Author Topic: Orthodox Spirituality  (Read 2444 times)

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Offline Margarita

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Orthodox Spirituality
« on: April 16, 2012, 03:38:56 PM »
Greetings to all,

Another Roman Catholic with a draw toward Orthodoxy.  The simplicity&spirituality of Orthodoxy is what calls to me the most.  The theology is sound, with a few but distinct differences from RC, obviously.  To be completely honest, these differences are of no consequence to me...thus far anyway.  It is not my intention to covert to Orthodoxy, as it is to live the spirituality of Orthodoxy.  Which is quite a conundrum in itself :)  Because to truly practice Orthodox spirituality in its entirety would demand conversion to receive Holy Communion during Divine Liturgy service, for one example. All this to say, I'm not against converting.  It's just not my intention, but I'm open.

Throughout Lent, I became increasing aware of a great fear within my heart.  This fear was present before Lent, but I was able to suppress it I guess.  The fear of becoming complacent in my practice of striving to live the Way.  I prayed a great deal that His guidance so guide me toward the path I'm to walk in growing closer to Him.  Without walking, without Him I am lost.  LOST!  I refuse to willingly be lost.

Change can be a good thing, when change is for the betterment of self and the world.  For all the greatness of RC, there is a great danger with all the changes that it continues to make especially in regards to the liturgy&the spirituality of the church that is effected by such changes.  My personal opinion which is worth less than 2 cents, is that these changes are not for the better.  In fact it is building a superficiality around such vital rituals&sacraments in the life of a RC.  This I can't live with it at all.  EC being the exception, only because of it being allowed to maintain its spiritual&ritualistic ties with EO.  Latin rite RC praise the Eastern rite fervently, which makes my eyebrow raise every time.  For if such spiritual practices are so viewed, why does the Latin rite not incorporate them into the life of the church?  I'm curious to know.  I digress, for I'm no scholar regarding such matters.  Suffice to say, I'm fond of RC and it has been a great aid on my Christian journey but I must seek more...seek more of Him.

On Good Friday, I made a trip to the library with the intention of checking out a book about His Passion.  But walked away with, Introducing the Orthodox Church by Anthony M. Coniaris.  Surprisingly so, very much as clicked for me and I have included a number of practices into my worship&daily life with such ease.  Since reading the book, I have found this forum, scheduling my first visit to an Orthodox church this Sunday, and I have begun to read the basic doctrines of Orthodoxy.

I ask you brothers&sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God that His guidance and not my will be done.
Margarita

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 09:08:53 PM »
Christus resurrexit!

Greetings, Margarita! Welcome to OC.net. Always happy to see new people around!

There's tons of great info on this board, so I'm sure you can find tons of stuff with our search function. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future as you seek to delve deeper into the spirituality of the Orthodox tradition. May the Lord bless you on this journey!
"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 09:57:15 PM »
Vere resurrexit! 

Thank you BR for the warm welcome, and yes I have read a great deal of information from OC!  I look forward to lurking&searching still :)

Amen!

Offline Timon

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 10:01:30 PM »
Welcome.

Ive learned a lot from these folks.  Im sure you will too!
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Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 11:28:42 PM »
Thank you Timon for the welcome!  I'm learning a lot from previous posts and the search! 

I will be attending my first Divine Liturgy service this Sunday! So excited!

Offline jewish voice

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 11:45:45 PM »
welcome to the forum. Make sure to update us on how DL goes this sunday.

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 12:25:24 AM »
Glory to God! Let us know how it goes :)

if you want to read a introduction to Orthodox Spirituality, I recommend this:

http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/spirituality

Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2012, 09:19:28 PM »
I find myself in quite the pickle.  I want to further my inquiry into the Orthodox church, but I have doubts about the parish I would attend.  I did attend DL this past Sunday, and it was an amazing experience.  The incense lovingly clung to me for over 24 hours, I was able to participate here&there (not completely dumbfounded), and I received two pieces of blessed pieces of bread.  I even stuck around for coffee afterwards.  I met a family that just entered the OC this Pascha, we talked a nice while.  I also met a guy who suggested that I take baby steps and may be attend our local ERC church.  I was polite and explained that it is not an option, for the lure of the ERC is it's affiliation with EO.  And I prefer the source.  I think it was an even balanced experience.  I do plan to attend this Sunday.

I wrote to the priest in charge of the catechumenate with a bit of my background, and that I had planned to visit Sunday for DL.  He replied, sure we would love to have you.  When I introduced myself after services, he was taken aback, and vaguely remembered the messages.  I must point out my flaws and say, I was expecting more of a welcome or just to be remembered.  Terribly shallow of me for having such an expectation, but there it is.

My doubts lies in the fact that I would be the only person of color in attendance (I'm of a multi-racial background so my pigmentation is reddish-brown not white.)  From what I can see, some families may have been absent.  I'm sure most if not all are aware of the rampant racism problem here in the US, and even more so in the south.  I have met my fair share of racist RCs and some even while in line for communion, yes quite the experience.  If I'm to be honest, I must mention this because although it occupies a small space in my brain it's there.  Holy Communion within EO is shared by all from the same spoon and cup, unlike RC and the wafer.  You can opt not to drink from the cup and still receive Him fully. Unfortunately, it's a thought that causes doubt in my pea brain.  I did search for an Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but the nearest one is a town over.  I don't have access to a car on a steady bases, so a regular attendance would be hard to achieve.

Now that I have seen the other side of the side and the greener grass, there is a part that wishes I hadn't.  To become Orthodox is going to be a huge inconvenience, one that requires great strength of study, and even more personal sacrifice then I have already given.  I don't know if I'm up for the task.  My mother was raised Southern Baptist, stopped practicing once she left home, but maintained her faith&belief in God.  We were raised with this same faith but without religion and the name Jesus.  I have been Pagan (Irish Celtic), Muslim (lived in the Middle East for 5 years; 3 in Alexandria, Egypt&2 in Ar-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), dabbled with Hinduism&Buddhism, and now Roman Catholic.  I just feel like, really Lord really now EO?!

Once I knew&believed that Jesus is who He claimed to be, I knew I was to strive to be His follower.  In essence a Christian, my faith is in Him not religion.  But religion can&does show how to live out that faith, which is what began my inquiry into RC.  I don't agree with all of RC teachings of course, but the main points where present for me.  Not to mention, no other options were on the plate that even came close to hitting all the points.   And so I resigned to be baptized into the RCC, without knowing the existence of EO.  I do think that all things happen in perfect timing and purpose, regardless of my comprehension.  So I continue to walk this path of inquiry.

OrthoCat, those books are on my read list!  I did read the one attached to the link the day before DL, so good!  A number of statements resonated with me in terms of my approach to spirituality.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 09:22:14 PM by Margarita »

Offline peteprint

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2012, 10:33:46 PM »
Dear Margarita,

I would encourage you to continue following your desire to enter the Orthodox Church.  Yes, it will be difficult at times, but if you really believe this is where the Lord is leading you, then you will never have peace until you enter the Church.  I am a convert myself, and it took me many years of study and visits to parishes before I took the plunge (no pun intended).  I just knew in my heart that this is where I needed to be.  It is a struggle at times for many different reasons, but the idea of choice goes out the window when you know this is the direction you have to go.  May God bless your efforts and guide your steps as you move forward into Orthodoxy.  We would all be happy to have you in the Church!  :)

Peter
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 10:34:22 PM by peteprint »

Offline peteprint

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2012, 10:38:48 PM »
P.S.  Perhaps Margarita, a person like yourself is exactly what is needed in the parish you are visiting.  Your entrance into the Church could be a true blessing to others over time.  If there is racism present, your becoming Orthodox could cause others to confront those feelings they might have in light of the Church's teachings.  Just something to think about.

Offline witega

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2012, 10:53:41 PM »
My doubts lies in the fact that I would be the only person of color in attendance (I'm of a multi-racial background so my pigmentation is reddish-brown not white.)  From what I can see, some families may have been absent.  I'm sure most if not all are aware of the rampant racism problem here in the US, and even more so in the south.  I have met my fair share of racist RCs and some even while in line for communion, yes quite the experience.  If I'm to be honest, I must mention this because although it occupies a small space in my brain it's there.  Holy Communion within EO is shared by all from the same spoon and cup, unlike RC and the wafer.  You can opt not to drink from the cup and still receive Him fully. Unfortunately, it's a thought that causes doubt in my pea brain.  I did search for an Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but the nearest one is a town over.  I don't have access to a car on a steady bases, so a regular attendance would be hard to achieve.

I've been Orthodox in Texas for 16 years now. And its true that unless you are in an area with a significant Ethiopian (or Eritrean) population, you are definitely going to be in the minority so far as the racial make-up of the parish goes. Most of the parishes I have attended in TX have had at least one African-American member--but there have been a couple where you would be that 'one' (making something of an assumption here about where reddish-brown and the rest of your phenotype falls--if you are light enough to be confused for Middle Eastern, then you probably will be, just because Middle Easterners are quite common amongst us Orthodox). And I obviously can't promise you (much as I wish I could) that you will never experience racism in the Church.

But I know a lot of the clergy here in Texas as well as the bishops for the various jurisdictions and deans--and I can tell you that if anyone has a problem sharing the communion cup with you, that's going to be their problem, not yours or the priest's. I know that doesn't necessarily help a lot if you actually have to deal with someone saying (I can't imagine anyone showing so much disrespect to the Eucharist to actually do anything in an Orthodox Church) something, but the only other thing I can suggest is don't let your fears of what might possibly happen get in your way. I've gone to communion with people of color almost every time I have gone to communion in the last 21 years (and if you include the fact that a fair number of Greek and Arab Christians fit the 'people of color' definition for some southerners it goes up to *every* time) and I have never seen or heard anything about it being an issue in an Orthodox Church.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2012, 11:00:49 PM »
   I don't believe that people are judging you in church. I believe its there natural curiosity that may cause you some discomfort. Once you get to know the people. It will probable diminish over time. In New york it is common to see people of color attend DL. I have seen and know of inter racial couples that attend church. It's not unusual. I'm sure culturally it can be challenging for you though.
   Here is a picture of his Eminence Iakovos marching with DR.MLK. Not only did he accept people of race. He also put himself in harms way at at time when it was taboo to do so. As Orthodox Christians. This is the image we should attain too.

Offline Paisius

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2012, 11:29:19 PM »
I find myself in quite the pickle.  I want to further my inquiry into the Orthodox church, but I have doubts about the parish I would attend.  I did attend DL this past Sunday, and it was an amazing experience.  The incense lovingly clung to me for over 24 hours, I was able to participate here&there (not completely dumbfounded), and I received two pieces of blessed pieces of bread.  I even stuck around for coffee afterwards.  I met a family that just entered the OC this Pascha, we talked a nice while.  I also met a guy who suggested that I take baby steps and may be attend our local ERC church.  I was polite and explained that it is not an option, for the lure of the ERC is it's affiliation with EO.  And I prefer the source.  I think it was an even balanced experience.  I do plan to attend this Sunday.

I wrote to the priest in charge of the catechumenate with a bit of my background, and that I had planned to visit Sunday for DL.  He replied, sure we would love to have you.  When I introduced myself after services, he was taken aback, and vaguely remembered the messages.  I must point out my flaws and say, I was expecting more of a welcome or just to be remembered.  Terribly shallow of me for having such an expectation, but there it is.

My doubts lies in the fact that I would be the only person of color in attendance (I'm of a multi-racial background so my pigmentation is reddish-brown not white.)  From what I can see, some families may have been absent.  I'm sure most if not all are aware of the rampant racism problem here in the US, and even more so in the south.  I have met my fair share of racist RCs and some even while in line for communion, yes quite the experience.  If I'm to be honest, I must mention this because although it occupies a small space in my brain it's there.  Holy Communion within EO is shared by all from the same spoon and cup, unlike RC and the wafer.  You can opt not to drink from the cup and still receive Him fully. Unfortunately, it's a thought that causes doubt in my pea brain.  I did search for an Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but the nearest one is a town over.  I don't have access to a car on a steady bases, so a regular attendance would be hard to achieve.

Now that I have seen the other side of the side and the greener grass, there is a part that wishes I hadn't.  To become Orthodox is going to be a huge inconvenience, one that requires great strength of study, and even more personal sacrifice then I have already given.  I don't know if I'm up for the task.  My mother was raised Southern Baptist, stopped practicing once she left home, but maintained her faith&belief in God.  We were raised with this same faith but without religion and the name Jesus.  I have been Pagan (Irish Celtic), Muslim (lived in the Middle East for 5 years; 3 in Alexandria, Egypt&2 in Ar-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), dabbled with Hinduism&Buddhism, and now Roman Catholic.  I just feel like, really Lord really now EO?!

Once I knew&believed that Jesus is who He claimed to be, I knew I was to strive to be His follower.  In essence a Christian, my faith is in Him not religion.  But religion can&does show how to live out that faith, which is what began my inquiry into RC.  I don't agree with all of RC teachings of course, but the main points where present for me.  Not to mention, no other options were on the plate that even came close to hitting all the points.   And so I resigned to be baptized into the RCC, without knowing the existence of EO.  I do think that all things happen in perfect timing and purpose, regardless of my comprehension.  So I continue to walk this path of inquiry.

OrthoCat, those books are on my read list!  I did read the one attached to the link the day before DL, so good!  A number of statements resonated with me in terms of my approach to spirituality.


Although there can be bad apples no matter where you go I wouldn't expect you to have any issues. Take heart my friend. Many of us have been in some very awkward situations in our pursuit of Orthodoxy, often having to wade into very insular ethnic parishes where people look at you like you have a third eye. In my experience, with no exceptions so far, it's been nothing but curiosity and surprise and in the end everyone was very welcoming.

Also there are some ethnically diverse parishes out there, mine being a good example. We have Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Japanese, North Africans, Arabs and black and white American converts. Things may not be quite as homogenized as you may think.

I tell you this for two reasons. First, I expect your experience will be the same as mine and second, it is most definitely well worth the effort. Stick with it and you will be rewarded. :)

Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2012, 03:00:59 PM »
Peter-This is true choice does go out the window once it is made known that this is the path I am to walk, and the cross I must bear.  I have moved pass the step of discovery and into the step of serious study with light application.  I have not given thought to joining the catechumenate, just attending DL&prayer service during the week.  I do know  that I am to continue to see more of EO.  That thought dawned on me later after posting, that may be I could be used in such way, if need be.  Perhaps I am putting the buggy before the horse.   

Witega- I'm a born, bred, and raised native Texan-Austinite.  My family both paternal&maternal are also Texan, half trace back to Tejas.  Very nice to meet another Texan :)  I would have to agree with you, that I must likely will be the "odd ball out" most of the time, which is what I mean by huge inconvenience.  I have not dealt with this problem many times, the RCCs here are pretty diverse and many to choose from.  But this would be an every Sunday occurrence, a big pill to swallow.  Haha, yes I was always assumed to be of ME heritage while I was aboard.  However, here in the US no one knows and the ever annoying question is, What are you?  I have since styled my hair into dreadlocks, and the question remains the same.  One would think that I would have grown accustomed to such a question, but I haven't.  One of the great pleasures of living in the ME was the non issue of race.  Thank you for sharing your experience, very nice to hear!

Tzimis- Judging is not the word I felt while in church.  I'm sure curiosity is a huge part, and I pray that it is just curiosity.  And yes it is the image to attain to, for Jesus himself was a minority.  How one can claim to be Christian (a follower of a man of color) and racist is beyond my scope of comprehension.  That was my first time to see this photo, thank you for sharing

Paisius- Thank you for your wise words and wisdom.  I have been many times the the odd ball, so why it's such an issue now I can't say.  There are many factors within this one situation that makes it compound, I think.  And so it is easy for me to lose sight of sticking with it, following the Spirit, and having faith in His guidance. 

Thank you all for sharing your experience, advice, and kind words!  Glory to God!

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2012, 03:58:56 PM »
Of course, this is probably not the case with you at all, but I spent a largish amount of time looking for loopholes that would enable me not to convert to Orthodoxy. Even though I was convinced mind, heart and soul that it was indeed the One Holy Apostolic Church that Christ founded. It would have been so much easier, in some ways, to remain where I was in my comfort zone.

Thankfully, I was unable to make myself weasel out of it.
"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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Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2012, 05:07:22 PM »
I think it is my case somewhat, but I'm well aware of it.  I strive inspite of myself, with much help of course.  I do think EO is truth, frankly I'm a little hot that I didn't know about it sooner. 

I'm willing and open to walking this path of inquiry.  I'm also very open to converting.  Like you I find myself wanting to stay in the comfort zone, but it's not so comfortable anymore (honestly it hasn't been in some time.)  So I find myself in the inbetween... 

Offline witega

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2012, 06:21:58 PM »
 Witega- I'm a born, bred, and raised native Texan-Austinite.  My family both paternal&maternal are also Texan, half trace back to Tejas.  Very nice to meet another Texan :)  I would have to agree with you, that I must likely will be the "odd ball out" most of the time, which is what I mean by huge inconvenience.  I have not dealt with this problem many times, the RCCs here are pretty diverse and many to choose from.  But this would be an every Sunday occurrence, a big pill to swallow.  Haha, yes I was always assumed to be of ME heritage while I was aboard.  However, here in the US no one knows and the ever annoying question is, What are you?  I have since styled my hair into dreadlocks, and the question remains the same.  One would think that I would have grown accustomed to such a question, but I haven't.  One of the great pleasures of living in the ME was the non issue of race.  Thank you for sharing your experience, very nice to hear!

Honestly, if you can be mistaken for Middle-Eastern, any looks might have been for the dreadlocks rather than your skin color :-) (Though again, not in judgment just curiosity--my eldest showed up at Church with pink hair for several months and certainly got looks though no one made a big deal about it).

Is it okay to ask which parish in the Austin area?
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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 04:53:27 AM »
may God guide u.
i do believe u can stay in the catholic church and experience all the orthodox spirituality, and i have met catholics who have done so.
but if yr catholic church is a more superficial one, then i understand the need to go to the orthodox church.
i have been orthodox for 3 yrs now (previous protestant) and definitely have learnt a lot more of God than i did before.

in my current church (i am moving house again soon) there are all colours of people. i stick out as one of the few pale skinned people, so i can understand how it is when people stare at u. people still looks surprised to see me singing along with the congregation responses, they seem to assume orthodox Christians should be light or dark brown!
if u r unsure, u could visit the ethiopian church u mention, just to see how it is, not to run away from yr problem.
may God give u lots of peace, and welcome again to this lovely forum!
 :)

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 09:14:07 AM »
Like you I find myself wanting to stay in the comfort zone, but it's not so comfortable anymore (honestly it hasn't been in some time.)  So I find myself in the inbetween... 

Exactly! You probably don't need me to tell you this, but when you do take the plunge and step out in faith, it is beyond anything you can imagine now!
"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom

Offline Adela

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 09:54:54 AM »
 Witega- I'm a born, bred, and raised native Texan-Austinite.  My family both paternal&maternal are also Texan, half trace back to Tejas.  Very nice to meet another Texan :)  I would have to agree with you, that I must likely will be the "odd ball out" most of the time, which is what I mean by huge inconvenience.  I have not dealt with this problem many times, the RCCs here are pretty diverse and many to choose from.  But this would be an every Sunday occurrence, a big pill to swallow.  Haha, yes I was always assumed to be of ME heritage while I was aboard.  However, here in the US no one knows and the ever annoying question is, What are you?  I have since styled my hair into dreadlocks, and the question remains the same.  One would think that I would have grown accustomed to such a question, but I haven't.  One of the great pleasures of living in the ME was the non issue of race.  Thank you for sharing your experience, very nice to hear!

Honestly, if you can be mistaken for Middle-Eastern, any looks might have been for the dreadlocks rather than your skin color :-) (Though again, not in judgment just curiosity--my eldest showed up at Church with pink hair for several months and certainly got looks though no one made a big deal about it).

Is it okay to ask which parish in the Austin area?


Hey Margarita,
   Here's a podcast of an African-American gentleman who became Orthodox and was warmly welcomed into a Greek Orthodox church in Columbus, Ohio. 

http://www.myocn.net/index.php/200808231029/Journeys-to-Orthodoxy/Finding-True-Harmony-With-God.html

 We all are seeking God,  I hope we don't continue to partition ourselves into ethnic groups. 

 :)

Offline Margarita

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Re: Orthodox Spirituality
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2012, 12:31:18 PM »
Mabsoota- I'm sure it can be done, remain RC while practicing EO spirituality.  But one very important element will be missing in my opinion,  and that is full participation of DL.  The RC Mass both NO&EF is incomparable to DL.  With the exception of the ER branch of RC.  So one could change rites, and pray the Pope does not see fit to make changes to the ER branch of RC. Combined with the study of Christianity through an EO source, one might be able to be content.  But questions still linger in my head, If I'm practicing EO to the fullest without converting am I truly in communion with RC?  Is my taking of the Eucharist during Mass blasphemous?  And if I'm practicing EO why not convert and become one in full communion and take from the cup?  Around and around, it goes in my brain.
 
Not to mention all the other different spiritual practices: fasting, Holy days, sacraments, etc. The expression of these practices is quite different in EO when compared to RC.  In everyday life as well as the celebration of the Church.  Yeah, I think I will check out the Ethiopian Church next Sunday just to see.  Is strengthening to know that this is an obstacle faced by others, sticking out.

Witega- Well besides the dreadlocks I also engage in my native customs, piercings&tattoos.  Both of which are easy to be hidden, but there are times when I forget to flip up my septum ring.  Um, I'm sure that one will turn heads.  Here in Austin where the motto is, Keep Austin Weird, you see much much more head turning sights :)  Very interesting given all the eccentric prophets&people we have had throughout the Bible.  Acknowledge the outer, but it is about the inner always.  I will keep your words in mind.

Katherine- YES!  "When you do take the plunge and step out in faith, it is beyond anything you can imagine now!"  SO very true!

Adela- We are all indeed seeking God!  Amen to your prayer, well said!  Thank you for sharing the link!