23 August 2018

The reasons to go/not to go east

So there are some of us that ask the question, to what are we to do? Are we to stay in an abusive situation, and risk even further damage? Should we loose faith?.....Well, let me say these things:

The Church is not a cult, and we do not guilt people into staying therein. And "leaving" for an Apostolic church, is not leaving the Church! (If you're leaving for protestantism, or to have no faith at all, that's an entirely different argument and not something I wish to address)

If you do decide to come east....

1. Come because you find Christ here! (And He IS here, the Orthodox churches have maintained valid succession, and have interned the structure of the Church, and thus have valid Holy Mysteries) The peace that comes from having Christ among us (He is and ever shall be)  and in your heart shall keep you. By no means are things perfect. Each local church is ran by a sinner just like you, just like me. There are scandals here too, and sometimes the same type of scandals too. The major difference is they are dealt with relatively quickly. As we say in the Divine Liturgy, One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father! Everyone else falls short ;)

2. Come because your theology/ecclesiology is Orthodox

Ultimately, as I read the various Eastern Fathers of the Church and fell in love with the expression. Going to Divine Liturgy, participating in the Liturgical life, prayer life of the East, it came to a point I could no longer say no to this. (So I didn't). Come because you realize that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, and the servants can't be greater than the Master Himself. Come because universal jurisdiction did not exist in the first centuries of the Church together and you want to live this out on a daily basis. Yes, there is infighting and various disputes about canonical territory, but these things do not prevent communion at the end of the day. Come because you believe in the social kingship of Christ. Every Orthodox prayer begins "Come let us worship our King, Come let us worship our King and God, Come let us bow down and worship Jesus Christ, our only King and Our God." Yes, Rome is 1st amongst equals, but being head of a particular patriarchy does not give authority over someone else. It's a good thing Peter didn't get his way, otherwise we'd still be eating kosher, and we would be forced to be circumcised ;)

3. Come because you wish to maintain the Holy Mysteries

Yes, we Orthodox Catholics have confession, Holy Communion, baptism, and the other sacraments. It's impossible to live in Christ without Him. Yes, being Orthodox you can still receive Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. That said, there's much more to the Liturgical life than the Divine Liturgy which is the highest Liturgy, Orthos (Matins/Lauds) and Vespers are liturgical as well. Even the devotional life has a liturgical form. While we don't always have Daily Divine Liturgy we do have Daily Liturgy in other ways, capped off by the Highest of the High, the Divine Liturgy.

4. Come because you find the Catholic Faith of the 7 Ecumenical Councils preached and lived.

The Faith that we hear is the Faith of the Church undivided of the 7 Ecumenical Councils. Rarely do you hear an Orthodox priest quote himself, but often the Fathers of the Church, or a council of some type. (This isn't to say you don't get their opinions too) but the vast majority of the time, you hear a quote from one of the Fathers of the Church. This extends into the Liturgy after the Liturgy, which is of course the Agape meal, where, yes, we get out of our shells and talk. This isn't to say people don't have their problems, but on my road to Orthodoxy, there was a phyletistic attitude amongst a parishioner that was very quickly dealt with, and that left a major impression on me. We try well to be a family. The parishes are smaller,  so you are not lost amongst the numbers at a giant parish.

5. DO NOT Come just because the USS Francis/Rome is sinking rather quickly...*

That is to say don't bring bitterness, and just because the pope can't manage to keep his mouth shut (Except oddly specific times)....Humans suck, and you will not find that the grass is necessarily greener if you seek to nit pick everything. As I said earlier, we have our problems within Orthodoxy too, if you're seeking perfection, you will not find it here.

6. DO NOT Come just because you're a Roman Refugee TM **

That is to say, don't come just because you've experienced horrible liturgy at St Irreverent, and have seen virtually every liturgical abuse under the sun. Orthodox parishes while often times better, if you look hard enough, they have their problems too Liturgically. There are some Eastern Catholic parishes that put the Orthodox churches to shame, and vice versa. Once again, if you seek perfection, you will not find it here.

* and ** Often times these are initial reasons for curiosity towards Holy Orthodoxy, but they should not be the reason that you end up staying. You fall in love with a way of life, a way of being. Put another way if you do decide to "leave Rome" you should. do so in peace, not in bitterness or anger.

7. It is not you who left Rome, it is Rome who left you.

Rome by not doing her due diligence in keeping her house in order, and allowing you to be devoured by the wolves amongst them, have left you abandoned, and you can't be blamed for coming to seek a shelter where (for the most part) you will be better protected. You should not feel guilty for having made the decision to come to Orthodoxy, nor should you have the desire to go back.

The reality is that because The Orthodox have valid orders, and have maintained the structure of the Church, and Christ can't be divided, we are apart of the Church Universal. This is true for the Non Chalcedonian Orthodox as well. As such, technically, you're not really leaving Rome, as switching upper management. (Which seeing who art amongst them....I can't blame you for switching upper management)....One thing that everyone needs to realize that the relationships between Orthodox and Catholics have NEVER been black and white.....Something to keep in mind: The Salvation of Souls is greater than any so-called schism that exists within the Church. If you are in an Apostolic church (Catholic, Orthodox), you're in a solid ship and going in the right direction.

8. Do NOT think the road is easier:

If anything the road is harder....More Fasting, Longer Liturgies, you can get used to the fact that when someone says it will be over in 10 min, you might wish to multiply that by a factor of 3. It is not an easy way to live, but I think it's worth it. (Well, whatever pathetic attempt that I'm giving at this)

9. Do not think that you're going to escape the characters....

Beware of the Convertski, or the Hyperdox. Pretty much the Eastern equivalent of the rad trads. While there may be grains of truth in what you hear from them, the key is to be balanced. Don't let yourself be trapped in ideological corners, or manage to politicize everything.

10. Do Not burn your bridges....

Last but not least, do not burn your bridges from whence you came. Stay on good terms from wherever you come from...You never know what situation you might find yourself in. While Orthodox are in most major cities, and even minor cities, in some places they are harder to find, or a parish will be hard to find.

I will tell you that I was gone well before the scandals, and my heart was not in Rome by the time I was out of Seminary, and although I didn't formally leave for Orthodoxy until years later...By the time I did come to Orthodoxy, I was at peace, my internal peace came back after being gone for years. Although there are still up and down moments, I'm glad to be an Orthodox Catholic...(and no, I never renounced Rome)

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