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Author Topic: Converting to Orthodoxy and some problems  (Read 3058 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cyrillic
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« on: September 07, 2012, 03:21:33 PM »

Hello.

I have been thinking for some time now to convert to Orthodoxy. However, things aren't very easy.

For one, I don't own a car and the nearest Orthodox parish is one hour away on bike, but I can manage that, I like to cycle and the route goes through beatiful forests. However, I don't know if I'll be able to do that every week. That's somewhat of a problem.

Problem two is that I still live with my parents.  I hinted at my interest for Orthodoxy to my parents several times, having icons on the walls and my book shelves filled with the church fathers  probably got them thinking as well. However, I  don't know what they'll think about me really converting to Orthodoxy, though my mom is delighted that I take a great interest in Christianity, but I suspect that she won't like the fasts.  Perhaps I should wait till I move out in a year or two.

So, what should I do?

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« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 03:43:17 PM »

You should go as often as you can, and deal with one thing at a time.  So far your parents haven't given you issues over this, so handle that battle when it happens.  Don't give yourself issues that aren't even happening yet.  Be prepared, but don't stress yourself too much either.  Try to go to church as often means whatever works for your schedule.  I like to tell busy people that they can make it at least once a month.  Seems reasonable to me.  Obviously more is the ideal.  Try going on weekdays too, if you can.  That should help with the "amount of times" issue. 
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 03:46:49 PM »

1. Contact someone at the Orthodox Church you are interested in about your transportation issues. They may be able to arrange a weekly ride for you, if there is someone who already attends the church who lives nearer to you. I was surprised when I contacted the local Coptic Church about this and found out that one of the deacons lived about a block away from me!

2. Depending on your relationship with your parents, there are things that you should keep in mind regarding how to approach them. My own father is involved in an anti-Christian cult, and although I'm well past the age of living with him, I do generally go home to visit family over the holidays, so it does present some problems (e.g., he tries to pressure me to attend his group's meetings). Ask the advice of the priest of the church you are attending, and follow it. And never forget the commandment to honor thy mother and father; as difficult as it is sometimes, it doesn't only apply when your relationship is harmonious.  Smiley

These two things said, you should definitely pursue life in the Orthodox Church. You are your own person and your spirituality and relationship with God are ultimately your responsibility, regardless of whether you have a car or Orthodox parents or not. May the Lord bless you and guide you in your life, and lead you to true faith in His holy Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2012, 03:50:12 PM »

Dear Cyrillic,

It is wonderful that you are interested in the Orthodox Church.   Orthodoxy is blessedness.  I wouldn't be the least bit concerned about the fasts - all that will come at the proper time.  


Love, elephant

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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2012, 03:56:02 PM »

Thanks for the advice so far. But what do you recommend, wait a little till I move out (which will be within two years) or just do it. What about entering the catechumenate?
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2012, 03:58:50 PM »

If God is calling you NOW, do you really want to tell Him "just give me two years, God"? One can never be sure where they'll be in two years time, after all.
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2012, 04:04:47 PM »

If you can manage to attend Church, and maintain a good relationship with your family, that is a very good thing.  As far as being received into the Church, that will be worked out with your priest when he sees you are ready.  It will not happen overnight, the process can take months or a year or more. 

Seek God! 

love, elephant

 
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2012, 04:06:28 PM »

If God is calling you NOW, do you really want to tell Him "just give me two years, God"? One can never be sure where they'll be in two years time, after all.

I seriously don't know. You might be right, but it's all so confusing at the moment. How do I do this, where do I start? How will people around me react? How will that parish and the priest react? I've always been one to worry about anything that might go wrong.

I've got nobody IRL to share this with, so I've got no advice or help there.
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2012, 04:23:46 PM »

I can relate, believe me. From personal experience, I can say that my worries were unfounded, or at least exaggerated in my own mind. I'm not trying to say that your experience will be the same, because everyone's different, but I think a lot of the worries you can feel about converting will dealt with BY converting. For instance, the idea "what will the priest think?" I don't really worry about that, because now that I am baptized, I'm treated just like anyone else. There's no division between me as an American and them as Egyptians, or the Ethiopians who used to attend here before they moved to California. We speak different languages and come from different cultures, but our faith is the same, so we are all equal.

If you are worried, bring your concerns to the priest and the laity of the church. You might be surprised by their answers. I remember after the Ethiopians left I was feeling kind of sad, because I enjoyed having some people to speak English with over the Agape meal (most conversations are in Egyptian Arabic, which I don't really know, but the Ethiopians don't either, so we would talk in English). But then the next week we had some visiting teenagers from St. Mark COC in Phoenix, and they spoke sort of half Arabic-half English (like a lot of teens raised in the diaspora do), so I was able to follow along with that. One of them even said "Come, sit with us! Don't be shy! It's your church, too!" Smiley

I am sure that the people in your church will feel the same, once they get used to the fact that you're actually interested in converting, not just visiting their church like a curious anthropologist or something (we get some of those here, who apparently think the Coptic Church is some kind of weird Egyptian stepchild of the Roman Church).
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2012, 04:43:36 PM »

I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate you, dzheremi. You're always so very kind and helpful.

So, what should I do next? Mail the priest or just visit?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 04:44:58 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2012, 04:52:04 PM »

Continue your prayers, my friend. The Lord will, if you allow, lead you to the right decision (what He wants). Until, and after, or in meantime, we're here for you. He is too.
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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2012, 05:24:29 PM »

^^^ Best advice of the thread. Prayer is #1 in this situation, as in all situations.

As for what else you should do, I would visit the church and talk with the priest, and to any laity you feel comfortable with. Bring them your concerns. Remember that if this is going to be your home from now on, you need to be able to be yourself. It isn't always easy (like my English example above), but it is worth it. The priests and the deacons and all of the people are working toward the same goal, so you should turn to them to help you. Remember St. Anthony's saying "Our life and our death is with our brother". Next to that, it should seem much easier to say "Father (so-and-so), I have some concerns...what about _____?" Realistically, what is the worst that could happen? If you are blessed as I have been blessed, Father will treat you gently, knowing that you are just beginning to take your first steps in Orthodoxy. We don't walk without help, from the people around us, and most of all from God.

Keep praying, and be confident that God will lead you to where He wants you to be, no matter what obstacles you may encounter along the way. For God has not given unto us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love (2 Timothy 1:7).
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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2012, 05:49:35 PM »

Just one comment on the trouble you may have with the fasts (and this is only going by my experience, which is limited to one priest, so take it for what it's worth): If you believe in the Church, don't avoid converting over the fasts. Your priest will probably ask you about your particular situation and modify the standard rule if appropriate. Most likely (especially if your mom cooks and isn't hugely sympathetic), he will set a rule that doesn't require you to involve her.
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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2012, 05:57:48 PM »

Whenever I go home, my priest tells me I am exempt from fasting because as a guest in another's house, it is a bigger sin not to eat what is offered than it would be to keep the fast by being rude, and my family (not being Orthodox) cannot be reasonably expected to fast (but if we go out to dinner or something where there are vegetarian options, I should order the vegetarian for myself without making a big deal out of it).
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2012, 06:02:13 PM »

Whenever I go home, my priest tells me I am exempt from fasting because as a guest in another's house, it is a bigger sin not to eat what is offered than it would be to keep the fast by being rude, and my family (not being Orthodox) cannot be reasonably expected to fast (but if we go out to dinner or something where there are vegetarian options, I should order the vegetarian for myself without making a big deal out of it).

Very true. The Church wants you, Cyrillic. Don't let little things keep you away. It would be better to join the Church and eat meat every Wednesday and Friday night, if that's what peace in your family requires, than to stay outside over fasting.
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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2012, 07:52:18 PM »


Speak to your priest - in person, via phone, or email.  Get that ball rolling.

No need to wait two years.

Perhaps your conversion, may lead to your parents' enlightenment.

Don't wait.

We are all here to help you, if you need it.
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2012, 01:04:43 AM »


Speak to your priest - in person, via phone, or email.  Get that ball rolling.

No need to wait two years.

Perhaps your conversion, may lead to your parents' enlightenment.

Don't wait.

We are all here to help you, if you need it.

Great advice.  You could be asking that priest these questions & then be getting real answers that will actually be helpful & things you can actually DO RIGHT NOW!  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2012, 01:13:00 AM »

Cyrillic, you have a bigger choice to make down the road; do you want to be Bulgarian Orthodox or Coptic Orthodox?  You can contact both Priests; you should be upfront by telling the one Priest that you're exploring the other Orthodox.
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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2012, 04:31:51 AM »

One important thing about your spiritual life to always remember is "it is later than you think." Seize hold of God at every opportunity while you can. You seem to have decided to go ahead and check it out - that is good. You'll encounter some obstacles as you pursue this. Just don't let those obstacles get in the way of grabbing hold of Christ. You'll have to swim through some muck, but it will be worth it.
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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2012, 06:11:00 AM »

lots of good advice!
also, u could prepare for any future potential fasting problems by starting to share the cooking (if you don't already).
i'm a strong believer that anyone aged 16 or over (and younger people too, when they have time) living with their parents should consider their parents as flat mates and so take a full share in the cooking, cleaning and shopping, helping financially as they are able.

that way, it will come naturally that you are cooking something for the whole family to eat, and then you or one of your parents can serve some meat / egg etc. next to the vegan food for those who are not fasting.
i have been orthodox for 4 years now, living with a non orthodox person, and we can still eat together, even if we don't always eat the same thing.
also the fasting rules are guidelines, many people don't fast fully for various reasons, and usually priests advise new people to start gradually. praying and getting close to God is the main aim; fasting is something that helps that; it is not an aim in itself.

when i visit family or close friends in fasting times, i take with me a tin of beans or hummus so i can eat their veg with them and not make them struggle to find something i can eat - i just open the tin of stuff and add it to the plate, and no one is inconvenienced.

keep in touch with dzheremi, he usually has good advice.
 Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2012, 06:45:23 AM »

As often as you can go you should. I am in a similiar situation and its a total trip of an hour and half by car, train, walking then probably two hours back by bus and train and walking. It can be disheartening not to go every week but try to go as much as possible, any reasonable presbyter will understand your situation.
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« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2012, 01:13:34 PM »

I was baptised as an infant in a protestant church, would I need to be baptised again? Would I still have to confess?
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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2012, 01:32:31 PM »

I was baptised as an infant in a protestant church, would I need to be baptised again? Would I still have to confess?

What Protestant church? Chalcedonian or Non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy? Which jurisdiction?
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« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2012, 01:34:17 PM »

I was baptised as an infant in a protestant church, would I need to be baptised again? Would I still have to confess?
Confession, yes.

Baptism: as long as the baptism was done using water and done in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in most cases you will not be baptised again. (Don't know if that holds true for Coptics) This is decided at the discretion of the priest under the direction of the bishop. You will be chrismated in any case. Whatever your priest's instructions might be at this point, don't argue. Some converts seem to want to insist on one thing or another. Look at it as an opportunity to learn to submit to the authority of the Church. If you're not ready to submit to that authority, then you're not ready to be received into the Church. (I hope that it doesn't sound like I'm coming on too strong to you - certainly not intended  Smiley)
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« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2012, 01:46:06 PM »

depends on many things.
many orthodox churches will accept protestant baptism (from a mainstream protestant church) if it is done in a trinitarian fashion, and especially if it is done by immersion.
others will not.
if they want you to be baptised again, and if you believe that your first baptism was valid; then consider that the orthodox baptism is a completion of the process that was started all those years ago.
either way, you will need to be chrismated (like confirmation). this is something very beautiful and i am sure it will be unlike anything you experienced before.

as for confession, this is something we all need to do regularly (once a week to once a year, depending on each person and on the church; i think the average is about once a month) and it is like going to see a spiritual sort of 'family doctor'.
to give an example from once of my confessions: priest says 'how's it going?'; i say 'i have been a bit down lately and stressed'; priest asks 'how is your spiritual life?'; i say 'wow, you seem to know i have not been praying so much lately!'; priest gives me personalised advice on how to improve my spiritual life, then i mention other things i have not been doing so well lately and explain that i pray for strength from God to do better. then the priest prays for me and puts the cross on my head and we say together 'our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name etc.' then i feel much better and exchange big smiles with the priest, and then i go off and have a cup of tea with my friends and someone else goes for confession. (don't worry we make sure the priest gets his cup of tea too!)

before chrismation, sometimes you need to do a longer confession, where you have a chat with the priest and ask him to pray to God on your behalf for the wrong things you have done in your life. in my case, i had been to confession several times before chrismation, but this was not common. either way, it is something beautiful, not something horrible.
maybe before confession you will cry when you tell God you repent, but after that it is beautiful.
God is merciful to forgive, and it is a big load off your chest when you have confessed.
 Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2012, 01:51:42 PM »

How will I be able to remember all my sins since the moment I was baptised? It would be easier to count the grains of sand on the beach.

I was baptised as an infant in a protestant church, would I need to be baptised again? Would I still have to confess?
Confession, yes.

Baptism: as long as the baptism was done using water and done in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in most cases you will not be baptised again. (Don't know if that holds true for Coptics) This is decided at the discretion of the priest under the direction of the bishop. You will be chrismated in any case. Whatever your priest's instructions might be at this point, don't argue. Some converts seem to want to insist on one thing or another. Look at it as an opportunity to learn to submit to the authority of the Church. If you're not ready to submit to that authority, then you're not ready to be received into the Church. (I hope that it doesn't sound like I'm coming on too strong to you - certainly not intended  Smiley)

Advice taken.

I was baptised as an infant in a protestant church, would I need to be baptised again? Would I still have to confess?

What Protestant church? Chalcedonian or Non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy? Which jurisdiction?

Dutch Reformed, the old state church. It's Calvinist.
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2012, 02:24:08 PM »

How will I be able to remember all my sins since the moment I was baptised? It would be easier to count the grains of sand on the beach.


About that "life confession," don't worry about it. Your priest will help you prepare for it. Remember that Orthodox Christianity makes allowances for our thoroughly human state: "...I pray Thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance."  From the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2012, 03:19:05 PM »

Thanks for all the advice so far.

Another question, this time for converts: at what point did you tell family and friends about your thoughts about Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2012, 03:26:16 PM »

At what point did you tell family and friends about your thoughts about Orthodoxy?
There's already a thread on this topic. I've listed it below so you can check it out.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,45328.0.html
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« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2012, 02:39:19 PM »

I think I've got the transportation covered now, I now know the route on bike and I will get my drivers license within 2 month, so that's all covered now.

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

And the second thing is, when do I tell my family and what should I tell them and how?

This would be the most difficult part for me, since I'm somewhat shy, which is my biggest obstacle to Orthodoxy, so I guess this step might take a while.

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« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2012, 02:55:47 PM »

I think I've got the transportation covered now, I now know the route on bike and I will get my drivers license within 2 month, so that's all covered now.

Praise be to God!

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

OK. Well, (and once again this is from my limited experience with five priests in two churches, both OCA), don't freak out. IME, priests understand when you don't know all the protocol.

If you want to be super correct, I believe the salutation should be "Father, Bless!" and the valediction "Kissing your right hand, Name"

He probably won't be offended by a question as natural as "are non-Bulgarians welcome?" At the same time, I can assure you that non-Bulgarians are supposed to be welcome, especially if that's the only EO church nearby. The Church is for every tribe and nation.

And the second thing is, when do I tell my family and what should I tell them and how?

I am not qualified to give advice on this one. My family was very supportive and knew of my interest long before I started attending an Orthodox Church. What have you told them?

This would be the most difficult part for me, since I'm somewhat shy, which is my biggest obstacle to Orthodoxy, so I guess this step might take a while.

I'm fairly shy too. My experience (YMMV, especially in an ethnic parish) is that people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. I've never been in a church friendlier than my Orthodox parish or the one I visited previously.
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« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2012, 03:04:30 PM »

I think I've got the transportation covered now, I now know the route on bike and I will get my drivers license within 2 month, so that's all covered now.

Praise be to God!

Amen.

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

OK. Well, (and once again this is from my limited experience with five priests in two churches, both OCA), don't freak out. IME, priests understand when you don't know all the protocol.

If you want to be super correct, I believe the salutation should be "Father, Bless!" and the valediction "Kissing your right hand, Name"

He probably won't be offended by a question as natural as "are non-Bulgarians welcome?" At the same time, I can assure you that non-Bulgarians are supposed to be welcome, especially if that's the only EO church nearby. The Church is for every tribe and nation.

Thanks. I think the remark about the right hand is a little strange for an inquirer though.

I am not qualified to give advice on this one. My family was very supportive and knew of my interest long before I started attending an Orthodox Church. What have you told them?

I expressed my admiration for Orthodox monastics, told stories about Athos, told them that the most beatiful thing I saw in Greece was not the Parthenon but the Monastery of Hosios Loukas and repeatedly told them about the love I have for byzantine icons. Tidbits like that. Nothing huge.

I'm fairly shy too. My experience (YMMV, especially in an ethnic parish) is that people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. I've never been in a church friendlier than my Orthodox parish or the one I visited previously.

Thanks, you really make me feel better.

One thing, on the site they have a huge part in dutch where they link to orthodoxinfo and a documentary with Met. Kallistos Ware on how the Orthodox Church is the true church. So I guess that's some sort of sign that they're willing to accept newcomers.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 03:06:31 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

And the second thing is, when do I tell my family and what should I tell them and how?

First is would be ok to email the priest and request a meeting, and asking if non-Bulgarians are welcome would be acceptable.

Quote from: Cyrillic
I expressed my admiration for Orthodox monastics, told stories about Athos, told them that the most beatiful thing I saw in Greece was not the Parthenon but the Monastery of Hosios Loukas and repeatedly told them about the love I have for byzantine icons. Tidbits like that. Nothing huge.
Looks like you have, just keep expressing your admiration and when you feel you are ready only then.
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« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2012, 03:44:19 PM »

Thanks. I think the remark about the right hand is a little strange for an inquirer though.

Well, the traditional way to greet a priest (or to take leave of a priest) is to ask his blessing, receive it, and then literally kiss his hand. Actually, what happened to me was funny, because I wasn't familiar with this custom at first and shook the priest's hand. And then after that I couldn't tell half the time whether the priests wanted me to shake their hands or kiss them. Eventually I learned the custom and now I greet them the traditional way and they have to put up with me. Wink But no one got uptight about it when I was new.

Anyway, if you're not comfortable with the valediction I suggested, I highly doubt the priest will be offended by "Sincerely," or whatever the Dutch equivalent is.
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« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2012, 03:59:24 PM »

Thanks. I think the remark about the right hand is a little strange for an inquirer though.

Well, the traditional way to greet a priest (or to take leave of a priest) is to ask his blessing, receive it, and then literally kiss his hand. Actually, what happened to me was funny, because I wasn't familiar with this custom at first and shook the priest's hand. And then after that I couldn't tell half the time whether the priests wanted me to shake their hands or kiss them. Eventually I learned the custom and now I greet them the traditional way and they have to put up with me. Wink But no one got uptight about it when I was new.

Anyway, if you're not comfortable with the valediction I suggested, I highly doubt the priest will be offended by "Sincerely," or whatever the Dutch equivalent is.

Ok, thanks. I think I'll start writing on my email then. One stumbling block remaining then...
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 03:59:52 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2012, 04:17:29 PM »

I think I've got the transportation covered now, I now know the route on bike and I will get my drivers license within 2 month, so that's all covered now.

Praise be to God!

Amen.

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

OK. Well, (and once again this is from my limited experience with five priests in two churches, both OCA), don't freak out. IME, priests understand when you don't know all the protocol.

If you want to be super correct, I believe the salutation should be "Father, Bless!" and the valediction "Kissing your right hand, Name"

He probably won't be offended by a question as natural as "are non-Bulgarians welcome?" At the same time, I can assure you that non-Bulgarians are supposed to be welcome, especially if that's the only EO church nearby. The Church is for every tribe and nation.

Thanks. I think the remark about the right hand is a little strange for an inquirer though.

I am not qualified to give advice on this one. My family was very supportive and knew of my interest long before I started attending an Orthodox Church. What have you told them?

I expressed my admiration for Orthodox monastics, told stories about Athos, told them that the most beatiful thing I saw in Greece was not the Parthenon but the Monastery of Hosios Loukas and repeatedly told them about the love I have for byzantine icons. Tidbits like that. Nothing huge.

I'm fairly shy too. My experience (YMMV, especially in an ethnic parish) is that people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. I've never been in a church friendlier than my Orthodox parish or the one I visited previously.

Thanks, you really make me feel better.

One thing, on the site they have a huge part in dutch where they link to orthodoxinfo and a documentary with Met. Kallistos Ware on how the Orthodox Church is the true church. So I guess that's some sort of sign that they're willing to accept newcomers.

I think that any priest would be overjoyed to get communications from an inquirer. If the communications is respectful, that is icing on the cake. And, if it contains traditional Orthodox greetings, that would be cherry on top. (Note: My father was a priest).

I suggest that since you could start with a simple

"Dear Father_____,
...
In Christ (if you are a Christian already) or Sincerely (if not), _____"

Whenever you feel comfortable, you could proceed to:

"Father bless!

Dear Father ______,
.....
"In Christ" or "Kissing your right hand, ____"


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« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2012, 04:32:39 PM »

I think I've got the transportation covered now, I now know the route on bike and I will get my drivers license within 2 month, so that's all covered now.

Praise be to God!

Amen.

So I thought the first thing I should do now is e-mail the priest, but what should I ask? How should I adress him? Should I ask if non-Bulgarians are welcome or would that be rude or polite? I seriously don't know if they want me as a non-Bulgarian.

OK. Well, (and once again this is from my limited experience with five priests in two churches, both OCA), don't freak out. IME, priests understand when you don't know all the protocol.

If you want to be super correct, I believe the salutation should be "Father, Bless!" and the valediction "Kissing your right hand, Name"

He probably won't be offended by a question as natural as "are non-Bulgarians welcome?" At the same time, I can assure you that non-Bulgarians are supposed to be welcome, especially if that's the only EO church nearby. The Church is for every tribe and nation.

Thanks. I think the remark about the right hand is a little strange for an inquirer though.

I am not qualified to give advice on this one. My family was very supportive and knew of my interest long before I started attending an Orthodox Church. What have you told them?

I expressed my admiration for Orthodox monastics, told stories about Athos, told them that the most beatiful thing I saw in Greece was not the Parthenon but the Monastery of Hosios Loukas and repeatedly told them about the love I have for byzantine icons. Tidbits like that. Nothing huge.

I'm fairly shy too. My experience (YMMV, especially in an ethnic parish) is that people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. I've never been in a church friendlier than my Orthodox parish or the one I visited previously.

Thanks, you really make me feel better.

One thing, on the site they have a huge part in dutch where they link to orthodoxinfo and a documentary with Met. Kallistos Ware on how the Orthodox Church is the true church. So I guess that's some sort of sign that they're willing to accept newcomers.

I think that any priest would be overjoyed to get communications from an inquirer. If the communications is respectful, that is icing on the cake. And, if it contains traditional Orthodox greetings, that would be cherry on top. (Note: My father was a priest).

I suggest that since you could start with a simple

"Dear Father_____,
...
In Christ (if you are a Christian already) or Sincerely (if not), _____"

Whenever you feel comfortable, you could proceed to:

"Father bless!

Dear Father ______,
.....
"In Christ" or "Kissing your right hand, ____"




Great advice! Very, very useful.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 04:32:58 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: September 13, 2012, 03:09:48 PM »

Okay, here's the english translation of the dutch concept letter, I think I should add something, but what?

Dear father [name of priest],

I am very interested in Orthodoxy and was wondering whether people of non-bulgarian descent, who don't speak bulgarian, could join the Orthodox Church in your parish. And would I be permitted to visit the liturgy?

Thanks in advance,

Sincerely,

[my name]
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« Reply #38 on: September 13, 2012, 07:02:44 PM »

^ I would respond : absolutely! Or "heck yah".  But Im not your average...
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« Reply #39 on: September 13, 2012, 07:23:55 PM »

It sounds perfect to me, Cyrillic. When I knew that I would finally be in an area with a Coptic Church (my home area doesn't have one, or any other Oriental Orthodox church, so I made sure that wherever I applied to graduate school would), I wrote to the church's contact person (a layman, since we don't have our priests...they're "on loan" from the Church in Arizona) and asked about the cultural background of the congregation. I think, for me, this is a little bit softer than asking "Will they want me as a non-Copt/non-Egyptian?", because also then I got to find out that I wouldn't be the only non-Egpytian (at the time we had Ethiopians, Jordanians, some European-Americans, etc.), so it answered the question that I was really worried about without having to put anybody on the spot (since the contact person was Egyptian).

But I think it is perfect as you've written it. It gets right to the point: You're a non-Bulgarian, you want to join their church, and you want to make sure you don't have to speak Bulgarian to do so. (I'm not Bulgarian Orthodox, of course, but I already know the answers to all these, as the local Ethiopian Orthodox population back home is split between the OCA and Bulgarian churches, as there are not OO churches there). Smiley

You can progress to all the hand-kissing and stuff like that when you are comfortable (and then I can join you, because I don't do it...hopefully someday, with the Lord's help!).  Grin
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« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2012, 03:24:58 AM »


You can progress to all the hand-kissing and stuff like that when you are comfortable (and then I can join you, because I don't do it...hopefully someday, with the Lord's help!).  Grin

I don't either. I've been Orthodox over a decade and I still just find kissing the priest's hand alien. It was hard enough getting used to my in-laws kissing me on the cheeks when we meet and they're family. I, unfortunately, am of north German protestant stock and that sort of thing is just not normal to me. I'll happily say 'sarumana' (kiss the hand) to people in all the appropriate circumstances but I've not yet managed to actually do it - and as for having your hand kissed (it's happened to me once), that's almost excruciatingly uncomfortable. Luckily, nobody's ever taken offence and all the priests I've ever met have seemed perfectly happy about the fact that I don't do it. I just convince myself that my wife's kiss counts for both of us!

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« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2012, 03:43:19 AM »

Hahaha. I'll have to marry an Egyptian woman, then, cos I dunno...I'm not North German, but I'm not just not comfortable with that. I will gladly hug Father, like when we pick him up from the airport (it's kind of a big deal, since we only have liturgies twice a month, and the two priests who serve us switch off months, so by the time the "other" priest comes to us, we haven't seen him in quite a while), but I can't manage the hand kiss. When receiving the orban, which is one time when most people kiss his hand, I bow slightly and say "thank you, abouna", and he does not seem to mind that I don't do as the others do. Not my culture, not my thing. I did it once when departing the church after being baptized (it seemed like if there was any time I should show special reverence, it should be then), and it was just awkward for all involved. Hahaha.

Ahhhh...Orthodoxy. Have fun, Cyrillic! Grin
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« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2012, 12:33:03 PM »

Ahhhh...Orthodoxy. Have fun, Cyrillic! Grin

Dzheremi, it is largely your fault! If it weren't for you it would have taken me months, if not years, to get this starting. I guess you could take this as a compliment as well  Cheesy

I've sent the email and I'll keep you all updated. In the meantime, pray for me.


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« Reply #43 on: September 14, 2012, 01:22:57 PM »

Ok, I promised to keep you updated, and everything goes a little fast. I was added by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Holland and the Bulgarian-Dutch Information Center on Facebook. So apparently at least one of them is lurking here Grin

Oh well, I'm getting a little bit excited.
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« Reply #44 on: September 14, 2012, 04:38:24 PM »

Ok, I promised to keep you updated, and everything goes a little fast. I was added by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Holland and the Bulgarian-Dutch Information Center on Facebook. So apparently at least one of them is lurking here Grin

Oh well, I'm getting a little bit excited.


Yay, how great!!!! Smiley So looking forward to hearing about whatever happens next! Smiley
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