Eastern Orthodox to Catholicism


#1

Hello,

I have, fairly spontaneously but nevertheless with some courage joined this board.

I have been a member of the Orthodox Church [Greek] for ten years now. It has had its interesting moment but for the most part it has been an odd struggle.

I realise many people write a bit of a life story and I’ll hardly be an exception.

I am English, my family are, and none of them are particularly religious. I was brought up middle of the road Anglican and later by my teens I drifted further into Protestantism (my friends at the time were American southern baptists).

I had a keen faith and though my family were not particularly religious, they were actively anti-Catholic. In the year before university I started attending an Orthodox parish and after three years of testing the water and catechesis I was chrismated (confirmed) into the church.

I cannot go too far into detail now, but it never quite sat right. It always felt very alien, and though the exotic is alluring, I would convince myself of the noble theology and conservatism of that church.

Because of this unease I have experienced many ‘dark nights of the soul’, and I tried to remedy this with Anglo Catholicism (oh dear).
Well, ever the prodigal son, I came and went, came and went back to the Orthodox Church.

Even as a Orthodox I would take great solace in the Catholic devotional life (it felt naughty though) and I would attend mass at St. Walburgh’s Latin rite in Preston.
But for me I was surrounded by academic theologians (didn’t help spending seven years reading theology).

Well, for the past few years I have been living fairly consistently as a committee athiest.
I do not particularly know where I am at the moment but I find it suffocating to imagine a future in the Orthodox Church. My former Protestant mind rebels at the idea of ‘moving somewhere I feel confortable’ as individualism of that sort is entirely against the spirit of the church in community and submission of will toward God.

I’ll end it here.
I will gladly talk with anyone who is willing.

Apologies if this post is a bit cliche, I just didn’t want to go into detail in my first post.


#2

You don’t think God exists? Then why go back to Orthodoxy?


#3

It’s not so much a matter of thought. I don’t have much time for arguments for or against the existence of God, people can spend their whole lives doing such.
I believe (though with what perception?) that I have known what it is to be in the presence of God.

I feel that clear water is needed for me from the Orthodix church.
I do not hate the church, in its native lands I am sure it is a beautiful thing.

I have been living in the People’s Republic of China for the past year so it has been all too easy not to attend an Orthodox Church (Hong Kong and Shanghai are not local to where I was).

I am not sure a forum is a good place for me to talk about these things :confused:


#4

So then why are you an athiest as opposed to an agnostic?


#5

Well, I think I’m off now.


#6

I’m not trying to drive you away- sorry if I did so…


#7

Hi there, I also joined this board only today. I just want to say, I sympathize with you, I was trying to be a good Orthodox (Russian) for many years and I was even exposed to some of the best priests such as Bishop Anthony of Sourozh in the UK, but I felt gloomy and unhappy most of the time. I felt too big a pressure to become “culturally” Orthodox and I felt this was in the way of me becoming more intimate with Jesus. The Orthodox are afraid of you getting too close to Jesus, they constantly say how unworthy you are supposed to feel and call it pride if you experience any spiritual inspiration, they think you are unable to discern if it is from God or not. Consequently I constantly felt stifled in my spiritual life. It has been a long journey but now I feel at home in the Catholic Church. Your reasons may be different from mine, you did not explain, but I just wanted to say hi, and you are not alone. God will lead you out of the desert if you let Him. )) Blessings!


#8

Did you attend a Catholic church in China?


#9

sorry if I seemed to storm off.
It was very late at night and I was just about going to bed.

I understand you are wanting a frame of reference for my current state of being but at the time I felt like I was being forced into boxes.

Long story short, I do not place much merit in ‘Pascal’s Wager’. Perhaps I should study it a little further but an alternative to the classic wager is, ‘if one lives a Christian life and there is no God, well one has lived a good life regardless’…though the ‘good life’ has been in accordance within a framework which may limit (or moderate) human desires.

Now, I am no philosopher, I have dabbled in some schools but as I hold no degree in the subject I claim no expertise.

Agnostic just seems a bit of a cop out, or rather, it is like saying “this is what I believe but I also feel I must not offend anyone, so I’ll say my mind is not made up”.


#10

The clergy in the UK are excellent and very good men (for the whole).
Now, I have some bad experience with a clergyman in the Orthodox church [sexual misconduct personally received], but I also acknowledge that is no reason to abandon the faith. (I do not really want to discuss things on an open forum).

The cultural aspect is problematic.
It has its charms, the coffee after liturgy was excellent, and learning the insights provided by another cultural viewpoint are deeply valuable, but it all comes at the expense of quite fitting with the soil in which one is raised.
Now I know that christians are called to live for the Kingdom of Heaven and not have political ties to their earthly customs (though this was the argument of much early Christian dispute including the accounts of the Book of Acts).

I wouldn’t say, in my experience, the ‘Orthodox are afraid of getting too close to Jesus’, I would say they are very concerned with not running before one can walk. There is a tradition of relating all personal experience with one’s spiritual father/mother and/or priest so as to ascertain the origins [divine vs demonic] of those experiences. This is a guard against false delusion and resultant heresy.
Nevertheless the Orthodox church does have a very developed monastic tradition which is not exclusive to the monasteries, the devotions are mostly akathists and the saying of the Jesus Prayer; there is nothing like the variety of devotions afforded by Catholicism.

Personally, I never found the devotions to be very fruitful.
It all felt quite limiting, and also, this seems harsh to say, a little like historical reenactment. But of course, it cannot be reenactment if it is the church. Well.

I have always felt on the fringes of Catholicism but I also feel very aware of how much I would have to give up to enter.
You see, Orthodoxy has some very fine reasons to its claims. It is extremely conservative, it also has (and this is something I have not experienced in Catholicism), an understanding of oikonomia [economy…that is to say, the careful application in personal instances of the harshness of Canon Law].

God will lead you out of the desert if you let Him.

I hope so.


#11

Did you attend a Catholic church in China?

No.
I don’t know how familiar you are with the Catholic church in China, but in the People’s Republic of China [PRC] religions are closely monitored by the state. The Catholic church in China is in effect a seperate communion from Roman Catholicism.

Aside from the Specially Administered Regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macao, the Roman Catholic Church has no permission to practice in the PRC.

There is an article on Wikipedia, look up ’ Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association’ [I am unable to post links]


#12

is not at all the end-all/be-all of theism. Arguably, it’s a good last resort, and only that


#13

I can understand where you are coming from. I was raised Catholic but only nominally so, and no one in my immediate or extended family, nor any friends, ever went to any church of any description growing up so i was functionally atheist and definitely so by the time i went to High School. I went on a big search through my 20’s, through neo-paganism, atheism, pentecostalism, traditional Catholicism and then finally landed on (Greek) Orthodoxy, where i was eventually baptised.

I found after the honey moon period my issues with the Greeks mounted quick and fast. Ethnic festivals, rigid adherence to the use of Koine Greek over the vernacular, lack of concern with anyone not Orthodox… I even had a priest tell me that Evangelism to non-Greeks is “not our (Greeks) spirit, we don’t do that”.

At around this time i read Vladimir Soloviev’s Russia and the Universal Church, which was then and is probably now still the most impactful book i have ever read. I really considered returning to Rome, and even went to the local Traditional Latin Mass community for a time.

But, by pure chance (or God’s will) at this time i was almost returning to Rome (and also considering leaving Christianity altogether) i found the local Coptic Orthodox Church which solved a lot of problems for me. They were committed to outreach, missions and evangelism, had a large and active youth membership for me and were warm and welcoming to non-Copts. They also have incredibly good Priests and Bishops who are like the ascetics of old… truly Copts have the best Priests in the world.

Also recently the Catholic Sex Abuse scandal has hardened my views on Rome and i no longer wish to be in communion with the Pope nor his Bishops. So despite being in a foreign church i have to remind myself at least i have great Priests and Bishops, a strong community and active and spiritual prayer life.

However, it is hard to invite family and friends, as it is still an Egyptian church, primarily. I also see the imminent split (i hope i am wrong) between Constantinople and Moscow over Ukraine and i am left disappointed once again with the Orthodox.

But for me my anger at Rome, especially over the sex abuse scandal, is still strong.

So i understand your issues with the Greeks. I for one found the answer in another Orthodox jurisdiction. But after reading Soloviev i can understand people wanting to return to Rome…

God bless


#14

" “It is obvious that there are questions on which the Russian Church could and ought to negotiate with the Mother See, and if these questions are carefully avoided it is because it is a foregone conclusion that a clear formulation of them would only end in a formal schism. The jealous hatred of the Greeks for the Russians, to which the latter reply with a hostility mingled with contempt — that is the fact which governs the real relations of these two national Churches, in spite of their being officially in communion with one another. But even this official unity hangs upon a single hair, and all the diplomacy of the clergy of St. Petersburg and Constantinople is needed to prevent the snapping of this slender thread. The will to maintain this counterfeit unity is decidedly not inspired by Christian charity, but by the dread of a fatal disclosure; for on the day on which the Russian and Greek Churches formally break with one another the whole world will see that the Ecumenical Eastern Church is a mere fiction and that there exists in the East nothing but isolated national Churches . That is the real motive which impels our hierarchy to (p. 69) adopt an attitude of caution and moderation towards the Greeks, in other words, to avoid any kind of dealings with them. As for the Church of Constantinople, which in its arrogant provincialism assumes the title of “the Great Church” and ‘the Œcumenical Church,’ it would probably be glad to be rid of these Northern barbarians who are only a hindrance to its Pan-Hellenic aims. In recent times, the patriarchate of Constantinople has been twice on the point of anathematizing the Russian Church; only purely material considerations have prevented a split.” (p. 70)

Vladimir Solovyev, Russia and the Universal Church, trans. Herbert Rees (London, 1948: Geoffrey Bles), pp. 69-70."

Unfortunately that has never been more true.

God bless


#15

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