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Author Topic: So....Prayer with Heterodox Family?  (Read 908 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 18, 2012, 09:00:25 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 09:05:35 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?

Have you asked your priest what he would have you do? I know that some priests will allow for prayer with non-Orthodox to varying degrees.

And his reply might cause for different advice.
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 09:13:25 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
Do you understand why the Church has canons against praying with the heterodox?

That said, I agree that this is an "ask your priest" thing, and that the recommendation to ask your priest is about the only good advice anyone could give you here.
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 09:53:36 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?

Before writing anything else, I need to go to confession before receiving communion again, so feel free to disregard this if you like, but this is what I usually do.

Bow your head during prayer, lift it up after "amen". As far as giving your amen, ask your priest. If they ask you to lead the prayer over the food, do so. Don't foget that you can always say a quick prayer and small sign of the cross over your plate before you take your first bite.

Your best bet is to discuss this with your priest for guidance.
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 10:06:51 PM »

Saying grace by reciting the Lord's Prayer should do the trick.  angel
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 10:17:04 PM »

I have the upper hand by inviting them over to my house and therefore leading the prayer is natural. Otherwise in the past I would ask to lead or at very least as long as nothing is said that violates Orthodox teaching, I add an " in the name of the ..." to the end of their prayer. Unless they aren't Trinitarian, this is not usually offensive. But always ask your priest.
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 10:21:18 PM »

My priest says you can pray with the heathen.
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 10:23:53 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
You're talking about saying grace at a meal, right? Don't be arrogant. Don't be rude. Bow your head. Thank God for the family He has given you and for their willingness to include you at their table. If crossing yourself in front of them would create a scene, do it while their eyes are closed  Grin. If there's a chance that they will ask you to lead, be prepared with a very simple prayer that can be found in most any prayerbook. Have it on a card or piece of paper tucked into your pocket.

Overhearing someone else's prayer is not "praying with heretics".
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 10:34:50 PM »

Most of the priests I have known would consider praying with your family before a meal (albeit they are non-orthodox) to not be a violation of the canon.

This would be the same case if you had a person in your family being married or a funeral in a non-Orthodox church.  (just a rare occasion thing for family etc.)  They will however forbid you in engaging in a "sacrament" at another church.   Such as if you attend a marriage at an RC church and they were anointing people etc., that would not be allowed.

Usually things are "reasonable" like this.

Your priest will guide you the best in the matter.  They get questions like this all the time.  
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2012, 10:35:01 PM »

My priest says you can pray with the heathen.

Wow, nice.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2012, 10:36:31 PM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
You're talking about saying grace at a meal, right? Don't be arrogant. Don't be rude. Bow your head. Thank God for the family He has given you and for their willingness to include you at their table. If crossing yourself in front of them would create a scene, do it while their eyes are closed  Grin. If there's a chance that they will ask you to lead, be prepared with a very simple prayer that can be found in most any prayerbook. Have it on a card or piece of paper tucked into your pocket.

Overhearing someone else's prayer is not "praying with heretics".

If they asked him to lead, I'd say he should just say his normal EO prayers. Smiley  They asked for him to! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2012, 01:26:25 AM »

My priest says you can pray with the heathen.

Wow, nice.

It's a joke, my priest has never called anyone a heathen.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2012, 02:28:19 AM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
Offer to lead the prayer yourself.
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2012, 02:42:03 AM »

If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy.

This is exactly the reason I favor economia on this. That is, if it was my cup of tea to deternmine how to apply canons. But it must be remembered that it's economia i.e. an exception to the rule that generally prayer with non-Orthodox is forbidden.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 02:42:25 AM by Alpo » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 03:00:58 AM »

I cannot offer a canons-based reply, and certainly your priest will know best and you should follow his direction, but I am in a similar situation whenever I visit family, so this has come up often for me, as well. I have only heterodox (and worse) family members, so my priest has told me that when they are praying, rather than joining in verbally or becoming any kind of obstacle, I am to pray silently my own prayers, knowing that any uncertainty or nervousness associated with 'praying with heretics' can be dealt with also through the prayer. He did not say it in so many words, but I think the principle is that there's nothing that the prayer of the heterodox could do that the prayer of the Orthodox Christian cannot; if their prayer to whatever it is they believe in is anything at all (and its not my place to say so, one way or another), then certainly the prayer of a baptized, practicing Orthodox Christian is much more powerful.

In a place with many false gods and false christs, we should be more willing and eager to pray, not less. It is too easy to remain in our little Orthodox bubble in our parishes, on the internet, etc., but what about our own biological families? Don't we pray for their salvation, too? I have to say that for myself, even though my conversion has been the source of a lot of conflict with my family (particularly given my father's own conversion to an anti-Trinitarian cult around the same time; yeah, holidays are super-fun!), it has also imbued a lot of meaning into many passages in scripture and even very basic actions that was not there before. I make the sign of the cross before eating at the family table, or I do a metania while in private prayer in the guest room of my father's house, and I am doing what I can to reclaim a little bit of family life for the worship of the One God. Who better, and in what better environment, right? These kinds of situations are exactly where God has put us, and previous people who had it much, much worse than we did in this regard actually became the catalysts for the conversion of non-Christian family members (see: Mar Behnam), so next to them...well, a prayer among heterodox family and friends is probably the least we can do. And yet we've got to do it.

Don't be shy. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2012, 09:58:02 AM »

Ive never thought this to be an issue.  My whole family is heterodox. All of my friends are heterodox.  I play in a Christian  band that often gigs at evangelical churches.  My Priest knows all of this, but I have never specifically asked him about praying with others.  I always just bow my head and keep quiet.  If I get asked to pray, I just say something simple and add "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" to the end of it. 

I know nothing of the Church's canons on this subject, but its always seemed bizarre that this is such an issue.  Im not saying you have to "amen" everything that a heterodox says. but I cant imagine any Priest, or God himself, saying you MUST excuse yourself from your loved ones while they pray...
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2012, 10:51:48 AM »

What do you mean when you say your family "prays together" at that point? Do they have a big long "prayer meeting", or are they just saying grace over the meal? Perhaps an extended grace. What are the contents of the prayer? If it's a big long "prayer meeting" type thing, I think that's right out. If they're just praying over the meal, that's not ideal, but not heretical.
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2012, 10:56:41 AM »

Well, it's that time of year again with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all, and, these are probably about the only two occasions of the whole year when my family prays together. Problem is, since my conversion to Orthodoxy, I know that we are not supposed to pray with heterodox Christians. So, question is, how do I go about this with my family? If I blatantly reject to do it, then they will get offended, worried about me and possibly even be turned off to ever possibly converting to Orthodoxy. If I do pray with them, then I would be violating the Church by praying to a false view of God. What path do I take? I think the best thing to do would be to somehow be able to avoid the prayer, like, perhaps get up to use the bathroom while they pray and not coming back until they are finished etc.

I'm sure that a lot of you have had this problem before, so how did you learn to cope with it? Any words of advice for me since I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing?
You're talking about saying grace at a meal, right? Don't be arrogant. Don't be rude. Bow your head. Thank God for the family He has given you and for their willingness to include you at their table. If crossing yourself in front of them would create a scene, do it while their eyes are closed  Grin. If there's a chance that they will ask you to lead, be prepared with a very simple prayer that can be found in most any prayerbook. Have it on a card or piece of paper tucked into your pocket.

Overhearing someone else's prayer is not "praying with heretics".

If they asked him to lead, I'd say he should just say his normal EO prayers. Smiley  They asked for him to! Smiley
We don't disagree - that was what I meant. However, since JamesR said "I'm new to this Orthodoxy thing" I was guessing that he might not have something prepared. The security of a written word would likely help in an understandably nervous situation.
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« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2012, 05:33:35 PM »

These canons gets interpreted different ways. Some say it refers to ALL prayer with non-Orthodox. Others say it refers to EUCHARISTIC prayer (i.e., serving the Liturgy). I can see both sides of the argument.

That said, when in this situation, I generally keep quiet, murmur an Orthodox blessing under my breath, crossing myself and/or the food while everyone else usually has their eyes closed, and generally do not pronounce an "Amen." People also know that I'm Orthodox, and that if I'm asked to pray they will hear Orthodox prayers. Sometimes I'm still asked to lead, and so they get an Our Father or an O Heavenly King, other times I do not lead and do what I said above. That's it...
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« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2012, 07:50:28 PM »

I would just say grace before and thanks after the mail and pray Our Fathers.
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« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2012, 02:12:12 AM »

As a Catholic, I'm confused.  Does this mean that Orthodox think God refuses to bless the meals of non-Orthodox?  I can understand someone's concern if you voluntarily joined a non-Orthodox prayer group with people praying and saying things not in line with Orthodox teaching, but if a protestant family member or some other said a prayer like "Lord we give thanks for this meal and ask you to bless it in the name of Jesus" it's somehow null and void? It seems strange that you would feel the need to counteract that prayer with your own silent prayer that says basically the same thing.  Don't get me wrong, I'd much prefer the Orthodox prayer, but this seems awfully Pharisee-like to me.  Then again I might be misunderstanding what people are trying to say here.
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« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2012, 02:15:30 AM »

The notion is that con-celebrating in prayer means that you are acknowledging their understanding of God as true (modalist, nestorian, whatever it may be) and acting as part of their church (whatever it may be).

Whether or not this is really a valid notion regarding "praying at the table" and whatnot is debated.
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« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2012, 11:12:04 AM »

What's the definition of heterodox? Do you even have to interrogate other Orthodox to find out if they're 100% correct on every point of doctrine?
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« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2012, 12:57:29 PM »

What's the definition of heterodox? Do you even have to interrogate other Orthodox to find out if they're 100% correct on every point of doctrine?

Yes. Whenever I dine with Orthodox Christians, I quiz them on whether they recognize that the Son and the Holy Spirit are of one essence with the Father, whether they confess that the Virgin is Theotokos and that the very Word was born in the flesh from the virgin, whether they confess that Christ is made known in two natures in contemplation alone, whether they confess two wills and two energies in Christ, whether they give the holy icons the veneration due to them, whether they hold fast to the monarchy of the Father, whether they confess that the Spirit proceeds into existence from the Father alone and is manifested eternally through the Son, whether they confess that some energies of God are eternal whether they confess that God's energies are not identical to his essence, and whether they reject the impious doctrines of Luther, Calvin and the Supposed Infallibility of the wayward bishop of Rome. If they answer no to any of these, then I know to say grace silently, because God will not answer their prayers.
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