Hello. I am new to the forum and in a way, I am new to Orthodoxy as well. This is my first post on the forum, and I hope and pray that those of you who hold knowledge about the Orthodox Church may help this confused sinner. To give you a bit of a background on me, I am Catholic, born in the latin rite, discovered the Eastern Rites in the Catholic Church and naturally following, discovered the Orthodox Church. This progression has revealed many things to me and I find myself asking the question: Is the Orthodox Church, the true Church?
I have been considering conversion, though this is not something one should take lightly (I've heard of converts joining the Orthodox Church because they are upset or frustrated with the Church they left). While there are frustrations present when looking at the Catholic Church to which I belong, it is Truth that I seek, not satisfying my personal views. It is in regards to that, that I post here with the hope that some of you in the Orthodox church may help me understand the Four Marks of the Church
Both Catholics and Orthodox accept and agree on the Marks of the Church. Mainly that she is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church
. These marks reveal the Church that Christ has established and are part of the Creed. Yet I'm stumped in a way as to how the Orthodox Church identifies with these marks in total. It is clear that the Orthodox is Apostolic
as the Church can trace her lineage to that of the Apostles. The Church is the Body of Christ, therefore Holy
. Now come the 2 parts which I'm struggling with.
Is the Orthodox Church, Catholic, ie universal? From what I understand the Orthodox Church does not have a significant presence outside the original Patriarchates (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, etc.) and a few churches they established in neighboring areas (Albania, Cyprus, Czech-Slovakia, Estonia, etc.) if I'm not mistaken. They do have Archdioceses and Metropolis' in many areas around the world. However, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch himself, the Orthodox Church has failed "to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church." In 2000 years, only a few new national churches. I find myself wondering about the Orthodox Church and its claim that it is "catholic". I do not mean to stirr emotions or anger, but perhaps one of you may help me to understand this better.
As for the mark of being One, this is also something that puzzles me. The Orthodox Church claims to share a common faith, yet where is the evidence for this? There is no Catechism approved by all the Patriarchates, so how does one truly know that the faith is shared between them all? I bring up the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the fact that within that Catechism, that is the Faith that all of the 22 Catholic Churches (east + west) hold. When those outside of the Catholic Church want to know the Faith held by the Catholic Churh (all of the Catholic rites/Churches) they can, with confidence look at the Catechism and know this. Now the downside to this is that is has caused latinization and many of the eastern churches to accept doctrines foreign to them but forced on them in a way by the Roman / Latin rite. Nonetheless, to stay on the topic. There is not a Catechism approved by all the leaders in the Orthodox Church. There is not even a Catechism approved by all the leaders of the canonical Orthodox leadership in the U.S. The Church has not held an Ecumenical Council in over 1200 years. Since about the 1920's the Church has been planning for the next "Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church," but it has yet to happen... Also, there is suppose to be only one Orthodox Church per country. The Church has been in the U.S. for over 200 years and still there are multiple jurisdictions here. In the U.S. the Orthodox Church have institutionalized this jurisdictionalism, ethnic nationalism of the old country churches, in the SCOBA. Can this be a form of Phyletism?
I am grateful for those of you who can help me understand this better. Please note: I am not out to offend anyone on this board and I approach all of you with love and kindness and also ignorance. I don't know many things about the Orthodox Church. But what I do know about Orthodoxy, leads me on a quest for more knowledge because what I am reading and learning about your Church, makes sense. I noted earlier, is it Truth that I seek... Perhaps some of you may be able to help me on my journey. Thank you my friends and may the love of God be with you all.