Question for the Converts from Catholicism

Jennifer

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I'm once again considering converting to Orthodoxy. One of the things that worries me to the most is being away from the sacraments for the catachumen period (about a year according to the priest).

For those of you who went through it, was it bad as I imagine? How did you do it?
 

TomS

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I did not come from the RCC, but I am wondering why you would want to become Orthodox if you believe that what you have been receiving in the Roman Catholic Church ARE Sacraments.

Wouldn't that mean that you believe that the RCC has the same Grace as the Orthodox Church?
 

Jennifer

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TomΣ said:
I did not come from the RCC, but I am wondering why you would want to become Orthodox if you believe that what you have been receiving in the Roman Catholic Church ARE Sacraments.

Wouldn't that mean that you believe that the RCC has the same Grace as the Orthodox Church?
I've been spending some time at an Orthodox Church and have discovered that most of the people don't believe that there are is no grace in Roman Catholicism. I spoke with the priest specifically about this issue and he explained that it is acceptable in Orthodoxy to believe that there is grace in Roman Catholicism.

I do believe there is grace in Roman Catholicism, however, I am unconvinced about the papal dogmas. Therefore I think it's a lie for me to receive communion in the Roman Catholic Church.
 

Anastasios

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Jennifer,

I can see how it would be hard on you (and I wonder why an Orthodox priest would make you wait a year if you are RC--but he knows you better than I).

I guess just recall that many Orthodox and RC's over the centuries went to communion only once a year; that many saints who lived in the desert communed infrequently; that a year goes by pretty quickly; that some people receive a year of excommunication for extreme sins in the Orthodox Church; that it is an opportunity to prove to yourself how much you should WANT to receive the Eucharist EVERY time you receive--many things to consider.

Anastasios
 

TomS

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Jennifer said:
I spoke with the priest specifically about this issue and he explained that it is acceptable in Orthodoxy to believe that there is grace in Roman Catholicism.
Then if this Orthodox Priest believes that RC Sacraments have Grace - then ask him why you can't continue taking Communion at the RC Church while you are a catechumen in the Orthodox Church?

AFAIAC if this Priest feels that RC Sacraments have Grace, then he has no business talking to you - he is sheep stealing. But then again -- it's just my opinion.
 

Anastasios

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Tom,

Leaving aside my own personal views on the grace of Roman Catholicism, in my opinion, one could believe that another Church has grace in some way but still believe that they are not fully the Church and hence that it is necessary to join the more authentic and original Church. For instance, I believe that the Kyivan Patriarchate is an Orthodox Church but it would be better if someone joined the "canonical" Churches.

Anastasios
 

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I will bit my lip and refrain from responding with a uncharitable comment to the Church of Rome being grace-less.

James, grumbling
 

TomS

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anastasios said:
..in my opinion, one could believe that another Church has grace in some way but still believe that they are not fully the Church and hence that it is necessary to join the more authentic and original Church.
I understand that point of view. And that is why I wonder why, if her Priest believes that also, he just does not let her to continue to receive the Sacrament from the RCC until she has been accepted into the Orthodox Church.
 

Jennifer

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anastasios said:
Jennifer,

I can see how it would be hard on you (and I wonder why an Orthodox priest would make you wait a year if you are RC--but he knows you better than I).

I guess just recall that many Orthodox and RC's over the centuries went to communion only once a year; that many saints who lived in the desert communed infrequently; that a year goes by pretty quickly; that some people receive a year of excommunication for extreme sins in the Orthodox Church; that it is an opportunity to prove to yourself how much you should WANT to receive the Eucharist EVERY time you receive--many things to consider.

Anastasios
The priest (Antiochian) says that the norm is a year for RCs and converts from other liturgical churches and two years for everybody else.

Does that seem unreasonable?
 

Jennifer

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TomΣ said:
I understand that point of view. And that is why I wonder why, if her Priest believes that also, he just does not let her to continue to receive the Sacrament from the RCC until she has been accepted into the Orthodox Church.
We discussed this and he said that it's a lie to receive communion in a Church if you don't believe in all of the teachings of that Church.

Roman Catholicism requires belief in the papal dogmas. If you don't accept them then technically you shouldn't receive in the RC.

 

Anastasios

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Jennifer,

If that is his norm, then that sounds fine. I can understand the length--some people have had bad experienes letting people in "too quickly." At the same time, I have seen successful catechumenates of 6 months for Protestants and 3 months for RC's. But don't let that discourage you--the priest in question has a responsibility to you and to God to make sure you understand Orthodoxy and that you really want this. So a year is reasonable if that's his standard practice.

Anastasios
 

Anastasios

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Jakub said:
I will bit my lip and refrain from responding with a uncharitable comment to the Church of Rome being grace-less.

James, grumbling
James,

I can understand your frustration especially given that RC's are more open to Orthodoxy than vice versa. However, there are enough Fathers of the Church that have said that even schism cancels a Church's grace, and given that several synods of Orthodoxy have condemned Roman Catholicism, it therefore is a reasonable approach to say that only Orthodoxy maintains sacramental grace.

No one denies that there is charismatic grace in Roman Catholicism and elsewhere.

Your Church also denies that Anglican and Lutheran Eucharist and confrimation has grace--I'm sure they feel the same way you do.

Again, I'm sad that Church splits cause pain in all involved.

Anastasios
 

James

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Anastasios,

Most people here know I'm a non-conforming traditionalist, I do understand the Orthodox views the majority of the time and do agree on many, but let's have a little class discussing conversion issues.

james

edit due to using Mozilla instead of that #### IE 6.

Slight edit for spelling. ~ Pedro
 

Jennifer

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Jakub said:
Anastasios,

Most people here know I'm a non-conforming traditionalist, I do understand the Orthodox views the majority of the time and do agree on many, but let's have a little class discussing conversion issues.

james

edit do to using Mozilla instead of that #### IE 6.

What do you mean?
 

Crucifer

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Question- what does the term "without grace" mean in connection with a church's sacraments? That they "aren't valid" (western terminology)?

Jennifer..I can really relate to your question. I'm an Episcopalian considering Orthodoxy, and the thought going w/o Reconciliation and Eucharist for several months to a year bothers me also.
 

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Dear in Christ, Jennifer --

I am a convert from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy and I had the very same concerns as you.

The priest at the Orthodox church I was visiting suggested that I come to the Divine Services whenever I could. I really wanted to receive sacraments in the Roman church, but I was also becoming more drawn to Orthodoxy.

After a while, I stopped attending Roman Catholic Mass and attended Divine Services all the time.

If you open your heart more to Christ and trust Him, He will sustain you while you are inquiring.

I am in no position to give advice, but I can only witness to the Orthodox Faith. Christ does not ask much of us: in fact we have to "do" very little. If each day we can say morning and evening prayers faithfully, while asking for God's Mercy throughout the day. If we can trust in Him in all situations and not worry and fall into dispair. If we can love those that hate us. If we can attend Divine Services as often as possible and be open to Christ for our transfiguration. If we can ask for forgiveness always and live a humble life of piety.

If you set out to do these things, God will give you His Grace. It is not us, it is Him and He will sustain you.

If you are uncomfortable about receiving in your RC church, then don't. It is always best to have a clear conscience. If this is how you feel, perhaps it is best that you attend Divine Services more often.

Pray to St Eugenia (Jennifer).

God bless you on the path of salvation.

Gregory
 

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TomΣ said:
Then if this Orthodox Priest believes that RC Sacraments have Grace - then ask him why you can't continue taking Communion at the RC Church while you are a catechumen in the Orthodox Church?

AFAIAC if this Priest feels that RC Sacraments have Grace, then he has no business talking to you - he is sheep stealing. But then again -- it's just my opinion.
I can see where that opinion could surface. Like anastasios said, there's a difference between sacramental grace (found in the uniting of man to Christ through baptism, confession, Eucharist) and charasmatic grace (found in the drawing of men out of unrighteousness into holiness of life through the Holy Spirit). To say that the RC Sacraments have grace doesn't mean that you think they're sacramentally the Church. You are coming out of something you don't see as the Church; whether or not God is working therein (which I have no reason to doubt) as an institution is another thing.

Perhaps for those who are happily RC, God is nourishing them and helping them grow into his likeness. We would say, however, that such a journey or experience is fully realized only within the Orthodox Church. For those who have recognized this, there needs to be a separation from the partial to the complete -- a time of reckoning, I guess you could say.

It's not sheep stealing if the sheep want to leave.
 

James

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If you question your faith and beliefs with your particular Church/Rite it might be correct in refraining from Holy Communion until you have made a decision with much prayer and the proper spiritual guidance.

Speaking for myself, I have been wrestling with issues for 2 years with guidance from Orthodox & East/West Catholic sources and are still fence dwelling.

Of course on Nov 2 I won't be long in the booth.

james
 

Edwin

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:I'm once again considering converting to Orthodoxy. One of the things that worries me to the most is being away from the sacraments for the catachumen period (about a year according to the priest). :

That was in fact one of the things that prevented me from converting to Catholicism (from Anglicanism). Two months without the sacraments and I was scurrying back to the Episcopal Church (which I now regret!).

I would like to disagree with the view that as a Catholic you should leave if you can't accept all "the papal dogmas." The exact nature of the papacy is still undergoing development, and you should make sure that what you are rejecting is really the permanent teaching of the Catholic Church and not just certain ways of putting it. You should also ask whether you, as a layperson, are really confident enough on this issue to leave the Church of your baptism, whose sacraments you do not doubt.

It seems clear to me that the early Church put a lot of importance on communion with Rome. We can argue about how much, but clearly it was important to them. Maybe the modern papal dogmas (presumably you are thinking of infallibility primarily?) are mistaken developments, but are you really so certain that the papacy is totally unnecessary? I can't see it, myself.

I think signing off on every detail of a church's teaching is not the most important thing. Keep an open and humble mind, receive the sacraments, focus on those things you are sure of. Most importantly, talk to a wise and holy _Catholic_ priest before making the jump. If you haven't done that, you should not be thinking of conversion.

In Christ,

Edwin
 

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I hadn't had any kind of communion at all since I was a kid. . .about 30 years ago, and was glad to receive communion at Roman Catholic and also at Protestant churches while I was exploring faiths. Right now I am a catechumen at the Orthodox church, but even so I can't say that I would refuse communion at another church if I was in one visiting, but would not take it to mean the same thing as at the Orthodox church. For example, Protestants don't believe it is the body and blood of Christ, but a symbol.

My sweetheart was never baptized or anything and just recently received communion at a Presbyterian church, and I was very excited about this. He was in awe and kind of surprised. And I have to say that some wonderful things have happened since. Getting closer to God in any form I would have to say is a good thing and a step in the right direction.

Of course, after a few years of exploring, guess which church I am choosing. . .
 

Pedro

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Edwin said:
Maybe the modern papal dogmas (presumably you are thinking of infallibility primarily?) are mistaken developments, but are you really so certain that the papacy is totally unnecessary? I can't see it, myself.
Granted...Rome did hold an extremely high and important place in the Early Church, and was a bastion of Orthodoxy while the eastern patriarchates slipped in and out of heresy repeatedly. SO, now that the shoe seems to be on the other foot, if Rome has now openly and dogmatically embraced this "mistaken development" (read: heresy) of ex cathedra infallibility, how can they now still be part of -- or, worse, the entirety of -- the infallible Church?

I think signing off on every detail of a church's teaching is not the most important thing. Keep an open and humble mind, receive the sacraments, focus on those things you are sure of.
If we're talking about "every detail," I'd agree...for example, in Orthodoxy, some churches (small c) teach pews are ecumenism, as well as beardless priests...which I disagree with. But there's a big difference between "signing off on every detail" and ascribing to things which are dogmas of your confession. The latter had better be ascribed to; that's serious business!

Most importantly, talk to a wise and holy _Catholic_ priest before making the jump. If you haven't done that, you should not be thinking of conversion.
While I'm obviously biased towards the Orthodox side of the debate over whether or not you should convert, this is wise. Very good advice, Edwin.
 

Jennifer

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Update on my spiritual 'quest.' I'm going to be Eastern Catholic and see where things lead. I think ultimately I'm not ready to leave communion with Rome.
 

Anastasios

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Jennifer,

You don't believe papal dogmas yet you are not ready to leave Rome? I think you are setting yourself up for some of the mental gymnastics I had to go through for years to remain an Eastern Catholic. But God bless you and I hope it all works out for you.

Anastasios
 

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Dear Jennifer and Crucifer,
With regard to not being able to recieve sacrement for an extneded period of time I would like to say the following: 1) As Anastasios says, there are many place in the world where the norm is communion once a year. Now, just because this tends to be the practice in traditionaly Orthodox countries does not make it write; the faithful in these lands, through no fault of their own,tend to have a very poor understanding of liturgical theology. However the point is that we can sometime fall to the other extreme where the eucharist becomes a normal part of life devoided of all mystery.
I am not prepared to back up the following statement but I will lay it out here anyway.
I believe that prayer can be just as powerful of a sacrement as eucharist or reconciliation.
Further, I think the fact that the Church has survived and in some places in now thriving is testament to the fact that infrequent communion is certainly not going to damn anyone.

2) With regard to having to wait 6 months or longer to receive Eucharist: Christ did not complain when he went into the desert for 40 days, he did not complain when he was nailed to the cross and even though he had the power he did not save himself from that most horrid death. The fathers of the desert willingly went into the desert and did not commune for great stretches of time and they did not complain or run away from the path the Christ set for them. So I think to say that you would not be able to fathom six months without the Eucharist is overstating it just a bit.
Again, I think the power of prayer and that communion with the Holy Trinity will suffice to bring you through the period of the chatecumenate.

Finally, if you do decide to embark on this journey you may ask you priest to give you a blessing with the chalice and holy communion. This is common practice in many churches in the East.

Hope anything I wrote helps.

 

Jennifer

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anastasios said:
Jennifer,

You don't believe papal dogmas yet you are not ready to leave Rome? I think you are setting yourself up for some of the mental gymnastics I had to go through for years to remain an Eastern Catholic. But God bless you and I hope it all works out for you.

Anastasios
I discussed it with an Eastern Catholic priest and he explained it to me in a way that I can live with.

It's a journey, that's all I can say. I just can't be without the sacraments for a long time.

 

TomS

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You know, this is all so silly. Loving and serving God was NOT supposed to be this complicated. MAN has made it that way.

Reject it and live in your heart, not according to the rules of some corporate entity.
 

Asteriktos

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Loving and serving God was NOT supposed to be this complicated.
I often hear this. Why, then, did pretty much everyone (including his own disciples) misunderstand him, even as he preached and did miracles and lived among them for years? It was not until the coming of the Holy Spirit that it dawned on the Apostles what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of his Kingdom; Jesus called even his (divinely) hand-picked apostles (spiritually) "dense" more than once. Jesus did indeed preach a simple message: but one must have the proper perspective, and the spiritual discernment, to understand it. 1 +1 is also simple, but it's entire meaning (as simple as it is) will be lost on a 1 year old child. I am not calling anyone in particular here a child; rather, we should all be calling ourselves children, from the standpoint of spiritual maturity, and the more saintly we are the more insistently we should say that we are childish and immature when (self) judged in light of God's simple commands. We, of course, think that we have the holy spirit and can therefore discern aright. Most of us are fooling ourselves, if the Fathers are at all accurate (and I believe they are). Paul said that if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged; the Fathers echo and magnify this over and over again.
 

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In addition, the later epistles (eg. 2 Peter, Jude, the Pastorals) are full of warnings about heresies and perversions of the truth, etc. It's these heresies that make things complicated, not the Truth itself. It's naive to think that proper theology and worship can be dispensed with without destroying proper devotion and right living. Subjectivist "simple" Christianity is a mere romanticist flight of fancy, a wisp of emotion.
 

Aristocles

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penelope said:
In addition, the later epistles (eg. 2 Peter, Jude, the Pastorals) are full of warnings about heresies and perversions of the truth, etc. It's these heresies that make things complicated, not the Truth itself. It's naive to think that proper theology and worship can be dispensed with without destroying proper devotion and right living. Subjectivist "simple" Christianity is a mere romanticist flight of fancy, a wisp of emotion.
Well said! Exactly so... :)

Demetri
 

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Congratulations, Porter! Many Years :) God bless you as you begin the next leg of your spiritual life, arguably the most difficult...you are in my prayers :)
 

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It's been almost exactly one year since I left the Episcopal Church, so I haven't received communion since then. It's conceivable that it may be another year or more before I'm received into Orthodoxy. It was difficult to contemplate going without communion, especially because my daughter asks me about it every Sunday, but I couldn't stay. Most Episcopalians (in my experience) simply view communion as fellowship, and usually refer to being "at the table". Increasingly I came to view it as the deepest, most personal and profound bonding of faith. I knew I couldn't commune any more there. Ever.

My prayers for everyone contemplating this.
 

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Jennifer --

I hope things work out and your journey -- wherever it leads -- is a spiritually fruitful one.

I would say that a year's catechumenate for a convert from the RCC is excessive. My own case was a special one, and I had a *very* short catechumenate (in retrospect probably too short), but one year without sacraments is a lot, in my opinion. A year for me would have been hard, might have made me reconsider, to be honest.

I wish you well in the Eastern Catholic church. I was EC for 2 years before I migrated to the Orthodox Church, and although it was a difficult time for me nevertheless I do respect many people in the Eastern Catholic churches, and there are many wonderful Eastern Catholic parishes.

Prayers for your journey.

B
 

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I as well came to Orthodoxy through both the RC and the EC.
I was RC for 18 yrs. within that 1.5 yrs of RC seminary, then through the many versions of traditional RC and then EC.
I have to say as some have said before the EC really was my catalyst into the Orthodox Church. It was also said that some people have had short catechumenates. Mine as well was short. I do many times regret this, although I am able to learn and hence grow each day.

All of the things that have been said have valid points within them. (Yes TomS, even yours.  ;)) This is because we all come to Christ through different channels. We are all children searching for our Mother, but not all of us are coming from the same backgrounds and the same experiences so there are seperate  aspects of our journey that differ for each of us. This is where we need to keep an open mind. I can not even imagine what it would be like to go for a year without the Mysteries, but we all have a cross to bear in order to show fidelity to our Savior. Each of us has a martyrdom that we must endure. And each one is different.

What was said that I agree most with is prayer. Prayer is our most perfect weapon when the Mysteries are not available. Prayer is the crux of the whole jouney. Each of our journeys started with a simple prayer for Truth and that prayer is echoes daily in our souls as we venture through this world. This is where our focus should be. As we are asked to give something up to God we are asked also to gain that strength in a new way, through more prayer and more trust that this is the Will of God and that in all things He knows what is best for each of us wherever in our journey we may be.

I hope that I have not said too much and know that you are all in my prayers as we are all Catechumens no matter where we are or how long we have been in the Church.  My prayers are with you.

In Christ,
Juvenaly 
 

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Jennifer,

Couple of comments. First, your description of the passage being like a journey seems a good analogy. Second, a more general comment. I heard from a close friend of an older Serbian priest who said all adults were in a real converts. He explained his reasoning as follows:

Regardless of how we come to Holy Orthodoxy we are all converts. Some will protest saying I was born in Orthodoxy as were my parents and theirs before them. Yes, but as each of us grows up we make our own choices about who and what we are and the path we will follow. Some will choose Orthodoxy, others the ways of the world, and yet others will stray and take up this or that religion or reject belief altogether. Thus all who are adult and Orthodox may be said to be converts.............

This same priest, a good administrator rather than a natural pastor, has a knack of using such simple ways of expressing things which I for one find helpful. Even when my whole body seems to racked in pain and to be in revolt and my brain in some sort of torpor.
 

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Jennifer said:
I'm once again considering converting to Orthodoxy. One of the things that worries me to the most is being away from the sacraments for the catachumen period (about a year according to the priest).

For those of you who went through it, was it bad as I imagine? How did you do it?
As a Catechumen coming from Rome, I have found that it is hard to go without the Mysteries.  But one must put this in context in relation to Salvation.  Recognizing the heresies of the Papal Dogmas, would your Salvation of your soul be jeopordized receiving the Mysteries from the hands of those who seperated themselves from the truth?
 

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Jennifer said:
One of the things that worries me to the most is being away from the sacraments for the catachumen period (about a year according to the priest).
There is no one year waiting period to receive the Eucharist for converts from Roman Catholicism to the Malankara Church.
 

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How are Catholics received in the Malankara Church?

Matthew777 said:
There is no one year waiting period to receive the Eucharist for converts from Roman Catholicism to the Malankara Church.
 

Anastasios

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Tony said:
How are Catholics received in the Malankara Church?
By confession, although they oftentimes can commune as Catholics in the Malankara Church (I know, because I received such permission from the bishop of New Delhi).

Anastasios
 
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