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.
 

Twenty Nine

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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. . .
 
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