Author Topic: For those converts from Protestant to Orthodox:Tell me about being a Catechumen  (Read 1137 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ShootingStar

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
I have been attending a Greek Orthodox church for several months now, and am interested in the process of becoming a member. Technically, I have not been baptized (previous baptism is void).

Tell me your process of being an official Catechumen. Were you told specific books to read? Take a class on how to do the sign of the cross?

Thanks, and God Bless You!
~Kim in NV

Offline Iconodule

  • Hoplitarches
  • *************
  • Posts: 14,522
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Ecumenical Patriarchate (ACROD)
I was not a Protestant but I don't think that matters. The most popular books for new people are Bishop Kallistos' books The Orthodox Way and The Orthodox Church. There is also the introductory book by Fr. Anthony Coniaris which I can't stand but which is used especially in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. My priest also had me read Andreyev's Orthodox Apologetic Theology and Elder Sophrony's His Life is Mine. I was given some other books to read but they were somewhat catered to my inclinations and probably aren't being used by too many priests.

Some churches do have classes for inquirers and catechumens but we don't have an official RCIA program like the Roman Catholics do. Other aspects of piety, such as making the sign of the cross, were simply told or shown to me by the priest and other members of the parish in the course parish life.

Not all priests will "officially" make someone a catechumen- that is, there is a special rite for making someone a catechumen, and not all priests will use it. My priest did not. We had been meeting for a while and he told me I was a catechumen at some point and from there we set a date for baptism.
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
- Berdyaev

If you would like a private forum for non-polemical topics, comment here.

Offline age234

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 559
In general there is no formalized process. Within his bishop's guidelines, each priest handles the process in his own way, usually tailored to the needs of the individual.

I attended services for several months, and then scheduled a meeting with my priest to express my interest. We talked about my background and he suggested a few books to look at (The Apostolic Fathers and Met. Kallistos's "The Orthodox Church"). A few months later I was made a catechumen, and my priest taught a weekly class for inquirers, starting with the basics of Christianity and moving into details on the history, theology, and sacraments. I was chrismated the following Pascha.

The whole process took about a year. Others at my parish have taken 2-3 years (again, it varies by individual circumstances).

Offline mabsoota

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,859
  • Kyrie eleison
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Orthodox (Coptic)
read this:

sorry about the really old english. look away from the screen every few minutes if it is hurting your eyes!
if i come across a modern translation, i will post it, but this explanation of the beauty of the psalms is a beautiful example of how beautiful the Bible is when it is interpreted properly (in the light of what God told saint john, saint john told saint ignatius, saint ignatius passed on to saint polycarp and so on for only a few generations until saint athanasius, who was a coptic orthodox patriarch). i think it was originally written in greek.
common languages that ancient Christian documents were written in are greek, syriac and coptic as they were quite widely spoken in countries where there were many Christians.

when everyone interprets the Bible for himself, you get several different religions (eg. mormons, Jehovah's witnesses, protestant Christians etc.) who all think the same passage means different things.
a great way to understand the Bible is to ask those whose fathers could remember what teaching was passed directly to them by Jesus' disciples, and to see what they thought.

i also agree with the posts above. i visited orthodox churches about once a month for 2 years before i knew that i wanted to join. other people decide more quickly. it is important to ask questions and to allow time to get used to the new environment. in highly technological countries there is a common attitude that we should analyse everything and understand everything but have a very short attention span and only read articles one page long or shorter.
this is obviously counterproductive to deep learning, so many of us need to make some changes!

Offline CatherineBrigid

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 150
    • Me on Facebook... Go ahead, add me! :)
Well, my process of being a catechumen was a lill bit different, I think, since i am part of a parish in-formation... it's kind of a group conversion thing, actually, as one of my Anglican priests is being ordained Orthodox next month in SC, and there are a couple other families who will be going with him and chrismated at the same time... so there's been none of the usual "going to a church for a while to get the feel for it and then becoming a catechumen along the way" that I think most folks experience.  We've been having weekly catechism classes in a coffee shop the past few months, and yes, the books we read were The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way.  However, I've been investigating orthodoxy for a long while on my own (long story i'll not bore you with now) and when this came along, I was pretty certain this was how God was leading. :) And so it was... and our first services will be in November the week after we all come back from ordination/chrismation.  So... i know that's probably completely useless in light of what you asked for but.. that's what my journey has been, and there ya have it. :)
* * *
(St. Nicholas of Myra WR parish)

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rain fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his han

Offline KBN1

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 888
Like Iconodule, there was no formal rite of making me a catechumen.  I met with my priest regularly for a few months and then occasionally after that.  He had recommended reading for me and we did a study of the anaphora prayer of St. Basil.  One of the biggest things he stressed and looked for was regular attendance of services and not just Divine Liturgy.  I was a catechumen for about 15 months.

Offline Desiring_unity

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 51
After my family had been attending for several months, we, along with two other people were given a blessing and our Saint names.  Beyond that, we were given space to progress organically.  One thing I love about our parish and from what I understand, most others as well, is that we aren't chased down.  The priests are available when we ask though.  Be careful what you ask for, though!   ;) 

Our family did attend catechism and were given many suggestions for reading but we weren't told to, "Do this," or, "Read this." 

I write in past tense because as of next Sunday, we will be baptized!   :)
"Beloved in Christ, if you ever despair, wondering if what you do for God matters, remember: each single act of holiness is like a stone thrown into an ocean—the ripples go forth, and we do not know whom they touch or where they end."


Offline Agabus

  • The user formerly known as Agabus.
  • Section Moderator
  • Protokentarchos
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,231
  • Faith: without works is dead.
  • Jurisdiction: Foolishness to the Greeks
My wife and I met with our priest periodically for catechesis and discussion of the reading material he gave us.

You should also attend services until you are mostly no longer puzzled at what is happening.
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.


Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline Asteriktos

  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 37,545
I had been inquiring into Orthodoxy for about 14-16 months when I became a catechumen in the Antiochian jurisdiction. There was no ceremony or anything, the priest just said that I was now a catechumen, we went into his office, looked at the calendar, and he decided that I'd be received roughly 6 months later (Dec. 22, 2001). He assigned someone to catechise me, and this person was also my godfather. My catechist would answer any questions that I had, and we got together a few times to discuss various things. I was reading a lot on my own (too much reading, and not enough praying, to be honest), so that wasn't really a concern. I don't recall all of what I read during that time, but three I do remember were The Cappadocians by Anthony Meredith, The Arena by St. Ignatius, and Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ by St. Justin. The chrismation date came, I got received, and that was that.
"Well, do I convince you, that one ought never to despair of the disorders of the soul as incurable? ...For even if thou shouldst despair of thyself ten thousand times, I will never despair of thee" - St. John Chrysostom