I wanted to comment on my personal experience in the Church and what resonated with me and inwardly turned me Byzantine.
I converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 2013. A few years later I moved to California, got married and had two beautiful children. During this time I was exposed to the Traditional Latin Mass. It was everything I expected and more. The problem for me was that once I saw what the Roman Church was supposed to be, I could no longer find peace with what it is today. Without speaking negatively about anyone I will sum it up to say that my experience in the novus ordo church has been soul crushing. Church hopping to find slightly more authentically Catholic ones didn't help (as none could be found). I began attending the TLM and then found myself in the never-ending war of TLM vs NO. I have been on all sides of that argument and the only thing that happened over the course of time, was that my faith was being harmed more and more and more to the point of despair. It was a total fluke (or God's Divine intervention) that I stumbled across the Byzantine Church. We just happened to drive by it and I saw the sign. I was shocked that there was something called Byzantine Catholic because "the only Catholic Church is the Roman Catholic Church" (sorry for my ignorance). Upon seeing their website I convinced my wife to check it out.
The Liturgy was beautiful and unlike nothing I have ever experienced before. It was as beautiful as the High Mass we got to experience rarely, though in ways I couldn't begin to describe. But what really struck me and stood out for me more than the beautiful Liturgy, was the people. The parishioners at St. Anne's. They welcomed my family as if we were one of their own from the moment we walked in (actually we were greeted by two separate men in the parking lot as we made our way to the door lol). They all welcomed us to the Church and asked us to stay for the social after. During the social virtually everyone made their way to introduce us to the others and it was such a humbling experience.
The crux of my post and experience is this: These people are living the joy of our Catholic faith. We are called to be joyful. I acknowledged that and gave it intellectual assent early on, but had never once experienced authentic joy in the faith. I have never been happy to be Catholic. Every day has been a struggle with feelings of betrayal over how impoverished the Roman Church had become since the Second Vatican Council. And this was exacerbated by the ongoing feud between anti tradition types in the novus ordo world who see the TLM as "going backwards" and being disobedient, whereas the reverse seeing the novus ordo group as being ignorant or apathetic heretics. All this division amidst the very real problems facing the Church has almost driven me from the Church more times than I can count. Ultimately it was experiencing the joy at St. Anne's that gave me hope for the future.
Now I understand fully that the Eastern Churches have their own problems and are not immune to the ever encroaching spirit of modernism. And I know that even in these communities they are likely to attract fringe elements from time to time. So this isn't about everything Roman being bad and everything Eastern being better. Far from it. I just wanted to share this testimony of how my faith was saved by the parishioners in the most unusual way, simply seeing them live their faith so joyously (even without actively applying it to anything). Have any other Byzantine converts had a similar experience? What brought you into the Byzantine Church?