I am new to this site. I have always had a love of the perspective of the Christian East, both Catholic and Orthodox. I have found a significant difference in approach. In my opinion, the perspective of the East, appears to be medicinal in nature. A sinner such as I find this very refreshing and inviting. The perspective of the West, again in my opinion, appears to be more juridicial. This approach, while perhaps equally valid, tends toward neurosis and scrupulosity. Please understand, I have read much of St. Thomas Acquinas and hold him in the highest of regard. However, it appears to me that the west has overdosed on the scholastic approach to the Faith and relegated it to the intellectual elite among us, thus cutting the simpletons, such as myself, out of the picture unless we take heed to their informed opinions.
I am a lover of the Desert Fathers and their spirituality. I have read "The Way of a Pilgrim" several times. It appears that for me the answer lies in the Son Who rises in the East. I guess my question is: How does this Eastern approach play out in Byzantine Catholicism? Does being in communion with Rome mean that when all is said and done that the controlling approach is based upon the official Catechism (which I am very familiar with) which is itself based upon a scholastic approach, explanation and content? I have found much in the Western juridicial approach to convict me of specific sins, for which I am grateful. However, I have been continually disappointed in that absolution received in confession, has done nothing to heal me of my sins. Forgiveness yes...healing not so much. Does Byzantine Catholicism retain the healing perspective found in Orthodoxy only in communion with Rome? Or is this a religious form of "bait and switch" salesmanship by those in authority? I am looking for the reality of Christ in my life. I am NOT looking for the "real" thing, but rather just for a place where repentance is the proper approach, not this current emphasis on social justice issues and being called "Catholic" as the Bishops and the Holy Father have done in regards to a certain politician who will enshrine Roe v. Wade into jurisprudence and who has performed two "marriages" of homosexual couples. The West seems to like the places of honor at the table and therefore is not willing to be seen in other than an affirming light lest we do not get invited to the right birthday parties. We seem to have abdicated the role of the prophetic for the role of the politician, or as I call it "the religious go to people". May the Lord forgive me, I have no interest in such religious games.
If there answer is not here, I have no choice other than Orthodoxy. May the Lord forgive me if I have expressed myself badly. But when one is dying of thirst, no other expression is available.
Welcome, Son of the Desert to The Byzantine Forum!
Your post contains a number of questions, each of which would take a lot to answer.
Might I suggest that you make a new post with only one of the questions? And then after that discussion runs it course to move on the the second question?
Christ is in our midst!!
Welcome, Son of the Desert. As our esteemed Administrator said, there is a lot to unpack in your post.
I am a Latin Catholic who has also made The Desert Fathers a core part of my spiritual life for about a half century. I have also studied "The Way of a Pilgrim." Your observations about differences in approach, comparing East and West are spot on. That does not make either right or wrong; better or worse. I have found confessors in the Latin Church who are Eastern in their approach in confession, whether they realize it or not. Perhaps you need to look around to see if there is another priest who is a better fit for you spiritually. This is not to say that one ought to look for someone to "tickle one's ears" and tell you what you want to hear. It is to say that there are differences in the personality of the priest which may make the same approach more pastoral.
We are a welcoming community who pray for each other on our common pilgrimage. We are glad to have you among us.
Thank you John!
Very happy to know more about Eastern Catholicism and to be near its healing influence! Ok so, one question? I guess that the following:
"Does Byzantine Catholicism retain the healing perspective found in Orthodoxy only in communion with Rome?"
Thank you my friend
HI Bob and thanks for the hearty welcome to both you and John,
In thinking about your kind response regarding finding another confessor I would have to say that my Pastor is a great guy who is a good and faithful priest. I guess that I was remiss if my words seemed to indict him. I was talking in generalities, as I am very disappointed in the Western Church as stated in my comments and therefore almost, forgive me, suspect anything that may reside even within the same zip code as "slice and dice" scholasticism. I was meaning that absolution in general seems not to heal only to forgive, which is important. Maybe its Eastern spiritual direction that I am in need of and was really referring to.
Also, I am totally with you. As St. JP II said, we need BOTH LUNGS to breathe. Neither one is better than the other. To me they are the same truths viewed from different angles in the room.
"Does Byzantine Catholicism retain the healing perspective found in Orthodoxy only in communion with Rome?"
For the most part, yes. The Byzantine Catholic (Greek Catholic) Churches retain the liturgical texts of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Healing, in which our theology regarding healing is most easily found. That’s not to say that the services are not much abbreviated these days (that eventually has an effect on how theology is understood). Or that individual bishops and priests might understand it differently. People are always a product of their formation.
Further, the bishops have not gathered and said, “we retain the Orthodox theology” or “we reject Orthodox theology on this and adopt Latin theology”. It is just not something that was ever considered. That generally means that we accept our inheritance without question.
If you want to study the texts of the Mystery of Holy Anointing you can find it online at https://archive.org/details/ServiceBookOfHolyOrthodoxChurchByHapgood
When I was an altar server my pastor used this book (when he used English). The translation is Elizabethan in style but quite beautiful.
As far as who gets anointed, in the Byzantine Churches everyone is anointed, for physical and spiritual healing. Certainly when near death, when one has a serious illness (or going for major surgery), and for the forgiveness of sins on Holy Wednesday and during the Dormition Fast. In some Byzantine Catholic Churches the more general Anointing fell into disuse but is slowly being restored. [I have always advocated that on Holy Wednesday the full service be celebrated by the traditional 7 priests, and be held in cathedrals with the bishop presiding or in deaneries or cities where multiple priests and their faithful can assemble.]
I was talking in generalities, as I am very disappointed in the Western Church as stated in my comments and therefore almost, forgive me, suspect anything that may reside even within the same zip code as "slice and dice" scholasticism.
I don’t and can’t know your situation. The only thing I will say here is to be careful not to compare laxity in Latin theology and praxis with the best of Byzantine theology and praxis. There are certainly Byzantine priests who are not particularly concerned with theology and praxis and just want to get through it.
Thank you my friend,
Both points are well taken. So much is qualified as "Orthodox" or "Catholic"...why not just, as you say, accept the inheritance of your Faith. Truth is its own agenda.
As you state there are priests of all persuasions that "just want to get through it". Approach is no guarantee that the priests will be "all in". Formation is truly the determining factor.
Thanks for the link!
Is there a Byzantine Catechism recommended? I have looked at "Christ Our Pascha" and am tempted to buy it.
I have given some serious thought to your replay. I am thankful for its wisdom, which demanded serious reflection. I especially liked :
"Further, the bishops have not gathered and said, “we retain the Orthodox theology” or “we reject Orthodox theology on this and adopt Latin theology”. It is just not something that was ever considered. That generally means that we accept our inheritance without question.".
To me this means that we are open to BOTH approaches, or perhaps better stated, are willing to breath with BOTH lungs. We are not open to truth only from and seeking imposition of the West. Rather, in the best meaning of "Catholic", just accept truth as it is handed down to us without qualification.
I have another question, maybe two. Firstly, what is the relationship, practically speaking, between Rome and the self governing churches? Does that mean that when push comes to shove Rome wins? If so, in what way? Or is the communion between Rome and the Eastern churches in name only?
Secondly, we are looking to move in the near future and am contemplating a change in rites when we do. I have seen the website for the Archeparchy, and to be honest, by presentation it seems as though it has lost its Eastern flavor in lieu of fellowship with Rome. In other words, just Eastern enough to be palatable to Roman authority and sensibilities. Almost as if it was "Eastern lite". By the website, I do not sense a full commitment to the Eastern perspective of the Faith. We will eventually visit one of the churches of the Archeparchy and I am hoping that my impression will be dissolved. I have also visited the Greek Orthodox church in the town we will be moving to. Of course, I did not sense such a tenuous commitment to the Eastern expression of the Faith. To me, they seemed to be "all in". I can see why the Orthodox have a problem with the Primacy of Peter, and given current statements and actions by the Holy Father, so am I. I guess my second question would be, will changing rites satisfy my longing for the Eastern approach to the faith....that of repentance...healing...mystery? Or is the Eastern rite just a religious pacifier for those who are drawn to it?
Forgive me for any unintended denigration of anyone or anything in my post. I am being called to find a place where the seeking Jesus by repentance is foremost. All of our souls depend on it...
blessing my friend
I understand your frustration. I am still a canonical Roman Catholic though I and my children, and God willing my wife, will be changing churches to become Ruthenian Byzantines. Yet my heart has already made the conversion to Orthodoxy. We had been attending an Antiochian Orthodox Church for a time and will be going again this Sunday. I had/have a strong desire to become Orthodox but my RC wife wouldn't budge, even though she was not going to stand in my way. Ultimately I decided I couldn't make the move. I couldn't imagine not being in communion with my wife, or worse, having our children be out of communion with their mother. Eastern Catholicism is the path for me. At best, it will be the best of both worlds and I will find more fulfillment in it than anywhere else. At worst, it will be a practical compromise in order to ensure my children are raised in Eastern Christianity vs Western Christianity. Given that the EC parish is 2 hours away, we are still going to be actively involved with the wonderful Antiochian community. We will try to make it on Sundays to DL at the Ruthenian Church but any time we can't, or going would be more of a burden than normal, we will simply attend the Orthodox DL. Once you become enraptured by the East, nothing in the West satisfies anymore. And to be fair, I've no doubt there are plenty of Eastern Christians who convert or change canonical churches to become Roman Catholics for the TLM or other things. It's not that the Eastern way of thinking, doing, and being is "better". I am only saying that it is better for "me", which I imagine everyone here can understand lol.
Thank you Colin for sharing your heart with me. I am blessed in many ways, not the least of which is my wife of 40 years, whose heart is totally given to Christ whether she finds Him in the East or the West. She actually prefers the Roman Rite. However, so long as the Rite is in communion with Rome, she will go anywhere I go. The key concept here is "in communion with Rome". We are fortunate in that our children are grown up and married and do not have that consideration. I thank you for the sharing of my frustration. Again, kindness and love come shining through your words. After all the scripture does NOT say "by what Rite you attend, will all men know that you are My disciples". But rather, the love of God poured out through the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus (as opposed to a religious altruism) would be the hallmark of a disciple. Your words and the kindness in your response carries that love and I thank you.
I have, and at times still do, consider Orthodoxy. I do this not for any other reason than the healing perspective of the East unfiltered. I am reading a book that gives an explanation of the Orthodox Faith. It is every bit medicinal, at least in explanation, as I had hoped. I have seen the local Eastern Rite Catholic Church website and have reservations. I am thinking of going to Mass there this morning. The Eparchy that we will be moving to, please keep in mind by website observation only, appears to be Eastern Catholicism filtered thru a Western lens. That is what I do not want. So again, I am not sure about what is meant that the Eastern churches are in "communion with Rome" really means. Is it a matter of supremacy? I actually see the same claim from Orthodoxy but centered in the Faith as she expresses it, in terms of the collegiality of Bishops. My question becomes, doesn't anyone merely want to heal the sinner? Or do they have to cry "uncle!" in the area of vying for supremacy first? Given current statements and actions by Rome and the USCCB, I can understand why they would question the immediate and worldwide governance of Peter. I myself have begun to question it. Is Eastern Rite Catholicism the answer? Well, the Eucharistic Lord Jesus is there, so in that way any Rite is the answer. Also there are HIs mysteries where He can reach to us. So I guess it is the application that I am stuck on. In other words, do we justify an Eastern Catholicism thru Western sensibilities by the Eucharistic and Mysterious Presence of Jesus? Or do we cross the line to Orthodoxy, which according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, has valid Apostolic Succession and sacraments and therefore must have the same Presence, but lacks union with Rome?
Colin, I am not looking for who is right. I am looking for a culture of repentance that will foster healing from my sins, not a culture of performance. The Eastern church has this medicinal culture of repentance. But can I find one in union with Rome that retains this culture unfiltered by Western juridicial leanings? Juridicialism as a steady diet, never healed anyone. In fact, it creates scrupulosity and neurosis in its adherents.
Thank you my friend.
I couldn't agree more. Our Byzantine parish is still shaking off latinizations brought in by some of the laity. I don't know how fulfilling I will find it, but I know I must give it a try for the sake of marital and family unity. My hope is that getting involved in Eastern Catholicism will open my wife up to Eastern Christianity, and perhaps she will be open or even desiring of conversion to Orthodoxy. Ultimately I leave it in God's hands. Wherever He calls us and gives us rest, I must have faith that it will be for my good and for my salvation.
Thanks again Colin,
My prayers are with you. I am the last guy to give anyone advice, but let me say that to me, it is better to show up at the judgement seat a faithful and perhaps religiously unfulfilled husband and father, than it is to show up having gotten our way even in things of the Lord. I admire your self sacrifice for your family. I wish I had been so at whatever age you are( (I am ancient, road weary and put away wet!). We are never more like Jesus than when we are sacrificing, out of love for others...and really...isn't that the whole point? Pray for me that the same love I hear in your words, may find a place in my own soul....