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Author Topic: Pagan to Orthodoxy  (Read 2311 times) Average Rating: 0
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Thaddeus_Prenderghast
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« on: January 20, 2013, 02:31:26 AM »

Hello! This is my official introduction on this forum. I'd like to thank in advance anyone who helps me in this learning process. Im still learning and trying to see if Orthodoxy would make a fit for me. unfortunately my experience with orthodox churches is scarce. Ive seen a Greek Orthodox Cathedral (i think) and it was absolutely gorgeous. Also my former Arabic teacher was Coptic and he told me a lot about his faith. It was all very beautiful.

so, about my title. I, for the sake of labels, am pagan. I've lived a faith that works with nature and the seasons. and in my faith I feel "gods" call upon you and show you patronage. patron deities are important in a pagan life. but I went through a crisis of faith. Am I on the right path? I haven't done harm to anyone, more-so I've helped anyone I can. but I still got thoughts that makes me ask if I am going to a heaven or...somewhere else. So I'll try to tell my short story of how I came to reconsider Christianity and more-so become interested in orthodoxy.

I was raised RC. Explored various faiths and within the druid/wicca/pagan groups i felt a belonging. self empowerment. all good stuff. then my faith crisis happened. what caused it was a series of events that are hard to explain. it is a leap of faith but it is true and it is what got me to this point in my life. I was stationed in the military at Fort Lee. I had an encounter with another soldier that tried to turn me to God. but it wasn't the usual convert pitch he was given me. I honestly felt he was meant to talk to me, and I felt a true presence of God Himself. the soldier and I had a deep conversation about faith. He said God speaks to him and he talked about events in my life that he had no possible way of knowing. the conversation was never finished between him and I. About a year later, I was passing through a small town in Vermont. I stopped at a barber shop and a woman there approached me and asked if I had given anymore thought on God's offer and that He was eager to hear my response. My conversation picked back up with this stranger as if she had been right there for the origional conversation. again the topic never was finished. several months later while in Boston, Mass, a third person sat down next to me outside and resumed this conversation. They all claimed they were sent by God to talk to me about my journey back into His love. Back home a fourth person, whom I had just met at the time, slipped into an odd trance-like state. and resumed this epic of a conversation. At this point I had fully given in. convinced God himself had used this girl as a direct line to me. I have felt the presence of God every day since. almost like he speaks to me. not with words. it is very hard to describe. but I do feel I have a strong connection with him.

Needless to say, following this new path before me and following what I believe are His signs, has led me here. And I have a deep interest in learning anything and everything I can. I honestly feel that the best way to learn about a faith is to talk and listen to a believer. Im hoping this forum will help guid and lead me to my path.

Again, thank you for reading. I understand for some it might be hard to "buy in" to what I wrote. but i told what my experience was, and am eager to learn and have new ones. I also hope I haven't offended anyone by anything I have said. Im not sure if people are interested in discussing anything I wrote, but I am free and willing to answer any questions, because I know I will have my own questions  laugh         
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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2013, 04:52:24 AM »

Welcome, dear to Christ Thaddeus!

I do not doubt at all that God Himself has called you to His Holy Church through the process that you describe, and I believe that I can relate to an extent, as I was raised an unchurched agnostic and came to Orthodoxy through some rather circuitous means myself.

I am sure I speak for many on this forum when I say: please consider me a willing confidant, and ask away! The fact that you express an eagerness to ask for guidance and to listen is itself a sign of God's grace. May he continue to guide you.

In the early days of my inquiry I found the greatest help, of course, came through contacting an Orthodox priest and beginning to faithfully attend Sunday liturgies, above the other modes of inquiry I was pursuing on my own. So that is a course I am sure most will recommend when you feel ready to do so.

You list your location as New England. It is a great blessing that within the Boston metropolis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, there will be, God willing, a monastery founded here soon by a priest-monk from the monastery of Simonopetra on the Holy Mount Athos- a man of great prayer- which we pray will be a blessing to all in our neck of the woods.

Again, welcome, and don't be afraid to ask anything. You will be in my prayers.-

Symeon


Hello! This is my official introduction on this forum. I'd like to thank in advance anyone who helps me in this learning process. Im still learning and trying to see if Orthodoxy would make a fit for me. unfortunately my experience with orthodox churches is scarce. Ive seen a Greek Orthodox Cathedral (i think) and it was absolutely gorgeous. Also my former Arabic teacher was Coptic and he told me a lot about his faith. It was all very beautiful.

so, about my title. I, for the sake of labels, am pagan. I've lived a faith that works with nature and the seasons. and in my faith I feel "gods" call upon you and show you patronage. patron deities are important in a pagan life. but I went through a crisis of faith. Am I on the right path? I haven't done harm to anyone, more-so I've helped anyone I can. but I still got thoughts that makes me ask if I am going to a heaven or...somewhere else. So I'll try to tell my short story of how I came to reconsider Christianity and more-so become interested in orthodoxy.

I was raised RC. Explored various faiths and within the druid/wicca/pagan groups i felt a belonging. self empowerment. all good stuff. then my faith crisis happened. what caused it was a series of events that are hard to explain. it is a leap of faith but it is true and it is what got me to this point in my life. I was stationed in the military at Fort Lee. I had an encounter with another soldier that tried to turn me to God. but it wasn't the usual convert pitch he was given me. I honestly felt he was meant to talk to me, and I felt a true presence of God Himself. the soldier and I had a deep conversation about faith. He said God speaks to him and he talked about events in my life that he had no possible way of knowing. the conversation was never finished between him and I. About a year later, I was passing through a small town in Vermont. I stopped at a barber shop and a woman there approached me and asked if I had given anymore thought on God's offer and that He was eager to hear my response. My conversation picked back up with this stranger as if she had been right there for the origional conversation. again the topic never was finished. several months later while in Boston, Mass, a third person sat down next to me outside and resumed this conversation. They all claimed they were sent by God to talk to me about my journey back into His love. Back home a fourth person, whom I had just met at the time, slipped into an odd trance-like state. and resumed this epic of a conversation. At this point I had fully given in. convinced God himself had used this girl as a direct line to me. I have felt the presence of God every day since. almost like he speaks to me. not with words. it is very hard to describe. but I do feel I have a strong connection with him.

Needless to say, following this new path before me and following what I believe are His signs, has led me here. And I have a deep interest in learning anything and everything I can. I honestly feel that the best way to learn about a faith is to talk and listen to a believer. Im hoping this forum will help guid and lead me to my path.

Again, thank you for reading. I understand for some it might be hard to "buy in" to what I wrote. but i told what my experience was, and am eager to learn and have new ones. I also hope I haven't offended anyone by anything I have said. Im not sure if people are interested in discussing anything I wrote, but I am free and willing to answer any questions, because I know I will have my own questions  laugh         
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 07:11:39 AM »

Welcome! Smiley

I've been hanging out with pagans for many years (blame it on my fascination with world religions), so I get what you're saying, only too well. You've been thwapped, my friend. Wink Stick around with us and ask away; we don't have all the answers, but we love to share and support.
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 11:29:58 AM »

It sounds as though you've been bit by the bug. Wink

Orthodox Christianity is an amazingly rich and ancient tradition.  I pray that your soul will be happy with us in the Church! 

You've already discovered some of the best resources (the Bible, and OCnet,) but I encourage you to converse with a priest.  You'll love it, they're all so nice!
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 01:55:08 PM »

(Quote from Symeon:)
Welcome, dear to Christ Thaddeus!

You list your location as New England. It is a great blessing that within the Boston metropolis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, there will be, God willing, a monastery founded here soon by a priest-monk from the monastery of Simonopetra on the Holy Mount Athos- a man of great prayer- which we pray will be a blessing to all in our neck of the woods.
Again, welcome, and don't be afraid to ask anything. You will be in my prayers.-
Symeon

(End quote)

Thaddeus: Welcome aboard! Inquiring into Orthodoxy is a wonderful and enlightening journey. May your  path be filled with encouragement from everyone on this site!

Symeon:  you mention a monastery in the Boston Archdiocese-do you have more info on that?  I hadn't seen any reference on the GOARCH site.  Being in the Antiochian jurisdiction, I have little access to monastics (!!) and look forward to having someone from the Holy Mountain in the neighborhood!  Thanks for the info.
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 02:03:01 PM »

You've already discovered some of the best resources (the Bible, and OCnet,)

No. No! Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!11 Please tell me you didn't say that.
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2013, 05:23:26 PM »

I've lived a faith that works with nature and the seasons.
Our faith also utilizes the rhythm of the seasons. We do so out of freedom in our desire to hallow all of creation through Christ, and not out of a sense of bondage to the seasons and elemental forces.

You will see this throughout the year as flora, vestments, and celebrations, etc. change and work with the seasons.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 05:24:14 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2013, 07:14:01 PM »

You've already discovered some of the best resources (the Bible, and OCnet,)

No. No! Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!11 Please tell me you didn't say that.

+1
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2013, 09:11:42 PM »

You've already discovered some of the best resources (the Bible, and OCnet,)

No. No! Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!11 Please tell me you didn't say that.

+1
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2013, 09:12:18 PM »

You've already discovered some of the best resources (the Bible, and OCnet,)

No. No! Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!11 Please tell me you didn't say that.

+1

Hah, see, we even posted the same exact response without knowing.
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2013, 10:21:19 PM »

Hi Thaddeus,

Nice introduction and very nice to meet you.   

I read your comments over on another part of the forum, and I can understand what you are talking about. 

Orthodoxy is a complete paradigm shift from your previous spiritual endeavors, though you may find some things easier to understand and accept with your background than someone with a lot of Protestant baggage. 

Some things you just have to be patient and wait for the understanding to come, and of course, as you know, to pray for answers.  They just come, sometimes with random people like you explain in your introduction.

Since you have had so many spiritual experiences, you will be amazed with Orthodoxy if you decide to actually start the process of becoming Orthodox.  You may be more sensitive to things occurring around you, as a result, it may be easier for you to understand on a spiritual level what is taking place.

Symeon, with his wonderful welcome, gave you very good advice, to just find a church if possible, and keep showing up.  Even if you don't understand what is going on for a long time, just keep asking God to help you.  The first one you go to may not be the best one for you.  If you can be patient with that, it will be better.

And if you decide at some point to become Orthodox, my personal advice, having experience with the occult as well, is to be baptized into the faith full on Orthodox style, not chrismated as they may want to do because of your Roman Catholic background.

I have a question for you:

What is symbol on your page?  Is that like a mason symbol? 
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2013, 11:42:10 PM »

First off, Wow. I honestly didn't know how my post would be received. Thank you all for an extremely warm welcome. and I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart. I've read so many posts already, and am so excited to learn and share with everyone here. I promise that Im going to be very attentive and trust me, I will let people know if I have questions. Im just really excited. I am taking orthodoxy very serious. so again, thank all of you  laugh

I have a question for you:

What is symbol on your page?  Is that like a mason symbol? 


It is a Freemason symbol. I've been a master mason for a couple years. Its given me a chance to help and contribute to my community, and better myself as a friend, brother, and future husband and father. Its a wonderful organization. the symbol itself represents a couple things. the G represents God being always in our hearts, the square is to square our actions in a way that we would like to be judged and the compass is to keep us on the path to wisdom. well, as you can tell i have a little pride in it haha.  Tongue
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 03:08:10 AM »

Uh oh...
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 03:15:28 AM »

Uh oh...

Yup. If you're serious about becoming Orthodox, you'll soon have to drop the masonic membership.
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 04:06:14 AM »

LOL! That was longer than I thought before someone mentioned it.

Thaddeus, please know that if you truly seek truth, the hardest lesson (and I presume you know this already) is in leaving behind what we think we know, ego, desire, personal discoveries: everything. If you seek to love God and know God above all else, He will bless you. In this, I have faith. So while you may hear challenging things, please just take them in stride and cultivate first a life of prayer, asking God to reveal Himself to you. See a priest, maybe two or three! They will help you better than we can.

As far as being a Mason, what our brother LBK says is true. But shouldn't God challenge everything we think we know? I know I had my fair share when I first converted.

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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2013, 02:34:29 PM »

Poor St. Paul spent all that time training the Christians in rhetoric and "speaking to your audience", and we still haven't learned?

Good Lord...
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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2013, 03:07:16 PM »

Poor St. Paul spent all that time training the Christians in rhetoric and "speaking to your audience", and we still haven't learned?

Good Lord...

I agree that this could have come out in a better way.
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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2013, 05:15:09 PM »

Most of us who come to Orthodoxy from other backgrounds do so because we sense that there must be something more than what our former experiences, traditions, philosophies, religions, etc. were able to provide.  At some point, a person has questions and wants to know the truth.  To begin seeking the truth is to recognize that you have not yet found truth, that something is lacking, etc.  To seek the truth honestly and sincerely, one must be ready to question the beliefs they currently hold, what these beliefs are based on, etc.  Those of use who have approached Orthodoxy in seeking the truth, have questioned Orthodox teaching while allowing ourselves to be questioned by the same teachings.  If one has the courage to do this, they will find what they are seeking. 

I encourage the original poster to be patient and to sincerely seek the truth.  Some do not have enough courage to seek the truth, and at the first insinuation that one's current beliefs are not completely true, they become offended and head for the hills.  As has already been stated here, not only is Orthodoxy incompatible with Masonry, but the Orthodox Church has condemned Masonry and forbidden involvement in it.  You can take this information and choose to abandon all interest in Orthodoxy at this point, or you can try to find out why the Orthodox Church holds this position.  You can research the roots of Masonry, read accounts of those who have left Masonry after realizing its nature and goals, read about the history of the Orthodox Church and why Masonry and Orthodoxy are incompatible.  You can study the fruits of Masonry and the fruits of Orthodoxy, and then make up your mind where you want to end your days, in the Church of God or in the Masonic Lodge.  The choice is yours alone to make, but the consequences are great. 
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 06:03:09 PM »

Poor St. Paul spent all that time training the Christians in rhetoric and "speaking to your audience", and we still haven't learned?

Good Lord...

I agree that this could have come out in a better way.
+1. Welcome to the forum, Thaddeus. I hope you feel yourself in our grumpy little company. We aren't all that as it first might seem. We are even worse. Wink
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2013, 10:04:40 AM »

+2 welcome to the forum.

I just add to what others say: the masonry is a part you have to let go, if you want to become orthodox.
Coming from a orthodox catechumen (I know how that sounds..but still..).
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« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2013, 04:40:47 PM »

A bunch of you say I'd have to drop FreeMasonry but I don't understand  Huh

My brothers in the fraternity have actually lead me to embrace God in my heart. I'm just confused that a group that has done so much good, I would have to leave. I had to prove I believe in God in order to join. Can anyone explain this better to me?
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« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2013, 04:44:16 PM »

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?

Freemasonry is a semi-religious occult cult with pagan rituals and symbolism.
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« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2013, 04:52:21 PM »

But that's a misrepresentation. If you look at the picture under my name, there is a G in the center representing God. when your in lodge your not allowed to discuss politics or religion, except that there is a lot of quotes from the bible, you have to believe in God to join, not only that, you have to kiss a bible to show that you truly mean it. servants to God. i have never seen construction tools "the symbols of masonry" to be pagan.
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« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2013, 04:58:25 PM »

It really is its own religion even if people do not recognize it as such. It has its own rules, litmus tests, ontology, sacred writings and mysteries. The fact that is relativistic and allows people to believe in any 'God' automatically causes it to clash with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.
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« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2013, 05:04:59 PM »

When I think of Masonry, this comes to mind:

Quote
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
(Gen. 11:2-4)

I could never see the Holy Trinity we worship in Orthodoxy as one and the same with the Great Anonymous Architect/Mr. G of the Masons...
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 05:05:16 PM by Romaios » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2013, 05:15:26 PM »

It really is its own religion even if people do not recognize it as such. It has its own rules, litmus tests, ontology, sacred writings and mysteries. The fact that is relativistic and allows people to believe in any 'God' automatically causes it to clash with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.

I feel that it doesn't answer the question. In America, you are allowed to believe in any god you choose. to me, you told me that being an American clashes with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.
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« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2013, 05:22:20 PM »

It really is its own religion even if people do not recognize it as such. It has its own rules, litmus tests, ontology, sacred writings and mysteries. The fact that is relativistic and allows people to believe in any 'God' automatically causes it to clash with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.

I feel that it doesn't answer the question. In America, you are allowed to believe in any god you choose. to me, you told me that being an American clashes with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.


In some cases, perhaps. Just as the early Christians were killed by the Roman state because of their exclusive belief. Christianity is exclusive.
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« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2013, 05:22:42 PM »

A bunch of you say I'd have to drop FreeMasonry but I don't understand  Huh

My brothers in the fraternity have actually lead me to embrace God in my heart. I'm just confused that a group that has done so much good, I would have to leave. I had to prove I believe in God in order to join. Can anyone explain this better to me?

First off, I'm truly sorry that introductory thread turned into a thread about Freemasonry.

That said I believe God and holiness can be found in Freemasonry as seems to be in your case. Same way God and holiness can be found in, say, Islam or ancient Greek philosophy. Does it mean the we should convert to Islam or start studying Greek philosophy? Nope, since Orthodoxy contains the fullness of truth and we are are to avoid participation or membership in non-Orthodox religious institution. Freemasonry is not a religion per se but AFAIK it demands faith in one God but doesn't specify that it is the Christian God and that is way too irenic position for traditional Christianity.

I recently watched an interview of Master Mason in Grand Lodge of Finland (or something like that. How should I know Masonic titles in a foreign language Grin) Heikki Mäki and in that interview he explained that the basic point of Freemasonry is that there is both bad and good in all of us and we are to act according to virtues, virtuously and inner goodness that is in all of us. Superficially speaking that might sound very Christian idea but actually it is quite the opposite since according to Orthodoxy we are saved by Grace and work out our salvation in union with God.

While doing good deeds and believing in one God are certainly good things mixing inclusive ideas of God and talk about our inner goodness without any reference to the grace of Christian God sounds rather problematic from traditional Christian perspective. IMO that's why being a Freemason is
incompatible with being a Christian.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 05:29:49 PM by Alpo » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2013, 05:50:17 PM »

It really is its own religion even if people do not recognize it as such. It has its own rules, litmus tests, ontology, sacred writings and mysteries. The fact that is relativistic and allows people to believe in any 'God' automatically causes it to clash with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.

I feel that it doesn't answer the question. In America, you are allowed to believe in any god you choose. to me, you told me that being an American clashes with any belief that requires an exclusive belief.

It does if you think it is more than human convention and will go to God and say "But I can believe whatever I want and its ok because we down here decided so." To be "American" doesn't require you to think everyone else is right and ok, just that you do not impose your beliefs on others. To believe in relativism (It doesn't matter what you call God, its all the same, there is no objective, singular truth) does.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 05:51:57 PM by Jason.Wike » Logged
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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2013, 05:57:23 PM »

Thaddeus, if you are looking for a fraternal or social group, why not try to find something with which to be involved at church? It's a good way to meet people, it helps the parish and you won't have to worry whether it's compatible with the faith. Just a thought.  Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2013, 06:07:21 PM »

Hello Thadeus,
Though I am for the most part a silent observer of these forums, I sympathize with your situation having similar experiences.
I believe one thing to remember reguarding inquiring into the Orthodox faith is that we as inquirers and catechumens can take our time preparing for conversion.
I believe that you should not drop anything you believe that is helping you to be a good person out of haste or just because everyone tells you that you have to.  In my experience (and I believe this is true among most parishes) priests are patient.  Mine is incredibly patient with me.  Because of that, I learned that Christ is patient too.  I am so grateful.  I am still a catechumen after a year and even though I'm longing for my first bapitism, I trust in my parish to let me know when I'm ready because they are so patient. One reason I was attracted to Orthodoxy was the priest's ability to listen and not giving me a hellfire speech that I was so used to elsewhere.  He allowed me to discover my misdirections by guiding me through the history and study of the faith.

What I will hope you will experience is that even though Freemasons have many good-hearted people in the organization (which they absolutely do), the richness of Orthodoxy perhaps will allow you to determine on your own terms when you need to leave the organization with a free heart and without regret.  In other words, your departure from Freemasonry is required with conversion, but don't do so until you are convinced in your heart that you are ready to do so; and then convert.  I believe you could possibly leave freely with great study and prayer.
Good luck!
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« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2013, 08:01:34 PM »

OP: As I am just being a catechumen, my advice was meant in a good way. But as experience, it took me a short time to realize when inquiery become something more serious, that choises had to be made. Habits had to be forgotten and learning to live, behave, get accustomed to new traditions and learning takes a lot.

I understand that this is not easy for you. What you should do, is think it through and ask: How much does God matter to you? What are you willing to do for God? Are you willing to be a servant for God? I think many ask themselves these questions often and perhaps even daily.
Perhaps this sound like a superman-christian-a-like thing, but it is not meant like that from my side. It can be helpful questions.

Wishing you best of luck in your inquieries. There are many good resources out there, helpful people and some of them, you can find in the forum.
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« Reply #32 on: February 18, 2013, 06:39:30 AM »

Conversion books may help you. Such books are a great benefit for me. Especially if it deals with other beliefs and religions. For example the books: "The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios" and "born to hate reborn to love"
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« Reply #33 on: February 18, 2013, 06:50:38 AM »

Carl McColman is a particularly good choice of writer. I personally love his style of writing, and the accounts of how he went from paganism to the RCC are insightful for anyone.

You can check his site before his books: http://www.carlmccolman.com/
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« Reply #34 on: February 18, 2013, 02:06:21 PM »

Here is the official statement from the Orthodox Church of Greece concerning Freemasonry:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/masonry.aspx

This provides a good and authoritative summary as to why Orthodoxy and Freemasonry are not compatible.

Some additional comments on this subject from Fr. Alexey Young (now Hieromonk Ambrose), can be read here:

http://www.roca.org/OA/70/70t.htm

While the Orthodox position on Freemasonry may be upsetting to you, I encourage you to seek the truth with humility and sincerity.  Study the roots of Freemasonry and its fruits, and also study the history of the Orthodox Church and the lives of the saints.  May God enlighten you on your journey.
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« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2013, 04:03:40 PM »

You people wound me sometimes.
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« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2013, 04:18:50 PM »

You people wound me sometimes.

I feel ya Smiley

a Jew , a Pharisee even could bring himself to talk about the communality in what the pagans were worshiping,for the sake of making them listen to what he has to say and winning them over for Christ, we apparently have a lot to learn from him on how to talk to those who are interested and are willing to listen to what we have to say...
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« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2013, 08:18:04 PM »

You people wound me sometimes.

Sorry, it was me who asked him about his moniker.  I was just trying to make polite conversation. 

Thaddeus, I'm sorry.  I hope you will still look into Orthodoxy.  Obviously I've never been a Mason since I'm female, but I've a long time friend who is one, and he is generally a good person if you overlook the fact that he was always proposing we get married even though he was married at the time.  It was great because I always had the excuse "but you're married already!" until he got divorced.  Fortunately he's on a different continent now and has found the woman who will probably care for him for the rest of his life, I hope. 

We worked together years ago as a team, so we got pretty close, just as friends, not physically.  He is really a gentlemen with a great heart, despite his talk sometimes.  And I used to tick him off by finishing his crossword puzzle on first break and he wouldn't have his favorite pastime during lunch.  Good times.  We still talk on Skype, and he always asks, "Are you still Orthodox?"  and I say, "yeeeess" and he just looks away.  lol  Doesn't seem like it's done a lot for him spiritually, I know his soul is still looking, or maybe he just has not experienced a deep spiritual life, I'm not sure.  I just know I care about him and want him to be okay, and sometimes he worries me.  I've never mentioned anything about him being a Mason except when we first started working together, he talked about it a bit, and the one time when we were working on his Mason lodge building.  He said normally a woman would never be allowed in the building, but he would let me use the restroom  Roll Eyes  How can you not like someone that charming?  (I have to leave out the rest of his rationale since it's x-rated).

I hope you can get some real exposure, like in a real church, not just online, and get a spiritual sense of what it is, then maybe you can love us despite our possibly being less than appealing messengers of our faith.

May God help us all.
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« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2013, 12:56:22 AM »

Dear Thaddeus P.

Perhaps I can be of assistance in understanding the Orthodox stance on Freemasonry. I am not a Mason, but my brother is, as was my father, several uncles and great uncles and both my grandfathers (Scottish Rite). I'll grant you that in may areas Masonry seems like a great Christian friendly civic organization…and to an extent it is…in certain places.  My elder relatives joined it at a time when the lodge was a good connection to have in hard times. They looked after their own, helped members find jobs, gave assistance in time of trouble, helped with educating the kids, many good things. Indeed where I grew up its reputation was so positive that most of the deacons of the Southern Baptist Church I grew up in were numbered among the Masons.  I did have one uncle who moved up North though, and the Baptists up there felt very differently, they would not let him become a member unless he left the Masons. They had no dealings with secret societies and did not believe them compatible with the Christian faith as they understood it. At the time I had no desire to join the Masons, but had no animas against them either. It made me curious, and over the next few years I snooped around to find out what I could.

During this time I encountered two things that gave me particular pause.  The first was some of the oaths Masons make as they are initiated at various stages of the way…a few of them included things clearly of a sort no Christian should ever bind himself to, things like if he should betray the secrets of the organization his tongue should be cut out, then be murdered in some gruesome fashion on a river bank… ick. In fact the first political party in the US was organized as an anti freemasonry party, and one of the inciting incidents in its formation was some group of Masons taking that oath very seriously and actually murdering a former loose lipped member in that matter. Granted that was one of few and last time such a deed was heard of…but still it is indicative that at least once not too far in our past, such dreadful oaths were taken seriously.  How could once make an oath to God subjecting yourself to be mutilated and murdered or binding yourself to murder and mutilate another who had proven unfaithful…that is not an oath worthy of Christ who gave Himself for us while we were faithless, and who ever condescends to us though we remain inconstant and forgetful.  If, however, these oaths, are just seen as a bit of gruesome fun, it is no less a thing inconsistent with the Christian teaching to be sober minded, one's yea being yea and one's nay, nay. If we vow things to God things we don't really mean, how is that good, especially if those vows are not lawful?

The second thing I encountered was at a friend's house who had been at one time an active Mason. He had a book of the Scottish Rite on his bookshelf and one time while over there I picked it up and began to thumb through it, spot reading here and there.  At one point my eye fell on a paragraph discussing mystic powers and it quite explicitly equated those powers and the powers shown by Christ with magic.  That surprised me.

Still, questionable things aside, every Mason I knew was a decent and honorable man, many devout Christians of one stripe or another.

Some years later a third thing happened. I joined the Navy and traveled to Rhode Island for my training command while there…at a hotel I think, I came across some Masonic literature, a lodge news magazine of sorts..perhaps a regional one. Anyway I began to read it and found myself more and more repelled by what I found. I don't quite know how to describe it…but it was like Masonry that had few if any remnant cultural ties to Christianity, that its various rites and ceremonies had supplanted those things in the lives of it members. It was like it was it's own religion separate from other belief systems by in large…or viewed itself as superior to them in some way. It was nothing like the Masonry I grew up with down South. The Masons I knew would not have recognized the Masonry I had encountered in that publication.

As I read more from Masonry's critics I learned that it has a chameleon aspect. Where a culture has strong religious character, it morphs to fit into that culture, keeping its rites and ceremonies yet interpreting and experiencing them (for most) in the context of that culture…but where faith was weaker, its particulars expressed themselves more strongly and without dissimulation.

Since then I've become Orthodox (and am becoming)…and it makes some pretty exclusive truth claims…claims that cannot be superseded by any others' no matter how much civic good they may do in different places. Though we rejoice in good will and mercy whoever communicates these things, we no admit that these other conventicles, and communions participate in the fullness of what Christ delivered once and for all unto the Saints. In Christ is the fulness of grace and Truth, and St. Paul said of the Church, His Body, that it is the pillar/foundation/bulwark of the Truth.  We cannot serve two masters, we cannot make exclusive oaths to Christ such as we make at our Baptisms and Chrismations and keep oaths to other institutions elsewhere that set themselves higher than the bonds of the Spirit in Christ.  

Consider the Masonic oaths to look after lodge brothers and their families.  In itself this is not a bad thing, but look at how those oaths are structured…they place loyalty to the lodge and its brothers above any obligation outside the lodge. If one man had claim in Christ on a Masonic member and another nonChristian…or even Christian Mason having an unjust position made a similar and exclusive claim, the Mason in the middle is honor bound by his Masonic oaths to prefer his Masonic brother over his Christian brother even if the Masonic brother's cause is less just…even antithetical to the Christian faith. Now, granted people are not machines, and things may not always work that way in practice, but it is part of what it means to be a Mason, exercised or not.  

For now, while you are inquiring, learning, it may not be much of an obstacle…talk to a priest. But if you desire at some point to enter the Orthodox faith, then you will be require to make exclusive oaths of allegiance to Christ that supersede and nullify those of the lodge. It is not to worry though, the service of Christ is better, and nothing precludes you from doing good to or for anyone that is in your hand to do, either singly or with others.  You will have to make a choice though. That choice however need not be rancorous. The Lodge is not the Temple, nor can it be…but I think, perhaps for certain ones it may point to the temple. If you had a good Lodge, with good people, they can be remembered with thanks, the good you received likewise can be remembered with thanks, but it's not a place you can stay and become an Orthodox Christian, for all the good you may find, there is still too much incompatible and inconsistent with the Orthodox Christian faith.

And you may rest assured whatever you lay aside that is in part will in time be met with a fullness that you never dream existed. Just read the lives of holy souls like St. Seraphim of Sarov, Mother Gavriella, Elder Paisius, Elder Cleopas, Elder Paisios, Elder Porphyrios….they will make your heart leap and sorrow at the same time…leap for in them grace was abundantly poured out upon the earth in our own era and times…that such lives could exist outside the pages of the Bible is wonder…and a proof of Orthodoxy if you will have it (seed reproduces in kind). It is also a sorrow for in the light of their sacrifice and accomplishment we see how far we really have to go before we even set our feet to the foothills of holiness.  

I once had a correspondence with a Pagan woman who was friendly, but not convinced about Christ or any of that. I recommended her the story of Elder Porphyrios, and the next time I talked with her, she was convinced by him to follow Christ….and having read his life I can surely believe it…some stories too incredible to be believed except that many of their witnesses still live.  There are wonders, Thaddeus, wonders to behold…but the path there travels through hard lands…the seekers will find, hard though the way may be.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 12:59:46 AM by Seraphim98 » Logged
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« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2013, 09:46:44 AM »

Seraphim98,
What a beautifully written post.  Thank you for sharing on the public forum!  Cheesy angel
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