Orthodox Catechism Class

After tonight's vesper service we (wife and me) attended the first adult catechism class for the year.  We stayed in the temple so the priest could explain what all of the things you see in a traditional Orthodox church mean.  I was extremely impressed with just how biblical everything is in an Orthodox church in the sense of the whole of salvation history from Genesis on is somehow contained in the symbolism of the architecture and iconography.  If you just looked at an Orthodox church without the explanation it would never makes sense but once you do its all there and everything has a reason for being there.

Anyway the thing which most impressed me was when Fr. Anthony talked about their plans to put the icon of the Last Judgement on the back wall so that as all of the parishioners leave they will see it and be reminded as they go out into the world that if they don't tend to the "least of these" they will share in that judgement.  There was no mincing of words there.  No indication that you could still be saved if you ignored these words of Jesus: 

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"

 

 

 

I once heard an explanation of Eastern iconography, and the theology behind the way it is done...very impressive, and very cool.

I'm a big fan of Eastern architecture.

Its an OCA church which if I understand right comes from Russian Orthodoxy. Its very traditional. No pews or instruments. There are chairs for the elderly or disabled but if you can stand you should. I am still building up my endurance for longer services.

All services are in English and most of the parishioners are actually converts from Protestantism including the priest.

cool ridgeback! glad to see you are finally following the calling you have been feeling! :)

keep us updated if you can or email me....I am very interested in your jounrey with Orthodoxy.

Orthodox is Orthodox I beleive Hawker, as far as I know with my experiences...the Church I went to was Ukrainian and they always had Romanian and Greek Orthodox people coming to their services and they had communion with Ukraininan people. One Church

I just went round an orthodox church here in London..St George's cathedral. It was really lovely, the icons were amazing. There are Syrian and Indian orthodox churches here too that I want to see. My favourites are still the temple church in London and the Roslin Chapel near Edinburgh (pretty corny i know, i just like the oldness). York Minster is also great..lit a candle there recently for my grandfather.

I asked Fr. Anthony if no pews was an OCA thing and he said that pretty much only in N. America do you see pews in an Orthodox temple.

This is not seen as a positive change because as he explained it each Orthodox Christian is part of a "royal priesthood" and therefore each is coming to offer his sacrifice and participate in the service. Sitting in pews can foster a spectator mentality.

As Gord pointed out all Orthodox appear to be united more or less in worship and sacrament (with small cultural variations) but the administrative and hiearchical aspects are where you find quibbles.

I can't imagine any priest making you do something special if you came from a different jurisdiction. In America things are all screwed up in part because of the situation in Russia during the rule of the Soviets.

I think eventually all Orthodox in the US may be united jurisdictionally but frankly I think the worship and theology is more important. The big frustration with Protestantism for me was that there was a lack of agreement on crucial aspects of the faith. How each separate parish was organized externally wouldn't matter if all Protestants were united in belief and practice.

Recently there was a conference in Colorado Springs where American Orthodox were discussing evangelism in the US. I know that clergy and laity from all different jurisdictions met to work together so there seems to be a strong amount of harmony for the purposes of charity and evangelism among the different jurisdictions.

Orthodox Churches do give a person a feeling of antiquity but I was surprised to what degree the emphasis was on the present in worship. The Kingdom of Heaven is here now. Christ is alive and present now. The Saints are alive and in heaven now. The connection to the past is put in that context.

Fr. Anthony did a great job of explaining things like prayers to the saints. He turned to one of the people in the front row of chairs and said "Joe, I've been having a real hard time lately, will you pray for me" and then he turned to one of the icons on the wall and said "John, I've been having a real hard time lately, will you pray for me". Every Evangelical is ok with asking for the intercession of a living friend in their church. He only had to point out that in Orthodoxy the saints are still alive so you can ask for their prayers too. He also made a point of noting that a saint is not a different thing from a regular Christian but rather they are like the hall of famers of the church.

I made a point of asking about relics because I knew my wife would be pretty taken aback by that but it really does make sense if you believe that the whole person will be resurrected and that the body truly was the temple of the holy spirit. He made a comparison of relics to trading baseball cards which was pretty funny. He made a point of explaining that things like relics were abused in the past but that doesn't take away from their proper place.

Ridgeback, have you ever been to eastern europe? It's really mad for relics in places like croatia and romania. They are everywhere!

Chance,

No, but if I convert to Orthodoxy I would really like to travel to places like that and Greece (Mt. Athos especially).  I don't doubt that relics take on too much importance or emphasis in some areas although I really don't know what is in each person's heart.

As Fr. Anthony pointed out proper worship is like walking a narrow path.  You don't throw out the baby with the bathwater on one hand when something is abused but you are ever vigilant about abuse on the other since the devil only tweaks something a little to make it miss the mark.  If he changed it too much it would be an obvious evil so he just changes it enough to lead people astray. 

I think the reverence given to Mary in the Orthodox church makes perfect sense in the context of Jesus and salvation history.  If she was somehow separated from that and had a cult following then the people would be in error. 

I really like this idea of Protestant converts to Orthodoxy.  Protestants can bring a zeal for their faith and a love for the scriptures and are very unlikely to fall into error on things like Mary or relics.  On the other hand the Orthodox church gives them the stability that allows them to put down roots spiritually so they can produce fruit. 

Ridge,

So you're thinking of converting from Catholicism to Orthodoxy?

M.G.,

Is that a serious question?

The Hawker,

Have you done a parish search on the different sites for each jurisdiction?

I don't think the different branches matter much but there may be a particular parish in your neck of the woods which will be a better fit.

For myself this parish was about the closest and that is still over an hour away. Orthodoxy is definitely not the most "convenient" tradition to join in N. America.

Ridgeback,

Yes, it is a serious question.

LOL no I am not R. Catholic. I come from a Fundagelical background with most of my churchgoing hours logged at a Fundamentalist Bible Independent Baptist Church.

Ridgeback,

I thought you were a Jehova's Witness?

What made you examine the Catholic Umbrella?

What would possibly have led anyone to think I was JW?

Maybe it was when you went door to door trying to be part of the 144k ??????

Ridgeback,

You said: "LOL no I am not R. Catholic. I come from a Fundagelical background with most of my churchgoing hours logged at a Fundamentalist Bible Independent Baptist Church."

Wait a minute. Let's back up here. I thought you went from Protestant Fundamentalism to Catholicism. That was the impress you gave from all your post. I thought you were raised fundamental/strict Baptist and later in your adult life converted to Catholicism. So I assumed you were a Catholic who once was a Fundamental Protestant.

I've notice, from your post on this thread and others, you have an interest in Orthodox Christianity. And because of the subject matter of this thread I got the impression you want to convert to Orthodox Christianity. And since I assume you were Catholic I asked the question about switching from Catholicism to Orthodoxy.

m.g,

No I get it now and realize you weren't trying to make a funny. The reason I thought you might have been making a funny is because I have done a lot of Catholic defense work over the last year or more on the HG so it would have been easy to mistake me for a Catholic.

Hawker,

I just wanted to give you this picture:


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