On Monday night, Debbie and I met with Fr Patrick and Kh Christina to let them know that our family is ready to become catechumens. For those unfamiliar with the process, catechumens are those whom the Orthodox Church receives as now preparing to join the Orthodox Church through baptism or chrismation. Up to this point, we have been recognized as inquirers, those interested in and learning about the Orthodox Church. But this coming Sunday morning, we turn a major corner in our journey into Orthodoxy as we officially enter the catechumenate.
Fr Patrick told us that the major distinction between inquirers and catechumens is a shift from information to formation. As inquirers we have been gathering information about the Orthodox Church. Now that we have decided to bring our family and lives into Orthodoxy, the process changes to preparing us to enter and engage in the full life of the Church. Our preparation during this time will focus primarily on preparing for confession and receiving our first Eucharist.
Why these two area? First, confession prepares us to fear the Lord and to enter into a life of humility. The foundation to spiritual growth is authentic repentance and humility before God. Confession is the sacrament and spiritual discipline that will help us learn by grace this valuable trait.
Second, the Eucharist is THE center of worship and life. It is THE moment when we truly have communion with the living God, taking his actual presence into our bodies and thus becoming his Body in the world.
So after spending nine months at St Peter the Apostle Antiochian Orthodox Church, we are ready to take the plunge into Holy Orthodoxy. In many ways, what our family has been doing can be likened to the journey a couple takes toward marriage. Our time as inquirers was like dating, spending lots of time getting to know both Orthodoxy and the people at St Peter’s. This Sunday, we will be “engaged.” Having gotten to know Orthodoxy and St Peter’s these several months, we are convinced that this is where Christ has been leading our family. And like any newly engaged couple, we’re excited, but also a bit nervous. As Fr Patrick told us Monday night, Orthodox Christianity is invasive (as authentic Christianity should be). It fills and transforms every part of our lives. As we anticipate our new life as Orthodox Christians, we still have many questions that will be answered further along in our journey. But we know we have made the right decision and look forward to our full reception into the Orthodox Church in the next several months through baptism or chrismation.