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« on: April 07, 2014, 11:17:21 AM »

Brethren in Christ,

I am a 25-year-old Roman Catholic, raised atheist & baptized 3 years ago at the Easter Vigil. I've had a very bumpy road because of the Modernism and theological chaos now reigning in the Latin Church. My own pride has led me to the Anglicans and Lutherans twice in the past year, despairing of the Truth.

I am in great sorrow, because I do not know where the Church is going. Pope Francis is a revolutionary person, in a few good ways and in many very bad ways. I do not trust him. I do not trust 95% of Catholic bishops to teach the truth anymore. Francis is not just a bad Pope; as far as I can tell, he is a symptom of a very old disease - an epidemic of which exploded in ~1965.. As an ignorant layman who is not likely to be ordained, I am desperately looking for "a way out". I return to my earliest interest in Christianity, from 2008-2009: Orthodoxy.

So many things seem to go up and down with the various churches, yet Orthodoxy remains the same. I know there is no "ideal" Church, and we are all sinners with our own problems... but why is it that the Orthodox communion refuses to conform to the spirit of this age? While women priests, homosexual acts, and perversion of doctrine swirl around us, you remain the same. Never mind the Filioque and Papal supremacy; you, dear people, have kept to the basic mystical Christian mindset without dissolution. This is far more than can be said even for the Roman Catholic Church, let alone the Episcopalians and others.

I am deeply distressed, because I have heretofore believed in the primacy, supremacy, and infallibility of Rome. It always seemed to me the most sensible, prudent, and judicious way of doing things. Why would God allow us to live in perpetual anarchy or disagreement, after all? And yet... when the Tome of Leo was received in 449, it was not immediately accepted but placed under scrutiny and compared with Cyril of Alexandria's writings. Constantinople 381 and Chalcedon 451 both affirm that the Pope was Primate because of the political position of Rome, and no other reason. On the other hand, the Pope is called the Exarch of the whole Church somewhere in Chalcedon (I think), and many other Biblical, Conciliar, and Patristic texts are put forward for the Papacy as it exists today.

How on Earth am I to resolve this pull? I hate the modern Catholic liturgy with a passion, but the office of Papacy seems needful for the due ordering of the Church. I love the Byzantine rite with a passion, but the seeming anarchy of not having a single Pastor for the whole Church seems a mortal wound. I do not know what to do. Any ideas?

Moderator's note. I have placed the correct title for Pope Francis in the note. Please be aware that a forum rule is to use the proper title for all clergy Orthodox or Heterodox in keeping with international protocol and appropriate civil behavior. Please follow this in the future. Thank you, Thomas Convert Issues Forum Moderator.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2014, 09:27:20 PM by Thomas » Logged

Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2014, 11:23:42 AM »

Brethren in Christ,

I am a 25-year-old Roman Catholic, raised atheist & baptized 3 years ago at the Easter Vigil. I've had a very bumpy road because of the Modernism and theological chaos now reigning in the Latin Church. My own pride has led me to the Anglicans and Lutherans twice in the past year, despairing of the Truth.

I am in great sorrow, because I do not know where the Church is going. Francis is a revolutionary person, in a few good ways and in many very bad ways. I do not trust him. I do not trust 95% of Catholic bishops to teach the truth anymore. Francis is not just a bad Pope; as far as I can tell, he is a symptom of a very old disease - an epidemic of which exploded in ~1965.. As an ignorant layman who is not likely to be ordained, I am desperately looking for "a way out". I return to my earliest interest in Christianity, from 2008-2009: Orthodoxy.

So many things seem to go up and down with the various churches, yet Orthodoxy remains the same. I know there is no "ideal" Church, and we are all sinners with our own problems... but why is it that the Orthodox communion refuses to conform to the spirit of this age? While women priests, homosexual acts, and perversion of doctrine swirl around us, you remain the same. Never mind the Filioque and Papal supremacy; you, dear people, have kept to the basic mystical Christian mindset without dissolution. This is far more than can be said even for the Roman Catholic Church, let alone the Episcopalians and others.

I am deeply distressed, because I have heretofore believed in the primacy, supremacy, and infallibility of Rome. It always seemed to me the most sensible, prudent, and judicious way of doing things. Why would God allow us to live in perpetual anarchy or disagreement, after all? And yet... when the Tome of Leo was received in 449, it was not immediately accepted but placed under scrutiny and compared with Cyril of Alexandria's writings. Constantinople 381 and Chalcedon 451 both affirm that the Pope was Primate because of the political position of Rome, and no other reason. On the other hand, the Pope is called the Exarch of the whole Church somewhere in Chalcedon (I think), and many other Biblical, Conciliar, and Patristic texts are put forward for the Papacy as it exists today.

How on Earth am I to resolve this pull? I hate the modern Catholic liturgy with a passion, but the office of Papacy seems needful for the due ordering of the Church. I love the Byzantine rite with a passion, but the seeming anarchy of not having a single Pastor for the whole Church seems a mortal wound. I do not know what to do. Any ideas?

Have you looked into one of the Eastern Catholic rites?

James, please do not proselytize for the Roman or Eastern Rite Catholic Church, this is an Orthodox Christian Convert Issues Forum. Thank you , Thomas Convert Issues Forum Moderator.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:15:39 PM by Thomas » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 11:32:00 AM »

I love the Byzantine rite with a passion, but the seeming anarchy of not having a single Pastor for the whole Church seems a mortal wound. I do not know what to do. Any ideas?

This "mortal wound" is part of what makes a Vatican II-type situation impossible in Orthodoxy. The unifying principle is the liturgy itself rather than a specific individually, who could at least hypothetically change everything from the top-down.

We have an honorary primacy for the Patriarch of Constantinople, if you're really into head figures, you can pretend that he has more power than he does.
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2014, 11:38:59 AM »

Have you looked into one of the Eastern Catholic rites?

Yes sir, I have. In my area, there is a lack. The only Ukrainian-Greek presence here is a Mission, and it's mostly attended by Latin Catholics. The Maronites have a parish, but it is heavily latinized and the projection screens make it feel very kitschy. It's better than the novus ordo Mass, but it still feels like a "halfway house". Anyway, they acknowledge the modern Papacy.

Ecumenism has made a false start: "if we just talk about lots of smaller issues, the main problem of Papal Supremacy won't have to be addressed!" The problem with this is the simple fact that the smaller issues don't matter if there is an infallible Pope - detached from the rest of his brother bishops - who must be obeyed in terms of Faith and Morals. Francis only adds to my horror.

I am a very intellectual sort of person. That is not a boast, but a fact about my personality as God has made it. I need reasons and proofs before I act. If the Pope has taken that which he is not allowed to take, then simply "feeling Eastern" by attending a Byzantine-Rite Catholic parish won't be enough.

This "mortal wound" is part of what makes a Vatican II-type situation impossible in Orthodoxy. The unifying principle is the liturgy itself rather than a specific individually, who could at least hypothetically change everything from the top-down.

We have an honorary primacy for the Patriarch of Constantinople, if you're really into head figures, you can pretend that he has more power than he does.

You are certainly correct with regards to the safety of Collegiality. The problem with your reply is that the decrees and constitutions of Vatican II were actually voted-in and implemented by the great majority of the 2000+ bishops present at the Council. The Pope really had no power in the chaos, and Paul VI himself acted in a very weak fashion. Ironically, this kind of mess only reinforces my belief that a strong Pope-type-figure is needed... and yet the fact that there has not really been such a Pope since the 1950s makes me strongly question whether Christ even implemented this in the first place, or if it is indeed just political grandstanding.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 11:41:12 AM by Heorot » Logged

Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2014, 11:50:14 AM »

You are certainly correct with regards to the safety of Collegiality. The problem with your reply is that the decrees and constitutions of Vatican II were actually voted-in and implemented by the great majority of the 2000+ bishops present at the Council. The Pope really had no power in the chaos, and Paul VI himself acted in a very weak fashion. Ironically, this kind of mess only reinforces my belief that a strong Pope-type-figure is needed... and yet the fact that there has not really been such a Pope since the 1950s makes me strongly question whether Christ even implemented this in the first place, or if it is indeed just political grandstanding.

I feel for you in your situation, but based on the above and reading your OP, I think you really need to figure out what you believe, whether about the papacy or anything else specifically Roman Catholic.  If you come down on the side of a strong papacy, less collegiality, etc. as a matter of faith, I don't think you'll be happy in Orthodoxy.  If you are running away from horrid liturgy and theological chaos, that's different from embracing something in love and faith.  You need to ask yourself why you considered Orthodoxy once upon a time, settled on Roman Catholicism, and now have dabbled with Anglicanism and Lutheranism before reconsidering Orthodoxy. 

If you believe in Roman Catholicism, there are ways to deal with the hand you've been dealt without rejecting that faith in order to enjoy greener pastures elsewhere (which you will likely realise aren't that much greener).  But if you are in fact re-evaluating what it is you believe, that is a different matter.  That, too, will take time, patience, and much prayer.     
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2014, 12:08:18 PM »

I feel for you in your situation, but based on the above and reading your OP, I think you really need to figure out what you believe, whether about the papacy or anything else specifically Roman Catholic.  If you come down on the side of a strong papacy, less collegiality, etc. as a matter of faith, I don't think you'll be happy in Orthodoxy.  If you are running away from horrid liturgy and theological chaos, that's different from embracing something in love and faith.  You need to ask yourself why you considered Orthodoxy once upon a time, settled on Roman Catholicism, and now have dabbled with Anglicanism and Lutheranism before reconsidering Orthodoxy.

Thank you for the reply. You are wise. I am certainly running away, rather than embracing anything. As a very confused and angry person, my beliefs strongly change with each emotional-liturgical horror I experience. I rejected the Orthodox at first simply because of the foreignness and especially the reverence paid to icons. That was when I was still an unbaptized pagan, of course.

After Baptism, the irreverence of the novus ordo, the strange preaching of modern Latin clergy, and the historical doubts about the Papacy combined to make me run to (classical) Anglicanism early last year. I thought: "if everything's falling apart, I might as well stay as English as possible". It was my only refuge, because my various doctrinal problems made it impossible for me to consider Orthodoxy. I believe my Anglo-Saxon/Celtic blood, and the wish to have a greater legitimacy in my own cultural eyes, imparted to me that wish to be Anglican. It was not a doctrinal movement, in the end. Rome is certainly closer to the Truth than modern Anglicanism.

I can say that I am thoroughly confused as to the nature of the Church's government. Orthodoxy is appealing and repugnant; Romanism is attractive and ugly; Protestantism is beautiful and disgusting. I am absolutely torn. The Fathers and Councils point in so many directions. Sometimes I just want to give up and go back to atheism, because the unity which Christ asked of the Father has been totally shattered, and it is no longer an effective symbol of His unity with the Father.

Quote
If you believe in Roman Catholicism, there are ways to deal with the hand you've been dealt without rejecting that faith in order to enjoy greener pastures elsewhere (which you will likely realise aren't that much greener).  But if you are in fact re-evaluating what it is you believe, that is a different matter.  That, too, will take time, patience, and much prayer.     

The very question here is whether I believe in Roman Catholicism. I do not know if I can, since I've tried to do it many times. This is the third time I've had a huge problem/crisis over the doctrine of the Papacy in the last two years. Something about it just seems wrong, and I really cannot lay my finger on what it is. The "First Love" was Orthodoxy, but I went to the Latin cathedral in this city. Now their presence seems much larger than it was before...

Patience and prayer are not my strong points, because I am such a selfish and worldly person. I want to be "in the true Church right now", or I am in panic about the salvation of my soul. Perhaps this is Latin legalism talking. I don't know. All I know is that the Orthodox view of "Love Wins" is far nobler than Latin theology of atonement. Orthodox liturgy embraces the whole Cosmos, and Orthodox theology goes far beyond moralism and into the deepest heart of the image of God in man. If it is not our spiritual home, what is?

If you cannot advise me, please pray for me!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 12:11:19 PM by Heorot » Logged

Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2014, 01:29:45 PM »

Quote
Something about it just seems wrong, and I really cannot lay my finger on what it is.

Have you considered that this is God speaking to your heart of hearts? The older I get, the more I think that there are no coincidences.

Rather than drive yourself nuts with all this, why not simply begin attending an Orthodox church for awhile? Find a parish that offers a fairly extensive liturgical schedule and attend as many services as possible. Be attentive to the words. And pray.

God will answer you. But be prepared - it may not be exactly what you want to hear.  Wink
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2014, 02:49:36 PM »

Why do u think it is so important for the Christian Church to have a supreme leader?
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2014, 02:51:28 PM »

Why do u think it is so important for the Christian Church to have a supreme leader?

It does have one.  His name is Jesus Christ. 
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2014, 03:31:12 PM »

Have you considered that this is God speaking to your heart of hearts? The older I get, the more I think that there are no coincidences.

Rather than drive yourself nuts with all this, why not simply begin attending an Orthodox church for awhile? Find a parish that offers a fairly extensive liturgical schedule and attend as many services as possible. Be attentive to the words. And pray.

God will answer you. But be prepared - it may not be exactly what you want to hear.  Wink

I believe God speaks to our deepest heart at every moment, with every breath, action, word, and movement - of others and of ourselves. That is why I came here, after all: to be aided in my discernment of Truth.

A friend is sending me the "Publican's Prayer Book" of the Melkites Catholic Church, as well as a chotki for the Jesus Prayer. I will start small. There are, thankfully, two beautiful Orthodox parishes (OCA & GOARCH) in my city, both of which are welcoming to the baptized Catholic.

Why do u think it is so important for the Christian Church to have a supreme leader?

Because this is a line of argument that my Godfather (and others) used to bring me back to Rome from Anglicanism, and to dissuade me from going to the Orthodox as well. The lack of a supreme-leader seems, to me, to give no clear focus or center of unity. We can say Christ is the source of our unity, but the great deal of schisms in church history show us that it's not so easy as that.  Sad

It does have one.  His name is Jesus Christ. 

This is so, but the Church is not a theocracy in the sense that it is directly governed by God; otherwise, there would be no need for bishops, archbishops, metropolitans, exarchs, and patriarchs - let alone popes.
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Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 03:36:59 PM »

Why do u think it is so important for the Christian Church to have a supreme leader?

Because this is a line of argument that my Godfather (and others) used to bring me back to Rome from Anglicanism, and to dissuade me from going to the Orthodox as well. The lack of a supreme-leader seems, to me, to give no clear focus or center of unity. We can say Christ is the source of our unity, but the great deal of schisms in church history show us that it's not so easy as that.  Sad

Forgive me, I don't wish to get into a wrangle, but two things occurred to me: first of all, ISTM, at first glance, that the greatest number of schisms have happened in the Church with the supreme leader. Secondly that the method of church governance from the earliest times was conciliar (see Acts) where the Bishops operated by consensus. The clear focus and center of unity of Orthodoxy is the faith.

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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2014, 04:05:09 PM »

Forgive me, I don't wish to get into a wrangle, but two things occurred to me: first of all, ISTM, at first glance, that the greatest number of schisms have happened in the Church with the supreme leader. Secondly that the method of church governance from the earliest times was conciliar (see Acts) where the Bishops operated by consensus. The clear focus and center of unity of Orthodoxy is the faith.

There is nothing to forgive. This is very important. In a sense, I do want to 'wrangle'. This is a Convert Issues forum, right? You have to make converts in order to discuss the issues.  Wink

1. I've heard that the schisms involved heretical bishops leaving the always-orthodox Pope of Rome.

2. Conciliar government is indeed the earliest form. Latin apologists say it evolved.

As for the Faith being the focus and centre of unity: indeed! Your interpretation of Matthew 16 seems to be perfectly in line with that vision. I just need more of a fleshing-out of how that's supposed to work, given the vast sea of bishops and their conflicting ideas. Even if there is no guidance of the Holy Spirit in Rome, fear of breaking with the Pope creates a sort of unity-by-terror.  Tongue

"Perfect love casts out fear" is a good working Scripture line here, perhaps?
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2014, 04:08:38 PM »

Not-always-Orthodox Pope of Rome. Honorius is an anathematized heretic.
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2014, 04:16:08 PM »

Thank you for the reply. You are wise. I am certainly running away, rather than embracing anything. As a very confused and angry person, my beliefs strongly change with each emotional-liturgical horror I experience.

Then it is all the more important for you to work on separating your emotional response/reaction to what you experience in your church life from your beliefs.  Ask yourself if you would feel so conflicted about Roman Catholicism if you had your "dream parish/diocese/Pope" and be honest in how you answer that question.  If you believe you would still be conflicted about it, then perhaps you need to study Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism and figure out where you stand on what divides us.  But if you wouldn't give Orthodoxy a second thought in those circumstances, there's something else you need to reconcile with.      

Quote
I can say that I am thoroughly confused as to the nature of the Church's government. Orthodoxy is appealing and repugnant; Romanism is attractive and ugly; Protestantism is beautiful and disgusting. I am absolutely torn. The Fathers and Councils point in so many directions. Sometimes I just want to give up and go back to atheism, because the unity which Christ asked of the Father has been totally shattered, and it is no longer an effective symbol of His unity with the Father.

I sympathise with wanting to give up and go back to atheism; I was never an atheist, but sometimes I wish I was.  But again, I don't think this is a matter of what we believe for either of us, but rather of our struggle with things going on around and within us.  At least this is how it is for me.  

Regardless, I don't think, as Orthodox, we would agree with the bolded portion of what you wrote above.  I say "I don't think" because I'm not quite sure what you mean, but there is a sense in which the unity which Christ asked of the Father has not been lost but on the contrary remains strong within the Church.  We believe, after all, in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  For that to have been shattered and rendered ineffective is an impossibility on God's part because even when we are unfaithful, he is faithful, and he promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.  That we have made a mess of things is undeniable, but is a bit of a different matter.  

Quote
Patience and prayer are not my strong points, because I am such a selfish and worldly person. I want to be "in the true Church right now", or I am in panic about the salvation of my soul. Perhaps this is Latin legalism talking. I don't know. All I know is that the Orthodox view of "Love Wins" is far nobler than Latin theology of atonement. Orthodox liturgy embraces the whole Cosmos, and Orthodox theology goes far beyond moralism and into the deepest heart of the image of God in man. If it is not our spiritual home, what is?

If you cannot advise me, please pray for me!

I will certainly pray for you, but you must pray for yourself as well, especially if how you describe yourself above is accurate.  

St Paul says that we are not our own, but were bought with a price.  So, as with everything, the initiative for the salvation of our soul, for our purification from passions and growth in virtues, for our journey through life is God's.  God takes the lead, and we respond.  Entrust yourself to God's capable hands, do the best you can, and entrust yourself to God's capable hands.    
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2014, 04:22:23 PM »

Forgive me, I don't wish to get into a wrangle, but two things occurred to me: first of all, ISTM, at first glance, that the greatest number of schisms have happened in the Church with the supreme leader. Secondly that the method of church governance from the earliest times was conciliar (see Acts) where the Bishops operated by consensus. The clear focus and center of unity of Orthodoxy is the faith.

There is nothing to forgive. This is very important. In a sense, I do want to 'wrangle'. This is a Convert Issues forum, right? You have to make converts in order to discuss the issues.  Wink

1. I've heard that the schisms involved heretical bishops leaving the always-orthodox Pope of Rome.
Like the entire Protestant Reformation?

Quote
2. Conciliar government is indeed the earliest form. Latin apologists say it evolved.
Do they say when and why and how? (If it was good enough for the Apostles and the Bishops for several centuries?)

Quote
As for the Faith being the focus and centre of unity: indeed! Your interpretation of Matthew 16 seems to be perfectly in line with that vision. I just need more of a fleshing-out of how that's supposed to work, given the vast sea of bishops and their conflicting ideas.
Given the track record of the Papacy, perhaps ultimate authority being vested in one person is not such a terrific idea? Also Orthodoxy has a sea of bishops, many of whom have conflicting ideas, and it still seems to more or less function. You have said yourself that it has kept the Faith once given by our Lord to the Apostles. Is that evidence enough?
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« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2014, 04:42:42 PM »

It is from the West that most of this schisms came, especially the Protestants. The EOC is more conservative.
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« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2014, 04:45:09 PM »

It is from the West that most of this schisms came, especially the Protestants. The EOC is more conservative.

True in the second millennium, but there were a lot more schisms in the East during the first millennium.
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« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2014, 04:54:26 PM »

in the first also
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« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2014, 05:31:27 PM »

Why do u think it is so important for the Christian Church to have a supreme leader?

It does have one.  His name is Jesus Christ. 

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« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2014, 05:39:21 PM »

Heorot, i know that you are investigating what Orthodox Churches are available around you. I would suggest that you look into ROCOR as well, if you have a church nearby. There are pros and cons. The biggest cons of ROCOR is the fact that it is based in another culture and that you would have to learn Slavonic to follow along with the Liturgy in some parishes, although there are parishes that serve in English. http://directory.stinnocentpress.com/index.cgi. This is the ROCOR parish directory, although some of the pastoral assignments are not necessarily current. Another issue is that some of the believers may be opposed to Catholicism, although this is more true of the older generation of ROCOR churchgoers. However, ROCOR is socially and liturgically conservative, on the whole. They are an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate, and in communion with mainstream Orthodoxy. Good luck to you, and hopefully you could find a home.
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« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2014, 07:04:00 PM »

Then it is all the more important for you to work on separating your emotional response/reaction to what you experience in your church life from your beliefs.  Ask yourself if you would feel so conflicted about Roman Catholicism if you had your "dream parish/diocese/Pope" and be honest in how you answer that question.  If you believe you would still be conflicted about it, then perhaps you need to study Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism and figure out where you stand on what divides us.  But if you wouldn't give Orthodoxy a second thought in those circumstances, there's something else you need to reconcile with.

Thank you for these words, Mor Ephrem.

I freely admit that, in 2009, when I saw my first "Latin Mass" (the old rite) on YouTube, I was enchanted by the idea of the Western liturgies. My first Mass "in real life" was a weekday Novus Ordo Mass at the local cathedral. The contrast was shocking, to say the least. With every guitar Mass, "healing Mass", and other sort of monstrosity I hear about, the less my faith holds on. I do freely admit that, had I found an ideal Mass/parish/priest/bishop/pope, I would not be so shaken; on the other hand, the first crisis which led to my becoming-Anglican was during the Pontificate of my beloved Benedict XVI. There was no Francis to disturb me back then, so there must be more to my sorrow than merely not having gotten my way.

Quote
Regardless, I don't think, as Orthodox, we would agree with the bolded portion of what you wrote above.  I say "I don't think" because I'm not quite sure what you mean, but there is a sense in which the unity which Christ asked of the Father has not been lost but on the contrary remains strong within the Church.  We believe, after all, in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  For that to have been shattered and rendered ineffective is an impossibility on God's part because even when we are unfaithful, he is faithful, and he promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.  That we have made a mess of things is undeniable, but is a bit of a different matter.

I apologize for my dramatic hyperbole. When I speak of the loss of the unity which Christ prayed for, I speak of the non-chalcedonian schism, the great schism, and the protestant schisms. Regardless of the internal unity of any given communion, the fact remains that Christians as a whole are disunited. It is saddening, though it does not destroy my faith in Christ, of course.

Quote
I will certainly pray for you, but you must pray for yourself as well, especially if how you describe yourself above is accurate.  

St Paul says that we are not our own, but were bought with a price.  So, as with everything, the initiative for the salvation of our soul, for our purification from passions and growth in virtues, for our journey through life is God's.  God takes the lead, and we respond.  Entrust yourself to God's capable hands, do the best you can, and entrust yourself to God's capable hands.

We can only do what we can do, with the Son of God strengthening us. Smiley

Like the entire Protestant Reformation?

Would you say the Protestant reformers were mirrors of some sort of Papal error? Is Rome not closer to the fullness of Christian truth than most of the schismatic western denominations? If the East can blame Rome for the Protestant schisms, then any neutral observer can blame the East for the Roman schism of 1054.

Quote
Do they say when and why and how? (If it was good enough for the Apostles and the Bishops for several centuries?)

I believe this is probably related to J.H. Cardinal Newman's idea of the development of doctrine. Nothing doctrinal has ever changed in its essence, although our understanding of it has become deeper.

Quote
Given the track record of the Papacy, perhaps ultimate authority being vested in one person is not such a terrific idea? Also Orthodoxy has a sea of bishops, many of whom have conflicting ideas, and it still seems to more or less function. You have said yourself that it has kept the Faith once given by our Lord to the Apostles. Is that evidence enough?

The bad Track Record is usually associated - by apologists - with the moral failings of individual popes. To say that their immorality and evil has a bearing on the meaning of their office would be trivial.

Indeed, you make a good point about the Faith. I believe it has kept the same basic faith... but so have most Catholics and many Protestants.

What I find most disturbing about the various churches is the claim to be The Church, when there is really nothing objective linking each denomination to Pentecost. Here is what I mean: the Protestant churches can each say "the Bible is the final source of all saving doctrine", but when asked where the Bible came from and what the first Christians did without a fully-codified canon of Scripture, they must be silent. The Catholics can say "the Pope is the final source of all saving doctrine" - as, indeed, the doctrine of Infallibility ultimately suggests. Once we look into history, however, and the way in which the Western Schism was healed not by a Pope but by a Council in 1415, then there must be silence on the part of the Supremacists. The Orthodox can say "our Church is the true church", but when asked to prove it, how is it done so? The Bible, being a product of your Church (as you claim?), cannot be used in attestation for it. If an author appeared and claimed to be a King, then pointed to his own written autobiography for proof, no one would take him seriously. Catholics claim miracles, too, just as the Orthodox. Catholics claim antiquity too, like the Orthodox. I find the question of the "True Church"es to be almost indecipherable, at least as the question and its answers have been stated so far.

Heorot, i know that you are investigating what Orthodox Churches are available around you. I would suggest that you look into ROCOR as well, if you have a church nearby. There are pros and cons. The biggest cons of ROCOR is the fact that it is based in another culture and that you would have to learn Slavonic to follow along with the Liturgy in some parishes, although there are parishes that serve in English. http://directory.stinnocentpress.com/index.cgi. This is the ROCOR parish directory, although some of the pastoral assignments are not necessarily current. Another issue is that some of the believers may be opposed to Catholicism, although this is more true of the older generation of ROCOR churchgoers. However, ROCOR is socially and liturgically conservative, on the whole. They are an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate, and in communion with mainstream Orthodoxy. Good luck to you, and hopefully you could find a home.

Thank you for the advice! There is only OCA in my area, along with a GOARCH and an Antiochian Orthodox parish. I am settled on the OCA, since it is the jurisdictional church of the man who has done the most to bring me toward an understanding of Orthodoxy: Fr. Thomas Hopko. Without him and the hundreds of hours of audio I've heard from his microphone, I would not be here today.
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Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2014, 06:50:44 AM »

Dear Heorot,

I think I know where you are coming from, coming from a Catholic background my self. How we pray is important, lex orandi lex credendi used to be the Latin saying.

Somehow I feel like it is not appropriate to try and persuade you of Orthodoxy in a thread like this, it looks like you have read up on the conflict anyway. I can say this though - many things has slowly started settling for me since I started to pray in an Orthodox manner. God is real and in control. We want a human system with a human person on top so badly, because we are afraid that we will lose control. This is a lack of faith... I hope you will experience the same thing.

Love,
Laurentius
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2014, 09:14:15 AM »

Beloved-in-Christ Heorot,

My advice is very simple.  Find a Spiritual Advisor, perhaps a holy monk, either Orthodox or Roman, it wouldn't much matter.  Or a few days in a monastery may straighten everything out for you.

I would also say that perhaps it is better to come to a communion for what it has that you are missing, rather than for what you don't like about your own communion.

Love, Richard.
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« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2014, 09:27:05 AM »

I have always felt that the Holy Spirit works in wonderful ways.  If you search in earnest, not in hate or disgust but in Love for God , the Holy Spirit will show you the Way.   Somewhere at sometime, the light will go on and you will know.   It happened to me and I have never looked back.  Be patient and pray, it will happen.
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« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2014, 09:49:22 AM »

Dear Heorot,

I think I know where you are coming from, coming from a Catholic background my self. How we pray is important, lex orandi lex credendi used to be the Latin saying.

Somehow I feel like it is not appropriate to try and persuade you of Orthodoxy in a thread like this, it looks like you have read up on the conflict anyway. I can say this though - many things has slowly started settling for me since I started to pray in an Orthodox manner. God is real and in control. We want a human system with a human person on top so badly, because we are afraid that we will lose control. This is a lack of faith... I hope you will experience the same thing.

Love,
Laurentius

The conflict has been firm in my mind for almost 5 years. Praying in an Orthodox manner, of late, has been the only thing to slowly conform me to the fullness of ancient Christianity. The substance and meat of the prayers is so much more full than the minimalized skeletons I am used to in the West.

Your point about wanting a human system & person at the top is well-taken. A faithful Latin would say: "but Christ put Peter at the top and confirmed him by prayer, so to reject Peter on his Throne is to lack faith". I believe that your view is more correct than that one, however. If Christ had truly set Peter up in such a definitive and infallible supremacy, it would have been clearer in the Scripture and Tradition for 400+ years before the Middle Ages began. True faith is being guided by the Head of the Body: Christ, who is the Vicar of the Father, as it were, and by His Holy Spirit, who is the true Vicar of Christ. I do wonder...

Beloved-in-Christ Heorot,

My advice is very simple.  Find a Spiritual Advisor, perhaps a holy monk, either Orthodox or Roman, it wouldn't much matter.  Or a few days in a monastery may straighten everything out for you.

I would also say that perhaps it is better to come to a communion for what it has that you are missing, rather than for what you don't like about your own communion.

Love, Richard.

Thank you for your heartfelt reply. This is very beautiful.

At the moment I am unable to spent time in a monastery. There is a small hermitage 60+ miles to the West, but I am somewhat in poverty and cannot go there any time soon. As for a holy spiritual adviser... I do not believe many exist in this part of Canada. It is a barren and sad place. My best friend (a priest & friar) has helped immensely, but his approach to spirituality is firmly novus ordo, and is not right for me.

As for what I am missing in my spiritual life, rather than for what I dislike about my own communion: quite so. Only a few things have come honestly to the forefront in this case. The iconostasis is one of them. It is like a grand family gathering. The gold of the icons is like a holy fireplace, and the incense is its smoke. We are surrounded and faced by so much love and holiness. It is something I deeply desire and thirst for. Perhaps it can be found in the Eastern Catholic churches too, but there is a certain emptiness in everything Papal, for me.

I hope it will not take too long for me to become motivated only by desiring what I need rather than by despising what I have. So far, the latter has characterized my spiritual journey.

Quote from: JoeS2
I have always felt that the Holy Spirit works in wonderful ways.  If you search in earnest, not in hate or disgust but in Love for God , the Holy Spirit will show you the Way.   Somewhere at sometime, the light will go on and you will know.   It happened to me and I have never looked back.  Be patient and pray, it will happen.

I believe this is a good and wise piece of advice. Right now, perhaps it is difficult or impossible for me to overcome my hate, anger, and sense of disgust. Because of my vision of humanity and of myself, I currently have a self-destructive wish. It is not my desire to be in Heaven or in Hell for all eternity, for in either case there will be people present, and all shall be known perfectly by all, just as God knows perfectly. I am afraid of that. Most of the time, I wish to be alone, or simply not to exist. I must pray that God will have mercy on me and change my stony heart into a heart of flesh. I must fast, pray, and love.

It is more difficult than it sounds.
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Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2014, 11:20:18 AM »

Maybe I have no right to ask you questions or to give you advice, but here it comes anyway:

Do you like children, handicapped people, animals etc? Maybe it would be nice to get closer to them? It sounds like the simplicity and joy could make your heart a little lighter and put things into perspective?

I feel for your heavy heart. Try not to look gloomy under that Cross, there is Resurrection!

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« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2014, 11:33:19 AM »

Maybe I have no right to ask you questions or to give you advice, but here it comes anyway:

Do you like children, handicapped people, animals etc? Maybe it would be nice to get closer to them? It sounds like the simplicity and joy could make your heart a little lighter and put things into perspective?

I feel for your heavy heart. Try not to look gloomy under that Cross, there is Resurrection!

You have every right to give advice and ask questions, for you are a brother in Christ - who has liberated you. I shall speak plainly, in answer:

From an early age, I have suffered same-sex attractions. I happen have extreme neurodevelopmental problems (light, noise, cognition), and am mostly a shut-in without any money, life, or hope. I am angry about the debasement of the priesthood since Vatican II, the fact that I cannot become a priest in my neurodevelopmental disability & homosexuality, and the fact that I must watch the defiled priesthood be exercised by men who do not know or care about the truth. I am a proud sinner...

I've had a horrible time with nihilism, atheism, and emptiness. I am very bitter that I cannot become a priest, brother, or married man. My vocation seems to be nil. That is probably one of the biggest underlying motivations for my departure from Latin culture. I have heard that the Orthodox allow us to become monks, for our healing and salvation. I thought this might be part of God's call for me to leave Rome. I have not judged by facts, but by my passions and emotions. That has been the cause of every sorrow and error.

The Mother of God and the holy Fathers may be with me, but my perception is of silence and coldness. I am so distracted by sorrows about the state of the Church that I feel abandoned. I am not so sure if I believe in the great cloud of witnesses, or anything at all except a God of wrath and justice. I am alone, for I do not practice the remembrance of God's presence, and do not know how.

The Jesus Prayer is the one and only thing that makes me come close to the presence of Christ. He is right before me at all times in this prayer, and I am before Him. The Cross is all light and joy, but I feel separated from it. The Resurrection is all glory and victory, but it seems so far away and unreal.

Puppies, children, and the mentally-disabled? I can barely leave my own home, and I should look to them and serve them? I've heard people with my specific problem are good with children. It doesn't seem to matter all that much, really. They'll die too. Everything just dies, after a life of empty Roman novus ordo religion, or empty Protestant religion, or empty Orthodox religion, or paganism, or atheism.

I apologize. I am not sure if I believe these things I am saying. I have not vented in such a manner before.
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Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2014, 11:51:14 AM »

Maybe I have no right to ask you questions or to give you advice, but here it comes anyway:

Do you like children, handicapped people, animals etc? Maybe it would be nice to get closer to them? It sounds like the simplicity and joy could make your heart a little lighter and put things into perspective?

I feel for your heavy heart. Try not to look gloomy under that Cross, there is Resurrection!

You have every right to give advice and ask questions, for you are a brother in Christ - who has liberated you. I shall speak plainly, in answer:

From an early age, I have suffered same-sex attractions. I happen have extreme neurodevelopmental problems (light, noise, cognition), and am mostly a shut-in without any money, life, or hope. I am angry about the debasement of the priesthood since Vatican II, the fact that I cannot become a priest in my neurodevelopmental disability & homosexuality, and the fact that I must watch the defiled priesthood be exercised by men who do not know or care about the truth. I am a proud sinner...

I've had a horrible time with nihilism, atheism, and emptiness. I am very bitter that I cannot become a priest, brother, or married man. My vocation seems to be nil. That is probably one of the biggest underlying motivations for my departure from Latin culture. I have heard that the Orthodox allow us to become monks, for our healing and salvation. I thought this might be part of God's call for me to leave Rome. I have not judged by facts, but by my passions and emotions. That has been the cause of every sorrow and error.

The Mother of God and the holy Fathers may be with me, but my perception is of silence and coldness. I am so distracted by sorrows about the state of the Church that I feel abandoned. I am not so sure if I believe in the great cloud of witnesses, or anything at all except a God of wrath and justice. I am alone, for I do not practice the remembrance of God's presence, and do not know how.

The Jesus Prayer is the one and only thing that makes me come close to the presence of Christ. He is right before me at all times in this prayer, and I am before Him. The Cross is all light and joy, but I feel separated from it. The Resurrection is all glory and victory, but it seems so far away and unreal.

Puppies, children, and the mentally-disabled? I can barely leave my own home, and I should look to them and serve them? I've heard people with my specific problem are good with children. It doesn't seem to matter all that much, really. They'll die too. Everything just dies, after a life of empty Roman novus ordo religion, or empty Protestant religion, or empty Orthodox religion, or paganism, or atheism.

I apologize. I am not sure if I believe these things I am saying. I have not vented in such a manner before.

But on the bight side Smiley

Your current situation lends itself to the development of a  rule of deep prayer. You could even ask on the net for people who desire prayers be said for them. You could follow a monastic rule by in large in terms of fasting and praying the hours etc.. For example you could wake every night and do the midnight prayers. Recite the Jesus Prayer constantly.

Work with what has been already given to you with gratitude and then see if that is how God needs you or if you will eventually move on to something else. Get an Orthodox Spiritual Father who you can call on the phone to catechize you and guide you properly.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2UP86bciVA
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« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2014, 12:50:37 PM »

I agree work with what has been given to you, don't find excuses and complain. With hard work you can do almost everything and fill every gap that it might be.
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2014, 08:32:26 AM »

Your current situation lends itself to the development of a  rule of deep prayer. You could even ask on the net for people who desire prayers be said for them. You could follow a monastic rule by in large in terms of fasting and praying the hours etc.. For example you could wake every night and do the midnight prayers. Recite the Jesus Prayer constantly.

Work with what has been already given to you with gratitude and then see if that is how God needs you or if you will eventually move on to something else. Get an Orthodox Spiritual Father who you can call on the phone to catechize you and guide you properly.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2UP86bciVA

Marc1152, thank you for the kind and patient reply, despite my ugly words.

You are correct with regards to the possibilities allowed to a shut-in. I must think about it.

Sorry... there is more to this thread than simple convert issues. My entire vision of God has been severely defiled by my experiences, and I don't even know if I am able to recover a right vision. I'd say more, but then it would probably just derail the topic.
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Куди я від Духа Твого піду, і куди я втечу від Твого лиця? Якщо я на небо зійду, то Ти там, або постелюся в шеолі ось Ти! Понесуся на крилах зірниці, спочину я на кінці моря, то рука Твоя й там попровадить мене, і мене буде тримати правиця Твоя!
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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2014, 10:21:41 AM »


Uhhhh.

Isn't the context of that from Life of Brian where everybody is hanging on crosses?
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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2014, 10:37:40 AM »


. My entire vision of God has been severely defiled by my experiences, and I don't even know if I am able to recover a right vision.

Maybe you can't. But you're not in this alone. God can help you recover a right vision.
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« Reply #32 on: April 13, 2014, 01:06:24 PM »

Heorot,

I have walked a similar path to the one you have (atheism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy) and I understand that is is not an easy one to make.

Particularly helpful during my own struggles was the witness of Hieromonk Gabriel Bunge, a Benedictine monk who was received into the Orthodox Church at around the age of seventy.  An interview with him can be found here: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/65138.htm

With regards to your struggle with papal primacy I have the following to offer.

A detailed summary of Orthodox opposition to the concept of papal primacy can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_opposition_to_papal_supremacy (yes, I realize it's Wikipedia but the footnotes are full of relevant patristic quotes)

A discussion (from a protestant source) on the fathers commentary on Matthew 16:18 can be found here: http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/mt16.html

A summary of Orthodox and Catholic relations can be found here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Timeline_of_Orthodox_Church_and_Roman_Catholic_relations

I hope this helps. God bless.
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« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2014, 08:48:17 PM »

Heorot--If I may be frank with you, I think that your past experiences have been shaped somewhat by what seems to be a lack of direct experience with God.  However, I think that you are on your way with the Jesus Prayer. You should know that Orthodoxy not only means right belief but also right worship. Immerse yourself in the services of the Church. Each will have at least a portion that will touch you. You are not there yet for the Holy Mysteries, but you can still pray and talk to the Lord, ask Him to send to you the Holy Spirit. Right now, we start the Passion Week with this prayer:

"When the Lord was going to His voluntary Passion,
 He said to His Apostles on the way:
 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem,
 And the Son of Man shall be delivered up
 As it is written of Him.
 Come, therefore, and let us accompany Him,
 With minds purified from the pleasures of this life,
 And let us be crucified and die with Him,
 That we may live with Him,
 And that we may hear Him say to us:
 I go now, not to the earthly Jerusalem to suffer,
 But unto My Father and your Father
 And My God and your God,
 And I will gather you up into the heavenly Jerusalem,
 Into the Kingdom of Heaven....”
(Monday Matins)

Travel with Him this week without thinking about anything else and see what happens.
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