Greetings,Good morning Joseph,
My name is Joseph Michael. I am going to attempt to keep this post short, although there is a great deal to say at this point. I will start off with a basic underscoring of my past. I just turned 22 a few days ago and with the increase in age came a sharp increase in understanding in Faith. I had been raised Roman for 20 years and in the last two years have been to both ends of the religious spectrum from the bowels of (pretty darn close to) athiesm all the way to what some have coined extreme Catholicism. I recently attended a few ByzCath liturgies and found then interesting to say the least, but there was always something missing. I am what you might call a history buff, but being raised RC I was taught by my mother who is an "ex-nun", I am adopted, that "there are just some books you just do not read" so I was steered away from anything that was not RC associated. So i went with the basic "Catholic reading." When I went to the ByzCath church across the street from me it was all nice and cozy, but there was something missing. I was not getting a sense of the sacred. The sad thing is in all of my journying for the Church I do not think I ever had, and so although i do not know what that feeling is supposed to feel like I know all to well what it is not supposed to feel like. (Am I making any sense here?)
I had seen the links on the ByzCath homepage of the church I was attending that they had listed the Greek Orthodox church in my city as well as the GoArch site as well. I cliked the links and did some research and in the last 3 days I have read more and been fed more by the Church Fathers, the councils, the spirituality of the Orthodox Faith than I was ever fed in all of my life. I believe in my heart that I have found the dwelling place of the Divine. I believe that within the wallls of Orthodoxy I can now begin to atone for my sins and know that I am within the bosom of the Church finally after all this time. I finally know what wretchedness is! I know that that should not be something that makes a person glad, but in a sense it should! When you follow a set formation for all your life only to find out that the "faith" that they are selling is not authentic, when you can finally feel that the Passion and Resurrection mean something, when you can take a look at the Scriptures and they finally come alive!
My faith, although it is very very young is finally active. I am seeking the truth, I am thirsting for the Living Water, I crave the manna from on High like never before!
There is so much for me to learn and tomorrow, my first experience in an Orthodox parish, I can not wait! I know that I can not fuully participate, but at least I know that the same Body and Blood that I will see upon the altar is the same mystical food that nourished the souls of the members of the Early Church. Their faith, their dedication, all for the stainless, unchangeable faith of the Church! Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
An Unworthy sinner in need of much forgiveness,
Joseph Michael Martinka
I am about to leave for Mass muself so I can't write much.
God is most definately in The Catholic and Orthodox Churches. God is everywhere calling to all who will open their hearts. One thing you said which hit me was this " I can now begin to atone for my sins " We can never atone for our sins per se. It is by our faith in Christ that are sins are forgiven. Jesus atoned for our sins on the cross. Now by faith we can become members of his body and recieve forgiveness for them. The Church is and never has been static. The Church changes it's practices and customs with time. Slowly, but change happens. Orthodoxy remains much the same as it has for over 1000 years and it has a beautiful faith and expression of it's faith. The Catholic faith has tried to find it's way in the 20th century, a way to reach to the people and make them more included in liturgy. Some like it some don't. I have mixed feelings myself. I have this tendency to be a loyal kind of person and as I know I find Jesus in the Catholic Church I would find it almost impossible to leave her. But if I did Orthodoxy is where I would go if I could figure which Orthodox community to belong to. Most of them are very nationalistic and there are plenty of divisions in Orthodoxy. So finding a place where you fit in is the thing I guess. Take your time. Keep reading Scripture and the ECF's and attend different Churches Catholic and Orthodox. Let your heart and the Holy Spirit be your guide. God bless you and we will keep you in our prayers.
Edited to fix quotes only