"With all the heavy incense smoke, lovely chanting and beautiful icons - there is a big emptiness where there should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
This single sentence was the revelation I have been in such desperate need of having, to dispel my illusions of Eastern Orthodoxy. For years I've struggled, being torn between the Eastern Orthodox Church and our Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church. I would always get drawn into the Orthodox side via online interactions. The people were so certain they were the fullness of truth and they'd point out the latinized state of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and I'd find myself having difficulty arguing against their logic. I actually spent a couple months away and tried going back to the Orthodox, despite all my reservations about where they are coming down in the war in Ukraine (this is an Antiochian Church and the Patriarchate of Antioch has vested political and self serving reasons to remain loyal to the MP, regardless of morality).
But spending time with the Orthodox again finally tore the veil that was placed over my eyes. These people were all in for Russia, even buying into all the conspiracy theories (about Ukranian soldiers dressing as Russians and killing Ukranian civilians to spur hatred toward Russia on the global stage). That single perspective alone helped me truly look at the Eastern Orthodox Churches with an objective lens, and not continue to see it as I "wanted" to see it. As they "wanted" me to see it. And I say Eastern Orthodox Church"es", because it's a myth that there's a single Eastern Orthodox "Church". They are as fragmented as Protestantism, always finding political or cultural reasons to rupture from one another and break communal ties. This is the natural consequence of their rejecting the papacy. Without the role of the Pope in Rome to serve the unity of the universal Church, all you end up with is bickering and disunity. This is also why the Orthodox have been adrift and rudderless for the last 1000 years, unable to progress forward with one mind and one body.
The emptiness I felt was not satiated by the Orthodox. It was made more sharp. But by returning to our Byzantine Catholic Church, by going to confession, by receiving our Lord in Holy Communion alongside my family, I now know. I am where God wants me to be. I am at peace, for I have found the Lord God.