Attempts at Coming to An Understanding of Orthodox Catholic Christianity
No matter where you may go, either to an Orthodox Catholic Christian Church (said with importance), a book, on the internet or elsewise, a seeker to truth may, ?will?, have some difficulty, as a newcomer to Orthodoxy to look for such things on doctrinal theology that is really what many from other backgrounds will be looking for. Some of those things that one may find that are available are unexceptionally Orthodox or mostly so.
But, they are not arranged or detailed in ways that either answer an inquirer's (seeker's) questions or offer him or her the flavor of the Orthodox phronema. Most are far worse, treating Orthodox government and history with misleading Western terminology. That terminology is at war with the aim of acquiring the flavor and prhonema of Holy Orthodoxy: and such topics treated are quite peripheral to that aim.
There are many treatises on Orthodox piety that are very helpful if read with the help of an advisor; but beginners are not ready for some writing of this genre - which can lead to discouragement at one's own failure to attain to the model. This can also be said for those clergy of other backgrounds too!
It can be more than discouraging and often a put-off for such seekers to follow one's own roadmap of what to read.
Interestingly, conversion stories have nevertheless proved more compelling in practice for many seekers than have other writings; and lives of the Saints have inspired more seekers than many a theological treatise. But there must at some early point be a paradigm-shift to a new thought world, a new world of understanding (at least 'grosso modo') what Orthodox Worship and piety are. This is because without that phronema, what is read will not come through the way it should and mean what it should. An individual guiding oneself can fall into serious misunderstandings simply by lacking the first vestiges of the phronema.
Our "TRUE ORTHODOX CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION CENTER" is a beginning place to start, although it will not, of itself, be sufficient.
Interestingly enough, non-Orthodox should never forget that what the words of the Bible, of the Fathers, and of Orthodox prayers mean in the Orthodox paradigm, often mean quite different things in the paradigm they are coming from.
The source materials of the Orthodox phronema are to be found in the prayers of the Church and the Fathers. The phronema greatly depends on meditating on Jesus Christ and the prayers of the Church's services as well as striving to lead a holy life. Hence, few have acquired the phronema in its wholeness; and a fragment can have negative as well as positive value.
A person moving from an alien paradigm to the Orthodox phronema is confronted with a huge difficulty - one that is greater even than what most paradigm shifts are. The dilemma is: To really understand the Fathers, a person needs to have the Orthodox phronema, but acquiring the Ortho - dox phronema requires understanding the Fathers. One has got to address both sides of the dilemma hand-in-hand, preferably with a competent advisor.
Of course, one could do worse in introducing a college college course on Orthodoxy than adopting a plan of prayer and meditation from certain select books or writings.
W.O.T.I. (Western Orthodox Theological Institute) has such a plan. Eventually, since WOTI is the successor to St. John Chrysostom University which is expected to be re-opened in time to come as an on-campus training center... a seeker can always ask their questions, for the moment, on-line at apostle1.com.
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