Should I convert to Orthodoxy or Eastern Catholicism?


#1

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.


#2

This is a decision you need to make yourself. Read books, talk to priests, visit parishes. Do the legwork. People here and everywhere belong to a faith for a reason, and they believe of course their reason to be the best reason. It may not apply to you. So do your work, if you have questions we will try and answer them. But you have to make your own decision.

And never forget, pray, pray, pray. God will answer your prayer. Be sincere in your search. Look at all the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches in your area and visit, talk with the priest. Christianity is a way of life, that is why it is important that you go and experience.


#3

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:2, topic:299366"]

And never forget, pray, pray, pray. God will answer your prayer. Be sincere in your search. Look at all the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches in your area and visit, talk with the priest. Christianity is a way of life, that is why it is important that you go and experience.

[/quote]

Here's my issue: I would assume that many Christians in my position have earnestly prayed for direction to either church. If one is the true Church and the other is not, or if one is the fullness of faith and the other is not, then why are people led to both? How can I tell the subtle difference of God's direction, rather than an invention brought about either by my own sin or ignorance? :(


#4

[quote="pdstor, post:3, topic:299366"]
Here's my issue: I would assume that many Christians in my position have earnestly prayed for direction to either church. If one is the true Church and the other is not, or if one is the fullness of faith and the other is not, then why are people led to both? How can I tell the subtle difference of God's direction, rather than an invention brought about either by my own sin or ignorance? :(

[/quote]

To tell you the truth, I have been Latin Catholic for almost my entire life. Then I have been Eastern Catholic the last 2 years and now I am contemplating on Orthodoxy. It is not a simple thing and neither are the answers to your question. Dispite missteps from both sides, I personally believe God is in both since they are one Church though divided by things of this world. The question is, where are you called to be? Where do you think you will grow spiritually?

In the recent weeks I focused on what I think are important questions, such as the role of the Papacy in the Church. But I realized that what I should focus on is finding the Kingdom of God here on earth. Where to me He reveals Himself the clearest. So I have spoken to priests from both sides, visited an Orthodox parish which I believe is best suited for me and my family, and I am also getting in touch with important people in my current ecclesiastical family in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. You know what, if I base my decision just by what I get from this forum I'd be Orthodox 6 months ago. But moving Churches is a big thing so I am taking my time and praying hard and discerning carefully. What I find may be not what you will find. As the UGCC priest I spoke with told me, the Orthodox parishes aren't always the best. The one in our area is more of an exemption than the norm. So I don't know what is the situation in your area. So you really have to decide for yourself because it is you who knows best about your situation and what is in your heart.


#5

You should certainly become Eastern Catholic. The Orthodox do not recognize the Roman Pontiff, and here on Catholic Answers Forums, we give answers as Catholics.


#6

avoid the Orthodox. They deny the Papacy which is to deny Papal infallability which is the whole purpose of Christ building a Church to begin with. If you can not trust Roman Catholicism than you can not trust any other branch. While they might all have apostolic succession it was the Church of Rome that Christ ordered to be the center of His Church and the head.


#7

I agree with elizium and Patrick, you should become Eastern Catholic. BTW, what dispensation was the deacon talking about?


#8

Matthew 28:16-20
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in** the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.** And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.****”

The last command that Our Lord Jesus gave the Apostles... which Church do you think has...and most importantly...is now still fulfilling that Great Commission?

For your consideration.
Pax Christi


#9

[quote="Lancer, post:8, topic:299366"]

The last command that Our Lord Jesus gave the Apostles... which Church do you think has...and most importantly...is now still fulfilling that Great Commission?

For your consideration.
Pax Christi

[/quote]

By whose standards are we judging?


#10

Wow, this is great stuff! And all this time I thought Christ established a Church so that the Gospel can be proclaimed and that man can receive the Good News, repent, receive God’s grace, and go to heaven. I guess I was wrong all along.


#11

The various "separate but equal" Orthodox Churches, for all of the tremendous good, truth and beauty that is in them; for all of their apostolic history, and rich spirituality, lack:

  1. The successor to Peter.
  2. Unity with each other. Relations between some are strained, to say the least.

They cannot call an ecumenical council, for one thing. From the OrthodoxWiki, you can see that the last accepted ecumenical council was in the 8th century! An awful lot has happened since then. There is no agreement between them regarding the accepted number of ecumenical councils. The several councils since then are considered local, and not binding upon the various individual Churches. I do not see that as being univerrsal authority.

Of course, the ultimate goal and solution is Church reunification, and this is a constant focus of the Vatican. Yet, it appears that, lacking unity among them, indiviodual Orthodox Churches must seek talks with Rome on their own. No one speaks for all of them - back to the problem of lacking a successor to Peter.


#12

[quote="SaintPatrick333, post:6, topic:299366"]
avoid the Orthodox. They deny the Papacy which is to deny Papal infallability which is the whole purpose of Christ building a Church to begin with. If you can not trust Roman Catholicism than you can not trust any other branch. While they might all have apostolic succession it was the Church of Rome that Christ ordered to be the center of His Church and the head.

[/quote]

Also, I hear we smell bad.

Don't tell anyone I told you. :sad_yes:


#13

[quote="Lancer, post:8, topic:299366"]

The last command that Our Lord Jesus gave the Apostles... which Church do you think has...and most importantly...is now still fulfilling that Great Commission?

For your consideration.
Pax Christi

[/quote]

The Orthodox Church.


#14

[quote="Nine_Two, post:13, topic:299366"]
The Orthodox Church.

[/quote]

It is the Assyrian Church of the East and you know it!!!! :p


#15

[quote="po18guy, post:11, topic:299366"]
The various "separate but equal" Orthodox Churches, for all of the tremendous good, truth and beauty that is in them; for all of their apostolic history, and rich spirituality, lack:

  1. The successor to Peter.
  2. Unity with each other. Relations between some are strained, to say the least.

They cannot call an ecumenical council, for one thing. From the OrthodoxWiki, you can see that the last accepted ecumenical council was in the 8th century! An awful lot has happened since then. There is no agreement between them regarding the accepted number of ecumenical councils. The several councils since then are considered local, and not binding upon the various individual Churches. I do not see that as being univerrsal authority.

Of course, the ultimate goal and solution is Church reunification, and this is a constant focus of the Vatican. Yet, it appears that, lacking unity among them, indiviodual Orthodox Churches must seek talks with Rome on their own. No one speaks for all of them - back to the problem of lacking a successor to Peter.

[/quote]

What absolute rubbish you spew.

Every Bishop is the successor to Peter, this is very clear from Patristics.
We are quite united with ourselves. I suggest you look in a mirror before making such accusations though. Sedevacantists seem to be something of an issue in the Roman Church.

When the last Ecumenical Council was depends on who you ask. The last one universally excepted as Ecumenical was in the 8th century, however there have been a few since then that are considered quite important. There is even one in the planning stages now. Whether it will go through, God knows. Such Councils aren't all that important, however, as they are only called when major issues need a resolution. We have some issues right now, but for much of the last thousand years, there hasn't been anything all that big.

Your last point is the worst of all. If you were so interested in unity, and we are not, why are we having this conversation on a Catholic forum? As long as so many Latins (a majority but thankfully not the totality) insist on being so woefully ignorant about us, there will be no unity.


#16

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:14, topic:299366"]
It is the Assyrian Church of the East and you know it!!!! :p

[/quote]

In fairness they were some of the best evangelists in the early period of the church. They spread over a territory that made us non-Nestorians (what do they call us?) look rather confined.


#17

I think that you should follow the Orthodox priest's advice and follow the truth wherever it may lead. While both sides may have sacramental grace (many Orthodox disagree with this, though), there are still real reasons for the schism. Today, the Orthodox and Catholic churches disagree on some fundamental matters. On these issues, they simply can't both be right. It's difficult and uncomfortable, but then, why should division be comfortable?

As individuals, all we can do is honestly seek the truth. Personally, I am in the midst of entering the Catholic Church from Eastern Orthodoxy. In many ways, I am more comfortable with Eastern Orthodoxy. But after delving into the issue again, I realized that I no longer accepted the EO claims against Catholicism as I had understood them. At that point, it became clear to me that I had to enter into communion with Rome. And slowly but surely I am getting there ;)

In any case, I think we should remember to pray for all those faced with this choice, whatever direction they are coming from.


#18

[quote="pdstor, post:1, topic:299366"]
because of the issues I have with Vatican I's pronouncement of Papal Infallibility in matters of truth and morals and independent of counsel.

[/quote]

That's not what the Catholic Church teaches about "papal infallibility." Please read this thread, and I hope it helps:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=709591

Blessings,
Marduk


#19

Dear brother Sepp,

[quote="Sepp, post:17, topic:299366"]
On these issues, they simply can't both be right.

[/quote]

Isn't it possible that both could be right, but that one side simply misunderstands the other. It seems you realize that on some livel according to the following statement from your post:

But after delving into the issue again, I realized that I no longer accepted the EO claims against Catholicism as I had understood them.

At that point, it became clear to me that I had to enter into communion with Rome. And slowly but surely I am getting there ;)

I've been there, so I appreciate this very much.

In any case, I think we should remember to pray for all those faced with this choice, whatever direction they are coming from.

:thumbsup:

Blessings,
Marduk


#20

Dear brother Nine_Two,

I used to believe this when I was not yet in communion with Rome, but upon further research, I found there is no explicit evidence for this from the Fathers. No Father ever claimed this, not even St. Cyprian.

The principle of succession is a different thing from the principle of the ontological equality of bishops.

Blessings,
Marduk


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