The Orthodox Church

DanielH

Pelican
Yesterday was the feast day for St. Gregory, Illuminator of Armenia, here's his amazing story, very relevant now:

This Saint, a Parthian by race, was the son of Anak. He was born about the year 240 and was taught the Faith of Christ in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He entered the service of Tiridates, King of Armenia, but when discovered to be a Christian, he was subjected to many horrible torments at the King's hands, then was cast into a pit of mire with poisonous serpents and left to die. By the power of God, however, he abode there unharmed for fourteen years, his needs provided by a certain widow, until he was made known by revelation and set free. He converted to piety innumerable multitudes of Armenians, including Tiridates himself, and was consecrated bishop by Leontius, Archbishop of Caesarea, to shepherd the vast flock he had gained for Christ. He spent the last part of his life in retirement in the ascetical discipline, and reposed in peace about the year 325. Saint Gregory is honoured as the Illuminator of Armenia.

Saint Gregory, pray for us and Armenia!
 
Well, you haven't joined the Orthodox Church yet, so it's ultimately up to you. But Orthodox can't take communion with Catholics and vice versa.

That's not entirely true. Catholics are allowed to take communion from certain non-Catholic priests in certain circumstances.

Likewise, the RCC allows certain non-Catholics can take communion from Catholic priests:

Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).

 

Enigma

Hummingbird
Gold Member
That's not entirely true. Catholics are allowed to take communion from certain non-Catholic priests in certain circumstances.

Likewise, the RCC allows certain non-Catholics can take communion from Catholic priests:

Orthodox aren't allowed to take communion in Catholic churches based on Orthodox rules. It doesn't matter if Catholics will allow it; you're still not supposed to do it. And Catholics aren't allowed to take communion in Orthodox churches, again based on Orthodox rules.

I was addressing someone who wants to join the Orthodox Church, which is why I laid out the Orthodox rules.

Obviously the Catholic rules are different.
 
If you ask them here you’ll probably get some solid responses.

Sounds good, some questions about The Orthodox Church:

1) Salvation - I was raised to believe believing in Jesus and saying the sinner's prayer locked me into salvation (sola fide). What's the Orthodox salvation process to get into heaven?

2) Veneration of Saints/Mary - Is this a form of worship, or more of remembrance/honoring? Do orthodox consider Mary without sin and/or a forever virgin?

3) Purgatory - Prots deny this. Is this theology, or perhaps some sort of intermediate hades?

4) Pray to/for the dead - Related to purgatory, I was raised to let the dead bury their dead, but I'm open to this theology.

5) Patriarch of Constantinople vs Pope - Is the Patriarch infallible? What's his role relative to the pope?

6) Icons - Do orthodox venerate icons? Are they considered holy?

7) Scripture - Prots are 'solo scriptura' and I was raised to believe Jesus used scripture to counter unbiblical tradition; how about Orthodox? Also I believe the Orothodox bible is more similar to the Catholic or has even more books in the deuterocanonical compared with the Prot bible without the apocrypha ( 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, etc); ?

8) Sacred mysteries - How many are there and how do they differ from the Catholic sacraments? Also why do they exist (as Prots have less such as baptism and eucharist only).

That's all I can think of from now. I'll appreciate any insight and this is from a purely curious heart. Also if there's anything I'm missing or theology I should know please don't hesitate. Thanks and God bless.
 
I’m certainly no scholar, but I’ll do my best to address each of these given my current level of understanding.

Sounds good, some questions about The Orthodox Church:

1) Salvation - I was raised to believe believing in Jesus and saying the sinner's prayer locked me into salvation (sola fide). What's the Orthodox salvation process to get into heaven?

2) Veneration of Saints/Mary - Is this a form of worship, or more of remembrance/honoring? Do orthodox consider Mary without sin and/or a forever virgin?

3) Purgatory - Prots deny this. Is this theology, or perhaps some sort of intermediate hades?

4) Pray to/for the dead - Related to purgatory, I was raised to let the dead bury their dead, but I'm open to this theology.

5) Patriarch of Constantinople vs Pope - Is the Patriarch infallible? What's his role relative to the pope?

6) Icons - Do orthodox venerate icons? Are they considered holy?

7) Scripture - Prots are 'solo scriptura' and I was raised to believe Jesus used scripture to counter unbiblical tradition; how about Orthodox? Also I believe the Orothodox bible is more similar to the Catholic or has even more books in the deuterocanonical compared with the Prot bible without the apocrypha ( 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, etc); ?

8) Sacred mysteries - How many are there and how do they differ from the Catholic sacraments? Also why do they exist (as Prots have less such as baptism and eucharist only).

That's all I can think of from now. I'll appreciate any insight and this is from a purely curious heart. Also if there's anything I'm missing or theology I should know please don't hesitate. Thanks and God bless.

1. For most Protestants, “being saved” is a one-time event. It’s like flipping a switch: it’s either “on” or “off.” For the Orthodox, salvation is restoring the likeness of God within each human being. Our view is that after the Fall, man retained the image of God but the likeness was darkened. Thus, salvation is the lifelong process of becoming more like Christ through mystical union with Him (theosis) and the change in behavior and lifestyle that comes along with it. Scripture uses the word “saved” in three different time tenses: “we who have been saved,” “we who are being saved,” and “we who hope to be saved.” Thus you will hear most Orthodox answer the question of “whether we’re saved” with the response “I’ve been saved, I’m being saved, and I will be saved.”

2. Veneration is not worship, though it looks like that from the outside. We are honoring and venerating someone who has become one with God and been glorified eternally. Most Orthodox believe Mary never sinned, and we all believe she was a perpetual Virgin. Interestingly, all of the Protestant Reformers believed in her perpetual virginity as well, and the idea that she didn’t remain a Virgin is a relatively new idea in Christian history.

3. The Orthodox do not believe in purgatory, though some (especially Russians) believe in what they call “aerial toll-houses,” or parts of the air where demons dwell that a soul passes through on its way to God. Purgatory is very different however, in which a soul (to Roman Catholics) must undergo a purification or purgation that can apparently last a very large number of years.

4. Prayers for the dead are Biblical, in a part of the canon (2 Maccabees) that Protestants removed from the Scriptures. I’m not entirely clear what the purpose of this is, so I have to study it more before I can give a good answer.

5. The Patriarch is not infallible at all. His job is to ordain priests and deacons and be the highest administrator in a given archdiocese. He is beholden completely to the Scriptures and Holy Tradition, like every other priest, and has no power outside his own jurisdiction.

6. Yes and yes. For us they are windows into Eternity, and show us a visible image of the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven).

7. The Orthodox have the most books in our canon, followed by Catholics, followed by Protestants. Yes, Jesus used the Old Testament to refute some of the Pharisees’ doctrines because they’d turned their backs on God and changed the religion away from what it was supposed to be. Most Orthodox don’t seem to like this fact, but the Church Fathers also used the Bible (New Testament this time) as the standard and rule against which all Church Traditions had be measured. Many Orthodox have a very unfortunate over-reaction to the Sola Scriptura doctrine by which they throw out the baby with the bathwater and don’t really read or care about what the Bible says, but that is not historically how Orthodoxy has worked.

The rule wasn’t that “anything outside the Bible is wrong,” of course, but rather “no tradition can violate the Scriptures.” There’s Apostolic Tradition and then things that developed later, such as local cultural traditions that weren’t from the Apostles. That development is seen as valid and fine so long as they don’t violate Church dogma or the Scriptures. Our services are filled with verses and sections from both the Old and New Testaments.

8. I believe there are seven sacraments, with marriage being the last added to that list. I’m not familiar enough with Catholic sacraments to know how many there or are how specifically they differ from ours.

Hope that helps!
 

DanielH

Pelican
@MichaelWitcoff has a great answer here, I'll just expand more on your (@ItalianStallion9) question number 8 with some differences between Orthodox and Catholic sacraments.

Catholics baptize typically by pouring water, not by immersion, although the word baptism literally means immersion and is how John the Forerunner (Baptist) baptized. Eastern rite Catholics may baptize by immersion but talking about them is opening a whole can of worms.

Catholics will only chrismate/confirm children at about the age of 6 or 7, and this is when they are allowed to receive communion. This is terrible in Orthodox eyes, because you are excommunicating the most worthy of us, as we are told to be like the children in their innocence. We do not separate chrismation from baptism.

Catholic communion practices may be a lot different than Orthodox ones. They will typically use unleavened bread. Orthodox take issue at this because the Greek word used in the Bible specifies unleavened bread in particular when Christ gave communion at the last supper. Some Catholic churches will also give communion in the hand, handing you the wafer to put in your mouth. Us Orthodox aren't a fan, and many Catholics aren't either, because it means they may drop crumbs of our Lord's body, or others could even steal it. Many Catholic churches also don't (didn't?) let their parishioners partake in the blood of Christ, just the body for some reason.

Marriage rules are different on paper but only slightly different in practice in my opinion. Catholics in general only allow for one marriage, with exceptions for annulment if the marriage is found to be invalid for one reason or another. Orthodox will allow up to 3 marriages, but only under extreme circumstances (adultery, death). Anything beyond three marriages for any reason is considered fornication. Orthodox priests are allowed to be married, only if they were married before ordination, but they may never, ever marry again. There are many married Catholic priests however (Eastern Rite or converted priests from Anglicanism).

Also the 7 sacraments for us is not a hard rule. It is a good teaching tool, though some may consider other things sacraments such as funeral services or monastic tonsure.
 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
Sounds good, some questions about The Orthodox Church:

1) Salvation - I was raised to believe believing in Jesus and saying the sinner's prayer locked me into salvation (sola fide). What's the Orthodox salvation process to get into heaven?

2) Veneration of Saints/Mary - Is this a form of worship, or more of remembrance/honoring? Do orthodox consider Mary without sin and/or a forever virgin?

3) Purgatory - Prots deny this. Is this theology, or perhaps some sort of intermediate hades?

4) Pray to/for the dead - Related to purgatory, I was raised to let the dead bury their dead, but I'm open to this theology.

5) Patriarch of Constantinople vs Pope - Is the Patriarch infallible? What's his role relative to the pope?

6) Icons - Do orthodox venerate icons? Are they considered holy?

7) Scripture - Prots are 'solo scriptura' and I was raised to believe Jesus used scripture to counter unbiblical tradition; how about Orthodox? Also I believe the Orothodox bible is more similar to the Catholic or has even more books in the deuterocanonical compared with the Prot bible without the apocrypha ( 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, etc); ?

8) Sacred mysteries - How many are there and how do they differ from the Catholic sacraments? Also why do they exist (as Prots have less such as baptism and eucharist only).

That's all I can think of from now. I'll appreciate any insight and this is from a purely curious heart. Also if there's anything I'm missing or theology I should know please don't hesitate. Thanks and God bless.

4) Prayer for the "dead" is extremely important. It's not only an act of remembrance, but also of thanksgiving. Maybe this article will help. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Kollyva

The context in which Christ told that man "let the dead bury their dead" does not mean to ignore the dead. For why would Christ go to the tomb of Lazarus? This following is from the commentary on the Gospel of Luke (9:57-62) from Blessed Theophylact of Ohrid. (I'm typing this out, all errors are mine)

This man who approached Jesus and asked if he might follow Him did so with an evil intention. Because he had seen a great multitude of people pursuing the Lord, he thought that the Lord was collecting money from them, and he imagined that if he became a follower of the Lord he too could collect money. This is why the Lord turns him away, as if saying to him words like these ""You plan to collect money by following Me, thinking that My life is something which it is not. I practice and teach such poverty that I have no house, though even the animals have their dwelling places"" and so he turns him away, but another man, who is likewise unworthy, the Lord permits to follow Him. And when this man asks permission to go and bury his father, the Lord does not allow this saying, "Let the dead bury their dead", implying that the father was not a believer and therefore unworthy of the care of his son who believed. He is saying, "Let your dead relatives, that is, those who do not believe, take care of your unbelieving father in his old age until death." To bury means here to bestow care upon him even to the grave. Even in common parlance we say, " So and so buried his father." which means not only that he placed him in the ground when he died, but that he also did every other good thing for him that was necessary, caring for him until his end and his burial. Therefore, let the dead bury their dead, that is, let those who are unbelievers take care of your unbelieving father, but because you have believed, you must preach the Gospel as My disciple. The Lord said this not to forbid us from caring for our parents, but to teach us that we ought to place piety above the demands of unbelieving parents. We must allow no obstacle to our doing of good, and we must scorn nature itself when it stands in the way. Therefore, the Lord does not permit even this man whom he He has deemed worthy to become His follower to first bid farewell to those in his house. Such a man shows that he has ties to the world, and does not have the disposition of the apostles who immediately followed Jesus when they heard Him call, and who gave no thought to anything else, not even to bid farewell to members of their household. For it often happens that while a man is saying farewell to his relatives, some of them try to prevent him from following a godly life. Therefore it is best when one desires to do good to accomplish it at once without any delay. For no man having put his hand to the spiritual plow, and looking back to the world, is fit for the Kingdom of God. You may understand the foxes and the birds of the air to mean the crafty demons. For the Apostle Paul says, According to the prince of the power of the air. The Lord therefore is saying to the man. "The demons have their lair in you, and this is why I, the Son of Man, have no place to lay My head, that is, I see no place in your heart, which is full of demons, for faith in Me." The head of Christ is faith in Christ. When a man believes that Jesus is God, then Christ takes His rest and dwells in him. The sinner is dead, and the sinner buries his dead, that is, he buries his evil thoughts and does not confess them. But the Lord prevents such a man who wants to follow Him from burying his evil thoughts and hiding them. For the Lord desires that he reveal them by confessing them.

6. As for icons, to help you understand them better. The icons are a representation of the person/event, and this is what we venerate. A modern world example of an icon is a "MAGA hat" Those getting angry at seeing the hat, are mad at what they believe it stands for, and often attempt to hurt the wearer/destroy the hat (iconoclasm)
 
2. Veneration is not worship, though it looks like that from the outside. We are honoring and venerating someone who has become one with God and been glorified eternally.

It's a testimony to the stranglehold that secularism has on our culture that veneration has become so easily confused with worship. Even in the Church, you can find people who think of worship as being a ritual that we do at Church, separated from the everyday activities of life. But for the Christian, worship must be an act of total self-giving.

Kneeling before an icon, standing at attention before the national ensign, kissing the priests hand, and similar actions simply show respect for what is represented. But pervasive secularism has caused society to compartmentalize worship to the point where we think of it as a periodic observance, indistinguishable from any other religious ritual.

Tomorrow is the commemoration of the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers murdered for their refusal to sacrifice to idols. And those who follow the Church calendar will read their stories, admire their courage and faith, and ask for their prayers. But it's not for them that we'll be fasting. It's not in their name that priests will baptize new converts. It's not to them that our whole lives must be dedicated. And yet in the modern first world, such an enormous difference proves a difficult thing to explain.
 
8) Sacred mysteries - How many are there and how do they differ from the Catholic sacraments? Also why do they exist (as Prots have less such as baptism and eucharist only).

The primary difference is that the Roman Catholics spent several centuries trying to determine the minimum necessary for something to be a sacrament, and let their scholastic musing influence how they are celebrated. For example, as @DanielH mentioned, they baptize without actually immersing, as they have decided the immersion is unnecessary. We baptize by immersion, because it represents dying with Christ, being buried with him, and rising again into new life. Or the Eucharist - they excommunicate baptized Christians until they turn 7, since this is the age they have determined a child is old enough to intellectually understand the communion. Whereas for us, the Eucharist is not an intellectual affair; all of us must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. And so forth.

The traditional protestants generally only see baptism and the eucharist as sacraments, since those are the ones clearly commanded by Christ in the scriptures. The others appear to be apostolic commands, which the Protestants see as therefore being less important. They (at least the Lutherans and Anglicans) kept marriage, ordination, chrismation, confession, and healing, but didn't call them sacraments. In the case of ordination, this was very important since Protestantism was mostly a grassroots movement backed by the state, without bishops to ordain anybody.
 
Thanks for all the responses. A couple more topics I'd like to learn more about:

1) Israel - Many western/american Christians love the nation of Israel and consider it a fulfillment of prophecy. Do Orthodox support the ones who claim to be Jews today, or feel the Christian church is Israel now? How do the Orthodox feel about supporting the country?

2) Mary - Following up on this, I was raised to believe Jesus had brothers (ie: James) so Mary couldn't be a perpetual virgin. Perhaps these were just his cousins?

3) Salvation - Also following up, it was mentioned how salvation isn't a switch to flip on..but many Prots cite the thief on the cross. The theory is often salvation is the 'switch to flip' (sola fide), but treasures in heaven are based off works/sanctification/theosis? But I'm also open to the theology that salvation is a process. Essentially: how are we written in the Book of Life?

4) Apostolic Succession - I was raised not to accept this because it's like a game of telephone. Many Catholics cite 'Peter was the first pope, and the authority transferred thousands of years to present day.' But many Prots cite Catholic corruption, power, or theology such as indulgences that leaves a sour taste in their mouths. Can anyone clarify this or give more info about apostolic succession?

5) The dead - I would still like to follow up on this. From my understanding Jesus didn't visit Lazarus to pay respects to the dead, but to visit him while sick and then he raised him from the dead? I can see remembering or honoring a dead friend/relative, but a concept that I don't fully understand is my Catholic neighbor who has a favorite saint they pray to?

6) End times/ eschatology - How does Orthodoxy view the rapture and/or end times? Prots often believe in premillennialism with a literal 1000 year reign after. Some Christians accept postmillennialism or a symbolic millennialism (I believe it's called amillennialism?). Or some feel it was all a metaphor for the persecution during the Roman Empire? Any thoughts/clarification for Orthodox here?

Thank you all again for your answers. I've read them all and appreciate your responses.
 
Thanks for all the responses. A couple more topics I'd like to learn more about:

1) Israel - Many western/american Christians love the nation of Israel and consider it a fulfillment of prophecy. Do Orthodox support the ones who claim to be Jews today, or feel the Christian church is Israel now? How do the Orthodox feel about supporting the country?

Israel was the Old Testament Church, and what was written of Israel now applies to the New Testament Church. This is the consistent understanding of Orthodox saints throughout history. Zionism, reading the Old Testament prophecies as if they're about the current occupation of the Palestinian territories, is foreign to our theology.

2) Mary - Following up on this, I was raised to believe Jesus had brothers (ie: James) so Mary couldn't be a perpetual virgin. Perhaps these were just his cousins?

They were Joseph's children from his fist marriage. You can read more at orthodoxwiki here.

3) Salvation - Also following up, it was mentioned how salvation isn't a switch to flip on..but many Prots cite the thief on the cross. The theory is often salvation is the 'switch to flip' (sola fide), but treasures in heaven are based off works/sanctification/theosis? But I'm also open to the theology that salvation is a process. Essentially: how are we written in the Book of Life?

It's difficult to write an explanation of salvation that's shorter than the New Testament, but I'll do my best: we're saved by Christ's sacrifice, and we accept this salvation by following him. In response to those who think salvation is flipping a switch, I'd cite 1 Corinthians 12: "let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." Also Matt. 25:31-46, James 2:14-26, and the rest of the New Testament. The good thief, St. Dismus, was doing what he could to follow Christ from the cross: begging forgiveness.

4) Apostolic Succession - I was raised not to accept this because it's like a game of telephone. Many Catholics cite 'Peter was the first pope, and the authority transferred thousands of years to present day.' But many Prots cite Catholic corruption, power, or theology such as indulgences that leaves a sour taste in their mouths. Can anyone clarify this or give more info about apostolic succession?

You can read the writings of the Orthodox saints, starting with the New Testament, then the Apostolic Fathers, and on down the line until you reach the present. And you'll find it all expounds the same faith. The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, ccel.org, has a lot of the early stuff. We don't have to make any guesses about whether or not the faith of the first Christians was orthodox since they left us such an enormous amount of literature.

5) The dead - I would still like to follow up on this. From my understanding Jesus didn't visit Lazarus to pay respects to the dead, but to visit him while sick and then he raised him from the dead? I can see remembering or honoring a dead friend/relative, but a concept that I don't fully understand is my Catholic neighbor who has a favorite saint they pray to?

When we say pray, we mean to make a request. And it can be a request from a human or from God. This is the consistent use of the word pray in older Bibles, such as the King James. And when we pray to a saint, we're asking them to pray to God for us.

Christians die physically (until the resurrection), but remain alive in Christ. Christ himself taught this: when the Saducees argued against the resurrection, he said that God is "not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him." (Luke 20:27-40) James 5:16 instructs us to pray for one another, and says that " the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." When we're in need, we ask for the prayers of our fellow Christians. Surrounded, as we are, by "a great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1), we ask both those dwelling on earth and those already departed for their prayers.

6) End times/ eschatology - How does Orthodoxy view the rapture and/or end times? Prots often believe in premillennialism with a literal 1000 year reign after. Some Christians accept postmillennialism or a symbolic millennialism (I believe it's called amillennialism?). Or some feel it was all a metaphor for the persecution during the Roman Empire? Any thoughts/clarification for Orthodox here?

We're a lot less prone to making statements about the endtimes than the Protestants are. But we view the thousand year reign as being figurative, much the same way that when I say "it'll take five minutes" I don't expect the listener to set a timer. One part of our eschatology that separates us from many other types of Christian is that we believe in the resurrection of the body, rather than eternity as a disembodied soul.

Thank you all again for your answers. I've read them all and appreciate your responses.

Glad to help! I can only hope my responses clear things up instead of muddling them further.
 

DanielH

Pelican
My answers in bold

Thanks for all the responses. A couple more topics I'd like to learn more about:

1) Israel - Many western/american Christians love the nation of Israel and consider it a fulfillment of prophecy. Do Orthodox support the ones who claim to be Jews today, or feel the Christian church is Israel now? How do the Orthodox feel about supporting the country?

No we don't support them. They took everything wrong with the biblical Pharisees and built on that, adding the Talmud, which justifies sex with small children, and says Jesus is boiling in Hell in his own excrement. The Church is the new Israel, and we are the spiritual children of Abraham, who was promised his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. The country also persecutes, mocks, and ridicules Christians, going as far as banning a Christian television station for evangelism https://www.christianitytoday.com/n...lanu-god-tv-hebrew-christian-channel-off.html.

The Jewish country and nation should repent and become Orthodox.


2) Mary - Following up on this, I was raised to believe Jesus had brothers (ie: James) so Mary couldn't be a perpetual virgin. Perhaps these were just his cousins?

Christ called many people his brothers. In biblical times it was common to call your cousins or even people from your village your brothers. It is also very likely that Joseph was a widower and had children from another marriage.

3) Salvation - Also following up, it was mentioned how salvation isn't a switch to flip on..but many Prots cite the thief on the cross. The theory is often salvation is the 'switch to flip' (sola fide), but treasures in heaven are based off works/sanctification/theosis? But I'm also open to the theology that salvation is a process. Essentially: how are we written in the Book of Life?

This gets into predestination which I'm not very knowledgeable on. The thief is a special case as he genuinely repented, and then shortly after died. If he was let off the cross, survived and continued to sin, thinking he was saved and no longer repenting, he would not be justified. We believe in free will. Personally, I'm very much against the idea that you can confess faith in Christ and be saved no matter what you do. I was told this as a child and it is a very dangerous idea. Even if I believed that, I wouldn't teach people it.

4) Apostolic Succession - I was raised not to accept this because it's like a game of telephone. Many Catholics cite 'Peter was the first pope, and the authority transferred thousands of years to present day.' But many Prots cite Catholic corruption, power, or theology such as indulgences that leaves a sour taste in their mouths. Can anyone clarify this or give more info about apostolic succession?

Apostolic succession for the Orthodox is more than just succession. It is also maintaining the faith. The Catholics think it is more about succession, so they will say other churches, including the Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians have apostolic succession. Us Orthodox do not share this opinion. This is different than Donatism, which is a heresy that claims that clergy must be of exceedingly good character in order for their sacraments to be valid.

The apostles replaced Judas by the laying on of hands, and the apostles themselves appointed subordinates. It doesn't make sense that they would stop appointing people as new bishops and let the early Church die out, so one must conclude that the Church continued on, especially since Christ tells us that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. If one believes there is no longer Apostolic succession, and the line ended with the martyrdom of the Apostles, then that person doesn't believe Christ.


5) The dead - I would still like to follow up on this. From my understanding Jesus didn't visit Lazarus to pay respects to the dead, but to visit him while sick and then he raised him from the dead? I can see remembering or honoring a dead friend/relative, but a concept that I don't fully understand is my Catholic neighbor who has a favorite saint they pray to?

Christ conquered death by death. There is no point from the time of your conception that you will not exist. Therefore the saints in Heaven exist. Granted that they exist, it is illogical to think that they would stop praying. Revelation 5:8 "And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, reach holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Granted that we are told to pray for one another (as @Emperor Constantine mentions above, citing James 5:16), it would make sense that they would pray for us in Heaven, therefore we can pray to them, asking them to pray for us.

6) End times/ eschatology - How does Orthodoxy view the rapture and/or end times? Prots often believe in premillennialism with a literal 1000 year reign after. Some Christians accept postmillennialism or a symbolic millennialism (I believe it's called amillennialism?). Or some feel it was all a metaphor for the persecution during the Roman Empire? Any thoughts/clarification for Orthodox here?

We don't believe in a literal 1000 year reign (Millenialism/Chiliasm). A good Orthodox video series on Revelation is here if you have a burning desire to know more: . Much of this isn't dogmatic however and it is a higher level series that I wouldn't recommend to beginners.

Thank you all again for your answers. I've read them all and appreciate your responses.

No problem, these are good questions and a good refresher for me.
 
Had another, more formal, meeting with the head Priest. The church is part of the OCA (Orthodox Church in America).

Unfortunately, all liturgy/services are done outdoors and almost all the clergymen are masked. Tonight was a zoom call with the priest and about 5 other newcomers. 3 of the people were on board and interested, while 2 (spouses) were skeptical and/or unfamiliar with the faith (as they were american prots).

The priest is very knowledgeable, anti-communism, on fire for the faith. One tidbit: he goes off on tangents and rambles a bit. We were supposed to introduce ourselves and we all spent 5-10 min but he went on for a half hour about every minor detail; not a huge deal but maybe this is common with priests? The first time I spoke with him (a couple weeks ago) he went on for an hour about various details.

The process of becoming a catechumen is over a year. It's weekly (~50 sessions) of zoom and/or in person meetings. I'm open to this commitment, but is this a common practice/procedure?

There's a couple other local churches here (Syriac, Coptic, Romanian)...but I'm not sure if I would "fit it" to these as well as the OCA (any input here would be appreciated).
 

DanielH

Pelican
Had another, more formal, meeting with the head Priest. The church is part of the OCA (Orthodox Church in America).

Unfortunately, all liturgy/services are done outdoors and almost all the clergymen are masked. Tonight was a zoom call with the priest and about 5 other newcomers. 3 of the people were on board and interested, while 2 (spouses) were skeptical and/or unfamiliar with the faith (as they were american prots).

The priest is very knowledgeable, anti-communism, on fire for the faith. One tidbit: he goes off on tangents and rambles a bit. We were supposed to introduce ourselves and we all spent 5-10 min but he went on for a half hour about every minor detail; not a huge deal but maybe this is common with priests? The first time I spoke with him (a couple weeks ago) he went on for an hour about various details.

The process of becoming a catechumen is over a year. It's weekly (~50 sessions) of zoom and/or in person meetings. I'm open to this commitment, but is this a common practice/procedure?

There's a couple other local churches here (Syriac, Coptic, Romanian)...but I'm not sure if I would "fit it" to these as well as the OCA (any input here would be appreciated).
Liturgy is outdoors? That is strange, at least under a tent I assume? A year of being a catechumen is usually the minimum. There were times when three years was the norm. It's very important we train people properly in the faith because for the health of the Church, a weak convert can be worse than not converting at all. Imagine if someone was baptized while believing a Christological heresy or something like women should be priests. They wouldn't really be Orthodox at all. There are other aspects besides knowing what's right, such as having a regular prayer life and fasting, and these muscles can take a long time to develop, and even when you do develop them you shouldn't be prideful about it. Every time I got prideful about conquering a sin or my ability to fast, I slipped up and was worse than before, so remember humility.

The local coptic church is definitely not Eastern Orthodox, they are non Chalcedonian, and their liturgy is most likely not in English, but in Egyptian I think. The Syriac church is probably Catholic, not Orthodox - unless it is Antiochian which is actually a very nice jurisdiction.

I wouldn't be too harsh on the priest for being a bit rambly, if anything it just proves he cares about the faith and what he does. Priests are people too and they all have their flaws. If you need any book recommendations, ask your priest. I remember one time I took a book to my priest that I got to one of my catechumen lessons and he frowned and said he thinks that's likely too advanced/misleading for me. So in the middle of the book I stopped and waited a few months to finish it, instead reading my assigned reading from my priest. It's difficult for us to accurately judge ourselves, that's what the priest is for.
 
Liturgy is outdoors? That is strange, at least under a tent I assume? A year of being a catechumen is usually the minimum. There were times when three years was the norm. It's very important we train people properly in the faith because for the health of the Church, a weak convert can be worse than not converting at all. Imagine if someone was baptized while believing a Christological heresy or something like women should be priests. They wouldn't really be Orthodox at all. There are other aspects besides knowing what's right, such as having a regular prayer life and fasting, and these muscles can take a long time to develop, and even when you do develop them you shouldn't be prideful about it. Every time I got prideful about conquering a sin or my ability to fast, I slipped up and was worse than before, so remember humility.

The local coptic church is definitely not Eastern Orthodox, they are non Chalcedonian, and their liturgy is most likely not in English, but in Egyptian I think. The Syriac church is probably Catholic, not Orthodox - unless it is Antiochian which is actually a very nice jurisdiction.

I wouldn't be too harsh on the priest for being a bit rambly, if anything it just proves he cares about the faith and what he does. Priests are people too and they all have their flaws. If you need any book recommendations, ask your priest. I remember one time I took a book to my priest that I got to one of my catechumen lessons and he frowned and said he thinks that's likely too advanced/misleading for me. So in the middle of the book I stopped and waited a few months to finish it, instead reading my assigned reading from my priest. It's difficult for us to accurately judge ourselves, that's what the priest is for.

Thanks for your response. Perhaps it's just a weird year, where all the masks and zoom classes make everything unusual.
I have alot of respect for this priest, and he's recommended some books too.
 
Top