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Author Topic: advice please...  (Read 1906 times) Average Rating: 0
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Firiel
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« on: August 01, 2006, 12:00:31 AM »

Suffice to say that I am a teenager who wishes to convert to the Orthodox Faith but am being prevented by my parents. For over a year, I wished to convert to the Roman Church, but I was a bit put off when I attended a Mass. I have an Orthodox friend who introduced me to the Faith not long after I began to be doubtful of the RCC. I previously knew nothing of the Orthodoxy. With her, I attended the Pascha service, the Vespers the next morning, and the procession of Bishops at St. Tikhon's. By the time the service at St. Tikhon's had ended, I knew that this was what I had been looking for and not finding in the RCC.

My parents are Jehovah's Witnesses, and needless to say, quite resistant to my desired conversion. I see the wisdom in waiting, but does anyone have any advice for me during this period? It's extremely hard to simply sit here and not be able to attend any services. I've only an icon purchased at Tikhon's, Holy Water from the same, and two theology books, all of which are quite hidden and owned without paternal knowledge. So, please, if you've any knowledge that could be helpful in my situation, please give it.

Thank you and God Bless!
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Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
QuoVadis
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 12:16:35 AM »

Dear Firiel.  I pray God continues to lead you, and I know He will - glory to Him.  I understand the difficult situation that you are in, but I suggest you get in touch with the priest at St Tikhon's (if that's possible) - whether phoning, writing a letter or whatever - and explain your situation.  He will be the best one to get advice and guidance from.
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"Without sorrows there is no salvation. On the other hand, the Kingdom of God awaits those who have patiently endured. And all the glory of the world is nothing in comparison." - St Seraphim of Sarov
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 08:24:30 AM »

What Quo Vadis said is completely on the ball, and I second it. Contact a priest, even if in secret, and explain your situation. Pehaps your friend who took you to Church can help you here.

But can I also say, I sincerely admire your courage in being a hidden Christian. There were many Saints both in the early days of the Church and in recent times who had to keep their faith a secret, even from their parents. Even today, Orthodoxy finds itself in some countries where the Faithful have to practice in secret, so know that you are not alone!

Someone, I am sure, has been praying for you that you should have been led to Orthodoxy. Perhaps you have an Orthodox ancestor who is in Heaven and interceeding for you? At any rate you are certainly in my prayers.

Continue being patient and courageous, and when you finally can practice your Faith openly, you will have quite a story to tell...I see a book in the making!
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Troldhaugen
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2006, 10:33:14 AM »

Dear Firiel,

I know exactly what you are going through because I experienced a similar thing with my parents. They had always left the door open for me to choose my own religious path but they wouldn't let me go to any church until I was 18.

I, like you, was first drawn to the Roman Catholic Church but I turned to Orthodoxy but my parents still were against any conversion until I was over 18. I didn't understand their reasons then, but I do now. There are alot of strange cults, sects and 'faiths' which set themselves up and see younger members of their congregations as very handy for the demographics of their church. When people say to them, "Your church hasn't got a huge congregation", they can say, "Yes we have. And they include this....this....this". These sorts of sects can ask you for alot including money and so, as my mother recently explained to me, she didn't want me being drawn into such an organisation at a young age when you are impressionable, even if you don't feel that you are. And remember, at the moment, there is a huge anti-Church feeling in the media which may affect your parents view of the church and they may worry about what you're getting into.

I would say that you are best off taking the advice of both of he previous posters but above all.....PRAY. Prayer will not only bring you closer to God but will fill that emptiness you feel and that you want to fill with regular worship. If you haven't already, choose a Saint and "adopt" him or her as your Saint. Pray and ask their intercession for you and I would say that instead of wondering why you are drawn to Orthodoxy, just say, "Lord, I'm yours. I'll follow you wherever you want me to go". Read the Bible and read your theology books, worship when you can and how you can. As ozgeorge said, many people throughout the ages have had to practice in secret.

I will pray you for and I hope that you will be able to follow the path you want to follow.
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"One must have only a little patience-and is it really so difficult? For every day that passes quietly I thank God"
QuoVadis
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2006, 08:04:07 PM »

Oh yes ... good idea, Troldhaugen!  Asking a saint to guide and pray for you is another fantastic idea!  You know what - Grand Duchess Elizabeth has become very prominent and dear to me over the past few weeks and in a grand way I have felt her praying and guiding me.  So I would recommend that you ask her for her prayers as she stands before Christ as a shining saint.  She was a convert to Orthodoxy from the Lutheran Church, and was a BEAUTIFUL Christian - not just outward beauty, but beauty that only Christ's love can give on the inside.  Read more about her if you get the chance ...
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"Without sorrows there is no salvation. On the other hand, the Kingdom of God awaits those who have patiently endured. And all the glory of the world is nothing in comparison." - St Seraphim of Sarov
Troldhaugen
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2006, 08:37:57 PM »

I second that QuoVadis! Although my special Saint is the Holy Royal Martyr Alexandra, I have prayed for the Grand Duchess Elizabeth's intercession too. I honestly believe that she will guide you Firiel, so ask for her intercession.
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"One must have only a little patience-and is it really so difficult? For every day that passes quietly I thank God"
Firiel
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2006, 11:54:27 PM »

Thank you so much, everyone! This advice really has helped me get a stronger conviction for just about everything. I'll definitely get in contact with the local priest, I've met him and he's a very kind and understanding man. I've been looking for a Saint to adopt for a while now, but I haven't been able to find very extensive lists and descriptions of Orthodox Saints online. I'm definitely close to choosing one, though.

Ozgeorge- Your support really means a lot. A "how I converted" book is certainly possible. I hadn't thought about it before, but it could be very inspiring to other people looking into Orthodoxy. Thanks for the idea!

QuoVadis- Thanks for the recommendation of Grand Duchess Elizabeth. I'm afraid that I haven't come across her before (strange, as I'm quite the history fanatic), but I'll certainly look up on her. I'm already strongly considering the one Royal Martyrs, so that suggestion was quite helpful.

Troldhaugen- Thank you so much for all of that! It's good to finally talk to someone else in a similar situation. It seems like you're the only one who has the misfortune if all of those around you either don't want to convert or have parents who are perfectly fine with the idea, doesn't it? Thanks for the recommendation of Grand Duchess Alexandra, I've read a bit on her here and there and she seems the most suited to be my adopted Saint, though I might take a Celtic saint...
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Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Troldhaugen
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2006, 10:31:22 AM »

You're welcome Firiel. I chose the Royal Martyr Alexandra as my Saint because I identified with her alot. She was a convert to Orthodoxy with a very strong faith and changed everything about her for the good of others. I read a book on the late Empress and when she was being imprisoned in the Ipatiev House, she wrote ,"One must have only a little patience-and is it really so difficult? For every day that passes quietly I thank God". That stayed with me and I hope you can adopt that too. God will know that your love for him is great and although it may take time to be christmated, your love for Him will be just as strong then as it is now. Keep praying and feel free to PM me if you want to.  Smiley

In Christ,
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"One must have only a little patience-and is it really so difficult? For every day that passes quietly I thank God"
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2006, 03:32:19 PM »

Firiel,

Glory to our Lord Jesus Christ!  I sympathize with your situation since, like others who have posted, I was raised in a religion (Lutheran) that did not speak to me or answer all my questions or side stepped those questions.  It was really frustrating.  I thought that Roman Catholicism was the answer, but I knew that my parents would strenuously object and I also knew that I would be disobeying them had I went any further.  I waited until college to start going to mass, but I never felt at home there either.  So I contented myself to be Lutheran until I finally went to Great Vespers at an Orthodox parish here in Omaha and I haven't stopped going since.  And I'm now 30 years old! Shocked  The point I'm trying to make is that you don't have to rush it especially if it would put you at enmity with your parents and I'm sure that is not something you wish to do.  My parents accept my Orthodoxy and I think they do simply because I did not willfully disobey them while living under their roof.  Now I'm working with the graces of the Spirit to help them see the true faith and true light of our Lord. 

Let me also relate another experience. This summer I took a few of my students with me to Rome. One of my students is Episcopalian but is very frustrated with the church he grew up in.  He sometimes asked me about Orthodoxy and I gave him answers to the best of my ability, but he wanted me to help him convert and I told him that his religious instruction was his parents' prergoative, not mine.  But I did tell him, like everyone else here has said, to pray and to pray fervently.  Coming into the fullness of the faith might take time.  Our spiritual warfare is a marathon, not a sprint so pray diligently for strength to keep fighting the good fight for a long time.

The other day I was reading about St. John the Muslim (+ 1814) who was from a very prominent Muslim family yet became Orthodox (after he moved out of the house) and did not repent of that when seized by the authorities.  Ask for his help to be steadfast in your journey, to be gracious unto your parents and for the benefits of the Holy Spirit.

In IC XC,

Scamandrius
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Firiel
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2006, 08:24:41 PM »

Scamandrius,

In my original post I did say that I saw the wisdom in waiting, and, while I understand your concerns, I don't feel that I am rushing it. I pray frequently, but I understand that whilst I live with my parents, I'm expected to abide by their decisions regarding my religion, so I haven't tried to convert, I've just expressed a desire to do so. When there is tension regarding it, I'm not the initiator. All I ask of them is that they allow me to believe as I will, but I don't expect them to allow me to openly practice the religion. Perhaps I wasn't clear on that?

If I may ask, did you tell the student that simply so that he could avoid enmity with his parents, or do you hold that a parent should control a child's belief system after the latter has reached the age of reason?

Either way, thank you for the generous advice. God Bless!

Thanks, Troldhaugen. Patience is sometimes difficult to come by, but it's a great virtue, and I try to exercise it.
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2006, 12:53:43 AM »


If I may ask, did you tell the student that simply so that he could avoid enmity with his parents, or do you hold that a parent should control a child's belief system after the latter has reached the age of reason?

Firiel,

I told the student to defer to his parents for many reasons.  One of them was because I know and I believe that parents, however misguided they are, are entrusted with the upbringing of their children. I don't think this was a matter of control.  As for age of reason, I don't know what that even is.  I'm now 30 years old and I'm very unreasonable!

With regards to my student, it was simply not my place, as his teacher, to overstep my bounds and to instruct him in an area which I was not employed for.  I, of course, told him to prayerfully  consider his next steps.  And I know I acted correctly.  I also did not want enmity to ensue between myself and his parents and between his parents and him.  What profit would have come out of that?  I know that had I pursued a course of action towards the Orthodox cCurch when I was his age, I know my parents would have been alientated from myself.  And what good would it have done for them if I could not be a witness (poor as I am) to the light of the Truth had I been ostracized from them? 

I admit I don't know your exact family situation.  Of course, pray and learn what you can, but don't be so zealous that you rush in and cause possible harm to the people you love.

Scamandrius
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Those who do not read  history are doomed to get their facts from Hollywood--Anonymous

What earthly joy remains untouched by grief?--St. John Damascene
Firiel
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2006, 12:35:06 PM »

Oh, I see. That certainly clarifies it. Thanks very much.  Smiley
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