It's nice to meet all of you, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! I am writing this thread to gather opinions from both Catholic and Orthodox for purposes of discerning God's will and joining the most fertile soil for repentance, salvation, and charity.
For a bit of background, I grew up in Texas and spent 18 years as a Southern Baptist, and then wallowed in intense unbelief for 14 years as an atheist/agnostic. Two years ago, I turned back to belief in God, and a year ago decided to practice Christianity. For nearly 11 months now, I have been searching for a Church.
During my theological reflections, prayer, and study, I have decided to reject Protestantism, and am in a position where coming into an Oriental Orthodox or Assyrian Church of the East faith is unlikely due to my favoring of the Ecumenical Councils. That would leave the Roman Catholic and Orthodox faiths, and a decision between those two has been rattling in my head and going through a variety of ups and downs for over five months now.
Since I currently favor deeper spiritual benefit from Eastern liturgies over the Novus Ordo and EF/Anglican traditional masses, I have decided to come into an Eastern church, whether Orthodox or Catholic. My wife and I alternate weekly between her Roman Catholic church (which runs the N.O. exclusively) and the Orthodox church I am currently attending. Since there is no Eastern Catholic church within a hundred and fifty miles of my home in Ankeny, Iowa, I have confirmed with the deacon at the nearest Eastern Catholic church (Melkite) in Nebraska that our family's attendance at an Orthodox liturgy fulfills Sunday mass obligation, due to a dispensation that is in place for those who find a true spiritual advantage in Eastern liturgies but who cannot reasonably make it to Eastern Catholic churches; conversely, the Orthodox priest with whom I am studying the faith has extended economy for attendance at my wife's masses every other week should I convert to Orthodoxy, so long as I do not commune there. Therefore, my choice between Eastern Catholic and Orthodox would not have an effect on the practicality of worship in our family, except for the recognition of Easter at different times if I went the Orthodox direction.
Of course, practically, I would like to come into the Eastern Catholic faith, so that I may have occasion to commune with my wife and my family (who are almost all Catholic on both sides), and also to be in a unity of faith with my kids, who we have pledged to be educated in a Catholic school in honor of our marriage in the RCC. However, as the Orthodox priest pointed out, since we are to go above even family for the sake of Christ, it may be better to be Orthodox and look forward to my family's conversion, rather than to compromise so to be in unity with them. I do agree with his sentiment, but so far in my studies, I do not see how neither the Orthodox nor Catholic have lost the core of the fullness of faith as fertile soil for repentance, charity, love for God, and salvation. I understand the reasons for the Great Schism, but I don't think that both of these great Eucharistic communions (and the Oriental/Assyrian faiths, for that matter) have lost the grace conferred unto them by the succession of the Apostles. I am open to being wrong about this evaluation, however.
In light of all of this, I would like to open up this thread for the purpose of having my ideas challenged and for getting a good overview of the points of difference between the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox faiths. As I said above, I am favoring Orthodoxy, because of the issues I have with Vatican I's pronouncement of Papal Infallibility in matters of truth and morals and independent of counsel. But as I see both sides as valid, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't go in under the Melkite faith to unify my family, since this would be a secondary issue to the assessment of the truth and fullness of the Christian faith (which I believe both sides have despite the human sin that has occurred). Thank you so much for your input and help.