corner: I purchased the icon of the sacred kissing while on a trip to Whichita, with Father Daniel actually in order to visit the Cathedral of St. George and to meet Bishop Basil. I have it hanging on the East wall of my room and I pray before it in the morning and the evening, and venerate it before and after prayers. Once again, is this proper behavior? Father Daniel recommended this icon in particular, due to the fact that it contains both the Theotokos and the infant Christ, and an icon of Christ Pantocrator as well. He also said I should read the lives of the saints, bit by bit each day, and see if a particular saint 'resonates' with me, and perhaps seek out an icon of that saint. How do you all feel about this?

- Spiritual father: I noticed that specific portions of the intercessory prayers are to be made to one's spiritual father. Father Daniel thus far has instructed me in what to read as far as the theology of the early Church fathers, given me a loose recommendation of a prayer rule, recommended to me the use of the prayer rope, and has taught me all of the elements of Orthodox practice that I am familiar with thus far. Furthermore, he and I will be undertaking classes on the catechetical lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem over the next year, as I am able to make it home one weekend out of each month. As far as I know and am concerned, these classes are merely to assist my understanding of the writings of this blessed father, but my question is, does this make it proper for me to make these intercessory prayers to a spiritual father for Father Daniel? Or should I reserve such a thing for a formal agreement, or after I have furthered my relationship with the Church?

Thank you all so much for your help!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 05:11:21 AM by Tgebar » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 05:19:47 AM »

There are 11 Churches in Pittsburg
http://www.scoba.us/directory.html?parish=&clergy=&city=Pittsburg&state=-1&searchType=parish
edit:

Sorry, it's not that Pittsburg.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 05:23:52 AM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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Tgebar
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2011, 05:23:34 AM »

First of all, sir, thank you for your help! I regret to inform you, however, that these churches are all in the area of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. I reside in Pittsburg, Kansas. All of the nearest churches are at least a bit under two hours away, and many of them two hours or more.
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2011, 06:24:58 AM »

1. You're doing fine.
2. Sure, whatever he said. Don't go overboard or get silly.
3. Yes.
4. Yes.
5. Sure, whatever. Or not. Maybe I'd just say no to that and not bother with that until it seems necessary, which might not be for quite a while longer than you think. Sometimes people get silly about the whole "spiritual father" thing and I recommend against getting silly.
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2011, 09:52:29 AM »

1. You're doing fine.
2. Sure, whatever he said. Don't go overboard or get silly.
3. Yes.
4. Yes.
5. Sure, whatever. Or not. Maybe I'd just say no to that and not bother with that until it seems necessary, which might not be for quite a while longer than you think. Sometimes people get silly about the whole "spiritual father" thing and I recommend against getting silly.

 I would recommend becoming a catechuman as soon as you are comfortable moving forward. You will be prayed for at the alter at each liturgy once you have done so.

In the Orthodox Church we see such things as becoming a catechuman as more than just symbolic. You will notice the difference once you have had this blessing. This is not superstition but comes from experiences we have all had.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2011, 10:23:21 AM »

Have you tried this to find a closer parish?

http://www.orthodoxyinamerica.org/lr_v10/locator.php?cntry=USA
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Tgebar
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2011, 01:42:28 PM »

I would recommend becoming a catechuman as soon as you are comfortable moving forward. You will be prayed for at the alter at each liturgy once you have done so.

In the Orthodox Church we see such things as becoming a catechuman as more than just symbolic. You will notice the difference once you have had this blessing. This is not superstition but comes from experiences we have all had.

Thank you for your sentiment! As much as I look forward to this, I am letting Father Daniel decide for me when I am prepared to take this step. I am sure that he has such things in mind as my inability to attend services regularly during this school-year. Next year I will transfer to K-State University in Manhattan or Salina, KS, and will thus be able to attend the Divine services much more frequently. I have expressed to Father Daniel my interest in joining the Church, and he responded by assigning some reading to me, namely the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Clement of Rome, as well as some other books of interest like The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware and The Faith by Clark Carlton.

Have you tried this to find a closer parish?

http://www.orthodoxyinamerica.org/lr_v10/locator.php?cntry=USA

I have, but unfortunately they are all at least an hour and a half, two hours, or more away.
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2011, 02:27:58 PM »

GZT's answer format seems efficient so I am going to follow suit.

1.  When I was inquiring into the Church my priest assigned me morning and evening prayers as well.  I asked, "That's it?".  He laughed and said, "When you learn to truly pray these prayers we can talk about more."  We'll see if that conversation ever happens.

2.  There certainly are those that warn against diving into the deep end of hesychastic prayer and they do so with good reason.  But simple recitation of the Jesus prayer is great.  It often says more than I could ever hope to say.

3.  The sign of the cross is both a prayer and a blessing.  Be careful that it does not become a superstition as it so easily can become.

4.  It is good to know and to venerate God's saints.  The particular formulas of how to do this are slightly different in different traditions.  Again, be careful that it doesn't become superstitious.  The first time I venerated an icon at church I crossed myself and then kissed the icon.  I then noticed someone else cross themselves twice before kissing the icon and then cross themselves again.  I worried that I had done it wrong, which was pure silliness.

5.  I agree with GZT.  A "spiritual father" is often a hyped up notion where it should be rather simple and organic.  At this point Father Daniel is your spiritual father.  Most people's spiritual father is the parish priest.  The search for a clairvoyant hermit starets is also usually silliness.

Take all of this with a grain of salt as it is only my opinion.  By the way, welcome to the forum.
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2011, 02:38:38 PM »

Before I was a catechumen, I asked Father what I should be doing, and he told me to pray, study and attend as many services as I could.

In my ignorance, I exclaimed, "That's all?"

I think he's still laughing.
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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

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Tgebar
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 01:10:51 AM »

Thanks to everyone for their advice!
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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2011, 12:40:39 AM »

Im also a newbie orthodox inquirer.  I have been meeting with a local priest and seem to be on the same track as you. 

I think all the advice presented is good. 

One thing I am trying to do now is not worry to much about every little detail when it comes to prayer, crossing youself, etc.  When I first started praying with my icons (2 days ago) i felt uncomfortable as if I might be doing something wrong.  It quickly hit me that I should just pray as normal.  The difference now is that I have a prayer rule and specific prayer location (although it certainly isnt limited to that location) that helps me to hold my self accountable to pray regularly.  Im still getting used to crossing myself and all that stuff because we certainly didnt do all that in the protestant church I grew up in... ha!
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Tgebar
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2011, 09:34:09 PM »

I thought I'd update anyone who is interested as to the status of my finding a feasible means of attending the Divine services. Marc Paine, the former organizer of Orthodox Joplin, a Bible study group for Orthodox Christians of Joplin and the surrounding areas, relocated to Springfield, Arkansas after he was displaced by the tornado that struck Joplin a few months ago. The leadership of the efforts to unite Orthodox Christians in the Joplin area was passed to a nearby priest, Father Kuzara, who I spoke to about a week ago. He confirmed that he is still hoping to establish a mission in Joplin, Missouri, and that his only obstacle is locating property for the mission, and a home for him in Joplin. Through a friend of Marc's who attended the Orthodox Joplin Bible studies regularly, a woman by the name of Mary, I was able to find a helping hand in attending the services at the Antiochian parish in Springfield, Arkansas, the same one that Marc now attends. I spoke to Mary for the first time today, and I will be meeting her for the first time tomorrow when her and I make the trip to Springfield in order to attend the Divine Liturgy, where I will be meeting Marc in person for the first time as well. Mary and I have tentative plans to split the cost for fuel so that we can attend the Liturgy weekly. Thank you for all of your help!
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2011, 06:33:43 PM »

sounds good! tgebar and timon, keep up the good work.
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2011, 07:20:05 PM »

Wow! Good for you both.  angel
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Tags: Jesus Prayer  veneration of icons  icon corner  prayer rule  prayer rope spiritual father 
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