Posted by: Shawn Ragan | January 8, 2009

Waiting…and taking the next step

Two and a half years ago, as a Protestant pastor, I first stepped into an Eastern Orthodox Church.  That moment was a defining moment for me, for while I did not know exactly what it was, I knew there was something there…something I had been looking for.

In retrospect now, I see that much more clearly.  All of the various stages of my journey, the different steps I took, the lessons I learned, all of it led to this place.  The more I came to the historic Christian Church, the more I visited the Apostolic Faith, the more I knew.  Questions abounded, but with time the questions became less important.  They were answered or consumed by the magnaminoty of the Faith.

Somewhere along that journey, I knew, not just in my mind but in my very being, that I was home…that if this was not it, if it was not the Apostolic Faith, then there was none…there was no where to go from here.  Come what may, I was finally home…finally to the place I had longed for since I was a young boy reading the Gospels late at night in my bed.  Praise be to God for that.

My children all intuitively, just in their being and nature, saw the truth of what we saw…they were far ahead of me in all of this…they were ready to come to the Church before I was…

My wife, Tori, on the other hand, wanted no part of it.  She had not grown up in a Christian home, and everything in her Christian jounrey had been pushed upon her.  Here she was, a pastor’s wife…  She was done with church altogether.  Some bad experiences at our previous church left her wanting nothing to do with church.  And the only place she did not want to be more than at the church we pastored was the Orthodox church.

Slowly, though, she met the people.  She saw things in the kids.  She eventually began to come to church…once in a while.

I was finishing my last few months as pastor of the Protestant church I was at, and I had all sorts of schedules and ideas in my mind.  I was leaving the pastorate and that church in June, and I wanted to become a catechumen in July.

Tori was not ready…was not even really wanting to go to church at all…

We, the kids and I, contemplated becoming catechumens without her.  My kids were anxious, as was I, to take the next step.

Fr. Mark, hieromonk, one of my dear spiritual fathers in Twin Falls, had a different perspective.  He said to wait for my wife…to drop all my schedules and plans, and to take this as an opportunity to crucify my self-will.  He told me this was an opportunity to love my wife, to show patience, and to put her before me.  My schedules, my plans had to leave.  Hard, but necessary.  As usual, he spoke the truth.

Fr. Mark, our priest and a man who has had a profound impact on Tori with the love and humility that is so apparent in him, came to talk to Brendan.  Wait for your family, he said.  After talking with him, Brendan, too, began to practice patience.

In August, Fr. Patrick, another of my spiritual fathers and guides in this journey…the man who first introduced me to this ancient and beautiful faith…affirmed that it was good that we wait.  He told me he saw Tori’s caution and her taking time and moving slowly as representative of the time that we all needed…that we would be ready when she was ready.  Again, hard…I saw myself as being ready before I even left the pastorate.  And again, he spoke truth.

A few months ago, Tori said she was ready to start attending Vespers each week as a family.  Our journey with her took its next step.  We did our best to walk patiently with her.  While we waited with eager anticipation, we tried our best not to press the issue…to give her the time and space.  I could see the change in her…the change in her attitude towards Christianity, towards church, towards the ancient Faith.  She spoke positively about the Faith, about the Church, about it all…

On Christmas Eve, Tori told me she was ready to start attending the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning regularly.  Last week was our first Divine Liturgy as a family in this part of our journey…where Tori was going (as I mentioned in a previous post, she had attended services sporadically before, but then she always came because I wanted her to more than on her own – this was her decision, her own).

At church that day, she said she was ready.  For what, I asked.  She was ready.

We spoke to our priest, Fr. Mark, and asked his blessing for our family to become catechumens, which he graciously gave.  This Sunday, before the Divine Liturgy, Lord willing, my family and I will take our next step in the Holy Church…we will enter the catechumenate.

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Responses

  1. Glory to God for all things! Thanks for sharing your journey, which in so many ways mirrors my own. We each walk down this path of salvation, and it is beautiful to see how you patiently led your family and waited so that you all could enter down this path together. May God bless you and your family as you progress toward Christ and the Holy Church.

  2. Glory be to God!! I’m so happy to hear that your patience has finally paid off and that as a family you guys will be attending Liturgy together.

    If you would, please keep me and my in your prayers. She’s really hestitant about Orthodoxy as well and it tears me apart that we cannot go to church together.

  3. Just stumbled on your blog through a chain of links from my WordPress dashboard! I found the story of your patient waiting to be inspiring, and I’m happy for your whole family. It sounds like you’ve got some good spiritual counsel on this journey. My prayer is that the catechumenate will be a time of peace and growth for you all. Many years!


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