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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::

:: Monday, February 27, 2006 ::

All Good Things Must Come to an End…

All argument and stupid jurisdictional stuff aside…all good things must come to an end. Like, for example, my catechumenate. In other words…

::: I’m getting baptized!!!:::

Woohoo! Lazarus Saturday at St. Seraphim. That means this Lent is going to be killer, especially since I can’t make it to Pre-Sanctified Liturgies. But I’m getting baptized! After four years of waiting, I’ll finally get to taste the Eucharist. I’m at least 50% sure I want to do this…I think…and I’m pretty excited/nervous. I have about a month and a half until I’m actually Orthodox. Please, pray for me this Lent!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 1:07 PM on Monday, February 27, 2006 [+] ::

:: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 ::
The Western Rite

Please, don’t beat me up if you disagree, and forgive me if I offend you!

Yesterday at the club fair, I discovered that one of the students whom I had always thought was Roman Catholic (he prays the rosary, responds when I ask “How was Mass?” and other hints of the type) was actually Western Rite Orthodox.

The Western Rite Church is the closest Orthodox church to Biola. No, I have never been. No, I don’t plan to ever go. Perhaps my intuitions are wrong, but it is too Protestant for me to go. Wait…how can a Catholic-feeling Orthodox church be too Protestant for an ex-Protestant Orthodox catechumen?

Protestants frequently seek (or claim to be seeking) an ancient, authentic church, theology, or form of worship. This is justification for many of the things they do: unaffiliated churches, ‘house’ churches, informal worship, lack of centralized leadership, &c. While these may or may not have in fact been part of the early Christian communities, one thing is certain: the form these Protestants are seeking died out long ago. To resurrect it is to resurrect a figment of the past with no historical connection to the present. It is to reform (every pun intended!) ancient Christianity and to try to falsely place disconnected elements of it into the modern world. It is bound to fail.

With all due respect to the 100% convert Western Rite Church, this is what they do. I am making no argument as to whether or not their particular tradition ever flourished in times past. I am saying that it is dead, and has been dead for a while. And they are trying to re-form it from its ashes. And it is bound to fail. There is not enough history, enough root, enough connection with the Church as a whole for this new innovation to succeed.

Back in the real world, when I found out this person was not in fact Catholic, but that he went to the local WRO church, I smiled and nodded. What can I say? I hesitate to say anything: remember that old adage your mother taught you about saying nice things? And I don’t want to alienate the few Orthodox we do have on campus. So, I smiled and nodded. But I can’t shake that feeling.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:33 PM on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 [+] ::

:: Monday, February 13, 2006 ::
Judgment and the Rules of Church

Yesterday, I attended a friend’s church, a nameless Orthodox church in the greater Los Angeles area. It being the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, I found my own judgmentalness ironic at first, but later it devolved into a more straightforward questioning of practice.

At first, I kept running into the pews every time I tried to do anything. And I was the only one standing up. Now, given that I was in the back (on purpose), this wasn’t so big of a deal, but it still made it a little awkward. The altar rail surrounding the ambov and elevated podium on the left of the church from where the Gospel was read made me a little more awkward. So did seeing very western murals (‘ikon’ is not the right word!) featuring Moses with horns* (!) at a church which supposedly received the Scriptures in Greek. Fewer than 25% of those who received the Eucharist were there for the Gospel reading, or even the homily. And that’s being generous! So, yes, I was being judgmental.

The first reaction I had to realizing my own judgmentalness was that it was the week of the Pharisee and Publican: we weren’t supposed to be proud about the way we prayed! So, I struggled with that for a while, and slowly my judgmentalness evolved into something else.

Why do we have rules in church? Why do we stand? Cross ourselves? Why is our art the way it is? Why do we set up our altar the way we do? Why do we do things in our own distinct way? Why are we encouraged to arrive to service on time? Why are we in church at all?

Yes, I was wrong in being judgmental of the church. But, simultaneously “they” (whomever that may be) were wrong for disregarding the rules. Now, I understand that rules and laws do not save: don’t worry, I plan to have ice cream on both Wednesday and Friday this week! But at the same time, they are there for our health. The Eucharist is fire: don’t approach it if you have just run in from the parking lot as the priest is bringing it out from the altar! We stand to show respect; we would not be sitting if the bishop (a man) were there: why would we sit for God? Our ikons have a spiritual depth to them to transport our minds from things of this earth to things above. We have our rules because they are good for us, even if they do not save us (in so many words).

So, yes, I should not have judged the church. But my own sin aside, is it still possible for me to stand back and say, “You should have done better?” Yes, I think it is.

* Moses has horns in Western art because of a misinterpretation/mistranslation in the Vulgate of the word for the glory of God which shone from his face. All the way through the middle ages, the guy in Western iconography with horns is Moses.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 4:14 PM on Monday, February 13, 2006 [+] ::

:: Friday, February 10, 2006 ::
The Best Prayer Book: AN ADVERTISEMENT

Last December, when I went home for Christmas and left most of my liturgical library in my dorm, I was unsure of what I would do for prayers without my wonderful and useful texts. I took to chanting daily vespers a while ago, both because it was an excuse to get good at chanting the tones, and because the variation kept me from getting bored with the texts. When I’m overly-familiar with a text, I find myself reciting it rather than praying it.

So, someone suggested to me a new prayer book. “Oh, that?” I was kind of incredulous. But then I tried it. Wow! It is the best prayer book I’ve ever had. It has all sorts of prayers for all sorts of times, and I know people who use it like that, but I prefer just to read a few each morning and a few each evening. In fact, it has a plan in the back so that you end up reading the whole thing each week. That’s just about as much repitition as I can stand; after a few months, I feel both as if I am familiar with the text to actually pray it, but it is still a large enough quantity of text that I am not overly-familiar. If you are familiar with the Church services, you will hear a ton of prayers from this book, and all sorts of allusions to it in other contexts.

You really should get this book. It’s not newly published, so it may be more difficult to find…wait a minute. No, that’s not true. You already have it. It’s right between Job and Proverbs. It was penned over 2000 years ago, and it is called the Psalter. It is really the best prayer book ever. And you already have it!

For a little more practicality, here is a link to the translation used in some (many?) English-speaking Orthodox churches, and the non-Lenten weekly reading scheme, with two Kathisma in the morning (matins) and one in the evening (vespers): Sun: II, III, (none); Mon: IV, V, VI; Tues: VII, VIII, IX; Wed: X, XI, XII; Thurs: XIII, XIV, XV; Fri: XIX, XX, XVIII; Sat: XVI, XVII, I.

It’s the Original Prayer Book. You should try it!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 5:01 PM on Friday, February 10, 2006 [+] ::

:: Friday, February 03, 2006 ::
SDAs and the Resurrection

My roommate (who will only be my roommate for a few more days) and I speak about religious things quite frequently. We are both converts: she from Pentecostalism to Seventh Day Adventism, myself from Protestantism to Orthodoxy. So, we are both probably overly legalistic and irritating to others. Heck, but we get along great with each other!

Anyway, I mentioned that yesterday was a holiday and briefly (in a sentence or two) explained the idea of the Presentation. I then asked her what holidays she celebrated, "Oh, we celebrate Christmas and all that."

"You mean Christmas and Easter, right?" I hadn't done much homework as to SDA beliefs, as was obvious.

"No, we don't celebrate Easter."

"You...wait...whhaa?" I'm sure it sounded as theologically profound as it looks in type. While they do believe in the Resurrection, they don't celebrate it. I don't get it. I was (am?) really, really confused. The remedy? I got out my Lenten Triodion and read some of our beautiful Paschal hymns. What is Christianity without the Resurrection?

More to come as I figure more out...

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:10 PM on Friday, February 03, 2006 [+] ::

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