My journey into Orthodoxy began with books and internet searches, which is probably quite common. I kept coming across a recurring theme. Orthodox priests were saying that the most important part of learning about Orthodoxy is to become acquainted with your local parish and the people therein.
When reading that I would often shrug my shoulders and think, “Oh, they are probably just trying to grow the local parishes. I’m learning quite a bit from my books and blog readings.” And so I would continue reading and wrestling with the theological views of Orthodoxy. However, all of the research and wrestling left me restless and I almost gave up on Orthodoxy several times.
In the summer of 2012 though, I did decide to begin a local exploration of the faith.
I can now affirm that the Orthodox priests were right. It is critical to be involved with a local parish. What they often didn’t explain is the why. So, here is my feeble attempt:
Eastern Orthodoxy, unlike Western theology, is not a belief system that you wrap your head around. It is a beautiful and unique way to experience God. This fundamental shift in your thinking is important. While Orthodox theology is deep and beautiful, and it is largely what initially attracted me to the Church, I came to the realization after I began attending services that it was very literally changing my life. Christianity was no longer a belief system interspersed with spiritual highs and lows, but instead a never-ending communal experience with the living God and His Church.
This change doesn’t come simply from parking your butt in the seat at an Orthodox Church, but that is an important part of the process. To help you get started, here are two directories for locating a local parish in North America.
God bless you on your journey. And feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions.