Contemplating the Catholic faith

I am a cradle Eastern Orthodox, from an Orthodox country. Recently I am contemplating the Catholic faith more and more. What turns me off to the faith I was brought into is the poor systemisation,organisation, structure, legislation and apologetics as it concerns the Papacy. I guess it all comes down to the Papacy and the role of the Papacy in the Church which seemed to be vital in the ratification and confirmation of the First Ecumenical Councils(that are recognised by the OC as well). From this pov, the Roman Catholic Church seems to be very well structured, organised and systematised . It’s also because the RCC has had far more councils, and ecumenical councils and far more promulgations than the OC. What I also hate is the demonisation of systematic theology in Orthodoxy and the exaggerate use of apophatic theology. What I still like about my faith is the Eastern Mysticism which can be very deep and profound. What frightens me at Catholicism is the possible loss of this Mystical union, that it might be a faith too rigid, cold, devoid of this mystical profoundness. A faith that is too robotic, too systematic, too cold, that does not lead to this profoundness of the heart , of feeling, of loving, of joy, of hate, etc. Please excuse my English. What is your feedback regarding this?

I would consider building a better relationship with God and understanding within the Eastern Church, but that’s just my opinion, perhaps off topic. I think we Catholics also have much to learn from the Eastern Church :slight_smile:

Please be aware that we have three Doctors of the Church on mystical prayer, and they can be studied.

They are Carmelites and have offered much on prayer to the Church. They are St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux. The Lay Carmelite Order offers studies on their teachings.

Usually there are different Mass times that offer the older sacred music during Mass, and some have more contemporary.

Most important is the awareness that the Pope is the visible head of the Church.

Peace and all good to you,


I agree many Catholics can learn much from the Eastern Church and the mysticism she offers. However, I disagree with your advice to focus on a personal relationship with God. We are “a communion of saints” and along with focusing on our relationship with God we need to build our relationship with each other (past, present, & future) members of the Church. The individualist mentality puts us in danger of being Jesus’s vomit or she’d blood.

I do not have much knowledge on Eastern Orthodox, but wonder if they have Bishops or a hierarchy? Often I see that when people focus on individualism in their relationship to God over a community of saints, they have the hardest time with the practice of obedience.

First off, obviously you wouldn’t lose anything at all by having two different sets of lenses to use to look at Christ. You can be even be focused mostly on the Eastern side of things and still be in union with the Pope; and potentially you can enjoy both Eastern and Western theologians. As the Byzantine, Ruthenian, Melkite, etc. folks would be the first to tell you!

Obviously, nobody has the balance totally worked out. But on the Western side of things, you can get a lot of difference between, say, different spiritualities of religious orders or different spiritualities of different saints. Before the split, it was pretty routine to balance out the Latin and Greek Fathers. So I’m pretty sure that we can all learn to “breathe with both lungs of the Church” instead of ditching one side or the other.

Obviously, this means that everybody needs to be more familiar with both ways of thinking. But I expect that it may take a few hundred years to fully digest this and have it be totally normal for everybody. So we have a lot of work in front of us!

But we would definitely like to have you. :slight_smile:

I would also say that a lot of times you have something in theology that is very unemotional-sounding, but the concept is supplemented by stories about saints or legends that make it something warmer and easier to understand. A lecture on the Immaculate Conception is one thing. But in my mind, it’s tied to paintings, and to the Virgin Mary appearing at Lourdes to St. Bernardette, and saying in the local dialect, “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou.” It’s not one thing or another in my mind; it’s both.

Or you go to the theologian writing it, and it sounds terse because his point is carried by what he’s quoting from the Fathers. So you want to look at the quotes to get the point.

You also want to watch out for the odd joke that’s thrown in. Some of those great theologians have a dry sense of humor. :slight_smile:

I converted from a high-church Anglican communion whose masses more closely resembled the old Tridentine Mass than the modern Novus Ordo Mass (the old Anglican Mass is largely an English translation of the Tridentine Mass). I felt the modern Latin Rite lacked reverence and solemnity. The 70’s lives on in the Catholic Church, with hippie folk Masses and bad architecture and artwork (statues, Stations, stained-glass, etc), all of which I found unappealing (and not at all helpful in my spiritual journey).

Some of this has been reigned in. I was put off by the use of everyday terms like “cup” and “table” to refer to the Chalice and Altar, but this has been addressed.

I was attracted to the idea of one of the Eastern Rites in communion with Rome, but, alas, there aren’t many Easter Rite parishes in the deep south.

But I came to realize that all of this was just window dressing (albeit bad window dressing). The core of the Church remains the Sacraments, and those haven’t changed.

But you’re coming from a different place. You have seven operative Sacraments (I had only one or two). The Economy of Salvation is fully intact in your Church.

I had no recourse to valid Eucharist or Sacramental Confession. You do. I had greater reason to convert. There’s less pressure for you (your very salvation is not in peril). Which Church do you think will better support you spiritually? That’s the one you should choose.

I’ve had ongoing exchanges with EO on Google, much of it is heated unfortunately, but I can’t withhold Truth and let them constantly attack the Papacy. In certain ways I have to thank them. I have actually learned more about both the East/West Church. We should never fear the Truth. I was surprised how much the Pope was written about by the great Saints of the Eastern Church, specifically of his authority. I was even more convinced after reading what these Saints and Doctors wrote. It is as impossible to believe you can remove the Pope and somehow still keep an apostolic line to St. Peter.

I would be glad to share the link of these excerpts, writings from homilies and letters by these very Holy men of the Eastern Church. They are sourced, and not something the Western Church just came up with later. I’ll give you the link in a private message if you wish.

Cybophonia #1
Recently I am contemplating the Catholic faith more and more.
I guess it all comes down to the Papacy and the role of the Papacy in the Church which seemed to be vital in the ratification and confirmation of the First Ecumenical Councils(that are recognised by the OC as well).

You are perfectly correct in realising this.

There has never been any validity in anyone or any group rejecting what Jesus so carefully instituted and structured – His Catholic Church. No one should settle for less when they come to know His Church. While keeping the priesthood, the Mass and sacraments, the unfortunate result of the eventual breakaway by the Orthodox is that primacy and infallibility can be ignored when it suits – such as with the case of the Orthodox Churches over the infallible teaching against contraception, denial of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and the permission of divorce and remarriage.

**All four promises were made to St Peter alone: **
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

**St Peter was given supreme authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).
Then Jesus warned dissenters: “if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17).

St. Paul says also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ!

So at the Council of Chalcedon:
“After the reading of the foregoing epistle [The Tome of Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: ‘This is the faith of the fathers! This is the faith of the apostles! So we all believe! Thus the orthodox believe! Anathema to him who does not thus believe! Peter has spoken thus through Leo! . . . This is the true faith! Those of us who are orthodox thus believe! This is the faith of the Fathers!’” (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 451]).
See: The Papacy
What did the Early Church Fathers Say?

It’s interesting also that Sir Arnold Lunn in Now I See, Sheed & Ward, 1955, could quote from the Anglican Vicar of Oddington, Rev S Herbert Scott, that St Peter and his successors were recognised as the supreme judges in matters of faith by a long succession of great Eastern saints, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Denys, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and others.

The key is that “there is no sure norm outside of the Catholic Church”, because only She teaches with the infallibility conferred by Christ. Confusion and uncertainty come from fallible teaching and picking and choosing.

The Liturgy has been celebrated in an inferior way at certain times and in certain places, since Vatican II (which was not itself responsible for that) but a beautiful Liturgy is available in many places.

What proof do you have that the first Ecumenical councils were held Ecumenical due to the Pope?

More or less I am familiar with this type of quotes(from the eastern fathers and not only).

The EOC believes saints themselves were not infallible, only Ecumenical Councils are.

About the Papacy : The EOC believes in the papal primacy but does not believe in the Pope’s ability to be infallible (there were some anathemised Popes, and Popes who held obscure teachings at times). So the EOC believes that at some point the Pope drag the Church into heresy and tear himself away from the Church (Robber Council 869-870). What I find curious is that the doctrine of Papal supremacy was always adopted together with the “Filioque” , both of them considered to be heresies by the East. I read this quote which intrigued me a lot but haven’t read his whole writing.

Fr. Andrew Phillips: "The filioque, by locking up the Holy Spirit, the ‘Comforter, the Spirit of Truth’, in a relationship between God the Father and God the Son, means that all human life and activity are distanced from the source of sanctification and spiritual vitality. Man, spiritually deprived, separated from God, is left to his autonomous reason to live his life. With the filioque, God and spiritual knowledge are pushed back from man and he falls backwards into a neo-pagan renaissance of Greco-Roman humanistic rationalism, a Judeo-Christianity into which Arius, Nestorius, Pelagius and countless others had fallen before. In the filioque, man’s direct spiritual relationship with God is cut off and the Holy Spirit, in the words of Aquinas, is reduced to the mutual love of God the Father and God the Son. The filioque error leads to despiritualisation.

Once it is accepted, man’s relationship with God is left to be conducted on intellectual, philosophico-scholastic, or emotional, psycho-pietistic, planes. The experiential understanding of God’s grace and the soul, as expressed in Church teaching, is abandoned. New teachings are formulated by human intellect and emotion, to which are given the name ‘humanism’. By affirming that the Holy Spirit was no longer in the world, the rationalists implied that Christ was no longer present in the world through the Holy Spirit. From this point it was only a short step to replace Christ by a ‘Vicar’, a substitute, the Pope of Rome. "

What do you think of that? Why did the Papal Supremacy came together with the Filioque? Both in the 9th century and in the 11th?

Then there is also the quote of Pope Gregory the Great : “I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others…You know it, my brother; hath not the venerable Council of Chalcedon conferred the honorary title of ‘universal’ upon the bishops of this Apostolic See [Rome], whereof I am, by God’s will, the servant? And yet none of us hath permitted this title to be given to him; none hath assumed this bold title, lest by assuming a special distinction in the dignity of the episcopate, we should seem to refuse it to all the brethren.”

Just to put your mind at ease, the Catholic Church has plenty of mystics. Many are doctors of the Church. :slight_smile:

Just a quick answer, if a pope doesn’t ratify a council as ecumenical, it’s then only a local council applying only to the bishops who attend the council and the diocese THEY are bishop over.

Are you aware of the Eastern Catholic Churches, SUI JURIS? They are in full communion with the Holy See, but they have the same Divine Liturgy, Mysticism and practices as their Eastern Orthodox counterparts.

I would recommend this article by St. Optatus, a less well known writer, I think:

We are actually talking about Eastern Catholic Churches SUI JURIS, not Orthodox.
Here’s a little information on the subject:

Comparing to the EO, 0.

Yes of course. We have those to where we come, we used to have them to where I come from (Transylvania) quite majoritan not so long time ago. My grandparents used to still have Catholic icons in the house, of which one that is special. Perhaps someone can help me identify it (I think it might have other value besides sentimental) Here it is :

As regarding Eastern Catholic Churches there are a few hungarian Eastern Catholic Churches now but they are pretty dull.

Cybophonia #9
What proof do you have that the first Ecumenical councils were held Ecumenical due to the Pope?

You should find helpful
by Fr Brian W. Harrison

Also the whole website is full of good information at
‘The original documentation of the Council has vanished, but Ortiz omits to tell us that according to the historian Rufinus, who lived shortly afterwards (d. 410), Constantine made his decision “on the advice of the clergy” 11 - a perfectly plausible assertion. We simply cannot prove from written sources whether or not Rome was consulted in any way, but it seems very likely - almost certain - that Constantine’s trusted associate, Ossius of Cordoba, who subsequently presided at the Council, was involved beforehand in its preparation.

‘The Eastern priest-historian Gelasius of Cyzicus, who had no Roman axe to grind, affirms that Ossius “held the place of Sylvester of Rome, together with the Roman presbyters Vito and Vincentius.” 14 Gelasius was born and bred in the vicinity of Nicaea, and wrote around 475, claiming to base his history of the Council on its original acts (now lost). That Rome was acknowledged as the first of all sees is shown by the fact that the signatures of its undisputed legates, Vito and Vincentius, came immediately after that of Ossius (whose minor see, Cordoba, obviously had nothing to do with his prominence in this context). 15

‘With regard to the attitude of the papacy after Nicaea there is no dispute: Rome enthusiastically endorsed the Trinitarian profession of faith and the disciplinary canons of the Council, and continued to insist on their observance.’
11. “ex sententia sacerdotum” (Rufinus, Hist. Eccl. 1: 218: Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, 21: 467).

  1. Gelasius was born and bred in the vicinity of Nicaea and wrote around 475, claiming to base his history of the Council on its original acts. He speaks of “Ossius, holding the place of Sylvester, the Bishop of great Rome, together with the Roman presbyters Vito and Vincentius” (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 85: 1229 - my translation). The citation is from Gelasius’ work, Hist. Nic. Conc. II, V.

Pope Damasus, who admittedly was by his very office an overt spokesman for Rome’s claim to universal authority rather than a ‘neutral’ historical source, asserted together with a Synod of 93 Western Bishops less than half a century after Nicaea (372) that the Nicene Fathers were “directed from the city of the most holy bishop of Rome.” It would be rash to dismiss this as mere propaganda, or rather, it would be begging the crucial question. This synodical statement was addressed to Eastern Bishops, who could have been expected to challenge such a claim if it had been palpably untrue. Cf. Mansi 3: 459. There is no record of any such challenge.

Finally, Rivington draws attention to a firm and long-lasting Eastern tradition of Roman primacy at Nicaea, quoting the Greco-Russian liturgy, in which the Divine Office of St. Sylvester praises this Pontiff in terms which would seem ‘triumphalistic’ to many modern Western Bishops: “Thou hast shown thyself the supreme one of the Sacred Council, O initiator into the sacred mysteries, and hast illustrated the Throne of the Supreme One of the Disciples” (Rivington, op. cit., p. 164).

  1. Mansi 2: 692, 697. The two Roman legates are described as acting “pro venerabili viro papa et episcopo nostro Sancto Sylvestro.” Their names, together with that of Ossius, stand separately at the head of the lists. All other Bishops are merely named, together with their sees, and are grouped together according to provinces.

The apostles were a collegial community, under Peter. “By the end of the apostolic age, the bishops of the Catholic Church began meeting together on a regional basis, and with the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in 325, this co-operative activity reached worldwide proportions.” (Fr John A Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday, 1975, p 320-321). The teaching of Ecumenical Councils has to be approved by Christ’s Supreme Vicar

Re: papal supremacy
*]Was Peter ever made greatest among the apostles…and if so,
*]was it by Peter usurping supremacy to himself,
*]a council giving Peter supremacy,
*]or was it from Jesus?
*]who did it?
[/LIST]answered in 2 different ways
[FONT=Calibri] [/FONT]#30and #385 ]

The pope has authority over the whole Church, but no pope ever agreed to being universal bishop, or sole bishop, as if all the other bishops aren’t bishops with authority as well. That’s what Gregory is talking about.

One of the titles of the pope is “servant of the servants of God”. CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Servus Servorum Dei

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