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Author Topic: What is a Catechumen?  (Read 2918 times) Average Rating: 0
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Simayan
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« on: October 22, 2005, 06:51:54 PM »

Hello.

I'm 15 years old, and recently decided to make the commitment to choose Greek Orthodoxy as my faith. However, after meeting with my priest, I have a few questions, as this situation doesn't seem very similar to other tales Ive heard on this board.

After having a group meeting with my mother, the priest, and myself, he concluded that I am to be baptised in only 6 months! I found this odd (yet exciting), as many people say it's taken them 2 or more years. However, I am somewhat of a "buff" on the Byzantine subject, and am currently devoting a whole semester to the study of its architecture and history. I cant help but feel that some people may see me "taking the easy way through" at my church, as we just started going regularly last week, and he already wishes for me to be the head alter boy. Do you think many people will think this?

During this whole meeting, he never mentioned the word Catechumen, nor any stages after baptism except for confirmation, which he said generally happens very soon after the baptism. Are we skipping a needed stage in this, or do different churches have different requirements of time?

Also, he encourages us to attend the coffee hour every Sunday. However, we cant help but feel strange there. For one, there is not a drop of Greek blood in us. Secondly, we know nobody there. Thirdly, my mom is Catholic, and has no intention of converting. What would you reccomend for getting to know some people and finding as sponsor?

God Bless.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 06:53:54 PM by Simayan » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2005, 07:08:19 PM »

Hey! I'm 17 and I just became a catechumen yesterday! So we're sort of in the same situation, though I am in the OCA.ÂÂ  Anyways,ÂÂ  it is a bit odd that he didn't mention you being a catechumen, but I don't think(though I could be wrong) it is a big deal as the catechumenate is not as formal as it used to be, like the rite to make someone a catechumen is no longer used.ÂÂ  I just became a catechumen by asking the priest, he said great, and now I'm a catechumen!ÂÂ  As for the amount of time between this meeting with the priest and your baptism, well, that varies from person to person and you should trust that the priest made the right decision.ÂÂ  It all depends on how much you already know.ÂÂ  For example, I had already read a lot of books, was already keeping the fasts, and already had a prayer rule, and had been attending services for 3 months, so my catechumenate will only be 5 months.ÂÂ  

It doesn't matter what other people think.ÂÂ  It is what the priest thinks that counts, he knows what is best, not some random person at coffee hour.ÂÂ  

Confirmation(or more properly, chrismation) always immediately follows baptism.ÂÂ  It's not like Western churches where the two are separated.

You just have to get out there and introduce yourself. Say something like "Hi, I don't think we've met yet, my name is _______." or something.ÂÂ  Getting to know people in the parish is essential, Orthodoxy is NOT an individualistic religion.ÂÂ  I think you'll find that most people are generally friendly, just you might need to make the first move in getting to know them(and I know this is hard, but it gets easier).

As for your original question "What is a catechumen?":  A catechumen is just someone who has officially decided that Orthodoxy is the true faith and that they will join the church.  By becoming a catechumen, you agree to(or at least, I had to agree to): 1)Attend services regularly, 2) Maintain the prayer rule that you devised with the priest, 3) Meet with the priest regularly for catechesis and guidance, and 4) Keep the fasts of the church.  It also means that you have a definite date for being received into the church, and that if you were to die before being received into the church, you could have an Orthodox funeral. 

Ask the priest to help you find a sponsor.

With all this advice though, keep in mind that I only became a catechumen yesterday, so I could be way off here....

Congratulations on your decision to become Orthodox though!  I'll be praying for you!
« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 07:13:58 PM by zebu » Logged

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Simayan
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2005, 07:53:02 PM »

Thank you Zebu!
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2005, 09:38:29 PM »

Interesting...

it is a bit odd that he didn't mention you being a catechumen, but I don't think(though I could be wrong) it is a big deal as the catechumenate is not as formal as it used to be, like the rite to make someone a catechumen is no longer used.  I just became a catechumen by asking the priest, he said great, and now I'm a catechumen!

Wow, that's REALLY informal.  There IS a rite of making someone a catechumen, and it involves several prayers by the initiate and by the priest over the initiate, and I've seen it done, I think three times, in my parish.  The fact that NOTHING was done in your case, zebu, is a bit surprising.

That having been said, the way one becomes a catechumen in the US is far from STANDARDIZED (there is NO standard, truth be told), but it is not necessarily that informal.

Quote
As for the amount of time between this meeting with the priest and your baptism, well, that varies from person to person and you should trust that the priest made the right decision.  It all depends on how much you already know.

This is somewhat true, though since you said you're in the OCA, our archbishop (+ DMITRI) said that he likes for folks to have a year-long catechumenate.

All that having been said, though, congratulations, and welcome to the true Faith!

Pedro
« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 09:39:13 PM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2005, 10:53:44 PM »

After I'd been asking my preist questions for about a year I asked about Baptism and he said ok... So I asked don't I have to be a catchumen first, and he said "I think we've done enough of that".  In most churches there's a formal period as a catechumen, but you're baptism will still 'work' just fine with out it, being made a catechumen isn't a sacrament or anything, it's just to make sure you're ready and you're not taking anything lightly... Don't worry about anything being 'invalid'.
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2005, 12:02:35 AM »

Pedro: Well, I actually asked him about the rite to make someone a catechumen, and he said that was only done for people who will be baptized. He said that now I bow my head at the litany of the catechumens and that he will announce to the parish on Sunday that I have become a catechumen.  And that's all there is to becoming a catechumen.  If something sounds very wrong to you here, please, by all means, tell me!  Though, unless I am mistaken, Archbishop DMITRI+ is not my bishop.  My bishop is the Right Reverened TIKHON+, Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West.  And, also, Bishop BENJAMIN+ of Berkeley.  Not quite sure why there are two bishops in one diocese...
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2005, 12:03:31 AM »

Quote
Wow, that's REALLY informal.  There IS a rite of making someone a catechumen, and it involves several prayers by the initiate and by the priest over the initiate, and I've seen it done, I think three times, in my parish.  The fact that NOTHING was done in your case, zebu, is a bit surprising.

In the Greek practice I have noted that the service of making a catechumen is not really formally done.  For instance, when I was made a catechumen I basically just had an informal talk with my bishop and he said, "ok you are now a catechumen." The prayers of the making of a catechumen are read over the candidate on the day of baptism.  Perhaps a return to more ancient practice is warrented.

Anastasios
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2005, 01:15:06 AM »

Though, antiquity is not necessarily better.
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2005, 02:19:50 AM »

In the GOA I had the formal catechumen prayers read over me by the priest at my parish a few months before I was formally recieved in the GOA.  I enjoyed the time I was a catechumen and honestly wished I could have had a longer catechumenate - it is better to work out issues then opposed to after illumination IME.
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2005, 03:46:06 PM »

Simayan,

Xroniapolla!

There was never much of a ceremony for my catechumenate in the GOA either. However, word gets around, and the parish will soon learn that you are a potential convert. Then, it's always interesting---discernment will occur and someone in the parish will float to the top to become your godparent. The priest will help, as well as the Spirit, and things will get done.

Also, I'm not Greek, and my wife isn't Greek, but really it doesn't matter. The majority of people in the GOA really don't care. To those who do care, it speaks more of them than of you.

Kali dynami, and you have my prayers. You have chosen a good home; now get to learn the many rooms in this mansion.
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2005, 01:10:34 AM »

I'm not 15 and you couldn't force me to attend GOYA.  As for support of my mother - what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2005, 01:44:11 AM »

I'm not 15 and you couldn't force me to attend GOYA.  As for support of my mother - what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

I think she meant to write Simayan, not Silouoan, in her reply.  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2005, 02:28:52 AM »

Yeah I'll concede this one to you, Philotheos (you know the Greek form of your name here is cooler).  Still GOYA = strange.  I've always thought youth group type things are weird though - they are so forced and fake.       
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2005, 07:02:01 AM »

I think she meant to write Simayan, not Silouoan, in her reply.  Wink

Irene,
it appears you just addressed your post to the wrong person...the Original Poster's name is Simayan, and you wrote to Silouoan.
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2005, 08:23:43 AM »

 Smiley  I deleted my posts, instead of interrupting the thread.  (although this one is).
  When I originally replied, I scrolled down, and saw Silouans name on the first post.   Anyway, my prayers are with all catechumens!

    Irene
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2005, 02:11:30 PM »

Sound advice here.

A catechumen is somebody who is undergoing catechesis in preparation for being received into Orthodoxy.  This takes various forms, ranging from formal classes, through a more relaxed period of informal instruction and grounding in Orthodox practice and prayer, to a very informal approach.

The length of the catechumenate varies depending on local custom and individual circumstances, whether the bishop insists on a minimum or not and what the priest's decision is within those constraints.  I come from a tradition that shares much with Orthodoxy and had been looking East for some time.  I was made a catechumen in September and am to be Baptised and Chrismated early to mid next year.

I think that it is perhaps inaccurate to say that the rite of making a catechumen is no longer used.  I was surprised to hear that there are places that don't use it.  I had the full works: prayers, the exorcisms and the anointings.  It is only recently upon visiting another church that I learnt that there are some churches where the catechumens remain for the full Liturgy, even after having been dismissed! Huh  I have been back once or twice and I still leave at the appropriate moment.

In any case, many prayers for you, Simayan.  I hope all goes well.
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2005, 09:02:39 AM »

I'm surprised, too, it's not more across the board.   But, the priest I study with doesn't seem worried, so, I'm not.   I did ask him specifically if I was a catechumen, and he said yes.    The members in the church, also, introduce me to others that way.   If I die before becoming a member, I will have an orthodox funeral.   No one has ever addressed leaving when it comes to the  'catechumens depart' time.   So, I respect this is the way it is done in this specific church, which is large.   My sponsor prays for me, the priest does, etc...but not in a rite in front of the church.

If others are having this done, I think it is beautiful and powerful, but it definitely isn't mandatory, in the eyes of the church, for whatever reasons.   

Irene   
 
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