1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Ask an Orthodox Christian

Discussion in 'Orthodox Christian DIR' started by Shiranui117, May 12, 2014.

  1. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Have a question for the Orthodox Christians on this board? Ask away. From icons and the Sacraments, to priests and spiritual fathers, to the Jesus Prayer and Hesychasm, to Theosis, food, old grandmothers and any number of matters regarding the faith and life of Orthodox Christians and the Orthodox Church, seek and ye shall find your answer here!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. JayJayDee

    JayJayDee Avid JW Bible Student

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2012
    Messages:
    3,265
    Ratings:
    +550
    Religion:
    Jehovah's Witness
    Hi Shiranui, just thought I'd take you up on your offer.

    Reading through the Wiki description of Eastern Orthodox Catholicism, can you answer theses questions for me please?

    Can you provide a scriptural recommendation for Christians to spend their life in a monastery? Did Christ himself attend such a place or advocate such a life? Can you also provide the scriptural precedent for a separate clergy class in first century Christianity?

    Can you provide a scriptural precedent for the word "monk" or "nun" in any Christian scripture?
    Do we have scriptural counterparts for Christian chaplains in the armed forces?
    Can you tell me if there was a Christian priesthood that officiated in the first century congregations?

    Can you tell me where I would find the Virgin Mary mentioned prominently in the account about the outpouring of holy spirit at Pentecost, where there were gathered about 120 of Christ's disciples, who all received the holy spirit? This image is giving the false impression that Mary was gathered with the eleven faithful apostles, which simply is not true.They had chosen Matthias as a replacement for Judas at this point. Acts 1:15-2:1-4)

    [​IMG]

    Can I have a scriptural precedent for these processions in the NT, and the use of images for this practice?
    The word "icon" means "image" and God specifically told his people "NOT to make images of anything".

    The halos are also noted here and in a previous image.
    Where can I find halos in scripture?


    [​IMG]

    Did the apostles wear such robes and hats?
    Did Jesus?

    [​IMG]

    Would I find such buildings in first century Christianity? If Christ promoted a simple lifestyle and all buildings used for Christian worship were modest, why was there a need to build such ornate edifices? Did Christ command such a thing?

    The temple used for worship by the Jews was prescribed in the scriptures by God himself. Where do I find a command for Christians to worship in a Cathedral?


    [​IMG]

    Is there a recommendation or a precedent to baptize infants as disciples of Christ?

    Sorry to ask so many questions, but you did post an invitation.....:eek:
     
    #2 JayJayDee, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  3. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Glad you did. :)

    Christ lived out in the desert for forty days praying and fasting. Elijah the prophet lived for much of his life in the wilderness as a solitary (which is the very meaning of the word "monk"), as did St. John the Baptist.

    1 Timothy 3 and 1 Timothy 5 are both good sources. The Apostles' appointing of deacons in Acts 6 is another example.

    I don't know if the exact term "monos" comes up, which is where we get both the words "monk" and "nun", but the concept certainly exists in the above-mentioned people.

    If there were, it wasn't mentioned.

    Yes, and there is proof of this in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Moreover, in 1 Timothy 5, we find this:
    17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

    The elders (Greek: presbyteroi, which is where we get our English word "priest" from) ruled in their congregations as shepherds, elders and spiritual fathers over the flock.

    Yes I can, just one line prior in verse 14:
    All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[c]

    Processions were done by the Jews, and Christian worship is derived from Jewish worship.

    He told them to not make images of anything and worship them. That's the key phrase. God Himself did command the Israelites to make images on more than one occasion.

    See Exodus 25: 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.
    ...
    “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand.

    And then see 1 Kings 6, when Solomon is building the Temple that God is pleased to dwell in:

    23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24 Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27 He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold.
    29 Around all the walls of the house he carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. 30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms.
    31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided.[h] 32 He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid them with gold and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.
    33 So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, 34 and two doors of cypress wood. The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work. 36 He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams.


    So you see, images are and were acceptable to God. It's idols for worship that God forbids, not images.

    The halos signify the light of Christ shining in and out of the hearts of the faithful (John 5:14), Who is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and the Light of the World (John 1:4, John 8:12).

    The Jewish priesthood had vestments, and in large part, the vestments of Christian priests and deacons are derived from these same Jewish counterparts. The bishops' vestments (particularly the mitres/crowns of the bishops) are reminiscent of the Byzantine Emperor, as the Church was forced by the Ottoman government after the fall of Constantinople to govern the "Rum Millet", AKA all of the Christians.

    The funds and social acceptance didn't exist for Christians to be able to build big churches. Everything in an Orthodox church is to convey the fact that we participate in the heavenly liturgy being perpetually offered by the angels and saints. The rich iconography illustrates the Bible and the truths of the Christian faith in a way that even children can understand, yet the many Biblical references within the icons can give us a lot to ponder and meditate on.

    Christ didn't mandate every little thing about how we were supposed to worship, certainly not. The liturgical worship of the early Church was an organic development out of the original Jewish worship of the first Christians.

    There is no such command. It was an organic outgrowth of the Christian community. Originally, Christians worshipped in synagogues. After we were kicked out, we built our own churches, met in homes with the proper facilities, etc.

    Christ said, "Let the little children come unto me, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven." Also don't forget that infants are capable of having faith in Christ; when Mary visited Elizabeth, the baby John leapt in Elizabeth's womb when he sensed Christ inside of Mary.

    Not at all, I'm glad you took me up on it :D You asked some more questions in the other thread that I'll post here.
     
  4. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Yes, we do make the sign of the Cross, and there is a LOT of meaning behind it.

    First, we put our thumb, index finger and middle finger together in a point, symbolizing three Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit united in the Trinity. The pinky and ring finger are pressed together against the palm, signifying the two natures of Christ, human and divine, being united within His one Person without confusion, mixing or absorption. Then we touch our foreheads, recognizing God's sovereignty over all creation, asking God to bless and enlighten our minds, and affirming that we are to love God with all our minds. Then we move our hand down to either:

    -our breast, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, asking God to open our hearts, and affirming that we are to love God with all our heart;

    -Or our navel (this is the one I do), symbolizing the descent of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ into the womb of the Virgin Mary, in whom He became incarnate and from whom He took on our human nature, for the sake of our salvation.

    Then we raise our hand to our right shoulder (not the left as the Catholics do, but to the right; this is the more ancient way), showing our hope to be found at the right hand of Christ and be counted among the sheep at the Last Judgement.
    Then we cross over to the left shoulder; the movement shows Christ's passing from life to death, and salvation coming from the Jews to the Gentiles. We also pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit to cover us, and as we move across our bodies, we acknowledge the command to love God with all our strength.

    Some Orthodox will go from the right shoulder to the heart instead of the left shoulder, but I like to go from right shoulder, to the left shoulder, to the heart. The meaning of touching the heart should be apparent to you now: We acknowledge the command to love God with all our heart and all our soul, we invite Christ into our hearts, and we call to mind the vast importance of the heart within the Christian faith.

    So you see, in this very simple 2-second action is contained the entire mystery of the Christian faith--Who God is, our relationship with Him, and how we are saved.

    When you say "exaggerated", you make it appear as if they wear them for show. They don't. The cross reminds them constantly of Christ's command for us to carry our cross, and that we should not be afraid to declare our faith in Him.
     
    #4 Shiranui117, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  5. JayJayDee

    JayJayDee Avid JW Bible Student

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2012
    Messages:
    3,265
    Ratings:
    +550
    Religion:
    Jehovah's Witness
    None of them spent time in a monastery though, did they? Nor do we have any recommendation from Jesus to cloister ourselves away with others whilst being 'solitary'. The preaching of the good news, which was mandated to all Christians, cannot be done behind closed doors. (Matt 28:19, 20)

    Deacons are not priests. They are assistants to the elders or shepherds. There was no earthly priesthood officiating in the Christian congregations.

    The position as "priests and kings" was a heavenly appointment made only after their resurrection. (Rev 20:6) it says in the Revelation that "they will be priests and kings" not that they were whilst on earth.

    "Monks" and "nuns" are found in other non-Christian religions, but not in either Jewish worship or Christianity. I believe that when Catholic priests went into Asia, the locals mistook them for a sect of Buddhism.

    Since Jesus admonished his disciples to "love their enemies" I'm sure you will not ever find an excuse for a Christians to engage in the political wars of their nations. How do you love your enemies with weapons? :eek: (2 Cor 10:3, 4; Rom 12:17-21)

    Regarding the Greek word pre·sby′te·ros, Manuel Guerra y Gomez noted: “The precise translation of the term [pre·sby′te·ros] in almost the majority of the Hellenistic texts, that have survived until now, is that of older man synonym of mature man. Maturity of judgment and guiding criterion is its distinctive note. . . . Whether or not it has a technical sense the term [pre·sby′te·ros] both in the Hellenistic and the Israelite worlds designates, not the ailing elderly, but rather the mature man, suitable by his experience and prudence for the ruling of his family or of his people.”—Episcopos y Presbyteros, Burgos, Spain, 1962, pp. 117, 257.

    Elders in Israel were not necessarily priests. They were mature leaders among the people appointed to take care of God's flock.

    I am not saying that Mary was not present, but that she was not prominent among those 120 disciples who received Holy Spirit. The Catholic image I posted gives the impression that there was only Mary with 11 faithful apostles. That is clearly not true. Mary never featured prominently in the scriptures. She is referred to as the "mother of Jesus" but never as the "mother of God".

    Ex 20:4, 5.....

    “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5*You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them"

    I see two separate commands here. Don't "make" images and don't "bow down" to them. When you see people kissing and praying to images and icons, that to me is idolatry.

    I think there is quite a difference between decoration and idolatry. When did any of the things you mentioned as decorations in the temple get paraded through the streets? The cherubs in the Most Holy compartment of the temple were never seen except by the High Priest once a year. If they had paraded them through the streets, God would have punished them.

    Was it just co-incidence that pagans worshipped the sun and Christianity just borrowed its symbols? Was there any image of the sun in God's temple?

    Well, that's just the point....there were no Jewish counterparts.
    Christian worship no longer resembled Jewish worship. Christians had no temples, no earthly priesthood and no distinctive garments that differentiated one "brother" from another. (Matt 23:8-10)

    Since "vestments" were not part of Christian worship, titles and positions of prominence were not part of it either. All were brothers, equal in God's eyes. Positions in the congregations were positions of responsibility, not positions of power. The Elders and deacons were humble servants of the body. They were married men and there was a body of them in each congregation. No one man was ever responsible for the entire flock.

    Since Christ stressed humility and accumulating of "treasures in heaven", (not on earth,) would they have built such ornate edifices in the first place? They would have been more likely to take care of the poor among them than waste it on opulence.

    Interestingly, God mandated every little thing that the Jews had to do in their worship. They were under obligation by birth to uphold the laws that their God gave them. They had no choice.

    Christians, on the other hand, were such by choosing to become disciples and abiding by God's laws. The full written code was done away with, but the "law of love" remained. Love for God and neighbor were all that a Christian was obligated to carry out.

    Love for God means that we will never do anything to insult or blaspheme him and love for neighbor means that we would act in a Christ-like way towards our brothers and those around us. That precludes harming even an enemy. A Christian will take a bullet for someone, but he will never fire one.

    Christians did not worship in synagogues. They met in the porticos but were treated as outcasts; Jewish apostates.

    Following Pentecost of 33 C.E. and the establishment of the Christian congregation, the apostles, particularly Paul, did much preaching in the synagogues. When entering a city, Paul usually went first to the synagogue and preached there, giving the Jews the first opportunity of hearing the good news of the Kingdom, afterward going to the Gentiles. In some cases he spent considerable time, preaching for several Sabbaths, in the synagogue. In Ephesus he taught in the synagogue for three months, and after opposition arose, he withdrew the disciples who believed and used the school auditorium of Tyrannus for about two years. (Acts 13:14; 17:1, 2, 10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8-10)

    Sorry, no baptism is mentioned for infants. A "disciple" is a "taught one". An infant cannot be taught nor can it make a decision to become a Christian. Only a spiritually mature person can do that. Some older children can be spiritually mature, but not infants. Children come under the spiritual umbrella of their patents until they are of age to make their own choices. (1 Cor 7:14-16)

    Not sure if I was allowed to respond in this forum, so perhaps I will go back to the other thread too.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer, but the responses do not really justify your practices scripturally. That is the only criteria I accept. For me, if it isn't in scripture, it is from men.
     
    #5 JayJayDee, May 14, 2014
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  6. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    We are told to sell all that we have to follow Jesus, to not be of the world, and to prefer Jesus over family. These are all things that the monks live by.

    And monks don't live as shut-ins. Their doors are always open for those looking for peace and spiritual recovery, and many people are drawn to the monks' holiness. Because of this, many monks and hermits have been known to be great preachers. St. Antony the Great, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Nektarios of Aegina, St. Simeon the Stylite, among many others.

    If you want to take a different view of history than what is known to have factually be the case, then be my guest.

    Have you ever heard of the Jewish Qumran community or the Essenes? The Qumran community itself was certainly monastic in nature.

    War is always a sin. But just as we would lie to protect the life of someone who had taken shelter in our homes in order to keep them safe, sometimes we have to fight against those who vehemently oppress others. It's the nature of living in a fallen world. Sure, war is a sin. But letting genocides occur and doing nothing about it is also a sin.

    Yes, and this is why priests are ordained--they have the spiritual maturity and experience to shepherd the flock, and they are called to share in the priesthood of Christ, Who is the only High Priest.

    Elders in Israel weren't necessarily priests, true.

    The icon of Jesus entering Jerusalem also has about 7 people, when really there were hundreds. The point of an icon isn't to show a historical reality, but a spiritual one. There are also many icons of Pentecost which don't feature Mary at all.

    You are entitled to your opinion. I have already shown otherwise to be the case. This is an Orthodox Christian DIR. I ask that you respect that.

    It is if you don't understand what's going on. Just as soldiers saluting their flag aren't worshiping a red-white-blue piece of fabric, but are instead honoring their homeland, so when we venerate an icon (not worship, but venerate, as in salute/give respect), we give respect to the person(s) depicted, because the light of Christ is in them. Icons are never worshipped, ever. If I saw people worshipping an icon, I would hurl it to the ground to make the point that it's just a piece of wood and paint, not that which it depicts. Icons are windows into a spiritual reality, not idols.

    So you do admit that images are allowable.

    The Ark with the Cherubim on top was most certainly paraded around and treated with extreme respect.

    What symbols? A halo behind someone's head signifying their holiness is a universal thing, not just among sun-worshippers. How else would you signify someone's holiness in an icon?

    But they did have standardized liturgical prayers, a set pattern of worship, and various rituals. And they most certainly did have priests; it was the priesthood that consecrated the Eucharist.

    You mean, outside of bishops, priests and deacons.

    And responsibility involves having some sort of power. The word "bishop" means "overseer" for a reason.

    There was a body of them before the number of Christians grew too large to sustain such a system. But even today, parishes will have multiple priests and deacons if there are enough to go around.

    Yet the adulterous women poured a vase of perfume worth three hundred denari over Jesus as part of her repentance, and she was not chastised by Christ for it. Rather, Christ corrected His disciples when they criticized her for the very same thing.

    Likewise, the Israelites decorated the Temple lavishly when they could have spent that money to take care of the poor, yet they are not punished or chastised by God for it, rather God blesses them.

    These two are the two essential parts of Christian teaching, but I'm sure you understand that Christ gave us far more commands to carry out than these two.

    But what if harming someone was the only way to save another, many others, or even the person we're harming? Would letting someone go on a murderous rampage be any better if we had the means to stop them, but didn't?

    If they didn't worship in the synagogues, it was because they were kicked out. Yes, they proclaimed Christ in the synagogues, but that wasn't the only reason they went there. This can be seen in Acts 9 and 13. They would hear the Law and the Prophets read, and when the people were invited to speak, the Christians spoke. The borders between Judaism and Christianity were still rather fluid until the destruction of the Temple and the Council of Jamnia. Many Jews did view Christians as apostates, but also keep in mind that Judaism was not a strictly codified religion; the Sadducees were the priests of the Temple, and they didn't believe in angels, demons, the resurrection of the dead, and rejected all books of the Bible outside of the Pentateuch.

    Do you ignore the case of St. John the Baptist, then?

    So you would withhold from children the grace of baptism and of the Eucharist?

    If you wish to seek further clarification of various aspects of the Orthodox Faith, then you are free to continue asking. But this is not a thread for you to try and refute Orthodoxy. If you want to try and do that, then you may open a thread on one of the debate forums.

    I have provided Scripturally-based answers, and with half of your responses, especially regarding the priesthood, you have merely given assertions of history, but no Scriptural support for your view.
     
  7. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Messages:
    13,388
    Ratings:
    +2,735
    Russian or Greek?
     
  8. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Messages:
    13,388
    Ratings:
    +2,735
    Why do you make the sign of the cross from right to left? Or alternatively, why does the Catholic church make the sign left to right.
     
  9. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Making the sign of the cross right to left is actually the original way of doing it. It certainly does feel more natural. I think the Catholics started making it left to right, because when the priest blesses people, his hand moves left to right to mirror the people crossing themselves right to left. So the Catholics began crossing themselves left to right because of the direction the priest blessed.

    The Oriental Orthodox from what I've heard will also make it left to right, but they attach different meanings to it: We go from being a goat to a sheep, we go from sin to holiness, from death to life, from earth to Heaven, damnation to salvation, etc. However, I haven't heard of the Catholics really focusing on what the sign of the cross means outside of the hand being God (they have their hands open, not with certain fingers together like the Orthodox), and tracing the cross over themselves.

    One other thing I forgot to mention about the sign of the cross, is that when the priest blesses (and this is visible in many icons of Christ as well), the fingers are held in such a way as to spell out IC XC, which is the abbreviated form of Jesus' name in Greek.

    Neither. My mission parish in my hometown is American Carpatho-Rusyn (from the area of eastern Slovakia, western Ukraine, southern Poland), the two parishes I go to at my home university are Orthodox Church in America (this specific parish has Bulgarian roots) and Antiochian Orthodox, and the parish I attend here in Austria is Romanian. :)
     
  10. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    946
    Ratings:
    +168
    Religion:
    Advaita
    Shiranui, I'm just curious, what do you think of Master (Meister) Eckhart? Have you maybe read his works and do you think one could incorporate his teachings into OC?
     
  11. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    To be quite honest, I've never read too much of Meister Eckhart, but from perusing a Wiki article on his teachings, he seems to intersect with Orthodoxy on the points of sin and redemption, in that he speaks of what we Orthodox call theosis--that is, the transformation of the human person to more reflect Christ, so that we become by grace what Christ is by nature. I find his statement that Christ must be born and incarnate inside of us very striking--it resonates very strongly with St. Paul's statement about how we must die and allow Christ to live in and through us.

    Another point where Eckhart seems to be in complete agreement with Orthodoxy is about the role of Christ, as well as ethics.

    As far as his statements about God and the Trinity and the relationship of the soul to God, it seems to me to be very hit-and-miss; Eckhart comes from the Latin tradition where the Essence of God is viewed as that which unites the Trinity. In the Orthodox mindset, it is the Person of the Father Who is the source of the Trinity, not necessarily the Essence. This alone leads to many differences between Eckhart's conclusions and conceptions of God and those of the Orthodox tradition. The Scholastic movement's insistence on Aristotelian philosophy and metaphysics makes it very difficult for me to understand a lot of what Eckhart is trying to say.His statements on the nature of creation's existence in eternity and part of our soul being eternal seem very puzzling to me, almost Gnostic or pantheistic in some cases. While I think there are many touchpoints between Eckhart and Orthodoxy, they are divergent traditions, and trying to translate one into the other would do an injustice to both.
     
    #11 Shiranui117, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
  12. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    946
    Ratings:
    +168
    Religion:
    Advaita
    Thanks for answering. :)

    Do you know a good source where to read about EOC? I want to know more about Essence energies and the Trinity concept in Orthodoxy. Is there a good book on metaphysics (if something like this exists) that you can recommend.

    Believe it or not I'm raised and born EOrth. but I barely know anything about it, the rituals and 'religious life' is usually very mechanic, very few people know really what orthodoxy is really about!

    I remember you once recommended a book about the Church Fathers sayings I believe, and I do own that, very good reading it was, do have any more recommendations, would love to read those :) ?
     
  13. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    I would personally recommend Metropolitan Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way. It's a very easy to read book that my mission and many other parishes use for instructing inquirers and catechumens in the Faith, and it addresses a lot of basic, fundamental Orthodox theology, but it also can go very profound, and if memory serves, it covers the Essence-Energies distinction. It definitely covers the concept of the Trinity.

    Another book by Kallistos Ware that you can get for free online is The Orthodox Church. It covers a lot of history, but also a lot of the theology, teaching and life of the Church.

    A free catechetical series by the Orthodox Church in America is accessible online in full. Here's the section of Volume 1: Faith which addresses the Trinity. It's rather succinct.

    I haven't read it personally, but a lot of people will also recommend Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

    Ahh, really, that's fascinating! Being a convert, I haven't been exposed to the concept that the Liturgy and Orthodox life is mechanical. But from what I've heard, cultural Orthodoxy is a thing just as much as cultural Catholicism and cultural Protestantism, and cradle Orthodox are often in need of an education just as much as converts!

    If I can ask, are you still Orthodox, or have you gone to another faith tradition? I would love to hear your story and where you're at now :)

    Yes, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, right? In that same vein, I would also like to recommend Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues his Way, and St. John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent,and The Art of Prayer.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    946
    Ratings:
    +168
    Religion:
    Advaita

    Thanks for answering Shiranui :) I already printed this page for future reference!

    My mother is from Serbia, so I'm half Serbian and I was born and raised Orthodox (my parents were already separated at that time, I don't even know my father).

    yes, I've been looking around for other philosophies or religions, I don't know I guess out of protest against my family (yes I had such a phase :D ) but right now I'm seeing that everything I was looking for in other places I already had here right now!

    I was looking into Dharmic religions a lot and they are extremely fascinating, but there is one problem, I cannot reconcile my personal beliefs with the belief in reincarnation :(. I don't know why, I started many threads already about that topic but I just cannot accept it and it's a big part in Hindu faith, that's when I looked into Taoism but the Tao seems to be very simialr to the Logos I believe so the circle closed and I'm here again in PanEntheism and OC :).

    I feel like all this searching for the perfect religion is not doing me good, the search was fun but what happens when the search ends, I need to concentrate on living and on my personal beliefs even if they do not conform to scripture!

    I'll continue just being aware and observe!

    Anyway, sorry for my bad grammar and spelling, hope I was not boring you lol,

    Thanks again for your answers gonna send you some frubals!!

    :D:bow:

    ps: what about you Shiranui? I think your knowledge is sooo extensive, I'm so impressed!
     
  15. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    946
    Ratings:
    +168
    Religion:
    Advaita
    Wait you are from Austria???

    I'm from Austria too !!!!!!
     
  16. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Not a problem! Happy to help :D

    I'm glad to see that you've found what you're looking for in Orthodoxy! I find that Orthodoxy offers many if not all of the things that people find attractive in Eastern religions (meditation; contemplation; inner spirituality; connection to the divine; personal asceticism, inner transformation; seeing the divine within our world; our connection to ourselves others and the divine; a rich mystical tradition in both personal and communal spiritual practice and worship) while still being completely and authentically Christian, without any part of Christian faith or living having to be watered down or sacrificed.

    Ahh, I see. Reincarnation is a question I've wrestled with, since everyone in my mother's family believes in that and karma.

    And I find it very interesting that you say the Tao is very similar to the Logos; there's actually a book out there called "Christ the Eternal Tao", which makes these comparisons between the Logos and the Tao. There's also a 4-episode podcast about the topic if you're interested. I found it fascinating, myself, but perhaps you've already realized a lot of what they talk about.

    Well, at any rate, I'm glad you're starting to feel your way back home. :D All of us have doubts on certain teachings at one time or another. I personally can have a hard time actually believing in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life... It can seem so far off and so improbable at times, and because of that, whenever I start thinking a lot about death, I can get very nervous. That tells me that I need to trust Jesus more. If I may, could I ask you what you believe that isn't in conformity with the Scriptures?

    Haha, thank you! Your grammar was fine. I found it fascinating listening to your story; I've gone a little bit in the same direction as you before. :namaste

    WHAT! No way! You wouldn't happen to be/worship in the Salzburg area, would you?! :D

    I should clarify--I'm not actually Austrian, I'm just an American majoring in German and studying here for the year.
     
  17. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Well, since you asked, here's my faith journey.

    TL;DR VERSION: I was born Lutheran, but went most of my life unchurched, converted to Catholicism at age 16, went from Roman to Eastern Catholicism, I eventually chose Byzantine spirituality and tradition over Roman dogmas and became a formal inquirer into Eastern Orthodoxy in June/July 2012 when I was 19, and since then, I've dabbled in Gnosticism, Buddhism, Islam and Messianic Judaism, done a little bit of reading into paganism, Taoism, Hinduism, considered returning to Catholicism (and I actually did for a few weeks at the end of last year), but none of these were compelling enough to make me abandon Orthodoxy.

    If you want to read THE WHOLE shebang, read on! :D

    I was born Lutheran, but I was unchurched from age 3 to 15. All I had in the way of religious education was a children's Bible that I would read on my own; I read through the Old Testament, but the New was kind of boring to me. Back then, I couldn't tell you whether it was the Jews or the Christians who believed that Jesus is the Son of God, and I wasn't sure which position was supposed to be right! :p

    I accepted Jesus into my life in 7th grade at a dodgeball tournament held in a friend's church, and I was REALLY happy when that happened. Like, the love and joy was coursing through me so that I didn't even know what to do with it. I called for Jesus to come into my heart, and He Spartan-kicked the door open, lol.

    Fast-forward 2 years, and I'm in an online gaming clan. One of our members posts a rock song ("Frontline" by Pillar, freaking sweet song BTW) to get us pumped up, and that song just so happened to be subtly Christian. After I figured that out, I decided to go find a church to join. After figuring out I had been baptized Lutheran, I decided to find a Lutheran church. My mom talked me out of it and got me to go to a non-denominational church with her, since she wanted me to be able to take communion and not have to wait through 3-4 years of catechesis. So I get involved in a youth group there, start learning my New Testament through the services and the youth group meetings, and man, do I have fond memories of that place.

    In the meantime, I'm still trying to learn about Lutheranism. Then I figure out there are different denominations, so I start comparing the ones that interest me. On a bus ride home with a really good friend of mine, we somehow get on the subject of Lutheranism and Catholicism, and what he said really interested me, so I narrow it down to Lutheranism and Catholicism. I eventually found a Catholic forum that had a lot of information on it. The Catholic view of the Eucharist is what got me; it was right there in the Bible, Jesus said, "This IS My body, this IS My blood". So, six months after I started going to the non-denominational church, I decide to pray and ask God if He wants me to become Catholic. Immediately I feel a sort of emotional pain, like I was about to start crying, but then after a few seconds, a peace came over me. The message to me was clear: Becoming Catholic was going to be hard, but worth it.

    Easter 2009, I tell my family about my decision. I'm sure you can imagine how that went--a fifteen-year-old telling his culturally Protestant family that he wants to become Catholic? Cue everything in the book--Catholics worship statues, the Church is corrupt, the Pope is corrupt, priests rape and molest children, the Catholic Church suppressed Gnosticism (!), the Church cut out things from the Bible that would make them lose their power, etc, etc, etc. All the classics. It was a lot all at once, and I didn't exactly know how to handle it all. They eventually opened up to the idea and began to respect my newfound Catholicism, but it was a slow process. I talked to my good Catholic friend, and I start going to church with him and his family (turns out my local Catholic parish is about a 10-15 minute walk through the woods, or a 3-minute drive; the church bell I'd always been hearing while playing in the back yard growing up was from that church). And I went there most every Sunday. The first time I went, I could feel God there. The atmosphere was a truly blessed one, and I felt at home almost immediately. I also saw tons of people I knew from school and my community. My sponsor was the mother of one of my good friends.

    In the meantime, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do; people my age had been Catholic for 15.5 years, and I'm just starting! So I get on that Catholic forum, Wikipedia, and I start doing ALL the research. I'm starting to learn about things like the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, the Apostolic Tradition, how the early Church worked, the Church Fathers, what went down in the Ecumenical Councils, all that stuff. And I start going down the line, I start seeing things like "Oh, the Oriental Orthodox split off here. Wonder what that was about. Oh well, keep moving!"

    And then I finish the seven Ecumenical Councils, and I see this big split between East and West. I run into some Eastern Orthodox folk on the Catholic forum for the first time, and they're asserting that Catholicism left Orthodoxy, not the other way around--the Pope didn't originally have the power he has in Catholicism, and the Orthodox had some unique ways of viewing Christianity that seemed really interesting to me. Plus, the icons looked pretty awesome. But then it seemed like Orthodoxy was really foreign to my culture, and I thought that it might feel odd to me. But then I see that there's a thing called Eastern Catholicism, which is like Orthodox in terms of tradition, but also Catholic at the same time. Well, the Catholic Church had 21 councils and the Eastern Orthodox only had 7, so the Catholic Church was clearly superior. That's how my brain worked back then. :D

    In September, I get enrolled in RCIA, the conversion class for adults. I learn some new stuff, and some things I'd already come across in my studies. I was distinguished as a very young and very knowledgeable inquirer; everyone there was 10-20 years older than me, at least. I pick St. Ignatius of Antioch for my confirmation Saint because I liked his name, and he was personally taught by St. John, wrote some of the earliest Christian writings we have outside of the Bible, and was thrown to the lions, all of which were pretty sweet.

    While RCIA's going on, I keep reading the debates between Catholic and Orthodox about history and the role of the Pope and the Filioque clause and the subject of the Immaculate Conception and original sin, and this starts to plant the seed in my mind that maybe Orthodoxy's right. I begin to have some doubts, but I shove those off to the side and continue with RCIA anyway, and I get confirmed as a Catholic on Easter Vigil 2010. I was incredibly happy, and the period of mystagogy afterward was a very blessed time. I felt so close to God.

    In the summer, the Roman Mass starts to feel dry for me. I didn't sense God like I used to. The hymns that once seemed to have a lot of meaning and emotion begin to feel simplistic and shallow. That's when I found out that there was an Eastern Catholic parish 20 minutes away, on the other side of town. After convincing my mother that I was good enough to drive myself there, I begin getting involved, and fit in right away. My first Divine Liturgy was absolutely heavenly. I couldn't follow everything that was going on, but I knew that this had a lot of nourishment in it. It was what I had been looking for; the Roman Mass was good for me when I was first getting my feet wet. The Divine Liturgy and Byzantine spirituality seemed like the next step.

    So I start going there regularly, and I participate in ECF, or Eastern Christian formation, AKA church school. And guess what we used as our educational materials? The Orthodox Faith, the catechetical series by the OCA that I linked you to up above! :D My priest and deacon also recommended to me Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way, as well as Ladder of Divine Ascent. I also got Sayings of the Desert Fathers after my priest used a story from them in his sermon one Sunday.

    As I keep studying and getting deeper into Byzantine spirituality, the tensions between Eastern Catholicism's spiritual life and history on one side, and Roman Catholic post-schism dogmas on the other, begin to become apparent to me. I should note that I found out about a recently-established Orthodox parish a few miles south of me, and I started going there for Vespers on Saturday evening, and the Byzantine Catholic parish for Sunday morning Liturgy. This arrangement went on from roughly October or Nativity Fast of 2010 to June 2012.

    To be continued...
     
  18. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Part 2 of probably 3 (you don't need to read this if you just wanted the TL;DR version) :

    I got to talking with the Orthodox priests at my mission, and they recommended to me The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way. I devoured those two. :D

    And I felt the tensions in my spiritual life between the Byzantine spirituality and tradition that so nourished my soul and helped my walk with Christ, and the Roman Catholic dogmas just confused me and were hard to accept or agree with. As I served the altar at my Byzantine Catholic parish over the course of about a year and a half (another wonderful blessing, by the way), sometimes doubts about these Catholic dogmas popped into my head. Somewhere along the way, I began reading the actual text of the seven ecumenical councils and some writings of the Fathers, and started really trying to figure out these differences. I was able to reconcile the Catholic and Orthodox positions on the Filioque clause, original sin, and the Immaculate conception. I met with my priest after I told him I was considering becoming Orthodox, and he gave me some clarity on things like the Immaculate Conception and the role of the Pope, which helped for a while.

    As a side note, while this all was going on, I was helping out as a teacher's aide for middle schoolers' confirmation class. One time we went in for an evening Mass or something of that nature, and I just felt like a stranger in a strange land. I was completely alienated from the Roman Catholic Mas. Everything felt strange and distant to me, and I seriously wondered what I was doing there. Not that this had any impact on my performance as a teacher's aide, of course--it remained a private observation.

    Further, I couldn't justify the role of the Pope being made a dogma. I didn't think the Pope had a right to be viewed as any more infallible than any bishop or even a layman, and I certainly didn't see the supremacy and universal jurisdiction of the Church borne out in history. I even began doubting the validity of Roman Catholic communion on occasion. But I was an altar server at a Byzantine Catholic parish. And if we were in communion with the Roman Catholics, and I was doubting their communion, then what about ours? I was serving the altar, for God's sake! I couldn't be dishonest with myself. So, I prayed intensely for three days, chanted the entire Psalter, and prayed for guidance, wisdom, insight, discernment, courage, you name it, I prayed for it.

    And the realization I came to was, I was Orthodox. It wasn't just a determination that I had to become Orthodox, or an acknowledgement that I intellectually agreed with Orthodoxy. It's that, in my heart, in my inward being, in my life, thoughts and actions, I was Orthodox. I told my priest, my deacon and those I served the altar with about my decision, and they accepted it, telling me that I was always welcome back, and if I showed up in the back door, put on a cassock and asked for a blessing over my vestment, I would get it and be allowed to serve again. Making the decision to leave was probably the hardest thing I've done in my life; the folks at the Byzantine Catholic parish had become family to me, and I had grown so much in my walk with Christ there. To this day, I am truly grateful that I was able to spend the time that I did with them. I still visit once in a while.

    Going to my Orthodox mission, I felt free. I could just live the spiritual life I'd grown so fond of, without having to have any cognitive dissonance or tension. It didn't matter what the Roman Catholic Church had to say about this or that dogma, and I didn't have to do mental gymnastics to reconcile those dogmas to the spiritual life I was leading. I could just be at peace, not have to worry about how I fit into the Roman Catholic scheme of things.

    Over the course of the summer, while I'm an inquirer into Orthodoxy, I started to run the gambit of every religion that could possibly be attractive to me. I rushed into Catholicism without exploring the alternatives, and I was not about to make the same mistake with Orthodoxy. I began running into Buddhism, which made so much sense to me. The idea of rebirth was hard for me to wrap my head around, but nonetheless, I did consider myself a Buddhist for a hot minute. Eventually though, I saw that everything that appealed to me about Buddhism was already present in the Orthodox monastic tradition of hesychasm.

    Sometimes I would have my agnostic moments, and I started from the ground up in assessing Christianity and the existence of God. I got curious about paganism, and even considered Christo-paganism for a bit, but decided against that, too. Then I started assessing Islam. I read a bit from the Qur'an, learned about Islamic prayer and the Sunnah, and I even doubted Christianity's claims about Jesus for a bit. Not to mention that Qur'anic recitation is otherworldly. Heck, I used to use a bit of Qur'anic Arabic in my prayers, calling God "Allah", and I was even uncomfortable praying to Jesus for a bit. I still remember how to chant "Bismillah al-Rahman, ar-Rahim".

    But Islam's view of God seemed too harsh, too distant, too merciless, and the mechanical nature of prayer and ablution and what direction you're supposed to pray sounded too legalistic and not spiritual or transformative enough. Plus, I never saw any evidence to deny the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. And if Jesus died and rose from the dead, then Islam is wrong. Plus, in the Qur'an, which is supposedly handed down word for word by God Himself, the doctrine of the Trinity is grossly misrepresented, as is the belief of the Jews (they never said Ezra is the Son of God!). I also saw what seemed to be contradictory statements as to the fate of the People of the Book, and it seemed as if Allah forced us to be unbelievers, therefore it is Allah who dooms us to Hell, not ourselves. So, I abandoned Islam.

    And then, cue Gnosticism. This fascinated me. And since my mother's family has Gnostic influences, I decided it would be beneficial to research it. I got the Nag Hammadi Scriptures and read through the so-called Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Truth and parts of the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocalypse of Peter. I also began researching what the Gnostics believed, and ran into Manichaeanism, Valentinism, Sethian Gnosticism, Ecclesia Gnostica, and others.

    Then I realized--what the History Channel says about Gnosticism isn't at all what the Gnostics themselves believed, and my family believed in History Channel Gnosticism. I considered being a Gnostic, but like with Buddhism, everything I agreed with about Gnosticism had an Orthodox counterpart, if not the same teaching. The cosmology of Gnosticism didn't seem to agree with the New Testament or physical resurrection of the dead, and I wasn't about to abandon that. So I abandoned Gnosticism instead.

    At my home university, I did participate in a non-denominational campus Bible study, and I have good friends from there. I plan on rejoining them when I get back--at least until I can help get an Orthodox Christian Fellowship established. So then I thought, what about non-denominationalism again? After all, I did have fond memories, and I could keep my Orthodox beliefs. But trying to live an Orthodox life in a non-Orthodox church would only make me feel like a fish out of water. So I decided I should rather become Orthodox, and maybe be involved in fellowships of other denominations as a side ecumenical thing.

    Lutheranism crossed my mind, and I did check into that; after all, I'd researched the ever-living crap out of Catholicism, but I didn't really give Lutheranism the same treatment. I thought, this was the church I was baptized in, so you could say that it's my original home, even if I only have a few scant memories of it from when I was little. Maybe after all my searching, after everything I'd learned, I might still have a home in Lutheranism. My original plan before I ran into Catholicism was to study Lutheranism while at the non-denom church and get confirmed as a Lutheran in college anyway. And I even brought myself to agree with the Lutheranism of consubstantiation--which is hilarious, because the debate between Lutheran consubstantiation and Catholic transubstantiation is what got me started on this crazy journey in the first place!

    But the same legalistic, "humans are depraved", "Jesus died as our scapegoat to take God's wrath" stuff that I had come to disagree with so much was the lifeblood of Lutheranism. Lutherans did try to unite to the Orthodox, but that was a case of the Lutherans hoping the Orthodox were Lutheran, not the Lutherans hoping they were in line with the ancient Church. Luther had some good points, but he went a little too far. Besides, Lutherans didn't have Apostolic Succession. So yet again, Orthodoxy won out.

    So, it was back to Catholicism and Orthodoxy. I did reconsider Catholicism, and basically repeated the mental processes I've already discussed: There are differences, but maybe these can be bridged. Oh hey, they can be bridged. Oh hey, I can accept basically everything about the Pope if it's understood the right way. Maybe I can become Catholic again! But wait, the role of the Pope is a dogma, and a dogma is something that has been believed by all people in all times and all places... And the role of the Pope as understood in Catholicism has not been believed by all people in all times and all places. Through this process I would re-enter contact with Catholics, maybe even dialogue with a priest. There was one time in particular that was particularly strong, and that time was December 2013.
     
  19. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,083
    Ratings:
    +2,265
    Religion:
    Eastern Orthodox Christian
    Part 3 of 3:

    So, I've been living in Austria since the end of September, studying at the Universität Salzburg for my German major. As I'm sure many here know, Austria is Catholic country, and basically the world capital of all things Baroque. There was no pseudo-Protestant stuff like there is in American Catholicism (one time at my RC parish festival back home, we had Mass in a tent with electric guitars and drums; it felt like my non-denominational Church, except with vestments and an actual Eucharistic rite). Austrian Catholicism is the real deal, conservative, and traditional; the Cathedral here in town regularly has Masses in Gregorian Chant, as well as in settings by Mozart, Muffat, and any other number of classical and Baroque composers you care to name, while the parish churches have reverent, traditional-style Masses. And every church you walk into is beautifully decorated with paintings of Jesus, Mary and the Saints; it's not four bare walls and a sermon with maybe a statue or two and the Stations of the Cross like in many American Catholic parishes I've seen. There's even a Byzantine Catholic community here that has the Divine Liturgy in German on Saturday, and various things in German throughout the week, and a Ukrainian Liturgy on Sunday. And there's also a church here that has a non-denominational style prayer service on Sunday evening, with the projectors, praise band, and all that stuff--it's just like any sane Charismatic, non-denominational place.

    On the other hand, Orthodoxy in Austria is about 50 years behind Orthodoxy in America. The Orthodox here are, by and large, still very much in the first- and second-generation immigrant phase; the Liturgy is at least 80% in the jurisdictional language. The Romanians have their Liturgy and even the sermon in about 90% Romanian, you might have the Epistle in German, and of course, none of the propers are translated and available for reading by non-Romanian speakers. The Russian Orthodox in this city don't even have the Gospel or the sermon in German; it's 100% Russian and Church Slavonic. Most of the parishioners don't speak any German, so trying to talk with people after Liturgy is basically a lost cause. As for converting to Orthodoxy on your own here, from what I've seen, it would be a very difficult process that almost necessitates learning another language if you want to really learn and experience the faith and be involved in the community. Coming from the US, where a vast number of parishes have at least the majority of their services in English and are guaranteed to have both the Scripture readings and the sermon in English, and where there have been tons of resources translated, it's quite a shock. Even the biritual Roman Catholic/Byzantine Catholic priest here had to read a certain blessing in English, since it hasn't been translated into German yet.

    So between the manifold possibilities in Catholicism over here, along with the immense number of resources and the accessibility of it, I began going to the German Divine Liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic prayer community here--which is a Baroque Roman Catholic parish that has been converted into an Eastern Catholic space. Seeing the Baroque art with a Byzantine-style iconostasis spoke volumes to me. If there was any place that would make me become Catholic again, it was Austria. And so I repeated the process I've already outlined, but in much more extreme fashion. I actually accepted the Papal dogmas this time as a plausible means of safeguarding the organization of the Catholic Church, and having a clear way of getting things done and settling problems.

    So one time, at the Charismatic prayer service in mid-December, there was something called a "Nacht der Barmherzigkeit", or a "Night of Mercy." They had a bunch of priests scattered around hearing confessions, and the main theme of the service was reconciliation with God, and asking Jesus to come and ignite us. I knew that this night would mark another step in my journey. I began praying intensely, as I had several times before. I saw the way forward, a winding path of light through the darkness. After asking two men to pray over me, I saw that the next step was to go to Confession. I finally nutted up when the service was starting to come to a close.

    After being absolved of my sins for the first time in over a year, I could feel life and energy slowly start to rise up from somewhere deep within. I ran through the cold December night because I could. It was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I was now Catholic again. Next Saturday, I took Communion at the Byzantine prayer community.

    That went for a few weeks, until I had a dream. I don't need to go into it now, but I got the message that I'd gone in the wrong direction because I felt pressured to make that step of going to confession. Eventually I compared Orthodoxy and Catholicism at a practical level, and even though Catholicism had more for me in terms of what I could do to be involved, ultimately, I had to decide based on the faith of each respective church, and not what activities or safety measures I had available to me. Besides, I could always help develop what I found lacking in the communal life of Orthodoxy in the diaspora. So, like so many times before, Orthodoxy once again won out. So even though I felt out of place there, I started going back to the Romanian Orthodox parish. I didn't always go, especially when I felt like I didn't belong there and there was no way for me to connect with anyone and no one to connect with, but hey, it was Orthodox, and that's the important thing.

    It took me several months to pray, discern and make as sure as humanly possible that Orthodoxy wasn't just the last option, but the real way forward, and the true Faith, and that I wasn't going to waffle again and change my mind. I also was going to have to admit my temporary return to Catholicism. But eventually I worked up the guts to send my Orthodox priest in America an email explaining what happened, and my decision to become a catechumen. He allayed my fears, saying that if that confession helped my discernment, then glory to God.

    And so, here I am now, a soon-to-be catechumen working on becoming Orthodox.

    If you actually read this entire thing, then props to you, you've made it! Thank you so much for reading!
     
  20. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    946
    Ratings:
    +168
    Religion:
    Advaita
    wow, thanks for that extensive post!! :D

    I love that you are so passionate about Orthodoxy and Christianity in general. ;) I'm from Vienna, I was in Salzburg in 2000 the first and last time lol, it's a beautiful beautiful city, to be honest imho it's much prettier there than in Vienna lol. Here in Vienna is a really large Orthodox community, OC is very mystical imo there's a lot of ritual and superstition involved. My mother constantly visits our local OC Serbian church here, especially for the holidays like easter and Christmas. As you may know OC has a LOT of holidays (holy days ? lol) where work is prohibited, we have our own pocket calenders where all the holidays are numbered and listed. :D

    Because you mentioned Gnosticism, I'm kind of intrigued by that at the moment, it's quite fascinating especially Valentinianism. I like the idea of Pantheism to be honest but I don't know.

    Anyway I loved reading your story and love reading your informative posts on this forum ;) I already sent you some frubals ha ! ^^
     
Loading...