My journey to the ancient faith was very much like a courtship that lasted years. A wayward evangelical, born into a family of Pentecostal preachers, I first uncovered the hidden pearl of American Orthodox Christianity in the most unlikely of places.
"In 2008, I made my yearly pilgrimage to a Christian rock music festival in Illinois called Cornerstone."
In 2008, I made my yearly pilgrimage to a Christian rock music festival in Illinois called Cornerstone. There, my good friend Brian discovered a booth run by Orthodox Christians from California. They published an underground magazine called Death to the World which catered to the punk-rock scene, and sourced much of their table’s product from St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina. Brian was struck by the character of the monastery’s founder, Fr. Seraphim Rose (of blessed memory) and so his own journey to Orthodoxy began. I little thought then that this would serve to be the catalyst of my own spiritual journey.
"Ultimately it was not my mind being convinced or my conscience moving me to act..."
The next six years constituted an intellectual and theological wrestling match with the very idea of Orthodoxy and all of the unique traditions that come along with it, most of which often serve as challenging to those of us brought up in a stringently Protestant tradition. Ultimately it was not my mind being convinced or my conscience moving me to act that brought me to the narthex of St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church; it was instead the profoundly humbling experience of attending my first Divine Liturgy, of forsaking my reticence and being finally willing – after much insistence from Brian, whose parents are now my Godparents – to follow the invitation to “come and see”.
"...like any relationship that leads to marriage, this path has been fraught with struggle and sacrifice..."
I compare my journey to the True Faith to a courtship, and I have good reason to feel this way. My wife, Jaclyn “Salome”, was courted by me for some amount of years before she gave in to my romancing. I remember the profundity with which I was struck by nervous love and anticipation on our first date: something I had so long sought after was happening before my eyes. In this way, it was much the same for me in faith as well as love. I courted the idea of a deeper faith, of shaking off the apathy of a despondent youth disinterested in all but the most basic concepts of Christ, for well over six years. But it was during my first experience of the Trisagion hymn that I felt again that same nervous, and almost romantic, anticipation of something deeper than a singular visit blossoming. As the parishioners crossed themselves and bowed around me, singing as one, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us,” I realized that I was experiencing Christ wooing his Bride, an eternal romance rooted in a history and a tradition much richer and more challenging than I could ever have imagined. And, like any relationship that leads to marriage, this path has been fraught with struggle and sacrifice, but the rewards… well to understand what rewards a romance with the Orthodox Church can bring, one only needs to come and see…