Today is the commemoration of the beheading of, St. John the forerunner … Jesus’ cousin. I love my cousins. We all grew up hanging out together, getting into trouble together, etc. Can you imagine, Jesus and John tearing it up as kids?
I know the story of, Zechariah and Elizabeth and the trouble they have conceiving until an angel revealed God’s plan to, Zechariah one day while he was serving in the temple. That part of the Nativity story is well talked about within the Protestant church. What I did NOT know, however, was that, Zechariah is the priest to whom, Mary, the mother of Christ, is presented to when her parents, Joachim and Anna take her to be raised in the temple per her parent’s promise to God if He would let Anna conceive. It took going to the Orthodox Church to learn this very important detail that had been left out of EVERY Christmas story/bible study in which I had participated. Zechariah, a Jewish priest, was there from the beginning. He was a witness to the coming of the Messiah according to the very scripture he read to his congregation.
I think it is amazing how it is all connected and interwoven. I love connecting the dots… especially when it comes to scripture.
When Christians properly serve, God… they think not only of themselves, but of those around them as well. ‘How will my actions today effect those around me? Not only for today but in the years to come?’.
The word, ‘progress or progressive’ is bandied about these days as if saying it should be an automatic, ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card for bad behavior, for whomever utters those words. Taking away the income of millions of people who drive for a living is acceptable to many under the guise of ‘progress’ or environmentalism. Little to no thought has been given to how these people will manage to take financial care of their families once their jobs have been taken over by robots. ‘It’s their problem’ is the cry among those who work so hard to cast millions into unemployment. Has no one thought of the burden to the economy of each state when millions of drivers are left without work?
Legislatures must step up now and make laws to protect those who cannot protect themselves. If we create a society run by robots where no one can earn a living, then we must remove our current system of commerce and replace it with one that works for all people. Nothing has proven to work as well as capitalism. Few things in life bring as much satisfaction as putting in effort, seeing a job completed and being rewarded for doing well. So… what then? How do we continue to give people the satisfaction that comes from work when we replace them with robots? Not everyone is comfortable, or happy, working in an office. How do they glean personal satisfaction from life? Will society fall into more mindless entertainment to fill those empty spaces left open and unfulfilled by a lack of productivity? Already many young men do not enter into the workforce. They prefer playing video games to working. With the increase of potential jobs they could have had being replaced by machines, and so much to distract them, ‘why bother’ has become the cry of the young instead of, ‘I can!’.
Everything we do as Christians must be tempered with thoughts on how it will affect those around us. An example of that, although it may seem quaint by today’s anything-goes standards is this; it used to be that newspapers would not print the Sunday comics because of concern it would cause children to become distracted and make them forget about going to church. Here is an example of a corporation thinking about the effect their actions might have on people they had never met.
I say, ‘Christians’ when talking about treating people better because it is what, Jesus advocated. We are to treat others as if they are better than us. Would you want someone to remove your employment in the name of ‘progress’? I’m certain you would not.
If we who call ourselves, ‘Christian’ would put on the real mantle of Christ and stop being mercenaries at the expense of those around us… THAT would be real and true progress.
Here is a LINK to an article about the ‘globalized’ and ‘universal’ person by, St. Paisios.
I don’t know of any other topic in all of Christiandom that is more talked about… or misunderstood. If there is any other topic that elicits such a range of emotional response as head covering, I do not know what it would be.
First of all there is the confusion as to its origin. When my nephew came to church HERE he asked, ‘What’s with the head coverings? Is that a Muslim thing?’. Sigh… no it is not a, ‘Muslim thing’. Islam did not come around until 300-400 years AFTER Christianity got its start at Pentecost. The origins of head covering are found in Judaism. Paul had been a Jewish leader before his conversion to Christianity. He had intimate knowledge of every law and custom. While some argue that head covering was a cultural standard for women in ancient times and not for women today, it does have a place in modern Christianity.
I began my research on head covering about 4-5 years ago. I had read a comment on a blog about how Christians pick and choose which bible verses they will follow, and if we were against some things because the bible said not to do them then why did we not do other things, such as head covering, which the bible tells us to do? While it is clear the individual who wrote that comment had no understanding of free will, it did get me thinking about head covering, and there began my journey.
At the beginning of this article you will find a link to an article on head covering written by a Jewish Rabbi. I hope it opens for you. It contains information I have never found on any Christian website or video that talks about head covering. Also, I cannot find this article any more on the Net. Maybe you can. I downloaded in onto my computer years ago and it is an invaluable tool. I believe one of the reasons why the bible verse about it is so confusing is because we lack the oral history that pertains to head covering. Because it is something that, Paul had to tell Christians to do, I think it would be a logical conclusion to say that it was not widely practice among pagans which would have been the primary converts to Christianity at the time Paul wrote to remind women to cover and why. Head covering, and the reasons why, would have been a part of daily life for Jewish women. Most of them would have known why they were to cover. Where scripture falls off about it, oral tradition would have carried on like a torch passed down from mother to daughter over centuries. Let’s take a look at the scripture, see what it has to say about head covering and then try to figure out why, Paul said nothing more in regards to covering ‘because of the angels’.
1 Corinthians 11:5-
5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for it is just as if her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, let her hair be cut off. And if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels…
Ok, Paul. What about the angels? I wonder if he left out details explaining about the need to cover, ‘because of angels’ because they were such a well known factor of everyday life at that time that what people needed to know was SO well known he had no need to expand upon his statement? I do see where science has convinced many people that such spiritual encounters are not what we should know them to be. We as Christians should be used to such things but many are still doubtful regarding spiritual encounters. They are dismissed or over looked. such things are explained away and if you believe in them then you are the odd ball. Clearly, Paul had personal experience and wise advice regarding angelic encounters. While the bible tells us that the kingdom of heaven is not about miracles, I do believe we would be wise in not dismissing spiritual encounters, or ignoring biblical advice on how to protect ourselves regarding unseen beings.
There is quite a bit being written about head covering. I personally believe that there is a great deal of confusion about it with most of the confusion centering around the verse pertaining to the angels. First let us clear up one important misconception about head covering… head covering is NOT about the oppression, and subjugation of women, by their husbands. Head covering is about revealing the God-given authority of women; to the world around them, their husbands, other men, and the angels.
Women have the right to pray and prophesy publicly. Their head covering shows those around them, seen and unseen beings, that they have been given this gift by God who protects them through their head covering. Yes, it is right for women to head cover when praying at home alone, but it is especially important for us to do so when in public. In his article, Ye’hosheba tells us that when Paul talks about the angels he is talking about good angels, and bad angels. The good angels see the woman praying with her head covered and listen all the more attentively to her prayers because they see her as a woman who understands her God-given authority. ‘She means business how can we help her more?’ Evil angels, those who are the minions of Satan, see a covered woman praying and avoid her. ‘This woman knows her authority! We cannot prevail against her she is too strong. Let us go find one who is weak (uncovered) and see if we can destroy her.’.
Ladies… head covering is a big deal. Do not allow anyone to talk you out of it or try to embarrass you because you practice this important, outward expression of your authority. Once, when I was still a Protestant groping in the dark and trying to figure out head covering, I wore my cover to church. The pastor of that church did not pull me aside to discuss privately why I covered. Instead, he stood right in front of me and preached a sermon against the practice of covering. Subtle. I hold no grudge against him for it. What he did only served to help me find a place where the practice of head covering would be more readily accepted and encouraged. Hello Orthodox Christianity.
Head covering is part of the armor that I put on when I pray and worship. I would feel, ‘out of uniform’ and unprotected if I were to enter temple without it or pray uncovered. I have had many strange, and wonderful, experiences through head covering. Each one serving to solidify my understanding of the importance of covering.
My dear sisters in Christ, if you have been struggling with head covering you are not alone. If you would like to have a safe place where you can discuss the struggles of head covering, please consider joining this Yahoo group that I have created: OCWWC. I believe head covering can heal, empower, show leadership, and in many ways enrich the lives of women. It is uniquely our weapon given to us by God. So-much-so that even the priest must remove HIS head covering before carrying out certain rites and rituals during liturgy. Please, do not allow head covering to be the thing that trips you up as you walk out your sanctification.
I am currently reading several books written by Orthodox ancient fathers. One of which is; Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. An amazing man of God who details for us how to walk out the love of Christ in our everyday lives, to everyone around us. His words are loving, hard and yet easy. That is one of the beautiful things about Orthodox Christianity, there are multiple truths. It is hard to walk out love if we try to do it in our flesh, but so easy to do when we die to ourselves and let God truly take over and lead us. This is just a tiny blurb about his book which includes a mini biography of this incredible man who was so at peace the little birds would fly to his chest, land, and eat the crumbs out of his beard that ended up there after a meal. I want that kind of peace in my life. His book is a spiritual road map to the land of internal peace according to the word of God. How does this relate to sola scriptura? Keep reading, please.
One of the main (read tired old) arguments that Protestants try to use against Orthodox Christianity is that they believe we all should be able to read the bible without any outside assistance because Holy Spirit will illumine us and help us with anything we do not understand. If that were true for them, there would not exist; Mathew Henry’s Commentary or the myriad of Christian bookstores. Also; Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen and a host of other Christian writers would be out of jobs. Some Protestant writers develop bible studies. Why? If they truely believed in sola scripture (which, ironically, is not actually IN the bible) there would be no need for any Protestant to write anything and yet they too have their own versions of ancient fathers and mothers. Corrie ten Boom, Smith Wigglesworth, Watchman Nee, etc..
The real truth is that, while Protestants have their writers, for some reason they think it is wrong that Orthodox Christians have our own. I believe they do not like it because our writers are not their writers, but also because our writers talk about this life, and the life hereafter in a way that does not line up with the heretical teachings found in Protestantism. The writings of the ancient fathers focus largely on our inner conflict between our flesh & the Spirit of God, which we will submit to and allow to lead us through life. when I read the writings of the lives of those who have gone on this path before me, I receive comfort and guidance knowing that although these people lived in like-minded communities, they still had to struggle through life & many of the same issues we as Christians struggle with outside of monastic life. Struggle with loving those around us, being obedient, living below our means, relying on God to fill our plates, keep us healthy. Some ancient fathers and monastics struggle with severe mental and physical ailments. One father in particular said, ‘if you can live with the pain and suffering, do not pray for God to deliver you from your affliction!’. Quite different, and more difficult to hear, than the message from Protestant writers.
There is a part of me that wants to open a big orthodox Christian book store here in town. There is already a small one connected to a coffee shop that is also a missions. They serve coffee and ancient wisdom… love it! On Friday nights, our head priest is behind the counter slinging coffee & food. He sets the example for the rest of us on walking out the word of God.
If you are someone who has hopped onto the ‘sola scriptura’ band wagon, I challenge you to look around your house and count how many books about God and Christianity you have that are not the actual bible. Why do you have them and how have they enriched your life? As with anything we read, even the bible, it only works if we do what is written on the page. Love your neighbor, yes even the one that does whatever it is that upsets you. Speak kind words to everyone around you and consider others better than yourself. Forgive, forgive, forgive. I only have to deal with rude, inconsiderate people while some of the Orthodox writers have had to forgive those who tortured them and held them in prison for many years. Do you want God to forgive your sins? Then you must forgive the things other people do to you. True deep forgiveness. None of this, ‘I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget!’ nonsense. Jesus forgives AND forgets!! So too must we do the same.
Sola scriptura does not exist. It is a lie from the enemy to keep those who would become Orthodox Christians from doing so. It is such a feeble excuse. The bible came along 300-500 years after the Orthodox Church was started. Holy tradition, and the stories about those who went before them, was all the early Christians had to guide them on how to live a Christian life. Then, they wrote the bible and now modern churches claim to be based on the bible but they look nothing like the ancient, and original church.
If you would like to visit my Pinterest board for more Orthodox wisdom and humor you may do so by following this LINK but remember, it too violates the sola scripture fairy tale.
To my utter horror, persons masquerading as ‘faith leaders’ have created an ad campaign in support of Planned Parenthood and abortion. This has all been done under the deception of supporting marginalized women in need of health-care. What a load of lies, deceit and non-sense. Here in my city, we have an organization that helps unwed mothers deal with an unwanted pregnancy without abortion. Do I hear the same kind of support for that organization? NO. ANYONE who claims to be a ‘faith leader’ who supports abortion is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. ANYONE. Yes, my words are strong and they are intended to be so. No one who calls themselves a follower of Christ could support abortion. We as Christians must acknowledge the sanctity of the soul and respect for life. We are not the ones who give life, God is and only God can determine when it is time for a soul to return to heaven.
The ‘faith leaders’ who spoke out in this advertisement did so while spouting the lie of women in need of health-care need Planned Parenthood. Abortion is not health-care. I’ll say it again… ABORTION IS NOT HEALTH-CARE. People who support abortion and claim to be ‘of faith’ rarely come right out and say they support baby-murder. Some part of them deep down knows that this is wrong so they skirt the issue and make it sound like there is a noble purpose to their madness and if the rest of us do not join up in the false crusade, we’re the evil ones not those who support Planned Parenthood. Do not be fooled. You are NOT evil for not supporting Planned Parenthood.
Stick to your convictions. support those who oppose Planned Parenthood. Speak out for those who have no voice, the unborn babies. Do not allow yourselves to be hoodwinked into supporting the mass murder of unborn children. Not just in America, but in other nations as well. Oh yes… Planned Parenthood has their evil, blood-stained claws in the wombs of women in other nations as well.
The above photo is of an icon representing the innocents who have died. Not just aborted babies but also babies lost to miscarriage or infant deaths for any reason. Jesus is there looking over them… and offering comfort. Comfort for the babies and for the mothers. Yes, comfort for the mothers. We must remember that as Christians, God also loves the mothers who, under the spirit of deception, aborted their babies. These women are suffering, and will most likely continue to suffer until the day they die, for what they have done. The act of abortion creates two victims, not just one. This is what PP and others who support it do not tell you. This is why it is especially heinous that so called ‘faith leaders’ are supporting such an insidious, and evil organization. Have none of these people ever counseled a woman post-abortion and seen the horror she goes through?
I strongly believe that anyone, anyone at all, who calls themselves a ‘faith leader’ who verbally supports or gives money to Planned Parenthood should immediately be removed from their position on grounds of abuse of power/authority. Any organization that calls itself a church or synagogue that receives tax exempt status should have that status removed. See, there is a certain criteria that should be met and followed before an organization should be allowed to classify itself as being linked to Christ. The major one should be NOT advocating the murder of unborn children.
We must no allow ourselves to be drawn into the culture of death that has grown in our society. The beginning and end of life is when we are the weakest and most vulnerable. This is where evil lies in wait for those unable to defend themselves. When murder is advocated from the pulpit… who will protect them from harm? Lord have mercy.
I’ve been attending my local Orthodox parish since September and I’m looking forward to my upcoming baptism into the Orthodox Church. I’ve ventured out a bit more into the social aspects of the church by attending the Lady’s Group. It’s a study group in a book club type format. Presently we are reading The Great Divorce written by, C.S. Lewis. For me, it is a refreshing change from the fill-in-the-blank bible studies I’ve become accustomed to, but never really liked. Some, like me, enjoy this format while others struggle with the lack of traditional structure and conformity of read and answer ‘here’ type studies.
As I said, I am enjoying the study but it is sad to read about people unwilling to give up their passions for the Ultimate Passion… Christ. Also, because I am going to be baptized soon, as I read the book, it is helping me to remember items that need to be added to my life confession I will be doing with my priest soon. Believe it or not, little memes I run across on Pinterest, as well as reading books on the lives of the ancient fathers and their experience with confession, sin, and temptation are helping me not to be too panicked about baring my life’s dirt to a priest. This concept is unheard of in protestant churches and is very new to me. As a protestant, I would confess to God, or my husband and hope no one else ever caught wind of what I did because people, especially Christians, can be incredibly judgmental. I have also been judgmental, and it is something I work on everyday. It is something I work on with the help of; the writings of the ancient fathers, (a resource not available in protestant churches sadly), my priest, the weekly opportunities for prayer & worship in my temple, and my at home prayer life.
As I said, this is all very new to me because in protestant churches, especially evangelical and charismatic churches, sin seems to be encouraged as a way for the grace of God to move in our lives. I call it ‘The Chili Dog Gospel’. Why? Because I have heard many pastors say that since scripture tells us we can tread on poisonous things and not be harmed, we should also be able to eat ‘poisonous’ things, like chili dogs, and not be harmed. ‘Go ahead and eat that chili dog and watch God move mightily in your life!!’. Um, no thanks I’d rather not eat it, fast & pray and see what happens when I move in obedience. There is very little talk, at least that I ever heard in the churches I attended, about giving things up for our sanctification. Sanctification was not something openly spoken about or encouraged. What does all this have to do with, The Great Divorce’? This is a book that talks about the things that people do that they are unwilling to give up in ordered to be perfect as Christ is perfect. From homosexuality, to one’s intellect, to one’s ‘rights’ (the right to be offended, angry, greedy, respected, etc.) to people not wanting to give up what they perceive as security even though it keeps them in hell. Lewis lays it all out for examination by the reader. ‘Pick one or all that apply.’, he seems to be saying. Even now, over 70 years since its writing and publication, it is relevant in the life of, Believers.
People these days like to think they are, ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’. What do these words mean? If you are not willing to give up whatever sin you are justifying with these words, they are just as much a chain holding you back from heaven as they’ve ever been. We are not the first generation to use those words, or to try and talk ourselves out of giving something up we love… our ‘pet sin’. Is the need to always be seen as being right important to you? Is it so important that you are willing to give up the blessings that come from being a peacemaker? Trust me, there are more blessings from God for those who are peacemakers than those who are willing to assassinate relationships in order to be right. Interestingly enough, I don’t know of a single person who was argued into the kingdom of God…do you?
Our passions are creating a spirit of disunity within our churches and our communities. Not only do they separate us from God, but from one another as well.
People’s passions against icons keep them out of the Orthodox Church. Here is one that you might enjoy. You’re welcome.
This bit about icons is a bit off track but not too much as there are those who are passionately against icons and yet are ok with nativity sets, Easter eggs, crosses, etc. All of which, including our bibles, are icons. I just wanted to show those who are passionately against icons and point fingers at the Orthodox church that protestants also have icons. They just call them ‘Christian art’. This iconophobia is just an example of a passion that needs to be given to the Lord. The passion that only fill-in-the-blank bible studies are real bible studies is another passion that can be given up. We all have them. Some people refuse to try anything new unless it was their idea first and they were able to lead their friends and family to it. This passion causes them to lose out on so much!
I hope this partial review (more to come possibly) has given you food for thought about the passions you hold on to that are holding you back from a more mature, complete, and fulfilling relationship with God. Oh, how I wish this book was read in schools all across America! Would people, ‘get it’? Would it help us to be more unified and to let some things go that we needlessly hold on to that are killing us and our communities? Or would most people read it and think it is for someone else but not for them?
If you’re looking to change your community, you must first be changed. How? How do we transform our communities, our places of work, school and worship through ourselves?
May I recommend asking God to show you right now your passions that are interfering with your sanctification? Then, if you’re Orthodox, take them to your priest and confess before Sunday and enjoy a Liturgy and Eucharist free from hidden passions/sins. What a weight will be lifted from your shoulders! If we do not kill our passions, they become our idols. They interfere with our sanctification, drawing nearer to God and our quest for perfection. I’m actually looking forward to my life confession. With appropriate trepidations of course. It’s not going to be fun, but it will be freeing.
Does it bother you when someone says to you, ‘Do as I say, not as I do?’. It bothers me. This is just one of the things, Jesus came up against in His ministry. The pharisees were oppressing people with impossible standards while they continued to behave in a manner totally opposite of what they were preaching. They tweaked the law to feed their greed and corruption all the while they enjoyed a life filled with gifts, bribes, and treachery. Even unto their own parents.
I have had protestant pastors admit on the pulpit that they are picking and choosing which scriptures they will obey. The audience chuckles but no one confronts him on his own admission of sin and heresy. Imagine my surprise when the head priest of our local parish submits himself to the same rigors of scripture we are all trying to walk out daily.
During the annual Forgiveness Ceremony at temple, there he is with all the other priests, deacons and sub-deacons prostrating before his spiritual children, asking us for forgiveness. Our priest!! Then, the other night in class, he talks about how he is headed up to Alaska soon to help build a monastery for some nuns. This is a 50+ year old man but because he had been up there 15 years ago and they remembered him, he is going because they asked him to! I love that our parish has such an example. In Orthodox Christianity, it’s not about, ‘The Guy’. You know, who is going to be the one who preaches well, as a charismatic personality, who can get the people wound up and in a frenzy to give, give, give. No. While our head priest is gone, another priest will step in and fill his shoes, so-to-speak while he is gone. Life will go on without him because our lives are about God, not ‘The Guy’. Will Father be missed? Yes. He is part of ‘the family’. He is our spiritual father & confessor and we love him (he will come back). But that’s not the point. The point is, he gets his hands dirty, literally and figuratively. I’ve been in churches where the pastor’s anointing was carefully guarded as if he were some sort of demi-god who needed to be locked up in some protective inner chamber. Well removed from those who might sully him. Who… his congregation? Yes. He needed to be protected from his congregation. I’ve been to churches, and I have heard stories from people in other churches as well, where the pastor never interacted with the church community. They felt they only had to deliver the sermon on Sunday and they left the ‘ministering’ (praying and interacting with the congregants) up to the deacons and elders. They are not true shepherds. They are not spiritual fathers. I like having a spiritual father. Especially one who walks out the scriptures. When you have a spiritual father who sets the example, it’s hard to find an excuse as to why you’re not being obedient with what you have been given to do by the Lord. The speed of the leader is the speed of the ‘gang’. If your spiritual leaders are leaning on the shovel and not giving their all, neither will you. I believe this is part of the reason why so many churches have fallen asleep and then ended up shuttering their doors.
Physics applies to churches. Newton’s 1st law of motion; In an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a consistent velocity, unless acted upon by a force. In other words; an object in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless something happens to change either attitude.
People are looking for more in their religious journey. I was, and my search lead me to the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church does its best to walk out scripture. To live in peace with those around them, to die to their passions & desires, and they take it (the Christian Way), and God very serious. Serious enough that His Word is for every member of the body in the parish, even the head priest. There is no, ‘us and them’ mentality that I have seen to date. I don’t know if I can fully express how important this is to me to see those in leadership being treated as a part of the body and not apart from the body. It fills my heart with joy to know my parish priests, and others in leadership are in the same boat as I when it comes to walking out our faith. We are imperfect, struggling and doing the best we can. Lord have mercy.
Hank Hanegraaff, ‘The Bible Answer Man’ has faced swift retribution for converting to Orthodox Christianity on Palm Sunday. The owner of the radio station that hosted his program has removed Mr. Hanegraaff’s program from their roster. You can read the full story HERE.
I’m not at all surprised. Kind of saw this coming a mile away. I wonder if it bothers these people to be so transparent in their intolerance and bigotry? ALL MODERN CHURCHES CAME FROM THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. The bible you read has its roots in the Orthodox church because the Orthodox Church wrote the first bible. Hanegraaff is THE BIBLE ANSWER MAN. He had been exploring Orthodoxy for TWO YEARS before converting and not once did he say anything unbiblical but suddenly when he is transparent about joining THE CHURCH, his biblical accuracy is called into question. I’d like to know who all put pressure on Bott Radio Network owner, Richard P. Bott, II to drop Hanegraaff’s show. Just as those in the crowd were, ‘encouraged’ to scream for Jesus’ blood, so too do individuals today face pressure from their peers to tow the line or lose sponsorship. Money talks, but it also silences. In this case, people professing to be Christians showed the world their true colors by demanding the termination of a radio show that has aired for decades because the man hosting it does not subscribe to their party line.
May the retribution of the Lord fall upon those who have shown Mr. Hanegraaff religious intolerance and persecution in the name of Christianity. Shame on you.
Unless they make a study of it, most protestants have no clue about what goes on inside the walls of a monastery. As our society becomes more and more casual in everyday encounters; people wearing their pajamas out in public, or wearing sweat pants to the opera and calling strangers by their first names instead of, ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ visits to holy places (and this includes your local Orthodox temple) can easily become places where etiquette faux pas abound and flat out rude behavior may be acknowledge, by the offender themselves although not corrected, while the offender is in the midst of said behavior.
Before you head out to the local monastery, here are some things to keep in mind that will make your intrusion into the quiet lives of those within the hollowed walls easier for the monks and nuns you visit to endure. If you are not in a place in your Orthodox journey to where you can submit yourself to all of these rules, please refrain from visiting any monastery until you can be respectful enough to fully submit.
Dress appropriately. Long skirts and closed toed shoes, ladies. Also, headcoverings are mandatory as are long sleeves and high necks on your collars. Men, wear slacks not shorts and closed toed shoes. Long sleeve shirts, please. also for men and women, please no printed t-shirts with offensive words. Remember, just because it doesn’t offend you doesn’t necessarily mean it is not offensive to those around you.
BE QUIET! Speak in low tones. Think golf tournament announcer and then try to speak in softer tones than they do. 2b. SILENCE YOUR CELL PHONE. There is nothing more important going on in your life than what is going on around you when you are in the presence of God.
Call before you go to the monastery to see if your visit is coming at a good time for the residents of the monastic community.
Bring gifts; leave money. Monasteries run on outside support as well as what they can sell. many raise and grow their own food but they still need cash to pay their utility bills just like you do. On a side note; in December of 2016, I wrote an article; Leave Your Protestantism at the Door. It was originally intended for the protestant convert new to Orthodoxy but after a conversation with the Mother at the monastery, I’m addressing it to former protestants who find themselves in leadership and or priestly roles in Orthodox Churches. When I was a protestant, I sat through MANY sermons on tithing. One main themes was’ give bread where you’re fed’. Okay… for an Orthodox Christian, that can also mean tithing to a monastery, not just to church. You see, the bible never states to which institution one is to tithe, only that we are to tithe. The Lord may, and often does, move a perosn to tithe to a monastery. Monasteries, as I said, are a foreign concept to protestants so we may not always understand how important of a role they play in the development of a Christian’s spiritual life. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT PARISHIONERS SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL MONASTERY AS MUCH AS THEY CAN!! Go to the monastery on work days and help out. Go when it’s not a work day and help however you’re asked. But whenever you go to the monastery, LEAVE SOME MONEY WITH THEM WHEN YOU LEAVE! Go with the intent to give a financial blessing. If there is a bookstore, buy something. You don’t always have to buy books off the internet. Call ahead and ask if you can bring any food or supplies. Be a blessing, not a burden.
Be obedient. Do what your told and ask permission always.
make sure your children are well behaved enough to be in a monastic setting. Many children are not taught to be quiet and respectful these days. parents let them get away with much too much. Churches and monasteries are holy places. Children learn how to behave in special settings from their parents. it begins by praying at home and making sure children understand that this is something different… something special. Children want to please those around them, especially their parents and they are eager to learn. Help them fit in a to be welcomed in new settings by teaching them how to behave properly right at home. Set a side a prayer time with your children where they must be quiet. In crease the time they must be quiet and SIT STILL. Reward and punish as appropriate.
Do not touch the monks or nuns. (I did this today and learned it’s a MAJOR no-no to hug a nun!) oops!
Don’t stay too long. Remember, monks and nuns live where they live to serve God, live in peace and quiet and to pray (they are even praying for you!). So make sure you do not take up too much of their time when you visit.
You may have come from a protestant background but that doesn’t mean your mind must stay there. Lay people as well as priests must put aside their protestant ways and fully embrace Orthodoxy if it is to work in their lives as it is intended. If you became an Orthodox Christian to ‘fix’ the Orthodox system, you’ve come into it for all the wrong reasons. You will most likely fail as an Orthodox Christian and if you’re in leadership, you will also fail your parishioners, as well as the monastery your church is supposed to be supporting.
When converting from Protestantism to Orthodoxy, I decided I would be, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. I would embrace it fully or not even bother. You cannot serve two masters. Trying to be a Protestant Orthodox Christian will not work. Your attempts at ‘kicking at the goads’ is not going to change a system that is over two thousand years old. They have come across tougher opposition than American Protestants… and won. Time and again they have won.
Visit the monasteries, tithe where the LORD tells you to tithe and be at peace with your decision no matter what opposition you face.