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ABOUT CONVERSION TO ORTHODOXY OF THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS Fr. Dan Bădulescu

In the magazine Scara (March 2000) was published an excellent article written by hierom. Damascene Christensen1, a disciple of Father Seraphim Rose. There are described, among other things, other traps of those Westerners who convert to Orthodoxy coming from Catholicism, Protestantism and various new age spirituality. The translator, Constantin Făgeţan, tells us that: "The author, Fr Hieromonk Damascene, a disciple of Father Seraphim Rose, brings before us the testimony of his personal experience, a very topical issue for young people from Romania: the relationship between Christian mysticism, as how is it understood in Orthodoxy, and Oriental mystical experiences of religious followers marched heavily in the West.

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The Orthodox Word, vol. 32, nr. 5/190, sept.-oct. 1996, pp. 208-228

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Father Damascene exposes with great spiritual insight and expertise the problems of those arrived to Orthodoxy passing through Eastern religions, while making much needed distinctions between types of oriental and mystical experience of Eastern Christianity. We believe that this direct testimony of a spiritual father who discovered the treasures of Orthodoxy at the other end of the world will be very useful also to many young Romanian who wander away from the treasure buried right in the yard of their house." So, we'll further look to our situation of the Romanians (more or less young) who are baptized Orthodox initially, but had lost in early childhood, or at least in teen age, the contact with Orthodox life. First, they cease to be what is called the newest "practicing Christians", i.e. not coming to church, no more praying, no fasting, no more confess, take Eucharist, and ultimately lose the faith. Such people were representative of a majority position among those born after the years 1940 to 1950, people educated and (de-) formed in the atheist Communist system. During teen age and youth, they - and speak from direct knowledge of the facts! - have reached different degrees of atheism, or at least religious indiferedentism with maybe some cultural concerns, and in student period, some inclinations towards various spiritualities. This of course fits astrology, yoga, UFO, tarot, numerology, anthroposophy, etc. Cases in which there were converting to Catholicism are practically zero, sometimes were conversions to some neo-Protestant sects. The moment 1989 to 1990 was no doubt a return to many of the above, together with those who had gone to anything in particular but just lingered in unbelief and indifference.

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Fr. Raphael Noica resuming Fr. Sofrony, propagated the idea of the "Orthodox nature" of man. This nature is of course that desired and planned nature initiated by God, but that did not preserve as such, but, after the fall of the parents, we have what is called "the fallen nature". This nature should be returned by "metanoia" - repentance – of human, and divine grace – to that Orthodox nature that once saved from the old man is conducted by God on the supreme way, that of union with God, deification. If we think that it is so, let's see what happens to our concrete natures before repentance. Of course this kind of teaching will talk somehow in general, didactical, whereas specific cases should be treated by each personal with his confessor, different levels, differences, gradations and variations. In this educational purposes, we believe we can say that at least in the last 100 years, many Romanian born and with Orthodox baptism of infant, suffer to varying degrees by those spiritual deformities and pathologies that manifest themselves fully and openly in the West. Namely, even when let's say that somehow become practitioners, each at his level and place, we can not say that we have divested the spirits who could be called: Catholic (papistic, Scholastic procedurist, casuistic, semiorigenist, legalistic, etc..), (neo-) Protestant (sectarian, rationalist, anarchist, Pietist, reductionist), Judaic (materialist, Kabbalist, Talmudic, etc.), Pagan/hellenic (materialistic, hedonistic, magical, divination, etc.) In this point we can stop this article and give the praiseful priestly indication that everyone to analyze his reactions and concerns, how they relate to church life and even the usual, and almost promise that you will not be late to find the spiritual issues that arise speech. For indeed, we were told to "try the spirits"2, of course, each according to our limited power. Let's not forget that in this approach we are not like an exam in which each must be completely isolated from others (do not copy, or tell to another!), but instead, the Church is sobornost, Communion, where "we bear one another's burdens"3 and even "confess the sins to one another." In this seen communion comes unseen Christ, the Mother, the angels and the saints, so that we can hope to complete in the first place the "diagnosis". Once cleared at this stage we can go along with the doctor – the Confessor - to step the spiritual therapy, surgery and recovery...

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1 John 4:1 Galatians, 6:2.

4 Finally, we reread this small article: how plain and simple it sounds! But let us not get drunk with cold water and dream with open eyes, in real life this process above means blood, sweat and tears, in a word cross! Failures and misses, stumbling, wanderings and deception are everywhere, and resignation lurks behind (philosophy recommended by the Roman Catholic!), fatalism (especially eastern philosophical attitude) or even despair. And here there is no choice and alternative options: it was not another way to resurrection than crucifixion and death on the cross (of course seen in the spiritual sense, and only exceptionally - the martyrs - in flesh)!

So, as the Saint Silouan the Athonite said, to keep our mind in hell and despair not, because "what with men it is impossible (i.e. repentance, salvation and deification), is possible with God!"4

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Mark 10:27.

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