Reception into the Orthodox Churches

This is a simple and open question, and I ask it here because I’ve had trouble finding an answer via various internet searches. :slight_smile:

Under normal circumstances, and in the United States, how would a baptized and confirmed Catholic join one of the Orthodox Churches?

I suspect that the following might apply to such a person:

Those [non-Orthodox Christians] whose hierarchy has apostolic succession and whose baptism and chrismation (or confirmation) was performed in their church, [become Orthodox] *by means of repentance and repudiation of heresy, following instruction in Orthodoxy. *This group includes persons of the Roman Catholic and Armenian confessions. If it happens that they were not chrismated or confirmed in their churches or if there is any question about this, they are anointed with the Holy Chrism.

If this is representative of at least one Orthodox Church in the US, is it a universal norm? If not quite universal, which Churches would take such an approach?

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation…** Whosoever**, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. (Lumen Gentium, 14)

Why do you want to change, (f you do?). If you are a Latin Catholic you already have an apostolic church with valid sacraments. If you want what some people call more reverent liturgy, you could go to a parish that uses the extrordinary rite of the Mass.

As an Orthodox Christian who would be an Eastern Catholic if an EC church was within reasonable distance, believe me the grass is not greener on the Eastern side. The Orthodox have plenty of problems of their own. And lots of disagreements, they are very divided. Some Orthodox do not even recognize other Orthodox as being Orthodox. They even use different calendars. When I was coming into the Orthodox church I had to be baptized and chrismated once more.

I would recommend staying where you already are, instead of moving from the skillet to the fire.

It varies by Church and even varies by bishops within the same Church. Some would receive by confession and others by chrismation.

I was Roman Catholic, but never received confirmation. I was recieved by Chrismation.

I would also point out that any Orthodox bishop is a successor to the Apostles and has the power to bind and loose. However they choose to receive the heterodox is their prerogative.

According to traditional Orthodox thinking on the matter, baptisms performed outside of the church are not ‘true’ baptisms according to exactitude (Ακρίβεια). But according to the judgment of the bishop as steward of the Church, such baptisms are acceptable by oikonomia, which means that the grace of the Church will perfect whatever was lacking in the sacraments performed outside of the Church.

The practice in America of most Orthodox Christians is to receive by oikonomia those baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (excluding a few non-mainstream groups), chrismating them. ROCOR is a notable exception, normally receiving converts by akriveia, baptizing them.

I was received by confession of faith , it is up to the bishop.

Thank you all for your replies. :slight_smile:

Forgive me for singling one person out, but Cavaradossi, your reply was especially helpful

… and thank you for your encouragement to remain Catholic. Be assured that I most certainly shall, and am currently curious as to how the Orthodox view Catholic Sacraments.

Actually, I was chrismated from Episcopal to OCA. But when the OCA parish was closed I was churchless. I found a ROCOR church and they rebaptised me when I was already Orthodox. Why I have no clue. :confused:

But ROCOR did not consider OCA or any church that did not use the Julian calendar to be really Orthodox. Later I found out that ROCOR church was linked to the Blanco monastery that was later closed in a huge scandal. It has left a bad taste in my mouth about a lot of Orthodox.

Orthodox churches are rare here in Baptist and Fundamentalist country here in Texas. Next I went to an Antiochian church that was originally part of the Evangelical Orthodox mission, I don’t have an Evangelical or Fundamentalist bone in my body. And I am not really happy there. The priest is a former Episcopalian, and the Deacon a former LCMS Lutheran.

I have considered the Latin Catholics and even a High Episcopal church.

There is no doubt that ROCOR could have had, in the past, some extreme acts occurring under its aegis before its canonical regularization with the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia (the history of ROCOR is quite convoluted, to say the least). Today ROCOR does not, as an official policy, baptize those who have been received by chrismation. Firstly this is true because the practice of the Russian mother Church, under whom ROCOR now exists as an autonomous church, is to receive some converts by confession and others by chrismation, converts which ROCOR itself would simply baptize. Secondly this is true on a sacramental and ecclesiological basis because the reception of chrismation is regarded to have perfected the heterodox baptism, making any iterative baptism unnecessary and even blasphemous.

ROCOR certainly made a mistake there, accepting that monastery into its ranks. There is a reason why one needs to bring in experienced monastics in order to cultivate local monasticism, instead of accepting self-made monastics like Sam Greene (aka Father Benedict). But to ROCOR’s credit, when it became clear that the monk so-named Benedict, had committed indecent acts, ROCOR appropriately ordered for the monastery to be disbanded and for the other monks (who presumably were not guilty of misconduct) to transfer to other monasteries.

It is a shame that you do not live close to Houston, where Orthodox parishes are plentiful. Though if you live anywhere near Blanco, Tx, perhaps you could check out Holy Archangels near Kendalia. The Hegumen, Geronta Dositheos, has been an Athonite monk since his teenage years, and though they live a rather austere way of life, they are always most generous and hospitable (this is true too, of another Ephraimite monastery, St. Paraskevi, in Washington, Tx). I am, of course, not encouraging you to adapt a guru mentality around monasteries and their hegumenoi (indeed, even the monastics discourage this, as even the men with the holiest of lives are still yet but human), but it seems that you have been given a rather negative experience of Orthodox monasticism in the past, and it might be beneficial for you just to go and see what more traditional monastic communities are like, if you have the time to do so.

That is also an option, which in the canons is referred to as submitting a libellus. It is not quite so commonly exercised, but it is still an option, traditionally reserved for Nestorians and those who dissented from the council of Chalcedon.

Carvardossi (pardon my misspelling I had a stroke). I live in far west Texas on the NM border. Much closer to Albuquerque than Houston. I feel pretty isolated here. At the time I lived in Odessa, TX and the ROCOR church was 290 miles away in what amounted to a ghost town, Mercury TX. I had to drive there before the stroke Saturday, go to Vespers and Divine Liturgy and drive back
Sunday. The Mercury church closed with the death of Fr. Patrick. Then whole thing was quite an ordeal and of course I could not do it again even were the church still open, with my present state of health.
That’s the problem living way out here, Orthodox churches don’t last. The Antiochian church is on it’s last legs as well. No one can afford to build a temple and they have always used rented locations, first Presbyterian and now Latin Catholic. The OCA mission used seven locations before it was closed by bishop Dimitri.

This seems rather odd, i.e., shouldn’t there be uniformity when receiving converts of the same faith in the same jurisdiction at the very least.

Why? Odd to you maybe. The bishop is the bishop. In the absence of a synodal decision it’s his prerogative.

No, it’s not his prerogative, i.e., we have Tradition which guides us, i.e., one only has to look at previous councils of the first millennium to see that converts of the same faith were received according to a specific rite.

Of course it is his prerogative. He is a successor to the Apostles is he not? Given the authority from God to bind an loose. There is no greater prerogative on earth. There are countless canons that are not followed strictly today by either Orthodox or Catholics. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit some things are accepted as near universally binding (very few things actually are aside from the dogmas of the faith) and some are not. There has never been a universal practice for receiving the heterodox into the Church. History bears that out quite clearly.

Yes, he is a successor to the apostle but he must still follow Church Tradition, i.e., there are councils which do delineate and require conformity, i.e., converts cannot be received into the Church wily nily:

The Ecumenical Councils, the Second and especially the Sixth, directed by their decisions, who should be received into Orthodoxy by means of baptism, who — by means of chrismation and who — by means of repentance, the repudiation of heresy and confession of the Orthodox Faith. By this it piously maintained the rule about the non-repetition of a valid baptism even if it was performed outside the Orthodox Church.

The 7th Canon of the second ecumenical council:

Those heretics who come over to Orthodoxy and to the society of those who are saved we receive according to the prescribed rite and custom: we receive Arians, Macedonians, Novatianists who call themselves ‘pure and better,’ Quatrodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, as well as Appolinarians on condition that they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, and then they should be marked with the seal, that is, anointed with chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. And as they are marked with the seal, we say, ‘seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, Montanists, who are called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who commit other abominable things, and [those belonging to] any other heresies — for there are many of them here, especially among the people coming from the country of the Galatians, — all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks *. Accordingly, on the first day we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcise them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus we do catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.”[27*

There was a prescribed rite and custom upon receiving certain heretics into the fold of the Church, i.e., Arians, Macedonians, Quatrodecimans . . . etc., were chrismated, while others were baptized, i.e., the Sabellians, Montanists, and Eunomians.

p.s. I am using a Russian Orthodox source.

They don’t require conformity. Some things are articles of faith and other things are simply canons (guidelines). Bishops are well within their authority to choose to adhere to those guidlines strictly (akrevia) or loosely (oikonomia).

And there still is a prescribed rite among the Russians. There are many canons in the Russian Church regulating reception of converts. There is much uniformity among the Russians. That still doesn’t mean every canon must be adhered to strictly.

If all of the canons must be ahdered to strictly then a number of your popes are in trouble.

Canon XLV of the Holy Apostles:

“Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed.”

That presents quite a little gordian knot then, because both the Penthekte and the Seventh Ecumenical Synod promulgated canons which simultaneously demanded that all heretics be baptized and that certain heretics be received not by baptism but by chrismation. Being as it is, that a bishop cannot simultaneously follow both, he must therefore have the ability to choose which canons to exercise, that is, whether he should exercise akriveia or oikonomia.

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