What easy books to read on Orthodox views vs Catholic views?

On stuff like hesychasm, theoria vs philosophy etc. and historical feuds, the theology behind it, and which tells you in a very easy to read manner the differences between the churches and which discusses which church is right? It should give basic overview on how mysticism and union with God which leads to understanding of divine truths is attained. I have a poor attention span so I need easy to read book that is not dry at all.

Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Tradition would not have any differences from these compared to Eastern Orthodox Churches. Historical feuds have occurred between Eastern Catholics and Latins, Eastern Catholics and Orthodox, Orthodox and Orthodox, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Catholics, Latins and Latins, Latins and protestants, Orthodox and protestants, Eastern Catholics and protestants, protestants and protestants.

I want to read about the differences between the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox on these issues, to be clear, to gain a better understanding on which church is right.

This doesn’t make sense. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would differ on these details since Romans don’t have hesychasm at all, for example.
Eastern Catholics are Catholic and do all of these the same as the Eastern Orthodox, so you won’t gain any understanding on which Church is right.

You are basically wanting to compare the entire Tradition of the Roman Rite against the entire Tradition of the Byzantine Rite. The monumental task of knowing one of these, not to mention two, has taken many men a life time or more, and there are no shortcuts.

This is not a book but it is a very good article on the subject: jimmyakin.com/why-i-am-not-eastern-orthodox.

I wouldn’t say “at all.” There’s quite a lot of overlap between Eastern hesychasm and Western contemplative prayer.

Both Churches are catholic; both are apostolic in origin, and both have seven valid Sacraments (including, of course, Holy Orders, so there’s no concern about invalid Bishops). From a salvation standpoint, there is no difference between the two. Both offer Christian Baptism and Sacramental Confession, so it is possible to have a reasonable expectation of salvation in either Church.

There are many differences in liturgical style, but these are irrelevant to the validity of the rites. There are minor differences among theologians. Eastern theologians, for example, mostly teach that bread/wine becomes Eucharist at the utterance of a particular sentence, while Western theologians usually teach it’s the following sentence. This difference is pretty much irrelevant - it really doesn’t matter exactly when the transformation takes place, just as long as it happens before the Eucharist is distributed.

The main difference is how each Church views leadership. East and West were united until the Great Schism of 1054. The West continued to recognize a strong central authority (the Pope) who held an Office which was common to all Bishops but with additional authority. This is called Universal Jurisdiction, and the West believes this is a divine charism which is particular to the Bishop of Rome.

The East rejected universal jurisdiction. Their “head Bishop” is the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. But he is styled as “First Among Equals,” not as a distinctly different type of Bishop. It’s an organizational thing, not a divinely sanctioned thing. Since he is equal to all other Bishops, he has no real authority over any of them.

This is why the Latin Church considers the Orthodox to be schismatics and not heretics. Protestants are heretics (but we’re not supposed to say that these days). Heresy is a dispute over doctrine, while schism is a dispute over leadership.

The thing that mostly divides East and West is our views on leadership, not our views on doctrine.

You may start here:



An excellent overview.

Something I have been wondering about however. I have also heard the term ‘Eastern Catholic’ as if they are different than Eastern Orthodox. It seems to me that the difference described was that these were ‘Orthodox’ that returned to the Roman church (i.e. recognised the Pope) but retained Eastern traditions. Is there such a thing as Eastern Catholic separate from Eastern Orthodox?

I see the Eastern spiritual traditions as being among many in the Catholic Church. One can choose any of these paths to go towards God. If it were possible for me, I would be a Byzantine… but I know that that is more of a personal thing for me and that others find the same help in different spiritual paths.

The main difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism is the Papacy. For that, I just wrote a post in response to a different wuestion, and include it here:
[snip] Anyway, when I had your question, I had to read a book, *Jesus, Peter, and the Keys to the Kingdom, *which had lots of exigesis by Catholics, Protestants, an Orthodox.

However, I just ran across this article, which explains the Papacy pretty thoroughly. If this article doesn’t explain it thoroughly enough for you, get the book I mentioned above :slight_smile:

Hope something in here helps :slight_smile:

What do you mean? There are Eastern Catholic Churches that reunited with Rome (but are not under Rome) and are separate Churches in full Communion, and others that are not from Orthodox Churches but were always Catholic and not Roman.

Yes, there are actually more than twenty of them. They retain their own rites. But they are under the spiritual and judicial authority of the Bishop of Rome (just like the Latin Church). So, obviously, they are in full communion with Rome, and Catholics may fulfill their obligation to attend Mass at any of these Churches.

Being in full communion, their Bishops are invited to participate in Ecumenical Councils and, along with their Latin brethren and in union with the Pope, form the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.

The Eastern Catholic Churches are in Communion with the Pope, but are not under the Pope judicially as the Latin Church is. Each Eastern Catholic Church has its own hierarchs, Patriarchs, Catholicoi, MajorArchbishop and/or Metropolitans who are in full Communion with the Latin Church. The Latin Church is directly under the Bishop of Rome who is also Patriarch of the Latin Church.

I think I have the perfect book for you; and it’s from the Catholic perspective- both Roman and Byzantine. The book is called Orthodoxy and Catholicism: a comparison by Dave Armstrong. It goes into detail about hesychasm (and shows there’s nothing inherently wrong about it at all), and goes into good discussion regarding the reasons for schism, finer points on Eastern Christian theology, and goes in depth into the aspects of mysticism. It also has a great section on purgatory and how it is understood in the East and West respectively. I’ve gone back to that section many times already because it’s filled with great information on the topic.

But I thought the book was easy to read, but it doesn’t skimp on finer details either. Armstrong is a great apologist and writer. He has help in this new edition from a Byzantine Catholic deacon and a canon lawyer who is also Byzantine Catholic. The link to buy the book is below, and also a link to the authors blog. I definitely reccommend this book, it seems to be what you’re looking for.



I don’t know if the books on that site are internationally available. But I do have a Kindle and I see that the book is on the Kindle store. And it has a review that says that the book is recommended by Scott Hahn. I’ll look into the reviews and buy it if I like it. So thanks.

Yea, it’s definitely available on Kindle. I ordered it in paperback, so I just posted that link. If you check out his blog he should have a link to the kindle version. Again, it was a very informative study. I have cousins who are Ukrainian Catholic, so it was cool learning more about my heritage.

Oh, yes, they are.

Each Eastern Catholic Church has its own hierarchs, Patriarchs, Catholicoi, MajorArchbishop and/or Metropolitans who are in full Communion with the Latin Church.

The Latin Church is exactly the same way. The Eastern Catholics are no different than Western (Latin) Catholics in this regard.

The Latin Church is directly under the Bishop of Rome who is also Patriarch of the Latin Church.

Ah, this is where your misunderstanding originates. The Bishop of Rome is the Patriarch of the world. This includes, but is not limited to, the Latin Church. His See is geographically situated in Western Catholicism, but the Pope is not a Western Patriarch - he is a global Patriarch whose See happens to be located in the West.

The Pope’s relationship and authority over the Eastern Catholic Churches is no different than his relationship and authority over the Latin Church. There’s no reason why an Eastern Catholic Bishop could not, someday, be elected Pope.

There is a real difference in the relationship of the Pope to the Eastern Churches than his relationship to the Latin Church. The role of the Pope to the Latin Church is both as patriarch and as universal pastor. With respect to the Eastern Churches, he has the role of universal pastor, but not as patriarch. The Pope is not routinely involved with the internal governance of the Eastern Churches, but is routinely involved with the internal governance of the Latin Church.

This is true, as the Pope is both Patriarch of the West and Patriarch of the world. Inasmuch, he is involved in Western affairs to a greater extent than those of Eastern Catholic Churches, and this is entirely appropriate. He is both Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the world, and each Office has its duties.

But it is flat-out wrong to say that the Pope does not exercise supreme judicial authority and universal jurisdiction over all of the Eastern Catholic Churches. He is much their Pope (Supreme Pontiff) as he is ours, and there is no difference in this regard. He could, at any time, and for any reason (or for no reason at all), insert himself in any way into the governance of the Eastern Catholic Churches, including the outright dismissal of every Eastern Catholic Bishop and the installation of Latin Bishops over all Eastern Churches. Of course, he would never do such a thing, but it is entirely within his purview should he wish to do so. Just so we’re clear on what the Pope may do (anything he pleases) and what he may not do (and there’s nothing he may not do).

A Journey Toward Full Communion


(Description here)

It is out of print so find a used copy and snatch it up while you can.

Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism
By JAMES LIKOUDIS is still in print (in case you cannot find the above book)


God bless.


Okay, I’ll look into the books recommended. But I also want to know what books are there from the Orthodox perspective? Why Orthodoxy is the ‘True Church’ and it’s defence against papal supremacy, etc? It should be detailed but interesting an not dry.

Also, I read on the forums an anecdote about how St Francis of Assisi visited a person in a vision with St Seraphim at his side, telling the person the True Church was where he (Seraphim) was. So is there a book which has a lot of juicy anecdotes like this about finding the true church?

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