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« on: November 23, 2011, 04:34:16 PM »

Here is an email I sent to an Orthodox Monk I've recently befriended.  I thought I'd post it here and see what kind of response I get. 


Fr. Herman
Since you came from the Roman Catholic Tradition I have a question for you.  I've been an inquirer for about 3 years now and Fr Gabriel has not pushed me at all to become Orthodox but he recently asked me what my hold up may be.  So I've been asking myself…………….what is holding me up.  I went to our Catholic Priest and explained a little to him about my inquiry and not much was really said in return although it was a warm visit.

Though my wife is supportive of my possible conversion she has said many times she will not convert.   I once thought a person could not be Orthodox and be married or be able to work it out with a Roman Catholic but I've been proven wrong.  My wife and believe we will work it out.  I guess I'm reluctant to make the decision because I know I will go it alone, but I know that other Roman Catholics have done this exact thing and they work it out.

Some of my hesitancy is because I desire to ease my wife into this situation.  So back to the reasons why I haven't converted.  My thoughts have led me to the point that on one hand I can stay affiliated with the RCC for the unity of family, comfort and convenience.  But that is not what I want.  I believe in the Orthodox Church and all that it stands for while not harboring any unpleasant thoughts or feelings towards the RCC.   Even though the nearest Church is two hours away that doesn't deter me from ambitions of becoming Orthodox.  The distance gives me the strength to be stronger.

When I started on this journey I knew it would take awhile.  I didn't want to base any decisions on feelings.  So here I am, 3 years later wondering what is holding me up. 

What I don't want is to do something that is against the Will of God and so now I'm questioning myself.  Has the last three years been my own doing?  Or is the devil trying to trick me?  I suppose the only thing holding me back is my indecisiveness to make the decision.  Do you have any thoughts or recommendations in regards to this matter? 

 

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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 05:17:25 PM »

When I was an undergraduate a few years ago, one of my advisers once gave me some excellent advice that I've found applies to most things, including this: The best way to make sure you don't get anything done is to make it perfect.

The faith, of course, is perfect as it is from God and preserved by Him, but we come to it in various states of imperfection. God knows this, and accepts us anyway. May He show you the way through your indecision so that you can become a part of His holy church.
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2011, 06:28:25 PM »

If you wait until you are ready, you will never marry, have children, pick a job....or convert.  IOW miss out on life by spending it getting ready for it.
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2011, 09:49:28 PM »

If you wait until you are ready, you will never marry, have children, pick a job....or convert.  IOW miss out on life by spending it getting ready for it.

Yes, I know I cannot wait for the right or perfect time and I definitley won't wait for something that won't happen.  All that is left is for my decision.
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2011, 05:09:05 PM »

To be honest, this is one of the most annoying reasons I hear from people who want to convert but have not done it yet. Who cares if your family will not go along? Who cares if you were not raised an Orthodox Christian or Roman Catholicism is your family religion. Choose the correct one, which, you know is Orthodoxy. Why do you need your family to go along with you? Be a man. You're an adult with freedom to do whatever you want and you can bring yourself to the Orthodox Church anytime you want. I'm a 15 year old who just recently converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant background. My entire family is Protestant and I cannot even drive myself to the Parish; they have to take me and they disapprove of everything I do. Yet, this has not stopped me at all. Be a man, Christ said whoever does not acknowledge Him before their family is not worthy of Him.
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2011, 05:17:38 PM »

Careful, James. We care because marriage is for the salvation of those involved in it (the spouse, and any children if God has so blessed the couple), so we should want and do want them to convert as well. I'm not married, but I'd be overjoyed if anyone in my family or friends were to begin exploring Orthodoxy. You want what's best for the ones you love, right? And it can be especially hard if you're the only one in your family who is on this path, as I'm sure you know.
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2011, 05:29:58 PM »

Careful, James. We care because marriage is for the salvation of those involved in it (the spouse, and any children if God has so blessed the couple), so we should want and do want them to convert as well. I'm not married, but I'd be overjoyed if anyone in my family or friends were to begin exploring Orthodoxy. You want what's best for the ones you love, right? And it can be especially hard if you're the only one in your family who is on this path, as I'm sure you know.

I know, I really do want them to convert. It is terrible being the only one in your family. I guess it has sort of turned me kind of hostile towards other types of Christians and family. I just feel sometimes that family drives me insane. I like being alone; I'm an introvert who just wants to read and focus on my own spiritual life. I think joining a Monastic Order when I grow up might be fun.
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2011, 08:31:25 PM »

I wish it was as easy as you say. I think I have allowed/made every opportunity I'm capable of with my family and now I must either decide to go or stay. Ultimately I will make a decision but it's a big life changing decision.  Don't get me wrong I'm probably headed for Orthodoxy......I'm just a bit hesitant.   
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2011, 10:33:08 PM »

I like being alone; I'm an introvert who just wants to read and focus on my own spiritual life.

Being made in the image and likeness of a Triune God, we're not meant to be alone, and this is vital to our spiritual life.

Quote
I think joining a Monastic Order when I grow up might be fun.

I don't think the goal of monastic life is meant to be fun. I could be wrong.

Anyway, I can be somewhat of an introvert at times and would absolutely love to see my family and friends convert. It doesn't always work out like that, and sometimes when it does it just takes time. Anyway, we are called to love regardless. I know it can be frustrating sometimes, but that's just how it is. We can't always expect the same things out of everyone that we expect out of or perform ourselves. Just think if Christ had said "I was tempted in every way yet without sin, why can't you handle something as small as (insert personal struggle, failure, or fault)?" after leading a perfect and sinless life. That would really suck. For everyone.

Just a couple of things to think about.
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 12:13:12 AM »

For what it's worth, I am the only Orthodox Christian in my family.  My entire immediate family is Roman Catholic of varying degrees of piety.  My wife's entire family is Roman Catholic with varying degrees of piety.  In my extended family, there are a few Greek Catholics and one born Russian Orthodox, but he is now RC after marrying my cousin.  My wife is a somewhat disaffected Roman Catholic.

I became Orthodox because I believe the Orthodox Church has the fullness of faith, undiminished and untarnished from the time of the Apostles.  Once I came to that conclusion, I simply had to be chrismated.  Period.  I spoke with my wife about it and told her what I wanted to do.  She was initially somewhat despondent that I wasn't waiting for her, but she understood where I was coming from and why I felt I had to do it now. 

I'm a little tired and the brain isn't working well at the moment, but somewhere in the Scriptures and in Tradition we are taught that the spouse is saved through the faith of the other because, in marriage, the husband and wife are one. 

If you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Faith, convert.  Tell your wife how you feel and what your reasons and emotions are about the process and why you feel compelled to do so.  I hope she will be as understanding as my wife, even though it is painful and frustrating for both parties.  I cannot tell you how agonizing it can be to go to church on Sundays by yourself and not have your spouse present next to you.  I cannot explain how empty you can feel when you are anointed on Holy Wednesday evening alone.  But the Eucharist can give you the strength to do it and to be patient with your spouse and also the source of strength to be Christ-like and show the world, your spouse included, that the Kingdom of God is within you and, as St. Seraphim of Sarov noted, convert those around you through the possession of the Holy Spirit.

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« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 03:01:31 AM »


I know, I really do want them to convert. It is terrible being the only one in your family. I guess it has sort of turned me kind of hostile towards other types of Christians and family. I just feel sometimes that family drives me insane. I like being alone; I'm an introvert who just wants to read and focus on my own spiritual life. I think joining a Monastic Order when I grow up might be fun.
[/b]

Dear James, the Christian life is a contradiction to the worldly life; the Christian life calls us to self denial, and sacrifices.It calls us to genuinely Love.  Either in marriage or in the solitary life, the goal is the same: the union with God. a truly Christian marriage is not a simple or an easy thing to do. it goes against everything the fallen world idolises and advocates, it goes against everything  the fallen self desires, and ofc it is everything that the devil battles against.the solitary life is also faced with the same challenges adjusted to its  particular way of living. in both Christians learn to abandon the dominating self serving,  self asserting motivation that guides or misguides relationships.


the authentic christian solitary life, does not mean that the person regresses into the self and becomes a self serving entity even in spiritual matters,  rather ironically enough the christian monastic seeks to unite the self (body and soul)with Christ so  that  the fallen self and its misdirected desires and passions become transfigured in Christ. Thus they become a means to Love God and neighbor, in a self giving love. the solitary is not an indifferent person to human suffering and emotions, rather the solitary seeks to love and love properly as is only possible in the Love of Christ.

OK I am oversimplifying things here, but I just want to point out that although your reading and focusing on your spiritual life is good and very important, keep in mind that ultimately the Christian life can be summed up into Love of God and neighbor,  and we can not say we love God and hate our neighbor.so our life is a process of dying to self and living for Christ Who commands us to love one another.you see  what we like is not always what is right, and what is right is not always what we like, even what we like now might be a burdon later. we learn  to discern about these things within these two ways of Christian living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of the Church. the mortification of the fallen self and its selfish desires is a painful process honestly not fun at all, but with God all things are possible. we must be careful not to cater to our self asserting inclinations in all our relationships with others and even ourselves, we must remember that we are called to live as Christ lived. remember how he walked in meekness and humility.so minster to your family in the Love of Christ, share the joy of the christian life with them because the christian life is not a morbid and depressing life, pray for them, even if you do not and can not please them all the time, seek to please God in how you treat them and what you do for them and others.  my brother,may God be with you!

with love in Christ,
Hiwot.

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« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2011, 03:40:54 AM »

Quote
I wish it was as easy as you say. I think I have allowed/made every opportunity I'm capable of with my family and now I must either decide to go or stay. Ultimately I will make a decision but it's a big life changing decision.  Don't get me wrong I'm probably headed for Orthodoxy......I'm just a bit hesitant.

My wife originally didn't want me to convert to Orthodoxy at all. We had many nights arguing until around 3 AM in the morning about it. Eventually she changed her mind but it took a long time. Now we're both catachumen and will probably be baptized and chrismated sometime next year. It's very hard to consider converting to Orthodoxy when you're spouse has said she won't do it. I'll be praying for you and your family.
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« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 01:32:12 PM »


I'm a little tired and the brain isn't working well at the moment, but somewhere in the Scriptures......we are taught that the spouse is saved through the faith of the other because, in marriage, the husband and wife are one. 


It doesn't quite teach that but i think 1 Corinthians 7:13 onwards is what you're after.

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."

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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2011, 05:05:57 PM »


I'm a little tired and the brain isn't working well at the moment, but somewhere in the Scriptures......we are taught that the spouse is saved through the faith of the other because, in marriage, the husband and wife are one. 


It doesn't quite teach that but i think 1 Corinthians 7:13 onwards is what you're after.

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."



That would be the Scriptural part, yes.  Note I also added "...Tradtion" in my original statement, which is "Scripture interpreted correctly," as one definition goes.  There are quite a few stories in the early Church of marriages where one spouse is Christian while the other is pagan.  I've always been taught that while certainly an anomaly, such marriages are salvific for the non-Christian spouse for the reason I noted in my earlier post.  Of course, in the end, it's always best for both parties to be Christian.  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2011, 08:25:26 PM »


I'm a little tired and the brain isn't working well at the moment, but somewhere in the Scriptures......we are taught that the spouse is saved through the faith of the other because, in marriage, the husband and wife are one. 


It doesn't quite teach that but i think 1 Corinthians 7:13 onwards is what you're after.

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."



That would be the Scriptural part, yes.  Note I also added "...Tradtion" in my original statement, which is "Scripture interpreted correctly," as one definition goes.  There are quite a few stories in the early Church of marriages where one spouse is Christian while the other is pagan.  I've always been taught that while certainly an anomaly, such marriages are salvific for the non-Christian spouse for the reason I noted in my earlier post.  Of course, in the end, it's always best for both parties to be Christian.  Smiley

Yes, i saw the word "Tradition" but i provided a citation for the scriptural part so i left it out.
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2011, 11:05:44 PM »

If you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Faith, convert.  

You're exactly right!  I will be visiting with my priest very soon. 
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2011, 10:56:11 AM »

I feel for you.

My biggest issue was my daughter, she was so happy when I became Roman Catholic, and found it very hard as she saw me moving towards the EO.  It was fine at first, when I was interested in the icons, and the prayer involved...but then as I started learning more and talking more about the Desert Fathers, the Liturgy, the Holy Mysteries, prayer and fasting....well she and I  had some very awkward discussions as she is very opinionated!  I stopped bringing it up and just quietly converted.  The Chrismation ceremony for Latin Catholics involves renunciation of several beliefs/ Dogma as I am sure you know.  You should be sure you read the Service before you Make your decision.  That was a major area for me to pray and be sure about.

It is still difficult now, and I think it will be very hard for you as ths is your wife.  I can only add that I am at peace that I made the right decision. 

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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 11:02:24 AM »

If you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Faith, convert.  Tell your wife how you feel and what your reasons and emotions are about the process and why you feel compelled to do so.  I hope she will be as understanding as my wife, even though it is painful and frustrating for both parties.  I cannot tell you how agonizing it can be to go to church on Sundays by yourself and not have your spouse present next to you.  I cannot explain how empty you can feel when you are anointed on Holy Wednesday evening alone.  But the Eucharist can give you the strength to do it and to be patient with your spouse and also the source of strength to be Christ-like and show the world, your spouse included, that the Kingdom of God is within you and, as St. Seraphim of Sarov noted, convert those around you through the possession of the Holy Spirit.



Just beautiful and excellent advice.
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« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2011, 12:37:31 PM »

Im in a similar situation, except my whole family is protestant. Do you think its easier to deal with this with a protestant family or RC family? I would guess protestant because most protestants, in my experience anyway, dont even know what Orthodoxy is.  They think Im wanting to become Jewish or something... But then again a lot of protestants, again in my experience, seem to think anyone who isnt a protestant is hell-bound.  Ha.

Anyways... I know how you feel.  I have been wanting to convert too, but my wife is not quite on board.  Im trying to get her to come meet with my priest, but she is even scared to do that.  She is either A) scared of his beard and funny clothes, or B) somewhat knows that Orthodoxy is "right" and is afraid to continue to be convinced of that.  She knows her family, hardcore southern baptists, wouldnt be to fond of the idea.

What everyone has told me is to be patient. Im sure youve heard that too and its even harder to do after youve been waiting so long already.  Some people have said to just convert and not worry about your family, but that is indeed hard.  I cant imagine doing something without my wifes support. Nor can i imagine not being in communion with my wife.  I do pray that eventually this all works out!
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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2011, 01:39:09 PM »

If you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Faith, convert.  

You're exactly right!  I will be visiting with my priest very soon. 
Im in the same boat but my wife and son are Protestant. For me, I try to NOT convert them (its truly the Holy Spirit ALONE that can do that) but I try to at least let them know what Orthodoxy is all about and make them at least familiar with it. I dont attack their positions, or try to prove them wrong.

My wife is learning about Orthodoxy and I maintain the mentality that she will not convert. That way I dont get my hopes up or appear too zealous to her. She understands my convictions and I understand hers. We appreciate them in each other, and I am content with that.

We talk about faith far more now than we ever did and it really is bringing us closer because she knows where im coming from in a non-judgemental way, and vice versa.


She knows one thing however, that I am converting to Orthodoxy whether she does or not and she is comfortable with that. because she knows that I am doing it for the right reasons in my spiritual life.
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2011, 02:11:48 PM »

wise words.
it is indeed hard to find the right combination of following what you know is right and waiting for your family.
remember your family are not the enemy (the devil may what u to think they are!) and remember to use the hard times to grow in faith, patience and humility.

in my experience, heading slowly and surely in the direction of orthodoxy was the right thing, but i slowed down when i was asked to.
may God give u all wisdom and peace on your journeys.
 Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2011, 11:23:25 PM »

Thanks to everyone for the advice and prayers.  I've visited with my priest and I'll continue to be patient and see where were led on this path though I'm already Orthodox at heart and partly in practice. Patience is a good thing.....
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