The Significance on My Spiritual Life of my Orthodox Baptism

by Serafim Jens Christian Larsen

I want to explain the significance on my spiritual life after I became baptised. Since the time I learned the Truth about Christianity and got to know about orthodoxy, it became my goal to become an orthodox christian, this was what I wanted to become, even I did not know or understand what it meant. But my searching it stopped after I became a baptised Orthodox  Christian. The time in between I had been reading about the faith, attending church services regularly on a monthly basis as a catachumen , I had travelled in Romania and experienced that smell of Orthodoxy that had brought me to faith while on Crete, and I finally I had been received in the Orthodox Church by the Holy anointment, allowing me now to consider myself as an Orthodox christian, in spite of that , the anointment did not bring me a feeling and understanding that I had become an Orthodox. The understanding and knowledge it first followed after I was baptised.

Here are some short explanations of how I feel this change in practicing my spiritual life.

Spending my time as an Orthodox as for an example when reading in the new testament I noticed right from the beginning a difference in the way I was now feeling life energy from reading in the Holy Scriptures. In fact I feel the presence of God in his Holy spirit and this feeling of renewal in body and soul from the moment I start reading, similar to the feeling of renewal after my re-baptism, it is the feeling of being in communion with God and his Holy Spirit. Whenever I feel it is needed, if being tired after a days hard work, or if I am feeling negativity or am darkened in my mind by passions, I know I can always find ways of relief by reading in the Holy Scriptures.

Another example is the new understanding I gained through the baptism, when reading the new testament I am now able to understand passages that before didn’t make any sense to me, as if my spiritual eyes has been opened by the re baptism, as for example when St. Paul Gal 2: 20.

”I have been crucified by Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.

Now I can understand the meaning behind these words by St. Paul in relating to the experiences I get from my own life. Whenever I choose to spend my spare time idle as for example when reading the sports magazines, surfing on the internet, listening to the radio, watching the television I am always left with the feeling of emptiness, the feeling of having wasted my time, with the result of exhaustion and lack of energy . As an Orthodox Christian I experience, that I do not anymore have a place I can ”escape” where I can put my soul to find peace or relaxation, except when I seek my life in Christ. Whenever I choose to do otherwise my own ”drunkenness” is being disclosed.

I also realized the truth behind the words by Jesus Christ, where ever more than one of you are gathered I am with you. This spending my time together with brothers or sisters in Christ, I feel it brings me meaningfulness, it brings me the feeling of life and joy, of being build up on new in the body of Christ. On the opposite I also encountered how difficult it can be also to spend my time with people outside of the Church, even they are people that I love very much, it is the feeling of being divided compared to the feeling of oneness when I am with brothers and sister in the Church.




Comments

  1. Daniel Smith says:

    I know that this experience of reception via economia vs. Reception through baptism, or akreveia (The “St. Cyprian way” I call it 😉 ) is not limited to just this instance. I know of clergy who were received via chrismation, gone to Athos, and there been told that they have to be baptized. Then their bishop finds out…lol.

    Anyway, I just appreciate the fact that Fr. John posted this. Sometimes the Holy Spirit knows what is best for us, and maybe this individual would not have had peace without baptism…who knows. God knows.

    This is exactly why I am no great fan of Economia becoming the norm instead of the exception.

  2. Daniel, I appreciate what you are saying and, more and more, the way historic Protestantism has veered so far into apostasy and heresy, it looks like those jurisdictions that practice “Economia” for those converts who received an Orthodox *form* of baptism outside the Church ought to be revisiting their policies. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will move them to amend the former decisions in light of the changing context. Until this happens, however, I think this sort of account and the ones on Mt. Athos you allude to are likely to produce unnecessary temptation and division in the Church.

    I think this testimony is likely to be confusing and upsetting to converts whose jurisdiction requires their Bishops/Priests to receive them by Chrismation, and who submitted to this in trusting obedience and humility before the Lord (in spite of a sincere and ardent desire for Orthodox Baptism). Is this sort of practice not rather a temptation to such Orthodox Christians to worry now that they are “sub-Orthodox” and missing out somehow on the full grace of God? Is it not rather the authority of the Church herself to which they are to submit in order to receive the full grace of Christ, not the particular form of reception?

    I can see big problems in allowing the subjective experience (however sincere and convincing) of the individual convert (or even of sincere monks) to be the guide, and not the Bishops of the Church in whom this authority is vested. Not every monk is holy and discerning, and those most so, it seems to me, are all the more likely to submit such decisions to the canonical Bishops of the Church (as long as these are also acting in obedience to their own Synods) and encourage any spiritual children they receive to do the same.

  3. Daniel Smith says:

    I am very fortunate, in that our bishop allows his priests to use their discretion when deciding which method of reception to use. For a convert like myself, I will settle for nothing less than real baptism, as opposed to my Latin baptism which was without immersion.

  4. Daniel, the practice of your Bishop sounds a little odd to me. My understanding is that typically the form of reception is predetermined in the whole particular Orthodox jurisdiction (Greek, Russian, etc.) for any given category of heretical Christian (some non-Orthodox Christians do not receive baptism, or don’t receive it in an acceptable form from an Orthodox perspective–but that is not the case for Roman Catholic baptism). Generally, I understand that the Greek Orthodox Bishops have insisted on receiving all converts by Holy Baptism, the strictest application of the Canons, but, frankly, this is not true in most canonical Orthodox jurisdictions, and this has apparently been the case for centuries. Obviously, it is normally at the level of the local Priest where it is discerned whether or not an individual convert wishing to enter the Church has previously undergone Trinitarian baptism in water, or not, but that is a different issue from the Priest or Bishop at his own individual discretion receiving even Christians who have received the same acceptable form of Trinitarian baptism each in a different manner according to some other individual desire or criteria. Admittedly, I’m no expert here. Likely, there are other considerations I’m unaware of. Perhaps Fr. John Peck can clarify for us.

    As I mentioned, my understanding is that reception by “Economia” via Chrismation in the Orthodox Church of non-Orthodox Christians who have previously received some form of Trinitarian baptism in water has a centuries-long tradition and is rooted also in the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. As you probably know, non-Orthodox Trinitarian water baptism is not considered to be grace-filled from an Orthodox perspective, but still it is considered that Chrismation (along with the accompanying ongoing participation in the Mysteries of Confession and the Eucharist) “completes that which is lacking” in one’s non-Orthodox baptism. Indeed, such receptions by “Economia” have not proved an obstacle to Sainthood. If you’re interested, more info. on that follows in the link below.

    http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/tikhon_reception_heretics.htm

    I’m wondering, if you have misunderstood your Priest and find your Orthodox Bishop insists on your reception by Chrismation, would you go elsewhere to insist your own will be accommodated? I’m not saying you would do this, but I have witnessed several Orthodox, including clergy, express the conviction that this is not an attitude rooted in an Orthodox mindset and in fact is at odds with it. Some have even suggested it is evidence one is not yet ready to enter the Church. Personally, I am coming to tend to associate it myself as more typical of Christians having been raised in a Western Christian tradition, all of which have been influenced in one way or another by the philosophical developments of Scholasticism and Enlightenment Rationalism which are quite foreign to traditional Orthodox categories of thought. Of course, many more learned Orthodox than I would admit that at this point in history such philosophical influences have also left their mark on many contemporary Orthodox Christians.

    May God continue to guide and bless your journey. In anticipation of your reception into the Church–God grant you many years! 🙂

  5. Daniel Smith says:

    What I know for sure is that my priest does not have a spirit of disobedience, and he does his best to try and receive all converts via baptism. I have been told by others that he has discretion, and that the bishop has set it up this way. As bishop, he has the prerogative to enforce the canons in his diocese as he sees fit, so I accept that. Personally, I think that reception via chrismation is less than ideal, but not inadequate or incomplete. If my baptism is false, give me a real one I say! I would like a clean slate with as much grace as possible. In terms of what my bishop would require, it really depends on which jurisdiction I am willing to place myself under. To be frank, I would place myself under ROCOR in a heartbeat if they were in my hometown. Be that as it may, my local parish is Greek, I am not moving, I want in, and so I will submit to the Greeks. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain aspects of the parish that bother me. The iconography is realistic to the point of being virtually Roman Catholic, and it is all over the iconostasis. There are pews, and an organ (Which is never used). But, I am learning that these are incidental, and that they work perfectly as food for humility. At this point, I am internalizing my zeal, not wanting to be a burden and trying to be as balanced as possible. But to be fair, on the Orthodox spectrum between Hawk and Dove I am…Hawkish, but I love the doves. 🙂

  6. Daniel, I sure understand and felt the same way myself when I converted. Regardless, of how you are received, keeping that humble and zealous attitude and with God’s grace you will do fine wherever you are placed by God’s providence. Undoubtedly and if the experience of many others is any indication, there will be bumps and challenges aplenty along the way (and some far more serious than the style of Iconography in the parish). No jurisdiction or parish is without its problems and if it is by some miracle, once we enter the door it has one! :-). But God’s grace is sufficient for those things. Hold fast to that which you have received.

    Many years!

  7. It has been a few years since this discussion but I would like to clarify that if you were already baptised in the Holy Trinity chrismation suffices in order to becoming orthodox. In fact, some orthodox Christians are appalled at the fact that some zealous priests believe you’re not Christian unless baptised dipped like we have been at birth. Stop beating yourself. You’re as orthodox Christian as much as I am. Look up to the heavens and pray: ‘Lord, you know’ and praise Him :’Glory to Thee God’. Then get on with walking in the Lord’s footsteps. You want more grace? Fast and pray. Trust me. You’ll receive grace. And loads of challenges to overcome. That’s being orthodox Christian. Just keep trying to stay on Jesus’ tracks instead of veering off on your own. God is with you always. Bless you xx

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