Posted by: Shawn Ragan | April 25, 2009

Entering the Church

It will be almost three years from the time I first set foot in an Eastern Orthodox Church…a date when my life began down a different path.

For Tori, it will be almost two years from the time she first set foot in the Church – at a time when she was still opposed to us even looking at Orthodoxy – and a time when she had no intent on even being Christian, and certainly not Orthodox.

Just before Pascha of this year, Tori and I set down with our priest, Fr. Mark, and told him we wanted to set the date for our entrance into Christ’s Holy Church.  This August, on the Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord, our whole family will enter the Church through Holy Baptism and Chrismation.

A year and a half ago, when I knew this was the path that the kids and I were on, it was a struggle for me.  Tori was clearly not on this path (at least that was our perception at the time).  I worried that either we would enter without her, or we would end up waiting a very long time…  Tori, at times, felt like she “should” enter, just because she knew we all wanted to.  But she held back – knowing this was a serious decision and that she could not do it for us.  It had to be for her.

Thank God for the wise priests he put around us.  Fr. Mark, Fr. Patrick, and Hieromonk Mark all advised me to not pressure Tori and to not even look at it like she was “holding us back.”  Instead, we should look at it as an opportunity for self-sacrifice and to show love to her by being patient and by not pushing her.  This was counter to the “evangelism” classes I had taken as a Protestant pastor, where we were supposed to “close the deal.”  But again, this is one more example of how Eastern Christianity is not Western Christianity (I say that generically).

But it was precisely the love and patience that we showed Tori that allowed her to explore this Holy Faith on her own terms, and to come to love it and embrace it.  She has led the way for us, bringing us into the Church as catechumens, and even being the one to say that it was time to sit down with Fr. Mark and set the date for Holy Baptism.

Glory be to God!


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