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Author Topic: Doing Orthodoxy long-distance  (Read 1247 times) Average Rating: 0
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Deborah
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« on: July 24, 2012, 09:20:33 PM »

Hello,

For those of you who live a long distance away from an Orthodox church, to the point you can go only once a month or even less frequently - how did/does that affect your journey to Orthodoxy as an inquirer? A catechumen? A new Orthodox Christian?  How do you live out your faith and spiritual disciplines?  How do you build and sustain relationships with your priest and members of your far-away parish?  Do you keep up any involvement with your former local church(es) and non-Orthodox Christians?  Do you have opportunities to meet and mix with other Orthodox Christians and inquirers in your area (who may be associated with parishes other than your own)?

The Orthodox church I attend is three hours drive away - I've been twice so far and can really only get there every 2-3 months at best.  The priest there has taken me under his wing - we correspond mostly by email and he's patiently teaching me, but it's going to be a long slow process.  Apart from him and his wife and a few other New Zealand-based Orthodox Christians I've met through church services, the only other Orthodox Christians I have contact with are through forums like this one. 

I'm at the inquirer stage and still involved with my local church.  However, I've pretty much reached the point where I cannot in all good conscience continue to worship in and receive Protestant doctrine I no longer agree with, or participate in neutered, stripped-down sacraments.  Every Sunday I long to be where my heart already is, worshipping God through the Divine Liturgy, with the rest of the body both here and above. 

How did/do you cope?

Thanks
Deborah

 
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 09:30:59 PM »

Hello,

For those of you who live a long distance away from an Orthodox church, to the point you can go only once a month or even less frequently - how did/does that affect your journey to Orthodoxy as an inquirer? A catechumen? A new Orthodox Christian?  How do you live out your faith and spiritual disciplines?  How do you build and sustain relationships with your priest and members of your far-away parish?  Do you keep up any involvement with your former local church(es) and non-Orthodox Christians?  Do you have opportunities to meet and mix with other Orthodox Christians and inquirers in your area (who may be associated with parishes other than your own)?

The Orthodox church I attend is three hours drive away - I've been twice so far and can really only get there every 2-3 months at best.  The priest there has taken me under his wing - we correspond mostly by email and he's patiently teaching me, but it's going to be a long slow process.  Apart from him and his wife and a few other New Zealand-based Orthodox Christians I've met through church services, the only other Orthodox Christians I have contact with are through forums like this one. 

I'm at the inquirer stage and still involved with my local church.  However, I've pretty much reached the point where I cannot in all good conscience continue to worship in and receive Protestant doctrine I no longer agree with, or participate in neutered, stripped-down sacraments.  Every Sunday I long to be where my heart already is, worshipping God through the Divine Liturgy, with the rest of the body both here and above. 

How did/do you cope?

Thanks
Deborah

 

What I did for a long time was simply get my hands on as many books as I could and spent a lot of time researching on the internet.  Outside that, I really don’t have much advice.  Due to my work, I still don’t get to attend nearly as much as I would like and my church is only 45 minutes away.  But you have something I didn’t at the beginning, a spiritual father.  Mine came into the picture later.
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truthseeker32
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 03:42:51 AM »

The closest parish I have gotten in contact with is about a two hour drive away. Unfortunately I don't have a car (I get around by bicycle) so this makes making it to DL even more difficult. I have been able to borrow a vehicle and make it down a couple times over the past year, but my relationship with Orthodoxy has largely been one of books and pod casts on AFR. The priest has been good about remaining accessible via e-mail and phone. I live in a metro area of over 100,000 people. I am somewhat surprised that there isn't at least a mission parish in the area.

Anyways, I can relate to your predicament. If you need to talk, feel free to pm me.
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 09:34:12 AM »

Have you asked the priest to help you find someone who lives around you and could give you a ride to church?

We've been giving a college student a ride to church on Sundays and during Lent and Holy Week etc. for a couple of years now. I'd be glad to do the same for anyone.
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 11:17:46 AM »

short answer: do it slowly!
i, personally did continue to go to protestant churches for ages (partly because of family issues) and now, when i infrequently visit them, i look upon it as a chance to share orthodoxy  Wink
but i remember how waiting for the right time to become orthodox was really difficult towards the end. i did keep taking protestant communion (i didn't realise how different it was back then) because it was still for me a time to repent and pray and worship.
i don't do that now, not just because of the wish not to ignore / disobey my spiritual leaders, but also because it gives the message that the theology is nearly the same. (it's similar, but the misunderstanding that the Holy Body and Blood are just symbols is important to correct).

remember this difficult time. it is important in your spiritual growth.
then when you are orthodox in the future and are deciding whether or not to leave your nice bed early on sunday morning after a busy week to attend divine liturgy, you will remember that you did not always have the blessing of meeting with God Himself in the sacrements.
you will forget whoever it was in church who annoyed you last week, forgive them, repent of your own sins and get out and receive the blessing!
 Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 12:02:12 PM »

I'm lucky in that there are several Orthodox churches of different jurisdictions not too far from me, but I think that if that were not the case, there are several churches that have poscasts or videos of their weekly Divine Liturgy that I would try to log into. Perhaps a web search could lead you to at least connect in that way?
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truthseeker32
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 04:25:10 PM »

Have you asked the priest to help you find someone who lives around you and could give you a ride to church?

We've been giving a college student a ride to church on Sundays and during Lent and Holy Week etc. for a couple of years now. I'd be glad to do the same for anyone.
The only parishioner in my area just moved, but I will be getting a car soon so I will be able to go more often. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 06:27:16 PM »

Hello,

For those of you who live a long distance away from an Orthodox church, to the point you can go only once a month or even less frequently - how did/does that affect your journey to Orthodoxy as an inquirer? A catechumen? A new Orthodox Christian?  How do you live out your faith and spiritual disciplines?  How do you build and sustain relationships with your priest and members of your far-away parish?  Do you keep up any involvement with your former local church(es) and non-Orthodox Christians?  Do you have opportunities to meet and mix with other Orthodox Christians and inquirers in your area (who may be associated with parishes other than your own)?

The Orthodox church I attend is three hours drive away - I've been twice so far and can really only get there every 2-3 months at best.  The priest there has taken me under his wing - we correspond mostly by email and he's patiently teaching me, but it's going to be a long slow process.  Apart from him and his wife and a few other New Zealand-based Orthodox Christians I've met through church services, the only other Orthodox Christians I have contact with are through forums like this one. 

I'm at the inquirer stage and still involved with my local church.  However, I've pretty much reached the point where I cannot in all good conscience continue to worship in and receive Protestant doctrine I no longer agree with, or participate in neutered, stripped-down sacraments.  Every Sunday I long to be where my heart already is, worshipping God through the Divine Liturgy, with the rest of the body both here and above. 

How did/do you cope?

Thanks
Deborah

 

In the coarse vernacular of the day: doing Orthodoxy long distance sucks. It is a religion that by its nature – the transmission of tradition, etc. — demands the neophyte be a part of a community, and when one is not often allowed to participate in the life of the community vis-à-vis the liturgical feasts and cycles of the church, there is a certain temptation toward despair or even anger that the Church’s missionary impulse has not yet pulsed its way into your area. I am not saying it is a right or appropriate feeling, only a temptation.

But from here I will speak only from my own experience. For a while I inquired at the closest Orthodox church while still being involved with my in-laws congregation. I experienced no small amount of cognitive dissonance and gave myself no small amount of grief by not severing those ties completely once I had made the decision to become Orthodox. It did not help that at the time the parish at which I was inquiring did not have a full-time priest for six months in the middle of that first year.
At the time, my job did not allow me to attend many services due to the distance (an unfortunate situation in which I once again find myself), and so I often felt like I was left to my own devices and prayerbooks I did not fully comprehend. (Those prayerbooks turned out to be better teachers of Orthodoxy than much of the literature that is otherwise available.) Nonetheless, I persevered, and after a move that made breaking away from the family church much easier than otherwise, eventually started attending another long-distance Orthodox Church where my catechesis could be more fully developed.
That was also not very fun, but I was able to attend more regularly and am now happily Orthodox.

Now, all of this is not to give some boiled-down version of a particularly boring conversion story.

It is to offer a couple of pieces of advice:

--Once you have made your mind, do not delay in severing ties with your old faith community; lingering only breeds resentment or pain and makes the parting that much harder.

--Don’t try to adopt too many spiritual exercises without some kind of counsel. People doing Orthodoxy solo create a very goofy religion unto themselves (cf. OC.net archives). The flip side of that advice is to avoid going too far across the road and ending up in the ditch of desiring a goofy level spiritual micro-management with which your priest likely doesn’t want to deal.

--Network, if I can use so gross a word, as much as you can. Even if they don’t live in your town or attend your parish, knowing other Orthodox Christians is a boon in a non-Orthodox society.

--Attend services as often as you are able. Talk to the people while you’re there. Be sure to speak with them the next time you attend. Rinse and repeat. See above point: it is possible the members of your far-away parish may be able to direct you to someone who lives a little closer.

-Pray.
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 07:51:21 PM »

Watch recorded Divine Liturgies on the Internet if you can not get a live Liturgy.  We do this whenever we don't have money for gas or my wife  or I am ill and can not attend Liturgy. It is nice because every liturgy has a lesson in the priests sermons that help us to stay up on Orthodox teaching.

Thomas
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Thomas
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 08:35:18 PM »

Watch recorded Divine Liturgies on the Internet if you can not get a live Liturgy.  We do this whenever we don't have money for gas or my wife  or I am ill and can not attend Liturgy. It is nice because every liturgy has a lesson in the priests sermons that help us to stay up on Orthodox teaching.

Thomas

Live, realtime Divine Liturgies are available as well.
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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 10:04:38 PM »

A couple of years ago I asked my priest how he would answer a similar question, which a friend had asked me. He replied:

Quote
Wherever there is an Orthodox person, there is the Church. The Church exists in your home, and you are the Church.

There is a kind of martyrdom when we cannot participate in the holy Eucharist because of distance; then we participate in the prayers of saints like Mary of Egypt or Seraphim of Sarov, who were able only rarely to share in the Body and Blood of Christ. But always they could participate in the Spirit, wherever they were; and so can we.

The Church begins in your home. The father is the priest of the house, and it is the mother's home. She can initiate the prayers--like in a Jewish family at Sabbath. So the family can exercise Orthodox faith and life at home, even where there is no congregation nearby. And there are prayers for the various times of day (if anyone wants to say them) and even for midnight. Also, Orthodox Christians have icons at home as reminders that the church begins at home. Even catechumens are already participating in the Church and are the Church.

As far as coping I would recommend that you should speak more to the priest you are inquiring with about this; he can answer more specifically/personally and in light of your own situation.
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2012, 03:53:12 PM »

Thanks for this thread - there's a lot of insight,m which is helpful because I find myself in a similar position.

Is it possible to become a long-distance catechumen, or otherwise do large parts of the process remotely?
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 04:24:05 PM »

Thanks for this thread - there's a lot of insight,m which is helpful because I find myself in a similar position.

Is it possible to become a long-distance catechumen, or otherwise do large parts of the process remotely?
Yes, though that will also depend on the inclination of your priest.

We have one member here who converted with part of an ocean between himself and the nearest Orthodox church.

Edit: Here's the story.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 04:28:12 PM by Agabus » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 06:10:50 PM »

Wow - what an awesome story! Thanks for linking it Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2012, 10:25:09 AM »

seraphim98's story moved me to tears.
thanks for linking to it, and may we all be as faithful in following our great God.
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Deborah
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2012, 06:31:26 AM »


What I did for a long time was simply get my hands on as many books as I could and spent a lot of time researching on the internet.  Outside that, I really don’t have much advice.  Due to my work, I still don’t get to attend nearly as much as I would like and my church is only 45 minutes away.  But you have something I didn’t at the beginning, a spiritual father.  Mine came into the picture later.

Thanks for sharing Kerdy!  Yes, I've come to realise what a blessing it is to have a priest or spiritual father as a mentor or guide at this stage of the journey, for which I'm immensely grateful. Smiley

Truthseeker32 - I'm glad you're getting a car soon which will open up opportunities to get to DL, and that your priest is open to phone/email contact in the meantime.

short answer: do it slowly!
<snip>
remember this difficult time. it is important in your spiritual growth.
then when you are orthodox in the future and are deciding whether or not to leave your nice bed early on sunday morning after a busy week to attend divine liturgy, you will remember that you did not always have the blessing of meeting with God Himself in the sacrements.
you will forget whoever it was in church who annoyed you last week, forgive them, repent of your own sins and get out and receive the blessing!
 Smiley

Thanks Mabsoota - don't worry, I will!  Even though I'm itching to be a bit further along, this time of learning (and possibly testing) is important, now and for the long haul.  Learning and growing long-distance is going to be slower by virtue of the fact you don't get a full experience of the liturgical life of the church through the year and can only visit the "family" occasionally.  However, I want to do this in God's timing and will and for the right reasons.

i, personally did continue to go to protestant churches for ages (partly because of family issues) and now, when i infrequently visit them, i look upon it as a chance to share orthodoxy  Wink
but i remember how waiting for the right time to become orthodox was really difficult towards the end. i did keep taking protestant communion (i didn't realise how different it was back then) because it was still for me a time to repent and pray and worship.
i don't do that now, not just because of the wish not to ignore / disobey my spiritual leaders, but also because it gives the message that the theology is nearly the same. (it's similar, but the misunderstanding that the Holy Body and Blood are just symbols is important to correct).

Lol - Orthodox-sharing opportunity is a unique take on it!  I'm still a member of and go to my local church on occasion.  However, the only church I feel comfortable receiving communion at is a local Anglican church - they believe in the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, but don't know how close their view matches that of Orthodoxy.  When I enter the catechumenate, I'll formally resign from my home church (if I haven't done so already) and stop receiving communion anywhere else.  I wouldn't want to create confusion or a false sense of Orthodoxy just being another denomination.

JoyceV925, Thomas, Αριστοκλής - thanks for the suggestion of watching recorded or live streaming Divine Liturgies!  I couldn't do it too often due to a low bandwidth and limited data allowance, but it would be great to catch services online occasionally in lieu of not being able to attend in person.

In the coarse vernacular of the day: doing Orthodoxy long distance sucks. It is a religion that by its nature – the transmission of tradition, etc. — demands the neophyte be a part of a community, and when one is not often allowed to participate in the life of the community vis-à-vis the liturgical feasts and cycles of the church, there is a certain temptation toward despair or even anger that the Church’s missionary impulse has not yet pulsed its way into your area. I am not saying it is a right or appropriate feeling, only a temptation.

But from here I will speak only from my own experience. For a while I inquired at the closest Orthodox church while still being involved with my in-laws congregation. I experienced no small amount of cognitive dissonance and gave myself no small amount of grief by not severing those ties completely once I had made the decision to become Orthodox. It did not help that at the time the parish at which I was inquiring did not have a full-time priest for six months in the middle of that first year.
At the time, my job did not allow me to attend many services due to the distance (an unfortunate situation in which I once again find myself), and so I often felt like I was left to my own devices and prayerbooks I did not fully comprehend. (Those prayerbooks turned out to be better teachers of Orthodoxy than much of the literature that is otherwise available.) Nonetheless, I persevered, and after a move that made breaking away from the family church much easier than otherwise, eventually started attending another long-distance Orthodox Church where my catechesis could be more fully developed.
That was also not very fun, but I was able to attend more regularly and am now happily Orthodox.

Now, all of this is not to give some boiled-down version of a particularly boring conversion story.

It is to offer a couple of pieces of advice:

--Once you have made your mind, do not delay in severing ties with your old faith community; lingering only breeds resentment or pain and makes the parting that much harder.

--Don’t try to adopt too many spiritual exercises without some kind of counsel. People doing Orthodoxy solo create a very goofy religion unto themselves (cf. OC.net archives). The flip side of that advice is to avoid going too far across the road and ending up in the ditch of desiring a goofy level spiritual micro-management with which your priest likely doesn’t want to deal.

--Network, if I can use so gross a word, as much as you can. Even if they don’t live in your town or attend your parish, knowing other Orthodox Christians is a boon in a non-Orthodox society.

--Attend services as often as you are able. Talk to the people while you’re there. Be sure to speak with them the next time you attend. Rinse and repeat. See above point: it is possible the members of your far-away parish may be able to direct you to someone who lives a little closer.

-Pray.

Agabus - yes, long-distance is sucky and the antithesis of what it means to live and be Orthodox.  Despair is an occasional temptation I try to avoid/fight through prayer.  Thank you for sharing your old church/distance woes.  Like yours, this situation is only temporary.

Thanks also for your pertinent points.  I will probably officially leave my church soon, regardless of when I become a catechumen.  It's too confusing being in a Protestant environment and receiving Protestant teaching.  I feel like a hypocrite, outwardly a loyal Presbyterian Christian, whereas in belief I'm more Orthodox than anything else.  Spiritual exercises - I cross myself and use some basic prayers from a small Orthodox prayer book, but any more than that I won't take on without guidance from a priest.  No, I don't intend to lean on and hand over life management to the priest either!  I recognise there is a risk of stepping over priest/laity boundaries while he is the only 'in-person' source of Orthodox spiritual counsel I have - that's another good reason for networking and having other Orthodox Christians in your life.  Attendance/socialising - yes, I will do that every time I'm there.  The closest Orthodox Christians I've met live halfway between my town and the church.  Prayer - yes can't pray enough right now. 

Thanks for linking to Seraphim98's story - that is amazing and so encouraging. Smiley

xariskai - thanks for pointing that out, that we, and where we're placed, is the Church. Smiley  We can start, where we are.  I've emailed the priest about the situation and waiting to see what he suggests.

Thanks again to all who posted in this thread, sharing your insights and experiences. Smiley

Deborah
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2012, 10:59:45 AM »

thanks for the feedback, deborah.
one other tip other people have posted on this forum is to share yr journey with yr closest friends in yr church.
several people have regretted how hiding their thoughts with their friends has damaged those friendships.
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« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2012, 09:02:08 PM »

thanks for the feedback, deborah.
one other tip other people have posted on this forum is to share yr journey with yr closest friends in yr church.
several people have regretted how hiding their thoughts with their friends has damaged those friendships.

Thanks Mabsoota, you're right re telling friends in your current church beforehand.  Last thing I want to do is leave the telling until I've made (or just about to make) a final departure from the church.

This is probably a subject for another thread, but how would you suggest initially raising the subject of your interest in Orthodoxy with friends, without coming across as a prideful pushy know-it-all, or suggesting your friends' faith is false/misguided?

Deborah
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« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2012, 03:59:36 AM »

i just used to mention it whenever a related subject came up (among my mainly protestant friends. i knew a few catholics as well, most of whom were also ignorant of church history).
eg. fasting; whenever anyone mentioned the Lord's fast at the start of His ministry, i would explain about lent.
or if anyone mentioned other religions fasting, i would explain that the early Christian church had set fasts as well as spontaneous ones.

if i got tired that no one mentioned fasting for several weeks, i would mention it whenever anyone mentioned prayer. so maybe someone would say: 'prayer is very effective', then i would add; 'yes, especially when you pray and fast'.

if anyone mentioned church history (my friends were ignorant that there was any of this between 33a.d. and 1500a.d.) then i would add: 'and you know the whole church was orthodox, catholic and evangelical for the first 400 years!' and then maybe explain that i was examining the history of what beliefs it was that united so many people for such a long time.

if anyone mentioned suffering, i would direct them to orthodox sermons, explaining that a church with a long history of dealing with suffering is best equipped to guide us in this matter.

i would also make a point of agreeing with the beliefs we had in common, and telling my friends i will pray for them, or asking for prayer. still, none of my friends have followed me into orthodoxy, so maybe there are things i could do better! so i look forward to other people's posts for more advice.
 Wink
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2012, 01:40:05 PM »

Dear Deborah,
My wife and I have been commuting a long ways to church since 1999.  We have found it useful to use reader services.  You may wish to ask your priest about doing them in lieu of vespers and liturgy.  Although nothing replaces that spectacular sensation of being immersed in Heaven, the reader services will go a long way towards nourishing your starving soul.  Also, 1st, 3rd and the other hours are very comforting and strengthening.
You may also wish to visit http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/parishes just to make sure that there is nothing closer to you than three hours.  
All the best, Dan
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2012, 10:12:09 PM »

i just used to mention it whenever a related subject came up (among my mainly protestant friends. i knew a few catholics as well, most of whom were also ignorant of church history).
eg. fasting; whenever anyone mentioned the Lord's fast at the start of His ministry, i would explain about lent.
or if anyone mentioned other religions fasting, i would explain that the early Christian church had set fasts as well as spontaneous ones.

if i got tired that no one mentioned fasting for several weeks, i would mention it whenever anyone mentioned prayer. so maybe someone would say: 'prayer is very effective', then i would add; 'yes, especially when you pray and fast'.

if anyone mentioned church history (my friends were ignorant that there was any of this between 33a.d. and 1500a.d.) then i would add: 'and you know the whole church was orthodox, catholic and evangelical for the first 400 years!' and then maybe explain that i was examining the history of what beliefs it was that united so many people for such a long time.

if anyone mentioned suffering, i would direct them to orthodox sermons, explaining that a church with a long history of dealing with suffering is best equipped to guide us in this matter.

i would also make a point of agreeing with the beliefs we had in common, and telling my friends i will pray for them, or asking for prayer. still, none of my friends have followed me into orthodoxy, so maybe there are things i could do better! so i look forward to other people's posts for more advice.
 Wink

Lol I like your style Mabsoota! laugh

I don't have enough knowledge of Orthodox praxis to come at it from that angle.  I think the best way will be just to mention that I'm looking into Orthodoxy with a view to conversion in the future, and see where conversation goes from there.
 
Thanks
Deborah
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Live in South/East Auckland, Franklin or North Waikato regions of New Zealand? Interested in Orthodoxy? Need transport to an Orthodox Church? Want to meet others? Please send me a PM Smiley

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Deborah
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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2012, 10:28:16 PM »

Dear Deborah,
My wife and I have been commuting a long ways to church since 1999.  We have found it useful to use reader services.  You may wish to ask your priest about doing them in lieu of vespers and liturgy.  Although nothing replaces that spectacular sensation of being immersed in Heaven, the reader services will go a long way towards nourishing your starving soul.  Also, 1st, 3rd and the other hours are very comforting and strengthening.
You may also wish to visit http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/parishes just to make sure that there is nothing closer to you than three hours.  
All the best, Dan

Hi Dan,

Thanks for mentioning reader services, and for the parish location link.  Unfortunately I'm not in the US, but that link is an excellent resource for those who are.

I know of one or two other churches that hold occasional services in a location a bit closer to me - going to contact them to find out where and when they hold them. 

Reader services have also crossed my mind.  I'm going to make other enquiries to see if there are any Orthodox Christians close by who hold typica or reader services.  Or failing that, maybe start something myself.  Can you do them solo, to start off with?  Can anyone establish or conduct reader services, or do you have to be a) an ordained reader; b) male; and/or c) a baptised, chrismated Orthodox Christian?

Thanks again
Deborah
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2012, 07:47:21 PM »

I pray whenever I remember to, and attend a non-denominational Protestant student church here on campus as a sort of temporary spiritual home, where I can still pray in a community and get some sort of teaching--even if it's very basic stuff. When my roommate and I go back home, I'll attend Vespers and Liturgy there. I also have my Orthodox books and the internet to hold me over (I'll need to pick up my OSB from home so I can read my Bible, though >_>)
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« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2012, 12:56:51 PM »

Deborah, I am sorry that I did not catch the crucial fact of your geography!  If I were in your shoes, making the occasional trek to join in services would be the most important thing to do.  The reason I spent five years in the Catholic church was because it was easier to be a real Catholic than it was to be a solitary abstraction of Orthodoxy; without communal worship, we are simply bundles of Orthodoxish opinions.  As far as starting reader services, the first step is to consult with your nearest priest.  He will get you started.  If the nearest priest is not interested, find the next nearest priest, and so on.  Finally, I would pick a saint to pray to to make it happen.  It is amazing what happens when we pray to the saints!  There are so many saints that it is a matter of personal taste, of whim even, which one you pick.  You might find out if there is a local Orthodox saint in your vicinity.  Go to http://saintjohnwonderworker.org/, download the Menologion 3.0 and find out whether any local saints have been recovered due to the labors of St. John Maximovitch; a nearby priest might also know of local saints.  I wish you all the best!
Daniel
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