Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am not alone!

When I sat down with Father Stephan the other day and told him how I felt about the Church, he said that my reaction to my first visit was not unheard of, although it wasn't hugely common.  One person he knew of with a nearly identical story was Bishop Kallistos Ware. Of course there must be many like us, it is just that not many are published. Father Stephan remembered reading Bishop Kallistos' account somewhere. I found an account today, through the splendor of the internet. Below I have quoted it:

Bishop Kallistos: I first came to know the Orthodox Church when I was seventeen years old, just before I was due to go to university. My first contact with Orthodoxy was, in fact, not through reading books and not through meeting, face to face, living Orthodox Christians; my first contact came through attending a church service. That, I think, is the best way to be introduced to the Orthodox Church. We shouldn’t see Orthodoxy just as a set of ideas or teachings. We need to see Orthodoxy as a worshiping community—a community of prayer. I first got to know the Orthodox Church one Saturday evening. By chance or by Divine Providence, I went into the Russian church in London (that particular church has long since been pulled down). The vigil service was in progress. From that moment I felt, “This is where I belong,” even though I couldn’t, of course, understand the service because it was all in Slavonic. I knew enough to realize that this must be an Orthodox church, and what impressed me was the feeling at that service of invisible worshippers. …I had a sense of the participation of the heavenly community in our earthly worship. I felt that we were being taken up into an action much larger than ourselves. I felt a unity between heaven and earth, and when I talk to people who are thinking about becoming Orthodox, I speak of that. They should experience Orthodoxy in this way—a worshiping community in which there is no division between earth and heaven.

It was just amazing to read, what with The Orthodox Way being my first book on the subject.  It is just as I felt- and still do feel. You can read more about our journey on the About Us page here. I have written down some of my 'first visit' impressions on the About St. Nicholas page.

One of these days I want to write about Father Stephan, who I can't even claim I know, but who I feel very endeared to in every possible way.

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