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Author Topic: Wife a catachumin. I am not. Help  (Read 2692 times) Average Rating: 0
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Pne123
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« on: October 16, 2012, 09:29:00 PM »

Hello. I am in a state of confusion and sometimes despair. Can some one help me undersTand how to think about this and what to do.

I became aprotestant christian at age 15. My wife has been a protestant since birth in a syrong christian family. Attending church and being christian is her life. I have fallen away and have little to no faith. I see so many problems in the church. I (wrongly) focus on hypocrisy or the silly things christians do or think. In the last few years my wife decided protestantism had little to further offer her and has focused on becoming orthodox. She began meeting the priest by herself which really bothered me and got me off on the wrong foot right away.  She decided to become a catachumin and to be chrismated and received on Christmas Eve coming up.  I finally spoke up about how I felt. Left behind.  Uncared for and kicked to the side while she moved on. Bothered by meeting priest alone. (at my insistence she now meets with another lady and the priest but not until she got the word from her brother who said it was not a good idea). I felt it would be a terrible "christmas present" because I felt it was like her having a "spiritual boyfriend" and she is "marrying" the church and how I feel is irrelevant. We had a terrible summer as I watch her pilgrimage which feels like away from me.  She has tried to spend more time doing the outdoor things I like which is a positive. We spoke to the priest and he said it was like her santifying me and salvation is communal. Can anyone explain that to me.

I felt and still feel sometimes terrible. I started to attend with her because the priest said it was ok for her to alternate being with me and attending church. The priest said I could join with her by easter. My problem is although i have faith it is very weak and sometimes non existant. I find it very hard to be part of the liturgy. I dont understand it. I see after liturgy people feel encouraged and uplifted (like my wife) and i feel deflated and discouraged. I feel like I dont belong, even to the degree i cannot accept the blessed bread that is offered to me. 

According to the priest if i can say the creed and lord have mercy and i suppose mean it i can become a catachumin and be received by easter. It barely feels genuine to me but i canot bear the thought of my wife becoming orthodox and i feel f she does i will give up.  Can anyone suggest what i can do.

I started making my protest about her becoming orthodox before i started attending with her by going my own way for sundays and weekends. I did not like that. I felt the only way for me was to divere. I cant do that so i am "knuckling under" and trying to attend with her. I just dont feel much affinity to the church and it feels fake for me to be there. I am trying to be there and be cathecized by reading and doing the things the priest says. i told him i respect him but i cannot kiss his hand or the icons or venerate them or touch the floor in worship because my faith is so shaky and i cant participate like that.

My lack of faith makes it hard to pray because i dont really know if i believe in it.

Anyway I could go on but hopefully ou get the idea. I wake up at night at the edge of tears because i am so confused. I feel quite alone becuase my wifes faith makes her so different to me.

I wouldnt mind hearing from any of the priests who make responses her as well as lay people. Thank you.
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Pne123
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 10:20:43 PM »

 Cry. Hello again PNE 123 here. I wrote the post above. I see a lot of people have read my post but there is no reply. I really need something to hang onto. I feel discouragement and despair so often. Can anyone help me?
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 10:25:00 PM »

Cry. Hello again PNE 123 here. I wrote the post above. I see a lot of people have read my post but there is no reply. I really need something to hang onto. I feel discouragement and despair so often. Can anyone help me?
Hang on. People are trying to figure out the best way to reply. You deserve not just an answer but a good one.  All I could say right now is that faith is a journey. It grows in time. You cannot necessarily expect it to come to you all at once but that does not mean it will not come in time. You are doing the right thing by reaching out.  I'm sure you will get a better answer eventually, here and in your life now.
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 11:05:05 PM »

When I asked to be received as a catechumen, the Orthodox Priest told me to wait until my husband wanted to join me. At that time, my husband wanted to remain Melkite Catholic as he was not ready to renounce the Papacy. So we waited one year until he was ready. The Priest felt that if he had received me before my husband, then our marriage might be negatively affected. Besides the husband is the head of the wife, and the priest honored that. When my husband decided to become Orthodox, he was the first one to be chrismated.

I would say talk with your Priest. Maybe he can receive the both of you at Pascha or later when you are ready. Maybe that little extra time would help so you would not feel so much pressure.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 11:07:49 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 11:07:12 PM »

Sorry double post.

If you can, perhaps going to visit an Orthodox monastery would be a great excursion. Ask your priest first.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 11:10:58 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 11:07:36 PM »

A friend of mine is in this same situation. He and his kids have all become Orthodox, but his wife is still uncertain. She attends the Orthodox church services, but her parents are very vocal in their disapproval. It is very hard for them.

I wish I could offer some more specific advice, and hopefully someone can offer something more helpful. I do hope it helps to know there are others out there in the same situation. If you can, pray for clarity and guidance, and do as best as you can. Be honest with your wife about your struggles and work through this together.
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 11:17:36 PM »

Thanks so far. Just to add a bit. We are trying to talk. I just keep saying the same kind of stuff. I want to be with her. I am confused  i have little faith and i cant understand how i can be received with such a shaky approach to all this and orthoxy 

I am afraid of what will happen to me when I die and if i do in my current faith state. I have a couple of shaky health problems. The priest was ready to chrismate her and receive her without even talking to me even when my wife had apparently told him it was making for problems. He initially thought it was just that i did not want her attending church which not quite accurate.

My wife was and is ready to become orthodox without me. The priest said to both of us that if i cant become orthodox my wife will have to do what she needs to do. If i become orthodox does this priest have to be my confessor because i have a negative feeling. There is no other orthodox church within 75 miles. Sign me confused.
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 11:36:01 PM »

If you don't feel ready to join the Orthodox church, then don't do it just yet. Your wife will still be your wife, Orthodox or not. She believes Orthodoxy is the Truth, so you must understand why she would become Orthodox whether you approve or not. At the same time it means that you should not feel pressured to become Orthodox until you see the truth in it yourself. Obviously it is not ideal for the husband and wife to be different in faith, but this is a very common situation and it is hardly unworkable.
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2012, 12:02:43 AM »

Pne, God be with you!

You certainly aren't alone in facing difficulties like this. Many on this forum and elsewhere have gone or are going through the same thing. It is very good that you can be honest with yourself and others about where you are on your spiritual journey. You said you're confused, that your faith may be skaky, yes? Well, God can work with that. And so can the Church. God recognizes honesty and intentions. The love you have for your wife and the love she has for you can be made even stronger through this time of testing. You may be confused and hurt, but even as things relate to your wife's new faith, you are still very much a part of her life and needed. Forgive me if I presume, but from what you said it does appear that, despite your confusion, you have faith in your wife and have supported and stuck with her during her spiritual journey so far. This is a very good thing. By the way, you may each have your own spiritual journey, but you're traveling the road together.
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2012, 01:09:19 AM »

Thanks so far. Just to add a bit. We are trying to talk. I just keep saying the same kind of stuff. I want to be with her. I am confused  i have little faith and i cant understand how i can be received with such a shaky approach to all this and orthoxy 

I am afraid of what will happen to me when I die and if i do in my current faith state. I have a couple of shaky health problems. The priest was ready to chrismate her and receive her without even talking to me even when my wife had apparently told him it was making for problems. He initially thought it was just that i did not want her attending church which not quite accurate.

My wife was and is ready to become orthodox without me. The priest said to both of us that if i cant become orthodox my wife will have to do what she needs to do. If i become orthodox does this priest have to be my confessor because i have a negative feeling. There is no other orthodox church within 75 miles. Sign me confused.

I am confused as well. From my perspective there is too little information to give any advice.

To start with there must have been a conversation about why your wife wanted to be come Orthodox. Why and what was your response? She obviously sought conversion without you and why was that? Did she argue that her conclusions were correct and plead her case so that you would do likewise? This is, of course, a very personal area which I should not be privy to, but details matter in giving advice and it will always be incomplete or one-sided.
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2012, 09:53:48 AM »

Hello PNE here again. The author of the original post. Some have said my wife will still be my wife and we are this path together. Others to hang on and wait till I see the truth in Orthodoxy, or that many others are in a similar situation as myself etc.

Here is one of my problems. Its not that I approve or disaaprove, it is her journey and it makes her happy. It makes me sad and uncertain and at times feeling despair. Its like I cannot conceive of my self ever having the faith to be in liturgy genuinely. Its a feeling that God can unite as well as divide and I am seen as on the wrong side of the divide, and she will proceed away and beyond and without me. So I feel lost.  Huh  It makes me feel like if she is going diverge from me, I will also with her. As in spend my weekends by myself. But thats not what I want, yet participating with her is an ordeal, something I do not understand or relate to.  The priest has been sort of helpful, as well as not. The idea of chrismating her without even having asked how i am bothers me.  She is his concern, and meeting with her alone seems wrong. 

If i manage to become orthodox (which I cannot really imagine because how can a person with little to no faith be chrismating or baptized and received Orthodox?Huh) I do not feel I can have an open confssor relationship with the priest (sole priest in a parish, next closest Orthodox church is far away). Can anyone say what do do with that.

When We are  the social time afterwards everyone seems so happy and joyful, and I am asked are you going to have a joyful week etc., I feel so awkward because this is painful, and one simply doesn't say to an almost stranger how this really is.  So i leave, and in a small parish its obvious. The people are looking for happy Christians to fellowship, not people like me.  So I cant hardly be there, I feel anxious and I leave my wife to be happy with people she can be with.

If/when my wife is chrismated and received my imagination takes me to this.  I will cry and people will think its out of joy for my wife.  I will leave out of embarrassment, and I will keep going because I feel hurt.  I will go away for the week unannounced to indicate how I feel because no one heard me beforehand, even when i said it.  (I have voiced my pain and the types of things above).

Anyway that what is happening.  I still want / need something to hang onto.  Any comments would help. 
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2012, 10:13:49 AM »

You are asking for 'something to hold on to.'  I would say that is your biggest problem.  You need to let go.

You need to let go: you cannot control your wife.  If you could control her, you would be in an even worst state.

You need to let go: you cannot predict what the future will bring or how you will feel or what anyone will do.

You need to let go: you will not find happiness just by getting your way.  In fact, always getting your way can make you miserable.

Let go.  We are all powerless.  We cannot stop our bodies from dying, we can't even stop a little cold.  If you judge the world according to what you want, or how you think it should be, you will never be happy.

So long as you keep trying to hold on, you will continue to think about how miserable you are and you will miss the blessings in this moment.  Get out of your head.  It is a dangerous place.  I know this because I know that all my own misery is of my own making.  I become miserable when I don't let go.

So, let go.


Hello PNE here again. The author of the original post. Some have said my wife will still be my wife and we are this path together. Others to hang on and wait till I see the truth in Orthodoxy, or that many others are in a similar situation as myself etc.

Here is one of my problems. Its not that I approve or disaaprove, it is her journey and it makes her happy. It makes me sad and uncertain and at times feeling despair. Its like I cannot conceive of my self ever having the faith to be in liturgy genuinely. Its a feeling that God can unite as well as divide and I am seen as on the wrong side of the divide, and she will proceed away and beyond and without me. So I feel lost.  Huh  It makes me feel like if she is going diverge from me, I will also with her. As in spend my weekends by myself. But thats not what I want, yet participating with her is an ordeal, something I do not understand or relate to.  The priest has been sort of helpful, as well as not. The idea of chrismating her without even having asked how i am bothers me.  She is his concern, and meeting with her alone seems wrong. 

If i manage to become orthodox (which I cannot really imagine because how can a person with little to no faith be chrismating or baptized and received Orthodox?Huh) I do not feel I can have an open confssor relationship with the priest (sole priest in a parish, next closest Orthodox church is far away). Can anyone say what do do with that.

When We are  the social time afterwards everyone seems so happy and joyful, and I am asked are you going to have a joyful week etc., I feel so awkward because this is painful, and one simply doesn't say to an almost stranger how this really is.  So i leave, and in a small parish its obvious. The people are looking for happy Christians to fellowship, not people like me.  So I cant hardly be there, I feel anxious and I leave my wife to be happy with people she can be with.

If/when my wife is chrismated and received my imagination takes me to this.  I will cry and people will think its out of joy for my wife.  I will leave out of embarrassment, and I will keep going because I feel hurt.  I will go away for the week unannounced to indicate how I feel because no one heard me beforehand, even when i said it.  (I have voiced my pain and the types of things above).

Anyway that what is happening.  I still want / need something to hang onto.  Any comments would help. 
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2012, 10:50:21 AM »

Sir. I think you assume I am trying to control. What I am trying to figure out is how or what to do because I feel so terrible about being left behind and so uncomfortable at the church. But thanks for your comment anyway.
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2012, 11:02:41 AM »

It seems that your biggest frustration isnt that your wife is becoming Orthodox, but rather that you arent in the same place as she is regarding your faith.  As other have said, faith is a journey and everyone is in a different place.  I am in a sort of similar situation.  I am a catechumen but my wife is not.  She doesnt have any problem with me being a catechumen or me joining the Church, but she gets a little frustrated at times because she isnt sure she is ready yet.  She has supported me the whole time though.

My advice would be to try and be ok with the fact that you guys are in different places in your faith.  Theres nothing wrong with that.  If you sincerely want to get to where she is, it takes some effort.  You should read a little bit, study the Church and its teachings, study the Bible and the teachings of Christ, and most importantly attend services.  My wife comes with me sometimes and just watches and tries to understand.  Shes not really participating or praying, but shes trying and thats ok.  Because she has made the effort to come with me sometimes, she is starting to see the beauty of the Church and what it has to offer.  It can be a long process, so you have to try not to get too discourages.  And please realize that you arent alone.  I think youre doing a good thing by even coming here to ask questions and try to get help.
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2012, 11:43:10 AM »

There is a movie I watched once. In it, the knight is in love with a certain maiden but she seems just too distant from him. Everything he does to please her is met with indifference at best, every heroic feat treated as it were something worthless and banal.

Uknown to the knight, the maiden was a magical being herself. One day, after some years, she finds a portal to meet her people. It was very difficult because they were expecting an actual gate, but it turns out the old clock in the cave under the castle was the portal and not a physical one. It was magical and it required some magic to go through. There was mist on both sides of the mystical portal.

When the maiden was about to cross, a villain I don't remember attacks. The knight defends her and she crosses in safety. Soon after, the knight appears on the other side as well. She was surprised, because he had no magic in him, and asks him how could he have crossed a portal whose magic he could not understand and that he didn't know where it could lead.

He answered: "I just followed you through the mists. And here I am." For the first time in the story she looks at him with tenderness.

---------------------
I don't know much about *your* story. But it does seem that you really love her and that you have true faith, even if very little. Remember the mustard seed parable and the event of the donation of the widow where she gives just some coins while the wealth put many gold coins; and Jesus explains that she gave more than all of them, because what little she had, she gave everything.

Do not judge how God will judge your faith. Give all you have, not matter “how much” you have. That is all God wants from us. Not one of us is worthy being in the presence of the Lord and receiving His Body during in Liturgy. Not me, not you, not your wife, not the priest. Being aware of that is far healthier than thinking that someone is actually ready after some point.

For confession, we do not have to provide details unless absolutely necessary.  Making him your confessor does not mean he will be your living diary. “I have indulged in gluttony again” is more than enough. If this is still unconfortable, a confessor does not have to be someone who lives nearby.  A lot of people have father confessors whom they meet just a couple of times during the year due to distance. Someone suggested peregrinations to monasteries. That might be a good idea for you both. A trip together where both have the same interest and then meeting the monks together may have a very healthy impact.

For now, you have just the mists ahead of you and your maiden has some magic that allows her to cross it while it seems impossible for you. Just follow her, and you will be together with her on the other side.

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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2012, 12:11:21 PM »

Dear Pne123, it is really remarkable that you have posted here, and I really appreciate your honesty regarding your response to your wife's conversion and your lack of feeling for the faith.  It is remarkable that, while uncomfortable with and troubled by the conversion that your wife is going through, you nonetheless reach out to an Orthodox discussion forum for some kind of encouragement or advice.  It seems from this that while you do not believe that you have faith, perhaps you at least want to have faith?  When you see the joy and satisfaction of those Orthodox Christians who participate in the liturgy, while you do not feel this way yourself, do you at least see this as something you want?  If not, why not?  Do you wish to have the joy that they seem to have, or are you more satisfied with your present state of misery?  

In the gospels, a man struggling with his faith cried to the Lord saying, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).  If you have no faith, do you see faith as something you want to have or even need to have?  If so, then in your discouragement and struggle ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and to help you have faith.  If prayer seems phony, try to pray anyway, and with as little phoniness as you can manage.  Pray simply, and mean it.  Read the lives of Orthodox saints, starting with contemporary ones like St. John of San Francisco, to understand what happens to people when they truly have faith, and what people are capable of if they truly have faith.  This may help to understand what a life of faith is all about, and it may be that some faith will begin to grow in you as a result.    

Perhaps your lack of faith should not be seen as an obstacle or a "problem", but rather as an opportunity.  You can either grow discouraged, "give up", fall into depression, etc.  Or, you can use this opportunity to discover why it is that you lack faith, what are the arguments you have against faith, what are your objections, what experiences have turned you off to faith, what do you fear about your wife growing in faith, etc.  Facing all of this honestly may help to shine some light in these dark recesses.  And if you do not feel comfortable bearing your soul to the parish priest, and openly discussing with him your objections, fears, etc.; then follow the advice of another poster and perhaps visit an Orthodox monastery and ask to talk with the abbot or spiritual father there about your concerns.  The life of a monk is dedicated completely to living in faith, and so an Orthodox monk may be well suited to helping you understand the dilemma that you are facing.  

Also, do not worry that you are losing your wife, or that she is choosing Orthodoxy over you.  Often, when we are drawn to Orthodoxy, it is because we see in it hope of salvation, fullness of truth, and the possibility to have true life now and throughout eternity.  Surely your wife desires that fullness of life that is found in Orthodoxy, and longs for you to share with her in that fullness of life both here and in the eternal kingdom.  So, rather than turning toward Orthodoxy and away from you, it is surely her hope that through Orthodoxy you might be wedded not only here in this temporal and passing life, but also in the eternal and glorious kingdom of God.  Right now you are uncertain about this kingdom, perhaps, so pick yourself up and start searching, reading, and investigating through sincere prayer and through the lives of those saints who have committed themselves to seekingout this kingdom.  Be honest with yourself and others, but be open to the possibility that you might be wrong, and that change is possible with the help of God.  
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2012, 12:25:20 PM »

Sir. I think you assume I am trying to control. What I am trying to figure out is how or what to do because I feel so terrible about being left behind and so uncomfortable at the church. But thanks for your comment anyway.

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« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2012, 04:56:10 PM »

pne, may God bless you.
i am writing because i am the only orthodox person in my family, and i understand well how it is when one person choses to be an orthodox Christian and the other does not.
i want to assure you that if your wife joins the church and you don't, you have not missed your chance. you can join later, or you can ask her to wait a few months while you decide what you want to do.

God exists. He is the reason behind every new morning and every great sunset. He is the life that fills the world with love and peace.
He loves you as much as He loves your wife.
He wants you to come near Him, as you are, and as you can.

so, please pray and ask Him to show Himself to you.
remember that He may show himself in ways you don't expect, like a parking space right opposite the shop, or the smile of a stranger. let Him touch you gently with the good things that happen to you and the good thoughts that occur to you.
maybe when father giryus is saying you should let go, it is about letting go of your preconceived ideas of God as a jealous father, an angry distant being, or whatever it is that scares you about God.

i hope you have shared your concerns with your wife (feel free to comment by personal message if you don't want to share more publicly), maybe you could ask the priest in church if there is (or could be) a Bible study you could attend, where you can ask questions and discuss things with others from your point of view.
if you don't wish to join the church at this time, maybe you should go to the social events. get to know people there at more than a superficial level. find out what sports they do, what they like to eat etc.
think how you can help them (looking outside yourself often helps when you feel low in mood). can you walk an old lady's dog? can you give good financial advice (or whatever you are good at)? can you make a good barbeque?

if you are still feeling low, maybe you need to speak to a doctor to see if you are depressed.
if you can feel better about yourself, then you can easily fill the time your wife is out (go shopping for gadgets or something else she finds boring and you enjoy, go for a walk / run at your own speed, meet with a friend, watch a video etc. these should fill the time it takes to go to church). find what you enjoy and do it, then you will be less bored next time you go to church with your wife as you are enjoying your spare time enough for it not to be too hard to give some of it up to go to church.

may God help you and give you the peace you need.
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« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2012, 07:23:10 PM »

Please realize that in becoming Orthodox, your wife will love you more, and that your marriage will be more fulfilling especially if you allow her to grow in grace.

As she prays for you and grows in grace, so will you.

However, you must let the little seed of faith grow.

Ask our Lord to come into your very being and to help your faith to grow. He will answer your prayers, especially if your wife prays with you.

In fact, start praying with your wife. Take little steps.

Go with her to her catechism classes, then she will not be alone with the priest.

My husband started attending with me, and then he saw the light and asked to be chrismated with me.
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« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2012, 07:59:17 PM »

Hello. PNE here, I wrote the original post on this thread.  All who replied thank you for your kind words.

The responses all presuppose i have enough belief or faith to pray. I do not know or how to know that God exists. I hold some various beliefs that are likely at considerable odds with Orthodoxy and am not sure I can commit to the core beliefs of Orthodox Christianity. I suppose I want to have faith like one said, not too sure. All i know is I dont want to watch my wife disappear into her own spiritual life to such a degree that I feel alientated, even if that not anyone or her intention.  That part is about me and my psyche not my wife.

Maybe I can ask some specific questions that some could answer.

How can I be accepted or received into being a catechumin let alone vecoming Orthodox with my level of faith?  (almost none)  I am almost embarrassed to ask the priest given my lack of faith.

Does the local priest have to be my confessor?  How does it work if the next closest priest is of a different form of Orthodoxy ie Russian or Greek when my wifes church is neither?

What happens to a non orthodox person when they die?

What does it mean where I read one spouse can sancify the other? And that salvation is communal?

Must I accept and believe the creed, and if I do not or cannot can I become Orthodox?

What is the end result of what or who a catechumin is to become prior to being "ready" to be received Orthodox?

Thank you



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« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2012, 08:08:55 PM »

How can I be accepted or received into being a catechumin let alone vecoming Orthodox with my level of faith?  (almost none)  I am almost embarrassed to ask the priest given my lack of faith.

You should not be embarrassed to say frankly where you are right now. The priest should not pressure someone to convert who isn't ready. It would be a sham conversion. A catechumen is someone who already accepts the Christian faith and intends to be received into the Church after a period of instruction.

Quote
Does the local priest have to be my confessor?  How does it work if the next closest priest is of a different form of Orthodoxy ie Russian or Greek when my wifes church is neither?

Russian and Greek Orthodox churches are in the same Church communion as the Church of Antioch, so there is no problem if you want to confess or commune in those other churches. However, we should not go priest-shopping until we find someone we like. Our personal preferences and our spiritual needs may diverge on this matter.

Quote
What happens to a non orthodox person when they die?

There is no clear answer for that- we know that God is merciful.

Quote
What does it mean where I read one spouse can sancify the other? And that salvation is communal?

Your wife, by her prayers and pious life, could bring God's mercy upon you as well, and also perhaps draw you to the Church by her witness and example.

Quote
Must I accept and believe the creed, and if I do not or cannot can I become Orthodox?

You must accept the creed to enter the Orthodox Church- it is the Symbol of the Orthodox Faith. Reciting the creed will be a key part of a baptism or chrismation.

Quote
What is the end result of what or who a catechumin is to become prior to being "ready" to be received Orthodox?

What do you mean? There is no intermediary stage between the catechumenate and full membership in the Church.
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« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2012, 08:36:05 PM »

Hello. I am in a state of confusion and sometimes despair. Can some one help me undersTand how to think about this and what to do.

I became aprotestant christian at age 15. My wife has been a protestant since birth in a syrong christian family. Attending church and being christian is her life. I have fallen away and have little to no faith. I see so many problems in the church. I (wrongly) focus on hypocrisy or the silly things christians do or think. In the last few years my wife decided protestantism had little to further offer her and has focused on becoming orthodox. She began meeting the priest by herself which really bothered me and got me off on the wrong foot right away.  She decided to become a catachumin and to be chrismated and received on Christmas Eve coming up.  I finally spoke up about how I felt. Left behind.  Uncared for and kicked to the side while she moved on. Bothered by meeting priest alone. (at my insistence she now meets with another lady and the priest but not until she got the word from her brother who said it was not a good idea). I felt it would be a terrible "christmas present" because I felt it was like her having a "spiritual boyfriend" and she is "marrying" the church and how I feel is irrelevant. We had a terrible summer as I watch her pilgrimage which feels like away from me.  She has tried to spend more time doing the outdoor things I like which is a positive. We spoke to the priest and he said it was like her santifying me and salvation is communal. Can anyone explain that to me.

I felt and still feel sometimes terrible. I started to attend with her because the priest said it was ok for her to alternate being with me and attending church. The priest said I could join with her by easter. My problem is although i have faith it is very weak and sometimes non existant. I find it very hard to be part of the liturgy. I dont understand it. I see after liturgy people feel encouraged and uplifted (like my wife) and i feel deflated and discouraged. I feel like I dont belong, even to the degree i cannot accept the blessed bread that is offered to me. 

According to the priest if i can say the creed and lord have mercy and i suppose mean it i can become a catachumin and be received by easter. It barely feels genuine to me but i canot bear the thought of my wife becoming orthodox and i feel f she does i will give up.  Can anyone suggest what i can do.

I started making my protest about her becoming orthodox before i started attending with her by going my own way for sundays and weekends. I did not like that. I felt the only way for me was to divere. I cant do that so i am "knuckling under" and trying to attend with her. I just dont feel much affinity to the church and it feels fake for me to be there. I am trying to be there and be cathecized by reading and doing the things the priest says. i told him i respect him but i cannot kiss his hand or the icons or venerate them or touch the floor in worship because my faith is so shaky and i cant participate like that.

My lack of faith makes it hard to pray because i dont really know if i believe in it.

Anyway I could go on but hopefully ou get the idea. I wake up at night at the edge of tears because i am so confused. I feel quite alone becuase my wifes faith makes her so different to me.

I wouldnt mind hearing from any of the priests who make responses her as well as lay people. Thank you.

I come from the other direction.  I knew I was going to be Orthodox, had a hard time telling my wife, and she heard me speaking to my father.  Needless to say, that upset my wife that my father knew before she, but it had only came to me a few weeks before.  One day I am touting the wonders of my denomination and the next I knew without a doubt I had to enter the Church, which I can't explain but apparently many converts I have talked to have had a very similar experience.

It took 4 years, hard years within me, waiting for her to accept the direction I was called and that was just to become a catechumen!  Finally after all that time I was chrismated this last summer.  I still attend with my wife every other week at the Baptist church (with the blessing of my Priest) and she will come once every 6 months or less to the Liturgy.  I have struggled with the reverse of yours, that she would not offer the same, even once a month, commitment with me and the Church in were she attends.  I understand how you would feel like your wife has a lover, maybe even several lovers that she loves more than you, in this case their chosen Churches or ministries.  I do know that to deny what you want, your own feelings, sacrificing all that for her sake can be hard, but it is also very incredibly rewarding in a way I can't explain.

Good Luck,

James
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« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2012, 08:46:16 PM »

My dear Pne123 I would totally agree with Maria above, that your wife will love you more; and I would even go further and say that if she truely dedicates her self to Orthodoxy that she will love you with a new love one far higher and deeper then any other. It this very love that she will cultivate and touch you with that will be your co-sanctification. 
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« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2012, 11:16:34 PM »

The responses all presuppose i have enough belief or faith to pray. I do not know or how to know that God exists. I hold some various beliefs that are likely at considerable odds with Orthodoxy and am not sure I can commit to the core beliefs of Orthodox Christianity. I suppose I want to have faith like one said, not too sure. All i know is I dont want to watch my wife disappear into her own spiritual life to such a degree that I feel alientated, even if that not anyone or her intention.  That part is about me and my psyche not my wife.

I understand your fear. I started investigating the Orthodox Church at around the same time that my husband stopped believing in God. While we never felt like one of us was leaving the other behind, I have worried about what it would mean for our relationship when we seemed to be moving in such different directions. To make matters worse, religion seems to be on my mind all the time. I'm very new to Orthodox Christianity, and I have a tendency to obsess over new things... And there's so much to learn!

Fortunately, my husband is very familiar with my obsessive, must-get-all-knowledge-NOW tendencies, and loves me anyway. I feel incredibly boring when half the time he asks me for my thoughts, I'm thinking about religion; but he patiently listens to me babble on, he asks me skeptical, thought provoking questions that I hadn't considered before, and he helps me to consider "why" a lot more than I would on my own. Our divergent opinions on the matters of faith and religion don't seem to have stopped our discussions in the slightest.

He has obsessions of his own that I don't happen to share, but we talk about those too, and I give feedback when I can. While our interests and activities may take us in different directions, we still care about and have an interest in each other, so we don't feel alienated. And while our obsessions may differ, we still share many other interests, have a similar approach to problem solving,  and we make each other laugh. It won't be the end of the world - or the end of a happy marriage - if you and your wife don't share the same faith. Don't become Orthodox if it doesn't feel right. Don't stop your wife if it feels right for her. You can do this without losing her.
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« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2012, 09:10:12 PM »

Please see below for my original post on thos topic on October 16.

Newbie here again pne123 author of original post.

I am still in a heightened state of despair over this.  I can hardly explain what I think or how I am processing this.  I have attended with my wife to a number of divine liturgy.  I dont have belief in it, except in the tiniest way with "twists" to it.  It seems all, so much sybolism about what??? to me.  It means so much to her, she wants more and more.  I talked with the priest on a few occasions about me and us.  I said that I want to become Orthodox with her, and the central reason is that I don't want my wife to leave me behind, I would feel so separated from her.  I have essentially said to the priest it is not based on a true genuine belief and faith on my part.  The desire to become Orthodox is based on the minutest (tiniest) degree of belief, something like Pascals theorem.  (if god and jesus is true then becoming christian / orthodox is a good idea; if not true I have lost nothing in the efforts).

The priest seems positive, comforting etc. but from what I have read in official Orthodox theology it is very tenuous at best.

Is this enough to become Orthodox? 

My fear of the moment, it is not and the bishop will tell the priest it is not.  The result of that is she will become Orthodox and I will not be permitted or ready, and given my persnality, intellect, faith and belief I cant conceive I will be permitted or ready in the future because I will essentialy have the same view. That is I want to join so I am not different or separate from my wife.

Can anyone help me on what I might do, think, resolve, etc this???  Many thanks.

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original post below.
   
Wife a catachumin. I am not. Help
« on: October 16, 2012, 09:29:00 PM »
Hello. I am in a state of confusion and sometimes despair. Can some one help me undersTand how to think about this and what to do.

I became aprotestant christian at age 15. My wife has been a protestant since birth in a syrong christian family. Attending church and being christian is her life. I have fallen away and have little to no faith. I see so many problems in the church. I (wrongly) focus on hypocrisy or the silly things christians do or think. In the last few years my wife decided protestantism had little to further offer her and has focused on becoming orthodox. She began meeting the priest by herself which really bothered me and got me off on the wrong foot right away.  She decided to become a catachumin and to be chrismated and received on Christmas Eve coming up.  I finally spoke up about how I felt. Left behind.  Uncared for and kicked to the side while she moved on. Bothered by meeting priest alone. (at my insistence she now meets with another lady and the priest but not until she got the word from her brother who said it was not a good idea). I felt it would be a terrible "christmas present" because I felt it was like her having a "spiritual boyfriend" and she is "marrying" the church and how I feel is irrelevant. We had a terrible summer as I watch her pilgrimage which feels like away from me.  She has tried to spend more time doing the outdoor things I like which is a positive. We spoke to the priest and he said it was like her santifying me and salvation is communal. Can anyone explain that to me.

I felt and still feel sometimes terrible. I started to attend with her because the priest said it was ok for her to alternate being with me and attending church. The priest said I could join with her by easter. My problem is although i have faith it is very weak and sometimes non existant. I find it very hard to be part of the liturgy. I dont understand it. I see after liturgy people feel encouraged and uplifted (like my wife) and i feel deflated and discouraged. I feel like I dont belong, even to the degree i cannot accept the blessed bread that is offered to me. 

According to the priest if i can say the creed and lord have mercy and i suppose mean it i can become a catachumin and be received by easter. It barely feels genuine to me but i canot bear the thought of my wife becoming orthodox and i feel f she does i will give up.  Can anyone suggest what i can do.

I started making my protest about her becoming orthodox before i started attending with her by going my own way for sundays and weekends. I did not like that. I felt the only way for me was to divere. I cant do that so i am "knuckling under" and trying to attend with her. I just dont feel much affinity to the church and it feels fake for me to be there. I am trying to be there and be cathecized by reading and doing the things the priest says. i told him i respect him but i cannot kiss his hand or the icons or venerate them or touch the floor in worship because my faith is so shaky and i cant participate like that.

My lack of faith makes it hard to pray because i dont really know if i believe in it.

Anyway I could go on but hopefully ou get the idea. I wake up at night at the edge of tears because i am so confused. I feel quite alone becuase my wifes faith makes her so different to me.

I wouldnt mind hearing from any of the priests who make responses her as well as lay people. Thank you.
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« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2012, 09:35:53 PM »

Can you talk more about what you cannot believe?
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« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2012, 09:38:35 PM »

Please see below for my original post on thos topic on October 16.

Newbie here again pne123 author of original post.

I am still in a heightened state of despair over this.  I can hardly explain what I think or how I am processing this.  I have attended with my wife to a number of divine liturgy.  I dont have belief in it, except in the tiniest way with "twists" to it.

Can you expand on the "twists" that you're describing?

It seems all, so much sybolism about what??? to me.  It means so much to her, she wants more and more.  I talked with the priest on a few occasions about me and us.  I said that I want to become Orthodox with her, and the central reason is that I don't want my wife to leave me behind, I would feel so separated from her.  I have essentially said to the priest it is not based on a true genuine belief and faith on my part.  The desire to become Orthodox is based on the minutest (tiniest) degree of belief, something like Pascals theorem.  (if god and jesus is true then becoming christian / orthodox is a good idea; if not true I have lost nothing in the efforts).

The priest seems positive, comforting etc. but from what I have read in official Orthodox theology it is very tenuous at best.

Is this enough to become Orthodox?

Probably not.
 
My fear of the moment, it is not and the bishop will tell the priest it is not.  The result of that is she will become Orthodox and I will not be permitted or ready, and given my persnality, intellect, faith and belief I cant conceive I will be permitted or ready in the future because I will essentialy have the same view. That is I want to join so I am not different or separate from my wife.

Can anyone help me on what I might do, think, resolve, etc this???  Many thanks.

You can't be forced to accept Orthodoxy.  If that means your marriage is over, then you need to prepare for that situation.

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« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2012, 11:01:28 PM »

Dear Pne123,

You seem troubled about many things. If I understand your posts correctly, the following are the primary worries that trouble your heart.

1. While you are happy for your wife's spiritual journey, and the joy she finds in it, there is still so much about it you find confusing and even contradictory to what little Christian instruction you have had. The sense of being left behind in this way both grieves and frightens you.

2. You are troubled about your own lack of faith and each time you find yourself in the presence of an active and living faith in other's…in the context of the Liturgy, or watching your wife grow in that direction it wounds you, torments you.

3. You have several large gaps in your understanding and Christian experience and no mentor/guide you trust implicitly to help you navigate the current river of your life…like being stuck in a canoe in the middle of rushing rapids, no paddle, the person in front seems content, happy, and you a worm wrestle of panic at each bump, jostle, and splash along the way. It's too fast, too many thinks to track, and no time or tools available (no paddle) to help orient you in the stream.

Therefore:

It is my impression you are desperate for two kinds of help. First, you need pragmatic help deciphering the symbolism, the ritual, the meaning….the things she's getting from the service and that you are not, the things she is learning and coming to believe in Orthodoxy that at present don't make sense to you.

Secondly, you need a friend, an anchor, an ally, a mentor to take you where you are as you are without trying to keep up with whatever pace your wife is moving, and find and grow faith for yourself at the pace that is right for you.

So, let me begin with pragmatics…you just want to understand things a little better. Let me recommend three books:
a) Evangelical is Not Enough, by Thomas Howard.  Granted he is Roman Catholic, but what he offers in this book is pretty basic and common enough to both our faiths. Mr. Howard was once an evangelical protestant who in time became an Anglican, and later Roman Catholic. He is familiar with the evangelical language and practice of worship, and he begins there and bridges from that experience and mindset to the liturgical. He shows the major pieces of the service, where they came from, and they mean and he does so in language an evangelical understands.  It was a huge help to me on my journey…it was the first clue I ever had about how to understand and approach liturgical worship. Light bulbs went off, windows opened…and once the "code" of the symbolism of it's ritual "cracked" I've never wanted to worship any other way…no other way really make sense to me anymore.

b. If you have not already read it I recommend, The Orthodox Church, by Kalistos Ware. It is a very good short history of the Orthodox Church, it's major doctrines and struggles from founding to the present.  It is a good orientation to the Church as it is and as it aspires to be.

c. I would recommend a second book by Kalistos Ware, (he's a Bishop btw…a bit Dumbledoorian in appearance and manner) The Orthodox Way. This is a look at the interior life of the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox faithful, an examination of our spiritual inheritance from the inside, our prayers, our mindset.


These three books should fill in a lot of the "I don't understand what I'm seeing/hearing" problems that you have at the moment…it should give a paddle of sorts to help right your canoe so you don't twist and bump so much on your way through the rapids…so that the ride can be more exhilarating and less frightening.

As for entering the catecumenate, don't let yourself be rushed even if it means your wife chooses to go ahead and enter the Church before you. From the time I wanted to convert to the time a door opened and permission was given it was 3 years, a year of which was as a long distance catechumen. It you need three years as an inquirer to build the faith you need, to be sure the direction you want to take, the commitments you want to make…then do that. In the interim, just be a good husband. Go with your wife when you can…not under pressure to keep up with her, but merely be present with her and for her. That alone might change a lot of the dynamic of your experience of the Divine Liturgy.  I know a couple who attended an Orthodox church for almost 20 years before they decided they wanted to convert. It might well free you from the pressure of "having" to understand in order to keep up, so you can simply understand when and as it comes.

The mentor is the trickier bit. I'm less confident of what I'm about to say because there are so many personal dynamics involved. It is my feeling that while your wife relates well to the priest at her parish, for one reason or another you do not. There are a number of options, each with it's own risks.  Consider talking to the priest yourself, letting him know your issues, if he does not already, and ask if he knows another priest or deacon in town or nearby who you can talk too, who might be a better fit at this stage of things for you. I know when I first began exploring the priest I first talked to came from an evangelical background similar to my own…he got where I was coming from, the mental and spiritual hurdles that I had to cross or find a way around in order to grasp something of the Orthodox faith. He was able to answer a number of my questions, give me resources that were appropriate for me and helped me explore the strange new but very ancient faith. He was also the one who had the pastoral courage to tell me no that I could just "convert" like walking the aisle at a Baptist church. I needed liturgy, parish life. He and his Church would pray for me and in the right time the Lord would make a way…and he did, three years later, in the middle of the Pacific with the nearest Orthodox Church almost 2000 miles away.

So consider finding…one way or the other, another Orthodox priest or priestly recommendation of someone to talk to who both knows the faith and can relate to your experience and concerns. This is not to reject your wife's priest…but to find what you need to help you find faith and find some peace in your heart.

St. Silouan said to keep your mind in hell but do not despair. It sounds like you've got the mind in hell part down pat. St. Silouan's disciple, the blessed Elder Sophrony said as a corollary, "when you have stared into hell as long as you can endure, step back and have a cup of tea."

At the risk of sounding frivolous, I think your soul is long overdue for it's cup of tea.

The bottom line is this, the church is a hospital and there are every sort of patient in her, from the barely breathing, to the very nearly well, just waiting to be released, and every graduation in-between. The therapies that treat one condition are not necessarily those that treat another condition. The dose of medicine for the strong man is not the dose given to the weak. Perhaps your wife started her therapy and medicines sooner than you…she can tolerate slightly stronger doses of it than you right now…but it is axiomatic that if you keep taking a dose appropriate for you, over time it will have its good effect.

If I have overstepped any boundaries, please forgive me.



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« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2012, 11:52:31 PM »

Seraphim98 that is the best response to me somfar, many but not all parts seem helpful.  Especially #2 at the top.  I have read parts of the areas you write about but not all.  I have read 2-3 beginner basic books and many many articles in official theology textbooks.  In some ways I have deciphered some of the symbolism and images but I have a lot of trouble watching them go by.  Anyway enough for now Imthink I print off your response and put some thought into it.  PNE
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« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2012, 01:33:51 AM »

On another thread, this new book was recommended:
Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou - Journey to the Kingdom

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Kingdom-Insiders-Liturgy-Orthodox/dp/1612611648/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352216526&sr=8-1&keywords=journey+to+the+kingdom

Have a look inside at Amazon and read the reviews. As it is specifically focussed on understanding Orthodoxy through the Liturgy, you might find it more helpful than some of the other more theological books you'vealready tried.
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« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2012, 11:22:10 AM »

As encouragement, people do not all learn/experience/process new information and new experiences the same way and at the same rate. This is true for Orthodoxy as well. One reason is, I believe, that God comes to us and meets us where we are, and speaks to us in ways that we respond to. Some people respond to symbolism - others not so much. My husband became Orthodox approx. 1 year before I did. He found everything he was looking for and never looked back. Btw, we are totally different in our approach to faith - I'm more thinky and talky, and somewhat of a theology geek. I love symbolism - the more the better! He is more practical and hands on - he loves serving in the altar, and in prison ministry.
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« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2012, 02:17:09 PM »

Dear Pne123,

I can't speak as an authority on orthodoxy but want to share my merely personal perspective with you anyway.

It seems we humans are often mistaken about the real motives and issues we are initially so certain about.  From experience and conviction I suggest all our desires are resolved in the underlying desire of the soul/spirit to be united with God, not to be left behind by God. If we believe we love our wives (or even our lives) more than God we may lose both but if we set our criticizing intellect aside for a moment and feel/see through the 'eye' of our spirit - we find ourselves face to face with God and 'our house' instantly in order.  There is no other way for our house to be put in order.  Our disparate bits of desire and delusion are like iron fillings that must be pulled into a pattern by the magnetic power of God.  We can't do that for ourselves but God would love to if we want Him to.  In fact, God is literally dying to help us.  Think of that and let God's love break your heart open for one moment and everything will be clearer:  why your wife is so happy , why all the fuss in the liturgy , where does your own path begin, etc. etc.   In fact , this one moment of grace is so significant it's more than worth a few years of seeking and preparing oneself for if that's what it takes. 

Pne123, may God forgive us both and help us find and not forget our appetite for Truth and the salvation of our immortal souls.  Having re-kindled the flame of our true desire, may He also give us the wisdom to seek His assistance every step of our way Home.  As I understand it, the Orthodox Church is the part of His assistance that even people like us can see and grasp and follow.  It's a path well worn by the friends of God , but if you don't like the destination , who is abandoning who ?
 
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« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2012, 02:57:24 PM »

if your wife becomes orthodox, this will bring you closer together (even if you don't become orthodox), because she will learn to love you even more.
the church teaches us to make sacrifices to help those around us, and for an orthodox wife with a non orthodox husband, this includes sometimes missing out on church activities in order to build up the marriage.
i also agree with seraphim98's suggestions.
may God guide u.
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« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2012, 03:13:59 PM »

Dear Pne123--After having read all of the postings on this thread, I have to agree with Father Giryus: you must let go, as we all must. You did not like his advice because you felt that he was insinuating you had control issues. Well, we all have control issues, even after we become the followers of Christ. Fundamentally, this is about each of of us believing with all of our intellect and our emotions that His will be done and not mine. Of course, in order to come to this point, (a) you have to believe in God, (b) that you want to be a follower of the Son of God, and (c) that you want to be part of His Body, the Holy Church, the Orthodox Church. But, it all starts with the recognition that we are our own worse enemy and that we do need to let go and let Him take over. This does not have to be in a final form, nor must it be perfected: you must however start from that starting point.
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AustralianDiaspora
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« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2013, 01:34:08 PM »

It took me four years after making a commitment to my Orthodox partner to take a serious interest myself and six years later I still haven't been baptised. These things just take time. In regards to faith, I would say that faith is something that comes through experience; prayer, reading the scriptures, attending liturgy and catechism even if it feels uncomfortable. Also, I think faith is as much a willingness to take a leap and trust without really knowing as much as it is about knowing beyond proof, if that makes sense.
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« Reply #35 on: January 27, 2013, 01:52:29 PM »

As I have posted before, it took 15 years for my Presbyterian wife to embrace Orthodoxy. I never pressured her. She would accompany me on major feasts and on Sundays, we each went to our respective churches.

On one particular Sunday when we were together for Divine Liturgy I turned to glance at her while we were singing a hymn and tears were streaming profusely down her pretty face. She GOT it.

Shortest cathecumenate one can imagine. The priest was astounded at her preparation - 15 years of 'in house' instruction, in small bites.

Just love your wife.
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"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides
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Kyrie eleison


« Reply #36 on: January 27, 2013, 03:11:12 PM »

wow, 15 years...
may God bless u both.
australian diaspora - good points.
welcome and may God bless u.
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Nathanael
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« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2013, 02:50:51 PM »

Quote
canot bear the thought of my wife becoming orthodox and i feel f she does i will give up

Why don't you ask yourself if your wife can bear the thought that you've no faith or just very little. You can believe what you want without the "blessing" of your wife, but your wife should first receive your "blessing" to become orthodox?!

Even if you your faith is very weak, you've still a will and you can try to pray more or less regularly with a prayer book.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 02:55:25 PM by Nathanael » Logged

"Orthodoxy is the very nature of man" - Father Rafail Noica
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