I had been thinking about how to address your question. Your recent posts here and in the Random Postings convince me that my initial approach is the most appropriate.
Former's best efforts will come to little avail as will few efforts to address what you want.
In fact, if I could give you want you want I wouldn't. (Is that cryptic enough for the penut gallery?)
First to your Random Postings questions, cause as I said, they are obviously interconnected with your posts in this thread along with much of what you post here on the board in general.
Last question first:
Thank you, Orthonorm, along with thanks to everybody who has actually even bothered to respond. So far it has gotten like 90 views and only three people cared to get involved.
Anyway, I feel really ashamed for this, but is it wrong that right now I feel like I don't want to attend any of the Pascha services this weekend until I find answers to my questions because I feel angry at God and because I'm worried He will be angry with me if I come to His temple with a doubting spirit?
And this is advice you should follow. Don't start arguing, especially until you have read the rest of this what looks to be a long post. And don't argue then.
It is not wrong that you feel that way.
Go to the services.
Don't try to change your feelings.
Go to the services.
Be angry at God.
Go to the services.
Be at a loss and in confusion.
Go to the services.
Go to the services.
Don't let anyone tell you should feel other than you do. You feel how you do, probably for many "good" reasons.
Don't let your feelings dictate your gross motor movements either (getting yourself to the parish among others). Especially, if you know (we'll get to what this means) that you want or should be there.
Feel however the @#$% you feel and go. I could cite cognitive science about why this is good, the Psalms, lives of Saints, etc. But just go.
Crisis is not the enemy of a real faith, but rather often its very source for many (more on this later).
Your other "Random" post:
When are you to be received?
I was supposed to be received this Holy Saturday but my Priest delayed it because he wants me to attend Church more and 'participate' in the Holy life of the Church more often. He's taking it at a slow pace because I cannot attend as often as I would like because I'm dependent on my parents to take me to Church. I'm afraid now that if I ask him about a bunch of questions and doubts I am having, he will dely it even longer.
This is what I figured from some of your posts. I'll return later tonight perhaps to put up a tentative "answer" to the question in your one thread about Free Will and the like. I didn't want to go in assuming the above was the case and give offense by my answer.
Your situation and your question are tied together.
Hang in there buddy.
Your fears are "reasonable" as is your desire to "get into the Church". And your Priest sounds like a wise man.
James, one virtue you obviously have is honesty. You post some odd stuff around here. Some people would get the orthonorm smack down for some of the stuff you post, but it seems sincere and you obviously, without any personal revelations on your part, come from some sorta background. And by that, I mean a less than fortunate one.
When I read your posts, I wish I could sit you down for a chat. But alas, here we are.
You are capable of honesty even at your expense. Don't start selling that down the river to try to "fix" your reception into the Church. (If we were to talk, I would tell you about the absurdities my reception involved. Ask around. It was nutz.)
You are young. You are smart. You are in a lot of pain.
This is not best trifecta in life to have had the fortune to win.
I know, because I have been there. And have seen many others from similar background, of similar temperament, and of similar age.
Then you stumble upon this thing called Orthodoxy at your age.
What a head trip . . .
Orthodoxy under the "best" of circumstances can bring more than a little pain and confusion in the hearts of the sincere. You were not afforded the "best" of circumstances.
I can't imagine what it must be like making the decision you think you have to make right now at your age and in your situation. It's mind boggling.
But back to your honesty.
Don't give that up. For nothing. Not even the Church nor God. Cause you are only gonna have a relationship with both to degree you are honest. With yourself. And then with those who you know (again what this means later) truly care about you.
You will have to excuse if I start being too presumptuous, I doubt that I am, but it seems from experience that many folks with certain dispositions will attempt to intellectualize and spiritualize their profoundly person problems.
This is not to say the intellect and the spirit are not involved, but rather, folks displace problems of a personal, a relational nature, into intellectual riddles to figure out or spiritual struggles to be fought, all the time missing the real intellectual and spiritual rigor it takes to deal with day to day consequences of their past, genetics, environment, etc.
Spiritually they turn their dragons into windmills all the while mistaking the latter for the former. God knows I have.
So don't be less than the honest person you are with yourself and with your Priest. Not that he must know every niggling question, but if fear of your doubts being found out are keeping you away from being honest about how you stand vis-a-vis the Church--stop. Especially, if you know you can trust this man to care for you. Thank God, I was afforded that luxury in my own Priest.
If you are still reading, then here is my general suggestion to everyone who shows up here or asks me in person about what do (I don't care how many make fun that I keep doing it. In fact I quote someone doing just that):
Deeper Faith, you're not going to get a "straight" answer to anything you ask. I mean, in terms of people answering you sincerely you will but the interpretations and explainations become so entangled after a while you might lose the will to live and start believing the convoluted rhetoric rather than the truth.
It's difficult to see that it's the same gospel that Jesus taught to simple fishermen.
Especially since trying to understand Orthodoxy via a message board is probably one of the worst ways.
Go to a parish.
Frankly everyone should just do the following:
You can skip listening to the third part, but might as well listen to what Fr. Thom has to say about teaching doctrine as such.
The first two links spell out clearly what seems to be a reasonable path to understanding Christianity and thus Orthodoxy when you find yourself in a crisis and probably also when not.
Yes, I have posted this before.
Deeper Faith might not be trying to understand Orthodoxy via a message board alone.
Is that Fr Hopko again? You need to diversify
Please listen to those first two at least. This is for people like you and me. Fr. Thom mentions these points in print and within other talks, but he particularly drives home the point in these talks about what people should be DOING to understand DOCTRINE.
Especially, folks like you and me, who probably have more than "just" praying and reading to do. Again, I hope I do not offend, but it doesn't sound like your life has been a bowl of cherries. And yes, some people do suffer more deeply and frequently than others. To suggest otherwise is at best naive, at worst evil.
If you are not willing to DO the above, I don't know what to say that will be much more than either trying to play whack a mole with every new problem you come across.
You have to come to know, James. Know.
Knowing is not limited to the bloodless propositional manner of going about things most typically associate it with. Truth
in Greek, means disclosure
. It is radically not some formula you remember. A buncha doctrines held together in some logical format you can write down.
Those ain't truths you die for. You die for what you know. What you love. And that love, that knowledge is not just in the head, or the heart, or even in your guts, but in your bones as well. (Click here
for a quick romp of a post on the relationship between knowing, believing, and loving.)
What would you do to know something with your entire being? Will you take Fr. Thom's suggestions for six months?
How important is the interplay of "free will" and God's fore-knowledge compared to what you struggle with, really? How much do such "intellectual" questions get between you and God than what you struggle with as a person?
Maybe I am absolutely wrong. But I think your getting a hand with a lot of help on the latter (we all need help), the former will not be so perplexing, or perhaps perplexing still but not so painful.
Let me know what you think.
If you are willing to take my advice with a promise, I will plod forth with an "explicit" answer to your OP here.