Since it's Holy Week I'll forgo the quirky opening. Our Post of the Month winner for March 2011 is HandmaidenofGod for this post:
Although I was baptized as an infant into the Orthodox Church, in many ways I am a convert. My mother was raised by two devout Polish Catholic parents, and attended Catholic schools (yet surprisingly knows little about the meaning behind Catholic doctrine.) My father was raised Orthodox. When they married, they married in the Orthodox Church, and my sister and I were subsequently baptized in the Orthodox Church.
When my parents divorced, my mother became an Evangelical Protestant.
As a child, I was at a different church every other weekend. Weekends with Dad were Orthodox, weekends with Mom were Baptist. (FUN!)
As an adult, I had to figure out what I believed and why. I knew I believed in the Trinity, in Christ and His Resurrection. I thus began exploring every denomination of Christianity. I attended services read books. Furthermore, I had just about every sect of Christianity represented within my extended family.
I never felt a hostility towards Catholicism because it was the faith of my maternal grandparents. I had attended Midnight Mass with them many times. My Grandmother even had an audience with Pope John Paul II when her parish went to Rome in 1990. I still have her icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa in my bedroom.
The reasons I didn't become Catholic were many. Here are a few:
1) Since the 8th Ecumenical Council, Orthodox doctrine has remained the same. Once the basic tenets of the faith were established, the Patriarchs didn't feel the need to issue a statement on every granular level of faith. In the Catholic Church doctrine and dogma have changed throughout the years. The Mass has changed throughout the years. The last major revision to the Liturgy the Orthodox Church experienced was in the 4th Century. As recently as last year, The College of Cardinals were still tinkering with the Mass.
If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, why must His Church, which He promised would withstand the Gates of Hades, constantly change her doctrine and form of worship?
2) The Papacy. This topic has been beaten to death, so I'm not going to go over it again.
3) Rome doesn't understand "economia." The fact that my mother would have had to gotten an annulment to receive communion in the Church after her divorce from my father is ridiculous. Rome likes to write rules, but doesn't understand how they apply to real people. The Orthodox Church sees herself as a "Hospital for Sinners" where each individual prescription for theosis is different for each individual. Why? Because God made each of us different.
4) Original Sin. Really? I'm Ukrainian on my father's side. Ukrainians inherit guilt from their Grandmother's. Not from Adam. (Grandma: "Why didn't you come over this week?" Me: "I didn't know you wanted me to come over." Grandma: "But I made you dinner!" Me: "But you didn't tell me!" Grandma: "It doesn't matter, you should have come over! I'm 92! I'm cooking and you don't come over! What's wrong with you?!")
5) The Immaculate Heart of Mary. So let me get this straight. For almost 2,000 years, the dogma of the Immaculate Heart and the Immaculate Conception didn't exist, then all of the sudden God reveals this little tid-bit almost 2 millenia after His Resurrection? Also, it just seemed like a way to continue with St. Augustine's strange views on Original Sin. (See Ukrainian Grandmother.)
6) The formal Canonization process for picking Saints. In the Orthodox Church, if a Holy person dies and is locally venerated by the faithful, and miracles occur, that's enough for people to recognize him/her as a saint. In Rome, you need a tribunal, there is an investigation. Only God has the authority to choose who is and is not a saint. Not a pontiff.
7) Orange shag carpet. Also known as the Vatican II Council. Almost two millenia worth of beautiful architecture, music, liturgy, and worship thrown away in the name of being politically correct. Again, if God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, why are you changing?
After Vatican II it seemed like the Church had lost her identity. I see videos on Youtube of Masses with dancing and modern rock music, and then there is talk of bringing the SSPX back into the fold. Instead of the faithful conforming to Christ and His Church, His Church is conforming to the people. The Anglicans have tried that, and they are in quite a mess as a result.
So, I returned back the Orthodox Church. As we sing after receiving communion each Sunday, "We have seen the true light. We have received the Heavenly Spirit. We have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us."
Join us in proclaiming her:
AXIA! WORTHY! AXIA!
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.