Author Topic: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request  (Read 1796 times)

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Offline SehnsuchtSojourner

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A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« on: October 23, 2014, 09:09:25 PM »
Hey all,

So take it for what you will, I find myself in the opposite problem of what many here face: I have too many parishes near me.  Too many, as in, there are two parishes of the same jurisdiction that are 10 minutes away from each other in addition to other churches in the area that are all a feasible driving distance from me.  This is a huge blessing in one sense because I have had the chance to see God at work in the services at many different places, focusing primarily on the two within the same jurisdiction as I had contacts in both those locations and could attend services at both depending on my schedule.

... however ...

These parishes are not quite on the best footing with each other, and I feel very torn, having experienced the beauty of God in each one.  I guess you could say one is traditional and the other is progressive in approach.  Frankly, I don't care about the debates; I care about worshiping God and doing His ministry -- which I DO see present in BOTH places.  It would be a lot easier for me to convert if I hadn't seen the good in both, but I'm getting a ton of voices (and internal turmoil) about where I *ought* to go or ought *not* to go.

I post this here not to start a post war about calendars or Fr. Alexander Schmemann or Fr. Seraphim Rose or general confession or inclusion of the psalms in the divine liturgy or concelebration among communities -- as I have grown weary of all these debates surrounding me -- but to ask for prayer because I hate living in this tension.  I desperately want unity in the Body of Christ.  I know the enemy of my soul would love it if I just tossed in the towel until I moved somewhere else and started fresh, but I know that there will be all sorts of different divisions no matter where I go (as there have been since apostolic times).  Please pray that God would lead me into His Church by whatever means He sees fit, and that He would in some way bring unity to these communities.

Peace in Christ,
SS

Offline biro

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2014, 09:15:58 PM »
Lord have mercy.
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 04:30:14 PM »
one is traditional and the other is progressive in approach. 

ISTM that the terms "progressive" and "traditional", especially in Orthodoxy, are so poorly defined and poorly understood as to make comparisons pretty meaningless. The usual definition seems to be: "whatever I think is right/appropriate."
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Offline hecma925

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 06:20:21 PM »
Where can you feel as part of a family, as well (and more importantly) as spiritually grow as a Christian?

Lord, have mercy.  May He guide you.
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Offline Sean Chaney

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 07:35:44 PM »
Well, my friend....First, you are right where Christ wants you to be.  One HOLY Catholic Apostolic Church.  This is a great lesson for you, because you have experience with multiple traditions of the faith.  You can explain them to others in conversation, and you know their strengths and weaknesses.  For example, I go to a Greek Orthodox Church which is less traditional.  People are well educated in the faith, and their faith is strong.  Here is the issue with the Greeks...even though they live the faith, you will often not see them enter the church until the time of the partaking of the Holy Eucharist, and then many leave.  At that same token, you will see the animation of the church as many are in the chapel or lighting candles at the same time Divine Liturgy is happening.  Canon says it is not good to be late for service...but there are many exceptions in the Greek Church, and they are laid back with confessions.  I was baptized in an OCA Church which comes from the Russian tradition.  Russians are very formal.  They attend Liturgy on time, their liturgies are longer, and they often stand the entire service.  Their rituals are more....complete, too.  They do have a reputation, however for being too legalistic among some traditions.  THey would say they are disciplined, and that the Greeks do not take their faith as serious as they should.  In my experience, it's somewhere in the middle.  Personally, I found the Greek tradition to be more approachable, and more friendly, which I feel is is the point of community, thou I still admire the discipline in Russian tradition.  Being baptized OCA, I did life confessions.  My parished priest who is Greek did not even know what life confessions were. lol.  The Greeks do not rebaptize if you have alread had a Trinitarian baptism.  My girlfriend was baptized Greek. So, here is my advice, pray diligently, and approach it with the thought that you want to support a single perish.   Find ONE Church to become a member of, and attend Liturgy there every Sunday.  I believe attending Vespers or Vigil throughout the week at multiple perishes is okay.  It develops community.  There are also times of the year when Orthodox Churches have their cultural festivals.  We try to support and attend all of these.  Also, during Pascha season (Great Lent) many perishes have Pan-Orthodox Vespers at other perishes  every week of Great Lent to encourage Community among Orthodox Christians.  You don't have to be isolating, but find ONE parish where God leads you to become a member of and attend Liturgy every Sunday...

Father, you know your servant's struggle.  You have blessed him with an intimate knowledge of the Faith through multiple traditions, but help him to consume the ONE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Fully United.  We know Lord, despite differing rich traditions, it is the same Liturgy in every Church, whether St. Basil or St. John Chrysostom, and for Western Rite, St. Gregory.  Help him to find the Parish you want him to be at in his area and place him there.  Give him a home in the Church in which he diligently seeks, Father, and may your will be done in his life to progress the Kingdom of Heaven and your Holy Church.  We pray this all in your Holy Son, Jesus Christ's Name, Father.  In the Name of the Father, The Son, and THe Holy Spirit.  Amen

Also, get to know the priest or the parish.  Your relationship with your parish Priest often determines where you are, and have them pray for you as well if you need further guidance.

Great Post!  Nominated of Post of the month. Thomas Convert Issues Forum Moderator
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 10:29:23 PM by Thomas »

Offline IXOYE

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 09:29:39 PM »
Lord, have mercy!

Offline Antonious Nikolas

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2014, 09:32:53 PM »
:Lord have mercy!
I'm with the camp of 13 million Americans that believe politicians are, or are controlled by, Reptilians. I think only monks can solve this problem. It doesn't seem right that they prefer to ignore it.

Offline Bob2

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 12:51:37 AM »
It would be a lot easier for me to convert if I hadn't seen the good in both

hmm, maybe... but I suspect the opposite is true.

Offline mabsoota

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 03:04:18 PM »
my gut feeling is to avoid you to avoid both these that are arguing and find another!
it's good to take care to avoid 'shopping around' too much to find the 'best' church,
but if you're in a situation where you need spiritual help and it's not available,
then sometimes you need to look somewhere else for it.

but maybe, if you are stronger, God wants you to be involved in one of these churches,
as someone who can help them by not joining in the unkind gossip.

only God knows.
read the Bible, pray, take care of those around you and may God guide you.

Offline Xenia

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2014, 03:43:41 PM »
Quote
my gut feeling is to avoid you to avoid both these that are arguing and find another!

Or, if you feel you must pick from one of these two,  pick the one that is the most charitable towards the other.

Offline SehnsuchtSojourner

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2014, 01:02:55 PM »
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and thoughts!  I was away for a portion of the weekend, so I apologize for my failure to reply.  Here are a few of my thoughts

one is traditional and the other is progressive in approach. 

ISTM that the terms "progressive" and "traditional", especially in Orthodoxy, are so poorly defined and poorly understood as to make comparisons pretty meaningless. The usual definition seems to be: "whatever I think is right/appropriate."

Progressive, i.e., pews, general confession, etc.
Traditional, i.e., no pews, full length of services, etc.
^ There's more to it than this, but I do see the "whatever I think is right/appropriate" approach :)

Where can you feel as part of a family, as well (and more importantly) as spiritually grow as a Christian?

I think I could grow in both, but I do see it easier in one to find family and in the other to grow.  But who am I to discern?

...They attend Liturgy on time, their liturgies are longer, and they often stand the entire service.  Their rituals are more....complete, too.  They do have a reputation, however for being too legalistic among some traditions.  THey would say they are disciplined, and that the Greeks do not take their faith as serious as they should.  In my experience, it's somewhere in the middle.  Personally, I found the Greek tradition to be more approachable, and more friendly, which I feel is is the point of community, thou I still admire the discipline in Russian tradition.

...So, here is my advice, pray diligently, and approach it with the thought that you want to support a single perish.   Find ONE Church to become a member of, and attend Liturgy there every Sunday.  I believe attending Vespers or Vigil throughout the week at multiple perishes is okay.  It develops community.  There are also times of the year when Orthodox Churches have their cultural festivals.  We try to support and attend all of these.  Also, during Pascha season (Great Lent) many perishes have Pan-Orthodox Vespers at other perishes  every week of Great Lent to encourage Community among Orthodox Christians.  You don't have to be isolating, but find ONE parish where God leads you to become a member of and attend Liturgy every Sunday...

I truly appreciate the depth of insight you offer here, Sean!  That is almost exactly the case I'm finding myself in.  One holds to the liturgies very tightly in length and depth, and the other is a bit more approachable (e.g., holding office hours), if I may say that.  But I see good in *both* cases!  I pray, and I do believe God is drawing me one direction, but as you said, it's a direction that's tempered with a desire to promote unity.  I've gotten to know one of the priests that's a bit in the middle, and he has given me advice as to how to pray.  He also seems to believe that I've been put in this situation for a reason, so I pray God would use me (even though not Orthodox yet) to bring these two places into greater unity of faith.

On that last bit about Pan-Orthodox Vespers: One of the major concerns I've found is that the progressive one does voice concerns about the traditional one more often than the traditional about the progressive one... but the traditional one does not participate in the Pan-Orthodox meetings held in my area (*proceeds to bash head against a wall*).  Would this be because one holds to old calendar and the other holds to new calendar?  Lord, have mercy...

It would be a lot easier for me to convert if I hadn't seen the good in both
hmm, maybe... but I suspect the opposite is true.

In a sense, it's easier because I've seen God at work lots of places and know what I'm getting into, but it's harder in the sense of, "goodness, now I need to choose one." :P

Thanks again to all!

SS

P.S. How should I pray regarding the role of a spiritual father alongside the community I will enter?

Offline Regnare

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 04:35:56 PM »
Traditional, i.e., no pews, full length of services, etc.
I would be very skeptical of anyone who claims to do the "full length of services". Orthodox worship is maximalist; one does as much as one can, like the widow in the Temple. Odds are, every parish in your area abbreviates the services to some extent. For example, a fully performed Vigil should take a little over five and a half hours.
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Offline SehnsuchtSojourner

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 08:49:34 PM »
I would be very skeptical of anyone who claims to do the "full length of services". Orthodox worship is maximalist; one does as much as one can, like the widow in the Temple. Odds are, every parish in your area abbreviates the services to some extent. For example, a fully performed Vigil should take a little over five and a half hours.

You're right; I have been told that they do them full*er,* but not at fullest.  The Vigil service does take... a little over 3 hours, so...

... May I just say that I love how the Orthodox approach to everything is maximalist? Like, "well, we could take this out, but why would we not embrace this beauty?!"

Offline Bob2

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Re: A Curious Problem/Prayer Request
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2014, 10:09:44 PM »

On that last bit about Pan-Orthodox Vespers: One of the major concerns I've found is that the progressive one does voice concerns about the traditional one more often than the traditional about the progressive one... but the traditional one does not participate in the Pan-Orthodox meetings held in my area (*proceeds to bash head against a wall*).
I sympathize with your frustration here
I think I could grow in both, but I do see it easier in one to find family and in the other to grow.  But who am I to discern?
 
I agree with Sean that it is good to find a home parish, and one priest as your regular confessor.  It is ideal if they are in the same parish, but it is not essential.  I know at least a few people who have the local Greek church as the “home parish” but attend our (ROCOR)  parish occasionally and have our rector as their confessor. Once you are Orthodox it is not good to just bounce around willy nilly.  I think it is ok to talk to both priests and take you time making your decision, it took my wife and I almost three years of attending as inquirers before we decided that we were ready to become Orthodox.

Also, once you pick a “home parish” it great to occasionally visit other parishes. I love visiting other parishes and appreciating differences and similarities. It is very Orthodox to always try to see the good in others, that goes for people and for parishes. There are things that I like and prefer about my particular parish/jurisdiction, and things that I prefer about other parishes/jurisdictions, but mine always feels like home to me.  One example is language of services, my parish uses 50/50 English/Slavonic, I like visiting other parishes that use more English, but still feel that my parish is home.

I think perhaps you could be put in this situation for a reason, to build a bridge between the two.  I think better cross jurisdictional relations have as much to do with the laity as it does with the hierarchy.
P.S. How should I pray regarding the role of a spiritual father alongside the community I will enter?
Praying structured, time tested prayers (like in a prayer book) is important for our spiritual formation; it teaches us how to pray.  It is not the only way we can pray. I do not think there is a standard St SoandSo prayer for inquirers attempting to determine which parish to go to. God knows what you need, it is ok to just ask God to guide you in the path that is best for your salvation. If you pray any amount of structured evening or morning prayer just add prayers in your own words at the end: to help you to make decisions, to help you struggle against temptations you expect to encounter,  or for any other concern you have.