What is Orthodox Christianity?

DeusLuxMeaEst

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Hello Brothers,

I am filled with questions. I have consulted my priest and he stated that I can attend Vespers and even encouraged it so that question is settled.

I know the following questions are probably best for my priest, but I am early in this process and I'd rather ask them here. Also I don't know the man well and I am not quite sure if this will be my 'home' parish.

In my background there are mortal and venial sins, it is my understanding that this distinction does not exist in Orthodoxy. Is this correct?

Followup question. I believe I am now and have been in a state of grave sin (mostly lust related, but several more) that I have not confessed but I have repented for (directly to God in daily prayer). I have not confessed them since I haven't been to a Catholic confession in a long time and I'm not yet Orthodox so I'm not sure I can even go to confession.

How do I handle this? I don't want to be walking around in this sinful state. I feel better after repenting, but it does not seem 'official'

Thank you.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
Hello Brothers,

I am filled with questions. I have consulted my priest and he stated that I can attend Vespers and even encouraged it so that question is settled.

I know the following questions are probably best for my priest, but I am early in this process and I'd rather ask them here. Also I don't know the man well and I am not quite sure if this will be my 'home' parish.

In my background there are mortal and venial sins, it is my understanding that this distinction does not exist in Orthodoxy. Is this correct?

Followup question. I believe I am now and have been in a state of grave sin (mostly lust related, but several more) that I have not confessed but I have repented for (directly to God in daily prayer). I have not confessed them since I haven't been to a Catholic confession in a long time and I'm not yet Orthodox so I'm not sure I can even go to confession.

How do I handle this? I don't want to be walking around in this sinful state. I feel better after repenting, but it does not seem 'official'

Thank you.
I am a Christian-orthodox theologian and I can say to you that there is a distinction also in Orthodoxy between mortal and venial sins.But the way in which is treated the matter is a little different. In Catholicism is accentuated the juridical perspective . In Orthodoxy, despite the clear difference, I know that a professor from a Faculty of Theology said: `The sin is betrayal, no matter big or small`.
If you would have been a Protestant, God would have given you circumstances in case of death. But because you are still a Catholic you are in big danger. If you die now , the biggest chance is to not go into light. The forgiveness , even in Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) is under the Sacrament of Repentence. And this Holy Sacrament has two parts : confession and atonement. You started with the second. Wrong and dangerous.In my language, there is a saying : `to put the cart ahead the horses`. I guess you understand the meaning. You have to get rid of mortal sins by confessing them to a Catholic priest. Right away. Especially in these days when the death is after the corner. Your conversion to Orthodoxy will take time. For other questions, I am hear to help.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
But because you are still a Catholic you are in big danger. If you die now , the biggest chance is to not go into light. The forgiveness , even in Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) is under the Sacrament of Repentence. And this Holy Sacrament has two parts : confession and atonement. You started with the second. Wrong and dangerous.In my language, there is a saying : `to put the cart ahead the horses`. I guess you understand the meaning. You have to get rid of mortal sins by confessing them to a Catholic priest. Right away. Especially in these days when the death is after the corner. Your conversion to Orthodoxy will take time. For other questions, I am hear to help.

As far as I know, the Orthodox teaching is that the western Catholic church is devoid of the apostolic faith and sacraments. For this reason, as an example, baptism of western converts is permitted in some jurisdictions; and another obvious example is the lack of intercommunion between Catholics and Orthodox. It seems strange to suggest that a western Confession sacrament would be valid in this case when the person you responded to has already mentally converted to Orthodoxy and started the inquiry process.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
What does that mean?
Thanks for the question, Darius, and for receiving me on your forum. I hope is not a retorical or ironical question but a real one. Here in Romania, the Christian-orthodox educational system is integrated in the public educational system, Romania being a traditional Christian-orthodox country, having almost 80% of the total population declared as Christian - orthodox at the last census, meaning more than 90% of the Romanian population.
For be chanter in Christian-orthodox Romanian Church you could graduate a special school of two years after finishing 8th grade or you could graduate the four year theological seminary which is asimilated to a vocational high-school. Former seminary, until 2007, had 5 years and allowed for the gradutes to become priests, but mainly in the country side. If someone graduates now a high school ( or the seminary) can apply for Faculty of Theology which has four years of study. A Theology graduate, like I am, can teach Religion (Christian-orthodox faith) in public schools (5th grade - 12th grade), can candidate to be ordained priest or deacon including in towns, or can continue the theological studies with a master or/and a phd and can teach in seminaries or in the faculties of theology. In Greece, for example, there are only two faculties of Theology, at Athens and Thesalonik, and at the last one, most of the professors are not ordained.
In conclusion, any graduate of Faculty of Theology (which are 14 in Romania, 2 in Greece, 4 in Russia but under the name of academies) is entitled to the title of theologian, having a degree. Of course not all are able to explain delicate matters of faith and Church. Could a theologian be wrong?Of course, but not in well clearified matters of the Church. I said to that man who I am , and was the second time on this forum because I considered his issue beeing a vital matter for his Christian life and would be udseful to add a little bit of extra credibility.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
As far as I know, the Orthodox teaching is that the western Catholic church is devoid of the apostolic faith and sacraments. For this reason, as an example, baptism of western converts is permitted in some jurisdictions; and another obvious example is the lack of intercommunion between Catholics and Orthodox. It seems strange to suggest that a western Confession sacrament would be valid in this case when the person you responded to has already mentally converted to Orthodoxy and started the inquiry process.
You have a point on what you said BUT ONLY REGARDING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY ORTHODOX. I wouldn`t go so far saying Catholic church is devoid of the apostolic faith and sacrements. But surely lost a big part, if not all of the grace. This is a total different thing. Definetely, Catholic church is not The Church. Look at what the man says : ` I believe I am now and I have been in a state of grave sin`. The man is just having big problems of conscience. And he is not even sure if that parish will be his own. You know which is the biggest weapon of the devil? Postponing. Man, I have been reading Christian-orthodox books for the last three decades.If he dies tomorrow , do you gurantee for the absolution of his mortal sins who still dominate him? Let`s be faithful orthodox but not to lose our mind openness.
I like very much how this devotate American Christian-orthodox priest explains the Orthodoxy in the broader Christian perspective. I think this kind of perspective helpes us to understand other Christians

 

SimpleMan

Sparrow
@Liviu

As it is written, we have people like David, Confessing to God directly for their Sins.

Q: Are you sure you can claim that not Confessing to a Priest/Church Father leads to the Judgement you claim?

It is also written, to Confess to one another and I see the great value in that.

Confessing to another, especially to someone within the Church, would be very humbling, and embarrassing, and shameful, and remind us of the gravity of the Sin. We are also sharing some secret, out of head, and into life so to speak. This too could be very important.

Q: If one Confesses to God (because they have no one else to Confess to), repents and changes their way, why would this not be enough for God?

I'm also aware that nothing is secret from God, and that I need to address past Sins and current Sins on a nearly daily basis as they arise.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
@SimpleMan
As it is written, we have people like David, Confessing to God directly for their Sins.
That was in the Old Testament. We have the New Israel, Church, this is the reference in our days. For us, OT is secondary.

Q: Are you sure you can claim that not Confessing to a Priest/Church Father leads to the Judgement you claim?
I didn`t say that as certainty. But is very probable since : 1. His conscience accuses him hardly. 2. He has Holy Sacrament of Repetence in Catholic church and priests at his service. God judges everyone in accordance with what the person knows and can (and obviously in accordance with which gifts received from Him). Are you sure he won`t be judged that way?Do you want to guarantee with your soul for that man`s salvation if he dies next week in his current situation?
Confessing to another, especially to someone within the Church, would be very humbling, and embarrassing, and shameful, and remind us of the gravity of the Sin. We are also sharing some secret, out of head, and into life so to speak. This too could be very important.

To this, you have a point, but only secondary. Yes, confessing to another can be equal to confessing to a priest if you are in a life and death situation. There is something like this in the history of Church . But is not the case here. And yes, in the monastic orthodox tradition, confessing to another is recommanded in the spiritual way. BUT THAT DOESN`T REPLACE THE CONFESSION TO A PRIEST. It is only at the category additional means. But your remark here is valuable for the readers.

Q: If one Confesses to God (because they have no one else to Confess to), repents and changes their way, why would this not be enough for God?
This is very difficult to assess. God understands , but only if is like you say. Many protestants realized something lacks in their Christian life and became orthodox. Also, a considerable number of Catholicsn ( in US sometimes entire parishes) realized is not enough grace (if at all) in their church and became also orthodox.
I'm also aware that nothing is secret from God, and that I need to address past Sins and current Sins on a nearly daily basis as they arise.

This is a very good observation and yes is recommanded in the orthodox spiritual life. But :

1. For the past sins forgiven by Christ in Holy Sacrament of Repentence throuh a priest only just for remembering how merciful God was with us.

2. For the current small sins only until the next Holy Liturgy where are forgiven through the prayers of the Church.

3. For a potential current mortal sin there is no other way than running fast at the priest for confession.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Followup question. I believe I am now and have been in a state of grave sin (mostly lust related, but several more) that I have not confessed but I have repented for (directly to God in daily prayer). I have not confessed them since I haven't been to a Catholic confession in a long time and I'm not yet Orthodox so I'm not sure I can even go to confession.

How do I handle this? I don't want to be walking around in this sinful state. I feel better after repenting, but it does not seem 'official'

I would say handle it by becoming Orthodox. When you are chrismated you will probably be given confession beforehand, at which point you can confess these things.

Up to that point try to refrain from adding further grave sins to your future confession. And keep praying for forgiveness and confessing before God in your daily prayers.

Try to avoid thinking of confession as making your repentance official. It is a necessary part of the healing offered by the church, make no mistake. But it's not a rubber stamp, what makes your repentance "official" is the attitude of your heart. It's perfectly possible to confess without being genuinely repentant. If you are genuinely contrite about your sins and wish to turn things around then it is already "official" and your desire to confess is part of that. Confessing when you aren't really repentant however, will not fool God. I hope you understand what I am saying. Confession is important, because it is involving the church in your repentance, which will give it more strength, but the fact that you cannot do it right now doesn't mean your repentance isn't genuine, just get yourself into a position where you can confess regularly because it will help in future.
 

DeusLuxMeaEst

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I would say handle it by becoming Orthodox. When you are chrismated you will probably be given confession beforehand, at which point you can confess these things.

Up to that point try to refrain from adding further grave sins to your future confession. And keep praying for forgiveness and confessing before God in your daily prayers.

Try to avoid thinking of confession as making your repentance official. It is a necessary part of the healing offered by the church, make no mistake. But it's not a rubber stamp, what makes your repentance "official" is the attitude of your heart. It's perfectly possible to confess without being genuinely repentant. If you are genuinely contrite about your sins and wish to turn things around then it is already "official" and your desire to confess is part of that. Confessing when you aren't really repentant however, will not fool God. I hope you understand what I am saying. Confession is important, because it is involving the church in your repentance, which will give it more strength, but the fact that you cannot do it right now doesn't mean your repentance isn't genuine, just get yourself into a position where you can confess regularly because it will help in future.

Yes, this is the route I seem to be heading towards. I'm attending the Liturgy and trying to get to know the parashioners and the priests in my church. I'm getting a feel for the entire thing and doing a lot of observation and thinking. I am not yet a catechumen, that seems more akin to an 'engagement' and I need more time. The good news is that I feel God is getting more involved and changing me.

Of course I don't know if this will be my home or permanent parish yet, I am looking for any potential red flags, but I need more information.

One I noticed which I mentioned in a previous post, some women, one in particular was not properly dressed and was wearing a very short skirt. I don't see many head coverings. Is that normal? Usually it's a few older women 50 and up. Also masks are mandated.

The other is during the social hour, the groups are very cliquish. Possible since they don't know me well, but I've noticed distinct groups.

There are some 'young adults' that give off a snobby, pseudointellectual vibe. I guess they want me to socialize with them since I am in that age range. But one guy imparticular had those glasses and looked liberal, again I may be reading too much into it and I have to talk with the man, but they didn't seem to welcoming to me.

Lots of the other groups seem Arab or Greek, and kind of hang with each other.

This is no fault of the clergy since they are trying to make me feel welcome.

I will keep attending and see how this shakes out.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Yes, this is the route I seem to be heading towards. I'm attending the Liturgy and trying to get to know the parashioners and the priests in my church. I'm getting a feel for the entire thing and doing a lot of observation and thinking. I am not yet a catechumen, that seems more akin to an 'engagement' and I need more time. The good news is that I feel God is getting more involved and changing me.

Of course I don't know if this will be my home or permanent parish yet, I am looking for any potential red flags, but I need more information.

One I noticed which I mentioned in a previous post, some women, one in particular was not properly dressed and was wearing a very short skirt. I don't see many head coverings. Is that normal? Usually it's a few older women 50 and up. Also masks are mandated.

The other is during the social hour, the groups are very cliquish. Possible since they don't know me well, but I've noticed distinct groups.

There are some 'young adults' that give off a snobby, pseudointellectual vibe. I guess they want me to socialize with them since I am in that age range. But one guy imparticular had those glasses and looked liberal, again I may be reading too much into it and I have to talk with the man, but they didn't seem to welcoming to me.

Lots of the other groups seem Arab or Greek, and kind of hang with each other.

This is no fault of the clergy since they are trying to make me feel welcome.

I will keep attending and see how this shakes out.

If you haven't attended any other local parishes it is fine to do so. You might find one that suits what you are looking for more closely.

In my experience ROCOR tends to be more insistent on modesty, as well as less liable to enforce masks. But this might not be the case at every individual parish level.

You don't have to stay at a particular parish if you don't want, just be wary that you don't parish hop left right and centre for the slightest thing.
 

Penitent

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I believe I am now and have been in a state of grave sin... I'm not yet Orthodox so I'm not sure I can even go to confession.
You can't go to confession and receive absolution until you have been baptized, although some priests will allow serious inquirers or catechumens to discuss their sins with them prior to baptism without giving absolution in order to offer guidance. Before your baptism there is a practice of giving a "life confession" to your priest, however neither here will you receive absolution. Your absolution will be the waters of baptism, in which all of your previous sins will be forgiven.
How do I handle this? I don't want to be walking around in this sinful state. I feel better after repenting, but it does not seem 'official'
Since you are feeling unsettled because of your sins, use this as motivation to pursue baptism in the Orthodox Church. Don't worry too much right now about what other people are doing or not doing in the church. You have a task at hand. Go do it.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
Since you are feeling unsettled because of your sins, use this as motivation to pursue baptism in the Orthodox Church. Don't worry too much right now about what other people are doing or not doing in the church. You have a task at hand. Go do it.

Right, but that could take 6 -12 month usually. Even if a priest will take in consideration that he comes from Catholic church and will baptize him in a month, still is a very long time for someone with a charged conscience. That`s why I recommended to him a final confession to a Catolic priest. But you, nagoreshi and himself (despite his interior struggle) have other opinion. In his case, someone could just wonder what the man wants. Noone will baptize him over night.
 

Penitent

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I recommended to him a final confession to a Catolic priest.
Since he is already in the process of becoming Orthodox I don't think there would be any merit to going back, even for one more confession. At most he would get temporary relief, though I doubt he will find even this. The healing we are all seeking can only be found in the Orthodox Church. You should know this. If he went back now it would be like a dog returning to its own vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Remember Lots wife.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
Since he is already in the process of becoming Orthodox I don't think there would be any merit to going back, even for one more confession. At most he would get temporary relief, though I doubt he will find even this. The healing we are all seeking can only be found in the Orthodox Church. You should know this. If he went back now it would be like a dog returning to its own vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Remember Lots wife.
I am a Christian-orthodox theologian and I have been reading Christian-orthodox books for the last three decades but who says I am necessary right in this matter ? I think the Bible verse you quoted and the remembering of that happening from Old Testament don`t fit at all to our dilema. Many Chrisian- catholics could take offense from your words.

The man has something important on his concience. Look at his words : ` I have been and I am in a state of grave sin`. If he dies until his baptism or christmation ( because we also have a a secondary theological dilema here, Russian Orthodox Church and Romanian Orthodox Church christmate no baptize again the Catholics) are you ready to guarantee with your salvation his absolution of mortal sins ? Because what you say is this: sacraments of Catholic church are not valid. Are you sure ? Catholic church did exit from the Church and that was a process who took about 200 years, culminating in 1054. But they didn`t lose apostolic continuity. From my perspective, they lost grace , not validity of sacraments. Is a total different thing. So, is not about merit ( I think this is an inappropriate word in the context) , is about absolution of mortal sins. The man is neither a heathen nor even a protestant. God judges accordingly to any human being knowledge.

If wouldn`t have been a problem at all why his conscience accuses him so hardly? This is an important indicator in Christian life.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I am a Christian-orthodox theologian and I have been reading Christian-orthodox books for the last three decades but who says I am necessary right in this matter ? I think the Bible verse you quoted and the remembering of that happening from Old Testament don`t fit at all to our dilema. Many Chrisian- catholics could take offense from your words.

The man has something important on his concience. Look at his words : ` I have been and I am in a state of grave sin`. If he dies until his baptism or christmation ( because we also have a a secondary theological dilema here, Russian Orthodox Church and Romanian Orthodox Church christmate no baptize again the Catholics) are you ready to guarantee with your salvation his absolution of mortal sins ? Because what you say is this: sacraments of Catholic church are not valid. Are you sure ? Catholic church did exit from the Church and that was a process who took about 200 years, culminating in 1054. But they didn`t lose apostolic continuity. From my perspective, they lost grace , not validity of sacraments. Is a total different thing. So, is not about merit ( I think this is an inappropriate word in the context) , is about absolution of mortal sins. The man is neither a heathen nor even a protestant. God judges accordingly to any human being knowledge.

If wouldn`t have been a problem at all why his conscience accuses him so hardly? This is an important indicator in Christian life.

Forgive me, but I don't really understand how the sacraments of the Catholic church can be both graceless, and valid at the same time. Surely validity implies grace and vice versa?

It seems to me that the Orthodox position is that the Catholic sacraments (except for perhaps baptism, although opinion on that varies it seems) are invalid and without grace. I doubt there are many priests who would accept someone communing after confessing in a Catholic church. Or support their spiritual child too-ing and fro-ing between the sacraments of the Orthodox and Catholic churches.

I get what you are saying, and I agree that if, heaven forbid, the person in question did repose before being able to make a confession to an Orthodox priest, Christ is not going to say 'sorry man, can't accept that final confession you made... wrong church'. And perhaps it would provide them with comfort if they confessed as soon as they can, even if it is to a Catholic priest. However I personally do not think this is necessary, if the worst were to happen, and someone died having commited a grave sin before making a confession, Christ would of course account for whether or not they repented of it in their heart. Basically, to me it seems more appropriate to spend the time prior to reception in the Orthodox church preparing for the first confession. Many people repose before their reception into the church, and their ability to confess, but Christ of course sees this, and knows this, it is the inward disposition that He pays attention to. Those who are able to make confession and don't because they are unrepentant should be worried, those who can't confess but are repentant should not live in fear.

The Catholic church cut themselves off from grace, and invalidated their sacraments, it would make no difference whether they confessed there or not. I don't see that it would count against them, but I don't see that it would achieve anything either. If anything as this person is becoming Orthodox, they might do better to confess it with an Orthodox priest, as they will receive Orthodox advice about it, rather than opening the door to confusion. Rather than as they are leaving the Catholic church saying 'oh by the way I did this... see ya', they will enter the Orthodox church and receive the healing that it provides, starting with the issues that this person wishes to confess.
 

Penitent

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I think this debate is interesting because it was previously discussed on the Abbot Tryphon thread here. I respect Abbot Tryphon's opinion and so I am not ready to dismiss you position out of hand but if you follow the discussion on that thread the conclusion we came to was that it was not Orthodox.
I am a Christian-orthodox theologian and I have been reading Christian-orthodox books for the last three decade
Maybe if you have been reading books for so long you can quote some of those books to support your position? I have been reading Orthodox books for over 15 years and I have never come across anything like what you are saying, but then again I don't read theology because it usually just lead to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). I researched this topic on the internet and the best evidence that I could find to support your position was a statement that said that the Church keeps silence regarding sacraments in non-Orthodox confessions (perhaps so as not to offend Catholics, as you suggest). You can, however, find evidence to support the claim that we do not recognize sacraments outside of the Church.
 

Liviu

Sparrow
Orthodox
I don't read theology because it usually just lead to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1).
I think that what Saint Paul wants to say is that knowledge could lead to pride but obviously, not necessarily. In Church there are vocations and one of that is to study theology in order to share it to others. This means that some people are called for this. Of course doesn`t imply I am necessarily right,either, and you and others here are wrong.
I researched this topic on the internet and the best evidence that I could find to support your position was a statement that said that the Church keeps silence regarding sacraments in non-Orthodox confessions (perhaps so as not to offend Catholics, as you suggest). You can, however, find evidence to support the claim that we do not recognize sacraments outside of the Church.

Let`s take it from where started. You and I and not only us, wanted to help a man until he becomes orthodox, being catholic in this moment but being also decided to convert. I stated, since he had a charged conscience, to solve his problem with a catholic priest affirming is better to die (if would be the case) confessed there and decided to convert than only decided to convert but with a conscience accusing him hardly. From there, the debate.

We reached at the validity and grace in Catholic church. This is a vast subject. Of course Orthodox Church, having no communion with Catholic church doesn`t recognize its sacraments. And, as we all know, Orthodox Church is The Church.
But here was much than that. We enter in eclesiology (the theology of Church) ,soteriology (the theology of salvation) and theology of grace. So, won`t be easy to clearify our little dispute in some message exchange here very much.

I did post a video here with a friendly discussion between a protestant and an orthodox priest. If you watched it, at some point the protestant asks if is can hope at salvation from the orthodox point of view. The priest said the salvation theology is too vast in order to put it in one paradigm.So, the salvation is a mistery outside Orthodox Church. Even inside is a mistery but we have the best highlights.

So, even if Orthodox Church doesn`t recognize other`s churches sacraments we can`t make the affirmation , for example, that the sacraments in Catholic church are not valid (for the Catholics) and thus a confession, for example, has no more spiritual value than a visit to a psychologist.

I will search at someone who was one of the best of us at Faculty of Theology with better credentials than me and probably I will come with a better fundamentated answer. Will be a reply for Lawrence87 because I owe an answer to him too. If I affirmed something theologically wrong I will withdraw it. I have no problem with it. Will be probably Monday. This remembers to me of our debates at the Faculty of Theology.
 

Penitent

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I'm watching the above video you reference. At 29:09 minutes the protestant asks the Priest what would happen if a Catechumen were to die, and his answer is "God willing, if they lived out their repentance, they are in Paradise. They are in Heaven." It goes without saying that this is before any confession to a Priest.

@Liviu Looking forward to what you come up with after talking to your friend.
 
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