I was baptized Russian Orthodox. But the people on my father's side of the family were originally Ukrainian Catholics, living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what is now Slovakia. Among the names for their ethnic group: Trans-Carpathian Slovaks, Russyns, Ruthenians. My mother's father was Russian, but born in Kiev, and looked like he had some Tartar blood in him--high cheekbones, almond shaped eyes. Her mother was Estonian and Finnish?, born in Tallnin. Her English father's family lived for generations in Archangel, above the Artic Circle. He owned a hemp factory that manufactured rope for the shipping industry. My grandmother spoke perfect English with a thick Russian accent.
When my father's people arrived in New Jersey in the early years of the last Century, the Roman Catholic bishops did not recognize them as Catholics because of their married priests and Byzantine liturgy. So they sought protection under the Russian Orthodox bishop and soon their children were singing in the Russian Church choir.
My father kept up the tradition of choral singing that was in his family's genes and used to sing in the best Episcopal Church choirs in the Boston area. He called himself a mercenary Episcopalian because he got paid to sing in choirs that attracted some of the top soloists in the city.
My mother was more of a Unitarian if anything, because during World War II, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee brought her and her sister, then a year later her parents, to the United States. They were stateless persons, refugees from Paris and in danger of Hitler's death camps.
So during my childhood, sometimes we went to Russian Orthodox church, but I knew no Russian and none of the liturgy made sense. I do recall loving the Russian choral music though.
Sometimes I went with my dad to Episcopal church, but it always meant a long wait alone while he had his Sunday a.m. rehearsals prior to the service.
Sometimes I was sent to the Episcopal church in my neighborhood. When I was older, I was sent to Congregational Church.
I went to Unitarian Church and joined the Unitarian youth group when I was in high school.
I abandoned the Christian religion when I was in college, but returned to it, though in a rather Gnostic, heretical way, when I was in my early twenties.
Seeker-friendly Kanata Baptist Church was just what I needed when I began to have a teachable spirit. But once I had embraced the basics of the faith, I felt drawn to a more liturgical and sacramental tradition. Thus I found my Anglican Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, I got a job writing for Roman Catholic newspapers and that has exposed me to Catholicism in all its beauty and radiance, as well as the very interesting earthly aspect of the institution.
My little Anglican Catholic Church has asked to come into communion with the Holy See, with we hope, our Anglican liturgy via the Book of Common Prayer, our King James Bible and our married priests left intact.
But our Anglican Catholic Church is also open to communion with Orthodox churches.
I told someone recently that I saw myself as a blood corpuscle in the Body of Christ because I have moved around from place to place so much within the Body and I have an appreciation for each place that I've been and what it has given me. And I have a passion for unity and for people who are say part of the arm not to be so critical of the leg because it is not an arm, or the eye people upset because the ear people don't act like eyes.
I also have a passion for the unity of the Body of Christ.
So anyway, in searching the blogosphere, somehow I happened on this blog from the Orthodox side. It looks like a good spot to bookmark.
(My bolds below)
On the one hand, these efforts can hardly be faulted from an Orthodox point of view. The more people explore the “tradition,” the more likely they are to confront the faith – which was, after all, “once and for all ‘traditioned’ to the saints,” for that is the meaning of Jude 1:3. But on the other hand, there is a danger in confusing the outward trappings of “tradition” with “Tradition” itself. For what was once and for all delivered to the saints, was not so much questions of liturgy and incense (although all of these ritual and liturgical elements of Orthodoxy do carry with them the content of Tradition – they are not electives), rather the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints was and is indeed the content of the faith - the living union between the true and living God and man. That faith truly reveals to us and makes accessible to us the true and living God, and it also reveals to us and makes accessible what it is to be a truly living human being. The content of the Christian faith, the living Tradition, is the truth of both God and man, and the truth of our salvation through union with God in Christ.
The content of the Tradition is not a set of ideas – but a reality - God with us.
And this is the problem that always accompanies attempts to reach that reality through reform. It is not our reformation that is the problem in the first place. We cannot reform ourselves into union with Christ. We can submit ourselves to union with Christ and not much else. We can cooperate with union with Christ.
Invariably, the great stumbling block faced by various attempts to “recreate” or “rediscover” the “early Church,” is that the “early Church,” is not an historical reality. It is a present reality – not simply as the “early Church” (this is not a Biblical phrase anyway). The present reality is the same as the “early Church”: it is the Body of Christ, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, the true and living Way. It never ceased nor was overcome by the gates of Hell. It has lived and thrived in enough places to have picked up many languages, many customs, but always the same faith.
This always comes as a stumbling block, I believe, because the existence of the Orthodox Church stands as a stark witness to the True and Living God - not the idea of a God – but God. In my own conversion, I was utterly shocked by this fact. I had read about Orthodoxy for years. I agreed with it for years. I would have even readily agreed for years to everything the Orthodox Church said of itself, and yet I remained outside. When, at last, my family and I were actually received into the Church, I was staggered by the reality of God. I know that sounds strange (since I had been an ordained Anglican priest for 18 years prior to that) but such was the case. There was no longer any question about discussing God, or refining the tradition, or even debating how all of it was to be applied. I was now in the thick of things and God was reigning down in canon, text, Bishop, sacrament, penance, sight, sound, rubrics (which I could not begin to fathom at first) – everything!
Thus, I surprised friends constantly in my first year or so of Orthodoxy when they asked me what was the most important thing about my conversion. My constant reply (to this day) was: the existence of God.
This, somehow, is the content that sets the Tradition apart from all discussions of appropriating tradition, etc. You do not appropriate something whose content is God. You are Baptized into it. You are Chrismated into it. You are absolved for ever having lived apart from it. You are fed it on a spoon. You are splashed with it. But you cannot appropriate it. To paraphrase: Your life’s to small to appropriate God.
Wow. Most interesting.