Have you ever actually attended an orthodox parish?
In Orthodox Christianity, is it consider a sin to miss Mass on Sundays?
It would depend on the circumstances. If I decided to skip Divine Liturgy in favor of watching football, then yes. If I were traveling and there were no nearby Orthodox churches, then no. The more spiritually detrimental the reason for missing, the greater the sin.
I’ve heard (so take this with a huge grain of salt since I haven’t researched this) that missing Divine Liturgy three Sundays in a row amounts to self-excommunication and would require confession before receiving the Eucharist again.
I attended a Easter liturgy at a Greek Orthodox Church. It was beautiful. I also attend the Greek Festival yearly at the same church. I am friends with a Greek Orthodox family. My friend said the Orthodox, or at least Greek Orthodox now realize that evangelization is nearly impossible when a faith is associated entirely with that culture. No matter what a person does they will never truly be a part of that culture, i.e., Greek, Russian, Ethiopian, Egyptian, etc. That’s a major weakness of eastern Christianity, although I prefer eastern Christianity in most areas of the faith.
My EC parish is quite American in culture. We have a few Ruthenians, and some other assorted slavs, but not enough that they could have kept the parish open.
I really wish I had spent more time discerning my faith walk before I converted to Catholicism. I didn’t truly appreciate Catholicism as a culture, worldview, and socio-political system. I’m increasingly disturbed by the autocratic and totalitarian nature of Roman Catholicism. It’s not just a religion. It’s a culture, a kind of holdover from ancient Rome when the state and church were united and citizens pledged total obedience to the emperor.
There are aspects of Catholicism that have nothing to do with the gospel and have no bearing on salvation, but the laity is expected to yield to the authority of the Church in the name of apostolic secession. That authority is oftentimes abused. It’s used as a sword to crush all dissent, debate, or discussion about the Church and its role in the lives of the laity. Anyone that questions the hierarchy or chooses to reject a teaching is accused of being in mortal sin. Prior to Vatican II, the sacraments were often withheld. In hindsight, I realize parts of my relationship with Jests will always be Protestant, just as some have gravitated towards the East. I no longer feel free in my faith, but stifled in my relationship with God.
Can you give some examples? I’m genuinely curious. I also sit on the fence between Catholicism and Orthodoxy (currently I’m Eastern Catholic.) I agree that the RCC is too legalistic and that mentality has trickled down into the laity…just browsing this forum alone is evidence enough.
I also have been discerning between the two(I am confessional Lutheran)
Although I lean more towards EO, there are things are things I like better about the RCC.(EX. I think the RCC position on original sin is more correct), but as a Lutheran there is a bit too much legalism in the RCC, in my opinion.
In my view both have valid Apostolic Succession, are ancient churches, something my confessional Lutheran Church likely lacks.
I have come to feel that that is important, for valid sacraments. The closest EO church for me is about 80 miles away, so it would be easier for me to become RC in that regard. The priest at the EO parish so far as I can tell is a convert, so maybe I would not feel an outsider. I would definitely like to visit a Divine Liturgy before making a final decision.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading.
Like @dochawk, my Ruthenian parish is pretty diverse. Some are Roman Catholics who prefer a more “sacred” Liturgy and are to really interested in anything Eastern, but hey do help keep the parish vibrant and afloat.
I feel like I’m on the fence when it comes to staying Byzantine Catholic or going Orthodox (I consider myself Orthodox). I occasionally attend Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox Church and OCA. The Greek Church seems like an ethnic social club. About a third of the parish is occupied when the Liturgy starts with “white” people (non-Greeks). I’m guessing they are probably Protestant converts. When the homily is finished then all the Greeks come and the parish is packed. It’s crazy!
I like the OCA. It’s smaller, more traditional and the singing/chanting is similar to the Prostopinije Melodies of the Ruthenian Church.
Canon law is a perfect example. It’s used to stifle dissent and keep the laity under strict control. An example: Parents decide to baptize their child in the Catholic Church. The child has no opinion or input on the baptism. The parents agree to raise the child in the Catholic faith. Later, the child grows up and decides that Catholicism is no longer their faith. They decide to marry a non-Catholic or even non-Christian. According to “canon law”, the child must receive a dispensation to marry outside the Catholic (capital C) Church.
Baptism cleanses the soul of original sin. At no time did Jesus say, “baptism binds you to canon law”. That’s a man made tradition elevated above and beyond scripture. Christ is imperfectly worshipped in ALL branches of Christianity. This is why there is no unity between Eastern and Western Christianity. No church reflects 100% what Christ wanted when he founded his church. Some churches reject the sacraments. Some churches reject scripture or twist it in favor of modern trends. Wealth, power, or position dominates the Christian landscape, in sharp contrast to Jesus and the apostles. Some churches are too hierarchical or too scrupulous, (in the tradition of the pharisees) or a combination of all things antithetical to Christ. I’m just a Christian. I’ve decided in the new year to just follow Jesus, nothing more and nothing less.
I respect that. I also identify as simply “Christian”…if pressed I will say Eastern or Byzantine but mostly I just like to say Christian. I’m also tired of all the rules and laws. I know that some rules are good and that we need some structure, but goodness…whatever happened to economia?!. As someone who has OCD and tends to have “flares” it can be super detrimental to my mental heath. I’m glad I found a good parish but the fear that it will end or close makes me anxious.
I struggled with this question. I studied and studied it some more. Here’s my take on the question, and the pursuit of the answer.
There are way smarter people than us who have studied this question and come to varried conclusions. What’s my point? You will NEVER get your answer by treating it like an academic assignment. I’m not saying you’re doing this but it’s an important point to be reminded of. I use to get stressed trying to figure it out. So I left it to prayer and I’m mostly satisfied with my answer. No amount of intellectual discourse will solve it. It’s difficult because I think “how could God lead me and my prayers to the Catholic position while leading someone else (whose are just as sincere In their search) to Orthodoxy?” I don’t have the answer and ultimately I don’t really need it because all I need is to trust God.
I’ll briefly summarize my thoughts on the Papacy question. There’s so many variables that go into my belief that I’d probably have to write a book to explain it all.
The Orthodox Church, has better arguments, at least on the surface. I feel an extensive study of Church history shows more evidence in favor of Orthodox. That doesn’t mean there isn’t enough evidence of put up an argument in favor of the Catholic view. There seems to be more much in favor of the Orthodox veiw. I feel the early Papacy probably was closer to the Orthodox veiw. I think even Pope Benedict admitted the same. But our understanding of the faith is never finished. We’re always learning more about it. If this wasn’t the case then try to explain the point of eccumenical councils. The reason for eccumenical councils were to clarify areas of dispute in the Church. Some of these disputes might have arisen later on and were not burning questions in first century Christianity. As more people studied the faith, more questions were asked that challenged various doctrines. The answers may never have been addressed by Jesus directly but rather the Church relied on the Holy Spirit to guide it’s decision making. Just look at the history of confession. Jesus didn’t leave a systematic way of achieving a perfect confession. All he did was give the power of forgive sins to the apostles. In the early Church, confession was a public sacrament. The Church in her wisdom developed a better way of confessing that is much more merciful.
Part 2 coming…
The problem with the Orthodox veiw is there’s no way for the faith to progress. They will say, that the scripture, the liturgies, the father’s and the eccumenical councils define the faith.
That’s all great but how does their Church address modern issues like stem cell research or invitro? Sure every Church in the communion could sign a joint statement but that still doesn’t fall under one of their above criteria to make it an infallible teaching of the faith.
The Russian Orthodox Church recently split with the Greak Church. How does the rest of Orthodoxy know which side to support? The Greak Church because the Greak Bishop is technically the 1st among equals with Rome gone? There’s no concrete answer like the Catholic position.
Despite the fact that I find their arguments and theology more intellectually satisfying (like ancestral sin over original sin), I still find their veiw on Church structure to be unlikely. At the end of the day, I think you are in very good shape in either Church. I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll leave it here.
You’ll never figure this out, so make sure to trust God and pray a lot when studying it.
Why should the church have any official teaching or doctrine on things like invitro fertilization or stem cell research? It has no bearing on salvation. Salvation is determined by whether or not you repent of sin and truly accept Jesus Christ as your lord and Savior. It’s not determined by extraneous teachings about things of the world. The Catholic Church needs to focus on spreading and actually living the gospel. All of these developments in theology have not imparted additional holiness to the hierarchy or prevented its abuse of power. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.
Glen, using your logic, why teach anything besides the sinners prayer? So your church has no official position on abortion? What about traditional marriage? Do we need water to be baptized? What about the Trinity? I don’t need to believe in the Trinity? All I need is to accept Jesus and I’m good? You’re telling me that none of the above matters? To reduce God to a legalistic formula to be saved is a real disservice to Christianity. Spend some time talking to Eastern Orthodox Christians, your veiw of Christianity is foreign to them. They will also gladly teach you when your legalistic version of Christianity was born. Here’s a hint, it was in England. While you’re at it, talk to people from the Oriental Orthodox Church and the Assyran Church of the East(ACOE). Isn’t it odd that the four Church communions that can actually trace their lineages back to Christ are all liturgical? They also all follow scripture and tradition. Here’s an interesting fact, the biblical Cannon of the New Testament wasn’t universally agreed apon until the 1800s. The ACOE didn’t have several Epistles until then. How do you know which books belong in the Bible? Or does that not matter since all you need is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? I guess people could add the Koran to the scriptures after revelation since it’s not important to salvation.
One last thing. I’d love to hear your take on the History of the a Church in India. Since that Church was established by Thomas shortly after Jesus’ death and was relatively isolated from the rest of Christianity, I’d love to hear you explain why their Church had such a similar structure to Oriental Orthodox when the Portuguese arrived.
I’m talking about things unrelated to the faith. Things of the world. Things that have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel, but everything to do with controlling the lives of the laity under the guise of “divine revelation”.
Ok, please define which issues are faith issues. Also please provide scriptural references to back up your position.
Also, please provide evidence that the Church is using"divine revelation" to control the laity. Specifically discuss what is the Churches end goal when providing guidance on invotro and traditional marriage. In a court of law you need some sort of motive. What’s the Churches motive for providing guidance on invitro. “They want control” is not a good enough answer. Like why would they dive into controversial topics and give unpopular opinions if they want control? What does the Church gain from addressing invitro? If you’re point is correct then the Church is the worst organization in history at maintaining control. How many folks walked away when guidence came out in the 60s on birth control. The vast majority of Catholics use birth control so the Church stinks at controlling the laity.
Glencore, do you believe in the Trinity?