Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breakfast in the morning ~ 35th visit in the evening!

click on the link to here an audio message before you read the blog post......

A Colorado omelette - That's what Father Gary ordered.

Me? I went with my favorite Swiss Cheese Omelette. Now, I have no idea what a Colorado Omellette is but I do know that food was not the primary reason for our get together. We were there to discuss spiritual matters - specifically, what obstacles there were for me to become Orthodox.

IHOP - yummmmm
photo by Robert Rowe, used under the creative commons license. Check out more of his work at:

I arrived early and waited outside the IHOP. I remember that I almost missed the exit on the parkwary and the words of Lavenna, a reader and commenterof of my blog, came to mind. "Remember, the closer you get, the more the demons will try to interfere. So beware of obstacles and keep pushing forward! Now had I missed the exit, I would have found the place alright but I think it would have put me out of sorts.Nice try, demons! Finally, Father Gary showed up and I noticed he was just sitting in the car but it turns out he was just finishing up a phone call. As he came out of the car, I noticed he had his collar on (looking like a Roman Catholic priest) and, of course, wearing black. He immediately embraced me and said, "Glory to Jesus Christ." I did not give the proper liturgical response (what is it, by the way?) and I commented on how he was "in uniform." He chuckled.

After we ordered, we got right down to it. I said I wanted to be Orthodox, believed it was the "right Church" but I would alienate my family, who showed no interest whatsoever. They were happy protestants. The funny thing is, I kinda knew what he was going to say. First of all, he wasn't going to tell me what to do. He said, it is possible for me to stay where I am since I am already in a "faith community" or it is possible that I become a catechumen. It all depends. It would be different if my family were not believers at all, then the choice would be clear. I must look after my salvation.

I went on to talk about my journey, on how I mistook a "call to the ministry" for a genuine desire to get closer to Christ. So I perused it within the "Church of the Nazarene" and longer ago within the Lutheran Church. Both times, my wife did not like the idea, only because she saw my life and how, it did not live up to what a minister ought to be. Both times, doors were shut, I think by the Mercy of God. So it is possible that my wife sees this "Orthodox thing" as just one more thing I am going through.

Father Gary encouraged me to talk with my wife about this and see where she stands. It just comes down to that. I know my wife. She will say, "Do what you want to do, you always do anyway." (Yes, I have acted unilaterally in the past) But I don't want it to be like that. I want her to understand that this is really, I believe, the path I need to take.

Father Gary and I also talked whether or not Bishop Michael would recognize my Roman Catholic Baptism. (I also was baptized in the Assembly of God -a believer's baptism). He believed my RC baptism would suffice. We also talked about the catechumen process. I told him I would be okay with years, if necessary as it was in the early church and, that, believe it or not, I was in no rush, as long as I knew I was on path to becoming Orthodox. He said, probably not that long. It depended upon my current knowledge. Fr Gary said, a long processes will not necessarily help me because, there is a sense that we are never really ready for Orthodoxy. There is always room for improvement. There will always be a struggle and, that is a good thing. Fr Gary says we would meet one on one, maybe go over a a tape series from the 1980's and that would be a good discussion starter. So while I am willing to go through instruction for years, it'll probably be considerably less than that.

We also discussed evangelism, we talked about his conversion, we talked about the Eagle project he is working on with his son right after this breakfast and Fr Gary offered to meet with my wife (along with his wife, too to make it less awkward) but I don't see a formal "meeting" happening. Perhaps I can invite Fr. Gary and his wife, along with Deacon Ken and his wife over to the house for some coffee and cake or something. (Although to get two clergy to get their calendar's synced might be difficult.)

It was a very good discussion and I am impressed with Fr Gary's pastoral care. He clearly is a shepherd to his flock. I also had been thinking "will we say grace before meals?" Well, as soon as our omlettes arrived, he said, "Let's give thanks" and he crossed himself (and I did too) and he offered a short prayer, almost protestant sounding, asking to bless the hands that prepared it, ect. I am glad we didn't chant a prayer. That might have been awkward. :)

We parted and I thanked him saying, "God willing, I will see you tonight at Vespers."

Speaking of Vespers, my 35th visit that evening was very good. The Icon project seems to be over and all the scaffolding is down. In fact, here is what the front looks like.

Nice, eh?

After Vespers, I did talk to Deacon Ken for a bit and he wanted to know how the meeting went. We spoke briefly about it and we also talked about his upcoming ordination. He is really getting excited about it. I told him I hoped I could be there for it. Ken said that would be great.

So, it was quite a day. I will keep you all informed and, please, keep me in your prayers.


  1. When someone says "Glory to Jesus Christ!", the usual response is "Glory forever!". I find it interesting that you felt you already knew what he would say when you saw him - this happens to me often. I think this probably shows the truth of Christ's saying when 2 or more are together, there He is - just being together in Christ's name already consoles us with His presence, which is what we really seek.

  2. maria,
    thanks for the liturgical protocol instruction :)
    Basically, the advice Fr Gary gave me i.e., talk to your wife and make a decision on what "you can live with", is something I knew I had to do already...It seems to fit in with the Non-pushy approach of Orthodoxy.

  3. I'm really enjoying reading about your journey Jim.

    At one time I was in the same position. My family and I were faithful Nazarenes until I found Orthodoxy. They continued to attend the Nazarene Church while I attended and EOC. I still went to the Nazarene Church with them from time to time just to spend time with the family. After a while, they realized how important my new faith was to me and they would come with me on Sundays.

    My family knows how important faith and doctrine are to me and before long my daughter (10 years old at the time) made the decision to become a catechumen and was eventually baptised into the faith. Since my wife isn't much on doctine and church history, she was the type which had to be loved into the church by the other members. The more she got to know them, the closer she got to the church. And then, by the Grace of God, she warmed up enough to be converted as well.

    My teenage son is another story. He ended up getting to know the other young people in Church and eventually went to an Orthodox summer camp(which he absolutely loved). This was very influential to him and he recently became a Catechumen.

    Everyone's journey is different and I wish you all the best in yours. I never thought my wife would ever come to Orthodoxy, but what is impossible for man is possible with God. Keep plugging away with Orthodoxy, but continue to support your family as well. It's a delicate balancing act, but show them what it means to be Orthodox by your actions and God will do the rest.

    I wish you all the best,

  4. Nektarios,

    Thank you for your encouraging story!

    My kids are older but, as you say, everyone's story is different.

    blessings on your and your family.

  5. Jim, You continue in my daily prayers. Keep up the good work. Our Lord will take care of the details. Bill

  6. bill,
    thank you for your prayers. I like what you say about the Lord taking care of the details. I can happily say that, in the past He has done that, so I guess I can trust Him to do so in the future!