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Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx #419219 05/17/19 07:07 PM
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silk Offline OP
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Hello, friends! I am a former evangelical who is desperately seeking for Home. I live in Greece and I have been attending both Byzantine Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church and talked with priests and theologians in order to know where I should go. It seems to me that both sides have coherent internal logic and persuasive reasons (+ both sides have pious, wonderful and sweet brothers and sisters in Christ!) and so, honestly, I really don’t know what to do. I am in the middle of nowhere, floating, pondering and struggling.

My open question to you is this;
1. If you are an Eastern Orthodox, please tell me why I should convert to Eastern Orthodoxy and should not convert to Byzantine Catholicism.
2. If you are a Byzantine Catholic, please tell me why I should convert to Byzantine Catholicism and should not convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.
Feel free to share with me:) Thank you very much.

my blog address:
Which Way Should I Go?: Eastern Orthodoxy or Byzantine Catholicism

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419221 05/18/19 10:52 AM
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Christ is Risen!

Hello, Silk. Welcome to The Byzantine Forum! While personal testimony from both Churches can be useful in such decisions, the larger question is where does the Lord want to you live out your life of faith? That's a question that can only be answered by prayer.

John

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419222 05/18/19 12:21 PM
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Thank you John, for your counsel!

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419223 05/18/19 07:17 PM
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Well, I am sorry if this bothers or upsets the administrators, but I can only relate what I have seen and experienced.

If you think that Roman Catholicism is true, then become a Byzantine Catholic. I say this because BC's are "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" Now what exactly does that phrase mean? To be "in communion with" means a complete agreement on the dogmatic teachings such as the Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit, etc. This is why we do not offer "communion" (i.e. the Eucharist) to Protestants, because we are not dogmatically in union (agreement) with each other.

Here in the United States, this "union" very quickly came to mean that Byzantine Catholics were expected to behave and believe like Roman Catholics. I have seen parishes where the iconostasis was torn out and the Rosary played on a loudspeaker before Liturgy. I wondered if I had wandered somehow into the wrong parish. There are still pew books with the Creed containing the Filioque clause. Up until recently, we were forbidden to have married priests in the USA. And to this day, when I express certain distinctly Orthodox theological positions that I should be able to hold as "Orthodox in communion with Rome," I am excoriated by my RC friends and told I MUST believe what the Roman Catechism teaches. To which I say "BUNK!"

On the other hand, if you don't want to play mental games with your faith, trying to be two things at once which are utterly different, then I would suggest going Orthodox. If you wish to believe as did the Apostolic Church of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, I would suggest going Orthodox.

If any RC reading this does not like it, then I have a small challenge for you: prove to me that the doctrines which your church teaches are apostolic, that is, that they can be found in the writings of the Early Fathers. I'll go with the Immaculate Conception, Indulgences, and baptism by sprinkling to start. I could offer a whole lot more.

I agree with Administrator John. Go where God wants you. And in that light, I offer the following. John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in TRUTH."

I am having a very, VERY hard time remaining Byzantine Catholic after coming to learn these things in seminary. I just wish that when I was an inquiring Protestant, the Orthodox priest I met would have sat me down for about three hours and explained to me what I know now. It would have saved me the grief I am going through now.

PS There are indeed many good, holy, and wonderful people in the world in all places, many of whom I have no doubt love Jesus far FAR better than I do. This is not a diatribe against individuals. It is about my own personal struggle of conscience and the things I have learned over the last 20 years in the BCC.

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419227 05/19/19 06:40 PM
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Christ is Risen!!

Irish_Ruthenian:

Perhaps you are in the same mode.

Prayers for the peace of Christ to enter your heart.

Bob
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Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: theophan] #419228 05/19/19 06:48 PM
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javascript:quickReply(419227)
Originally Posted by theophan
Christ is Risen!!

Irish_Ruthenian:

Perhaps you are in the same mode.

Prayers for the peace of Christ to enter your heart.

Bob
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I think that to be an accurate assessment of my situation

Last edited by Irish_Ruthenian; 05/19/19 06:48 PM.
Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: Irish_Ruthenian] #419231 05/19/19 11:17 PM
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theophan Offline
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Christ is Risen!!

INHO to have a struggle in your heart in the course of your Faith journey means that you take your faith seriously and that your faith is alive, not dormant. This is the time to cry out to the Lord for His help and for Him to send the Holy Spirit to clear away the clouds of what bother you. Psalm 129--"Out of the Depths . . ."

Been there. Feels very lonely at times.

Bob

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419232 05/20/19 01:48 AM
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Christ is Risen!

I sympathize as I was raised Roman Catholic, worship now as Byzantine Catholic, and have considered converting to Eastern Orthodoxy. Though in many ways your are in a good position. What ever truth and goodness you have experienced as an evangelical, you will only it experience more fully in either the Catholic or Orthodox Church.

I didn't make the switch in part due to the following. Some are better reasons than others.

1) Both sides have good historical arguments for their own takes on key differences like papal supremacy. So I stay where I am planted due to uncertainity

2) Catholicism has a more defined notion of doctrinal development which in my mind helps to explain historic Christianity better.

3) I have been moved very much by some post schism western saints such as Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Newman. And I feel it is easier for me to have devotion to post schism Orthodox saints as a Catholic than having devotion to post schism western saints as an Orthodox.

4) It is easier to maintain relationships among my family and friends, many who are practicing Catholic or former Catholics.

5) I feel Catholicism is much better engaging in dialogue with the scientific community.

Ultimately there are no easy answers. Only pray that God will guide your conscience. I don't know how long you have been discerning, but you can't let indecision paralyze you. Eventually just trust yourself to God's mercy and make the best choice possible.

And always pray to the Theotokos to undo the knots of schism and soften harden hearts.

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: Irish_Ruthenian] #419233 05/20/19 05:41 AM
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Dear Irish_Ruthenian:

Thank you so much for your honest sharing. Your message brought me unspeakable relief and comfort to know that I was not the only one who is struggling with these issues. Indeed, I could relate to every single word which you uttered.

Umm,,,It might be better for me, at this moment at least, to settle down in Eastern Orthodoxy... maybe...However, I have been sadden by the strong anti-western, anti-latin, anti-Catholic mentality among Orthodox Christians in Greece in general and former-Evangelical Orthodox converts in North America. Honestly, I am not sure if I will be able to survive in this kind of atmosphere. Do we have to be anti-Western in order to be faithful Eastern Orthodox? Here in Greece, it seems to be that if you want to be a faithful Orthodox, then, it is almost impossible for you to say something positive about Roman-Catholicism (unless you are a liberal Orthodox...but I am a traditionalist like FSSP.). It is a taboo thing to say, for example, "Well, in terms of the teachings of life and human sexuality (abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, euthanasia etc..), I think classical Catholicism offers the most consistent, most powerful dogmas which I have ever known." You are not supposed to express these things. If you dare to do it, then, you are going to be labeled as "liberal ecumenist." (←which,, I am not!)

When I heard from eastern Christians in the middle east, that, recently, former-Evangelical Orthodox converts in North America have fueled the anti-Catholic sentiments and enmities through internet apologetics, my heart was broken. That's because, I myself had had an (unconscious) anti-Catholic enmity when I was a devout Protestant. I wept over the tragedies between Protestants and Catholics over 500 years after discovering the errors of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. The following day, I went to Byzantine Catholic Church and said to the priest that there is something I want to confess (repent). I just wanted to say sorry to God for my year-long unwarranted anti-Catholicism. The priest told me gently, that since absolution is part of the Mystery (sacraments), and that I have not been (re)baptized in the Catholic Church (I was informed that my Presbyterian baptism was invalid), he cannot do it for me right now. And he kindly guided me to recite Psalm 50 in front of the icon and confessed it in front of Him. Since that day, the Lord has poured a special kind of love for Rome in my heart. My heart cries when I see the corruption and liberalism in Rome. Even if I will settle down in Eastern Orthodoxy eventually(*meaning, even if I come to the conclusion that Eastern Orthodox dogmas are more faithful and true to Apostolic Church of the Ante-Nicene Fathers), I would continue to look at Rome like I see my own beloved family. But my question is...does Eastern Orthodoxy allow it? Can I be a Rome-loving, traditionalist Eastern Orthodox?

p.s. Irish_Ruthenian, do you have a website or something? I'd like to ask you some theological questions such as Filioque clause, Monarchy of the Father in Trinity, John Zizioulas etc...

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419235 05/20/19 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by silk
Dear Irish_Ruthenian:

Thank you so much for your honest sharing. Your message brought me unspeakable relief and comfort to know that I was not the only one who is struggling with these issues. Indeed, I could relate to every single word which you uttered.

Umm,,,It might be better for me, at this moment at least, to settle down in Eastern Orthodoxy... maybe...However, I have been sadden by the strong anti-western, anti-latin, anti-Catholic mentality among Orthodox Christians in Greece in general and former-Evangelical Orthodox converts in North America. Honestly, I am not sure if I will be able to survive in this kind of atmosphere. Do we have to be anti-Western in order to be faithful Eastern Orthodox? Here in Greece, it seems to be that if you want to be a faithful Orthodox, then, it is almost impossible for you to say something positive about Roman-Catholicism (unless you are a liberal Orthodox...but I am a traditionalist like FSSP.). It is a taboo thing to say, for example, "Well, in terms of the teachings of life and human sexuality (abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, euthanasia etc..), I think classical Catholicism offers the most consistent, most powerful dogmas which I have ever known." You are not supposed to express these things. If you dare to do it, then, you are going to be labeled as "liberal ecumenist." (←which,, I am not!)

When I heard from eastern Christians in the middle east, that, recently, former-Evangelical Orthodox converts in North America have fueled the anti-Catholic sentiments and enmities through internet apologetics, my heart was broken. That's because, I myself had had an (unconscious) anti-Catholic enmity when I was a devout Protestant. I wept over the tragedies between Protestants and Catholics over 500 years after discovering the errors of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. The following day, I went to Byzantine Catholic Church and said to the priest that there is something I want to confess (repent). I just wanted to say sorry to God for my year-long unwarranted anti-Catholicism. The priest told me gently, that since absolution is part of the Mystery (sacraments), and that I have not been (re)baptized in the Catholic Church (I was informed that my Presbyterian baptism was invalid), he cannot do it for me right now. And he kindly guided me to recite Psalm 50 in front of the icon and confessed it in front of Him. Since that day, the Lord has poured a special kind of love for Rome in my heart. My heart cries when I see the corruption and liberalism in Rome. Even if I will settle down in Eastern Orthodoxy eventually(*meaning, even if I come to the conclusion that Eastern Orthodox dogmas are more faithful and true to Apostolic Church of the Ante-Nicene Fathers), I would continue to look at Rome like I see my own beloved family. But my question is...does Eastern Orthodoxy allow it? Can I be a Rome-loving, traditionalist Eastern Orthodox?

p.s. Irish_Ruthenian, do you have a website or something? I'd like to ask you some theological questions such as Filioque clause, Monarchy of the Father in Trinity, John Zizioulas etc...


I very much appreciate what you have just said regarding the Roman Catholic Church. I am struggling also with a serious tendency towards deep anger and resentment towards that body, especially fueled by the rantings of what you would call "Traditionalist Roman Catholics" who seem to take a deep delight (as also do the Traddydox) in seeing people condemned to hell because they aren't Roman Catholic. At first I wasn't sure where this animus was coming from as I went deeper and deeper towards Orthodoxy, but I have come to realize that the Roman Catholic triumphalism, first expressed by Pope Boniface in Unam Sanctum in the 13th century, and clung to desperately by the Traddie Caths, has gotten under my skin. I need to work and pray to rid myself of this.

As for your post regarding the good things of the Catholic faith....yes, you must admit that in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catechism is quite clear in regards to certain issues in this day which need clarity. (the sexual issues in particular). And yes, there are those Traddydox who also are every bit as much hateful as the TraddyCaths, so Orthodoxy is not pure as the wind driven snow on this. Somehow in the quest for truth, both sides seem to have forgotten LOVE. I do not wish to be among them

My question really is this: where is the Church, for in the Church we are promised the fullness of God's blessings. My spiritual father, who is Melkite, said something to me that keeps ringing in my mind. The Bible says that the Church is the Body of Christ. Where do we find the Body of Christ here on earth? The Eucharist. So every parish and every sui juris church that has valid apostolic succession and therefore the Eucharist, is part of the Body of Christ for it has and administers the Body of Christ, and thus, is part of the Church.

I have to say that I like that answer for two reasons: it is properly ecumenical without saying that any one body is totally right, and it seems to advance this idea from the Bible: love covers a multitude of sins. I also think that FOR ME (perhaps not for you but for me) I have a deep tendency towards trying to curry God's favor by being a perfect person. I have to remember that God will not love me on iota more than the Cross no matter how perfectly I hold to doctrine.

For now, I know that I am in a UCC parish where I was led by a direct answer to prayer, therefore, unless I get an equally strong indication to go to Orthodoxy, I am staying where I am. Having prayed about this and having received no push whatsoever to convert to Orthodoxy, I choose to be obedient to Christ rather than my own desires. And, as the current sad issue between the Russian and Constantinopolitan patriarchates has shown us, Orthodoxy may have good doctrine, but they are lacking in charity.

I doubt my ramblings are of much help here, and as for a website, yes, I do have one, but I am the wrong person to ask in regards to deep theological questions. There are many others here who are far FAR more qualified to discuss with you the issues you have brought up. I defer.

PS. One of the things which is really fueling my angst in this are certain dogmatic approaches to God which seem to come more from the Roman Courtroom than the Father of the Prodigal. Western theology (RC and Protestant) is very very strong on God as angry, judgmental, condemning, and ready to toss almost everyone into hell forever. I find myself asking "Is this really my Father?" I have read and also experienced through blogs and videos, the Eastern view of God as loving Father whose will is to save all mankind (1 Tim. 2:4) rather than to condemn all mankind. I spent the majority of my life with a cold and distant earthly father whom I could never please. I don't need a heavenly Father like that in the next life. I'm pretty sure that is what is turning me off towards any expressions of Western theology a la Anselm of Canterbury, Augustine, or St. Leonard of Port Maurice, all of whom had a deeply pessimistic anthropology and view of God's dealings with us.

OH! Just thought of something that might be helpful. Go here and listen to Fr. John Strickland's wonderful podcasts (I assume you understand English) Start with Page 9 and work forward.

https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/paradiseutopia

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: silk] #419236 05/20/19 07:28 PM
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Christ is Risen!!

silk and Irish_Ruthenian:

IMHO it is best to avoid the extremists whose caustic remarks are detrimental to your faith journey and growth. When I have found myself in such situations, I have often remarked, "this is not the time or place for this discussion." And then either change the subject or move on.

Personally, I have my doubts about extremists in religion, but leave the searching of hearts to the Lord. One Orthodox bishop that I once read about remarked to one of his parishioners something to the effect that we ought to leave others to the Lord--who are not part of us--and make sure we are faithful to what we have been taught and to where we have been placed. If the Holy Spirit leads us to another place, let that be His lead. We are not responsible for converting others--and that is where many get themselves in trouble.

As on of the Desert Fathers teaches, "learn to labor in silence." Let your example be the thing that attracts, not necessarily your words. Or as another source says "you may be the only Bible someone else ever reads."

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: theophan] #419237 05/20/19 08:34 PM
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Dear Theophan,
Thank you so much for your wise advice. After wandering in the Protestant desert with multiple spectrum and interpretations, I started to suffer from epistemic agnosticism. So, for example, I find it difficult to know from where "extremists" line starts and until where "moderates" line continues. It seems to me that each person defines the spectrum according to the footing where we put ourselves on. One person's "extreme" is often another person's "mere compromise." One person thinks he is just trying his best to be faithful to the Holy Tradition, but for another, this is too rigorous and fundamentalistic. When I left Protestantism, I had expected that by relying on Magisterium (or Seven Ecumenical Councils), my epistemic confusion will be healed but....here I am, still struggling and wandering. Thank you for providing such a warm, compassionate sphere where pilgrims like me can share our spiritual/theological issues honestly. May God bless you, Theophan.

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: Devin1890] #419238 05/20/19 09:08 PM
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Dear Devin1890,
Thank you for your warm, thoughtful response.

1) Both sides have good historical arguments for their own takes on key differences like papal supremacy. So I stay where I am planted due to uncertainity
---I think it is such a blessing that you can say you stay where you are planted! In my case, since I was planted in a Buddhist family in Japan, I have to find Home from ground zero. I always encourage and congratulate our brothers and sisters in Christ who were born in Christian home. When I go to Byzantine Catholic Church / Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece, I see that almost all of them (in each camp) are
either BC or EO by birth. And they look happy and content as they are in each Church.

2) Catholicism has a more defined notion of doctrinal development which in my mind helps to explain historic Christianity better.

3) I have been moved very much by some post schism western saints such as Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Newman. And I feel it is easier for me to have devotion to post schism Orthodox saints as a Catholic than having devotion to post schism western saints as an Orthodox.
---Yes, I have been moved by Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Newman, too, and yes, I also think it might easier to have devotion to post-schism Orthodox saints as a Catholic.

4) It is easier to maintain relationships among my family and friends, many who are practicing Catholic or former Catholics.
---May God bless your beloved ones!

5) I feel Catholicism is much better engaging in dialogue with the scientific community.
---I agree. I have been impressed by Catholic scholars / philosophers / scientists' active engagement and dialogue with modern science and thoughts.

May God guide both you and me according to His will.

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: Irish_Ruthenian] #419242 05/22/19 05:53 AM
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Dear Irish_Ruthenian:

Thank you so much for your heartfelt reply. I have been pondering your words. In fact, I echo your tormenting, truth-seeking spirit completely.
I confess that after reading your messages, both "comfort" and "agony" intensified in me simultaneously. I think you are making a very good point
that "to try to be two things at once which are utterly different" are "playing mental games with your faith." Do you think it is a bit similar to Anglican's "latitudinarianism"?

One pious Orthodox believer who cares for my soul told me that since BCC is a Jesuit-made heresy, I should not be deceived by Orthodox-looking priests
and beautiful liturgies. Is this criticism accurate? Is it based on the historical facts?

p.s. Whenever I listen to heavenly Gregorian chant, read some profound writings, see medieval paintings by Catholics, my soul cries out; O Lord, if Roman-Catholicism is not true,
then how it is possible that it can produce such an other-worldly, beautiful devotionals? How is it possible that it could/can produce Spirit-filled saints?

Re: Which Way Should I Go?: Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxx [Re: Irish_Ruthenian] #419243 05/22/19 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian

... I am struggling also with a serious tendency towards deep anger and resentment towards that body, especially fueled by the rantings of what you would call "Traditionalist Roman Catholics" who seem to take a deep delight (as also do the Traddydox) in seeing people condemned to hell because they aren't Roman Catholic. At first I wasn't sure where this animus was coming from as I went deeper and deeper towards Orthodoxy, but I have come to realize that the Roman Catholic triumphalism, first expressed by Pope Boniface in Unam Sanctum in the 13th century, and clung to desperately by the Traddie Caths, has gotten under my skin. I need to work and pray to rid myself of this.
You are conflating schism and heresy. It is the Orthodox, overall, who question grace in the Catholic Sacraments. Consider Catholic and Orthodox practices regarding admission of each other to reception of Holy Communion and re-baptism or re-chrismation of Catholic converts. Who is more stringent in their interpretation of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus ("outside the Church there is no salvation")? Roman doctrine has favored a broader view of THE CHURCH from Novatian (link) to Feeney (link) to VCII. Please read those links.

A general observation about this post (link). I see honest and sincere struggle and concern for the truth but an overall bias based on certain stereotypes and being versed in only one aspect of the issues; this produces, not a chip but a ton of bricks on the shoulder regarding the West, Rome and the Catholic Church.



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