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Why Become A Catechumen? - Mark Fletcher - 16-03-2007

I wonder if I might be allowed to express my thoughts on this thread about why I want to become a Catechumen, as a way of clarifying things in my mind? I shall add to this from time to time, before I am received into the Catechumenate.

Quote:'Let us invoke Him as the inexpressible God, incomprehensible, invisible and unknowable. Let us avow that He surpasses all power of human speech, that He eludes the grasp of every mortal intelligence, that the Angels cannot penetrate Him, nor the Seraphim see Him in full clarity, nor the Cherubim fully understand Him. For He is invisible to the Principalities and Powers, to all creatures without exception. Only the Son and the Holy Spirit know Him.' St. John Chrysostom

Lord, I want to know You, but words and concepts so often seem to get in the way. They reveal and conceal, illuminate and darken. Reveal Yourself to me Yourself and in Your Own way, or I am without hope. Help me to enter into a living and loving personal relationship with You, and not depend upon the second-hand words and thoughts of others without You Yourself illuminating them for me. Amen.

Why? - Mark Fletcher - 16-03-2007

Lord, there are many reasons for wanting to come nearer to You. I have reached a point in my life, a very dark place, where it has become a kind of living death. Resuscitate me in Your Great Mercy, for I am unable to cleanse or renew myself.

I have felt Your Presence just a few times. I do not want to be separated from You, and feel that You are giving me another chance to accept Reality for What It is: to accept You for Who You are, in the Person of Jesus Christ. Christ Crucified, Christ Risen; two aspects of the same Mystery that speaks so powerfully to me. Love is Your Name.

In Your Humanity, you suffered even unto the death of the cross. In Your Divinity, You are just as in the icon of Pantocrator. Yet You encompass both: human and yet without sin, Divine and Eternal Logos. Why this mystery should enthrall me so much, I do not know. And yet it leads me inwards to want to know You, for You are suffering Love in all its grandeur and simplicity.

I want to know the Truth about You. I feel uncomfortable with many of the words and phrases used, but the Icon of Truth must still be True, and does not need "touching up", just a little careful cleaning to reveal the Hidden Beauty. I believe that I have found That in the British Orthodox Church.

Mortality - Mark Fletcher - 16-03-2007

Another major consideration is mortality. One never knows when this earthly life will end, and when the Particular Judgement will take place. It is therefore imperative that one "gets right with God" as soon as possible.
Quote:PSALM 39 verses 5 - 8
5 Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days: that I may be certified how long I have to live.
6 Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long: and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee; and verily every man living is altogether vanity.
7 For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain: he heapeth up riches and cannot tell who shall gather them.
8 And now, Lord, what is my hope: truly my hope is even in thee.


Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Who was born of the Virgin, have mercy upon us.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Who was crucified for our sake, have mercy upon us.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Who arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, have mercy upon us.

Catechumenate - John Charmley - 16-03-2007

Dear Mark,
Trust in Him. He will do what is most expedient for you - which isn't always what one wants, since our fallen human nature often mistakes what it wants for what it needs; He knows that, as well as what you need.

Without getting into a discussion on universal salvation, I am with St, Isaac in thinking that love could not bear the thought of eternal suffering, and that since God is love, we cannot know that we shall not all be saved; the Church does not teach this, but does not pronounce against it either. He knows the depth of your repentance, so do not despair.

The most terrible temptation that can come at this moment is to despair; to think that one is unworthy because one slips back, or because one's heart feels dry and barren; it is just then that the Evil One can tempt us back to sin.

We know Him through the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we know them through the Church, the scriptures and the Sacraments, as well as through prayer. We open ourselves, and we repent; we walk in His way; we lean upon the bosom of our Mother, the Church. He will not reject a broken and a contrite heart, dear Mark, and as you draw close to Him, our prayers are with you and for you.

In the final analysis, we either believe that the Orthodox Church is the one True Church instituted by the Lord and founded by the Apostles, or we do not; once we believe that, we have access to the best spiritual hospital in the world. Welcome, soon, to the Casualty department - there are many of us here.

In Christ,


Light and Darkness - Mark Fletcher - 20-03-2007

Quote:Holy Gospel of Luke, Chapter 11 verses 34 to 36
34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

Another reason for becoming a Catechumen is the recognition that even the light which is in me is darkness. It is the recognition of the Light of Christ and the darkness of the world, including my own interior darkness. It is a desire to move from darkness to Light.

Light and darkness - John Charmley - 20-03-2007

Dear Mark,

An excellent point.

We might also bear in mind what St. John says in 2 John 1:9-11:
Quote:9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

It is this doctrine which the British Orthodox Church hands on to us, having received it from those who received it from the Apostles, who received it, as we are told in Jude 3, from Our Lord Himself.

If we are to follow the road, we need to know it is the right one, and that we can know only through the traditions passed on from the Apostles by the Holy Ghost.

May it be so with you, dear Mark.

In Christ,


Lost and Found - Mark Fletcher - 20-03-2007

Quote:'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' Holy Gospel of Luke, Chapter 19 verse 10.

'But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.'
II Corinthians Chapter 4 verse 3

Becoming a Catechumen signifies my wish to be found by Christ and to open-heartedly accept the Gospel of God.

Without Christ, I feel that I am lost in darkness, sin and error.

With Christ, I feel that I am found in Light, Love and Truth.

Thanks - Mark Fletcher - 20-03-2007

Many thanks for both your postings on this thread, John. Regarding the second one: yes indeed. May this be so. I wish this with all my heart. It's always good to read what you post. I feel that it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me personally, sometimes. Thank you.

why become a catechumen? - kirk yacoub - 23-03-2007

If I may add my thoughts to the conversation which I read with interest,
I believe that it is wrong to suddenly withdraw from the wish to become a catechumen without stating the areas of doubt and disagreement. I also believe, Mark, that if you write down for yourself as well as others all the doubts that assail you, you will begin to see the answers.
The only question you should ask yourself now is whether you believe that
Jesus Christ is God. If you reply in the affirmative, then you should enter
the path of a catechumen because within the Church you will discover
answers to questions, because all things flow from the Incarnation of God.
I hope the conversation will continue and that the Holy Spirit will guide
Mark to the Church.

Kirk Yacoub

- admin - 23-03-2007

Dear Mark

Let me echo entirely all that John has said.

Orthodoxy is not something that we are simply in or out of, in which case we are all out of it because none of us live an Orthodox life, and if we truly believed the Orthodox Faith we would not live as we do.

But it is a spiritual hospital, a place of healing. And you are not sure about the treatment and so you hesitate to register with one of the Doctors. We understand entirely. It took me many years to become even the beginner Orthodox I am because that was the path God had laid out for me.

There is no rush, as long as you keep moving towards God, keep looking for life and light in Christ. There is only the path that God in His wisdom sets before you. And I hope that you will continue to keep searching and walking with us. We enjoy your company!

So don't worry. No one expects or desires you to do more than you are comfortable with, but we continue to offer ourselves to you as friends and pilgrims on the way.

Keep your questions coming because this is the only way we grow, and I had a great many questions in the past, and still do.

Best wishes and continuing prayers


Catechumenate - John Charmley - 23-03-2007

Dear Mark,
I hope that you are able to feel something of the strong affection that is felt for you here.

In the darkness there is light, and it is the Light of the World. But I know that when the darkness descends it can seem to occlude the light; but just as the sun is still there on the most dismal and rainswept November morning, so is the Light there for you.

In a way we come to the mystery at the heart of your questions about evil and suffering. We have to accept that these things are in a way we do not understand until much later, good for us.

Four years ago, when my wife left with no warning, and without my even having been aware that she had thought there was a problem (which might, of course, have been part of the problem!) I was devastated. It plunged my whole life into chaos, and at the time I despaired. Who knows fully why things happen, but looking back from where I am now, I can see that the process I have been through has helped cleanse and strengthen me, and that without it, I should most likely have been unable to come closer to Him. Had I been told that four years ago, I should not have believed it and should have thought it scant comfort; yet it was so.

In Christ,


Catechumenate - Mark Fletcher - 23-03-2007

My reason for deciding not to be received into the Catechumenate is because I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God. If Kirk reads my previous postings, then he will see my (many) other areas of doubt.

I am still planning to attend St. Alban's Chatham on a monthly basis. Thanks for the goodwill.

Re: Catechumenate - John Charmley - 23-03-2007

Mark Fletcher Wrote:My reason for deciding not to be received into the Catechumenate is because I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God. If Kirk reads my previous postings, then he will see my (many) other areas of doubt.

I am still planning to attend St. Alban's Chatham on a monthly basis. Thanks for the goodwill.

Dear Mark,

You are quite right to do what you are doing; if you believe as you say, then it is better to do what you suggest; but I am glad that you will attend Chatham as you say; as I commented elsewhere, I should be amazed if Marian was not also welcome.

I confess to being intrigued by your wording - does it imply you think there may have been other 'sons', or that there were none?

In Christ,


Avatars - Mark Fletcher - 23-03-2007

As stated previously, when I read of the lives and teachings of (for example) Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Ramana Maharshi, I find it very difficult to believe that these men were not "Sons of God" in just the same way that Jesus Christ was. Yes, the cultural 'baggage' is different, but when I read what they said, and the lives they led, I find it difficult to believe that Jesus Christ was "the one and only Son of God". There are loads of examples I could give who "fit the bill", from a variety of religious traditions. There are other paths to "God". The Christian Path appears the one open to me. It seems strange to me that a truly universal God should reveal Himself only to one people. Reading the Upanishads or other religious scriptures, I do not feel that Christianity has a monopoly on 'The Truth'. 'The Truth is One; sages know it by many names' as the saying goes. That doesn't mean that I am a Theosophist or some other strange creature. It just means that I don't know and I try to be open-minded in the light of the evidence. Thanks for your posting.

Catechumenate - John Charmley - 23-03-2007

Dear Mark,

When you write
Quote: I find it very difficult to believe that these men were not "Sons of God" in just the same way that Jesus Christ was.
I wonder what you mean?

We believe in a Triune God, Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word, made flesh for us men (inclusive, of course) and for our salvation. Other prophets can be 'sons of God' in a figurative sense, but Christianity means believing in the Resurrected Lord, the Only-Begotten Son. The Incarnation, by assuming our flesh, heals it. There is a very specific Christian anthropology and soteriology at work here, which the western Church rather tends to neglect.

I have tremendous sympathy with the direction of your queries, and elsewhere, as Peter knows, have written about the 'limits of the Church'. Indeed, one reason why I admire the BOC is its emphasis upon mission; God did not not reveal Himself only to one people, He charged His Church with the Commission of bringing His word to all men and women.

It is by no means impossible that good and holy men and women elsewhere gained some glimpses, and even some whole parts, of the great Truth of God, and I suspect that anyone who dismisses all other faiths as worthless knows little of them; and even, possibly, too little of his own faith.

Neither you nor I 'know', which is one reason why the Orthodox Church is as it is. It transmits unchanged the message it received from the Fathers, to whom it was handed down from the Apostles, who received it once from Our Lord Himself.

That is not to say that Truth cannot be be found, in parts, elsewhere; just that its fullness is to be found within the Orthodox Church, not because of its great virtue, but because it has humbly received the Truth from Him. There is no requirement of anyone to believe this; God loves us, He made the world in love and will redeem it through the same; He gives us free will to hear and reject - or simply to hear and say 'that's interesting ... but!'

If you get a chance to get hold of The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian by (Bishop) Hilarion Alfeyev (Cistercian Publications, 2000) I'd recommend it as strongly as I can. It will lead you towards answers to some of your questions - but perhaps not the ones you might expect.

In Christ,