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Laurentius
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« on: November 18, 2013, 08:02:52 PM »

Dear ONET,

I have some mixed questions, so please be patient!  angel

Some time ago I started to question my Catholic faith, something I thought was not possible before. I started to have doubts about some of our dogmas, as well as our spirituality. After years of using all kinds of devotions with promises that I would not suffer from God's punishments, I started to become afraid of Jesus. My question was - is this really healthy, is this really the Way? There are also doubts about filioque, papal infallibility etc.

Leaving the Church means leaving my community and also Salvation if I am wrong. This terrifies me and makes me depressed! It would of course be easier if I knew that my doubts were signs that I was getting closer to Truth, but I am still not sure. Please pray for me, that I will never leave Jesus!

When I spoke to my Priest about this, he told me that I probably should not live a sacramental life while I was giving my consent to my doubts. I know there are many other RC:s on this forum - are you using the Sacraments while inquiring the Orthodox faith? I will of course follow my spiritual director, but I am still asking out of interest.

I have also noticed that there is much to the criticism on papal infallibility, but I have not yet found good defence on Orthodox views. Could you recommend me any good books on Orthodox apologetics? How do I know that the Council of Chalcedon is a valid Council from an Orthodox perspective for example? How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?). Most of the Orthodox books I have read has been about Catholicism in one way or another, and I suppose I could make use of something that defends the Eastern way from its opponents...

Again, please pray for me!

/Your brother in Christ
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2013, 04:16:19 PM »

So much you write! Hard to narrow focus. The hardest is fearing Jesus.
OTOH, I think the first Psalm tells me to fear the Lord and such things are repeated often in The Bible, so I find safety and comfort in contemplating the awesome, monstrous universe, like the majesty of quasars, or life in drops of scum and such. Or the problems and sins I find in my own heart in trying to achieve closeness with and in Him. I just count fear as an operating system for my fallen self, while knowing that He created Adam without fear, at least until he sinned. We all have our moments.
BTW, "doubt" IS the other side of faith, so do not fear your doubts as they can be considered markers along The Way.

That Filoque thingy.....God forgive this catechumen, but it I find it to be a silly argument, created by men, over a preposition, in trying to understand a Mystery. So for me three strikes at bat and the issue is OUTTA here.

The papal infallibility is almost like and similar when viewed as a historical process and from a FAR distance. When declared formally Roman Catholicism had seen a vast diminution of their mighty sovereign. Nationalism was coming forth, folks were still reeling from Napoleanism, the French Revolution etc....VAST changes  in the European Spirit were moving and this was a last ditch effort of an empire in a dying thrust to assert before the world their position. I am probably in error but since that declaration only two others have been issued. That was one, and two more regarding the status of Mary. In my egotistically, blind and uniformed opinion, the Bishops of Orthodoxy hold similar powers. If they say "it is so", then that is it, but to remain in communion with the other bishops, their delcarations must coincide with all the other elements that make up "infallibility" ie Scripture, Divine Revelation, Tradition, etc.

Got to go and do stuff.  Forgive me for I may have mislead you down the wrong path which is not my intention.
The best thing to do is go and pray, live your life and seek God.  You can do that easiest and best by fasting, praying and giving to the poor.

Dear ONET,

I have some mixed questions, so please be patient!  angel

Some time ago I started to question my Catholic faith, something I thought was not possible before. I started to have doubts about some of our dogmas, as well as our spirituality. After years of using all kinds of devotions with promises that I would not suffer from God's punishments, I started to become afraid of Jesus. My question was - is this really healthy, is this really the Way? There are also doubts about filioque, papal infallibility etc.

Leaving the Church means leaving my community and also Salvation if I am wrong. This terrifies me and makes me depressed! It would of course be easier if I knew that my doubts were signs that I was getting closer to Truth, but I am still not sure. Please pray for me, that I will never leave Jesus!

When I spoke to my Priest about this, he told me that I probably should not live a sacramental life while I was giving my consent to my doubts. I know there are many other RC:s on this forum - are you using the Sacraments while inquiring the Orthodox faith? I will of course follow my spiritual director, but I am still asking out of interest.

I have also noticed that there is much to the criticism on papal infallibility, but I have not yet found good defence on Orthodox views. Could you recommend me any good books on Orthodox apologetics? How do I know that the Council of Chalcedon is a valid Council from an Orthodox perspective for example? How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?). Most of the Orthodox books I have read has been about Catholicism in one way or another, and I suppose I could make use of something that defends the Eastern way from its opponents...

Again, please pray for me!

/Your brother in Christ
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2013, 04:41:20 PM »

I'll take communion as a long as the Priest is fully cognizant and aware of my existence.
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 05:18:05 PM »

As a former "cradle" Roman Catholic, I can tell you that the decision to leave was not taken lightly. My husband and I struggled with this decision for over three years, but during those three years, we read extensively and attended many Orthodox services. We also attended inquiry classes and bible-study classes sponsored by the local Orthodox Churches.

Please go and attend Vespers and the Divine Liturgy at a local Orthodox Christian Church.

However, make sure that the church you attend is really an Orthodox Church as we have a "Charismatic Orthodox Church" not too far from us where the Bishop and his Bishop-wife serve as pastors. In addition, there are "Evangelical Orthodox Churches" and even "Presbyterian Orthodox Churches" who are not truly Orthodox Christians.
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 05:59:08 PM »

Thank you all for your replies!

I was drinking wine and it was quite late when I wrote my post, and I realize now that it was mostly about venting with people who could possibly be in a similar situation. Not a bad reason of course, and I truly appreciate your post Maria. I do already attend the Orthodox church almost every week and the Priest knows me. Their ways of praying is different of course, but I think it fits my temperament quite well. It is not a Protestant thing, I think they are quite rare in my country. Personally I cannot imagine living without the Sacraments for three years though, but I suppose only God knows His plans for me right now.

I also appreciate your advice  LenInSebastopol. You are right about praying, fasting and giving alms. Sometimes we lose focus because of our inner struggles. I suppose the whole thing is more intense for me because I am not allowed to receive the Sacraments anymore, especially since I am used to confess and commune almost every week. If I wanted to go back, I would have to say that I would no longer give my consent to my doubts about some of our Catholic dogmas, and I am not sure if I can do that.

My main obstacles for changing to Orthodox are the following:

* Fear of losing friends, but even more so my soul if I am wrong. The Catholic teaching is quite harsh on this one.
* Intellectual struggles with some Orthodox arguments on the guarantee of Truth. Why do some believe in Chalcedon and some do not for example? Why would a single diocese keep several bishops who sometimes teach different things? Why would God leave its faithful uncertain in the times of the great heresies?

Could someone recommend me any books on the latter? I am fairly familiar with the Eastern critique on Catholicism, but I have read very little defence on the arguments usually used against the Orthodox. Maybe it could help persuade me, or unpersuade me the arguments are not strong enough.

Let us pray for one another!
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2013, 06:24:28 PM »

"How do I know that the Council of Chalcedon is a valid Council from an Orthodox perspective for example? How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?)."

Ecumenical means that the entire Church throughout the world accepts it. That makes it valid. OOs would disagree, but whatever.

Christ said he'd lead His Church into all truth.

St. Irenaeus said: "The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world... For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it." (Against Heresies I, 10, 2)

It's through the concrete unchanging bulwark of Holy Tradition, and through the consistent testimony of Apostolic Succession and the oversight of the laity of the Church, isn't added to, or taken away from.

Tradition is static in Orthodoxy, it doesn't 'evolve.' The councils simply affirm what the Church's stance has always been.

Chalcedon is one of history's most confusing events. Essentially, the OOs held to the Fathers (St. Cyril of Alexandria), and the EOs held to the Councils (Chalcedon). I think that's a good way of putting it, but that may generate some controversy. I don't think there is a good way to talk about Chalcedon without having polemical discussions.
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2013, 06:45:02 PM »

I know there are many other RC:s on this forum - are you using the Sacraments while inquiring the Orthodox faith? I will of course follow my spiritual director, but I am still asking out of interest.

I have also noticed that there is much to the criticism on papal infallibility, but I have not yet found good defence on Orthodox views. Could you recommend me any good books on Orthodox apologetics? How do I know that the Council of Chalcedon is a valid Council from an Orthodox perspective for example? How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?).

I'm not RC, so I'm not sure I'll be of much help.  I haven't taken communion in almost 10 years because I haven't been a member of any church, so I'm patiently awaiting my chrismation into the Orthodox Church.

Since I'm not RC, I've never been under the Pope.  The Orthodox views of all bishops being equal and in agreement make more sense to me than one bishop having more say than everyone else.

Honestly, I don't know that much about the councils.  I'm sure the history must be interesting, but I've been more concerned with learning the doctrine and not so much where it came from, exactly.  I'm satified that it was hundreds of years in the making for thousands of years before I found it.

I consider Arianism to be a much later problem, like around the Prostestant Reformation, along with Calvinism, etc.  I could be wrong and probably am.  However, the Orthodox views of salvation make more sense to me than the Prostestant version I grew up with, so I'm not too concerned with studying conflicting views of theology in depth.
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2013, 08:10:30 PM »

Quote
Leaving the Church means leaving my community and also Salvation if I am wrong. This terrifies me and makes me depressed! It would of course be easier if I knew that my doubts were signs that I was getting closer to Truth, but I am still not sure. Please pray for me, that I will never leave Jesus!

I completely understand this. I was a protestant minister in a church for 7+ years and had preached in many churches in my state. I had many friends that I had prayed with, spent time with in their homes, laughed together and sometimes cried together. Leaving was one of the hardest things I've ever done and my wife is still protestant.

From my experience I can tell you that what I've learned as an Orthodox Christian and the amount of how my prayer life and my relationship with Christ has grown far outweighs the losses. It's still hard to this day. But, my family and friends are slowly becoming open to discussion about the Orthodox Church. The sacrifice is worth it to me but it is hard.
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2013, 11:21:55 AM »

I consider Arianism to be a much later problem, like around the Prostestant Reformation, along with Calvinism, etc.  I could be wrong and probably am.

Actually Arianism was one of the reasons for the First Council, the Council of Nicea, so 4th century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2013, 12:24:12 PM »

Actually Arianism was one of the reasons for the First Council, the Council of Nicea, so 4th century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism

Thank you.
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2013, 07:12:44 PM »

So you are RC and not sure whether Arius was right or wrong?
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« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2013, 07:50:59 PM »

So you are RC and not sure whether Arius was right or wrong?

You really need to work on your English comprehension, Michal. Here is what Christina wrote:

Quote
I consider Arianism to be a much later problem, like around the Prostestant Reformation, along with Calvinism, etc.  I could be wrong and probably am.


The word in bold easily and clearly explains the second sentence of her post.
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2013, 07:55:15 PM »

I didn't mean her.

How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?)
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« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2013, 07:57:27 PM »

I didn't mean her.

How could I recognize Truth in the battles of Arianism (even Constantinople suffered from this?)

That's better.
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« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2013, 09:47:32 PM »

I was thinking of Arminianism versus Calvinism instead of Arianism.  The Wiki link cleared it up for me.  I've been reading too many things that make my brain hurt.
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« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2013, 12:20:54 PM »

So you are RC and not sure whether Arius was right or wrong?

No, I am pretty sure.

What I mean is that I do not understand the Orthodox system of authority and learning Truth. Arianism is not a big problem anymore, but even Constantinople suffered from it for a while. I am sure it would have been a lot harder to understand things back then.

Today Chalcedon would be a much better example. If I, as an outsider (RC), would come to realize that my Church is wrong (I am leaning towards it at the moment), how would I know what Church to enter? Oriental Orthodox? Eastern Orthodox? One that only re-baptize or one that accepts joining through Chrismation?

The RC argument is pretty clear , you "follow St. Peter". There is a lot of weakness to that argument, especially historical, but at least you know why something would be considered true and why it would not. There is a system somehow...

Do you understand my question better now?
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2013, 08:22:05 AM »

it sounds like a cliche, but ask God which church to enter.
see whether the church near you is EO (eastern) or OO (oriental) (it really does not matter, despite many of the posts here!)
may God guide u and give u peace.

look for a church where the people have God's love and compassion for those outside; these are found in many places,
and, sadly, none of us can say, 'if you go to my jurisdiction you are guaranteed a welcome and good spiritual guidance'.
you see, God allowed humans into the church, and we spoil it sometimes...
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2013, 06:20:25 PM »

it sounds like a cliche, but ask God which church to enter.
see whether the church near you is EO (eastern) or OO (oriental) (it really does not matter, despite many of the posts here!)
may God guide u and give u peace.

look for a church where the people have God's love and compassion for those outside; these are found in many places,
and, sadly, none of us can say, 'if you go to my jurisdiction you are guaranteed a welcome and good spiritual guidance'.
you see, God allowed humans into the church, and we spoil it sometimes...

I heard an Orthodox Priest saying that the Church is visible! How do I know who separated from the Body? The East? The Orientals? Based on what? The content of the Council?

If it does not matter whether Chalcedon was true or not, why should I not stay where I am (Rome)?
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2013, 06:22:41 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2013, 06:39:30 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.

Are you just being a jerk, or do you really not understand what he is asking?
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2013, 06:44:23 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.

Are you just being a jerk, or do you really not understand what he is asking?

He seem to have problems with Ecumenical Councils. And that is strange as he comes from religion that recognizes them.
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« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2013, 06:55:39 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.

Are you just being a jerk, or do you really not understand what he is asking?

He seem to have problems with Ecumenical Councils. And that is strange as he comes from religion that recognizes them.

I do not think you understand me.

A Catholic would say that the Council of Chalcedon is valid because the Pope recognized the Council. That same argument is impossible for an Orthodox, which leads me to my question:

You, as an Orthodox, would normally say that the Council is licit because it is lived and prayed by the Church. Why then would the Oriental Churches not recognize it? Who separated from who, and based on what arguments?

Simply - how do I know if a Council is teaching Truth when there is chaos and separation among the Bishops?
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« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2013, 06:56:36 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.

Are you just being a jerk, or do you really not understand what he is asking?

He seem to have problems with Ecumenical Councils. And that is strange as he comes from religion that recognizes them.

If I understand him/her correctly, they are asking how the Orthodox know, or claim to know, that this or that Council is authentic and orthodox. What criteria or method is used to determine that this or that Council is a true one and not a robber council? How is that determined? Does a certain bishop have the final call? The Church in general? What happens when a sizable part of the Church rejects a Council, extending even to the present day? How can one be sure? I don't know that there are good answers to these questions, which is why I've stayed out of the thread, but I think that is what he's asking about.  .. I also apologize for being a jerk in my last post.
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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2013, 06:58:57 PM »

Why a Catholic does not have a firm stance on Chalcedon? I would assume Chalcedon is kinda obvious for Catholics.

Are you just being a jerk, or do you really not understand what he is asking?

He seem to have problems with Ecumenical Councils. And that is strange as he comes from religion that recognizes them.

If I understand him/her correctly, they are asking how the Orthodox know, or claim to know, that this or that Council is authentic and orthodox. What criteria or method is used to determine that this or that Council is a true one and not a robber council? How is that determined? Does a certain bishop have the final call? The Church in general? What happens when a sizable part of the Church rejects a Council, extending even to the present day? How can one be sure? I don't know that there are good answers to these questions, which is why I've stayed out of the thread, but I think that is what he's asking about.  .. I also apologize for being a jerk in my last post.

That is what I was asking. Thank you!
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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2013, 07:09:31 PM »


Ecumenical means that the entire Church throughout the world accepts it. That makes it valid. OOs would disagree, but whatever.
[---]
Chalcedon is one of history's most confusing events. Essentially, the OOs held to the Fathers (St. Cyril of Alexandria), and the EOs held to the Councils (Chalcedon). I think that's a good way of putting it, but that may generate some controversy. I don't think there is a good way to talk about Chalcedon without having polemical discussions.

Thank you for your reply!

"Whatever" does not settle it for me though, I need more... The OO:s disagreement would mean that the entire Church did not accept it, would it not?
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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2013, 07:16:05 PM »

I came here with almost exactly the same questions, Laurentius. I think what the Orthodox would say is that the Church went till 325AD without any ecumenical councils, just like it went till 367 without a New Testament canon. They figured out what was true by comparing it to the tradition they had received. That's how they know what councils are true. That's how they know what books go in the Bible. It's like what St. Irenaeus says in the quote xOrthodox4Christx posted:
St. Irenaeus said: "The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world... For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it." (Against Heresies I, 10, 2)
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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2013, 08:09:41 PM »


Ecumenical means that the entire Church throughout the world accepts it. That makes it valid. OOs would disagree, but whatever.
[---]
Chalcedon is one of history's most confusing events. Essentially, the OOs held to the Fathers (St. Cyril of Alexandria), and the EOs held to the Councils (Chalcedon). I think that's a good way of putting it, but that may generate some controversy. I don't think there is a good way to talk about Chalcedon without having polemical discussions.

Thank you for your reply!

"Whatever" does not settle it for me though, I need more... The OO:s disagreement would mean that the entire Church did not accept it, would it not?

Well, it''s confusing to talk about the Council of Chalcedon because of the historical circumstance. The Eastern Orthodox communion of Churches accepted it, the Oriental Orthodox Churches did not. If you want to know why that is, just ask them. I think your argument can be made of Nestorians (who still exist, rejected the council of Ephesus) and Arians (who rejected the council of Nicaea) as well.

The real question is, if Papal Infallibility wasn't an issue in the early Church, why do so many not acknowledge the authority of the Pope in his deciding of the Ecumenical Councils?

I find Papal authority harder to reconcile than Conciliar decisions.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 08:21:30 PM by xOrthodox4Christx » Logged

"Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth.... While there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." (Eugene Debs)
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« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2013, 10:54:07 AM »

Laurentius,

     I would advise not to get too hung up on Councils and all of that.  What's "valid",  who won what argument...  The over intellectualizing of the Faith can interfere in your discernment.  Put the books away for a good long while.

  Attend the Divine Liturgy if you feel inclined.  

  A nun very dear to me once told me that "If you understand the Liturgy,  you understand everything you need."   Probably one of the best pieces of spiritual advice I ever received.   Step into the stream of Orthodox life, and flow with it for a time if you feel a pull.   As you go along,  God will quiet your heart and you will know where you belong.

There will come a point where the Truth can no longer be denied,  and the break or reconciliation will be inevitable.   God does not abandon us.
   
God be with you on your journey.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 10:58:34 AM by Misplaced Book » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2013, 04:04:26 PM »

good points.
we make decisions based on analysing things and also based on intuition.
so, if you get stuck in history, ask God for spiritual guidance and stop reading history.

official representatives of all the orthodox churches from the eastern (EO) and oriental (OO) groups got together in 1989 - 1991 and decided that both families of churches consider each other 'orthodox' and that we had really misunderstood each other in the past. so, for the majority of orthodox Christians worldwide, it is not longer a problem.
you will find a greater than average number of people writing on the internet saying that it is a problem, as the people who think it's ok now are getting on with their lives and spending less time discussing it online.
if you want to read more (and i'm not sure that now is the right time for that, but i'll let you choose), look here:

http://www.thevoiceoforthodoxy.com/orthodox_documents.html

and scroll down to numbers 4 (IV) and 5 (V) - these talks were preceded by a series of unofficial agreements, but offical agreement followed in numbers 4 and 5.

may God guide u and give u peace.
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