The Question

June 16, 2008

Yesterday was Pentecost, Father’s Day, and a wonderful and unique day for Barb and I as well. Yesterday we were officially accepted as Catechumen at St. Peters Orthodox Church. Just today Debbie Z. posted a cool blog about what it was like from her perspective and I don’t want to simply revisit the occasion, what I really want to do in this post is write about the why and how.

First let me just say how incredibly grateful I am to our great God for bringing us to this point. When I look back at several of my posts from even a few months ago, I would have never believed we’d be where we are today. In fact as recently as my post of March 3rd this year I wrote about the dark place I had been in for the last year or so. I wrote of how God had challenged me in Father Patrick’s Homily of Forgiveness Sunday; Now was the time, Father Patrick said over and over, and oh my was it ever.

When I first approached Orthodoxy I came with so many questions and so many self-made objections that needed to be addressed. But in very typical “God fashion”–at least for me–He did not address them in any way I would have typically looked for them to be addressed. Give me a book to read, an authority to question! I’d spend so many nights locked in a struggle with myself, in my mind, running through every possible scriptural objection I could find, waiting for the next encounter with that “authority” so that I could stump them and send them crying home to the monastery!

Funny, those objections now seem so unimportant.

When Barb, who was completely resistant to Orthodoxy from the beginning, began to soften her heart to God and stepped out and began to follow me to St, Peters, I actually found myself afraid of going forward. I knew my wife was a person who, once she feels something was right to do, would run after it with everything she had–and she has. (See my post “what have you done with my wife?”) When she decided that God was calling her forward and that the time to change her heart had come, I began to realize that our becoming Orthodox might actually become a reality. All my objections, questions and fears of my families interrogations suddenly became overwhelming to me and I felt like doing what I have so often done before: that’s right, the ole’ cut and run. But then over the course of a many days, very gently and almost imperceptibly, a question began to take shape in my mind that made all the difference and finally dispersed all my remaining objections. The question? Simply this: If not here, then where? If not now, then when?

I found myself feeling very much like the Apostles when our Lord asked them if they would desert him as so many others were doing after he spoke pointedly of drinking his blood and eating his flesh. Do you remember their answer? “Where else can we go, you have the words of life?” It seemed I was at an impasse. What could I do? Where could I go? When would I finally decided to lay it all on the line as I had challenged so many others to do before me. Since my early twenties I have sought and longed for the Church of the New Testament. I have hungered after a church life that would hold me accountable to those with whom I was in communion. I think I rightly saw many years ago that a call to the Person and therefore Body of Christ was not a call to individuality but a call to lay down one’s life for the sake of his friends. I knew in my heart that when St. Paul said, “when one member suffers all members suffer” was not just a pretty platitude for a refrigerator magnet. Paul did not say “We SHOULD suffer, he said we DO!” No, it meant that for the Body to function properly ALL members are needed and my weakness did not simply effect me as an individual, but it effected all those with whom I was in communion. Now here I stood amidst a people who believe that too, and I was scared. I have longed for a Father figure to whom I could confess the deepest darkness of my heart, but now that the figure stood before me in flesh and blood, I could touch him and see him. I was afraid.

If not here, then where? If not now, then when?

I think we sometimes read the scripture I just mentioned and think that the apostles declaration meant they believed in Jesus without question or doubt. Had everything suddenly come into focus for them? A cursory reading of the story as it follows shows they were far from it, but this one thing they “knew”–He had the “words of life”, and so they followed. Do I still have questions? Yup, sure do. But if not here, then where? If not now, then when?

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Bring me to your table and let me feast upon you. Your life for my life. The knowledge of YOU for my questions. Praise be to the Eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit, may we never be the same! Amen

And thank you to my Son David who so kindly walked with me through it all and to Rico Monge to whom I owe a huge apology for the way I assailed him and his character. May God be forever glorified in my weaknesses.


  1. No apology necessary! I remember some spirited conversations, but if you have any need to apologize then so do I, no doubt. Your journey is inspiring and I look forward to living back in Southern California and having some involvement at St Peter’s (even if I will primarily be in Santa Barbara).

    Thank you for your thoughts…I look forward to reading more in the future.

  2. I am so happy for you and Barb. What a wonderful God to have brought you to this place and this decision, together! So much had to work itself out to bring you to make this change, and so much of it has been laced with pain and sorrow… Who can understand God’s ways or the ways of the human heart? Not I. All I know is that God is good! Good beyond measure!

  3. I’m so excited for you both! If your experience is anything like mine was, the intervening months between your latest step and chrismation will seem both interminable and Way. Too. Fast. You may ask yourself what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into. I found myself very definitely in over my head, but I looked at who I was in September when I arrived, who I was in January when I became a catechumen, and who I was in March when I started freaking out about the hugeness of it… I realized that I had grown tremendously in that time, and I knew without question that though I may drown in these depths, it is the depths that I need. Nothing else that I’ve experienced has the power to heal and to save that is in this new life.

    As always, thank you for writing this. You’ve got my writing gears going now too. 🙂

  4. Glory be to God for all things!

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