No problem. Hopefully I explained why these types of issues bothered me so much - and still bother me even though I call myself an atheist (mostly).
I'm not qualified to say anything - it's beyond me.
Praying for "Orthodox Christians Only"?
Posted 03 November 2015 - 12:10 AM
Thanks, @Phoebe K. that is good advice. Our parish was small and our priest was a bit strange.
I hesitate to say anythings about what you experienced as that is the place only of those who have reached a high level spiritually. What I can say however comes from my own experience.
I had a lot of experiences when I was younger before I came into the Orthodox Church, however the wisdom of the fathers is that we do not trust things we see or hear as we are always at risk of being deceived by ourselves, and I have found this to be true by at time painful experiences. The Fathers speak about the dangers of trusting ourselves in all things but especially in what we see.
I come from the Anglican tradition which I came to from agnosticism so understand the issues entering Orthodoxy, although I chose to come to Orthodoxy from studying the early church tradition at length while studying Theology. A deep understanding of the traditions of the Church however takes many years if not a lifetime to achieve.
I have admittedly noticed though that in places catichisam is lacking especially for adult converts. I would also note also from experience that it is never a good time to make a big life decision when there are ongoing mental heath issues.
If you have time these things are best descused with experiences elders (such as those on mont Athos) who are steeped in the tradition of the church who may be able to help you understand what is going on.
Posted 03 November 2015 - 09:31 PM
I echo what Fr David says. It is sad indeed that Bob felt impelled to abandon God and His Church, especially over such a matter as this. To forfeit one's salvation in this way helps no one and imperils Bob's salvation. But reconciliation is always possible, perhaps through encountering the right person to bring this about.
Bob, to address you directly: clearly, there was a time when you believed: now is a time when you do not believe - how can you be sure which was true? I pray that you will doubt your doubt.
Posted 09 November 2015 - 01:07 PM
I caught this thread last night, so I am replying a little late.
Our culture has drawn this whole idea of relationships in very different terms then the Christian saints who truly knew Christ and so it can be difficult to move from the culturally formed and accepted vision of communion, to a place where we can start to see what Christ is really calling us to.
How does our culture define love? What does "inclusivity" consist of? It means accepting people how they are - whatever their beliefs or lifestyle we all still try to get along. This is not bad, however, Christ calls us toward something much more substantial, and it is this vision that Christ is trying to move us toward in our Eucharistic communion in the Orthodox Church.
Our culture recognizes the damage that various passions like judgmentalism, anger, trying to force another person into our mold, etc. can do. However, when we dig a little deeper we will see that their approach to love is really very self-referential and individualistic, with each person protecting their own identity, and not entering into any deeper communion, which is only available as we enter into Christ and regain the likeness and conformity to Him that we were created to pursue and grow in.
In order to gain true Christian communion there has to be a commitment to a particular lifestyle and way of struggle so that our fallen impulses, our fallen perception of ourselves, of others, and of God, and our fallen dispositions can be healed. This lifestyle then brings us back into a God given harmony and peace and communion.
St. Dionysius has an enlightening passage on this. He notes that we all wish for peace and communion - this is because God Himself is peace and goodness, beauty and harmony, and we are made in God's image and we are made to desire to fulfill this likeness. (If there is no God, why is there any harmony or beauty in the world? Is a sense of awe, wonder, and an appreciation of beauty just a sham, merely a utilitarian survival trait? Natural processes can only produce survival traits, so this is all that an atheist can believe in.) The saint goes on to say that there are many that take pleasure in being other, different distinct, nothing wants to lose its individuality. However, in the midst of these differences perfect peace comes only from God, from His very being as the source of peace, harmony, goodness- This peace comes as all things learn to accept and live within God's providence and will. He created us with our particular identity and differences, and He created these to exist in harmony, but because we are not willing to live by what He has given and instead assert our own way, then we disrupt the first-created harmony and communion.
St Dionysius, when he is describing God according to His names and attributes, comments, "The wholeness of the All-Complete Peace extends into all beings. It is present by the greatest simplicity and purity of its unifying power, which unifies and bind together the all in one friendship... This friendship binds together in like nature." He goes on to say that this Divine Peace (ie God) permeates the whole world. It gives of itself to all things in the way they can receive it, and it overflows in a surplus of peaceful fruitfulness. The nature of God is one, unified, giving of itself in love. All the rest of creation is created with this as its seed and its goal.
Atheism teaches that nature comes from a random process, or survival of the fittest. How can random processes and utilitarian striving for survival produce what we see around us? A seed can only bear fruit according to what was in it in the first place. If all there is is nature and the law of survival of the fittest, how is there any hope for peace and where even does the desire for peace or knowledge of peace come from? Where does this desire for a deeper communion, a communion consisting of peace, harmony, goodness, love, sacrifice, etc., a communion beyond mere survival come from?
Edited by Anna Stickles, 09 November 2015 - 01:20 PM.
Posted 14 November 2015 - 11:26 PM
I was going through my mail and found a charity solicitation from a monastery. It included what I assumed was a prayer request slip with a column "for the living" and a column "for the departed". At the bottom of the slip it said "Orthodox Christians only".
Just wondering what the members of this forum think of that slip.
There is a a misconception that in the Church we pray for "our own kind". We do pray for our friends and families, yes, but our main effort is to follow Christ's paradigm, as His last prayer was for His enemies.
Let me attach a prayer of Holy Bishop Nicola Velimirovich with the title "Bless my enemies, oh Lord! " http://impantokrator...enemies.en.aspx
Bless my enemies oh Lord! I too bless them and curse them not.The enemies have led me to your embrace ever more so, than my friends. My friends have tied me to the earth, while my enemies have loosened me from the earth and have shattered all my worldly aspirations.My enemies have alienated me from the worldly realities and made me a stranger and irrelevant inhabitant of this world.Just as a hunted animal finds safer refuge than one not hunted, protecting myself from the enemies, I have found safer refuge, being sheltered under your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can threaten my soul.Bless my enemies oh Lord! I too bless them and curse them not.Rather they than I, have confessed my sins in front of the world.They have flogged me whenever I hesitated to be flogged.They have tormented me whenever I had tried to avoid torments.They have rebuked me whenever I had flattered myself.They have hit me whenever I puffed myself with arrogance.Bless my enemies oh Lord! I too bless them and curse them not.Whenever I presented myself as wise, they called me foolish.Whenever I presented myself as strong, they mocked me as if I were a midget.Whenever I wished to direct others, they pushed me to the sidelines.Whenever I tried to enrich myself, they prevented me with an iron hand.Whenever I thought I could sleep peacefully, they woke me up from sleep.Whenever I tried to build a house for a long and tranquil life they brought it down and evicted me.In truth, my enemies have loosened me from this world and stretched my hands to touch the hem of your robe.Bless my enemies oh Lord! I too bless them and curse them not.Bless them and multiply them! Multiply them and make them be even harder on me.So that running to You has no return.That any hope in men be dashed like a spider's web.That absolute peace begin to reign on my soul.That my heart become the grave of my twin evil brothers: arrogance and anger.That I may store all my treasures in Heaven.And that I be enabled to become for ever free from self delusion which has caught me in the deathly net of this deceitful life.The enemies have taught me- what one learns with difficulty- that man has no enemies in this world except himself.One hates his enemies only when he fails to recognize that they are not enemies but hard and heartless friends!It is truly difficult for me to tell who benefitted me more and who hurt me more in this world: the enemies or friends.Therefore oh Lord bless both my friends and my enemies....
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