Tuesday, December 4, 2012

So You Want to Become Orthodox - Why?

Is it because you are drawn to her worship?  Not a good enough reason.  Yes, Orthodox worship is deep, rich, colorful, often majestic.  It is crammed with Scripture, it is didactic, and once you are used to it, other people's worship seems comparatively lightweight, if not empty.  But if that is the reason you want to be received into the Church, the devil will land you very shortly in some parish where they fail to understand liturgy and completely botch all the services.

Is it because you are drawn to the theology of the Holy Orthodox Church?  It is indeed profound, wise, beautiful, time-tested, and true; but this by itself is still not a good enough reason to convert.  Theology can always be argued and satan will make sure it will be.  One can persuade oneself of most any theory one favors, particularly if it offers you all sorts of goodies with little or no effort on your part.

Is it because you are looking for the Perfect Church?  There's no such thing and never was; witness St. Paul's epistles to the Church at Corinth, and the prophecies to the Churches in Revelation.  The Holy Orthodox Church is indeed the New Testament Church, the true Church, but she is as full of sick and wounded human beings as any other place; indeed, to take them in is her mission.  You will not escape unpleasant personalities, distressing internal politics, or scandals, all of which have beset the Church from the beginning.  In fact, if to avoid those is why you become Orthodox, the enemy will be sure to expose you to the worst of them sooner rather than later.

Is it because you are drawn to the monastic life and Orthodox monasticism makes better sense to you than other forms?  Still no reason to become Orthodox, for you will have as many negative (or neutral) experiences at a typical monastery as positive ones.

Of course there is a slew of other, even worse reasons for wanting to become Orthodox, such as the whole thing seeming so exotic (which feeling wears off after a while), or trying to be different, or trying to show ones independence from ones parents, or hoping to put ones M.Div. to work someplace else on account of being disillusioned with the current employer, or because your spouse or affianced is Orthodox.  Not that you have fallen for any of these bogus reasons, but there are those who have.

There is only one valid reason for becoming Orthodox, and that is because you have found in Orthodoxy the medicine for your soul.   You have found in the Church the living presence of the Holy Spirit, together with a wealth of counsel, support, instruction, wisdom, examples, and love to assist you along the way.

Coming to the Church for any other reason is highly dangerous, because it sets you up for a fall. You will be apt to leave after a while. That's called apostasy and it's a most serious sin. If, once having embraced the true Faith, you then depart from it, you will be in worse inner condition than if you had never converted in the first place.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I didn't remove the foregoing comment, at leastnot purposely or knowingly. Just for the record. The author is welcome to re-post it.

John R. said...

I thought one converts, as I did, because the Orthodox Church is the Truth, and only within her can one worship The Truth in it's entirety.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Different way of saying the same thing, isn't it?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

...and it's very good to meet you, and Many Years!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

John R., what I meant in my too-hurried reply is, how do we know the Orthodox Church is the Truth? Is it not because that Truth is setting us free? Is it not because in the Church we have encountered the Holy Spirit, Who with that Truth (which is Christ, Who is Love) is healing us?

If we know the Truth only logically, only in our heads, we have not yet known Him at all, have we? And if we lack the roots of Truth extending down into our hearts and souls, we are easy prey to our enemy.

This is why I think you and I have probably said the same thing in different ways.