My very very close friend is very close to converting to Eastern Orthodoxy.
We are pen pals and used to be lovers of Catholicism. In fact, we used to be discerning religious life together.
Nonetheless, we have let time pass, and I found out recently that she’s most likely converting. That makes me very sad, and I don’t know how we’ll bond when the very thing that brought us together was Catholicism and the fascination with it.
So here’s my dilemma: should I pray that she doesn’t convert or should I pray that God lead where ever He deems fit? If I pray the latter and she converts, how am I supposed to know I’m in the right denomination? I mean, really. She REALLY knew the Catholic Church, yet she’s leaving. I don’t understand it, and she doesn’t want to explain it.
Gah. What do you suggest? Again, please suggest, and don’t tell.
As an Eastern Catholic, I wouldn’t feel bad if one converts to Orthodoxy. I guess, in a very loose way, the way most (if not all) Traditional Catholics see the SSPX regardless of their irregular status is the same way Eastern Catholics see the Orthodox. And for Eastern Catholics it goes much deeper than just the Liturgy.
But anyway, pray for the person. Don’t ask for anything more than the will of God be done. And don’t feel bad if the person has found God in Orthodoxy. As Catholics we see the Orthodox as a true and valid Church whom we are actively seeking reconciliation with. I can guarantee you God is as much present there as He is in the Catholic Church. For one thing, the Catholic Church does teach that the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church is valid. So Christ is on their altars, body, blood, soul and divinity as much as He is on ours. If there a Catholic Christ and an Orthodox Christ? Of course not. There is only one Christ.
There is no reason to doubt your own faith even if she changes. It is always good to pray to God that His will be done, but we can’t conclude that what happens next is His perfect will. It is a possibility that she would change to Orthodox even though God wants her to be Catholic. He is not going to override her free will.
While it is disturbing that she is considering doing this, it could be worse. My best friend since childhood recently became an atheist.
Latin Rite Catholics see the SSPX as rigorous believers in Christ who are resistant to change and do not understand the history of our Church in regards to these changes. But like the Prodigal Son, we must always hope for and welcome reunion.
If a family member or close friend of mine was considering conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy, I would pray to God that they should stay Catholic.
I have a well-formed opinion on EO, because I dated an EO some 8 years ago and I considered conversion myself. Ultimately I decided, I do not want to come under the authority of a Metropolitan or Patriarch (in my specific case, the Metropolitan of ROCOR in New York, and the Moscow Patriarch) who in turn rejects the authority of Peter’s successor over himself.
I have a very sensitive smell to situations of slavery/bondage. Why should I put my neck under the yoke of an earthly ruler who in some way usurped the power of God’s chosen ruler of his Church - the Pope? Why should I take orders from a Metropolitan or Patriarch who himself refuses to take orders from the Pope?
Just contemplating the possibility I felt this panic of being smothered, choked, a very physical reaction of fear and panic in front of a threatening force bent on enslaving me. The Pope, that’s different. I don’t feel threatened by his authority, because it’s an authority entrusted to him by Jesus Christ.
So, I decided that there was no way in h*** that I was converting to EO. :eek: It was just healthy self-preservation and refusing to put my neck under someone’s yoke who didn’t receive divine authority to become my boss. And, since I feel so strongly about not converting to EO, and because I feel so sorry for the EO who in my opinion follow and obey some sort of illegitimate authority (illegitimate since the respective Patriarchs/Bishops are in rebellion against the Pope), it’s only natural that I would pray to God to protect my loved ones from falling into that kind of bondage.
In all charity, I’m shocked to see such a blase attitude toward conversions to Orthodoxy in some of the above replies. Why would God lead someone out of His Holy Church? Validity of sacraments does not the Truth Faith make.
I understand that you’re shaken up but if you read the history of the Catholic-Orthodox divide I think you’ll see that Peter is our rock. I’ll pray for your friend, it’s always our best recourse. Do you know what is pushing them away from the Church?
One of the biggest impacts on me in becoming Catholic were these words in John 17:
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
With all due respect to my Orthodox brethren, when I looked around, this left me with the obvious answer.
Since our patriarch has no immediate jurisdiction over us, unlike our diocesan bishop, I can assure you that you are simply making a caricature of Orthodoxy which is incorrect, because you are applying an ecclesiology unique to your Church to ours (i.e., you equate patriarchs with popes). I can understand not wanting people to leave your Church, because you consider it to have the fullness of the truth, but that doesn’t mean that you therefore must tell untruths about the Orthodox Church in order to achieve that end.
To the OP, I’m sorry to hear about the distress this is causing you. I would pray about it. Tell God how you feel, ask of Him what your conscience feels is right (if you feel that you must pray for your friend to remain in the Catholic Church, then do it), and as always pray that His will be done.
The change from a Church to another is a symptom of bigger issues. I think that instead of arguing we should be praying for the reunification of the Churches thus avoiding this kind of unnecessary painful struggles.
Yes, with the EO, you have the perennial problem of who is in communion with whom.
For example, ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) is currently in communion with other Old Calendar EO Churches and groups, such as the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), the Serb EOC, the monks on Mount Athos, and small (out-of-mainstream) groups of Greek, Romanian, and Bulgarian bishops who adhere to the Old Calendar. But ROCOR is not in communion with New Calendar Churches such as the Greek and Antiochian, or the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The MP is currently in communion with the EP, but it actually broke communion with the EP during the 1990s, because the EP granted autocephaly to the Estonian EOC, against the MP’s protests. The OCA (Orthodox Church in America) is recognized by the MP, but not by the EP. The Ukrainian EOC is split in two, with one Patriarch recognized by Constantinople and not by Moscow, as well as a Metropolitan loyal to the Moscow Patriarch. Obviously, the autocephalous Patriarch of Kyiv is out of communion with Moscow. Same situation, same split in Estonia - two EOC out of communion with each other, one loyal to Moscow and one who was granted autonomy by Constantinople against Moscow’s protests. In Japan, the situation is the reverse - the EP believes the Japanese EOC should stay under Constantinople’s authority, but Moscow granted autonomy to a Japanese EOC, which is disputed by Constantinople, and this autonomous Japanese EOC is out of communion with the EP.
It’s quite a mess, just keeping track who’s out of communion with whom, and who has lately broken communion with whom. This can’t possibly be the unity Jesus Christ prayed for on the day of the Last Supper.
You are wrong. ROCOR is an autonomous Church within the Russian Orthodox Church, and is therefore in communion with the churches on the revised julian calendar. The OCA situation is one of canonical irregularity, where the MP recognizes its autocephaly, while the EP does not. Regardless, the OCA remains in communion with both. The Ukrainian situation is simple. There is one autonomous Church (under the Russian Orthodox Church) there which is recognized by Orthodoxy. The EP does not recognize the so-called Ukrainian Patriarchate, nor is it in communion with it. The Estonian situation similarly involves canonical irregularity, with two separate jurisdictions. Regardless, the parent Churches, the MP and EP, remain in communion, and therefore the two Estonian jurisdictions exist in a state of communion. Similarly with the Japanese situation, the autonomous Japanese Church is in communion with the EP, because it is part of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is in communion with the EP. Autonomous churches are not free to break communion with Churches the parent Church are in communion with.
Dishonest polemics like this do not help dialogue or understanding. One could just as easily say that the Catholic Church is “fractured” between its liberal, conservative and traditionalist movements (some of which have left communion with Rome), but this is of course an unfair criticism of Catholicism (it should be clear why this is so). Can you not at the very least be courteous and not engage in such dishonest attacks on Orthodoxy?
Who said that the Orthodox is outside of God’s Church?
Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West.
—Blessed Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen
And I could see the Orthodox arguments that the Catholic church has similar issues what with the SSPX, the protestants ect. It’s not like there have not been heresies and schisms all along. We did just welcome some Anglicans back.
God’s Church is the visible Catholic Church, which the Orthodox have been outside of for about 1,000 years. I think you’re taking the late Holy Father out of context, when he is saying that there is an Eastern kind of Christianity expressed through these particular churches that is as authentic as the Roman tradition. However, he’s leaving aside the issue that some of those particular churches are not in communion with the Catholic Church, because it’s not what he wants to write about there.
Here’s a relevent passage from the Baltimore Catechism, available on ETWN’s webiste:
How do we know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ?
We know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ because no other church has these four marks.
(a) All other churches lack essential unity. They recognize no authority in religious matters vested in an individual who is the vicar of Christ. In the worship of God many Christian sects are guided more by sentiment and personal conviction than by the objective truths given to the world by Our Lord.
(b) The founders of Christian sects were not saints and generally were not holy or edifying men. The sects have not given saints to the world. Their truths are but fragments of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. The holiness of their members is due to the means that the sects have salvaged from Catholic worship. Moreover, these sects cannot point to miracles wrought in their favor.
(d) Not one of the Christian sects can trace its origin to the apostles.
(e) The Greek Orthodox or Schismatic Church began in the ninth century with its rejection of the authority of the Pope. From it have come various national churches, subject in some degree to civil authority. The Protestant churches began in the sixteenth century when their founders, rejecting certain doctrines of faith, broke away from Catholic unity. Many Protestant denominations are offshoots of the earliest sects. The Lutherans were founded by Martin Luther, the Presbyterians by John Knox, and the Methodists by John Wesley.
With all due respect to our Orthodox posters, we see the True Church’s identity differently, and the Catholics here ought to take the matter of someone leaving for Orthodoxy seriously, as the sin of schism. I’ve read enough Orthodox apologetics to know that in general they feel the same way about us.
I was surprised by the many posts, but I forgot how controversial this issue was.
God’s will is God’s will. Due to human choice, that doesn’t mean it is always acted upon.
However…these people who convert, they aren’t blindly following themselves. God is there in those denominations. I’m just saddened she doesn’t see God in the Catholic Church as much as she used to.
At one point, my friend was seriously discerning with an order at the age of 14 that when she graduated high school, she would join their order and not attend college but their “5 year program.” Anyways, the religious sister order (which will remain unnamed) was very corrupt and drew my friend away from her parents. She said they “psychologically abused” her, and I believe that to be true. In addition, she said she was converting for intellectual reasons as well. Since I suck at apology and often come across as overly fervent–perhaps aggressive, I didn’t try to change her mind. Besides, she knows more than I know about the Catholic Church than I do; we shared all that information for 3 straight years.
I will pray for God’s will…where that leads her (or me) in reality, I don’t know.