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March - April 2009

CONVERT SYNDROME?

I have noticed that in the West, among the so called Orthodox converts, there exists a certain syndrome: someone is converted and then for the rest of his life tries to prove to himself and to all others that he has done the right thing, that he is a true Orthodox, like those born in the Orthodox faith. For some reason this syndrome makes such people refer to their Orthodox faith every two minutes. I think there is something superfluous about it.

Orthodoxy must be accepted naturally, in the same way as one breathes the air. We breathe the air, we need the air, we cannot exist without the air, but we are not talking about it all the time. For people who have been brought up in an Orthodox family, who have Orthodoxy in their genes, in their flesh and blood from their early childhood, the Orthodox faith is the natural habitat, it does not need constant mentioning. It seems to me that people who come to Orthodoxy are to be brought up so that their conversion would not mean any break-down. When someone becomes Orthodox, there is no need to prove to oneself every minute that he has done the right thing.

- Bishop Hilarion Alfayev of Vienna,
January 2009

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