HAS ANYONE OUT THERE FELT THAT MAYBE THE ORTHODOX CHURCH WASN'T FOR YOU??ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I'M GOING THROUGH A DILEMMA.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I AM A CRADLE GREEK ORTHODOX OF A FAMILY THAT WENT TO CHURCH EASTER AND RAN OUT AFTER CHRISTOS ANESTI.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I NOW LIVE ABOUT AN HOUR, ONE WAY, FROM THE CLOSEST GREEK CHURCH.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š THERE IS AN ANTIOCHIAN CHURCH A LITTLE CLOSER THAT I HAVE BEEN GOING TO WITH MY WIFE, BUT WE SEEM TO KEEP BEING DRAWN AWAY FROM IT.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š THERE IS ALWAYS CONFLICT AND BICKERING AND POWER STRUGGLES.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š IT'S A CONSTANT STRUGGLE TO WANT TO WAKE UP SUNDAY MORNING TO GO TO CHURCH.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š WE DON'T LIKE THAT FEELING.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š IF ANYONE HAS STRUGGLED WITH BEING IN A CHURCH YOU DIDN'T FEEL AT PEACE IN, PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW YOU RESOLVED THE DILEMMA.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š WE NEED TO GO TO CHURCH EVERY WEEK, OTHERWISE THE REST OF THE WEEK DOESN'T GO TOO WELL.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š WE DON'T WANT TO LEAVE THE ORTHODOX FAITH, BUT HAVE BEEN THINKING OF GOING TO A NON-DEMONINATIONAL CHURCH FOR A WHILE.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š ANY ADVICE.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š THANK YOU.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Well, let me give you the perspective of someone who is very close to leaving the Roman Catholic Church inÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š order to join the Orthodox Church.
I was really upset at some things in my Church: child-abusing priests and bishops who covered it up, my bishop closing my parish due to the shortage of priests (the right decision, but still painful), and so on.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I also experienced some of the pettiness which you described.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I was so mad that I wanted to storm out. (I'm not saying that you are that way.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š That was how I was.)ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Fortunately, I was advisedÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š not to leave a Church out of anger because (1) that clouds the judgement and (2) it would poison my heart and (3) I would just encounter something else wherever I go because people are people and the devil is an equal-opportunity seducer of souls.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
So, I cooled my jets and took some time to think things over.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Here is what I figured out:
I won't become a Protestant because they don't have the Eucharist and so much of what flows from the Eucharist:ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š the sense of the presence of Christ in people and things (such as saints, people here, Tradition, etc.).
I will probably leave the Catholic Church because of the filioque (and the underlying claims of papal supremacy which made it an issue).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Not to rehash other debates and posts, but it makes a difference.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š With the filioque, the Holy Spirit really does tend to get lost in the shuffle.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š When that happens, the knowledge and practice of holiness (theosis) suffers.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Thank God, some Catholic saints have figured it out and practiced holiness anyway.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Nevertheless, Tradition and the life in Christ through the Holy Spirit have greatly and increasingly suffered in the Catholic Church since it diverted from orthodoxy, starting about 1000 years ago.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It can be seen in the liturgy, in piety, in over-valuing Mary (almost as a substitute for the Holy Spirit at times), and the messes which the Catholic Church seems to generate internally every 200 years or so.
I will probably join the Orthodox Church because it seems to be the Church I have been looking for my whole life.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Tradition (the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church, including in the lives of individuals) is preserved and lived.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Divine Liturgy is celebrated with reverence and dignity.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Also, the Divine Liturgy has NOT needed to be "updated" (like in the Catholic Church or in the Protestant churches) inÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š 1700 years because it hasn't been messed with in the Orthodox Church.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Church architecture and liturgy are designed to lift the whole human being (body, heart, mind an soul) to focus on God.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Trinity is remembered.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Mary is respected but in her proper role.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Discipline is real (fasting, etc.) and expected.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š There is no "imperial" papacy to govern everything and which seems to be the ultimate focus of Church organization --either for or against it--ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š instead of the life in Christ.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Instead, the head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ, and the highest authority is an ecumenical council and Tradition.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š That translates into real benefits on the everyday level of life.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Icons.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Real candles in church.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Liturgy that feels like worship instead of fellowship.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Decent liturgical music (chant).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Married parish priests.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Monks who are focused on God.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Allowing contraception.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Recognizing the reality of divorce (instead of pretending that a failed marriage never was a marriage).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Theology that is theosis, instead of theology that is an intellectual exercise.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Orthodox Church didn't need to change because they never messed up or diverted from what they received from the Apostles.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It works.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It's alive and it's also growing in its mystical theology.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Finally, the Orthodox Church here in America is a tiny minority (maybe 2% of the population).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š That means it is a *chosen* religion for both converts and cradle members.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And that means that many of the people are genuinely focused on why they are there and carrying it out.
I won't go on and on.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I don't want to make this into a manifesto.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I will simply say this.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If you feel so repelled by the Orthodox Church, try some of the others.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Here is what you will find.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
At the Protestant Churches (established or "nondenominational), you will find people who see Jesus in the Bible and in people -- and that's it.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š No sacraments. No "sacramentals" (icons and other tools to help us sense the presence of God in us and in everything) . You will find smiles and warm greetings and maybe a good sermon.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š You will be made welcome.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Then, after a while, you will notice that the Protestants (God bless them -- most of them don't know any better) just don't have much of the Tradition.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And, you will want more.
At the Roman Catholic Church, you will get a Protestant service with the Eucharist added in.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And the pope.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And, sometimes on special occasions, the Trinity.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And, after a while, you will want more.
And then there is the Orthodox Church.