...are the ones that make the biggest difference

1.16.2006

Catechumen class and what ensues

Every Sunday after Litury, the wife and I have the inquirers/Catechumen's class. There are, or were, 5 of us attending regularly. One was a young woman who had gotten married to her Orthodox husband in a civil ceremony. They wanted to get married in the Church back in December, so she was Chrismated early with the understanding she would continue to come to the classes through May - we haven't seen her in a few weeks, though, so I don't know what's up with her. The other 2 are an older married couple with 5 daughters. Their eldest became Orthodox last year and I think, partly anyways, her quest rubbed off on them and they are now searching for historic Christianity. They went through the class last year and are going through again with the intention of joining this Pascha. They were very active Protestants and had participated in church plants and what not, so this is certainly a big change for them. It would be almost like my in-laws converting.

Anyways, class went well - we were the only ones there, so we had plenty of time to talk to the deacon and ask questions. I'm much further along to wanting to "convert" than the wife. She's got a variety of hurdles to overcome, not the least of which was growing up in a healthy church and in a firmly believing Christian home. The former is important because many of the reasons that have driven me to search, and what has apparently driven many of the other recent converts in our parish to search, are huge problems with the church's they formerly attended. Some attended a wide variety of styles, church sizes and denominations and found something wanting, something missing, in every situation. They saw problems that were the result of weak theology or shallow thinking and wanted to find something more resilient, stronger, deeper. Aside from our lousy experience at the church I pastored at, the wife has by and large had good church experiences. They weren't perfect, but the people tried to live their faith and did a reasonably good job of it. So she isn't carrying the baggage I and some of the others are carrying and can't really identify with those problems. What's more, the latter point from above means she has a consistent and pervasive understanding that is thoroughly Protestant with a strong Anabaptist flavor (the denomination has a Mennonite background though they do not identify with it any longer and haven't for some time). Needless to say, infant baptism and sacramentalism have played huge roles in our discussions about Orthodoxy and probably represent 2 of the larger problems she has yet to resolve.

The wife and I's discussion after Liturgy got a little heated and eventually turned into an unfortunate argument. However, once tempers cooled, we were able to talk more clearly and she has recognize that she has not really been giving Orthodoxy an honest try. She's been trying to lay Orthodoxy on the foundation of her pre-existing Protestant theology instead of letting Orthodoxy find its own level, do its own foundation-laying. I'm hoping and praying that this new insight will help us both to know if this is really where God is leading us and where it will be best for us to be. Your continued prayers are much appreciated.

5 comments:

Ephrem Christopher Walborn said...

Because of her healthier experiences, just watch as she becomes the solid and dependable Ortho while you go through a few bumpy periods in the first years of conversion. I've seen or heard about it a hundred times.

Anonymous said...

Nathan

I am a random reader of the blogosphere- and have enjoyed reading your posts. I also am a fairly recent convert to orthodoxy ( chrismated 4 years ago.) I was one of those very reluctant wives- of a very interested seeker- and I can very much identify with your wife. It took me 5 years for my heart to open to the truths of the faith. ephrem's comments are very true....because I feel my "healthy" spiritual experiences growing up as a Protestant have truly laid the foundation for my participating in the life of the church with a commitment and faithfulness I would have never thought possible.
I didn't want to become Orthodox.....I wasn't seeking the faith.....but because I couldn't continue with this issue being the devisive barrier that it was in our marriage- I had to finally take the step to trust that Truth was in Orthodoxy- and that God would reveal to me, in time, the many questions that I had. He has not failed me yet.

I know this can be a very painful time, I will pray for you both.

my saint's name is Ruth- can you guess why?

Karl Thienes said...

"...just watch as she becomes the solid and dependable Ortho while you go through a few bumpy periods in the first years of conversion."

This really does happen a lot!

And I think I know who that anonymous commenter is! :)

John said...

This is all very timely to me. I was chrismated just last November. My wife has a healthy spiritual background, and, at least for now, is not interested in Orthodoxy. These comments are encouraging to me as I strive to be patient and not succumb to arguing about "issues."

Nathan said...

John -

I probably should have responded earlier, but I find these statements very encouraging as well. Its a bumpy road but so far, its been one well worth travelling. Keep praying for your wife and try to speak from your heart, rather than just what the Church teaches. I know with my wife, when I've spoken much more openly about my questions or my struggles that has created an openness between us that has been very beneficial in this time of seeking and struggle