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Introduction - neil boorman - 01-02-2010 08:05 AM

Good morning to all, just a quick to post to introduce myself, my name is Neil and my wife is Sue, we are hoping to visit St albans Chatham on Sunday and were just hoping for some tips on what to expect!
We have been to two Orthodox liturgies before, one at a Russian Orthodox church and one at an Antiochian, and i must be honest i was stunned by the exclusivity and unfriendliness we experienced especially at the latter. My wife and I are both Anglicans at present but have felt drawn to Orthodoxy for quite a while now, and have read into the theology and history of the Orthodox church, and have incorporated some of the prayers into our prayer rule. We also have a house full of Icons!!
I stumbled across the BOC website a while ago but like others I guess i've been put off by the whole 'monophysite' charge thrown around by the EO. However, after reading quite a few of the posts on here, and also some articles on other OO websites, what I have read stands in stark contrast to the attitudes often displayed elsewhere, and as our Lord said, 'By their fruits you will know them', so here I am. Anyway, sorry to start by moaning, i've noticed this isn't a moany forum which is why i decided to post (I don't usually), so i promise no more grumbling!!

Neil Boorman


- Simon - 01-02-2010 08:45 AM

Dear Neil,

What can you expect at St Albans, Chatham? You can expect a small congregation in a small Church - despised and put down as monphysite (just like the British Orthodox Church in Bournemouth where I serve as priest). You can expect two dedicated clergy in Father Peter and subdeacon Michael. You can expect the Divine Liturgy of Saint James in English, in a British cultural setting - you can expect a British Church that is Orthodox and an Orthodox Church that is British. You can expcet to encounter the Holy Trinity and to worship amidst the saints and angels. You can also expect a friendly and warm and loving welcome though if they are already into the prayers this may have to wait until afterwards. And you can expect true Christology, not monophysitism. We don't go in for monophysitism anymore than we go in for exclusivity and unfriendliness!

But perhaps I've said far too much - for I remember what my father always used to say, "He who expecteth nothing is never disappointed!"

Simon


- Simon - 01-02-2010 10:48 AM

Dear Neil,

If you email me your postal address or I think you can private message me somehow through this Forum (I occasionally work out the technology) I will post you a DVD with some British Orthodox worship on it, including highlights of the Divine Liturgy and consecration of St Albans Church, Chatham and the sermon preached on the occasion by our metropolitan, His Eminence Abba Seraphim. If you can get me an address today or tomorrow I will send it first class post and hopefully you can watch it before you go but entirely up to you - no pressure one way or other

Simon

P.S. My email address is: <!-- e --><a href="mailto:fr.simon.smyth@copticmail.com">fr.simon.smyth@copticmail.com</a><!-- e --> Nearly forgot - brains of a tin of baked beans at times!


- neil boorman - 01-02-2010 07:26 PM

Thanks for your swift response and thanks for the DVD offer, and for putting my mind at ease, I have e mailed my postal address to you

thanks again

Neil Boorman


- DanielM - 10-02-2010 08:01 AM

Good Morning Neil and Sue.

Did you visit the Church on Sunday. If so, how did you find it and what did you think of the service?


- neil boorman - 11-02-2010 07:57 AM

Hi Daniel, yes we did indeed visit St Albans Chatham on Sunday and found the whole experience very spiritually uplifting, i've never come away from a church service feeling that way before, it certainly hit the spot! We will be attending again this coming Sunday Big Grin

Neil


- Antony-Paul - 11-02-2010 05:22 PM

Dear Neil and Sue,

First, my apologies - I read, and replied to, your request for prayers before I saw this thread. You have obviously found it!

How marvellous that you have had a good and loving experience at Chatham. I am only recently come to the BOC myself, and understand what an extraordinary experience you must have had. You remain in my prayers that God will grant you His Blessings.


john - mongan9 - 12-02-2010 06:40 PM

hello my names john mongan im 21 and i live in london.i am married with 3 children...i have been interested in the orthoox faith ever since i went to little walshingham.i am a roman catholic.i have e-mailed fr peter from st albans parish about 3-4 times now.fr peter sent me a book on how to pray...but he has not got in touch with me since my first e-mail..so if you could help me finding my faith i would be greatful..


god bless you

jon mongan


- Simon - 12-02-2010 09:16 PM

Dear Jon,

I know that Father Peter is a very busy man and with lots of pressures on him so perhaps for now if you would like to email me I will see if I can be of any help at all.

I will apologise in advance as I have two liturgies to celebrate this weekend, one tomorrow in Portsmouth and another in Bournemouth on Sunday and am away Satrurday night so please bear with me if I cannot reply until next week - but do please email me on <!-- e --><a href="mailto:fr.simon.smyth@copticmail.com">fr.simon.smyth@copticmail.com</a><!-- e -->

I look forward to hearing from you. Meantime we will include you in those we pray for by name in the heart of the Liturgy both tomorrow and Sunday,

Simon


- mikethelionheart - 20-02-2010 11:28 AM

Dear Jon

I too am a Roman Catholic. I am currently studying the Orthodox church, not with a view to converting but because I am an RE teacher and I teach at my church.
The more I discover about Orthodox Christianity, the more I love it, but also the more I realise that the Catholic Church is the true church and the protector of the faith.

Please feel free to get in touch with me.

<!-- e --><a href="mailto:mikeoregan@hotmail.co.uk">mikeoregan@hotmail.co.uk</a><!-- e -->


- Simon - 20-02-2010 09:26 PM

Dear Mike,

Maybe my theological awareness may not always be all that it should so perhaps I am misunderstanding your posting. To me it appears to distinguish Orthodox Christianity from the Catholic Church and to distinguish Orthodox Christianity from "the true Church and the protector of the faith." Maybe it's that 'but' that's confusing me. There is Orthodox Christianity but "the Catholic Church is the true Church and the protector of the faith."

To me this implies or suggests that whatever Orthodox Christianity is, it is somehow to be distinguished from the Catholic Church - or perhaps you mean the Roman Catholic Church? In which case I suppose you mean that it is the Roman Catholic Church, as distinct from Orthodox Christianity, which is the true Church?

Do you think you could possibly manage to put this clearer for me please?

Thank you,

Simon


- mikethelionheart - 20-02-2010 09:45 PM

Hi Simon

I suspect you know very well that I meant what you refer to as the Roman Catholic Church.

However, there is no such church as 'the Roman Catholic Church'.
The phrase Roman Catholic was invented in the nineteenth century by Protestants as an insult to Catholics.

The official title of what you call the Roman Catholic Church is the Holy Catholic Church. Called by virtually everybody in the world the Catholic church. Which is what I call it.

I am aware that Orthodox (and Protestants) consider themselves the Catholic church. My post was addressed to a Catholic (what you would call a Roman Catholic, he even referred to himself as a Roman Catholic) and is not intended to insult Orthodox Christians.


- Simon - 20-02-2010 10:18 PM

Dear Mike,

Notwithstanding your suspicion that I knew very well what you meant I can assure I did not or I would not have wasted both my time and yours in asking such a redundant question!

I confess however that I remain unclear as to what exactly you are saying. I do not mean to be obtuse and am doing my best to hear accurately what you are saying. Are you equating the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with the body whose official title you have explained is the Holy Catholic Church (aka the Roman Catholic Church) to the exclusion of Orthodox Christianity? Are Orthodox Christians members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Or are we not?

Please be assured that I do not feel insulted. I am seeking clarification of your meaning so as to accurately understand what you are saying.

I would also appreciate it if you could enlarge upon your words "the protector of the faith". Given your explanation that you were referring to the body known as the Roman Catholic Church or to give it the official title of which you have made me aware Holy Catholic Church do you mean that this body is the protector of the faith and that Orthodox Churches are not? Or do you mean that we are both protectors? And how does this protection work or operate?

It would be good to understand you better on these points. Thank you for what ever help you can give me here.

Simon


- mikethelionheart - 20-02-2010 11:02 PM

Hi Simon

As a Catholic, when I refer to the Catholic Church I mean, exclusively, what you would refer to as the Roman Catholic Church. I make no apologies for that, no should I or any other Catholic.

Do I consider the Orthodox churches one, holy, catholic and apostolic? I would certainly accept them as apostolic, which is more than can be said for Protestantism.

I would hope the other three would flow from being apostolic, but what does being one mean for the Orthodox? A loose federation?

Do you consider the Catholic church one, holy, apostolic and Catholic?

I will be attending church tomorrow at my local Greek Orthodox church. I will not be allowed to take the Eucharist there because the Orthodox churches do not allow Catholics to take it in their churches, even though the Catholic church allows an Orthodox Christian to take communion in a Catholic service because we both believe in the actual presence.

Does this mean the Orthodox are one, holy, catholic and apostolic but Catholics are not.

It is 11pm where I am now so I may not reply for a while. I have prayers and meditation to do before bed.

God bless.


- Simon - 21-02-2010 09:08 PM

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your clarification of some of your points. I appreciate you taking the time.

What does being one mean for the Orthodox? A loose federation? This isn't how I look at it or think of it at all. What being one means to me as an Orthodox Christian is oneness of belief and sacramental oneness.

To quote Bishop karekin Sarkissian, the Oriental Orthodox "family of Churches represent a unity in diversity of the most varied nature...which for so many centuries have maintained their unity in spite of isolation, hardships of life, persecutions of an almost ceaseless frequency. The geographical, ethnic, cultural, national, and liturgical differences have not been a hindrance to the preservation of the unity of faith... In ethnic, cultural, and historical terms there is a sharp distinction between an Armenian, a Copt, an Ethiopian, and Indian and a Syrian. Their liturgical traditions have developed in different directions. Yet, the unity of faith has been firmly maintained... the communion of faith has been soundly preserved..."

What does being one mean for this Orthodox? It means more than I can hope to say. I rejoice every day in my union with the members of this wonderful family of Chruches. I cannot begin to express what this oneness means to me. Some years ago I tried to put into words what this oneness, this being one, meant to me and however hopelessly inadequate and even nonsensical my words read, I'm not sure I can improve on them and so whether nonsensical or not I quote them below. What does being one mean to an Orthodox Christian? To this Orthodox Christian I think it means everything!

Concerning "my visit to the Eritrean Orthodox... I will begin in good Orthodox apophatic tradition by saying what it was not. Though an ex-public house, converted into a Church and lacking the glories of Western, Eastern or Ethiopian Church architecture and in places clearly displaying evidence of its former history and situated in less than beautiful surroundings... to be there is, to me, as though I was away in the holy places of Ethiopia ? to celebrate that ancient Liturgy in that place is, as I once remarked to someone there, to be in my favourite place on earth. This latest visit was no exception.

It is the Orthodox Christian Faith that every time we take part in the Liturgy, every time we join in the Liturgy, we are in heaven. There are some famous words of (the Russian) Saint Vladimir?s envoys of their experience of the liturgy in Hagia Sophia that they knew not whether they were in heaven or earth - sometimes, like those envoys, we are aware of it, conscious of it... I remember one particular Paschal Vigil Liturgy at our Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour in Bournemouth that was simply wonderful - I was more in heaven than on earth that night! I was ?floating?! One visual highlight that stands out in my memory is when we had processed outside and our bishop Abba Seraphim turned to face us with triple candlestick aflame while we sang paschal hymns amidst the coloured lights in the trees. But that was just one moment of glory in a night of glory.

And then the following weekend I visited for the first time our Eritrean Orthodox brothers and sisters in Camberwell. However little I understood the words of the service, I could not fail to understand the spirit - and I have to say that I spent well nigh the whole of that liturgy aware that I was in heaven. To be in that Church, in that Liturgy was truly to be in heaven. And to be given the deacon?s cross to carry - what an honour. I felt truly blessed to be allowed to carry their cross throughout the liturgy. I really can?t improve on the words of Vladimir?s envoys: ?only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty.?

Last year I visited a Latvian Orthodox Liturgy and was conscious of light and glory and beauty? I was conscious of heaven. For I was with people for whom heaven had meant so much more than the things of this world, people who valued Orthodoxy enough to have suffered cruel persecutions at the hands of the atheist soviets. These were people who had found the pearl of great price and were prepared to pay anything, even to pay everything for it. To be with them in their liturgy was to be in heaven.

I dare say I?ve failed to articulate at all clearly what these liturgies meant to me - perhaps such things ultimately defy mere words...

Some weeks back I wrote this to someone (I stand by every word):

?I may never visit Ethiopia (though it is my desire to go on pilgriamge to Lalibela, to Addis Ababa, to Gondar, to Aksum...) but, no matter - it is enough for me to know that these things are so, it is enough for me to know that I, the least of all the Oriental Orthodox Christians, do inhabit these same spiritual galaxies. Perhaps I have something in common with those monks who had no need to walk to the next monastery to see the miraculous swinging chandalier - it was enough for them that they had heard of it.

"The holy men of the Syrian tradition... were strange creatures. They were not even thought to be men. They had passed beyond the limits of human existence and now stood between earth and heaven. They were alive and yet they had already died. They lived in the body and yet they had discarded it. They were themselves, and yet something else at the same time. They could pass through the gates of existence into a world that was simply beyond existence, where the distinctions we normally employ became meaningless."

?Such men are as far beyond me as are they are beyond most Christians and yet, and yet... I am in communion with those same altars where they did once communicate - I am of their universe.

"Several years ago, His Holiness Abuna Paulos remarked...that when he returned to Ethiopia after serving as a parish priest in New York, he began to realize that the affluent lives we led in North America and Europe had been purchased at a heavy price. We were comfortable, perhaps, but our eyes were closing and our ears were growing dull. Ethiopia might be poor, at least as the West would see it, but its people had laid up treasures of a spiritual kind that the West would need." Oh yes, oh yes - such treasures, such true and utter glory. And not in Ethiopia alone - but also in Egypt and in Armenia and Syria and away in India (to say nothing of our Eastern brethren with their spiritual riches and glory on Mount Athos and in Russia or in Kosovo...) Yes, this is my universe to which I belong. This is the air I breathe, even the air of another world?

?This is my world and I am glad of it - yea, I am glad that it is so. Perhaps what I have written makes no sense to you - nor to anyone else. Perhaps it makes not absolute sense to me who wrote it though I think it does. It matters not. What matters is that I am one with those men, that I am one with that Faith - that I KNOW that these things are real... they are more real than this computer at which I type or this chair on which I sit or even than me who sits here and writes. This is my beloved universe of Oriental Orthodoxy - and this Faith I shall keep even unto the last breath.

?Glory be to God for ever. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!?