Into Orthodoxy: From Krishna to Christ

 Originally posted 4/2/2013

By Kevin Allen

I became Eastern Orthodox because of ‘The Jesus Prayer’. Let me explain.

When I was sixteen and seventeen, I spent summers at a Hindu ashram on the majestic border of Canada and New York in what is called the Thousand Islands area. The ashram was and is dedicated to the famous Hindu saint Swami Vivekananda who introduced Vedic Indian spirituality to the West in the late 19th century, long before the famous gurus Maharishi Mahesh and Swami Bhaktivedanta of the Hare Krishnas. I spent two summers in the ‘60s serving my guru, reading, soaking in the natural beauty, and meditating. In the afternoons we met as a community for “Puja” where we worshipped the deity of this Hindu sect. Hinduism saved me from a meaningless life of materialism, and nihilism and opened the door to a life of the spirit. Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: From Krishna to Christ”

Into Orthodoxy: Kyrie Eleison!

Originally posted4/27/2013

I became Orthodox because I fell in love. Nobody can tell you why they fall in love. Nobody can make you fall in love. It just happens. In the mystery of Orthodoxy, I fell in love with a God who loves me, a sinner.

I came to God in a small holiness church. I was reared in the faith by wonderful people, people who taught me what it means to be a Christian. But I did not really love God. I thought I loved God in the way that a 12 year old girl thinks she loves a 12 year old boy. I was really afraid of God – afraid of hell – and tried to master my fears by mastering God. I studied the Bible, and later theology, to get God “right” and feel better about my own salvation. Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: Kyrie Eleison!”

Into Orthodoxy: On Faith and Family

Originally posted 4/25/2013

By Holly Algood

I became Orthodox because my husband is a good man. Try as I might, I could not remove my husband from my religious calculus (and as a scientist, I tend to see most of life as an equation).

Twelve years ago I was a faithful, happy Catholic. I never missed Sunday mass. I sang hymns in my car. I went to confession more than once a year. I said the rosary while doing lab work. Then I met my future husband, a faithful, happy Orthodox Christian. I knew about that Eastern Rite Church. I thought, “we are not that different”. We saw our meeting as a blessing from God and we treated our relationship as a gift; a gift to help us reach salvation. Nearly 10 years ago, we married in the Orthodox Church with the blessing of the Catholic Church. I signed a document saying if we had children they would be raised Catholic. My Catholic priest attended the wedding and served us by giving a homily at the end of the Sacrament. We figured by the time we had children we would know which Church was best for our family. We wanted unity. Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: On Faith and Family”

Into Orthodoxy: Questions Answered

I became Orthodox because there was nowhere else to go.

Artos2Like many Southerners, I was raised going to church. I am grateful for the congregation of my childhood: a safe, friendly environment that instilled the importance of Scripture, prayer, and a relationship with God. But when growing pains led to a departure from there, I felt bewildered.  I knew I wanted to stay in Christendom, and to do so in a community, but beyond that I was out of ideas. I had seen a variety of places, Protestant and Catholic, but still felt uncertain. So when my stepbrother and his wife invited me to go to an Antiochian Orthodox Divine Liturgy with them, I accepted. I just need somewhere to go, I thought; somewhere that isn’t nowhere. The place was pretty, chant-y, and smelled nice, not a bad place to sit and think things through. So I decided to go to Orthodox services while waiting for The Answer to my Church question: where else can I go? Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: Questions Answered”

Into Orthodoxy: And Back Again

Originally posted on April 11, 2013

Read about the “Into Orthodoxy” series here.

By Mary Evelyn Smith

800px-Velociraptor-by-Salvatore-Rabito-AlcónI became Orthodox because my parents said so. My parents converted to Orthodoxy when I was a toddler. Up until 4th grade, I just assumed everyone was Orthodox like me. They were taken to midnight Easter services and feasted upon soy-dogs during Lent. That was the age when church seemed like a serious kind of magic. Jesus was real, and it was exciting.

For me, the real question is, Why did you stay Orthodox? Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: And Back Again”

Into Orthodoxy Again

cropped-339505146_LnxGy-O-1Last night was Forgiveness Vespers in the Orthodox Church. That is how we begin Great Lent. We form a line of people that snakes around the church, asking forgiveness from each other, one-by-one. I bow in a sign of humility, touch the ground with my hand, and say, “Forgive me a sinner.” The other replies, “God forgives.” Sometimes they say, “God forgives, and I forgive.” Then they ask forgiveness in the same way.

The hardest part about Forgiveness Vespers is looking the other person in the eye, but it is also the most essential thing. I may not know the other person well, maybe I am distracted by my kids or my aching back, or sometimes there has been real conflict that I do not want to face, but looking the other person in the eye reminds me that love is never abstract. It was Dostoevsky who wrote that it is easy to love humanity. Loving the human being in front of me is far more difficult. Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy Again”

Into Orthodoxy: Lessons Learned

photo copy 2During Great Lent, I ran a series of posts from guest bloggers asking to explain why they became Orthodox. The why is important. Most of us are very good at telling the story of how we converted, but I asked contributors to reflect upon the reasons behind that story. I have spent the past three weeks reflecting on the posts in the series. What I learned was different than what I expected. Continue reading “Into Orthodoxy: Lessons Learned”