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Author Topic: Griping about being a catechumen  (Read 5882 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jennifer
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« on: April 26, 2005, 10:05:24 PM »

I'm sure this will annoy some people and I fully expect to be 'put in my place' as only internet Christians can do but am I the only one who really HATES being a catechumen. 

I should admit that according to my RC priest friend I'm in the "crabby" stage of the fast. 

It's a real drag.  I miss the Sacraments so much.  I knew it would be hard to be separated from the Sacramental life of the Church but I didn't realize it would be this hard.  I feel almost physical pain during the liturgy when I can't receive. 

And I can't help but get angry at other people who get to be chrismated now.  I have no idea when I'll be chrismated and I feel like I can't even ask because that would be held against me and I'd have to wait even longer. 

It really annoys me that there are rules for some people but not others.  Why do some people have to wait a few months before being chrismated while others have to wait a lot longer? 

I'm just getting tired of this.  I'm tried of going to all of these services and still being on the outside. 

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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2005, 10:19:58 PM »

Because people are different. There should be nothing wrong with sharing your feelings with your priest--less 'When do I get Chrismated?" and more "My soul is aching for the Sacraments. I need some spiritual support right now."
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2005, 10:22:34 PM »

Imagine when catechumen stayed catechumen for 3 years and never even saw the fully Liturgy or heard the Creed until their bapstism. Try to have patience- Satan causes pain, God causes healing, so inspect your feelings for their source. He's preparing you, testing you by fire-it may be stressful, but in the end you know your construction is true. Just let Him do the work that He wills during your time of preparation. There is a season for all things, even this.
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2005, 10:30:44 PM »

Imagine when catechumen stayed catechumen for 3 years and never even saw the fully Liturgy or heard the Creed until their bapstism. Try to have patience- Satan causes pain, God causes healing, so inspect your feelings for their source. He's preparing you, testing you by fire-it may be stressful, but in the end you know your construction is true. Just let Him do the work that He wills during your time of preparation. There is a season for all things, even this.

This will sound snotty so I apologize up front (and remember I'm in the "crabby" stage of the lenten fast), but I'm tired of being told how I need to have more patience by people who've never been catechumens. ( I don't know your situation, if you were born and raised Orthodox or are a convert.)

It's just awfully easy for people, including my priest who is a cradle Orthodox, to 'lecture' catechumens about how they're supposed to learn "patience" when they had never had to wait. 

Rant over and I apologize. 

The only person who has truly been understanding through all of this is my RC priest friend.  Weird, huh?  He's the only one who understands how difficult it is for me to be away from the Sacraments. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2005, 10:50:20 PM »

No, I hated it, too, and for some of the same reasons.

I couldn't stand feeling like I was the only outsider, the only one not participating in the sacramental life.  Granted, there were two other catechumens in the mission, but since we were all three commuting from out of town, we rarely managed to make it to the same services. 

I couldn't stand the waiting, either.  I became a catechumen after leaving postulancy for holy orders in the Episcopal Church.  All the stuff I was supposed to be learning, it seemed like I already knew.

On top of that, I had the experience of moving halfway through my catechumenate.  Not just across town, but to another state.  For the second time in less than six months, I was ripped out of a parish family to go somewhere new.  For all practical purposes, my catechumenate started over from scratch.

Somewhere along the way, I quit caring.  Not about becoming Orthodox, no, I still desired that with all my heart.  I just quit caring about having to know exactly when everything would happen, about when I would be chrismated, about having to be the one in control in some ways.  That in itself was something, since I'm the type to have the next five years of my life not only planned out, but written up and notarized.

Maybe it was my first tentative step in obedience, maybe it really was just apathetic resignation.  Either way, it was what I needed to finally stop feeling like I was on the outside of everything.  I finally stopped worrying about how much longer it would be and accepted that it would happen whenever my priest decided I was ready. 

Finally, Father started making plans with me for the date of my Chrismation, helping me choose a patron saint, and approving my choice for a godmother.  I was finally Chrismated last December, ten days shy of exactly a year since I'd become a catechumen.

So what's my point in all that?  Only to say that it'll happen when it'll happen.  I know it's easy for me to say after the fact, but try not to sweat it too much.  Everything will happen in its own time, trite as it sounds.  Things will happen in God's own time, not ours, and that's a tough lesson to accept.  Everything works out in the end, though.
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2005, 10:54:44 PM »

Jennifer,

For what it is worth, I have noticed a real improvement in your demeanor over the past months. You are much more gracefull and friendly, a sense of humor has really come out, etc. Maybe me saying that means nothing and maybe that means that before I was judging you harshly, if so, I am sorry. I only mean to tell you that now I even enjoy reading your posts and think you being a catechumen has really helped you. I hope you can be fully Orthodox soon.

Anastasios
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2005, 11:22:20 PM »

Jennifer,

We all have to learn patience about a lot of things. I have to learn patience about just about everything in my life. Anyway, I agree with Anastasios. You've seemed so joyful! Don't let this drag you down in this, our most joyful season. You're not on the outside in my eyes, but a truly loving member of my extended family. Job had a long time to wait before things got better. Just trust in the Lord that this is all for your spiritual gain in order to love Him better. He gives all things that are profitable for our souls.
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2005, 11:39:00 PM »

I guess I've been an official inquirer since Jan. 2004 (we've been attending every week since that time) and was made a catechumen in July 2005.  We're scheduled to be baptized in September.

I like the prayer aspect of the liturgy, so missing out on the sacramental aspect is not a big deal for me.  I'm not sure how often I will commune once we enter the church, but I know it probably won't be weekly.  The hardest part is actually my kids, because like all kids they don't like to see people doing something they can't.  I try and take them out sometime before communion starts.
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2005, 02:34:12 AM »

Can't sleep cuz of a cold, so here i am!

If it's any encouragement, I'm an inquirer who would love to be a Catechumen! lol

So, consider yourself very much on the way!

And, also, just when it looks like nothing is changing, God surprises you.   Just think how the day will come when your Priest will say, it's time to set a date.

I've been reading your posts for awhile now, too.    And, I agree, you are clay that God is making into a beautiful vase.   I see changes that can only happen over time.  You may feel frustrated and stagnant, but God is very much at work.   He knows your desires, and the day will come....someday you will look back at these posts, and wonder how fast the time really went.

Irene
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2005, 06:41:45 AM »

Rillian,

Consider communing as often as you are prepared to, and consider preparing as much as you know you should Smiley  The Eucharist is kinda the reason there is a Liturgy.
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2005, 09:25:04 AM »

Jennifer,

I can understand your feelings, because we're pretty much on the same boat; both from Roman Catholic backgrounds, both enrolled in the catechumate, and neither with any "serve by" date as to when we would be illumined.

Something that's been helpful for me, is to do some genuine "spiritual reading" (as opposed to simply reading apologetical/polemical type materials).  I've become particularly fond of the writings of Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos, of Nafpaktos), as I think they get to the heart of what the spiritual life "is", and in metaphors that I think are useful to modern western aspirants to the spiritual life.

Metropolitan Hierotheos' big point, is that Orthodoxy is fundamentally not just sacramental, but is equally ascetical.  In fact, without the two, one has an incomplete methodology for curing the souls of fallen human beings (ex. me and you.)  Thus, while he lauds the emphasis upon frequent communion (which you'll find being preached about in many Churches now), he cautions that this must be conditional - the condition being that it is wedded with whole hearted adherance to the spiritual struggle, which would include spiritual guidance and regular confession.

If you have the opportunity, I'd highly recommend two books of his - The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition, and Entering the Orthodox Church - the Catechism and Baptism of Adults, preferably read in the order I've listed them (as I found there are things in the latter which are explained in the former).  Both are published by Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, and there is information at the website about ordering (while I don't see the "Entering the Orthodox Church..." book listed on the website, I'm sure following the ordering information there would allow you to get information on how to obtain it.)

One thing that becomes quite clear in The Illness and Cure of the Soul... is that fundamentally, Orthodox Christianity is therapeutic in it's treatment of the human soul; curing it's spiritual blindness, transforming it's passions (which are described as "fallen energies" of the soul; not inherently bad, but horribly deformed by default in fallen men), and thus making the soul something capable of being a receptical for the Holy Spirit and the fullness of His Grace.  Orthodoxy is not a "moralistic" religion, in the sense that it is not pre-occupied with ethics as an end in themselves - rather, moral, obedient behaviour is a pre-condition to correcting what is wrong with us and restoring our relationship both with God and our neighbour, which has been shattered by the fall and by our own sins.

In Entering the Orthodox Church..., what becomes clear as well, is just what the purpose of sacramental life is, and just how crucial proper preparation for it is to actually benefiting.  The idea that we can just approach the sacraments and "get something" out of them, without proper preparation is quite mistaken - if anything, such an approach will only guarantee that we'll be receiving them to our condemnation.  This includes the sacrament of Baptism, or for those being received into the Church by economia, Chrismation, in which it is understood whatever may have been absent in one's heterodox baptism is being bestowed.  The catechumate is a very important time  of preparation.  It's not simply a "holding pattern" for wannabe's, or simply a means of proving you're serious and that you won't simply bail once you've been illumined (though, that is a part of it obviously; though only a part).  Rather, it's a time to prepare for the reception of the grace of rebirth.

We're prone these days to throw terms around very casually, or to read the Holy Scriptures and the lives of those earliest of Christians with some confusion.  For example, we think the term "illumination" as refering to the Mysteries of Initiation, is more or less a "pretty" or "nice" set of terminology, or only refers to something totally inperceptable to us.  We also wonder why the word "Saint" was so casually thrown around by the Holy Apostles to refer to believers - we figure they must have meant something far less by it than we tend to these days (since we tend to only refer to "exceptional" figures as "Saints" - like St.John of Shanghai, or St.Tikhon, or St.Elizabeth the New Martyr, etc.).  The truth however, is that none of this is true.  Generally, the typical early Christian was much holier than what we now see, and there were real "Saints" all over the place (or at least people extremely advanced in the spiritual life were quite common, by our lowly modern standards), hence why the term was used so "casually" in the earliest period.  Also, Holy Baptism really was "illumination" in that period, precisely because it was received with such careful guidance and preparation.

One thing that's very important, is to crucify your mind and get all of the (heterodox) "Latin learning" out of your head.  I still have a lot of problems with this.  Why do I say this?  Because there is a tendency in the "Latin tradition" (as it's been distorted and come down to us today) to view everything outside of "receiving the sacraments" as a big waste of time, or at least as not being really that important.  Also, there is an overly mechanistic/legalistic way of phrasing and conceptualizing things which is also unhelpful, and tends to make us think that the struggling work of sinners who are preparing to be received (or received back into, in the case of Orthodox penitents) the sacramental life of the Church is also somehow a "waste of time", because such people by Latin lights would not be quote "in the state of grace."  As I'm sure every "conservatively catechized" former Roman Catholic here knows, only things done "in the state of grace" are actually "meritorious" or really of any worth - those who are not in the quote "state of grace" are "dead members" and incapable of doing quote "supernatural works", etc.  This whole way of thinking is misguided, and not Orthodox.  It also operates on an understanding of grace as a created series of static "states" and "habits" or creaturely helps which is not Orthodox, and makes incomprehensible anything the Fathers had to say about the spiritual struggle (and that includes the great western Fathers as well, like St.Ambrose or St.John Cassian.)

Strictly speaking, if you're a catechuman, you are already a "Christian" by the lights of the Church.  You're status is not "nothing".  Rather, this is a very important time for us, one which we should make the most of, so that we will approach our "illumination" properly disposed - going down into the waters confessing our sins, actually sorry for our sins (which is much harder to do than it appears on the surface), and not in any wise liars or duplicitous when we say that we reject the devil and his works - words which roll much easier off the lips than they manifest themselves in our secret thoughts and the way we actually live our lives.

I'd like to finish by saying none of this is my own wisdom - I'm only repeating what I've been told one way or another by Orthodox Christian shepherds and pastors of souls I've come to trust, things which were quite in spite of my previous way of thinking.  In fact in all of this is quite an implicit rejection of many of the assumptions (aka. baggage) I was still carrying with me when I first approached the parish Priest about becoming an Orthodox Christian, in spite of my good intentions.

Quote
I'm just getting tired of this.  I'm tried of going to all of these services and still being on the outside.

So I guess that's the big thing - you're not on the "outside".  You're in the front door.  Actually this is one of the downsides of the Church (for good reasons on the whole, when all is said and done) not being quite as "strict" in it's discipline in most cases as it once would have been - as I think those strict disciplines are illustrative of some realities that are perhaps otherwise obscured.  Catechumen would have been dismissed before the Holy Sacrifice (still reflected in the Liturgy to this day, but rarely enforced), true - but put in perspective, there are many types of penitents who would not be allowed into the Church proper at all depending on what their sin was.

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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2005, 12:40:06 PM »

Jennifer,
while you are "chomping at the bit" to become Orthodox, I as a catechumen kept uncovering "just one more thing" I had to study, learn or purge myself of (from Protestant doctrine); At the begining I just wanted to make sure I was thorough and not just chasing after some new and exotic thing. But towards the end, I think I was stalling. In terms of Protestant worship, I even began becoming nostalgic for traditional Protastant practices (like the old hymns and lengthy, extemporaneous pastoral prayers) which I hadn't even experienced in years (having become a member of a contemporary worship church and actually a member of the band as a guitar player).

My priest kept asking if I was finally ready to be chrismated and I kept putting him off. I was attending two services a week, even when it wasn't Lent and reading and keeping an Orthodox order of prayer and talking at length with my priest at least once a week. So I finally just said, "these are smoke screens, I should just be chrismated and become Orthodox." So I told him I was ready to set a date and he did. My inquirerer/catechumenate period was 16 months and I cannot say officially when one stage became the other.

Reading Augustine's fine insights in his above post, I perhaps wish I had had a more rigorous catechumenate imposed by my priest. I guess he felt I was imposing enough on myself.

Trust your priest. He should not "punish" you for questioning how much longer (unless he is also a martial arts instructor! - anyone who has taken martial arts in the past knows what I am talking about! I sometimes seriously wonder if I need an exorcism from my martial arts experience!) As one of the other posts stated, he can give you the spiritual support you do need at this time.
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2005, 06:44:13 PM »

Dear Jennifer, have joy in Christ.

You said: "I miss the Sacraments so much". Let me question the relation of the realities that you used to be into, compared with the realities you are about to be in the future. Perhaps you mean that you miss your future. I understand your saying in this context and I tell you that every Orthodox, both catechumen and baptized are missing their future. All Fathers of Church are talking about the blessed manic-love for Christ. I pray that you always keep this unsatisfied love in your heart.

Let me remind, first to myself and then to you, the following words of Apostle Paul:

Galatians 5:22-6:10

 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
 For each one will bear his own load.
 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up
 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2005, 10:03:25 PM »

I'm sure this will annoy some people and I fully expect to be 'put in my place' as only internet Christians can do but am I the only one who really HATES being a catechumen.

I should admit that according to my RC priest friend I'm in the "crabby" stage of the fast.

It's a real drag. I miss the Sacraments so much. I knew it would be hard to be separated from the Sacramental life of the Church but I didn't realize it would be this hard. I feel almost physical pain during the liturgy when I can't receive.

And I can't help but get angry at other people who get to be chrismated now. I have no idea when I'll be chrismated and I feel like I can't even ask because that would be held against me and I'd have to wait even longer.

It really annoys me that there are rules for some people but not others. Why do some people have to wait a few months before being chrismated while others have to wait a lot longer?

I'm just getting tired of this. I'm tried of going to all of these services and still being on the outside.



I felt the exact same way. It was almost physically painful to attend Divine Liturgy and live on antidoran. Grin
 But the experience took my ego and put it in its place. It forced me to focus more, pray more, listen more, and hunger more for the living bread. I have no real advice for you. But I would say that as you are at the breaking point, now is the time to place your emptiness before the Lord. He knows your heart, He knows your holy desires, He will fill you.

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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2005, 07:39:31 PM »

BrotherAidan,

In your post you said that you weren't really sure when one stage (inquirer to cathechumen) became official.  Does that mean you didn't have a blessing, or rite, announcing you were a catechumen?

The reason i ask is because in another thread,  we were discussing whether or not it is the ceremony that makes you officially a catechumen, or one can go from inquirer phase to Chrismation.

Irene   
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2005, 12:16:34 PM »

Irene
I was not given a rite or blessing "officially" making me a catechumen. Although at a certain point in my journey my priest allowed me to come forward at communion and he placed the cup on my head and blessed me (that took some of the sting out of waiting to commune).

On the other hand, I stayed after 85 % of the services to talk and we had lengthy discussions for almost a year and a half. So maybe for him it was like watching a tree grow - it was all very gradual and inexorable. Until it got to the point where I said, why do I keep holding back and I told him I was ready to be chrismated. Maybe he is of the "old school" where you have to ask, they're not going to "convert" you.
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2005, 01:04:19 AM »

Well I asked the priest when he thought I'd be chrismated but didn't get an answer because he didn't like my "tone."  I contacted him through e-mail and he replied that he wasn't even going to read my e-mail because he didn't like the "tone."  What I'll grant was very direct because I'm extremely frustrated and this is all very painful for me. 

So now it will probably be even longer.  I don't understand why I can't even get an idea of when it will happen. 

I hate this.  I really really hate this.  I feel excommunicated. 
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2005, 01:36:10 AM »

Sorry to hear about that Jennifer.

His response sounds quite strange, and even less pastoral than I would probably be (and that's an accomplishment Wink ). Perhaps try sitting down and talking with him after the rush of holy week and pascha is over. If he still wont even hint at a date or what he's thinking, perhaps seek the advice of another priest in the community on the matter.
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2005, 02:05:33 AM »

Should a priest let a self-willed person become Orthodox in the hope that they will change for the better, or is receiving them only inviting them to continue in their sinful habits and mindset? Tough question.
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2005, 02:51:22 AM »

Should a priest let a self-willed person become Orthodox in the hope that they will change for the better, or is receiving them only inviting them to continue in their sinful habits and mindset? Tough question.

And I suppose you are a paragon of virture? 
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« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2005, 10:57:18 AM »

Should a priest let a self-willed person become Orthodox in the hope that they will change for the better, or is receiving them only inviting them to continue in their sinful habits and mindset? Tough question.

I was always under the impression that the Church was where one came when in need of healing, not where they went after receiving it.  If no one's sinful habits and mindset continued after becoming Orthodox, we wouldn't have Confession, would we?
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« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2005, 11:18:19 AM »


I was always under the impression that the Church was where one came when in need of healing, not where they went after receiving it. If no one's sinful habits and mindset continued after becoming Orthodox, we wouldn't have Confession, would we?

Exactly. 

I must admit that I'm very upset about all of this.  I feel like I'm being 'punished' for being honest about my feelings.  I feel like I'm being 'punished' for not feeling the way that he thinks I should feel.  Does that make sense? 
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« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2005, 12:53:13 PM »

Jennifer,

A lengthy catechumanate is no punishment. My godfriend (she's my same age, so goddaughter sounds silly) was a catechuman for almost 2 years, and my priest TOLD her when she was going to be baptised (though I and she both thought, I think, that she had more learning to do) We do all need to go through a change and heart and mind--while our feelings aren't the thing to change directly, our viewpoints and attitudes are.  Try not to view this as a punishment--your priest may be looking for something in your heart that you are not aware of yet. It may even just be obedience and humility, which are hard lessons to learn. There is a favorite story from the Desert Fathers--

    A certain John Colobus stayed with an abba at Scete who planted a dry stick and told him: ‘Water it every day with a bottle of water until it produces fruit’. Now the water was so far away that if you left in the evening to fetch it, you didn’t return until dawn. After three years the stick grew and produced fruit. Then the abba took the fruit to the church and said to the brothers: ‘Come and eat the fruit of obedience’.

And here's the commentary preceeding it.
OBEDIENCE: Although the holy fathers of the desert lived geographically far beyond the formal structures of the Church, they never thought of themselves as ‘individuals’ with each one pursuing his own particular spiritual path as he saw fit. They accepted the guidance of a spiritual father. And their acceptance was total. This was partly because of the clear benefits to be gained from an experienced guide, but it was also because obedience was seen as, in itself, a virtue. Its power for good consisted in the fact that obedience negates the self-will. Fasting and other ascetic practices are pursued in accordance with the will and can thus lead to spiritual pride; obedience always engenders humility.

It may be true that you do not feel the way your priest thinks you should feel. He might in fact be watching you for signs that you are spiritually as well as educationally ready--ones that you may never be aware of. There are many times we feel that we are not getting what we want, and it may frustrate us, but to be dwelling on this on the day our Lord rested in the grave is the work of Satan drawing your mind from the Church and to lowly things.  Have love for your priest, and trust that he is doing what he should be doing. If he is not, it is not your responsibility, but you are responsible for your thoughts toward him, so try to do whatever you can to love him. When we do approach the chalice, we are to hold no ill will toward any fellow man, so you must be at peace with him by then. God bless you in your journey.
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2005, 01:15:14 PM »

It's not a lengthy catechumenate that makes me feel "punished" but rather the feeling that I'm being judged for questioning. 

I feel like I could have approached this process by pretending to someone who I'm not but I chose to be honest instead. 

I feel like if I question or get angry or frustrated that it's held against me.  It's hard to explain.  I could have pretended to be the perfect, pious person that I'm not but because I chose to be honest and be the real, person I am, warts and all, that I'm being judged. 

It's hard to explain and my feelings are based on some pretty substantial misunderstandings between this priest and me in the past. 

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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2005, 02:28:52 PM »

Jennifer,

It sounds like a personality thing more than it should be (imo).   

I hate to say this, but I am now not so sure this priest isn't letting his human side dominate his prayerful, spiritual side.   Frustration in waiting is one thing, but one also shouldn't be causing undue amounts of frustration in their parishoners. (catechumens)

Not liking your "tone" doesn't seem appropriate.   What he should do is just sit down with you, face to face, and answer your questions.   But, this might be his type of personality, too.....he doesn't answer directly.    You are asking for more or less direct answers.   I think you should have a real heart to heart talk with him, and if you still feel  you can't get answers that you feel are pretty fair to ask, you might want to look elsewhere.       Will you be able to relate to him once you are officially Orthodox?   He is supposed to be helping you along, in your journey.   A spiritual father.   I kind of wonder about him.    Maybe he is burned out, and needs a retreat, or something to that effect? 

I"m praying for you and the situation.    I can understand your frustration.    Ask yourself if he is being unreasonable,  if you think there can be resolution to this....I don't think you are asking too much.    But also, ask yourself, are you more tired of waiting, or more tired of not getting a date set up?    I think he should at least give you an estimate.    He must have some idea.  Or if he feels it is going to be a long time (hopefully not), he should tell you so you can figure out what you wanto to do.

Irene   
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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2005, 02:33:45 PM »

Irene has good advice. Just try to keep your head up--it's almost Pascha! You are part of the Church. I'll be celebrating with you this night.
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« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2005, 05:53:14 PM »

I shouldn't havve gone into this in public.  I'm feeling a little more normal now.  I think it was the end of the fast frustration.  Only several more hours! 

I should mention that you guys are only seeing one side of this.  I'm difficult and hard to deal with.  I can be very demanding.  He's a good guy at heart. 

This is really my problem.  I've always had a difficult time getting along with religious people.  It's weird because I can along just fine with secular people but religious people are a different story.  It's difficult for me to be normal around them. 

Oh well, it will work out in the end because God never abandons us. 
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« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2005, 07:08:04 PM »

That feeling of being out of "normal" and someone that we are not is the demons themselves ruling our hearts for a bit. Isn't it nice when Christ and you reassert yourselves and you are back to being as you wish to be?
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« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2005, 05:19:29 PM »

Jennifer,

You are right, we are only hearing "one side" of all of this here.  Also, it's interesting that now that you've been relieved by the ending of the fast, your attitude about this has "improved" and you seem to feel less burdened - even your appraisal of the Priest involved here has markedly improved.

My point?  Trusting our "feelings" is not the way we live our spiritual lives.  They can be incredibly deceiving.  If I only prayed when I "felt" like it, it'd almost be never.   Doing that which we are inclined towards is not a very good measure of things, and it's something I fight with a lot as my spiritual energies are not only fierce, but also still quite malformed and in need of transformation (when these energies of the soul are fallen, they are the "passions" which the Saints speak of.)

I'm inclined towards pride; not so much towards thinking well of myself as much as really poorly of others.  I get angry very easily; I'm not a hard man to irritate.  While there is a battle with these things which must occur in the heart, the begining of this struggle is to at least not spout off and manifest these things whenever we "feel" so moved.  This is obviously not perfection, but it is a begining - and a sign that we have in fact attempted to do battle with our passions.

My point?  It's not necessarily insincere or dishonest for you to make a concerted effort to moderate your words, and not necessarily vocalize everything that comes to your mind - and certainly not without a lot of deliberation and thought if we do discern that they are in fact blameless thoughts, since not all concern or puzzelement is misguided on our part.  If anything, purposefully moderating what's raging in your heart, not allowing it to be unfettered and assail others, is actually a sign of love - a sign that you know that not everything's right in your heart, that you do have a long way to go, that these things you feel and think sometimes are not Christian perfection.

While I may be very naive and inexperienced, from what I've come to know, it's not common for Priests to give catechumen a time table for when they will be Baptized/Chrismated.  The only time they get a "time table", is when the Priest has decided they're ready, and gives them a date which is more or less in the near future.  And this is something which is going to differ between people, and for reasons we really shouldn't speculate about.

Of course, it's always possible that you do in fact have a "bad Priest" or a Priest with some personal problems with you which his own sinfulness does not let him put aside so as to act at least somewhat objectively.  That is an unfortunate possibility.  If that really is the case (which it would seem is something you're not really sure about at all, if I'm to take your own words at face value), then take this as an opportunity from God to be humbled.  I think it was St.Ephraim (though I might be mistaken - it was one of the Saints though Smiley ) who said that it is injustices committed against us which are real opportunities for our salvation - if we receive them as Crosses from God, that is.  There is nothing salvific about being praised; we won't be separated from our sins by people being nice to us, or thinking well of us.

I also have to re-emphasize what I wrote before to you on this topic - the Orthodox way of looking at these things, and the spiritual life in general, is very different than that taught in "liturgical heterodoxy" (Roman Catholicism.)

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« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2005, 09:22:26 PM »

These boards are good for letting out our honest feelings and getting feedback.  It helps to work out whatever we are going through.   I've cringed rereading some of my posts on message boards, because some of the things worked through seem trivial now.    But, when they were written,  they were real problems, real  feelings exposed, or sincere questions.     It's good to "get it out" here, and hopefully, by doing so, with each person's help, one can heal.   jmho

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« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2005, 11:43:39 AM »

Jennifer,
maybe just your admission that you have difficulty getting along with religious people will be part of your growth in this process. Mention that to your priest - perhaps that will be the measure of growth he is looking for.

Perhaps there is a measure of pride here? "I am knowledgable and worldly. I can appreciate my faith and also relate to the secular world around me. These religious people are so sheltered and under-exposed." Huh

If I am speaking out of line I apologize in advance. I have suffered from a similar pride, however. It allows one to cling to worldliness as a badge of experience, open-mindedness, a realist, whatever. It can be quite deadly, allowing one to nurse passions that should be being put to death.

As an evangelical I formed my whole identity around being this real, earthy, worldly Christian. Only upon discovering Orthodoxy did I learn about ascetic discipline and the need to put all passions to death, to mourn for my worldliness rather than glory in it. But this attitude still plagues me from time to time.

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« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2005, 03:22:29 PM »

Jennifer:
I hear you. And I understand your frustration. It wouldn't hurt your priest to be more diplomatic and understanding with you. Personally, I think he should simply ignore your "tone" if he doesn't like it and reply to your questions. Catechumens ARE supposed to ask questions after all. Some priests do seem to have an authority complex and they can get very defensive about questions because they are insecure to begin with. When you ask them a question where they would have to reply "I don't know," they can get catty and snappy with you. This is because your question just revealed the fact that they don't know everything. And to someone with an authority complex, admitting he doesn't know something is terribly humbling and wounds his pride.  I'm NOT defending your priest's treatment of you. I am simply trying to explain what might be causing it.  I will step out on a limb here. If he continues to scold you and treat you like a not-quite-so-bright child, I would find another priest to instruct me. There are many patient humble priests out there who would be THRILLED to get an intelligent catechumen such as yourself.
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« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2005, 04:41:15 PM »

Jennifer,

Take a vacation and go to a monastery for a week or a weekend.  You have some close enough to you. 

Haven't you been a catechumen for years?
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« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2005, 07:56:58 PM »

Jennifer,

Take a vacation and go to a monastery for a week or a weekend. You have some close enough to you.

Haven't you been a catechumen for years?

I just started a new job so won't be able to take a vacation (even for a weekend) for awhile. 

I've only been an official catechumen for 3 months.  I was a catechumen about 5 years ago for about a week. 

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« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2005, 08:03:57 PM »



I just started a new job so won't be able to take a vacation (even for a weekend) for awhile.

I've only been an official catechumen for 3 months. I was a catechumen about 5 years ago for about a week.



I really have no idea what the conversations are like between catechumens and priests when it comes to setting a date for christmation/baptism.  I remember a few years ago there was someone who was a catechumen and I asked her when she'd be Christmated, and she said that she didn't know, that it was "up to father."  But I can see how that uncertainty would be difficult to deal with...b/c there isn't a "goal line" that you can see.  Instead, all you know is that it's "somewhere ahead" but you have no idea if it's within a few months or even a year.  Just keep in mind that you're "engaged" to the Church right now, even though a wedding date isn't set yet. Smiley

You have my prayers!
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« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2012, 12:11:29 AM »

Should a priest let a self-willed person become Orthodox in the hope that they will change for the better, or is receiving them only inviting them to continue in their sinful habits and mindset? Tough question.

What a jerkfaced idiot you are.
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« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2012, 12:26:09 AM »

I was an inquirer for two years and a catechumen for one. A Greek priest offered to receive me in a month early on. This seemed to quick for me then, but despite that there was a lot of impatience, doubt, despair, depression, crabbiness, emotion, fear of death, etc. during that period before chrismation.

You know, it ain't all sunshine and roses on "the other side," sister. The honeymoon period sometimes devolves into doldrums, divorce, infidelity, temporary insanity, indolence, hopeless non sequiturs...it can be much worse than life as a catechumen. After awhile being all sacramental and spiritual, you notice that all of the sudden you're drowning in sin worse than you were before, and now have heaped up even more condemnation on your head because now you're sinning in knowledge rather than ignorance.

At least, as a catechumen, you have something to look forward to other than death and judgment. So, you see, there really is something to rejoice over.

Or, if you want a happier version, take this as a time to fight against your inner demons bravely by rejoicing in what you can do that you couldn't do before you found the Church--which is a lot, trust me.

EDIT: Rats, didn't notice this thread was seven years old. Ugh.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 12:33:54 AM by Shanghaiski » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2012, 01:39:54 PM »

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


It's a real drag.  I miss the Sacraments so much.  I knew it would be hard to be separated from the Sacramental life of the Church but I didn't realize it would be this hard.  I feel almost physical pain during the liturgy when I can't receive. 



"Anger is a gift."

The question is how do we use it or do we actually abuse it?  You should feel pained by your temporary excommunication from the Holy Communion, that is entirely the point.  We are separated from the Mysteries to get us to prioritize our lives and work towards Reconciliation (Confession).  So whatever your priests are prescribing for your Catechumen process, this is what God has planned for your own personal reconciliation.  When you feel these pains, this indignation, push it inwards in prayer and self-reflection.  When God asked Adam, "Where are you?" it was a deeply self-reflective, philosophical question, not a matter of geographic proximity.  So in this context, where are you in your Church life? If you are a catechumen, embrace and engage in that.  Accept in humility and spiritual resignation what God is doing in your life, and pray for Grace to assist you.  God is drawing you closer to Him by purging out impurities.  If this pain, like with the Devil, pushes you away from God you need to reorganize this towards bringing you closer to God.  The answer to the age old question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is simply this, "To bring us closer to God because of our dependency on Him." In this instance, the bad thing is you being pushed away from Communion, let it push you closer to God in prayer rather than further away.  When you pray during the Liturgy, express your yearning for God, and ask His Grace to help you make sense of the situation.  Salvation is a gradual process, it is a becoming, not an instant transformation.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2012, 03:53:10 PM »

What a jerkfaced idiot you are.

Forum records are always humbling.
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