Why I Left The Armenian Church For ROCOR

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
From my personal experience, and I don't mind to be judgmental here, I think the biggest challenge facing ROCOR is going to be expanding its church beyond the Russian ethnic group. Despite making more inroads than other Orthodox churches with non-ethnic converts, ROCOR is still overwhelmingly a Russian Church. I visited three ROCOR churches in Canada and all three had 99% Russian congregants, with the entire liturgy and sermon in Old Slavonic/Russian.

Well, I know a lot of people will hate to hear this, but is it really a bad thing for Americans to adopt Russian customs? Which culture really has been more successful at engaging in large scale spiritual warfare over the past century of history?
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Wow, I just watched the youtube video (talk with Father Bailey) and I am very moved and shocked. Roosh, I am not trying to inflate your pride but I hope to give some testimony for other viewers in the audience about "being too harsh on yourself."

I have read Desert Fathers, Philokalia (partially), and Way of a Pilgrim very early in my journey as a Latin Catholic and hardly ever have I met a believer who was harsh on himself and really holds himself up to the same scrutiny as those noble and wise writers. I try to do the same thing (poorly, and not nearly completely) and even my tiny little effort is being ridiculed as larping or "being too harsh on myself" by my Catholic friends -- even for those who take the religion quite seriously. Not to say that I broadcast my efforts for everyone else to listen (God forbid) but you can sort of get an idea of how serious people are after a few drinks and the stories about women start emerging and the gossip begins...

I am inspired that you are trying to hold a strong light on yourself to do the right thing, and I must ask (at the risk of sounding completely ridiculous) is this sort of hardcore self-examination a typical experience among serious Eastern Orthodox Christians? If I visit an Eastern church will it be pretty common to find sober-minded Christians who are very serious on themselves and not willing to give themselves easy excuses? Or is this just wishful thinking?
 

Pioneer

Sparrow
Is this the formula you're talking about with Armenian "public" confession? https://www.armenianchurchlibrary.com/files/confession.pdf

It's pretty much identical to the "sincerity level" of mea culpa of Catholicism, which is mandatory at every Mass and only offers forgiveness for venial sins, not mortal sins.


I am not really sure what you mean by “sincerity level”but you’re right; it does seem very similar to our “mea culpa”, or to use the proper term, The Confiteor (from the first word, confiteor, I confess). The Confiteor is a general confession of sins used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass and on various other occasions as a “sacramental”, i.e. a preparation for the reception of some grace:
Public Confession
V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
In order to approach God we must further purify ourselves. Therefore the priest makes a public avowal, taking as his witnesses the Church triumphant and militant and especially all the faithful present.
V.
I confess to almighty God, to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
R. May almighty God be merciful to thee, and forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.
Bowing down, they continue:
V. Amen.
R. I confess to almighty God, to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Strike the breast three times as a sign of contrition.
Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
The priest asks God to accept our confession:
V.
May almighty God be merciful to thee, and forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.
R. Amen.
Public confession like the aspersion is a sacramental which may obtain from God the remission of our venial sins.
V. May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.
R. Amen.
V. Thou wilt turn again, O God, and bring us to life.
R. And Thy people shall. rejoice in Thee.
V. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
R. And grant us Thy salvation.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R.
And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R.
And with thy Spirit.
V. Let us pray.

The Priest ascends to the Altar
The priest ascending to the altar with his ministers, prays again that he may be cleansed from all sin. At Low Mass the server kneels on the first step, on the left side.
Take away from us our iniquities, we beseech Thee, O Lord; that, being made pure in heart we may be worthy to enter into the Holy of Holies. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The celebrant kisses the altar-stone containing relics:
We beseech Thee, O Lord, by the merits of those of Thy saints whose relics are here, and of all the saints, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to pardon me all my sins. Amen.
The Catholic Encyclopedia. (1912), describing the history of the Confiteor, states: “It is first heard of as the preparation for sacramental confession and as part of the preparation for Mass. Both the original Eastern liturgies begin with a confession of sin made by the celebrant.” They probably derive from the same ancient common origin. The “Confiteor” the Roman Catholic Church has never in any been confused or conflated with the actual Sacrament of Penance (Confession) and Sacramental absolution. Unfortunately this did become the case in “Lesser Eastern Churches, so called because they are lesser in size and influence and to distinguish them from Orthodox Eastern Church. Nestorians (such as the Assyrian Church) and Monophysites (which include Copts and Armenians) fall in this category.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
Orthodox
I visited three ROCOR churches in Canada and all three had 99% Russian congregants, with the entire liturgy and sermon being in Old Slavonic/Russian.
That can vary widely. The ROCOR churches I visited in the south were hardly Russian. In DC you have many options from strongly Russian to hardly Russian.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
Orthodox
I must ask (at the risk of sounding completely ridiculous) is this sort of hardcore self-examination a typical experience among serious Eastern Orthodox Christians? If I visit an Eastern church will it be pretty common to find sober-minded Christians who are very serious on themselves and not willing to give themselves easy excuses?
I would say it's encouraged, and you won't find a "don't worry about it" attitude about your past sins, but what you see with me is unique because my life is public. Most Orthodox Christians you meet will not open up about their past until they know you, but you will find many who take the faith very seriously, and not just in a monastery.
 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Yes. This is in place of private confession.
At first when you mentioned public confession, I thought each person was revealing their individual sins like in the Early Church, and was impressed, but now, I'm quite disappointed. The daily prayers in the Jordanville prayer book bring more to mind about personal sinfulness than that. Do they at least have night before/morning prayers for communing?
 

messaggera

Kingfisher
Woman
Well, I know a lot of people will hate to hear this, but is it really a bad thing for Americans to adopt Russian customs? Which culture really has been more successful at engaging in large scale spiritual warfare over the past century of history?

I tend to agree with entertaining the thought to consider Russian customs.

Theology objective shift
There was a significant liberal influence in the 1800’s with a progressive element shifting the objective of theology. The 19th century was interested in the Christian faith rather than the Christian message.

The Christian obligation rediscovered in the 18th century to call and invite all mean, near, and far to the free acceptance of the validity of the message of Jesus Christ and thus to faith in Him. (Barth, Karl. 1999. The Humanity of God).

Separating with the 17th century Orthodoxy and 18th century Enlightenment and Pietism objectives - the 19th century theology turned to understanding the Christian man – capacity to “sense and taste the infinite.” This error was putting man in the center of his religion / life, rather than Christ's message.

Observation
Jesus Christ is the heart of Christianity - Orthodox really is the only true religion that puts Jesus Christ at the center.
 
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Roosh

Cardinal
Orthodox
At first when you mentioned public confession, I thought each person was revealing their individual sins like in the Early Church, and was impressed, but now, I'm quite disappointed. The daily prayers in the Jordanville prayer book bring more to mind about personal sinfulness than that. Do they at least have night before/morning prayers for communing?
Not that I know of or have heard of. The only preparation that is spoken about with other Armenians is starting a fast the night before.

In ROCOR, the preparation is greater, especially with the communion prayers.
 
Well written as always mr Roosh.
Will we see some interview with Michael Witcoff soon? Your last one was amazing, and as far as i know he was present at your bapthism. So would have been a great interview if you two chould talk a little bit about that.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Gold Member
First of all, congratulations Roosh on making the full conversion from secular atheist to devout Christian. I'm happy to hear you found a church that you can call home.

From my personal experience, and I don't mean to be judgmental here, I think the biggest challenge facing ROCOR is going to be expanding its church beyond its Russian ethnic base. Despite making more inroads than other Orthodox churches with non-ethnic converts, ROCOR is still overwhelmingly a Russian Church. I visited three ROCOR churches in Canada and all three had 99% Russian congregants, with the entire liturgy and sermon being in Old Slavonic/Russian.

As Roosh said, here in the south most ROCOR parishes, such as the one I attend, have a large contingent of converts. At mine in particular I find the balance of cradle Orthodox to converts to be really beneficial for both groups.

Well, I know a lot of people will hate to hear this, but is it really a bad thing for Americans to adopt Russian customs? Which culture really has been more successful at engaging in large scale spiritual warfare over the past century of history?

At my parish there's not really any push to become culturally Russian, but there is a strong emphasis on following the teachings of saints like St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Theophan the Recluse, Archbishop Averky, St. John of Kronstadt, and others, as well as following the practices of the devout Russian Church in diaspora after the Soviet revolution. Talk to most of us and we'll tell you, it's not that the Russian Church is "superior" because of some innate trait of Russian-ness, but because it's a part of the Church that's happened to fervently clung to the Patristic way and the most vibrant Orthodox tradition (which, by the way, isn't to take away from the many other terrific parishes and jurisdictions out there.) Kind of a tricky distinction to articulate, but I tried.
 
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I Believe icon veneration to be idolatrous. This post seems full of pride. I felt hopeful I'd hear about the landscape, the building, the baptism itself...
One of the 10 Commandments bans the making of idols indeed. The golden calf was destroyed. However, the Bible differentiates between icons and idols. Adam and Eve were made in God's Image (Eikonos in Greek), not in God's Idol! Idol is a representation of a false god (Golden Calf was destroyed). Image pertains to God. Christ is the Image (again, Eikonos) of the Invisible God, not the idol of the invisible God! Lastly, God ordered Moses to have a bronze serpent made to heal the snake-bitten Jews (Numbers 21:8-9). Even though later, the bronze serpent was disposed of, Christ teaches us it was an typological sign of the Crucifixion (John 3:14-15)! So, it is indeed biblical to venerate God and His Saints through iconography.
 

Edek

Chicken
Orthodox Catechumen
I Believe icon veneration to be idolatrous. This post seems full of pride. I felt hopeful I'd hear about the landscape, the building, the baptism itself...
Fair enough, and be consistent. The next time you see a photo of someone you love, close your eyes and push it away, or else delete immediately, and of course remove all photographs from your home and phone, whether they are of people you care about, landscapes that you enjoy, or that capture other sentimental memories that cause you to gaze at the image with strong emotions. Because every time you gaze at those images, saying inside to the real person or thing that is represented, "I love you, I long for you, I want to emulate your good deeds, be near you in spirit at all times, and tell other people about you", you are, by your own definition here, practising idolatry.

A root of your confusion is that we have one word for worship that can be appropriately applied, in common speech, to three different actions: worshipping the Lord our God alone (Latria, in Latin, as in Exodus 20), paying a unique level of respect among humans to Our Lady (Hyperdulia, see Luke 1:48), and paying the next highest level of respect to the saints and prophets (Dulia, there is an example in Daniel 2:46).

May our Lord Jesus guide us all.
 

fr0st

Pigeon
I Believe icon veneration to be idolatrous. This post seems full of pride. I felt hopeful I'd hear about the landscape, the building, the baptism itself...

"icons are idolatrous" "Catholics worship Mary"

It's all so tiresome. Perhaps actually study how the Orthodox and Catholics view those two things before you spout nonsense.

"Everything that represents something related to religion is idolatrous. Instead, watch this youtube video to be guaranteed salvation!"
-Independent Fundamentalist Baptist
 
You must feel very fulfilled now that you've made this change. It sounds like a big decision and although quick, filled with much introspection, prayer, and study.

Third, the Armenians seem to be in the process of losing monasticism.

I sometimes imagine by the way you talk you'll end up in a monastery as a monk one day. Do you feel yourself called in this direction or is it not something you believe is for you?

which resulted in a decrease of grace

Can someone provide theological guidance on this comment? I'm not aware from a Protestant perspective that grace can ever be decreased. Is this a view specific to Orthodox or just to Roosh? Are there Bible verses on this idea? Thanks.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
Orthodox
I sometimes imagine by the way you talk you'll end up in a monastery as a monk one day. Do you feel yourself called in this direction or is it not something you believe is for you?

Can someone provide theological guidance on this comment? I'm not aware from a Protestant perspective that grace can ever be decreased. Is this a view specific to Orthodox or just to Roosh? Are there Bible verses on this idea? Thanks.
I don't believe I'm currently called to become a monk.

Fullness of God's grace is reserved for those in His Church. Outside of His Church you will get something like a common grace that is for all His creatures. I learned this from Father Kosmas' talks.
 
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messaggera

Kingfisher
Woman
I Believe icon veneration to be idolatrous. This post seems full of pride.

Idolizing (to worship as a god) is different than honoring (to recognize with respect).
We honor behaviours – Saints leave a legacy. A testimony.

Communion of Saints - reference found in the Apostles Creed

Catholic belief for communion of saints – circa 1962 Catholic Book Publishing:
Union of the following with Christ as their Head
  • Faithful on earth
  • Blessed in Heaven
  • [and souls in purgatory]
Saints pray for you
All those in the state of sanctifying grace
Bound to you by the spiritual bond of divine grace & charity flowing from Christ

Blessed in Heaven
Those in Heaven enjoy their triumph with God forever – members of Church Triumphant – honored on 1 November – Feasts of All Saints

Faithful on earth
Those on earth who are faithful honor the Heavenly saints’ behaviours.

Prayers to Saints
Prayers can be a form of honor we pray to the Lord
Prays are thoughts used in conversation with God, and thoughts become behaviours.

Us as Saints
God wants us to be saints, the ones faithful on earth.
We become saints when we do God’s will at all times.

How I would pray to my personal Saint -St. Nicolas
We call upon Your mercy, O Lord.
Through the intercession of St. Nicholas, keep us safe amid all dangers so that we may go forward without hinderance on the road to salvation .
 

stugatz

Pelican
Roosh, thanks for this article. I have never known the difference, really, between Oriental and Eastern Orthodox (other than that they're in partial communion), and this tells me a lot of that.
 

jobin219

Chicken
Hi Roosh,

I'm a member of the Syriac Orthodox Church, part of the Oriental Orthodox communion and therefore a sister Church to the Armenian Apostolic.

I was wondering if you attempted to explore the other sister Churches of the Oriental Orthodox communion before ultimately converting to the Eastern Orthodox? Thanks.
 
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