Orthodox Religious Instruction and Conversion

Icon of the Mother of God of "the Uncut Mount"

Icon of the Mother of God of "the Uncut Mount"

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We welcome and encourage everyone, including our own members, to learn and to grow in knowledge and in Christ. Knowledge of the Faith is extremely necessary and important for all the members of the Church. However, along with knowledge is the practice of our Orthodox Christian faith, Orthopraxia.

A catechumen is "one under religious instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in the Holy Orthodox Church. It is possible that one has already decided to join the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, participating in a learning program does not compel one to join the Church. As a potential member of the Orthodox Church, however, one needs to make absolutely certain that his or her decision will be final before making a commitment to join it.

A catechumen does not need to be impatient and to rush to be Orthodox. As the person learns the teachings of the Faith, he/she needs to attend the divine services, learn to liturgical tradition, experience worship, follow Orthodox Christian piety, etc. etc. There are people who want to join the Orthodox Church with conditions or they are selective what they are willing to practice or not to practice. Some find it difficult to seek the intercessions of the Saints, or the Mother of God; others find it difficult to venerate holy icons; to adhere to the Orthodox position on social or moral issues. Others who accept all of the sacraments and others who do not, i.e., the sacrament of repentance/confession. Also, there are other, so called,  "converts", that do not believe that Holy Communion is indeed the very Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore do not ever receive Holy Communion. The question is why convert to Orthodoxy? Why pretend to be an Orthodox Christian?

After receiving catechism and making a personal decision to enter into the Holy Orthodox Church, either through Baptism or Chrismation, both the priest and Church, trust that the person is honest, truthful and sincere. Otherwise, why go through religious instruction, and all the other necessary preparation to make his/her desire a reality? Why go as far as being baptized or chrismated in the Church?

Over the years I have been very pleased with those who truly love our Faith and who have become faithful Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christians who know the faith and practice it daily. However, I have been very disappointed with those who have misled us and who simply used the Church to please their Orthodox fiancé or spouse, and, therefore, be able to marry within the Church. People who have neglected their spiritual duty and have proven through their actions and attitude that they never had the intention of ever joining the Orthodox Church. It is the Almighty God that they offend and continue to offend. Why? Because one enters the Church through the Sacraments through which one receives the grace of the Holy Spirit and becomes a member of His Body, the Church.

Worship of God is at the center of Orthodox Christian life and spirituality. Worship is not only an experience, it is communion with God, a communion through which God's Mystical grace comes to us, touches us and transforms us. The Orthodox Christian and catechumen is expected to worship God at the Divine Liturgy each week as well as special divine services throughout the year.

In the Orthodox Christian Tradition, one does not determine and follow their own spiritual path without the spiritual advice and guidance of his/her spiritual father. In the spirit of love and concern, the spiritual father/guide watches over the growth and progress of the spiritual child.

I pray that all those who have accepted willingly to become Orthodox Christians, either through Baptism or Chrismation, to begin to practice the Faith and adhere to the divine teachings, doctrine, and traditions of the Holy Orthodox Church.

With agape in Christ,

+Father George