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Author Topic: Oriental Orthodox vs. Catholic  (Read 472 times) Average Rating: 0
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Anastasia1
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« on: September 09, 2012, 11:16:12 PM »

One of my friends thinks that Oriental Orthodox is practically the same as Catholic. What do you guys think?
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 11:33:48 PM »

I've been both. Your friend is very much off-base with that idea.
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 01:12:41 AM »

One of my friends thinks that Oriental Orthodox is practically the same as Catholic. What do you guys think?
It is.  Catholic like us EO.
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 02:24:25 AM »

One of my friends thinks that Oriental Orthodox is practically the same as Catholic. What do you guys think?
Not really.
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Anastasia1
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 02:47:01 AM »

How, other than the papal role and infallibility and the Council of Chalcedon, would you explain the difference?

I know that on some level there are a lot of similarities, but there seems to be a different enough approach to things to indicate some slightly more fundamental differences, but I don't know how to articulate that in any way other than attitude.
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 04:56:06 AM »

Well, that might not be the worst way to put it, actually (though it drives Catholics nuts; sorry...we don't speak the same language). If we ignore the big and obvious issues like the Roman Papacy/infallibility and Chalcedon, we still have many issues that could be described as a difference in approach. The Latins would have us believe that they are differences in organic tradition, no more or less than the type allowed and in fact celebrated in the OO tradition itself. The difference, of course, is that the traditions of the Syrians vis-a-vis the Copts, or the Indians vis-a-vis the Ethiopians, or any other communion-internal difference, do not obscure or render unrecognizable the shared faith, but are actually expressions of that common faith as it has been lived in Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, etc. for millennia. Looking at the Roman Church and its communion, we would be hard-pressed to say that there is anything essential to it that has even been practiced continuously for the millennium of its existence as a distinct and separate church from that of the Eastern Orthodox, so much has it changed from the days of St. Maximos or St. Arsenius. I mean, yes, there were her beliefs in her own superiority and universal authority (see, for instance, Pope Leo's letter to St. Dioscoros, which was not received in the Egypt as an example of the Roman Pope's clear universal authority/right to boss Alexandria around, though that is the modern Latin interpretation: "Look, here's a really old letter that shows the Pope exercising universal jurisdiction!", as though the response of the Egyptians really doesn't matter at all), but in terms of practice...? I guess maybe clerical celibacy, though now in a bind in trying to reconcile their long-held discipline with the existence of new "Eastern Rites" of the last 500 years or so for whom it has never been the custom, the Latins are careful to explain that it is a "discipline", while in fact treating it like a dogma, so I'm not sure where it would fit, since they keep changing what it is.

So, whereas the Copts have long clung to their fasting and true monastic spirit, what is the state of the once-great Latin monastic tradition? Here I don't mean simply that "Latins don't fast, but Copts do", but rather, can we say that the Roman communion is informed and shaped by the monastic asceticism of the great Fathers of the Desert, the Stylites, etc.? No. When I visited the Benedictine monastery at Mt. Angel, Oregon, shortly before moving out of that state, I was actually kind of angry to find that this sort of spirituality had existed in the Latin Church which at that time I had been involved with for about five years. I went there with my father of confession, so naturally I turned to him and said "What is going on here, Father? Why did we have to travel hours from home in order to find Catholics behaving like committed worshipers of God?" He sort of trailed off and said that it's not exactly hidden, but you do have to do some digging in order to find traditional spirituality in the Latin rite. (At some point he gave me a booklet on the Chaldean Church, as he had gone to seminary with one of their priests in San Diego, and suggested that I look them up when I was back in California as a sort of traditional alternative to the Latin rite; I didn't. I bided my time and eventually became Orthodox, which is something else entirely.)

By contrast, when I first attended the local Coptic Orthodox Church, which is decidedly NOT in a monastic setting (it's in a private home, at least for a little while longer while we negotiate the purchase of a building after 16 years in the current spot; please pray for St. Pishoy COC Albuquerque that God may bless our long search), it was like being punched in the gut...er...metaphorically-speaking. The prostrations, the incense, the chant, the real and living sacrifice and the work of the people...it's all there. It's not some kind of "extraordinary form", as the Latins call their tradition. We fast, we recite the prayers of the hours, we commemorate the martyrs and saints of the true Orthodox faith, we chant for hours in praise of the Lord our God...and these things we do because they are the NORMATIVE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN. There is no discussion of extraordinary obedience or merits or any of that. You are Orthodox and so this is your life, in struggle and in ease and in any condition in which you might find yourself.

It pains me to think of the time I spent saying the rosary for five or ten minutes, struggling to make proper use of the various "mysteries" that go with it (the sorrowful, the luminous, etc.), and then eventually giving up because there is little that can be actually said to be different between the kind of contemplation of the Latin and really just sitting there, trying not to think of what to have for dinner or if I'll make it home in time to catch the Giants game. Same goes for Eucharistic Adoration, which is something I never did, precisely for that reason. If I'm going to sit there wondering what the hell I'm doing trying to be a Christian by imagining scenarios and trying to feel sensations in my mind instead of giving thanks to the Lord, the Lover of Mankind, with praises and hymns (not written by Marty Haugen), then damn it, I'm at least going to have the decency to do it at HOME, where I can keep to myself the utter emptiness I was left with at observing the modern Latin practices and trying to somehow make them work for me so that I could be like the good Catholic people I met who seemed to rejoice in them, but failing miserably. Could you say, as many of my Catholic acquaintances have rather unceremoniously dumped on me after my conversion to Orthodoxy, that the problem is therefore in me and how I related to Catholicism, and I could've gone East without leaving Rome and blahblahblah? (Except that when I tried to do that, it was terrible.) Sure. But that doesn't mean that you will ever find what is in the OO Church in the Latin Church. Never. They are fundamentally different. The Latins have betrayed the holy Roman Orthodox saints, who are still recognized by the OO.

So, yes...I would say that there is a world of difference here. One is the Apostolic faith, preserved from the times of our Fathers and tenaciously guarded by serious men and women who are committed to the truth. The other is a medieval merging of the previously Orthodox Latin tradition which was not at all in conflict with Orthodoxy (indeed it WAS Orthodoxy, as it was lived in a Latin/Western context) with various corrupting doctrines and influences that has led to something that is not only unrecognizable from an OO point of view, but must also be unrecognizable even within the context of the entirety of the Latin tradition. It is a real travesty, but we will not dwell on it. We will instead focus on bringing Orthodoxy back to previously Catholic people...it is, after all, the true faith of the Christian people of all the world.  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 08:39:15 AM »

Absolutly not. Well, I think in some way Orinetal Orthodoxy is closer to Catholicism than Protestantism (Sacraments, some aspcets of ethic teaching, priesthood only for men, Catholic do some fasts etc.).
As I always say, generally Orthodox (both Eastern as Oriental) mentality and spiritaulity is different from the Catholic (particuraly Roman) one.

Only some bascis of the Church teaching, feasts and Liturgy are the same. But it's in all "traditional" Churches (I mean EO, OO, Catholic, Old Catholic and Assyrian).

But, it's interesting to note for me, that my mother who is RC, when we were on a Coptic Liturgy, said that she felt at home and actually the only one obstacle was the language. But maybe that's because her husband and daughter are EO and sometimes she attends our services.

Dzheremi described the differences very well. Great post
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2012, 10:43:56 AM »

Well, that might not be the worst way to put it, actually (though it drives Catholics nuts; sorry...we don't speak the same language). If we ignore the big and obvious issues like the Roman Papacy/infallibility and Chalcedon, we still have many issues that could be described as a difference in approach. The Latins would have us believe that they are differences in organic tradition, no more or less than the type allowed and in fact celebrated in the OO tradition itself. The difference, of course, is that the traditions of the Syrians vis-a-vis the Copts, or the Indians vis-a-vis the Ethiopians, or any other communion-internal difference, do not obscure or render unrecognizable the shared faith, but are actually expressions of that common faith as it has been lived in Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, etc. for millennia. Looking at the Roman Church and its communion, we would be hard-pressed to say that there is anything essential to it that has even been practiced continuously for the millennium of its existence as a distinct and separate church from that of the Eastern Orthodox, so much has it changed from the days of St. Maximos or St. Arsenius. I mean, yes, there were her beliefs in her own superiority and universal authority (see, for instance, Pope Leo's letter to St. Dioscoros, which was not received in the Egypt as an example of the Roman Pope's clear universal authority/right to boss Alexandria around, though that is the modern Latin interpretation: "Look, here's a really old letter that shows the Pope exercising universal jurisdiction!", as though the response of the Egyptians really doesn't matter at all), but in terms of practice...? I guess maybe clerical celibacy, though now in a bind in trying to reconcile their long-held discipline with the existence of new "Eastern Rites" of the last 500 years or so for whom it has never been the custom, the Latins are careful to explain that it is a "discipline", while in fact treating it like a dogma, so I'm not sure where it would fit, since they keep changing what it is.

So, whereas the Copts have long clung to their fasting and true monastic spirit, what is the state of the once-great Latin monastic tradition? Here I don't mean simply that "Latins don't fast, but Copts do", but rather, can we say that the Roman communion is informed and shaped by the monastic asceticism of the great Fathers of the Desert, the Stylites, etc.? No. When I visited the Benedictine monastery at Mt. Angel, Oregon, shortly before moving out of that state, I was actually kind of angry to find that this sort of spirituality had existed in the Latin Church which at that time I had been involved with for about five years. I went there with my father of confession, so naturally I turned to him and said "What is going on here, Father? Why did we have to travel hours from home in order to find Catholics behaving like committed worshipers of God?" He sort of trailed off and said that it's not exactly hidden, but you do have to do some digging in order to find traditional spirituality in the Latin rite. (At some point he gave me a booklet on the Chaldean Church, as he had gone to seminary with one of their priests in San Diego, and suggested that I look them up when I was back in California as a sort of traditional alternative to the Latin rite; I didn't. I bided my time and eventually became Orthodox, which is something else entirely.)

By contrast, when I first attended the local Coptic Orthodox Church, which is decidedly NOT in a monastic setting (it's in a private home, at least for a little while longer while we negotiate the purchase of a building after 16 years in the current spot; please pray for St. Pishoy COC Albuquerque that God may bless our long search), it was like being punched in the gut...er...metaphorically-speaking. The prostrations, the incense, the chant, the real and living sacrifice and the work of the people...it's all there. It's not some kind of "extraordinary form", as the Latins call their tradition. We fast, we recite the prayers of the hours, we commemorate the martyrs and saints of the true Orthodox faith, we chant for hours in praise of the Lord our God...and these things we do because they are the NORMATIVE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN. There is no discussion of extraordinary obedience or merits or any of that. You are Orthodox and so this is your life, in struggle and in ease and in any condition in which you might find yourself.

It pains me to think of the time I spent saying the rosary for five or ten minutes, struggling to make proper use of the various "mysteries" that go with it (the sorrowful, the luminous, etc.), and then eventually giving up because there is little that can be actually said to be different between the kind of contemplation of the Latin and really just sitting there, trying not to think of what to have for dinner or if I'll make it home in time to catch the Giants game. Same goes for Eucharistic Adoration, which is something I never did, precisely for that reason. If I'm going to sit there wondering what the hell I'm doing trying to be a Christian by imagining scenarios and trying to feel sensations in my mind instead of giving thanks to the Lord, the Lover of Mankind, with praises and hymns (not written by Marty Haugen), then damn it, I'm at least going to have the decency to do it at HOME, where I can keep to myself the utter emptiness I was left with at observing the modern Latin practices and trying to somehow make them work for me so that I could be like the good Catholic people I met who seemed to rejoice in them, but failing miserably. Could you say, as many of my Catholic acquaintances have rather unceremoniously dumped on me after my conversion to Orthodoxy, that the problem is therefore in me and how I related to Catholicism, and I could've gone East without leaving Rome and blahblahblah? (Except that when I tried to do that, it was terrible.) Sure. But that doesn't mean that you will ever find what is in the OO Church in the Latin Church. Never. They are fundamentally different. The Latins have betrayed the holy Roman Orthodox saints, who are still recognized by the OO.

So, yes...I would say that there is a world of difference here. One is the Apostolic faith, preserved from the times of our Fathers and tenaciously guarded by serious men and women who are committed to the truth. The other is a medieval merging of the previously Orthodox Latin tradition which was not at all in conflict with Orthodoxy (indeed it WAS Orthodoxy, as it was lived in a Latin/Western context) with various corrupting doctrines and influences that has led to something that is not only unrecognizable from an OO point of view, but must also be unrecognizable even within the context of the entirety of the Latin tradition. It is a real travesty, but we will not dwell on it. We will instead focus on bringing Orthodoxy back to previously Catholic people...it is, after all, the true faith of the Christian people of all the world.  Smiley
Interesting. My experience of the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration is nothing like yours.
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« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2012, 12:14:59 PM »

The Orientals think of themselves as the Catholic Church and even have a Pope. Pretty suspect if you ask me  Cheesy
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2012, 12:47:19 PM »

Interesting. My experience of the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration is nothing like yours.

Care to elaborate?
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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2012, 12:52:10 PM »

Bwahahaha. Cyrillic, you are too good, man! Cheesy It is true...we are the Catholic Church, and we have a Pope! And that is good enough for us. As the (comedic) saying goes, "God takes care of his people, the Copts, and will judge all others accordingly".  Grin I can't remember, but I think I first heard that from Otto Meinhardus (sp?), a German theologian and author who specializes in the Coptic Church.

Papist: That is a totally valid observation (see, I still have some Latin background showing through, using categories like "validity" Tongue). That's why I put in that little bit about how the problem is with me. I can accept that, in that not everyone will have the same experience in any church, Catholic or Orthodox. But again, as I wrote before, the fact that everyone's experience is different does not mean that the RCC will ever have what the OO have. (And vice-versa, I suppose.) So we can't say that they're basically the same, as the OP's friend thinks. They really aren't.

But, as Dominika pointed out about her mother, a Catholic can (I'd say should, but I don't mean that in a bossy way) feel right at home in the OO church. I think it's a good thing, and not at all indicative of some strange idea that we are just "funny" Latins, some sort of offshoot that somehow ended up with their own Pope and their own church, probably by historical accident (I get this a lot from non-Orthodox friends: "What? The Pope died? Ohhhh...you mean your guy!"). Rather, a Catholic (Protestant, Buddhist, whatever) should feel at home, because the church calls all to the true worship of God in her. That some of us stick around, become immersed in it and not leave, well...that's just one of the mysterious gifts of God, isn't it? I really couldn't have told you when I voluntarily removed myself from the RCC communion in 2009 that I would end up in the Coptic Church, of all places. That seems like the least likely transition ever, as I am not even one drop Egyptian/Middle Eastern, nor had I ever even met a Coptic person in the flesh before coming to my first liturgy here in Albuquerque in August of 2011. But this is where God has planted me, and I do not think it is an accident. Smiley And sometimes our Catholic friends come to our liturgies, and though they cannot receive, they are with us in every other way, and they always say how beautiful our liturgy is, how there is something in it that connects very deeply with them (they are Jordanian, but the liturgy is 80% in English, so it is probably not the language), how it is very holy. And I don't believe that these things are accidents, either. Smiley This is why I wrote that Orthodoxy is the true faith of every Christian. No matter where they come from or where they are now, in Orthodoxy there is a home for them. Sometimes we need to help build it (as in the Bolivian video...the church in Bolivia is VERY new, but already very well-integrated into the society, and the Lord has received hundreds of His children there already, with many more coming all the time), sometimes we need only to discover it ourselves (as in my case; I didn't know where to go after I stopped being RCC, but once I stepped into a Coptic Church, it was like "ahhhh...HERE it is!").
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