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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::

:: Thursday, October 28, 2004 ::

Tradition: My Past and Future

When the new convert enters the Church, he suddenly inherits an entire past. I remember my reception as a catechumen; after the torturously embarrassing and awkward 20-minute service, I heard the wonderful words of “Welcome home.” So, what does it mean? What do I do with this Tradition that is suddenly my own?

It can be wonderful to have inherited this treasure. The other day, I heard an old Arab man ask a priest a question that was predicated with, “What does our Church think about…” It is true; the Church is ours (those of you who are baptized); you are members of the body of Christ. The other day when a rather anti-Orthodox speaker asked me, “Well, does your church believe in the Bible?” I got to smile and say, “Of course we do, we wrote it!” It is great being part of this tradition, and being able to live and move and have our being in Christ and his Church.

On the other hand, it is a bit overwhelming. Spending lots of time in church while growing up, I developed a good sense of the Bible and of various Protestant doctrines. Even just studying by myself, I knew the major developments and themes of the Evangelical Church and its doctrine all the way through its 75 year history. Suddenly, I find myself immersed in the writings of saints, thousands of years of history, and so many subtle ideas and doctrines that I sometimes get lost. There is so much to learn! It feels as though I will never get to the end (or even beginning) of it all.

Now that I have it, the next question is, “What do I do with Tradition?” I live it out in today’s terms. “What does this mean?”…Er…I’m not sure. I want to avoid my gut-reaction; it is reductionistic and Western. My gut says that we should reduce the Tradition to principles and live those principles accordingly. An example of this reductionist mentality: if Tradition says to fast, it really means we are to deny ourselves what we would otherwise want, but that we are not bound to doing this with specifically food. While there is a sense in which interpreting the spirit of the law is important, the Traditions as they stand, unreduced by our modernist tendencies, are the best guide to our salvation.

If we do not want to reduce Tradition to live it out, what do we do? Clearly the world around is changing, right? Well…that is where I think the answer to Tradition lies. The world around us may be changing, but people are not. People are fundamentally the same as they were at Christ’s time, at Moses’ time, and all the way back to mid-Genesis 3. The accoutrements, technologies, opportunities and other accidentals may change, but man is the same. The Traditions of the Church minister to man, and since he has not changed, neither should the Tradition.

This is not particularly helpful as to the implementation of anything. Sure, so man is the same. What do we do now? I do not know, but I think we cannot go too far wrong if we remember that we are still sinners in need of grace.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 3:41 PM on Thursday, October 28, 2004 [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 23, 2004 ::
Prayer FOR ME

::BEEP BEEP:: Its Saturday morning…way too early to be up doing anything. Grumble grumble. Alright, alright, I’m up already…Let’s see, checklist of things to do toady. Oh, yeah, and I gotta pray too. Right…OK, turning on lights, finding prayer book… ::yawn::…mumble mumble…::Glory…::

I pray every day. OK, more accurately, I stand in my ikon corner and mumble the words that I see in the prayer book. Which ever is the more accurate, it is important to remember for whom I pray. I do not mean the subjects of my petitions, but rather the major benefactor of my prayers. Me.

I pray for me. God does not need me to stand there and speak to him. My Lady does not need me to venerate her. God and the saints do not need anything I can give to them. Rather, I need what they can give to me. I need the grace, I need the help, the comfort, the protection. It is not for their benefit that I stand there, even if I am speaking to them. My prayers are for me and my salvation.

I don’t even think my prayers are pious enough to count for much in terms of helping other people; I pray for them, and if God chooses to use my prayers, he is doing just that. Using my prayers. But don’t worry, God does not need an excuse to do help someone. It is not as though he was thinking, “Gee, I really want to help that person, but no one has prayed for him yet, so I guess I’ll have to wait.” No, God uses my prayers for my benefit; he allows me to see his actions and be encouraged by them.

Every way I can think of it, I pray for me. Sure, it is to God and the saints, but it is for me. I should not forget this. When I pray, it is only me that I help, so I might as well help myself as often and as well as possible. Wisdom, attend, stand aright. You are praying for your own salvation.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 1:49 PM on Saturday, October 23, 2004 [+] ::

:: Friday, October 22, 2004 ::
Glory to God!

More of a question than an entry: what are some good Akathists/prayers of thanksgiving? I seem to ask a lot in my prayers, but never really seem to give thanks as much as I should; especially when specifically good things happen, I want to thank God, but I am often at a loss of words as to how to do so. While this is a problem in and of itself, I was wondering if there were any prayers specifically of thanks. I have the Akathist of Thanksgiving, but I was wondering if there were more things…

Yesterday, on our way to see Fr. Peter Gillquist speak at UCI, my friend and I were in our first car accident. My friend was driving, but it wasn’t her fault. We got rear-ended after we stopped behind a stopped car. We were pushed into the car in front of us. Everyone was slightly shaken, but all right. We were lucky in so many ways; freeway crashes can be much worse. As two girls alone at night on the freeway, luckily the people in the other cars were also women, and both had cell-phones (we don’t). Then, as the CHP arrived to do a report, we saw an accident with significantly worse damage from the people watching us. Bumpers were damaged, but nothing else. Glory to God, everyone is safe and the damage is minor! I just hope our guardian angels will forgive us for making them work overtime…;-0

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 7:39 PM on Friday, October 22, 2004 [+] ::

:: Friday, October 15, 2004 ::

I sometimes tease my Protestant friends: they have the most perfectly apophatic religion possible! Ask any Protestant, especially good Reformed ones, and they will tell you exactly what they believe, “NOT CATHOLIC!” Probe a little deeper, and you will find more “I’M NOT CATHOLIC!” Find something they don’t know about, tell them that the Catholics think one way, and they will quickly decide that THEY ARE NOT CATHOLIC. They have a religion founded in opposition to something else; they fundamentally define themselves by what they are not, even down to their very name!

Well, I am not a Protestant in that I am not protesting Rome. I jokingly say that I got off that boat long before 1517; I am way back in the 3rd century. Unfortunately, I do catch myself in simple “protest” sometimes. I protest Protestantism. I know I am not one, and so should have nothing particularly to do with their doctrine. After all, how much does a Protestant really need to know about Catholic Transubstantiation before he knows that he denies it? Not too much. So, how much do I really need to know about certain Protestant doctrines just to know that I hold the opposite opinion? Or, worse yet, do I need to know about them so that I can hold the opposite opinion?!?

Sheesh, sometimes I am more protestant now than I ever was before! Perhaps it is the convertness; perhaps it is just pride. Either way, I need to remember more often that I am not running from something, but rather that I am running to something. If Protestantism has truth (and it has some), then glory to God, I will use it to help me. Where it is wrong, I cannot define myself in simple opposition to it, but rather need to learn to answer with positive assertions of what I believe. In other words, someone please hit me whenever I start running around yelling, “I’M NOT PROTESTANT!”

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:01 AM on Friday, October 15, 2004 [+] ::

:: Monday, October 11, 2004 ::

As a kid, I remember reading all of the exciting miracles that Jesus did. Now, I admit to having no theological knowledge of any kind, but at the same time, I would read about things like dead men rising, blind men being healed, lame walking, and other great things Jesus and his followers did. Then I got to those wonderful passages in the end of the Mark (16) where it says that we will do things like this and greater.

Admittedly as a little kid, I really tried hard to have the faith to raise dead things. It just seemed like such a practical idea; if Jesus could do it, and he said we could, why don’t we? If it was a matter of faith, why wasn’t there anyone who had enough faith? Or, even if we don’t have faith, why don’t we try? It just seemed like all of the people in authority should know these verses, and if they knew them, they should at least occasionally try to raise someone from the dead. Of course, no one ever tried. I though for sure the pastor of my church had more faith than just about anyone I know, and yet I also knew that he had never raised anyone from the dead, or even tried (yes, I asked!) Why not? It really made sense to my childish mind.

Yesterday in the homily, Father made an off-hand comment. He said that when he went to the mortuary to vest Fr. Stephen for the funeral, he made the sign of the cross, then said to him “Arise…” Now, nothing happened, but that’s not the point. The point is that he said it. Priests regularly say it over dead people. Isn’t this exciting? I caught myself grinning: the faith that I had as a little kid can still be alive! We still have hope! Even if we are not seeing resurrections everyday, we still at least try; we seek to have the faith.

I’ve been in a bunch of churches, and never had I seen something so thoroughly scriptural, so sensical. It made me so happy to see something I had thought dead and non-existent in Christendom living to this day. Childlike, simple, real faith still exists in the Church as a whole. Yet one more sign that I have finally “come home.” Glory to God!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:13 AM on Monday, October 11, 2004 [+] ::

:: Thursday, October 07, 2004 ::

This semester has been perhaps the busiest time I can remember. If I can get a full night’s sleep, I am happy; I rarely can. Of course, I still am generally happy. I love what I am doing, love being busy, and love the constant crazy pace of my life.

Of course, at the same time, I find myself with an ever-growing desire for rest. By rest, I do not mean “not working.” I do not even mean sleep or relaxation. Rest has to be more than this. Augustine spoke of rest, calling it the ultimate goal to which all things aspire; the more at rest something is, the more perfect it is. I find myself yearning for this rest, even more as I get busier and busier.

How can I find rest? I found it in part last night, after perhaps one of the busiest days I can remember. I stopped, put my books away, and prayed. Unfortunately, my prayers did not come in the usual form of a set rule, readings, and the like. They were more a random collection of snippets from the Psalms strung together like a badly woven cloth. In one way, I thought that when I got to the point of utter exhaustion, I would be able to say the prayers of the Church. It struck me as odd that I was not able to pray them; rather, I just wanted to stop moving and be in God’s presence. Perhaps I am not being clear; it was not that I was necessarily tired, but that I wanted to be in God’s rest more than anything. It was not that the world was bad, I just wanted to be with God and sit at his feet and learn from him. I am curious as to why I did not find rest in the prayers of the Church, but rather in the Psalms themselves, but I assume that is secondary. What is good is that I was with God, and able to quietly worship in his presence.

How can I rest more? It seems that the short time I make for prayers is not enough. How can I have abiding rest, that does not go away a few minutes after I stop praying? Rest seems elusive, yet so precious and sought-after.

I am not saying that I am too busy (although I think I may be!), or that I wish I could sleep more (although…). What I am doing is good, very good, and I love it a lot. I read Athanasius, Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Aristotle and the like. I talk about them with smart students. I study Spanish and math, go to Church, write letters, and do many good things. I am not really saying that I even need to cut back on some of these things. I just think that there is a desire for rest within my soul; I cannot put my finger on it, but I cannot attain it in the fullest way that I need. It is as if I can live from prayer time to prayer time, but never really rest outside of those few precious minutes each day. Lord, have mercy.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:20 PM on Thursday, October 07, 2004 [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 02, 2004 ::
Memory Eternal!

Last night, the assistant priest at St. Andrew, V. Rev. Stephen Hardie, fell asleep in the Lord. May his memory be eternal; May his soul dwell with the blessed in Paradise!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 11:17 AM on Saturday, October 02, 2004 [+] ::

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