Non-Christian Inquirer

This is a safe harbor for inquirers and catechumen to ask questions and share their journey into Holy Orthodoxy. Please be kind to our newcomers and warmly welcome them.

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Barbara
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby Barbara » Sat 20 May 2017 3:14 am

Your post made me realize how absolutely ignorant I have been of Texas geography. I checked the map. Now I see why El Paso is closer to Albuquerque than to Clarksville. You are in an interesting corner of the state, near New Mexico and Mexico. Must be somewhat colorful there being at such a crossroads ?

I looked up the TOC parish that I had come across when following some links for a Saint's life. It was St Maximos the Confessor mission in Albuquerque. Unfortunately for your purposes, the parish moved to Colorado 3 years ago. No reason given. The Priest, Fr Symeon, serves St Maximos and another parish in that Rocky Mountain state.

I don't know offhand of any other TOC outposts in New Mexico, but I will check. It's indeed admirable that you are exactly on the right track with regard to the political situation within Orthodoxy and other factors. Please continue to post here and ask any questions you have as you are already far beyond many others.

By the way, since you have such good discernment, which kinds of ethnic food do you and your wife prefer ?!

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Maria
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby Maria » Mon 29 May 2017 6:25 am

Barbara wrote:Maria, you mean the more educated the Catholics were about Catholicism, right ? Catholics who know their faith take it seriously, and would indeed find it difficult to change to Orthodox. Maybe it's a tiny step-by tiny step process which could take a long time.

I think one important piece of advice for Orthodox clergy and laity is to be kind to such Catholic seekers. Not to archly tell them things that will obviously put them off - especially accusatory statements regarding the Church of Rome - but to find congenial topics to discuss in a RELAXED WAY. Otherwise, Catholics who are well-versed in their faith will head for the hills - and never look back.

In sum, it's essential to be diplomatic rather than confrontational.

I see also that there are many more sticking points than just the role of the Pope. For example, in the baptism ceremony, the Catholic catechumen must use harsh language about the Catholic Church and say that he or she renounces all of that. This could be why the milder-flavored jurisdictions attract more Catholics by far than the tougher ones like TOC's - or even Rocor-Mp or the MP itself.


Yes, I was one who was initially repulsed by the ROCOR and the True Orthodox Synods due to the renunciations that were required of Catholics. However, as I did a more in depth study with my priests, I realized that these renunciations were necessary especially when several friends of mine who considered themselves to be "refugees" ran away from Roman Catholicism and joined liberal Greek Orthodox parishes where the renunciations were not required. Within two years, they had returned to the Roman Catholic Church. They even boasted that their return to Roman Catholicism was easy, no penance, just confess, and start communing again.

Did they miss the big picture? Most certainly. They would call me on the phone and weep over the latest words uttered by the Pope, but they said that they had the Mass and Communion to console them. Or did they?

The haunting words of one of my friends has really stayed with me. She is living a nightmare of confusion, scrupulosity, and doubt. She said that whenever she attends a Catholic Mass, she stands behind a huge column in the church, so that she cannot see what the priest is doing, and that she wears earplugs so that she cannot hear what the priest is saying. She receives Communion in great fear and doubt because of the heretical priests who do not believe in the Real Presence. And she begs Christ to come to her. Then she asks me if this is a sin. I am not a Roman Catholic Priest, so why does she call me, and why does she continue to go to the Catholic Church?

Unfortunately, there are many converts like this who have "refugee mentalities." While these "converts" may have escaped from the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic and other denominations, they have not changed their beliefs at all. They are just trying to find a place where they are comfortable; wait until the dust settles; and/or wait out the internal wars, until they can once again wallow in the slop with their former colleagues. They fail to see the big picture, which is that heresies, particularly the Pan-Heresy of Ecumenism, have overtaken all the mainstream churches, and that these heretical and schismatic churches most likely will never stop wallowing in their own vomit. We can pray for them, but Christ mentioned that when He comes again, the Faith would be cold and that few would believe in Him. In other words, only a few faithful, the Remnant, would be left.

Re: The renunciations taken by Orthodox Christian Catechumen

During the Apostolic era, without the Nicene Creed, which came about hundreds of years later during the Ecumenical Councils, the Apostles required that a new convert renounce all the wickedness that he had formerly done and make restitution for those sins. In those days, there was no such thing as private confession, as people confessed their sins in front of the whole gathered church. That would make most people today tremble in their boots. For example, St. Matthew stated that he would return all that he had stolen plus interest while he served as a Tax Collector. St. Peter was directly challenged by Christ and had to admit that he loved Christ three times to atone for his sins of betrayal. These were public confessions recorded in the Holy Bible! So, the Church has always required converts to repent and renounce their former sins, heresies, or delusions. Now, the Church is far more gentle than in former days, where people had to prostrate for three years in the Narthex during the Divine Liturgy, or stand outside the church for ten years in penance for their sins. Although the Church does not require public confession for the average man or women, nevertheless, public sinners, such as abortionists or murderers are required to apologize and make whatever reparation they can.

In addition, the convert was required to make a simple statement formulated at the Council of Jerusalem and mentioned in Acts, that he would avoid sexual promiscuity, avoid meat from strangled animals, and avoid blood. Later the Apostles formulated a Baptismal Creed as documented in the Didache.

And while the Hapgood translation of the renunciation for Roman Catholics does sound a bit strident, perhaps it could be attributed to the fact that the Hapgood sisters were formerly Anglican and had a bone to pick. I do not know. I did not compare the translation with the original, but there is often bias expressed in translations. However, the other Hapgood translations for converts in other denominations are just as strident and potentially embarrassing when reading them for the first time. This strident wording might cause those in the catechumenate to pause and perhaps even delay their reception into the Holy Church. I most certainly took my time as I first started taking inquiry lessons in the summer of 1993, and I did not officially join the catechumenate until October of 1995.

However, these renunciations do not always take place in public as long as the priest knows the intention and sincerity of the catechumen. For example, these renunciations might be said in private if Catholic members of the family are present during the actual baptismal ceremony in order to avoid a scene. Nevertheless, whether these renunciations are done privately with the priest sometime during the catechumenate or done publicly in the church during the actual ceremony, the convert must truly, sincerely, completely, and honestly reject all his old errors and delusions, and wholeheartedly embrace the faith of Christ once delivered to the Apostles for all times and for all places.

As the renunciations are quite lengthy, only a few have been selected.

Renunciations required of Roman Catholic converts (See Hapgood):
    1. Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that it doth not suffice to confess our Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the Universal Church; and that a man, to wit, the Bishop of Rome, can be the head of Christ's Body, that is to say, of the whole Church?
    2. Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief of those who think that the Pope of Rome is superior to the Ecumenical Councils and infallible in faith, notwithstanding that several of the Popes have been heretics, and condemned by such Councils?

Renunciations required of Lutheran converts (See Hapgood):
    1. Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist the bread is not transformed into the Body of Christ .... but that the presence of Christ's Body only for a short time touches the bread, which remains simple bread?
    2. Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief of the teachers who receive not the traditions of the Holy Church, reverence not the saints, and deprive the dead of spiritual aid and the living of spiritual consolation, in that they reject prayers for the dead?

A Renunciation required of Calvinistic converts (See Hapgood for the rest):
    Dost thou renounce the false doctrine, that the predestination of men to their salvation, or their rejection, is not in accordance with the Divine for knowledge of the faith and good works of the former, or with the unbelief and evil deeds of the latter; but in accordance with some arbitrary destiny, by reason of which faith and virtue are robbed of their merit, and God is held accountable for the perdition of sinners?

Renunciations required of Jewish converts (The Great Book of Needs, Volume 1, St. Tikhon's Seminary Priess, 1998:
As there are three different catechises, and several renunciations, only a few are provided due to the length because of copyright laws.
    1. Do you renounce all false doctrines of the Jews, and all their blasphemies against our Savior, Jesus Christ, and against His Most Pure Mother ... as cursed, false, contrary to God, and soul-destroying?
    2. Do you renounce Circumcision, the Sabbath, the Jewish festivals and ceremonies, abolished by the coming of Christ, as being no longer profitable?
    3. Do you renounce doctrines contrary to God, which the Jewish rabbis expounded in the book called the Talmud, and in other ancient and modern writings?
    4. Do you renounce the false doctrine of the Jews that the Messiah has not yet come, and the vain expectation of His coming?

Just before Baptism according to this same OCA book, the Jewish convert is to make an oath before the Church, part of which is:
    "Being convinced of the very truth of this Faith, and drawn to Christ the Savior by the love of my heart, I desire to become a Christian and to be counted worthy of Holy Baptism. And, if I now confess these things through hypocrisy, and come not unto Christ our God through the desire of my heart, and, if hereafter, I shall dare to renounce the Christian Faith and return again to Judaism, may the wrath of God and eternal condemnation overtake me. Amen."

As I do not have any great service books from the True Orthodox, I cannot provide those renunciations. However, they should be similar.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

fschmidt
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby fschmidt » Sun 25 June 2017 2:50 am

I sent this email to 22 Orthodox churches in the Philadelphia area.

-----------------------------------------------------
I would like to know how your Sunday service is organized. Are men and women separated with men on one side and women on the other side, or are the sexes mixed? I ask because I am looking for a church that is not "conformed to this age" (Romans 12:2) and this seems to be a good indicator.

I should also mention that I am not Christian. I like the style of Orthodox churches and I like the Orthodox liturgy. But of course I do not want to go where I am not welcome. So my other question is do you accept non-Christians attending your church?
-----------------------------------------------------

I chose the issue of separation of sexes in church because it is not a theological issue. As a non-Christian, theological issues are none of my business. The issue of separation of sexes in church is an issue of moral common sense. Any religious service that would mix the sexes lacks moral common sense and is evil or stupid or both. Only those religions that separate the sexes will survive, as has been true throughout history.

Of the 22, only one is True Orthodox, Rocor-Trenton. It will be interesting to see the results.

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Barbara
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby Barbara » Sun 25 June 2017 3:11 am

Maria, I am so sorry : I missed your post. I will read thoroughly the renunciations. I thought that was quite interesting about the various denominations seeking a safe harbor in Orthodoxy while they wait out the storms in their original churches/ groups.

Fschmidt, that is so enterprising of you. Congratulations on taking action ! So many give up easily. You did your best to puruse this by contacting the 22 churches in the area of your choice. What you wrote was simple and to the point. What sincere parish could argue ?

Please let us know as the results start to come in. We can all learn from your experience. I wonder how the Bishop Stefan [ Rocor-Trenton ] parish will respond.

fschmidt
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby fschmidt » Fri 30 June 2017 7:28 pm

An update: Most churches did not respond. Of those that did, most were "no" and only one "yes". The "yes" is a ROCOR church but I was never able to reach the priest. Based on that, I called the main ROCOR church in Philadelphia and got a recording in Russian. So then I called the main ROCOR number in NY and got a woman who doesn't speak English.

I found a second True Orthodox church here:

http://holyskete.com/en/

Neither this nor rocor-trenton responded. I tried to find a phone number for rocor-trenton, but going to their contact page:

http://www.rocor-trenton.com/_ContactUs ... tUs_EN.htm

I just see errors.

The unresponsiveness of Orthodox churches is not encouraging. This is quite a contrast to Mennonite churches where one can simply call them and they almost always answer the phone.

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Justice
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby Justice » Fri 30 June 2017 8:50 pm

May God bless you on your journey Fschmidt.
"The church is your hope, the church is your salvation, the church is your refuge." St. John Chrysostom

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Barbara
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Re: Non-Christian Inquirer

Postby Barbara » Sat 1 July 2017 4:15 pm

As fschmidt's search showed, there is something insular about the Orthodox, whether True or World.
They don't WANT to be contacted by new inquirers, it seems like. Perhaps the OCA might be better in this regard.
But one would never want to set foot in an OCA church. NO !

A recording in Russian from the Rocor Mp parish in Philadelphia ? That is amazing ! Why can't they have dual language ??
I am very surprised about the apparent Russian newcomer who answered the phone at Rocor headquarters in busy Manhattan.
Surely, someone better could be found to handle reception, both of visitors and phone callers. Nice, well mannered, bilingual. Even speaking a bit of Serbian wouldn't hurt, as I guess the Serbs must be attending there due to the catastrophe of the fire that ruined their New York City Church. At least the Serbs celebrated Pascha at the Our Lady of the Sign Cathedral. That much was published.

These jurisdictions have to vastly improve their PR ! [Public Relations].

Don't give up, fschmidt.

Perhaps Bp Stefan is in the process of updating his pages now that he has split off from the RTOC and joined with the Andronik-Andrei-Sophrony Rocana schism.

Really, the first priority should be outreach for each of these jurisdictions. Thus, new inquirers like you and new visitors should be given a warm and polite reception. Oftentimes they are ignored [ this is the sad truth ].


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