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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.