:: A Catechumen's Walk ::

Catechumen: One who is learning the principles of Christianity.
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The theological reflections of an Eastern Orthodox convert and seminarian
:: St Seraphim, OCA::
:: St Andrew, AA::
:: Orthodox Church of America::
[::..Blogs I Read..::]
:: Huw's Doxos::
:: James' Paradosis::
::Fr. Joseph's Orthodixie::
[::..Other Links..::]
:: St. Vladimir's
(current school)
:: Torrey::
:: Biola::
:: The Onion Dome::
:: Yahoo::
:: Dictionary::
:: Boundless Webzine::

:: Friday, October 31, 2003 ::


What are your thoughts on Halloween? Here at a Protestant campus, there is a sharp split over today’s celebrations. Some say that it is Satanic and we should stop our kids from going out; others say that it is Satanic, and so hand out tracts rather than candy; some say that it is for kids to have fun dressing up to be princesses and knights. I tend to think that while it may have originated as an occult thing, we should stop kids from dressing up in their make-believe costumes and having fun. I don’t know; what’s your opinion?

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:27 PM on Friday, October 31, 2003 [+] ::


We had a readers vespers out here at Biola last night. Well, it wasn’t at the school, since we deemed that disrespectful, but it was at someone’s house that lives right near school. It was wonderful! It actually worked. We had 7 students, one prof, and three readers. For the actual service, we only had two readers, since the third arrived right as we were finishing. The readers, one student, and the prof were the only Orthodox Christians there. The rest of us were Protestants, some who had recently converted to Anglicanism, and one High-church Lutheran. We all had a good time; everyone who came was very into church and the theology of non-Protestant churches, so we sat around at dinner and talked until almost 10. It was really good. Glory to God!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:24 PM on [+] ::

:: Monday, October 27, 2003 ::
Orthodoxy and Women

I was recently asked why it seems that women are slower to accept Orthodoxy than men are. In fact, I have noticed that more men are likely to convert than women in general (I know quite a few converts/potential converts). I do not know why this is with any certainty, and I certainly don’t claim to represent anyone but myself, but here are my ideas.
To be sure, more men convert than women. I don’t think this is an Orthodox phenomenon alone, however, since there was a significantly more male converts than female converts at the Anglican church I attended last year. I spoke with the fiancés/wives of some Anglican converts I know, and although they were initially slower in accepting the faith of their boyfriends/husbands, they all consider their conversions to be simultaneous with that of their man. While they tended to be slower about initially accepting the faith, they moved as fast or faster than the guys once they did accept it.
First, lets be negative. Although men often exhibit a more “logical” side than women, I do not think this is necessarily the reason that women are slower to convert, at least in my own case. I major in theoretical mathematics, program in C++ and Java, and built myself a computer; I am more “logically” minded than most guys I know, including the converts.
It seems to have more to do with philosophy than logic. Women are concerned about the practical aspects of life. Men are more likely to explore the philosophy of the idea, and once they are convinced of that, they will change the practical aspects of their lives to fit with that philosophy. Women would like something to show them how to practically improve their lives, catching up on the philosophy only once it has affected their real life. Orthodoxy seems to offer so much philosophy and theology, while offering little in the way of practical day-to-day life (at least in my experience; I could be wrong!).
The biggest point, at least with the groups I know, seems to be a phenomenon particular to Evangelical Protestants; at least at Biola, this is probably the main reason men are more likely to convert than women. Protestant, especially Evangelical Protestant, church services are often engineered to create an emotionally charged atmosphere; unfortunately, this atmosphere is like tumultuous water: always changing, unpredictable, and ultimately shallow. The women seem to relate to this more than the men; simply looking around chapel during praise-and-worship confirms this observation. The men do occasionally participate, but the ratio of men to women showing explicit emotion is about 1:10. When men find the Liturgy, they find a firm base where emotion is not the only determining factor of the success of a service. Men are unable to participate as fully in the emotion-driven Evangelical service (wonder why Evangelicals are loosing men quickly?) as women are, but still seek to worship God. The Liturgy gives them this opportunity. The women, who don’t feel the emotion of the Liturgy as strongly as the Evangelical service, are less likely to realize they need to more firmly based service, and thus will be slower to convert than their men-folk.
These are my opinions; they may be completely false, judgmental, stereotypical, and all of that other bad stuff. If I offended anyone, please forgive me.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 9:56 PM on Monday, October 27, 2003 [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 26, 2003 ::
Hey all,
Please pray for those who are caught in the Southern California wildfires. I am safe, but many of my friends (including my roommate) have to evacuate their homes. The air is thick with smoke and uncertainty down here. The faith of many is being tested this weekend, and will be tested further this week. Some have already lost homes, and emotions are running high. Thanks for your prayers.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 8:50 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2003 [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 25, 2003 ::
Making it New

Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ on the third day? “Of course!” You say, “Every Christian believes it, and has for as long as he has been a Christian!” Really? I don’t think I really believe in the resurrection. I am a church-kid; I was raised in the church, and attending a Bible school. But I don’t think I really believe. Or, I didn’t really believe until I discovered Orthodoxy.
Before you go getting all excited, this isn’t a plug for the Orthodox Church, but rather for the discovery of Church for oneself, and the resultant conversion. At Torrey (my college), a very high percentage of the students will convert to the “High” Church during their four-year stay. While 100% of us enter Evangelical Protestants, only about 50% will graduate that way. Mostly, we go Anglican and Lutheran, but there is a growing group of Orthodox converts also (although all of these to the Western Rite, since there is a local Church).
So, why do students convert? I asked a friend who will be confirmed this Sunday as an Anglican (along with 16 other students at my college!) His answer is simple: He hears what is said on Sunday. It is the same message he grew up with, but he hears it for the first time. He believes it for himself, not by the coercion of his parents. It is as if he is discovering Christianity for the first time; it is something he never knew before, and now he sees it. The converts, those who have had to fight for the faith of their own, are the ones who “get” it and cherish it. Converting, even if to another Christian denomination, re-opens the eyes of those of us who have been so raised in the Church that we fail to see it for its familiarity.
But back to the resurrection. Converts believe it because it is new to them; it is the same material in a new form. But what about everyone else? I looked around the room while the speaker was talking. Most of the 2000 person student-body was there, along with a number of visitors. How many of them believe? I wanted to tell them. I wanted to stand up and say, “Christ is risen! Don’t you people know this?!” But, of course they did. They knew it all too well; that’s why they don’t believe it anymore. It is casual. So, how do I make it new? As I see myself and my convert/converting friends, I see the newness of the resurrection, the incarnation, the Trinity, and such things in them. They have seen it with their own eyes, not the eyes of their parents and family. On their own at school, they have re-discovered God.
So what can we do? It would not be good for the whole school to convert; it is a Protestant school, and thus it should remain. But what can I do? Torrey will sponsor and support students with good ideas to do real things, but I have to have a real thing to do. I so greatly desire people to believe, to see it afresh. I despise the word “revival,” but I guess it accurately describes what I want to see happen. At one time in their lives, before they could exegete in Greek and explain the Christological heresies of the 4th century, these people had faith in the resurrection. How can I help them to find it again? How can we make it new?
Maybe this is the wrong approach. As I read this, I keep seeing the word “new.” As my Orthodox friends would remind me, the Faith is not new; rather, it is the most ancient faith of Christendom. This has been the approach of the Evangelicals for years; modernize Christianity, [forgive the language, but it is accurate] whoring the Church after the culture. This style of making Christianity “new” is completely wrong, and backfires greatly. How then do we make it new, without making it “modern?”

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:50 AM on Saturday, October 25, 2003 [+] ::

:: Thursday, October 23, 2003 ::
On the Act of Being Repentant

I know I sin a lot. Intellectually, I am fairly certain I could list, on any given day, which of my actions are sinful, and which are not. I can probably even give Biblical examples of the various sins I commit. I can tell you why they are wrong using philosophically. I can tell you that God hates sin, that it damns people, and that Christ died on the cross to save me from the punishment of this sin (put your Orthodox soteriology on hold for a sec, OK?).
I can tell you a lot about sin from a detached, scientific view. But I can’t feel sorry for it. I mean, I don’t feel repentant for most of the sins I have committed; if anything, I selfishly feel sorry for how my sins have hurt me. I do not respond properly to sin; I know intellectually sin is wrong, but how can this knowledge affect my heart?
On one of its many levels, Plato’s Republic is his sketch of a purely intellectual man; but the Republic ends in failure. Remember Book X? It ends in a muthos (myth), written as an appeal to the appetitive and “chested” (to use C.S. Lewis) sides of men; it fails to succeed in its purpose, which was to solve the problem using pure intellect. While intellect is the highest of Plato’s three-tiered man, it still fails without the other two. [Lest you think I am just playing the side of anti-intellectual, by writing this, let me remind you that I have in fact read a good number of Plato’s works. I am closer to a hyper-intellectual, tending to push feeling off to one side as unimportant.]
I just finished reading a short book entitled “Confession” by Metropolitan Anthony _____ (I can’t remember his last name). It was an instruction manual written in the early part of this century to Russian priests about the mystery of Confession; I recommend reading it if only for the fatherly tone in which Met. Anthony writes to the priests. In writing it, it seems as though the Metropolitan expected people who came to Confession to be contrite about their sins. He seems to assume that people can genuinely, and naturally, feel sorry for the wrongs they have committed. Is this something most people can do? Am I the only one who cannot feel sorry for my sins? In the prayers we pray, “Grant me torrents of tears, O most pure one, to cleanse my soul of impurity,” and “grant me tears, and remembrance of death, and compunction.” We read of the great saints who wept for their sins, some even to the point of blindness. Why can’t we cry for our sins? (OK, I am extrapolating here, but I don’t think I am the only one…)
Why don’t we feel sorry? I heard an anecdote recently about a writing assignment given to a college psych class. They were to write a one paragraph about a time someone else hurt them, and another one about a time they hurt someone else. When the papers were collected, there was an interesting pattern: each time they hurt someone, there was some justification for the action; the person deserved it. Each time someone hurt them, it was completely unfair; the offending party was in the wrong. We justify ourselves all too often. We don’t weep over our sins because, although we intellectually acknowledge them to be wrong, we justify them to ourselves.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:50 PM on Thursday, October 23, 2003 [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 18, 2003 ::
You gotta gotta gotta go read this.
Especially all of you Protestants (that's 7 of you I can think of right now! Go read it!).
It'll take about 30 minutes, but it is well worth it.


The first third is just "huh?"
The second third is "OK, I kinda get this."
The last third...Wow. The singular best explaination I have ever read explaining the incarnation and death of Christ explained to a Protestant. Really, really good. All of you "judicial theologists" really need to read this.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 8:34 PM on Saturday, October 18, 2003 [+] ::

Prayer Rope Tying Instructions

Just happened to find this page on my internet perusings…


I haven't tried it, but it sounds like it would be fun to learn.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:28 AM on [+] ::

:: Friday, October 17, 2003 ::
Mary is cool

Some things of the Church grate against the nerves more than others. Protestants can accepts many things in the Church more easily than they can accept Mary. Some of the phrases and hymns, “O, Holy Theotokos, save us,” and other such ideas sound blasphemous and idolatrous. It can be a great mouthful to swallow, and one I have barely begun to study.

But I like Mary.

I don’t like the theology behind her, the explanations, the “Theotokos” vs. “Christotokos,” and all the other points about which I feel obliged to care. I just like her. She is really cool. I mean, I pray to her the prayers in the prayer book, and that’s all good. But I just like her; I like singing the Suplicatory Canon, or the Megalynaria, and other such things. It seems like I should know reasons, theology, Mariology, and all that other academia stuff before making such a statement. Once I know all of that, I can say some nonsensical, technical jargon about why she is cool. But for now, she is just cool.

O, Holy Theotokos, save us!

**Forgive me if I offend you by referring to the Theotokos as “cool,” but I don’t know enough about her to say much else. I mean offence or flippancy.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 6:13 PM on Friday, October 17, 2003 [+] ::

:: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 ::
To Know God

This was a formal answer to a question: "How can we know God?", written immediately reading multiple works of the early Franciscan monk , St Bonaventure.

We have to be able to know God. The first and greatest commandment tells us to love God, and we would be irrational for us to love something that we did not know, at least to a limited extent. Although we cannot know God in His infinity, we can know Him in His fleshly body, but even without this fleshly knowledge, it is possible to know God partially through other sources.
We can’t know God infinitely in His infinity, since we are finite people. God understood our limitations, but made a way for us to know Him by becoming like us. Jesus came down and became man so we can know God. For the word to mean something, there has to be a way in which one man can “know” another. Because Jesus was a man, we can know Him; because He was also fully God, we can therefore know God. God stepped out of infinity into time, and thus made Himself accessible to man. Although the flesh of Jesus was crucified to a tree, it is still accessible to his disciples through the Eucharist. This is the best way to know God; to know Him in the flesh. Since it is possible to know Jesus as fully as we can know any man, in this way it is possible to fully know God.
Without the Eucharist, we can still know God partially. We can know him through the stories recorded in the Gospels, but through these we can know Him only as we know men such as Odysseus, Socrates, and Dracula. We can partially participate in His Being, in that He is, and is theological virtues as love. Through our very existence, we are participating in the Being of God. When we practice His virtues, such as love, we are participating in God, and therefore can know Him to an extent. The limitation to this is that we do not know Him directly, but rather only parts of His being; in our sinful world, we can never see pure things, and therefore cannot see what is closest to God. We can contemplate God through His scripture, and this is good, but contemplation of a person does not mean knowledge.
While the Eucharist, made possible by the incarnation, is the best and fullest way man can know God, it is still possible to know Him partially through other means.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 7:40 PM on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 [+] ::

:: Monday, October 13, 2003 ::

Why do we judge so much? I see it in myself so much; I barely have to even meet a person, and I already think he is too scraggly, she is too loud, he is too rude, they are too stupid. What is up with this? I don’t know these people, and I have no right to judge them.
I find myself doing the same thing with churches and even (sadly) priests. I see them, and I do not know the history, the background, the reasons, but I still jump to snap conclusions about them. At St Andrew’s, where I went yesterday, the priest is out of the country finishing his doctorate. While he is gone, there is another priest who is taking responsibility for the parish. I was grumbling and complaining to myself that the homily’s boring, class is too long, he doesn’t look like a priest (clean-shaven, like some bloggers I’ve heard of…). What gives me the right to do this? I don’t know. I watched him as he processed around the Church with the Eucharist, and all of the people coming up and kissing the corners of his robe; the air with which he went showed he understood the profundity of what I can’t being to grasp (the Eucharist). I shouldn’t even be in the building for this, much less with an attitude of judgment for the priest.
We judge churches also. I had a friend who is looking for a new parish write to me this morning, enumerating the reasons he didn’t like the local parishes. I was fine reading the email, until I got to the part about my own parish (St Seraphims). Then it hit me; I was judging again. I didn’t like the way he described the church and people I have come to love. Then I realized that we shouldn’t even be comparing and bringing out the weak points of the churches. Yes, they have their weak points; so do I. But judging is not good.
It is not my place to judge. That’s God’s place, not mine. Yesterday, I asked my Reformed Baptist friend if he thought I was going to heaven, “Yes, I think you are saved,” was his quick response. “And me? Do you think I will go to heaven?” I was so tempted to judge, to answer that his theology was…weird, that his God was mean, and all this other stuff. But no, instead I said, “Well, I don’t think God placed the keys to heaven in my hands. He’s the judge, not me. Your salvation is between you and God. I can’t know.” He thought over this for a second, then smiled, nodding his head slowly. I like that response of the Church to heterodoxy; it won’t judge. Now if only I could learn to do the same…

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 12:48 PM on Monday, October 13, 2003 [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 12, 2003 ::
Reformed Baptist

I just came from an evening service at a Reformed Baptist church. I promised a good friend (a Reformed Baptist PK) that I would go to his church. He is one of the few I have met who is as passionate about church as I am, and I was interested in what his church was like. Well, it was…
Calvinistic. I picked up a bunch of brochures with titles like “The Myth of Freewill,” and “A Critical Evaluation of Infant Baptism” [very against it]. These people are so reformed that they have an absolutely whitewashed sanctuary, and don’t even have stained glass windows. The only thing that is not pure white are the pews, rug, and big, dark cross at the front of the church, otherwise, it was Spartan. God made beauty, right? Did beauty become bad all of a sudden? I am starting to wonder if Calvin thought so…
Scary. We got there early for a 45 minute prayer service before church started, and I sat with my friend behind a two families with 4 boys between them, all aged 4-6y/o. I was watching these boys playing, as boys their age do, when I heard their father rise and pray aloud for the salvation of his sons. I stopped for a minute; Why was he praying for their salvation [at this point, if you are not a Protestant convert to Orthodoxy, you will not understand the sense of the word “salvation” that Calvinists use]? Here was their father, a devout, pious deacon of the church, praying for the salvation of his sons. That means they would have (might have) gone to Hell if they had died then…little kids, playing with their toys in service. At that moment of their little lives, damned to Hell, or so their pious parents’ believe. How could that happen? How could a loving God damn these little kids? It was weird; these pious people were praying for the salvation of their children…I couldn’t get over how “cruel” that made God seem…
Enlightening. As I have been looking into the Orthodox Church, one of my complaints has been that there is such an emphasis on sources other than the Bible (sola scriptura). But tonight, from a very “sola scriptura” pulpit, I heard many men quoted, everyone from Augustine and Dante, to Calvin and Luther, to Mark Twain; even one quote from St John Chrysostom! It was weird to think that, while the people were sure they were getting the unadulterated Bible, they were actually getting just as much interpretation put into it as any of the High Churches. Well, at least the High Churches admit it, while they were saying that it is “opinion” that they don’t have to believe. I would like someone to stand up in that church and denounce Calvin, if he thinks it is just “opinion”! It was very revelatory for me to see…

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:50 PM on Sunday, October 12, 2003 [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 04, 2003 ::
College Kids & Church

This is a blog I have been working on for about 4 weeks. I write it as a student who cares passionately about church, and therefore encourages everyone she knows to attend church, no matter where they go. I talk with a lot of college students who, like me, are away from their home church for the first time; we all have a hard time finding a church at college.
We go to a Christian college; we go to chapel at least three times a week, some of us more often; internationally recognized speakers come and speak regularly on our campus. So, when we go to your church, we are not going to hear the preacher or sing the worship songs. We get this at school; we seek something different from church.
At school, we live in a tight community with people 18-22 years old. We all live here, either on campus, or close by. Our lives revolve around school. We go to church partly to get away from school. We also go to be part of your community. Think about it: on campus, there are no older people, no babies, no little kids. We then seek these out at church. We are seeking a family style of life. Going to a Christian school, especially among chums who intellectualize their faith so much, we seek to know faith through means other than the intellect. Yes, we may want to talk about intellectual faith, but we also want to see faith in the lives of the people around us. We want to watch older Christians live out their faith.
By their senior year, most students still don’t consider themselves to have a church home at school. We go to one church for a few months, but we never become part of it, so we leave. [By the statistics I have collected], We will go to 6-8 church in the four years we spend here, only spending 4-5 months at each one. Remember, we have been raised in the church; many of us are PK’s and MK’s [pastor’s kids, missionary kids]. Most of us go to a church each Sunday; we have our whole lives, and enjoy it. But we can’t find a church home, and it’s not for lack of trying. We are the ones who go to your church for 8 months of the year, and aren’t there in January or in the summer. Not only do we often not find a church home at school, but we often are too disconnected with the church we grew up at to ever attend, even when we are at home.
So, what can you do? Well, come up and say hi to us at church, especially if you yourself are not a college student yourself; we won’t laugh at you. We’re the awkward looking ones standing there, trying to fit in. There is probably a group of us, but that doesn’t mean we are being social. It just means we are remaining our own little bubble and not being part of the church. Once you get to know us, take us home for a meal. It’s not really about the food (although anything that is not caf food is fabulous!), but rather about the “home-ishness” of a home. We want to pet the cats, play with the kids, chase the dogs, sit in real chairs, walk around outside, listen to the silence, and do all of the other things we don’t get at school. Let us be part of your community; let us be part of the church family.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 11:36 AM on Saturday, October 04, 2003 [+] ::

The “Joys” of Finding a Church

Too much has been going on for me to actually blog; I really do write blogs, but then I decide they are too stupid to be published…;-)
So, I still have very much not found a home church yet. It is one of those not very cool things, especially since I like church so much. HVM would be cool, but I don’t know anyone; St Andrews is cool, ’cause I know a few people, but it is so far.
Yesterday, I got an email from the priest at the Anglican Church I attended last year. At Torrey, there is a very tight community, and the priest is part of this community (many chums attend his church, and everyone knows him); I am not exactly sure who told Fr David, but somehow he found out I was going to an Orthodox church. So, he wrote and asked why. I tried to give my standard, brief explanation, “In good conscience, I cannot declare communion with any ecclesiastical body which is morally corrupt; Blessed Sacrament is a good church, but the Episcopal Communion is bad.” Well, that flew about as well as a ton of bricks. He sent me a personal invitation to attend Mass this Sunday, and suggested I meet with him.
That’s not at all bad…I do not have a church home yet, and this bugs me greatly. If I so choose, I can have a church home at Blessed Sacrament quite easily; I know most of the people there (they are my chums), I have a ride, and it is close. The style is rather close to Liturgy; sure, they cross themselves the other way, but otherwise…Also, the theology is more of what I have grown up with. I know if I meet with Fr David, it will be easy to convince me to start going there again. Is this bad? No, probably not. I need somewhere where I can go to church, and be a part of the church. It seems like a good place to go to church while I am down in this area, although it would mean that I cannot become Orthodox. But an Anglican church down here, and an Orthodox church back at home…more of an ecclesiastical mutt than I care to be. And…this blog was started when I became a catechumen at Blessed Sacrament, not some Orthodox church. But, yeah, the joys of finding a church (or, more generally, a religion)…:-)

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 11:08 AM on [+] ::

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