Hello. I'm a 22-year-old single, Latin Rite Catholic in communion with Rome, but that might all change soon (at least the Latin Rite Catholic part). Attacked by fundamentalist Christians, I have begun reading works of the early Church. At first, I used these texts to defend Catholic beliefs, such as the Real Presence and the apostolic succession, but now, upon deeper reading, I am finding myself increasingly in favor of Orthodox beliefs. I am discovering that the papacy was not present in the early Church, and was in fact an idea bolstered in the medieval ages by a series of forged documents.
If you keep reading, you'll only find further confirmation of your initial findings. The "Papacy as we now know it" is a relatively recent thing (first Vatican Council in the late 19th century), and prior to this you'll see distinct "stages of development" in the Roman Papacy, each being created by various political pressures.
There's an excellent book by Michael Whelton called Two Paths: Papal Monarchy - Collegial Tradition
which I highly recommend to people from Roman Catholic backgrounds (in fact this was the first book my Orthodox parish Priest handed me to read). It's not all that could be said on the subject, but it's certainly a good start
. The book is easy to read, and well documented. Another work (which you can get online for free) is Abbe Guettee's The Papacy
- you can download a .pdf version of this book here
. The book is more polemical in tone than Mr.Whelton's brief tome, but does contain a lot of valuable information and argumentation.
Simply put, contemporary "papism" is a fraud; this is not overly harsh, since the arguments put forward in it's favour within the RCC were based on fraudulent documents (like the so called "Donation of Constantine"), and a lot of Papal strong arming (like the disgusting bullying which occured at the first Vatican Council, which decreed dogmatically
that the Pope was "infallible").
1) I am interested in how Kallistos and other Orthodox writers emphasize how the East and West THINK differently, and this is why their theologies are much different from each other. While I understand this to a degree, could someone please give me perhaps 5 or 6 ways in which the East and West are much different in the ways they think?
Well it's important to emphasize that a lot of the so called "eastern" ways of thinking were once shared by the west as well. To a great degree talk of "east vs. west" is misleading, just as talk of "Roman vs. Byzantine" is misleading (since the "Byzantines" never called themselves such, but were the continuing part of the Roman Empire, which had moved it's capital from Rome to Constantinople in the fourth century A.D. - even the Muslim Arabs who conquered the Middle East understood their Orthodox Christian subjects to be Rum
, or "Romans"). Really this is a case of "Roman Orthodox" vs. "Frankish Latin" thinking. For some excellent discussions on this and many related topics, I'd suggest you go look at the articles at the following website...The Romans - Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The articles available there actually deal with this question of just how Orthodox think "differently" than post-schism western Christians. It would be pointless for me to try and rephrase what the articles on that site (many of them by the late Fr.John Romanides) have to say. There's lots of reading material there for you, and I think you'll get a lot out of it (I know I did.)
2) I wish to serve the Church (wherever the Church may be!). I honestly have considered some sort of religious life with the Western Church, but they require you to be celibate, and I don't feel that God is calling me to the celibate life, although I sense that He is pulling me towards some way of life in which I teach and help others, especially with their spiritual needs. I had thought earlier that perhaps I should become a DRE or a Catholic teacher at a Western Church school, but now I am not so sure if I could do this were I to become Orthodox.
I can appreciate your enthusiasm and desire to serve God, but I think you have more basic matters to concern yourself with at this point. Our parish Priest said to me once, that the devil wants you to try and do a lot of things (to really load up your plate) and do them poorly, rather than do a few things well (in particular, to get the basics down pat.) At this point, you seem to be at a crossroads regarding your spiritual affiliation. This is just my two cents (though I'm tempted to think mosts Priests would agree with me here), but I think you should work on your own situation for now, before forming plans to enter into a Priestly ministry. If that is God's will for you, it will happen - and it will not require your prodding your parish Priest or your Bishop either, you'll likely get approached about this at some point in the future. Rather at this point, pray a lot, read some good spiritual books, and start attending Orthodox services and make a point of talking to the Priest there about your concerns.
St.Seraphim of Sarov (a much beloved Russian Saint, a heroic ascetic and man of incredible humility) said that if you "acquire the Holy Spirit", you'll save a thousand people around you. His point is a characteristically Orthodox one - the genuine, effective missionary and pastor of souls, is the one who is sincerely seeking his own salvation first and foremost. St.Seraphim was a hermit, who spent years and years in solitude and silence, yet because he had grown so great in the grace of God, people found their way to him - undoubtedly St.Seraphim is responsible (in so far as God's creatures can play a role in salvation) for the salvation of many thousands upon thousands of people...thus demonstrating this little gem of monastic wisdom.