As someone who is exploring Catholicism, it has occurred to me: Why shouldn’t I consider the Orthodox Church? I’m not trying to stir up controversy by asking this. I really would like to know why.
Why not explore Eastern Rite Catholicism.
How is that different from the Orthodox Church? I really don’t know much about the Eastern or Orthodox Churches, having focused my efforts on the Roman Catholic Church.
Why not explore all and see where God leads you? I suggest:
- Go to an Ordinary Form of Mass
- Go to an Extraordinary Form of Mass
- Go to an Orthodox Divine Liturgy and Vespers. Try different jurisdictions if there are in your area (Russian, OCA, ROCOR, etc.)
- Go to an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy, and if they have Vespers go there too. Also try different “sui juris” if there are a mix in your area (Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite) and you can also try those of different Catholic Rites like the Maronites, Chaldeans, Syro-Malankara, Syro-Malabar, etc.
Pray to God to lead you where he wants you to be.
That would be for the Eastern Orthodox Catholic’s and Eastern Orthodox to discern. I follow the Latin Catholic. Yet the above worship in a very similar tradition. The Popes role in the primacy with specific duties, Dogma and a few areas come to mind.
However, as I was saying since your in this exploration stage I see no reason why you shouldn’t check out the Eastern service. Have you received Sacraments in the CC?
Yes: baptized as an infant, and I’ve been going to confession and receiving eucharist a lot.
So what’s the difference between Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and sui juris?
Little different then. Speak to your Priest.
This question comes up frequently–you might try browsing past threads before starting a new one.
I think you should consider the Orthodox Church–I have done so very seriously. However, from my perspective the Catholic Church’s account of the unity of the Church is more persuasive than the Orthodox one.
I would suggest two readings, though both of them in many ways favor Catholicism:
Lumen Gentium for official Catholic teaching on the nature of the Church, which I do not find paralleled in Orthodoxy.
And Olivier Clement’s You Are Peter for an excellent historical and theological analysis of the Papacy from an ecumenical Orthodox point of view. (Some Orthodox have called him “the Orthodox theologian more popular among Catholics than among Orthodox.” So you aren’t getting the standard Orthodox account necessarily when you read Clement.)
Don’t rush your process, make sure you pray a lot and try to learn alot. I recommend reading a book called The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware if you want to learn about Orthodoxy. You can also ask the priest of the parish you will visit to teach you more.
For Eastern Catholicism, try reading books from Fr. Robert Taft. I think he has a book called “The Byzantine Rite”.
Sui juris is a Latin term describing an autonomous (self-governing) Church that is in communion with Rome. There are 22 sui juris in the Catholic Church (23 if you include Rome) that has their own hierarchy but are in communion with Rome.
Your best course of action would be to visit the Holy Orthodox Church. Experience the Divine Liturgy and other services (vespers, orthros, compline, etc)…and have a nice long sit-down with an Orthodox priest.
And to describe this further, this means that for matters of faith and morals (doctrine) they look to the Pope in Rome for the infallible decision as that is where Catholic doctrines are defined (more deeply explained) and kept. But on matters of discipline, like how the mass is performed, they have their own governing force that defines how things are to be done. So, like the way the Maronite Catholic Church celebrates mass will be a bit different than the way is done in a Roman/Latin Catholic Church.
Personally, I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t. I’ve actually considered Eastern Orthodoxy myself, even though I am Catholic.
So basically you are saying Eastern Catholics are spiritually Roman Catholics but with an Eastern Liturgy?
I converted to Roman Catholicism, and then left a little over a year ago for Orthodoxy after six years of being a devout Roman Catholic. Being blunt - I am very, very hesitant to write any of this, because I am being honest and the honesty may offend some people. I’m aware this is a Roman Catholic board and I am a guest. Having firmly established that I know my place here I offer my thoughts and experiences as they are and with the preface that I apologize if I do offend anybody, and that I mean no disrespect.
I went to Roman Catholicism because through research I determined that the original church of Christ had to be either the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church. I initially disregarded Orthodoxy because it did not appear to be Catholic, that is, universal and everywhere. It appeared to me to be ethnically divided, whereas I knew the early church considered itself Catholic, and so without investigating any further I became Roman Catholic.
I expected a continuation of historic practice (within reason) and a heavy respect for tradition, not only from the hierarchy but from the laity. In my case I did not find such attitudes on the majority part of either. The contemporary Mass I found spiritually unsatisfying, often sounding like it had been composed by social workers rather than saints. This very well could’ve been the translation. I’ve not heard the new one.
Having recognized that there was a fault with the translation of the Mass I wondered when the translation had been done and when it would be improved (as I was told it would be). I found forty years or so had passed. Knowing that, historically, the liturgy is what has informed and catechized the faithful it seemed to me that good, devout liturgy had fallen from a place of priority within the Roman Catholic Church, but not so with me. I endured the Novus Ordo Mass when necessary, and attended the Tridentine when possible (which for me was often).
I expected, when I converted, that the hierarchy would teach and defend the faith by word and practice. I realized one day that it had gotten to the point that I celebrated when a Roman Catholic bishop did something traditionally Roman Catholic, or defended a Roman Catholic teaching. It seemed bizarre to me that I was celebrating something that should’ve been an everyday occurrence, and also that it was not so often an occurrence.
Finally after seeing so much of this, I was ranting to an Orthodox friend online who I regularly refused to discuss religion with (so I knew very little, if anything, of Orthodoxy then). He said “Find me Papal Infallibility in the early church.” I realized I could not (and yes I have seen all the quotes on Catholic Answers. I do not find them convincing in context and will not have that argument again).
I went to an Orthodox parish. Contrary to my experience in Roman Catholicism, everything I had read about was before my eyes. The traditions, the liturgy, the attitudes, the practices, were all as I’d read or heard about. There was no “Well we used to do ____ but now we don’t” because we still do it. For very good reason - it teaches us The Faith.
Those dogmas of Roman Catholicism that are not found in any of the other churches which claim apostolic succession were suitably and logically and apostollically explained to me. The true definition of Catholic was explained, and the ethnicism of the Roman Catholic ecclesiology was revealed.
Finally no, I did not at any time entertain the idea of Eastern Catholicism. It was not spiritually, psychologically or practically possible for me. For fear of offense I will leave it at that.
Not offended, and actually applaud your honesty. Personally, if not for a friend directing me to Eastern Catholicism; and then, finding a wonderful parish, with great people, I would’ve gone straight to orthodoxy, myself.
I would echo this (though I am a Latin Catholic). I’m in the process of learning about Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy myself, and every post like Rawb’s helps me to understand the nuances a little bit better.
Rawb: If you have time, would you mind PM-ing me your objections to Eastern Catholicism as a non-viable alternative to Orthodoxy?
From what I understand, yes. A friend of mine attends a Maronite Catholic Church, since his family is Lebanese. But, I think it is more correct to just say they are all spiritually Catholic, and that the rite defines the disciplines.
Anyways, this is also why the Eastern Catholic churches have more married priests than Roman Catholic churches do.
[size=]Because there is the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church:***
[/size]***[size=] LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH[/size]
[size=]ON SOME ASPECTS OF THE CHURCH UNDERSTOOD AS COMMUNION[/size]
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the episcopal College are proper elements of the universal Church that are “not derived from the particularity of the Churches”(57), but are nevertheless interior to each particular Church. Consequently "we must see the ministry of the Successor of Peter, not only as a ‘global’ service, reaching each particular Church from ‘outside’, as it were, but as belonging already to the essence of each particular Church from ‘within’"(58). Indeed, the ministry of the Primacy involves, in essence, a truly episcopal power, which is not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over everybody, whether Pastors or other faithful(59). The ministry of the Successor of Peter as something interior to each particular Church is a necessary expression of that fundamental mutual interiority between universal Church and particular Church(60).
(57) JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Roman Curia, 20-XII-1990, n. 9: as quoted, p. 5.
(58) JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Bishops of the United States of America, 16-IX-1987, n. 4: as quoted, p. 556.
(59) Cf. Const. Pastor aeternus, chap. 3: Denz.-Sch`n 3064; Const. Lumen gentium, n. 22/b.
(60) Cf. supra, n. 9.
The eastern orthodox churches (not in communion with the CC) are quite wonderful and they have a valid Eucharist as well. However, they do not recognize the Petrine role and that was a problem for me. The Petrine office is overwhelmingly scriptural.
And I tell you that you are Peter, (cephas) and on this rock (cephas) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Unity has a direct correlation with the Petrine office.