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Author Topic: I want to become Orthodox  (Read 3788 times) Average Rating: 0
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Geoffrey
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« on: September 05, 2004, 12:27:06 AM »

Last week, I attended a Vesper service. It was the first time I'd ever been in an Orthodox Church. What struck me most about Vespers was that it was all about praising the Most Holy Trinity. Usually the churches I attend are more about learning verses and discussing polotics, with the notable exception of Bethel Baptist Church and a Zion Messianic Synagogue, both of which were extremely devoted to God. You can definitely feel the Holy Spirit in their congregations.

Currently, I'm a member of Bethel Baptist. Just about six or seven weeks ago I knew almost nothing about Orthodoxy. Even though Bethel is a wonderful place, I just felt like I was missing some part of myself. So I just let God take me where he wanted to. I started praying the scriptures and looking for the Church that followed the Bible's doctrines most accurately. Looking back, I now see that this quest for the "first" church wasn't really what I wanted to search for, or rather, what God wanted me to search for. In reality, he was leading me to salvation. I thought I was already saved though.

The first place He lead me was Messianic Judaism. My best friend invited me there. The congregation was truly happy in the Lord! They sung and danced. They prayed and prayed and prayed. Only two things concerned them during the service; praising God and obeying his Law. God bless them for their commitment. You'll know what it means to be "excited and joyful" in our Messiah after just one visit! My only complaint about them is their reluctance to call themselves Christians for fear of persecution by their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Something was still missing though. I discovered what it was just last week. It was true and sincere love within all of my heart for the Lord. Before it was just with little segments of my heart that I loved Jesus with. There were even times when I seriously questioned God's existence. Sure, I'd feared Him before, even cried to Him. But it was mainly only a one way communication. Now it's two ways. Why it's two ways now I don't really know. In truth, I don't even know what it is that attracts me to Orthodoxy so much. It feels like there's something more that's just beyond my reach, and this troubles me. I have a fear of just dying one day, and then fading into nothingness. I struggle with the question of what's beyond life. Is it suffering, eternal joy, or non-existence? I need to know for sure. I need God to be a tangible force in my life.

Therefore, I've decided to follow my savior, Jesus Christ. Wherever He leads me I will go. He's led me here now. I'm tempted to feel like I've reached the end of a long journey, but I know the truth. I'm only at the beginning of my spiritual journey. I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you that I'm a little scared of the brief glimpses I've had of what lies along this path God's chosen for me. Please, help ease my fears.

The Vesper service helped ease them. The incense reminded me of how our prayers are like a sweet smell to God. The icon of Christ stared at all of our souls. The eyes seem to follow you no matter where you go. This both disturbs and comforts me. Christ is always watching over us, but he also sees all of our sins. I can tell you truthfully that I have a ton of them. The "Lord have mercy" lines in the prayers really mean something to me. I'm literally begging Him for salvation by saying them.

Joy comes easy to me. So does pride and lying. You have no idea how much I long to cry and mourn in a righteous manner. So far, I've only cried selfishly except for two or three occasions when my sorrow was sincerely about others. I even wrote a prayer about my desire to cry. It reflects my emotions way better than just this paragraph. Sorry, but it's a little blurry. I hope you can read it.


I've spilled my heart out to you. If you have any advice for me, please say it. I don't really know that much about God and His Will yet, except for the basics. I'd like to know more though. A member of the Orthodox Church I visited loaned me a great book about faith, love, God, and doctrine. I've really enjoyed it and it's very enlighting. The book is definitely helping me get close to God. I think it's called The Orthodox Way.

Well, it's almost time for me to retire for the night. I don't know what time it is where you live, but it's 11:20 pm here. Before I go though, is it true that catechumens must not be in contact with any other non-Orthodox churches? I don't want to just abandon my old congregation entirely. They were, after all, the ones who initially led me to Christ. I like to do Bible studies with my Roman Catholic and Messianic Jewish friends. Will I have to stop doing these activities now? I feel that God still wants me to continue them, but I'm still new to all of this.

God bless all of you for taking the time to read this very long post.

I really need help!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2004, 04:15:40 PM by Geoffrey » Logged

Orthodox? Not me, I'm Roman Catholic...but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2004, 12:54:25 AM »

Dear Geoffrey,

Welcome to the Forum.  Is this the first forum you've been on?  It's been pretty quiet, but please be patient.  Since it's a holiday weekend things might be slow for a day, but it will pick up, I'm sure.  Smiley  

You might want to edit your first message and take out your friend's name for privacy.  Anyone online could come here and read this and it's a wise thing to not give out private information too much.

Yours,

Ebor
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2004, 03:03:37 AM »

Geoffrey,

In addition to Ebor's good advice, I would reccomend that you make an appointment to speak with the priest at the church you attended.  I'm sure he has welcomed people in similar situations before, and would be happy to discuss not only progression toward the catechumenate, but also appropiate relations with non-Orthodox now and in the future.  A lot of specific questions are answered quite well by Fr. John Matusiak on this page.

If I could I might reccomend a few other books to your reading list.  

Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin  Gallatin is a convert from evangelical protestantism, and I believe this book is a very good introduction to the Orthodox mindset as viewed from the lens of evangelical protestantism.

You've read The Orthodox Way by Bishop KALLISTOS Ware.  He has also written another good book, The Orthodox Church, which is attributed to his birth name, Timothy Ware.  This book is half history and half doctrine and another good starting point.

I would also reccomend a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible published by Concilliar Press.  The main group of converts who formed this press was a group of 2,000 former protestants headed by several regional directors of Campus Crusade for Christ.  I feel you will find it an excellent way of viewing the scriptures from an Orthodox mindset.  

I wish you well upon your journey, and will pray for you.  I ask that you do the same for me.  

David
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2004, 09:00:43 AM »

Currently, I'm a member of Bethel Baptist...The first place He lead me was Messianic Judaism...Something was still missing though...In truth, I don't even know what it is that attracts me to Orthodoxy so much. It feels like there's something more that's just beyond my reach, and this troubles me...Mr. Gehrels, a member of the Orthodox Church I visited loaned me...The Orthodox Way.

Geoffrey, my brother...and I mean that, as I too came out of the Baptist church with a strong desire to find the Glory of the people Israel and found Orthodoxy as an unexpected result, largely as a result of Ware's Way.  Wow...what a prayer that was that you wrote.  Your yearning for tears is an inspiration; thank you.  Keep it up.

Quote
...is it true that catechumens must not be in contact with any other non-Orthodox churches?

Contact?  No.  We could hardly be missionary if we never had contact with them.  We -- either as catechumens or faithful -- must avoid regular attendance and participation in their services, as we are Orthodox; we pray Orthodox prayers and are nourished through the life of the Orthodox Church.  But I myself have attended rather "Ecumenical" Bible studies, the result of which (thanks be to God!) was that many people there became interested in learning about Orthodoxy, as they had never known about us or our differences before then (it actually became the main thrust of the study)!  Check with the priest at the Church you visited about becoming a catechumen; the question you asked, as I understand, is one that is often asked by those who inquire into the faith.  Follow his advice, as obedience to a spiritual father is the first step to becoming Orthodox.

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I really need help!

Well, then, you're in good company here in the Orthodox Church!

Peace to you,

Pedro
« Last Edit: September 05, 2004, 09:03:17 AM by Pedro » Logged

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Geoffrey
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2004, 04:23:44 PM »

Thank you for your advice about personal information Ebor. I should've known better not to do that.

David, thank you for your prayers and the book suggestions. I will pray for you.

Pedro, thank you for relieving some of my worries. I'll probably contact you soon with some questions.

God bless all of you!
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2004, 01:19:46 AM »

Geofery....

You have identified the true faith...


Now you need to find it.

1.) Meet with the priest at the Church you visited.

2.) Meet with the priest at the Church you visited

3.) Meet with the poreist at the Church you visited


Then...I would stay off this site and other such sites until such a time as you have been chrismated...or not.

For general questions...and perhaps to prepare yourself for your meetings with the priest to make the best use of time you might want to se the Q&A section of www.oca.org.

This section covers many general topics. After studying this...you will no doubt have many questions fo rth epriest.

Orthodoxy s not for everyone...I am gladdened you think it is for you.

Meet with the preist at the church you visited.

AND PS:....If you want to see unbounded Joy in worship...just wait for Pascha! (Easter)
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2004, 01:24:00 AM »


Orthodoxy s not for everyone...I am gladdened you think it is for you.


If Orthodoxy is the true faith, how can it not be "for everyone?"  

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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2004, 02:46:34 PM »

If Orthodoxy is the true faith, how can it not be "for everyone?"  




Because it is the true faith!

In the Gospels Christ said he did not come to bring unity......

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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2004, 04:21:55 PM »

If Orthodoxy is not for everyone, it is not Catholic.  What else can we knock out of the Creed?  Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2004, 04:24:02 PM »

Because it is the true faith!

In the Gospels Christ said he did not come to bring unity......



Sorry but that doesn't make sense.  Are you seriously suggesting that the true faith is not made for some people?  Who are these people who can't have the true faith?  Were they predestined to not have the true faith?  

Unity doesn't have anything to do with it.  

The true faith is made for everyone which is how we know it's the true faith.  

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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2004, 04:25:52 PM »

This forum is for everyone too! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2004, 04:50:10 PM »

This forum is for everyone too! Smiley
... except for those who you have banned. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2004, 05:20:54 PM »

I don't know if that's meant to be funny or serious, but if we ban people, there's a reason for it.  Did you have anyone in mind?
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2004, 06:26:55 PM »

Thank you for your advice about personal information Ebor. I should've known better not to do that.
 

You are most welcome, Geoffrey.  No one knows everything, at least *I* sure didn't when I was 16. (I'm 48 now  Smiley )  Just be cautious on-line.  Unfortunately, not everyone on-line is benificent.  I'm sure you've read about cyber-stalkers and older people who prey on teens or try to.  We've had a couple of "trolls" come here and the Admins had to take steps.  So keep private information, like full names and location and the like out of posts.

One other thing.  If you want to become a catachumen, go to a local established church.  Deal with real live people and do not attach yourself tenuously to someone far away and unseen but just known on-line. (It has happened.)  Read but listen to people who have been Orthodox for a long time.  If the priest advises you to not read certain things yet it's probably for a good reason.  Remember the passage in the New Testament about milk vs. meat in learning Christianity.    

Respectfully,

Ebor
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2004, 06:52:48 PM »

I don't know if that's meant to be funny or serious, but if we ban people, there's a reason for it.  Did you have anyone in mind?    
It was meant to be funny.  I was thinking of people like "united" who spammed this board for a while.  Obviously not someone who is or should be welcome, but to take your "This forum is open to everybody" statement literally...  well, that's not entirely the case.  For good reason of course.
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2004, 10:39:55 PM »

Orthodoxy s not for everyone...I am gladdened you think it is for you.

Mmm...perhaps it could be better said that not everyone will be willing to embrace the Orthodox faith...it is most certainly for (i.e. "available to") everyone.
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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2004, 12:37:46 AM »

The faith is open to everyone; not everyone is open to the faith.
probably the most profound thing i've said this year Wink
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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2004, 10:48:10 AM »

Orthodoxy is not for everyone...
Boy some of you folks are reading waaaaaay too much into this statement.

What I meant was some people do find Orthodoxy as beautiful, and full of truth as most of us here do....It is not for everyone in the same manner that manner can not bring themesleves to live Way our saviour taught.

Perhaps we have differeing lingual backgrounds here but where I come from, one can say "It is not for everyone" and it means the same as "not everybody will accept it, find it true and beautiful".

Do we need to work on our levity?
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« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2004, 10:51:19 AM »

The faith is open to everyone; not everyone is open to the faith.
probably the most profound thing i've said this year Wink

Yes very profound.

I admit it would have been more accurate to state:

"Not everyone is suited for or ready to accept Orthodoxy as the true faith....."

But again, where I come from in common English "Orthodoxy is not for everyone" means this too.
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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2004, 07:03:18 PM »

Orthodoxy is for everyone and this Bud's for you!

Oh wait, I hate American "Budweiser".  I guess that's why it's for you and not me.

Spartacus, I understood what you meant.

Cheers!
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« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2004, 01:12:30 PM »

Deleted what I wrote, as it would have been redundent...  's what happens when you drive til the wee hours through torential rains... need a good 24 hours of sleep.
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2004, 08:59:48 AM »

Geoffrey,

I have to repeat what others have said - talk to the parish Priest.  People on the internet, even if well meaning, can turn out to be just as ill informed as any other joe-average can be.  Also there are a lot of "politics" that get played out on message forums, which will only needlessly confuse you and muddy clear waters.  Your best bet, is to have regular contact with a Priest, do good spiritual reading, pray, and have contact with a real Orthodox Church (making Her services and worship an integral part of your life) - and only let places like this (or the internet in general) be a supplement to your experience of Orthodoxy.

That should sound obvious, but unfortunately I've been "up close" with what happens when this does not occur; and it can be very ugly.

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