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Author Topic: Lutheran exploring Orthodoxy...questions  (Read 2687 times) Average Rating: 0
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akimori makoto
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« Reply #45 on: October 11, 2012, 05:22:30 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

The word is still used that way in the law.
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« Reply #46 on: October 11, 2012, 05:25:51 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

Can you give an example? (And I don't mean something like "Speak the speech I pray thee".)

Dearest father, I pray thee givest me a ten-fold increase in my allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse.

That seems to me like the same usage as in "Speak the speech I pray thee". I'm talking about something like "I didst pray to mine father for a ten-fold increase in mine allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse, but he didst say nay to mine prayer."

Exactly what do you think is the difference? It seems to me that not only are you picking up on a difference that is peculiarly English (plenty of other languages do not have such a distinction), but you're making a point about exactly which grammatical usages you will accept as religious and which as secular, which is more than a little odd. Pray, effectively just means ask. Whether you say 'Give me this I ask you', or 'I asked my father' is really of little consequence. It certainly doesn't change the meaning of ask, so why do you appear to think that it would change the meaning of pray?

James
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« Reply #47 on: October 11, 2012, 05:31:52 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

Can you give an example? (And I don't mean something like "Speak the speech I pray thee".)

Dearest father, I pray thee givest me a ten-fold increase in my allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse.

That seems to me like the same usage as in "Speak the speech I pray thee". I'm talking about something like "I didst pray to mine father for a ten-fold increase in mine allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse, but he didst say nay to mine prayer."

Exactly what do you think is the difference? It seems to me that not only are you picking up on a difference that is peculiarly English (plenty of other languages do not have such a distinction), but you're making a point about exactly which grammatical usages you will accept as religious and which as secular, which is more than a little odd. Pray, effectively just means ask. Whether you say 'Give me this I ask you', or 'I asked my father' is really of little consequence. It certainly doesn't change the meaning of ask, so why do you appear to think that it would change the meaning of pray?

James

Well all right, I'll accept an example from a non-English language in which the equivalent of "I prayed to my father" is used (with the father still remaining on this earth).
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 05:39:54 PM by Peter J » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: October 11, 2012, 06:26:23 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

Can you give an example? (And I don't mean something like "Speak the speech I pray thee".)

Dearest father, I pray thee givest me a ten-fold increase in my allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse.

That seems to me like the same usage as in "Speak the speech I pray thee". I'm talking about something like "I didst pray to mine father for a ten-fold increase in mine allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse, but he didst say nay to mine prayer."
That would actually be a fairly good example. Another one: "I pray, m'lord, thou dost not take advantage of jus primae noctis, and violate mine daughter upon her wedding night."
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 06:31:44 PM by FormerReformer » Logged

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« Reply #49 on: October 11, 2012, 06:40:58 PM »

Quote from: Peter J
That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them?

Because they can physically ask their mother to pray for them? You know, with mouth sounds. I'll grant that is a difference, but it does not seem a significant one. 'Praying to' a saint is just our way of addressing them. The content makes it what it is.

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« Reply #50 on: October 11, 2012, 06:48:08 PM »

I'm sorry, I'm Orthodox and all, but...what the heck kind of allowance did children get back in Victorian times that allowed them to buy race horses with just a ten-fold increase? How cheap were race horses back then?  Huh
I think only rich kids got allowances.
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« Reply #51 on: October 11, 2012, 08:13:38 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

The word is still used that way in the law.

Pray tell?
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akimori makoto
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« Reply #52 on: October 11, 2012, 08:33:56 PM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

The word is still used that way in the law.

Pray tell?

I'm not sure if the following examples would strike an American lawyer as odd, but they are not uncommon in Australian and English discourse:

"Please identify the provision pursuant to which your client says that the Court has the power to grant the relief applied for in the third prayer of your client's summons".

"By his summons, the plaintiff prays for an order in the nature of certiorari".

"The applicant's prayers were dismissed by the Court".
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« Reply #53 on: October 11, 2012, 09:33:24 PM »

Is fasting that complicated in the EO church? Now I'm curious, because I thought they were like us in this regard, save their "cheesefare" week that we don't have (and hence they condemn the Armenians, in what must be the funniest anathema ever...), and our use of oil. Have I been misinformed?

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I've been taught to think of fasting in a very straightforward manner. The only real (general) guideline given is that it last until 3 PM and be broken only with vegan food. The exact details of how to do it will vary by person, and that's what your priest is there to help you with, particularly if you're like me and have health or familial issues that might require some special attention.


If I understand correctly, EO fasting entails vegan food, no oil (although I think this varies--some say just no olive oil, others no oil in general, which greatly limits the recipes that can be made) and eating less than one would on other days.  I don't know of any restriction on the time, other than before communing.  It just sounds complicated when you're thinking about what to cook on those days--no oil = a lot of vegan recipes are out, a lot of things have dairy or eggs in them, etc.  It also would seem to make it hard to do anything socially (if it involves food) with people who are not fasting.  Maybe this would be less of an issue for someone who has a family, but as a single person it seems pretty depressing.  And what about visiting family if they are not Orthodox?  I am afraid that if I do end up in the EOC it will isolate me from my family (they are out of state, but we are still quite close) around holidays and other events.  Again, maybe less of an issue for someone who is married and has their own family but I'm not there yet (hopefully someday, and an added reason why I need to sort out this whole church issue so I can be looking in the right place).

From what my Priest has told me, the use of oil is ok for cooking, what is to be avoided is the use of oil in a celebratory fashion, such as dipping your break in olive oil at the table.
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« Reply #54 on: October 12, 2012, 03:36:31 AM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

Can you give an example? (And I don't mean something like "Speak the speech I pray thee".)

Dearest father, I pray thee givest me a ten-fold increase in my allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse.

That seems to me like the same usage as in "Speak the speech I pray thee". I'm talking about something like "I didst pray to mine father for a ten-fold increase in mine allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse, but he didst say nay to mine prayer."

Exactly what do you think is the difference? It seems to me that not only are you picking up on a difference that is peculiarly English (plenty of other languages do not have such a distinction), but you're making a point about exactly which grammatical usages you will accept as religious and which as secular, which is more than a little odd. Pray, effectively just means ask. Whether you say 'Give me this I ask you', or 'I asked my father' is really of little consequence. It certainly doesn't change the meaning of ask, so why do you appear to think that it would change the meaning of pray?

James

Well all right, I'll accept an example from a non-English language in which the equivalent of "I prayed to my father" is used (with the father still remaining on this earth).

Easy. Romanian - a ruga means to pray, to ask, to implore or to beg (and other similar but you get the gist). Not only can I say 'Am rugat pe Dumnezeu', (Dumnezeu being God) I can also say 'Am rugat pe tatăl meu/mama mea' etc. (my father/my mother). In fact to go even further, the same verb is used literally all the time in everyday speech due to the fact that it's the verb found in vă rog/te rog/vă rugăm etc., which are all different forms of 'please' - literally 'I/we pray (ask, implore, beg) you'. Job done.

James
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« Reply #55 on: October 12, 2012, 08:27:48 AM »

Hey Curious,
I was in a similar boat, and I'd be glad to answer your questions. However, my answers wont be any way better than that of a priest Smiley

Quote
One is the practice of praying to Mary/saints (or is it asking them for their prayers?)--I have always been taught that this is unnecessary at best and a distraction from praying to God
To me, it is no different than asking a friend of loved one to pray for us. As God is the God of the living and not the dead, the saints are aware, and rooting for us. The thing is, the saints are not clouded by day to day worries, distractions, or sin keeping them from away from God.

Hi. I don't participate on the Orthodox-Protestant sections very much, for obvious reasons, but I'd like to comment here that I don't really get the whole "no different" thing.

I've heard a multitude of times (from some of my fellow Catholics as well as you Orthodox) that "praying to _______" is another way of saying "asking ______ to pray for us". That makes sense, so far as it goes; but I don't see that there's "no difference", because then why is it that people never say "I'm going to pray to my mother" if their mother is alive and they mean that they're going to ask her to pray for them? I feel like people try to shove the "no difference" thing down my throat but it just doesn't want to go. (Although I suppose it's also possible that I am in some way reacting against those who say things like "There's no difference between saying 'Co-Redemptrix' and saying 'the Woman with the Redeemer'.")

Because the meaning of the word "pray" has come to be understood in an almost entirely religious sense. A little more than a hundred years ago the usage would not have been out of place, several hundred years ago it would have been quite common for a lad to pray to his living father for a favor.

Can you give an example? (And I don't mean something like "Speak the speech I pray thee".)

Dearest father, I pray thee givest me a ten-fold increase in my allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse.

That seems to me like the same usage as in "Speak the speech I pray thee". I'm talking about something like "I didst pray to mine father for a ten-fold increase in mine allowance that I might purchase a new racing horse, but he didst say nay to mine prayer."

Exactly what do you think is the difference? It seems to me that not only are you picking up on a difference that is peculiarly English (plenty of other languages do not have such a distinction), but you're making a point about exactly which grammatical usages you will accept as religious and which as secular, which is more than a little odd. Pray, effectively just means ask. Whether you say 'Give me this I ask you', or 'I asked my father' is really of little consequence. It certainly doesn't change the meaning of ask, so why do you appear to think that it would change the meaning of pray?

James

Well all right, I'll accept an example from a non-English language in which the equivalent of "I prayed to my father" is used (with the father still remaining on this earth).

Easy. Romanian - a ruga means to pray, to ask, to implore or to beg (and other similar but you get the gist). Not only can I say 'Am rugat pe Dumnezeu', (Dumnezeu being God) I can also say 'Am rugat pe tatăl meu/mama mea' etc. (my father/my mother). In fact to go even further, the same verb is used literally all the time in everyday speech due to the fact that it's the verb found in vă rog/te rog/vă rugăm etc., which are all different forms of 'please' - literally 'I/we pray (ask, implore, beg) you'. Job done.

James


The word is still used that way in the law.

Pray tell?

I'm not sure if the following examples would strike an American lawyer as odd, but they are not uncommon in Australian and English discourse:

"Please identify the provision pursuant to which your client says that the Court has the power to grant the relief applied for in the third prayer of your client's summons".

"By his summons, the plaintiff prays for an order in the nature of certiorari".

"The applicant's prayers were dismissed by the Court".

Thanks for both examples. Smiley
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« Reply #56 on: October 12, 2012, 10:46:42 AM »

Catholic fasting: http://www.justforcatholics.org/a37.htm


Protestant has less or even no teaching on fasting. Catholic offically teaches that we  fasting is a means to make satisfaction for sin and its penalty.  Sad   Undecided   Orthodoxy teaches that fasting help us to deal with passion and sin as well as draw us closer to God.


Orthodoxy teaching on fasting is the best!! Smiley

Wow.  I agree that the Orthodox teaching is much better than that! 
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« Reply #57 on: October 12, 2012, 11:00:16 AM »

Thanks to both of you for your clarification--the analogy of praying with the saints being like asking our friends on earth to pray for us makes sense.  As far as the fasting, the general concept makes sense as an exercise in self-discipline and as a remembrance but does it have to be so complicated?  By that I mean the restrictions on so many categories of foods on the fast days...doesn't one end up thinking more about food (in terms of avoiding those things) on those days than they would on other days?  If so, that seems counterproductive.  Another thing I would like to understand better is the Orthodox concept of monasticism--am I correct that they generally do not have "active" orders engaged in medical/teaching/other work (as does the RCC) but are mostly cloistered?  How does that fit in with the Church's duty to be engaged in doing good works that help the neighbor?

What work could be better than prayer? If you read Orthodox saints, you will often find them speaking from their experience that they found prayer more effective than direct intervention. Of course, none of them just sat aroud and prayed. Monastic life involves work--asceticism for drawing closer to God and prayer for the world.

True, prayer is important and my intent was not to diminish that.  However, shouldn't it be a "both/and" rather than an either/or thing?  In other words, praying and also being active in helping others (actually, James 1:  15-16 comes to mind here).

One of our newer saints, St Elizabeth the New Martyr, found a convent dedicated to ministering to the poor, to include running a hospital. She was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  BTW, she converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant denomination, may even have been Lutheran.

See http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elizabeth_the_New_Martyr

Interesting!  To me, that kind of convent/monastery makes a lot more sense than the kind that seems to be the norm within Orthodoxy.  More of a way to reach non-Christians as well as build up those within the church.
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« Reply #58 on: October 12, 2012, 11:08:55 AM »

Thanks to both of you for your clarification--the analogy of praying with the saints being like asking our friends on earth to pray for us makes sense.  As far as the fasting, the general concept makes sense as an exercise in self-discipline and as a remembrance but does it have to be so complicated?  By that I mean the restrictions on so many categories of foods on the fast days...doesn't one end up thinking more about food (in terms of avoiding those things) on those days than they would on other days?  If so, that seems counterproductive.  Another thing I would like to understand better is the Orthodox concept of monasticism--am I correct that they generally do not have "active" orders engaged in medical/teaching/other work (as does the RCC) but are mostly cloistered?  How does that fit in with the Church's duty to be engaged in doing good works that help the neighbor?

What work could be better than prayer? If you read Orthodox saints, you will often find them speaking from their experience that they found prayer more effective than direct intervention. Of course, none of them just sat aroud and prayed. Monastic life involves work--asceticism for drawing closer to God and prayer for the world.

True, prayer is important and my intent was not to diminish that.  However, shouldn't it be a "both/and" rather than an either/or thing?  In other words, praying and also being active in helping others (actually, James 1:  15-16 comes to mind here).

One of our newer saints, St Elizabeth the New Martyr, found a convent dedicated to ministering to the poor, to include running a hospital. She was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  BTW, she converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant denomination, may even have been Lutheran.

See http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elizabeth_the_New_Martyr

Interesting!  To me, that kind of convent/monastery makes a lot more sense than the kind that seems to be the norm within Orthodoxy.  More of a way to reach non-Christians as well as build up those within the church.

Are you thinking about joining an activist monastery perhaps? Let me put it this way: if you were to decide to become a monk, what sort of monk do you envision yourself to be? BTW, please read also the following to get another perspective. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraphim_of_Sarov
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« Reply #59 on: October 12, 2012, 12:03:12 PM »

Thanks to both of you for your clarification--the analogy of praying with the saints being like asking our friends on earth to pray for us makes sense.  As far as the fasting, the general concept makes sense as an exercise in self-discipline and as a remembrance but does it have to be so complicated?  By that I mean the restrictions on so many categories of foods on the fast days...doesn't one end up thinking more about food (in terms of avoiding those things) on those days than they would on other days?  If so, that seems counterproductive.  Another thing I would like to understand better is the Orthodox concept of monasticism--am I correct that they generally do not have "active" orders engaged in medical/teaching/other work (as does the RCC) but are mostly cloistered?  How does that fit in with the Church's duty to be engaged in doing good works that help the neighbor?

What work could be better than prayer? If you read Orthodox saints, you will often find them speaking from their experience that they found prayer more effective than direct intervention. Of course, none of them just sat aroud and prayed. Monastic life involves work--asceticism for drawing closer to God and prayer for the world.

True, prayer is important and my intent was not to diminish that.  However, shouldn't it be a "both/and" rather than an either/or thing?  In other words, praying and also being active in helping others (actually, James 1:  15-16 comes to mind here).

One of our newer saints, St Elizabeth the New Martyr, found a convent dedicated to ministering to the poor, to include running a hospital. She was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  BTW, she converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant denomination, may even have been Lutheran.

See http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elizabeth_the_New_Martyr

Interesting!  To me, that kind of convent/monastery makes a lot more sense than the kind that seems to be the norm within Orthodoxy.  More of a way to reach non-Christians as well as build up those within the church.

Are you thinking about joining an activist monastery perhaps? Let me put it this way: if you were to decide to become a monk, what sort of monk do you envision yourself to be? BTW, please read also the following to get another perspective. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraphim_of_Sarov

Well...not exactly, certainly not anytime soon.  And I'm female, so it'd be a nun, not a monk!   Cheesy  However, in my research I have come across some Orthodox writings that appear to indicate that the only acceptable ways to live are either married (which I am not yet, but would be happy to if a suitable man came along, and I probably should make more of an effort to look for one than I have thus far) or the monastic life.  So...if getting married didn't happen, it looks like that might have to be the next option (or is that a misconception?  that is entirely possible).  In any case, I feel like if I don't end up having a family I would need to be in some kind of a situation where I concentrate on serving rather than living a self-centered life (which can be easy to fall into as a single person if one is not careful).  I happen to be in the medical field, so I would like to continue using those talents to serve others.  I know this is pretty convoluted, but that's where the thought process has been going.
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« Reply #60 on: October 12, 2012, 01:25:49 PM »

No one would force you to marry or to become a nun if you do not want to.
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« Reply #61 on: October 12, 2012, 02:02:50 PM »

However, in my research I have come across some Orthodox writings that appear to indicate that the only acceptable ways to live are either married (which I am not yet, but would be happy to if a suitable man came along, and I probably should make more of an effort to look for one than I have thus far) or the monastic life.

There are single people in my parish who are currently making no plans toward marriage or monasticism. My priest once said that something the married and monastic lives have in common is that you are constantly in a position to serve--even when you're tired and don't want to deal with it anymore. Unlike other obligations that you might distance yourself from if things become hard or uncomfortable, you can't really take a break from marriage or monasticism.

However, he also said that single people have that same opportunity by engaging in the parish. For example, there might be some parishioners that drive you nuts, and it would be so much easier to disengage, but if you work to love them, you can achieve similar growth and benefits as someone devoted to the monastic or married life. All three of these walks have their unique benefits and hardships, of course, but it sounded to me like the single life could be a valid way to work out your salvation. Smiley
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« Reply #62 on: October 13, 2012, 11:57:14 AM »

However, in my research I have come across some Orthodox writings that appear to indicate that the only acceptable ways to live are either married (which I am not yet, but would be happy to if a suitable man came along, and I probably should make more of an effort to look for one than I have thus far) or the monastic life.

There are single people in my parish who are currently making no plans toward marriage or monasticism. My priest once said that something the married and monastic lives have in common is that you are constantly in a position to serve--even when you're tired and don't want to deal with it anymore. Unlike other obligations that you might distance yourself from if things become hard or uncomfortable, you can't really take a break from marriage or monasticism.

However, he also said that single people have that same opportunity by engaging in the parish. For example, there might be some parishioners that drive you nuts, and it would be so much easier to disengage, but if you work to love them, you can achieve similar growth and benefits as someone devoted to the monastic or married life. All three of these walks have their unique benefits and hardships, of course, but it sounded to me like the single life could be a valid way to work out your salvation. Smiley

I think you said it well in the first paragraph, about always being in a position to serve even if you feel like being a lazy bum  Wink.  I know I always feel good when I am doing something that helps someone else, which is one reason why I like working in the medical field (the other is that I just find it interesting).  Maybe the key is to seek out those opportunities as a single person to serve others in the parish and the community, and have some sort of accountability.  Of course, that can be done as a married person as well, but priorities will be different.  I do hope to marry, but it would have to be a good Christian man with whom I am compatible (marrying a non-Christian, I think, would be worse than not marrying at all in terms of spiritual growth).

PS:  Here is the article that made me feel rotten about being single:  http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/marriage.aspx  Is it just me, or does the first part of that article give off the vibe of "if you're not either married or in a monastery you're probably going to hell"?  Not to say it doesn't have some good stuff in it elsewhere, but it made me feel condemned.
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« Reply #63 on: October 14, 2012, 11:35:03 PM »

PS:  Here is the article that made me feel rotten about being single:  http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/marriage.aspx  Is it just me, or does the first part of that article give off the vibe of "if you're not either married or in a monastery you're probably going to hell"?  Not to say it doesn't have some good stuff in it elsewhere, but it made me feel condemned.

It doesn't sound like you've been avoiding the bonds of marriage, even if you haven't been actively seeking it. The way I read it, Archimandrite Aimilianos sees people avoiding marriage as a symptom of not wanting to engage in spiritual struggle, which doesn't seem to be what you're doing. But in any case, it's probably better to look at anything you read as a useful resource, and talk to a priest that you trust and who knows you to see if and how it applies to you. Doctrine may be unchanged, but dealing out blanket statements of application is difficult when you're dealing with individuals.
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« Reply #64 on: October 14, 2012, 11:55:51 PM »

Thanks to both of you for your clarification--the analogy of praying with the saints being like asking our friends on earth to pray for us makes sense.  As far as the fasting, the general concept makes sense as an exercise in self-discipline and as a remembrance but does it have to be so complicated?  By that I mean the restrictions on so many categories of foods on the fast days...doesn't one end up thinking more about food (in terms of avoiding those things) on those days than they would on other days?  If so, that seems counterproductive.  Another thing I would like to understand better is the Orthodox concept of monasticism--am I correct that they generally do not have "active" orders engaged in medical/teaching/other work (as does the RCC) but are mostly cloistered?  How does that fit in with the Church's duty to be engaged in doing good works that help the neighbor?

What work could be better than prayer? If you read Orthodox saints, you will often find them speaking from their experience that they found prayer more effective than direct intervention. Of course, none of them just sat aroud and prayed. Monastic life involves work--asceticism for drawing closer to God and prayer for the world.

True, prayer is important and my intent was not to diminish that.  However, shouldn't it be a "both/and" rather than an either/or thing?  In other words, praying and also being active in helping others (actually, James 1:  15-16 comes to mind here).

One of our newer saints, St Elizabeth the New Martyr, found a convent dedicated to ministering to the poor, to include running a hospital. She was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  BTW, she converted to Orthodoxy from a Protestant denomination, may even have been Lutheran.

See http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elizabeth_the_New_Martyr

Interesting!  To me, that kind of convent/monastery makes a lot more sense than the kind that seems to be the norm within Orthodoxy.  More of a way to reach non-Christians as well as build up those within the church.

If all monks went into the world to work, who would be praying for the workers? And to say that the workers pray, yes they do, but until you have prayed like the monastics without distraction, you will not appreciate their way of life.
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« Reply #65 on: October 16, 2012, 12:59:40 PM »

Regarding salvation and the relationship between faith, works and salvation, I think you have to sort out the former before you get to the latter.

For us, salvation is not merely declaratory.  Rather, God declares us righteous, and then makes us to be righteous.  So salvation for us includes both what you would call justification and what you would call sanctification.  Lutherans, frequently in my experience, discuss salvation as being equivalent to justification.  Similarly, salvation for us is not just God looking upon us with undeserved favor, but also includes actual union with God, participation in His life through the Sacraments, etc.  There is an idea of this in Lutheranism as well, but in my experience it is sometimes downplayed.  Finally, for us, salvation is not merely a past event, but includes past (I was saved), present (I am being saved) and future (I hope to be saved).  Not just I AM saved, but all of those different tenses at play.

Putting faith and works over this backdrop, one might say that faith is the means by which we receive salvation, and works are how salvation is lived out.  Neither faith nor works earns salvation.  Credit or merit is downplayed in Orthodox soteriology.  There is a notion of it -- before communion we pray, for example, "make me worthy to partake of Thine Immaculate Mysteries unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting."  But we aren't talking so much about our works OR our faith meriting anything toward salvation.  They are "necessary" in the sense that one cannot be saved without them.  But neither is one saved because of them.  Someone on this board once wrote "you are not saved because of your good works, but you won't be saved without them, either."  I think that's pretty close to the mark.  I also think, once you cut through all the morass, it's not really very far off at all from how Lutherans view salvation.  There are differences in approach, but we end up very close to the same place.
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