Ethnicity In Orthodoxy Is Not A Barrier To Conversion

One of the major arguments presented towards Orthodoxy is that it is very Ethnic based. If you’re not Greek, Russian or belong to the race the Church has its roots in, you don’t belong. I disagree with this altogether.

The Greek Church is called Greek only because it describes the roots of its particular Jurisdiction. Roman Catholics are not all from Rome are they? And yet the very term only describes that their roots are embedded in Rome. Latin was not a part of our Irish culture yet mandatory learning for every Irish school child pre-Vatican II.

Yet even with that the Catholic Church can be clannish in nature even though you’ll encounter people of all races and ethnic origin in the congregation (same with the Orthodox). We have Polish Catholics who have their Mass, and we’ve got the Africans too.

Orthodoxy (especially in Europe) only has the appearance of an ethnic church for a few simple reasons. The first reason is that it is small and not on the radar at all and it’s missionary in nature. Secondly it primarily caters to those far from their countries of Orthodoxy that it appears to have that kind of ethnic traditional appearance going on.

Finally, as an Irish, American or English person, don’t be afraid to engage with another culture. Have you ever heard the saying that, when in Rome do as the Romans do? Maybe not good advice for the Greek Orthodox, but you understand the gist of what I’m saying, right? Whenever you decide in your head that, “this church is too heavily ethnic for me in the Greek tradition” please keep in mind that such a position is itself an ethnic one. Yes, you’re wanting your own Irish Orthodox Church with a mix of lots of Irish people simply because you want to feel like you belong.

Christ wants us to love and be happy in all Churches and walks of life. It’s a tough calling to accept that having it our own way and mentally rearranging the furniture to suit ourselves is not happiness. Go to the Greek Church and enjoy the tasty baclava afterwards. Go to the Russian Church and have good fun chatting with the Babuskhas there. Go to the Ukrainians and tell them how much you love Putin. . . no wait. . . on second thoughts, don’t do that. hahahaha.

With that in mind how can we dare to say, “This Church is too Greek or Russian?” We should at least have the decency to practice what we preach and accept that such thoughts are themselves rooted in a desire to be ethnically isolated from the rest of the world. “I want an Irish Church”, “I want an American Church”. Oh shut up and taste the Lord and stop boring him with your man made desires. If you are irritated by the ethnicity of the congregation and even their cold attitude towards you, guess what? Something is not right with you not them. Nobody has the power to make you feel unwelcome unless you give it to them.

Go and enjoy it. Immerse yourself in it all. I love going to the Greeks and then in a little while I’ll pay the Russians a visit and eat from their table and I will drink from their hospitality and enjoy every last DROP. YUM.

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