Trying to help my Russian Orthodox mom. A few questions.

To make a very long story short, I am an adul catholic convert being baptized RO in my moms hometown but never attending a service. My mom is getting older and starting to consider going back to church. There happens to be a small Russian Orthodox church near her house but the priest terrifies her:eek: (she is elderly and quirky) there is also a large Greek Orthodox church a little further away. My first question is how similar are these churches, do you think she will feel out of place?
My second question is in the Orthodox faith do you believe in the true presence in the Eucharist? If she goes back to church will she have to go to confession. She doesn’t think so she thinks everyone can take communion and it doesn’t matter if you are in mortal sin.
Can someone please enlighten me???

thank you!

It is my understanding that the Orthodox very much believe in the Real Presence. :slight_smile:

Indeed they do, as the Divine Liturgy makes obvious.

You are catholic, am I right?
***She ABSOLUTELY NEEDS to go to confession. HAS TO! ***
All Catholics/ Orthodox NEED to go to confession and confess all their sins, to the best of their ability, if in a state of mortal sin. Receiving Christ in the Eucharist, while in mortal sin is in itself another mortal sin.
Very much so Orthodox accept that Jesus is the Eucharist.
I will pray for her.

Have you talked to her about Catholicism?

I don’t know how to respond to this, only a priest can give an appropriate answer to your mother’s spiritual concerns, but as far as I know she would need to go to confession before receiving the Holy Eucharist. The priest is very unlikely to give the Sacred Species to anyone whom he does not know, and usually these guys know who comes to vespers and confession.

The important thing is to reconnect. If she just wants to visit liturgy a few times first, that might help her get familiar with the environment, most parishes have a coffee social after liturgy that is very nice and she can meet some of the members.

Personally, I think if she was a Russian Orthodox (or OCA) as a younger person she will be more comfortable going there, but theologically there is no difference between these and the Greek or Serbian or Bulgarian etc., mixing it up is not unheard of. If she would be willing to talk to the Greek Orthodox priest I am sure he will make time for her, it might allay her concerns before she decides what move to make.

Given some of the things you’ve shared, I do not think you mom would be comfortable in a Greek Orthodox church setting, given the inherent cultural differences.

Speaking from an Eastern Christian perspective (as an Eastern Catholic), I can very much assure you that Eastern Christians believe in the Real Presence. In fact, your mom may indeed be aware of the old custom among Slavic peoples of silently reciting “My Lord and my God!” (the affirmation of St. Thomas, after feeling the wounds of our risen Lord) before receiving the Holy Eucharist. This is a very Eastern Christian reminder of the Real Presence.

While it is commonly held among Eastern Christians the reception of the Eucharist should be regular, it is also well understood that one should not receive the Blessed Sacrament unless properly disposed, that it to say, are not in a state of mortal sin. Of course, it is up to the individual to examine their own conscience.

Hope this helps somewhat, and we’ll keep you mom in our prayers!

There is some cultural stress between the Greeks and Russians in the Orthodox universe. In a town near where I live there is no Russian Orthodox parish, but there is a Greek parish. There is also a Ukrainian Catholic parish. A number of people of slavic heritage, immigrants or second generation, go the the Catholic Church, because they can’t get along or feel not accepted at the Greek Orthodox parish. One woman, raised Russian Orthodox converted to Catholicism due to the friction. Others never formally converted, but participate at the Catholic parish.

This may not be the case for your Russian mother in the Greek parish in your town, but it ethnicity is something to consider.

The same is true of Catholics regarding ethnic prejudice. In a city near me there is a Catholic parish attended mostly by Poles. The city saw some immigration from Croatia. The Croats gravitated to the Polish church and the Poles did not like them furriners barging in on their parish.

What a great way to honor the Savior.

Would she be allowed to take communion and go to confession in a Catholic church?
I know she would not convert.

Yes, but this would technically be an act of schism from Orthodoxy. Out of respect for the rules of Orthodoxy, I would not encourage for her to do it. Send her to the Greek Orthodox parish if she feels uncomfortable with the Russian one. If the congregation is an older one, the chances are that it is more Americanized, meaning that it will do more things in English, as less and less of its parishioners natively speak Greek (a good thing).

As has been said, I would be surprised if she would allow to commune without first going to confession. When you say “Russian Orthodox” I’m not sure if you mean OCA, or ROCOR, or one of the very few actual Moscow Patriarch Churches that still exist in North America (of course I’m assuming you’re in North America), but the OCA requires confession at least once a year, and strongly encourages much more. ROCOR, as far as I’ve seen, can require it as often as once every time one goes to take communion.

She should understand that we do not have open Communion, and one can’t simply walk in, take communion, and leave.

As for whether she’ll be more comfortable in the Greek or Russian parish, it really depends on the parish. The doctrine and beliefs are the same, even the liturgy used in both is the same (though quite likely in different languages), but both will have an emphasis on their own heritage. Depending on the parish this emphasis can be quite weak and easily ignored, or very strong and in your face.

However there is no harm in attending both, and she could talk to the priest of the Greek Parish. I’ve found they tend to be quite honest about the appeal of their parishes to those who might not be of the same ethnic group. He might be able to advise her on whether she’ll be fine there, or if she’ll certainly want to go to the Russian parish.
Given what you’ve said, I doubt she’d have any cultural issues with the Russian parish, but smaller parishes are like small towns, and everyone knows everyone, so if she wants to join without attracting notice, that will be impossible.

From personal expierince it seems to me that some Greeks are slightly unfriendly to xenoi, and others aren’t it just depends on the parish. Greeks go to Holy Communion less often due to many priest not trained as confessors in Greece.

Here in baptist land orthodox missions come and gone. I was chrismated in OCA and the mission closed. Then I was rebaptised in ROCOR and the priest there reposed.

Now I’m in Anticochian chruch,this one is building a temple, has it’s own deacon, surely this one will endure.

Thank you for what you are doing to assist your mom in returning to Orthodoxy.

Do you know if the Russian Orthodox priest is married? If so maybe his wife would be more approachable and could assist in connecting your mom there. Or are there any Russian Orthodox monastics “near” you. Even if it were a bit of a distance they maybe also could help with her reconnecting with the Russian Orthodox Church.

If you visit the Greek Orthodox and find it friendly maybe you could try bringing her there. There is so much variation. The Greek Cathedral here has always been welcoming to me, a Catholic, but most of the service is still in Greek.

You might try posting on Byzcath Forum with your location and seeing if anyone there knows clergy in your area who could be helpful.

Your mother can go to confession and receive Eucharist in a Catholic Church, from the Catholic perspective, but really not from the Orthodox perspective, as Cavaradossi has said, especially since there actually are Orthodox Churches in your vicinity. Still an Eastern Catholic priest might assist her in understanding the need for confession and perhaps clarify for her what confession would entail. Sharing the same spirituality and praxis as the Orthodox he would “speak her language” better than would a priest of the Latin Church, I think. She may have had very little and perhaps not very good catechesis is her life in the Church years ago.

You mention that you are now Catholic. That would make you canonically a Russian Catholic since your Baptism and Chrismation was in the Russian Orthodox Church :slight_smile: no matter if you made your profession of faith and confession in a Latin/Roman Catholic parish or some other Eastern Catholic Church. Unfortunately there are only four of our Russian Catholic parishes in the US. If you were near one the priest or deacon there might be able to be helpful.

Here we are in Bright Week with all the riches of Pascha. What a great time to be helping your mom with this! May God bless you in your efforts.

Thank you all! I think you are the friendliest group on CAF! I so appreciate your feedback!

Interesting - the Latin-English pew book for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine Mass) at a parish I’ve been to a few times notes that one should privately pray “My Lord and my God” when the priest elevates the Host during the consecration. Perhaps an ancient common tradition is the root of both practices.

Fascinating! I do hope to attend a “live” EF Mass sometime soon!

Has others have said, she should meet with the Orthodox priest to get answers to her questions. But even before that, I would suggest simply observing a liturgy (if she hasn’t already – from what you said, it sounds like perhaps she is already attending).

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