“The process of becoming an Orthodox Christian can be compared very closely to the process of becoming a married person for it involves the same basic movements of courtship, engagement and marriage. When a person first becomes interested in the Orthodox Church a series of initial interactions take place. Perhaps one visits for a liturgy, researches Orthodoxy on-line, or engages in a conversation with a friend who is Orthodox. If these initial interactions are blessed, a more studied process of inquiry follows which can be compared to the process of courtship. One who launches into this dance with the Church is called by the Church an inquirer or a seeker.” From Starting Down the Royal Path: How to Become an Orthodox Christian By Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
After launching into the “dance” as an inquirer and determining with their priest that it is appropriate for them, one can then become a catechumen and begin formal preparation for being received into the Orthodox Christian Church.
Please click on the link to read the following article written by Fr Josiah Trenham, Starting Down the Royal Path.
A catechumen (Greek: κατηχούμενος) is one who is preparing for baptism in the Church. In modern usage, catechumen can also refer to one who is preparing for chrismation (or another form of reception) to be received from a heterodox Christian communion.
In the ancient Church, the catechumenate, or time during which one is a catechumen, often lasted for as much as three years and included not only participation in the divine services but also catechesis, formal instruction from a teacher, often the bishop or appointed catechist. Exorcists often performed the catechetical role, as well, following their initial prayers of exorcism over the one being made a catechumen, which is the traditional manner of receiving a catechumen into the community of the Church.
Catechumens are understood to be Christians upon beginning their catechumenate, and should they die before baptism, they are traditionally given an Orthodox funeral.
As the Church eventually became the majority religion of the lands in which it sojourned, the catechumenate as an institution gradually died out in many places, as most Christians were being baptized shortly after birth. As Orthodoxy has moved into the West and Far East and begun gaining converts to the faith, the catechumenate has been significantly rejuvenated.
Catechetical instruction in Orthodoxy in America does not typically last the three years which was common in the time of St. John Chrysostom, but typically can last from six months to a year or longer, depending on the practice of the bishop, his jurisdiction, and the level of spiritual maturity of the catechumen. Local parish priests typically oversee the catechesis of those preparing to be received into the Church.
The Orthodox Church has no formal catechism, a single body of work that details the specifics of its faith. This is one difference between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, who does have a specific catechism.
Catechumen Lecture Series
Catechumens are required to attend a series of lectures prior to baptism and chrismation. Attendance at all lectures is mandatory. A single unexcused absence may prevent reception at Holy Pascha.
Advent Season Lectures
- Starting Down the Royal Path
- The True God
- The Human Being
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God - the Person of Christ
- Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World - the Work of Christ
- The Holy Spirit and the Saints
- Repentance and Faith
- The Church and the Mother of God
- The Life of Prayer and the Prayer Rule
Lenten Season Lectures
- The Holy Scriptures
- The Mystery of Holy Baptism
- The Mystery of of Holy Chrismation
- The Mystery of the Holy Eucahrist
- The Mystery of Holy Confession
- The Mystery of the Holy Priesthood
- The Mystery of Holy Matrimony
- The Mystery of Holy Unction
- The Mystery of Death and the Funeral
Required Reading for Catechumens
Catechumens are required to read a series of books prior to baptism and chrismation. All of the books are available online wither through the publisher or on Amazon.
- On the Priesthood (1984) by St. John Chrysostom
- The Faith: An Orthodox Catechism (1997) by Clark Carlton or Entering the Orthodox Church or The Mind of the Church by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos
- For the Life of the World (1998) by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
- Great Lent (2001) by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
- The Way of the Ascetics (1985) by Tito Colliander
- The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer (1985) by Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg)
- The Way or The Truth (1997, 1999) by Clark Carlton
- The Orthodox Way (1998) by Bishop Kallistos Ware
- The Way of a Pilgrim (many editions)
- The Religion of the Apostles, by Fr. Stepehn DeYoung
List of Activites to Complete Prior to Baptism and Chrismation
- If the new catechumen was registered on the membership role of another religious body, the catechumen must upon being enrolled as a catechumen write to this body and ask to be removed from their previous membership roster. This is exceedingly important should the catechumen die during catechism so that the Orthodox burial may take place unhindered.
- Attend all Sunday Liturgies and Feast Day Liturgies, and other weekly services as possible (Liturgies, Vespers, etc.) for at least a year before being received. The divine services are the catechemens' primary catechism.
- Present yourself for the Catechumen Litany in the weekly Sunday service and follow the Catechist out of the temple to receive weekly instruction.
- Attend Lenten Services – this is how you prepare properly for your Baptism.
- Present yourself for Catechumen Litany in Presanctified Liturgies during Great Lent - Wednesdays 6pm. These are very important and cannot be missed without permission of the pastor.
- Read the Required Books.
- Attend the Advent and Lenten Catechumen Lectures.