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Author Topic: I'm considering Orthodoxy and have some questions  (Read 777 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cassian12
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« on: December 24, 2012, 03:16:38 PM »

Hello everyone. I've been reading this forum, different Orthodox books, publications and other internet sources for a while now and I finally wanted to make a post here and ask some questions and seek advice.

I'm a Roman Catholic. I'm a cradle Catholic but in my early teen years, really discovered my faith and have done my best to live for it ever since. Recently though, as I've studied Church history and certain doctrinal issues, I'm starting to have some doubts about the RCC... This has been extremely difficult for me to face, but the more I've read about Orthodoxy, the more I find myself defending Orthodox beliefs in theological conversations (I'm a college student and I hang out with theology and classics students so these conversations tend to be pretty frequent.) For a few years, I've attended a Byzantine Catholic Church. Shortly after I rediscovered my faith as an early teen, I discovered Eastern Catholicism. The Catholicism that I was accepting was a lot of Orthodox views. In recent though, it seems that all the beliefs that I've held always have to be qualified with "but somehow it works with Rome."

I've always accepted that somehow my beliefs on the basis that somehow, they fit with the West. I can no longer accept that. I had always thought that my Eastern Catholic approach to theology was essentially the same as what Rome was saying but the issue that's driven me over the edge is Augustinian and Thomistic views on grace and predestination. As much as I've seen RC theologians attempt to explain how their beliefs fit with free will, none if it makes sense to me. Seeing the errors have that have stemmed from their beliefs, I can't help but think if a belief is so orthodox, then why is heresy being produced by it? (Calvinism, etc).

As I've read the writings of St. John Cassian, his explanation of grace (the belief that I've held without realizing it) makes infinitely more sense than Augustine's. Now that I have my background info out of the way with, I have some questions.

My heart is telling me to investigate the Orthodox Church. My question is, where do I begin?

I'm currently home for Christmas (I'm a college student), and there are many Orthodox Churches near me, belonging to different jurisdictions. There are at least 2 OCA parishes, 1 ROCOR, 3 Greek, 1 Romanian, and 2 Antiochian (1 Western Rite). Should I make an effort to visit as many as possible? Are some jurisdictions more welcome to potential converts than others?

To add to this, when I go back to college, the only local Orthodox parish is Greek. Since this is likely where I'd formally begin any kind of conversion process, should I stick to the Greek Churches near my house while I'm on break?

The hard part in this is that I do love the Catholic Church. I've gained so many spiritual benefits from it and so much of my life has been built around it. It's as much a part of my spiritual life as it is my social life. For you converts out there, how did you say goodbye? How did you tell friends and clergy? I'm not set on converting yet, but it's getting harder for me to try to reconcile my beliefs with those of the Western church...
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Cavaradossi
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2012, 04:53:21 PM »

Welcome to the forum. Smiley

You could be old fashioned and just pick the closest one to your home. Then again, I got lucky and found a very open parish on the first try. laugh

I would say that in general, the OCA and the Antiochians have the best reputation for being open to converts. From what I have seen, the Greeks can be a mixed bag, as can ROCOR (for example, in my city, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has two parishes: one parish has a reputation for being more 'ethnic,' and less open to converts, while the other is known to be more open to converts). I would say that it probably doesn't matter much for selecting a parish at home that where you go to school, you will only have access to a Greek Orthodox parish. The most important thing would probably be to find a parish where you feel welcomed.

Since I did not convert from any prior religious affiliation, I cannot really help you with your questions on how to deal saying goodbye, but hopefully, some of our converts here from Roman Catholicism or other Christian groups can  pitch in.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2012, 05:00:04 PM by Cavaradossi » Logged

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TheMathematician
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2012, 05:04:43 PM »

My home parish, and where I was baptized, is a ROCOR parish. However, when im visiting my parents over christmas break, i attend the Serbian church that's near their house.


My point in saying this? You do not have to pick the same jurisdiction, but, it is a good idea to ensure they are on the same calendar, so while I love ROCOR, I would suggest going with a New Calendar church(aka, any of them besides ROCOR on your list). Go to the one closest to your house, and start attending liturgy.

That being said, a smaller parish is nice, because it gives you the chance to socialize with the fellow parishoners, but at the same time, that might be a bad thing for you.

Greeks normally are large churches. I dont know about OCA, because ive never been. However, the OCA tends to be more english speaking in general.

What it comes down to is, pick one, and start attending Liturgy.


Hope this helps
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xariskai
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2012, 07:25:00 PM »

I have never visited an Orthodox parish in any jurisdiction where I did not receive a warm welcome.

If you are so inclined anyway I don't see how it can hurt to visit everywhere and raising all your concerns and questions with everyone you meet, especially the priests. Often you'll will find different jurisdictions in the same area relate very closely to one another anyway; our parish often hosts events conjointly with all the other parishes in our area.

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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2012, 07:32:38 PM »

You can try them all out and see which fits you.  I'm going to the OCA because in my area it is the only one that is non-ethnic.  Plus the parish has a wonderful priest and a growing convert community.  Everyone's hyperdox  Grin and of course a language we can understand is important to my wife so she also absolutely loves the parish we are going to.
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mike
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2012, 06:10:26 AM »

I'm going to the OCA because in my area it is the only one that is non-ethnic.

It propably is - American.
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« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2012, 02:32:02 PM »

My heart is telling me to investigate the Orthodox Church. My question is, where do I begin?

Brother, just continue to investigate  the matter. Here is a nice lecture given by a former protestant which converted to Orthodoxy. Please take a look, he is proving a lot of information in these lectures.

The Defense of Orthodoxy (Against Protestantism) Frank Shaeffer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGtQpLmEP14

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMwCqQZSlZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_ocLmdt4pY

Wish you all the best!
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choy
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2012, 03:03:48 PM »

I'm going to the OCA because in my area it is the only one that is non-ethnic.

It propably is - American.

Well, it is more Canadian Wink

I think from this day onwards I will call it the OCAOA (Orthodox Church in America Outside of America) Cheesy
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2012, 03:19:00 PM »

Don't forget to add a second initialism just to confuse people--perhaps OCAA (Orthodox Church in America Abroad)
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Benjamin the Red
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« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2012, 04:34:33 PM »

As everyone else has said...just jump in! Go and visit a parish, speak with the priest, meet the people. What rite of Eastern Catholicism have you been involved in? If it's Ruthenian, then you may feel a bit more at home, liturgically, with a Slavic tradition parish. This would include the OCA, ROCOR, ACROD, Ukrainian, etc. If you're from a Greek Catholic background, then the Antiochians or the Greeks will feel more familiar. The Romanian way of doing things is different from both of these. Bulgarians, though they are Slavic, tend to feel more Byzantine than Slavic while being different from both. The reverse is true of the Serbs.

(For those who belong to these jurisdictions, I don't mean to lump anyone into "more Slavic" or "more Greek" categories. This is simply sharing my experience, first and second hand, in a very broad manner. No offense is meant.)

You probably want to go to a church that is mostly English-speaking, and will more likely find this is true for parishes in the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese. However, many Greek parishes are mostly-English as are ROCOR. This may not always be true, though, it depends on how many immigrants belong to those parishes and how "fresh off the boat" they are as a community. The Romanians can be a toss-up. If the parish belongs to the Romanian Episcopate of the OCA (as opposed to being connected to the Romanian Patriarchate), it's more likely to use English, but there's no guarantee.

While you're home, you could even try to visit a few different ones (as time allows) and find the one you prefer (not only liturgically, but the people who go there). Of course, you'll go to the Greek parish once you go back to school. Don't feel like you then have to go to the Greek parish near your parents'. I regularly attend two different parishes in different jurisdictions...hence my "dual citizenship" tags under my name. Wink
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2012, 07:17:52 PM »

Hey there, Cassian. I dig the name, and I'm a big fan of St John Cassian as well. He's very misunderstood in the West, especially by the heirs of the Reformation.

The others have given good advice. If there is only one parish where you go to school, then that is what it is. In terms of where you visit when you're at home, it could be good to get a little liturgical diversity (not that there is really all that much diversity. It's all the same Liturgy. The main difference is the style of music that is used, and a small handful of different minor customs). The parish I attend is an OCA (thus all the music is in the Russian style, but in English), but the priest that my wife and I confess with is Greek. And when we go to Liturgy there, everything is in the Byzantine style, as well as in the Greek language.

Get to know the priest, and get to know the Liturgy, and everything will begin to fall into place.
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Shanghaiski
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« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2012, 10:09:22 PM »

Don't forget to add a second initialism just to confuse people--perhaps OCAA (Orthodox Church in America Abroad)

I'd check out the OCAAIEAR--Abroad, In Exile And Resistance. Because being abroad is not enough.
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 01:18:20 AM »

Don't forget to add a second initialism just to confuse people--perhaps OCAA (Orthodox Church in America Abroad)

I'd check out the OCAAIEAR--Abroad, In Exile And Resistance. Because being abroad is not enough.

Pretty sure OCAAIEAR is a occult invocation of some sort.
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Nathanael
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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 06:31:56 AM »

Quote
how did you say goodbye? How did you tell friends and clergy? I'm not set on converting yet, but it's getting harder for me to try to reconcile my beliefs with those of the Western church...

I think at the beginning it's quite difficult, but after some months you'll accustom yourself to the orthodoxy. When you're for some time "inside" it'll be easier to reconcile your beliefs with those of the Western church, but you can still appreciate them. And the friends and clergy will learn to handle with it(maybe the clergy less). It's only a matter of time. But I think you should be prepared, that at first you'll be confronted with different ways and degrees of outrage.
My friends for example had "just" a silent expression of outrage.
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« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 08:55:12 AM »

In addition to what others said, I think it is helpful to read the stories of others who have made similar journeys, from Roman or Byzantine Catholicism to Orthodoxy.  It can be comforting to know that you are not alone in your journey, and in these stories you may find something that resonates with your own thinking, and perhaps some additional insight that brings further clarity and understanding.

Here are some stories from Byzantine Catholic converts:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/category/latest-stories/non-orthodox-christians/roman-catholics/byzantine-catholics/

The story of Fr. Gabriel Bunge, a renowned Swiss Catholic Hermit and patristic scholar, is also particularly significant:

http://www.pravmir.com/article_1220.html

http://www.pravmir.com/article_1221.html
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Wilma
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« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2012, 01:37:16 PM »

Hi!

I converted after 35 years of been a RC. I went to a Catholic University that convinced me of how wrong the RC church is in many aspects...ironic I know!

Now, my conversion process begun a couple of years ago. I'd read and read and read about Orthodoxy, the more I read the more assured I was of my decision. One day, I emailed several parishes near my house and decided to go to the one that replied to my email. I was well received in this Greek Orthodox parish, but also pointed on the direction of an ACROD parish that was closer to my home, whos priest was an Army Retired Officer (hubby is an Army Officer) and which language is English. I feel home! I was Chrismated after a being attending for a month and now I'd hate to move another place because I LOVE my parish. There are 24+ nationalities and we all recite the Lord's Prayer in our own languages.

 
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Wilma (Nazarius)

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