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Author Topic: What brought you to Holy Orthodoxy?  (Read 2608 times) Average Rating: 0
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choy
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« on: July 18, 2012, 12:35:01 AM »

How did you find yourself in the Orthodox Church?


While I haven't converted yet, I found myself in an OCA parish because I was trying to find the orthodox faith which I though I could find in an Eastern Catholic parish but didn't.  Also the said parish and priest was recommended by a friend some while back.
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2012, 12:45:36 AM »

Have you seen the hats? They're fierce!  Smiley   That and I wanted that "Church founded by Jesus Christ" thing, and ended up Orthodox.
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2012, 01:31:44 AM »

I read Ignatius of Antioch and it started from there.
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2012, 02:26:35 AM »

I wanted some nice and comfortable denomination to settle in. Then I found The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware from the local library.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2012, 02:53:58 AM »

The Rastafari path exposed me to the teachings of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and to the Orthodox Christian culture and Faith of Ethiopia:


Evangelical Christianity led me to love the Bible.

My love for the Bible led me to love the music of Bob Marley.

The music of Bob Marley led me to the Rastafari path.

The Rastafari path led me to the teachings of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

The teachings of Haile Selassie led me to the Teachings and Traditions of the Orthodox Church.

In the Orthodox Church I found the fullness of Christian truth and the true Christian Faith.

JAH works in mysterious ways!


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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 04:15:01 AM »

Thankfully, my birth to my God blessed Eastern Orthodox Christian parents, the children of Eastern Orthodox parents, and the Baptism and Chrismation my parents scheduled for me with a devout Holy Orthodox Priest, and my God blessed Godparents, in the presence of family and friends who represented the "deposit of faith!"
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 04:55:48 AM »

I was working for a Protestant charity in Romania (aid not preaching) got interested in their history and ended up visiting various monasteries as a result. In one of those, I met a monk who made an indelible impression on me and gifted me with a prayer book - the journey took years but that was definitely the first step. St John the New and the monastery in which I met that monk  (hearing of his incorrupt relics was the reason for that visit) are in the icon I use as my avatar here.

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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2012, 05:59:38 AM »

History, Church Fathers, Prayer, Lives of the Saints, and a good hard look into my own heart.

I was always searching for answers, Orthodoxy is THE answer.
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 06:04:53 AM »

That moment when you realize that Christianity existed before the 16th century.
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 08:10:18 AM »

That you do not assume individual salvation & can hope for anyone's salvation.
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2012, 08:23:59 AM »

I wanted to find the original church, which I knew was still out there somewhere .

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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2012, 09:00:49 AM »

Thankfully, my birth to my God blessed Eastern Orthodox Christian parents, the children of Eastern Orthodox parents, and the Baptism and Chrismation my parents scheduled for me with a devout Holy Orthodox Priest, and my God blessed Godparents, in the presence of family and friends who represented the "deposit of faith!"

Same here. 

Baptized on my third day of life, and never looked back!  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 10:46:48 AM »

Probably Thomas Merton.
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 10:50:15 AM »

My Catholic professors literature classes
My Catholic professors books by Chesteron and then his books about St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, and early Eastern Fathers
Reading The Brothers Karamazov
Attending Liturgy
Reading the Life and Works of Fr. Seraphim Rose
God giving me the wisdom to know I needed to finally become an Orthodox Christian

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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2012, 10:53:12 AM »


Same here. 

Baptized on my third day of life, and never looked back!  Smiley


Third?  So you do not follow the 40-day tradition?
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2012, 10:59:46 AM »

History, Church Fathers, Prayer, Lives of the Saints, and a good hard look into my own heart.

I was always searching for answers, Orthodoxy is THE answer.

This, and talking to the Greek Orthodox parents of one of my husband's clients (he was working as a job coach for people with disabilities at the time).

Once I read Metropolitan Kallistos' The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, there was no turning back. No matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable, the Truth is the Truth.
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2012, 11:12:16 AM »


Same here.  

Baptized on my third day of life, and never looked back!  Smiley


Third?  So you do not follow the 40-day tradition?

We DO follow the 40 days, however, I was born rather premature.

Out of concern priest came to the hospital during my birth, but, simply gave me a blessing through the incubator as the doctor said I was fairly stable.  

However, my mom wasn't sure I would make it, as I weighed less than 5 pounds and could rest on my uncle's open palm.  She asked the priest to come to the house and baptize me, just in case I wouldn't survive.  Everyone had to trudge through a snow storm to get there, but, they did....and I am eternally grateful to all of them.  

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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2012, 11:20:35 AM »

We DO follow the 40 days, however, I was born rather premature.

Our of concern priest came to the hospital during my birth, but, simply gave me a blessing through the incubator as the doctor said I was fairly stable.  

However, my mom wasn't sure I would make it, as I weighed less than 5 pounds and could rest on my uncle's open palm.  She asked the priest to come to the house and baptize me, just in case I wouldn't survive.  Everyone had to trudge through a snow storm to get there, but, they did....and I am eternally grateful to all of them.  



Awesome story!  My son too went to surgery at 5 days old so he had to be baptized in the hospital prior to surgery.  Then again, I was a Roman Catholic back then instead of being Eastern Catholic.
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2012, 11:51:03 AM »

Primarily art- icons, music, poetry. The theology and history kind of filled in the gaps for me.
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2012, 03:34:14 AM »

Probably Thomas Merton.


Very influential in my own journey as well.


Selam
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2012, 05:31:30 AM »

--Subscribed--
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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2012, 08:03:41 AM »

Coming back to my Orthodox roots (Serbian); that fact that Orthodox Church demands - Orthodoxy is a challenge (all this fighting with our sinful nature, prayer rule, fasting, preparation for the Holy Mysteries etc.); unchanged theology through centuries; truly Divine Liturgy with so rich and deep hymnography; holy icons; personal experience in Roman Catholic Church regarding to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2012, 01:35:54 PM »

Looking for the original and true Church. In a way, it was Catholicism, both Roman and Eastern, that led me to Orthodoxy. The Byzantine Rite struck a chord with my spirit. Church history and Orthodox theology convinced my mind and rang true in my mind, and I had to be honest with myself. So I made my move.
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« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2012, 02:04:13 PM »


Wow! 

Excellent topic.

It's great to see how many paths lead home.
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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2012, 02:18:21 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

HIM Haile Selassie, Elect of God and Defender of the Orthodox Faith is said to have attended the Divine Liturgy every single day of HIM life.  When the Communists held HIM in prison and purposefully denied HIM access to visits from HIM Confessor, HIM then prayed out the window towards a local church.  If it was a good enough life for the Elect of God, surely the Orthodox Church was good enough for myself, sinner that I am Smiley

When I first attended Mass at an Ethiopian parish, the priest said to me, "Welcome home, this is your home now."  He was not kidding.  Our Bishop was one of HIM personal attending priests and was the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.  When I gave His Grace a framed picture of HIM Haile Selassie for HG birthday one year, HG face lit up and replied coyly, "How did you know he was my favorite!"  HG spent nine years in a Communist prison for connections with the Crown Sad

There were many martyrs during the revolution, and their prayers I feel helped bring me to the Church as well.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2012, 10:12:22 AM »

How did you find yourself in the Orthodox Church?


While I haven't converted yet, I found myself in an OCA parish because I was trying to find the orthodox faith which I though I could find in an Eastern Catholic parish but didn't.  Also the said parish and priest was recommended by a friend some while back.

God.  I had argued/debated with Orthodox on forums, including non-orthodox traditions, but it was instant paradigm shift.  Hard to explain, but I do know I was instantly drawn to Orthodoxy even though I knew virtually zero about the Church when I seen my Priests photo in the newspaper 10 years ago.  I did nothing though, didn't think much about it, but I always had a nagging tug.  I guess in some real way I understand kicking against the goads, because I did as I tried to justify myself, my ego.
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« Reply #26 on: July 22, 2012, 11:56:31 AM »

Protestantism as a whole.  I finally realized how far off track it had gone.  After spending countless hours looking through the Reformation, I became bewildered.  Then I met some Orthodox folks online, did a lot of research, read some books, met a priest and the rest is history.  I'm home.  Even if I never step foot in a church again, I will always be Orthodox.
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« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2012, 01:06:32 AM »

Protestantism as a whole.  I finally realized how far off track it had gone.  After spending countless hours looking through the Reformation, I became bewildered.  Then I met some Orthodox folks online, did a lot of research, read some books, met a priest and the rest is history.  I'm home.  Even if I never step foot in a church again, I will always be Orthodox.

I feel the same way with Catholicism.  Though at this point I still can't get myself to leave just yet.  But I am bewildered by how some Roman Catholics present the faith.  I am wondering often if this is what the Church actually teaches, or the level for catechesis among Roman Catholics is so poor these days.  Or perhaps the polemics of the Protestants have exposed this.  Just the other day I corrected someone who posted something on a pseudo-Apologist board (one more thing I am troubled with is the number of wannabe Apologists who contribute more to the downfall of the faith rather than its preservation).  This used three separate verses  and made conclusions which says that the Kingdom of God rests upon Rome.  So I told the person that just quoting three verses and making their own conclusions doesn't make it right.  This is the tool used by Protestants and neo-Arians.  Not just because a Catholic uses it doesn't mean it is right.  Then he pointed that he just quoted this from a priest who also prides (and I do mean prides, he is quite arrogant IMHO) himself as a Catholic apologist.  So sad.  A priest doing this?
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« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2012, 03:23:13 AM »

What brought me was simple: I was given a box of books that mostly were about recovery from alcoholism and addiction.  I had little interest in any of the fluffy little feel-good books, but there was one that caught my eye: Way of a Pilgrim.  I fell in love with it, began using the Jesus Prayer and reading The Philokalia.  Further reading and research led me to the Roman Catholic Church, which I'd decided to explore until I realized that my town had an Orthodox parish.  For the last few months I've been attending Vespers, Orthros and Divine Liturgy as well as listening to Ancient Faith Radio and reading more books.  I even purchased an Orthodox Study Bible.

I’m completely sold on Orthodoxy.  I love it, and know in my heart that it is THE Church.

That is what brought me away from the mainstream Protestantism (I am a preacher’s kid) to Orthodoxy.  Now, after three months of "seeking" or "inquiring" or whatever you call it, what is keeping me away from it?

Exclusivity, for starters.  My status as an unbaptized, un-chrismated heretic keeps me on the outside looking in.  I can't participate in the Divine Liturgy, so once Orthros is finished I feel like a goat among sheep.  This can't go on much longer.

My own alcoholism.  I'm a recovering alcoholic, so I'll never be able to receive the Eucharist.  God's cruel joke, or what?  I'm stuck under the Lord's Table waiting for blessed crumbs.

Finally, the priest seems none too interested in encouraging me along the path.  When I first showed up he mentioned starting up some inquirers’ classes when he gets them ready, but as the parish has been there since 2005 I don’t hold much hope of this happening anytime soon.  Emails and phone calls are unanswered.  When I attempt to engage him conversation, he seems dismissive and I feel like a pest, so my spiritual father remains the internet and books.

If I sound a little sour, I am.  I grow frustrated at having something so beautiful dangled out of my reach.  I feel like I was allowed to “come, taste and see”, but now I’ve worn out my welcome.  I’ve discontinued the prayer rule I kept enthusiastically for a whole month because I’ve begun to feel like an fake; the whole time I’m praying I hear a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me: you’re not Orthodox, idiot! 

Am I expecting too much, too soon?  I never expected to become Orthodox overnight, but I’d at least like to get the ball rolling in that direction.  Does the OC believe in predestination?  If so, perhaps Christ never meant for me to be in His Church (that would explain the aforementioned alcoholism) and I just need to stop expecting my own will and expectations to be met.  Maybe I truly lost my chance at salvation and I just need to be content doing my work in AA, be grateful for it, and just pray that Christ has mercy on me in the end.
 
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« Reply #29 on: July 25, 2012, 04:27:06 AM »

What brought me was simple: I was given a box of books that mostly were about recovery from alcoholism and addiction.  I had little interest in any of the fluffy little feel-good books, but there was one that caught my eye: Way of a Pilgrim.  I fell in love with it, began using the Jesus Prayer and reading The Philokalia.  Further reading and research led me to the Roman Catholic Church, which I'd decided to explore until I realized that my town had an Orthodox parish.  For the last few months I've been attending Vespers, Orthros and Divine Liturgy as well as listening to Ancient Faith Radio and reading more books.  I even purchased an Orthodox Study Bible.

I’m completely sold on Orthodoxy.  I love it, and know in my heart that it is THE Church.

That is what brought me away from the mainstream Protestantism (I am a preacher’s kid) to Orthodoxy.  Now, after three months of "seeking" or "inquiring" or whatever you call it, what is keeping me away from it?

Exclusivity, for starters.  My status as an unbaptized, un-chrismated heretic keeps me on the outside looking in.  I can't participate in the Divine Liturgy, so once Orthros is finished I feel like a goat among sheep.  This can't go on much longer.

My own alcoholism.  I'm a recovering alcoholic, so I'll never be able to receive the Eucharist.  God's cruel joke, or what?  I'm stuck under the Lord's Table waiting for blessed crumbs.

Finally, the priest seems none too interested in encouraging me along the path.  When I first showed up he mentioned starting up some inquirers’ classes when he gets them ready, but as the parish has been there since 2005 I don’t hold much hope of this happening anytime soon.  Emails and phone calls are unanswered.  When I attempt to engage him conversation, he seems dismissive and I feel like a pest, so my spiritual father remains the internet and books.

If I sound a little sour, I am.  I grow frustrated at having something so beautiful dangled out of my reach.  I feel like I was allowed to “come, taste and see”, but now I’ve worn out my welcome.  I’ve discontinued the prayer rule I kept enthusiastically for a whole month because I’ve begun to feel like an fake; the whole time I’m praying I hear a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me: you’re not Orthodox, idiot! 

Am I expecting too much, too soon?  I never expected to become Orthodox overnight, but I’d at least like to get the ball rolling in that direction.  Does the OC believe in predestination?  If so, perhaps Christ never meant for me to be in His Church (that would explain the aforementioned alcoholism) and I just need to stop expecting my own will and expectations to be met.  Maybe I truly lost my chance at salvation and I just need to be content doing my work in AA, be grateful for it, and just pray that Christ has mercy on me in the end.
 

I am moved by your beautiful and touching struggle. Each journey to the Orthodox Church is fraught with its own difficulties and challenges. I have never heard of a testimony of conversion that was easy. And even if the road to Baptism is easy for some, the path of Orthodoxy after Baptism is full of trials and obstacles. But in all these frustrations and in the midst of all adversity, there is one word of truth that you must focus on above all... one word that God wishes you to cling to with all your might... Grace!

So do not feel that God is not with you. It took me over two years to be Baptized, and I often felt like giving up. You see, the devil will do all he can to thwart your entrance into the Faith. But God is with you, and He is guiding your steps.

As for the Eucharist, do not feel that Christ is turning His back on you simply because you cannot receive the Sacramental Mysteries yet. You are in His presence all the same, and He welcomes you. Through your respect for His Church and your obedience to her instructions, you are demonstrating your faith in Our Lord and your love for Him.

As for the alcohol thing, I can only offer my own opinion (please know that I am not a Priest, nor close to being one): When you are finally able to receive the Sacraments, do so gladly and without reservation. If anything, the Sacraments will give you extra strength in your struggle with alcoholism. I really believe this.

Most importantly, press on one step at a time (I think AA says something similar, does it not?) It may be a cliche, but it is a cliche that is full of truth. In God's time, you will enter the Church, and you will look back and realize that the struggle was worth it.

Peace to you my friend. Thank you for sharing your struggle so honestly with us.


Selam 
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« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2012, 06:21:26 AM »

What brought me was simple: I was given a box of books that mostly were about recovery from alcoholism and addiction.  I had little interest in any of the fluffy little feel-good books, but there was one that caught my eye: Way of a Pilgrim.  I fell in love with it, began using the Jesus Prayer and reading The Philokalia.  Further reading and research led me to the Roman Catholic Church, which I'd decided to explore until I realized that my town had an Orthodox parish.  For the last few months I've been attending Vespers, Orthros and Divine Liturgy as well as listening to Ancient Faith Radio and reading more books.  I even purchased an Orthodox Study Bible.

I’m completely sold on Orthodoxy.  I love it, and know in my heart that it is THE Church.

That is what brought me away from the mainstream Protestantism (I am a preacher’s kid) to Orthodoxy.  Now, after three months of "seeking" or "inquiring" or whatever you call it, what is keeping me away from it?

Exclusivity, for starters.  My status as an unbaptized, un-chrismated heretic keeps me on the outside looking in.  I can't participate in the Divine Liturgy, so once Orthros is finished I feel like a goat among sheep.  This can't go on much longer.

My own alcoholism.  I'm a recovering alcoholic, so I'll never be able to receive the Eucharist.  God's cruel joke, or what?  I'm stuck under the Lord's Table waiting for blessed crumbs.

Finally, the priest seems none too interested in encouraging me along the path.  When I first showed up he mentioned starting up some inquirers’ classes when he gets them ready, but as the parish has been there since 2005 I don’t hold much hope of this happening anytime soon.  Emails and phone calls are unanswered.  When I attempt to engage him conversation, he seems dismissive and I feel like a pest, so my spiritual father remains the internet and books.

If I sound a little sour, I am.  I grow frustrated at having something so beautiful dangled out of my reach.  I feel like I was allowed to “come, taste and see”, but now I’ve worn out my welcome.  I’ve discontinued the prayer rule I kept enthusiastically for a whole month because I’ve begun to feel like an fake; the whole time I’m praying I hear a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me: you’re not Orthodox, idiot!  

Am I expecting too much, too soon?  I never expected to become Orthodox overnight, but I’d at least like to get the ball rolling in that direction.  Does the OC believe in predestination?  If so, perhaps Christ never meant for me to be in His Church (that would explain the aforementioned alcoholism) and I just need to stop expecting my own will and expectations to be met.  Maybe I truly lost my chance at salvation and I just need to be content doing my work in AA, be grateful for it, and just pray that Christ has mercy on me in the end.
 
I agree with Gera Menfes Kidus

That little voice is the devil trying to stop your journey.  Remember Orthodoxy is not the building but the community of believers joined together in worship. Therefore continue your practices and continue your journey and God will make it happen!  
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« Reply #31 on: July 25, 2012, 07:54:24 AM »

Dear kiloelectronVolt,

I know a person who receives Holy Communion from the Reserved Gifts (consecrated on Holy Thurday each year, and kept on the altar for communing the hospitalized and housebound).  This is a pastoral issue that you need to discuss with the Priest, and he with the Bishop if needed.  Alcoholism and participation in AA should not be a barrier to becoming an Orthodox Christian.  There is a book called "Steps of Transformation: An Orthodox Priest Explores the Twelve Steps" that you might like to read.
You may also want to search for this forum thread:Alcoholics and the Eucharist


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« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2012, 03:42:11 PM »

Disillusionment towards the Baptist services and the "holier than thou" attitude of a lot of the TV preachers and other Christians. Most especially a message condemning Islam.

I then (coincidentally) read a book about the Byzantine Empire, and that explained to me how the Catholic Church had split off, and made me realize that the Byzantine Empire was actually Christian (I'd never connected the dots before then).

I then went backwards to see how Baptism and Orthodoxy were similar, and that led to learning about the Septuagint, and the Reformation, and I came to the realization that Orthodoxy is about the closest thing to Christianity in the time of Jesus as I can find, and that the Apocrypha is actually canonical and that the "Bible" that is commonly distributed and easily available is not how it was or should be, and same with the services I am used to attending.

Having gone to a service I really enjoyed it and want to learn more, and hopefully become an actual member...
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« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2012, 06:05:30 PM »

UPDATE: In the interest of not leaving a loose end, and since I saw fit to post my whining about the things that are seemingly keeping me away from Orthodoxy, I'd like to let it be known that my rash of self-centeredness and self-pity has passed and that I have resumed my prayer rule with more optimism than ever. 

Many thanks to you, Gebre Menfes Kidus, for your encouraging words.  I have read and re-read your reply, and finally printed it off so I can refer to it again should I fall into another spell of discouragement.

A friend in the OC warned me when I began keeping a prayer rule that I would be mentally attacked by the enemy, who would use my own thoughts against me, and I see that she was spot-on!  With help and prayer I weathered through it, and I am prepared to do so again.  The bottom line is that I want to bring my life into line with God's Truth, no matter the cost, and I'll leave the means and timing to God.  The Orthodox Church is either the true Church or it isn't.  If it is, then I trust God to bring me into it if it be His will for me.  In any event, I love Him and am happy to serve and worship Him in any capacity He allows.
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« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2012, 07:16:57 PM »

I struggled with protestantism for a while and after much research and praying I decided to try the Orthodox Church after my first deployment. From there I never looked back as I was determined to work out my faith no matter the cost. I had much help from my brother who was also on the same path as I was, and also my priest.
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2012, 03:53:01 AM »

UPDATE: In the interest of not leaving a loose end, and since I saw fit to post my whining about the things that are seemingly keeping me away from Orthodoxy, I'd like to let it be known that my rash of self-centeredness and self-pity has passed and that I have resumed my prayer rule with more optimism than ever. 

Many thanks to you, Gebre Menfes Kidus, for your encouraging words.  I have read and re-read your reply, and finally printed it off so I can refer to it again should I fall into another spell of discouragement.

A friend in the OC warned me when I began keeping a prayer rule that I would be mentally attacked by the enemy, who would use my own thoughts against me, and I see that she was spot-on!  With help and prayer I weathered through it, and I am prepared to do so again.  The bottom line is that I want to bring my life into line with God's Truth, no matter the cost, and I'll leave the means and timing to God.  The Orthodox Church is either the true Church or it isn't.  If it is, then I trust God to bring me into it if it be His will for me.  In any event, I love Him and am happy to serve and worship Him in any capacity He allows.


Amen! My continued prayers for strength and peace on your continued journey. Your attitude and effort encourage me greatly. Thank you my friend.


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« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2012, 10:05:22 AM »

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church but stopped attending. After I was married and had my second child, problems in life drove me to start looking for "the New Testament Church" that I belived existed somewhere. That led me to a group (Evangelical Charismatic)that claimed they represented what the Bible described as the correct church. After 18 years there I ran into another problem in life and found they could not offer any solution, their answer was "get plugged in and study the word." This led me to start looking at things and after getting my head out of the sand I realized there were real issues with their teaching and their financial practices (no published accounting reports for example).

So I began a personal research project. I took a step back and tried the best I could to do an objective study of the history of the Christian Church. I was willing at that time to consider all claims and theories. In this second attempt I used reliable sources external to the Christian faith (I did not label secuar historians as agents of the devil just because their version did not line up with my wishes) to help verify claims.

From this research I felt that several of the Eastern Churches (Eastern, Oriental etc) had the best claims to being authentic Churches flowing out of the Apostolic teachings. I ended up in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2012, 11:40:16 PM »

Dear Kiloelectronvolt,

If I may comment on one or two points you mentioned.

1. A problem with alcoholism. This should not be an impediment. The Holy Eucharist is the Holy Eucharist. It is the Body and Blood of Christ. I know Orthodox who are active in AA and yet commune regularly. It doesn't seem to cause them to fall off the wagon. I don't know if they had a season of struggle or not…but still they received communion regularly. I also know boy, a priest's son who is very allergic to wheat…yet he regularly receives communion and has never been harmed by it or had a bad reaction to my knowledge. Discuss it with your priest. I am sure there is a way forward that when the season comes will not deprive you of the Holy Mysteries.

2.  You wrote: "Exclusivity, for starters.  My status as an unbaptized, un-chrismated heretic keeps me on the outside looking in.  I can't participate in the Divine Liturgy, so once Orthros is finished I feel like a goat among sheep.  This can't go on much longer."

This is actually an excellent place to be. I remember the gap between the time I wanted to convert and the time I was allowed to convert 3 years later.  It allowed me to own the fact that I had indeed been a heretic outside…at the very least the formal bounds of the Church. I was outside the church looking in with no other place to go and the door firmly closed against me…primarily because there were no Orthodox churches near me in order to receive catechism and allow me to participate in parish life. It was saddening at first, but it turned out to be an excellent lesson in humility…to put my hope in God and let Him work out the times and seasons. I could not demand my way in, or beg my way in…I had to wait until the door opened and invited me in.  But God was merciful. That day did come…and I'm grateful it came later, than sooner.

3.  You said your priest strikes you as little interested in your conversion or is perhaps a bit dismissive. Be careful about jumping to conclusions. I have heard of priests deliberately being stand offish with new potential converts. They make them wait…fight (metaphorically)…struggle to enter. This is to be sure this desire is not a passing religious whimsy, and they want to see if you are the sort who is easily discouraged…who will give up if they don't get their way quickly.  They are looking for soldiers for Christ, not weekend enthusiasts.  It may be a little hard on the ego…but gentle persistence…keeping on knocking in hope will in its time will draw down God's grace and the door will open there or elsewhere…even if the priest really is disinterested and not testing you…God is watching and it is He Who through that priest or some other will say "come in and welcome home. The Master calleth. Come and dine."

Keep your hand outstretched to the Master's threshold. The door will open…even if that day comes when you lay shattered in your own human weakness. The Master is the Lord of Life. He will revive and vindicate your patience. He will honor that hand which refused to draw back in despair. Only be patient and humble in your thoughts and faithful in your pursuit of Him. He sees and He will not tarry forever.

In the meantime follow your prayer rule, keep in touch with your priest, ask questions, read good books, develop salvic friendships with others at your parish. If possible communicate with some monastics…and if your priest blesses maybe even go and visit. What you will gain while you wait you will later not trade for gold.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 11:41:29 PM by Seraphim98 » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2012, 02:20:14 PM »

It allowed me to own the fact that I had indeed been a heretic outside…at the very least the formal bounds of the Church. 

For me, it was a humbling time - when I realized I wasn't so dadgum smart after all, and that pretty much everything I thought I knew was wrong.
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« Reply #39 on: August 09, 2012, 07:56:39 PM »

Dear Kiloelectronvolt,

If I may comment on one or two points you mentioned.

1. A problem with alcoholism. This should not be an impediment. The Holy Eucharist is the Holy Eucharist. It is the Body and Blood of Christ. I know Orthodox who are active in AA and yet commune regularly. It doesn't seem to cause them to fall off the wagon. I don't know if they had a season of struggle or not…but still they received communion regularly. I also know boy, a priest's son who is very allergic to wheat…yet he regularly receives communion and has never been harmed by it or had a bad reaction to my knowledge. Discuss it with your priest. I am sure there is a way forward that when the season comes will not deprive you of the Holy Mysteries.

2.  You wrote: "Exclusivity, for starters.  My status as an unbaptized, un-chrismated heretic keeps me on the outside looking in.  I can't participate in the Divine Liturgy, so once Orthros is finished I feel like a goat among sheep.  This can't go on much longer."

This is actually an excellent place to be. I remember the gap between the time I wanted to convert and the time I was allowed to convert 3 years later.  It allowed me to own the fact that I had indeed been a heretic outside…at the very least the formal bounds of the Church. I was outside the church looking in with no other place to go and the door firmly closed against me…primarily because there were no Orthodox churches near me in order to receive catechism and allow me to participate in parish life. It was saddening at first, but it turned out to be an excellent lesson in humility…to put my hope in God and let Him work out the times and seasons. I could not demand my way in, or beg my way in…I had to wait until the door opened and invited me in.  But God was merciful. That day did come…and I'm grateful it came later, than sooner.

3.  You said your priest strikes you as little interested in your conversion or is perhaps a bit dismissive. Be careful about jumping to conclusions. I have heard of priests deliberately being stand offish with new potential converts. They make them wait…fight (metaphorically)…struggle to enter. This is to be sure this desire is not a passing religious whimsy, and they want to see if you are the sort who is easily discouraged…who will give up if they don't get their way quickly.  They are looking for soldiers for Christ, not weekend enthusiasts.  It may be a little hard on the ego…but gentle persistence…keeping on knocking in hope will in its time will draw down God's grace and the door will open there or elsewhere…even if the priest really is disinterested and not testing you…God is watching and it is He Who through that priest or some other will say "come in and welcome home. The Master calleth. Come and dine."

Keep your hand outstretched to the Master's threshold. The door will open…even if that day comes when you lay shattered in your own human weakness. The Master is the Lord of Life. He will revive and vindicate your patience. He will honor that hand which refused to draw back in despair. Only be patient and humble in your thoughts and faithful in your pursuit of Him. He sees and He will not tarry forever.

In the meantime follow your prayer rule, keep in touch with your priest, ask questions, read good books, develop salvic friendships with others at your parish. If possible communicate with some monastics…and if your priest blesses maybe even go and visit. What you will gain while you wait you will later not trade for gold.

Hi Seraphim.  Thank you for taking the time and thought to respond.  Of course I know you are telling me the truth about all three of these points, as your advice matches other responses I have received and I can feel in my own heart that I just need to get over myself.  Orthodoxy is simply not like anything else; while I could go down the street this Sunday and be welcomed immediately into the local megachurch with open arms, Orthodoxy obviously doesn’t work like this.  I think it would be easier to join a fraternity or the Freemasons!

I fully comprehend the explanations for this, and part of me is even attracted to the reasoning.  For the most part I don’t worry about it, but sometimes the nagging reminder (you’re not Orthodox, idiot!) just ruins the whole experience for me.  It’s like I’m having a fantastic time riding bikes with you, then someone throws a stick in my spokes.  If that’s my ego at work, then I need serious prayer because it’s not something I can just turn off like a switch.

One question that persists: if the Orthodox Church is truly Christ’s one and only Church, and if salvation is not to be had outside of this Church (don’t know if that’s correct or not, but I’m assuming), well… what the heck??  My clock is ticking!  Every heartbeat brings me closer to eternal damnation, but I have to play this initiation game of humility until someone on the inside becomes satisfied enough to start the process of chrismating me?

My experience has been so far that when Orthodox members learn that I am seeking they enthusiastically, even fervently tell me how the OC can be traced all the way back to the Apostles themselves in an effort to prove to me that this is THE Church.  It’s like they really want to sell me something but don’t have the resources or desire to close the deal even though I want what they have and am willing to pay the price.

Some of it is culture shock.  I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a club that nobody wants to be part of unless their life literally depends on it.  In AA, I get to see miracles – real miracles, not the “my mortgage holder just mailed me an equity check just when we needed groceries” sort of miracle, but true resurrection-style miracles.  AA has a shocking mortality rate, but I do get to see the dead brought back to life on a regular basis (as happened with myself).  I see atheists come to the overwhelming conclusion that there IS a God Who works in His creation and fall to their knees in tears of relief.  I see people who should be dead or imprisoned living out lives of real gratitude that bubbles out of them, compelling them to pay forward what they have so graciously received and save still more lives.  These are regular occurrences, but AA lacks one thing: worship of the Triune God.

So I come to the Orthodox Church to worship and am told that although I am not really a member, my presence will be tolerated as long as I am respectful until such time as I am fit to be brought into the fold.  If we did this to newcomers in AA, told them they need to get sober and get their lives in order before we accept them, people would literally go home and die.  They would drink themselves to death if they didn’t paint their ceiling red first. Yet here we are talking about something much bigger than alcoholism: eternal life versus eternal damnation, and I just don’t get how there can be such a lack of a sense of urgency.

As I read my own words I can see my ego at play here.  But is it?  To me, humility is a sincere desire to seek and do God’s will, nothing more than that.  It has nothing to do with demeanor or a fake attempt at meekness and pretending not to mind when I am being condescended to.  I am neither less or greater than any other human, Orthodox or otherwise.  I just want to be where Jesus is, and it seems like I can’t just because I didn’t have the good fortune to be born into it.

Okay, that’s my rant and I should be good for another month or so.  LOL!  Like I said, it’s not as if I’m laying awake at night thinking about this, but still… it’s there.  My attraction to Orthodoxy has not diminished in the least, and I have no intention of leaving off my prayer rule or attendance at Vespers.  I don’t know if I can keep going to Divine Liturgy, but I’ll try.  Would it be disrespectful of me to leave right at the end of Orthros?

I probably need to take my Orthodox friend’s advice and stop looking at the OC like an organization.  This is obviously a hangup I need to get over lest I keep excluding myself into the grave and into hell.  I need prayer.
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« Reply #40 on: August 09, 2012, 08:13:07 PM »

Fwiw consider that in the ancient church things were even more exclusive and difficult. Catechumens had to leave at some point, and weren't told about a lot of stuff until they were baptized. There was confession in front of the entire community of believers. Services might be 3 or 4 hours long, or all night for that matter. You could get excommunicated for years at a time, during which time (even though you were already baptized and Orthodox/Catholic) you couldn't fully participate in the life of the Church. Really things are quite open now compared to then. I'm not trying to make light of your concerns or points, I'm just saying that instead of looking at Orthodoxy as exclusivistic or triumphalistic or anything like that I instead look at it as very forgiving and willing to meet my weaknesses as a modern.
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« Reply #41 on: August 09, 2012, 08:37:46 PM »

One question that persists: if the Orthodox Church is truly Christ’s one and only Church, and if salvation is not to be had outside of this Church (don’t know if that’s correct or not, but I’m assuming), well… what the heck??  My clock is ticking!  Every heartbeat brings me closer to eternal damnation, but I have to play this initiation game of humility until someone on the inside becomes satisfied enough to start the process of chrismating me?

Based on your previous post of having been inquiring into the Church for 3 months, you're expecting too much and too quickly. It's natural to be impatient, but calm down and take things slowly.

Also, I think it's unimaginable that God would send you to Hell as you're knocking on the door, but haven't stepped inside yet.
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« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2012, 12:39:57 AM »

Henry Chadwick brought me to Holy Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #43 on: August 18, 2012, 02:30:33 PM »

A one-liner from my Protestant professor of Christian Doctrine at seminary launched me on the path:

"The East got it right."

The context was, of course, a discussion of the filioque. Shortly afterward he commended me to Sergius Bulgakov's The Comforter. This was in the fall of 2010; the very next semester I took a worship class whose primary text was Webber's Ancient-Future Worship, which depends heavily upon the liturgical patterns of the ancient churches (both EO and RC) to make its point. I visited an Orthodox parish because of that, and the rest was history.
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« Reply #44 on: August 18, 2012, 06:30:56 PM »

A one-liner from my Protestant professor of Christian Doctrine at seminary launched me on the path:

"The East got it right."

The context was, of course, a discussion of the filioque. Shortly afterward he commended me to Sergius Bulgakov's The Comforter. This was in the fall of 2010; the very next semester I took a worship class whose primary text was Webber's Ancient-Future Worship, which depends heavily upon the liturgical patterns of the ancient churches (both EO and RC) to make its point. I visited an Orthodox parish because of that, and the rest was history.

I have a copy of The Comforter, but haven't read it yet. What are your thoughts on it?
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