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Offline Ladonia

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Orthodox Chatechism?
« on: July 08, 2011, 08:38:41 AM »
Maybe this question has been asked before, but does the Eastern Church have a chatechism?

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Orthodox Chatechism?
« on: July 08, 2011, 08:38:41 AM »

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2011, 08:48:47 AM »
The Orthodox Church does not have a catechism analogous to the Roman Catholic "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (which I happen to have in hard copy).  There have been catechisms published by various Orthodox Churches (some "official"--i.e., having episcopal approval--some not), but for the most part the "book catechism" form of teaching the Faith is not part of the Orthodox experience.  (You can also find St Philaret's Catechism online.)

The Orthodox form of catechesis, while it most certainly emphasizes formal/informal teaching of beliefs (though perhaps not by using the "book catechism" technique), is typically done by way of learning the Orthodox way of living, through worship, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  It is much less analytical and much more experienctial.

These are general comments, but ones I think that hold true.  Do keep in mind, however, that there is a wide variety of practice within Orthodox Churches, through which we all hold to and preserve one common Faith.

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2011, 08:48:47 AM »

Offline Ladonia

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 07:45:18 PM »
While I like the idea of your experiential way of learning, I also like the RCC catchechism. I have read some beautiful words describing the teachings of the Roman Rite and the reasonings behind the doctrines. It's nice to have it as a reference when I am not able to ask someone any questions. We also are supposed to do those things you mentioned as a part of our religious life. Thanks for the reply.

Offline Joel, the Son of Pethuel

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2011, 02:49:54 PM »
Hey there, Ladonia!

(as a side note, please to not infer that I am trying to say anything about the RCC in what I'm about to say)

The Orthodox Church does not see the Christian faith as a set of facts about reality. Rather, it is a path of pursuing full communion with God. It is a fact that we live in space-time and have certain physical and linguistic limitations. That being the case, we have to find a way to describe the path of pursuing Christ. One way that that was done was by formulating the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. It makes some declarations about what we believe about God. But the point of that is not to give a set of facts about God. Rather, it articulates, limitedly, the experience of the Church in the life of God as He has revealed Himself to us. These statements help us to stay on the path of rightly knowing God as He has revealed Himself.

The same goes for any catechism. Each person is on a path to knowing God and entering into full communion with Him. Different people are at different places spiritually, and need different things in getting them ready to be received into the Church, or for general spiritual growth. While certain things may be "generally true", that path to knowing God must be discerned between the individual and his/her spiritual father, who is intimately familiar with their spiritual needs and has, hopefully, progressed down that road himself.

We have the Creed. We have the Liturgy. We have our hymns. We have our prayers. We have our community. THAT is our catechism. As we engage the spiritual life and begin to progress down the path of knowing God, we engage the hymns/prayers/Liturgy and thus begin to acquire the knowledge of God in our lives.

Does that make any sense?

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2011, 02:49:54 PM »

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2011, 02:58:29 PM »
While the Orthodox Church certainly emphasizes a whole-person sort of catechesis (the body learns about fasting while doing it, the mind learns by way of instruction, the heart brings it all together), I do not think it accurate to ascribe to Orthodox a "mystical" sort of approach to life as an opposition to a "rational" sort of approach to life.  This is a false dichotomy.

St Gregory Palamas, whom one might argue is the apotheosis of the "mystical" characteristic of Orthodoxy, was rigorous in his rational arguments and explanations.  Similarly, St Photios the Great, whom one might argue is the exemplar of rational argument (in his Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit) still left plenty of room for paradox.

It is not rationalism vs mysticism (these are Western binary categories anyway and do not map on to Orthodox experience).  It is simply that Orthodoxy has a slightly different view of personhood and salvation than does the West and that directly impacts catechesis.

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2011, 02:58:29 PM »



Offline Ladonia

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Re: Orthodox Chatechism?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2011, 06:13:32 PM »
Hey there, Ladonia!

(as a side note, please to not infer that I am trying to say anything about the RCC in what I'm about to say)

The Orthodox Church does not see the Christian faith as a set of facts about reality. Rather, it is a path of pursuing full communion with God. It is a fact that we live in space-time and have certain physical and linguistic limitations. That being the case, we have to find a way to describe the path of pursuing Christ. One way that that was done was by formulating the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. It makes some declarations about what we believe about God. But the point of that is not to give a set of facts about God. Rather, it articulates, limitedly, the experience of the Church in the life of God as He has revealed Himself to us. These statements help us to stay on the path of rightly knowing God as He has revealed Himself.

The same goes for any catechism. Each person is on a path to knowing God and entering into full communion with Him. Different people are at different places spiritually, and need different things in getting them ready to be received into the Church, or for general spiritual growth. While certain things may be "generally true", that path to knowing God must be discerned between the individual and his/her spiritual father, who is intimately familiar with their spiritual needs and has, hopefully, progressed down that road himself.

We have the Creed. We have the Liturgy. We have our hymns. We have our prayers. We have our community. THAT is our catechism. As we engage the spiritual life and begin to progress down the path of knowing God, we engage the hymns/prayers/Liturgy and thus begin to acquire the knowledge of God in our lives.

Does that make any sense?

Yes, that makes sense to me. I have always believed that God touches us as the individuals that we are. Apart from you not having a chatechism, the things you cited are the things that we in the RCC have also to engage in in our religious life. The Church gives us the structure to do this. The chatechism is only another source of information to help us in our spiritual journey.