The Road to Rome? Why Orthodoxy Deserves a Second Look

why orthodoxy

by Vincent Martini

Why Orthodoxy?

For those who aren’t aware, Catholic Lane is a well-maintained Roman Catholic news and resource site that I have had the pleasure of contributing to from time to time (by the gracious invitation of their staff). While there are (from an Orthodox perspective) a great number of differences between our two churches — and we are not in full communion, nor really anywhere close to it — there are still many ways in which our two worlds overlap and our distinctives and theological viewpoints merge. In such cases, I have been more than happy to collaborate with them.

Recently, I noticed a series of posts by Jason Liske, outlining his reason for converting to Roman Catholicism. In one such post, he laid out a few brief reasons for why he had chosen Rome over the “Eastern Orthodox” Church. For those interested, the full post can be found here. He has also written posts in a similar manner related to Anglicanism, Lutheranism and the Reformed tradition.

Before I make an effort to respond to some of Jason’s thoughts on Orthodoxy, I wanted to lay out just a few disclaimers.

First, it should be noted that there are likely millions of Roman Catholics who are far more loving, charitable and honorable people than I could ever hope to be. Simply because the Church I have committed my life and faith within disagrees with them on a number of theological issues does not mean I have no positive outlook on their church or its people.

Secondly, my father’s side of the family as a whole is Roman Catholic (being Italian), and while words like “schism” and “heresy” are often seen as “insults” in our present cultural context, they are not meant as such when I use them, nor should they be seen in such a light. Rather, these are words with meaning that are linked rather intimately to the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we take that subject very seriously. Every Sunday when I have the opportunity to walk (backwards, trying not to fall over myself) before the bread and chalice of the holy Eucharist during the “Great Entrance,” I always pray for my recently deceased Roman Catholic grandfather (also named Vincent) when we are making intercessions for the reposed; may his memory be eternal!

These differences are serious (between the Orthodox and Roman Catholicism), but they do not discount our love for such people, nor does it hinder us in our prayers for their health, peace and salvation (as with all of the world).

With all that being said, I will now interact briefly with a few of Jason’s points.

Expressing his love for ”our eastern Christian brethren” (much appreciated!), Jason writes:

The first issue is the attitude of many Orthodox toward the Catholic Church, which in my experience can be described as reactionary and overly suspicious. While the West views the Eastern Orthodox in a very sympathetic and conciliatory fashion, the East seem to view the West much in the same way that hardline Protestants might – as a bastion of error, as “papists”, heretics, the antichrist, and the like. It is truly saddening, but in my experience, I have found it to be somewhat true. Catholic saints such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John of the Cross are viewed as heretical figures overcome by imagination in their spiritual lives, and tainted by “Romanism”. A truly sad thing, as the West views many of the great saints of Eastern Orthodoxy with admiration and a willingness to learn from their teachings. While such figures as Photios and Gregory Palamas may still be viewed in a negative light, they are venerated in Eastern Catholic rites as saints. Seraphim of Sarov, a truly remarkable and saintly figure, has become an object of much veneration and love amongst Catholics, and Catholic scholars are starting to truly acknowledge the profound writings and thought of such Eastern Orthodox saints as Symeon the New Theologian, Theophan the Recluse, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Nectarios of Aegina, Mother Maria Skobtsova, Nicodemus the Hagiorite, and many others. But the East does not return the favor, instead acknowledging the greatest saints of the West to be, at best, in error and whose salvation is also at best uncertain.

This seems to be a fairly common objection (in my limited experience) from our Roman friends of the West.

The Church IconAgain, I must hearken back to my point above that words like “heresy” and “schism” should not be thrown around flippantly, nor should they be seen as “insults” or “personal attacks” when they are necessarily employed. I would also freely admit that there are some among us (within the Orthodox Church) that go “over the top” in their condemnation of the West in general and of the Roman church in particular. I cannot speak for everyone, nor should the entirety of the Orthodox Church be held responsible for the extremists among us (no more than I would callously associate all Roman Catholics with child molesters or with those who claim the Orthodox Church is an invention of the Turks in the middle ages — as I have sadly seen before). However, the fact remains that there are heresies that separate the Orthodox Church from the Roman.

By mentioning Saints Photius and Gregory Palamas, Jason is acknowledging that the Roman church, too, sees some of our revered saints ”in a negative light” (the word he’s looking for is probably “heretics,” but he doesn’t say it), and that leaves our two communions where we are, from a relational standpoint; it is what it is, and it does no good to pretend otherwise. The “conscience of Orthodoxy,” Saint Mark of Ephesus, said it most clearly:

”The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics… we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics.”

I don’t share this because it is some sort of debate-shattering insult, but because it is (from an Orthodox perspective) a matter of fact. We are not “two lungs” of the same one, holy Church that have a few minor issues separating us (schism), but we are separated because of a number of theological heresies that have arisen over the centuries during our separation. I don’t find any joy in these circumstances, but here they are. I hope Jason (and others) can understand and respect this position, while also realizing we do not hold to it in vain. Lord, have mercy.

He continues with his next point:

Secondly, their is a certain sense of insularity in terms of ethnocentrism within the Orthodox Church – simply take note of the titles of Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, American Orthodox, and the like. Once, when I inquired of an Eastern Orthodox friend of mine why he did not go to just any Orthodox church, he replied matter-of-factly that “We go where the Russians go” (for he is Russian). But Catholics go where a Catholic Church is, whatever rite it may happen to fall under. In other words, the catholic (universal) nature of the Church is lacking in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Again, I fear that lack of familiarity (and apparently, research) has led Jason to this mistaken viewpoint. He admits as much in his introduction, and I must certainly take him at his word in this case.

The “ethnic,” jurisdictional distinctions within the Orthodox Church are based upon (for the most part) ancient boundaries that were established for the purpose of effectively shepherding the growing Christian Church, even from the days of the apostles. These jurisdictions (sees/patriarchates) are what, in fact, established the Roman Church to begin with! It just so happens that the Roman Church separated from the rest of these patriarchates through various circumstances down through the Council of Florence (of which St Mark of Ephesus, mentioned above, was a part) in the 15th century. These are not “different churches” or “denominations” (which would be an anachronistic way of looking at it), but are all part of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

While Jason’s friend is certainly in the wrong about his church-selection viewpoint (unless he’s living in Russia, and then it makes perfect sense), the Orthodox Church has wholly condemned phyletism as a pan-Orthodox heresy (cf. Synod of Constantinople, AD 1872), and Jason’s friend should not be seen as representative of the entirety of the Orthodox Church on this matter. And really, despite Jason’s insistence (and perhaps, naivety), a Catholic Christian will go to their preferred Catholic Church, if there are options available to them. The liturgical revolution brought on by Vatican II has only made this all the more applicable, I would imagine — one never knows what one might get when visiting any given Roman parish these days. We can split hairs all day long if we want, but in the American context of Christianity, avoiding this “cafeteria” approach is an uphill battle. It should also be noted that, according to Roman Catholic canons, one cannot simply transfer from one rite to another, even within the Roman Catholic Church as a whole. A “letter of transfer” is required to leave the rite into which one was baptized.

Finally, and just as a little quibble, “catholic” emphatically does not simply mean “universal,” and this is something that’s been covered in numerous places before, so I won’t belabor the point. The Orthodox Church is most definitely catholic, as it contains (and has preserved) the wholeness and fullness of the once-delivered Faith.

Jason then writes:

Thirdly, the objections against the papacy brought up by the Eastern Orthodox are incredibly difficult to overcome at first, for as I have noted, they too have apostolic succession. So, I endeavored to dig through the Fathers and the history of the Church to find out who in fact was right. I especially dug through the writings of the Eastern Fathers (the Cappadocians, St. John Chrysostom, St. Maximus the Confessor, and the like) to see what they in fact said. The answer was seemingly unanimous, and in agreement with the Catholic Church. This I could not ignore, despite any accusations of selective quote-mining that might occur from this point on. Even St. John Chrysostom’s understanding of Matthew 16:18, which I have treated earlier, is in accord with the Catholic understanding of the Papacy and the chair of St. Peter. I cannot ignore this. Even Gregory Palamas states that St. Peter is ‘the leader of the apostles and foundation stone of the Church.’

There have been pages upon pages devoted to this controversial topic. Sufficed to say, I won’t go into everything related to this here. I would suggest that Jason consult a book (from an Orthodox perspective) such as Popes and Patriarchs by Michael Welton. I would also submit that the Ecumenical Councils — when discussing the subject of “Old” and “New” Rome – never (to my knowledge) mention St. Peter as a discussion point. What they cite, rather, is the fact that Constantinople is now ”the imperial city” – not because it (or “Old” Rome) is the see of Peter.

No one in the Orthodox Church would discount the importance of the apostle Peter in the foundation of the catholic Church (especially not an Antiochian Orthodox Christian like myself, whose very Church was founded by the apostle Peter, and years before he ever ventured to Rome), nor would we make light of the importance of apostolic succession. That is simply not the point when it comes to Rome vs. Constantinople, and all related discussions. Again, I’m not an expert on this, but that’s my two cents, for whatever it’s worth.

Jason continues:

Now, let me state here, somewhat controversially no doubt, that I consider the rift between the East and West to be based more in language, politics, and crimes on both sides, than on anything theological. The filioque controversy is not something that is hard to overcome, as the statements of ‘proceeds from the Father through the Son’ and ‘proceeds from the Father and the Son’ mean essentially the same thing. Though many disagree with me, I see no reason to separate the Body of Christ over this trifling semantic issue.

Controversial, indeed. The problem here is that Jason is simply re-asserting the historically revisionistic viewpoint of the Roman church regarding the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (or the “Symbol of Faith”). This is, yet again, another topic that has been discussed at length over the centuries (and is one of the main topics of discussion for why St Mark of Ephesus referred to the “Latins” as heretics), so I won’t try to re-invent the wheel. However, Jason needs to understand clearly that while “proceeds from the Father through the Son” is an Orthodox way of speaking, the Latin Filioque is not.

While many today will “soften” the Filioque in this manner, it is simply being dishonest about the heart of the matter, and that is eternal procession (not “proceeds” in a temporal sense, like Jesus sending a postcard in the mail, to use a simplistic analogy). These are not mere semantics, and the ramifications are unending for the West.

Jason’s thoughts here also contradicts the current, dogmatic belief — per the Catechism of the Catholic Church – on the issue (#246), where it makes plain the “eternal” quality of the Holy Spirit’s procession from both the Father and the Son (filioque), as seen from the Latin perspective:

The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)”. The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: “The Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration… And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being the Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.” (Council of Florence [1439]: DS 1300-1301)

With regards to the first half of his statement above, I would agree that language, politics/crime (the barbarous Charles and his Frankish cohorts) led to a great deal of our issues and rifts, but that does not explain the entirety of our continued division. Rather, the continuation in heresy, the abundance of innovations and the multiplication of new dogmas should be our real focus; we can’t blame “politics,” the Franks and historical circumstance for everything.

Jason concludes his article with a summation of his main arguments against the “Eastern Orthodox” Church:

  • A certain sense of suspicion held by the East towards the West, as well as what I note to be an uncharitable attitude by some towards the great saints and theologians of the Catholic Church. I found the Catholic understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy to be far more fair, conciliar, and loving. The West holds their saints in high regard, and they are venerated in many of the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church. Of course, this attitude has not always been held by the West – this is true. But I find the move by the Church towards unity with the Orthodox is by far the more charitable than the still current attitudes held by some in Orthodoxy towards Catholics.
  • Concerning Orthodox and Catholic claims about the papacy, I found the evidence from both the Eastern and Western Fathers to be in support of the Catholic claim far more than the Eastern Orthodox claim.
  • The sense of insularity and lack of catholicity in the Eastern Churches – here I speak of the varying groups of Orthodox Churches (Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, American, Coptic, Oriental, etc.)

For point one, I will say in summary that Jason has to understand that we do not find joy in the reality of our schism, but that we must be faithful to our beliefs and to the Orthodox Faith. This is not an affront to unity, but the true means by which it will come about: mutual agreement in these key matters of our Faith in Christ (not mere “understanding” or compromising concessions).

I also haven’t mentioned the “Eastern Catholics,” as Jason does a few times in his article, but I will only say that they betray the memory and the life of St Mark of Ephesus by their very existence; they are the embodiment of everything he so courageously fought to avoid, for the sake of the Orthodox Faith.

In regards to his second point, I think Jason has missed the point with regards to Saint Peter and apostolic succession (something that applies to all of the apostles and their Churches, assuming they have preserved the one, true Faith), and especially how this applies to the claims of Rome (which held importance, in my understanding, because it was “the imperial city,” as the Ecumenical Councils claim — later to be supplemented and eventually supplanted by Constantinople, as the interests of the empire shifted).

And finally, to his third point, I believe that Jason has misunderstood not only the true meaning of “catholic,” but also what the various jurisdictions (and patriarchates) of the Orthodox Church signify (and how that relates to the overall communion and relations between our local, Orthodox churches).

Jason’s article also lists a few “positive things” about the Orthodox Church from his perspective, and I know all Orthodox Christians would share in his affections and appreciate his charity in these matters. All in all, I have no doubt that Jason is a devoted and serious person, seeking to find the Truth of Christ in this world. I only wish that he would consider giving the Orthodox Church a second look, for I believe many of his concerns are unjustified and unfounded.

In the end, it seems that most of Jason’s concerns are of a “pastoral” nature, and have — as a result — no real bearing on whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true Church, or whether the Orthodox Church is “wrong” on certain theological matters. Many of these issues (and I submit that phyletism, for example, is a real problem that needs correction) are such that they can be changed and improved over time. On the other hand, the issues I’ve noted with the Roman Catholic Church (e.g. the innovations regarding the filioque) are so “set in stone” through Roman Catholic dogma, that seeing true reform and correction on such matters is far less likely.

May Christ our true God have mercy on us both, and I wish Jason the best in his endeavors. Lord, have mercy.

Vincent Martini is a convert to Orthodoxy from evangelicalism. He serves as an acolyte and reader, teaches catechesis classes and has his own blog. He has an undergraduate degree in philosophy, and is currently enrolled in an Orthodox theological seminary.

Road to Rome? Why Orthodoxy





Comments

  1. Pauline Pujol says:

    My Christian sentiments, not necessarily beliefs, side with Roman Catholic Jason even though I am a Protestant who visits and is attracted to the Orthodox Faith. Growing up Protestant in a staunch Irish Catholic neighborhood, surrounded by the Pre-Vatican II Cult, in my opinion was an experience. All my friends and neighbors were uncompromised Catholics and as a small child having to listen to “your religion was found by a man and our Catholic faith was found by God” made me cry. I understand Catholicism better than my present day (21st Century) Catholic friends and agree with much. And, I might add, the Catholic Church, not the Protestant Church, is what turned my head to inquire about the “Hidden Jewel” called Orthodoxy. What I dislike about the Orthodox population is their 1,000 year attack againt Roman Catholicism which I find extremely petty. Sorry, Folks, I have had an scholarly Orthodox mentor, am presently studying Orthodoxy whenever and wherever I can, and I must agree with your opposition, EASTERN ORTHODOXY AND ROMAN CATHOLICISM ARE TWO LUNG CHURCHES. PAULINE

  2. Margaret says:

    When’s faith, through ignorance or misunderstanding is misrepresented or characterized it is proper and right to clarify that we agree to disagree with others who are attempting to represent Orthodoxy. The Orthodox are not charged with assaulting others’ believes, but in living the gospel, and responding to questions about our faith. Accurately representing our faith is not a matter of pride, or superiority, but a statement of the historical disparity in what Eastern Christianity believes that is different than Western Christianity. An open hearted person can acknowledge differences in their own beliefs as part of a process of learning about one another. It is always illuminating, if you search in love, to read another faith’s history, and to search for bibliographic sources to truly understand where the foundations were laid and by whom.

  3. John Ruffle says:

    My Brother in Christ, Vincent Martini, thank you for taking time to express your Orthodox side of things. I am a convert from penticostal evangelicalism, to high Anglican and into the (Roman) Catholic Church. Only this past Sunday I was telling some people how happy I am to see Orthodox icons populating many Catholic church buildings these days. I love Orthodox worship. If indeed there were Orthodox churches near me that conducted Liturgy in English, then I might have turned, as Michel Harper did, to the Orthodox. Today, I hold Bishop Kalastos Ware to be one of the spiritual greats of this current age.

    However, in your writing above, I confess that as a simple person, I have been left behind. To my mind, you write in a manner more in keeping with a fundamentalist Protestant. That saddens me. We can be in danger of being so legalistic in our view of Truth, that we fail to see the other equally valid approaches to He who IS ‘Truth’. In this I must agree with Jason Liske when you quote him saying: ” I consider the rift between the East and West to be based more in language, politics, and crimes on both sides, than on anything theological.” This is a BIG rift; a TRAGIC one. IT will never be overcome through dogma or doctrine, but by repentance, forgiveness, many tears, recoenciliation, humilty and a fresh, united vision of Christ Crucified, our risen abnd Ascended Master, the one who died for ALL the “Church militant here on earth.”

    We both need to be engulfed again with the undeserved mercy of God, as we both, in our own rites, celebrate sacramentally. If we would focus our hearts and minds and prayers and groanings toward a loving orthopraxy, I do believe that orthodoxy will follow as Jesus our Lord leads us into “All truth”. Amen.

  4. Dr.D.L.Whitman says:

    My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we stand at the end of human history and we see the horrible attacks against our churches, it is of wisdom to put these issues to rest and confess our Nicene Creed together and realize that the enemy is not Rome but Islam. Remember that our two Orthodox bishops that have not been heard from in Syria were on their way to negotiate the release of a Catholic priest. It may be that persecution not theology will be our uniting factor. My Orthodox parish has many former Catholics and many converts from some Protestant tradition yet it may soon be Christ or Mohammad for all of us. Under the mercy, Dr.D.L.Whitman

  5. Matthew says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. I am currently a protestant most closely along the lines of Reformed/Baptist. My study of Roman Catholic theology (more intensely now the last couple of months and from the RC perspective) began while studying Church History at a Baptist seminary a few years ago. I am interested in learning more about Orthodox beliefs, but am having difficultly making personal contact. I live in a strong RC state/community and the nearest Orthodox Church of any kind is an hour and a half drive one way. What do Orthodox people do when they live in a “dead zone”? Maybe that is never a question because the only ones who are Orthodox live near an Orthodox Church.

  6. Lillibet says:

    It seems to me Rome vs. Orthodoxy discussions are everywhere lately. One thing the Orthodox church does not seem to do, is defend itself by employing accusations leveled against others. Decisions can and have taken two generations or more, before they are issued as accepted doctrine. Top down only seems to work where Jesus is at the top, not a human of any religious stripe. Orthodoxy as a result is stable, which is witness to the stability of God in our world, from the beginning of time to the end of time.

    At the same time, there are numerous sites claiming various Popes are invalid in authority due to whatever. Protestants have changed things so often in the last few decades as to be unidentifiable to members and seekers alike. There are over 2500 different denominations of the Christian faith in the US alone. Television ministries are either included in that or not, but having some guy trying to sell things, such as a “blessed shred of cloth” to cure one’s ills, is beyond ludicrous, yet the public buy this stuff. This is cognitive dissonance, or mental whiplash, and not the way to draw people to faith founded on solidity.

    In short, religious matters are a mess in this day and age. As predicted. As expected. If you listen closely, you can probably hear someone, whose habitation might have thawed a bit with summer beginning, chuckling with glee. So to speak — but I digress.

    I look to the Orthodox faith for the continuity of its core beliefs and practices. I look there because of my faith. I look to the disciples and the most holy saints of the church, the many martyrs and saints from year One to the day before yesterday. The Orthodox have something no other church has, which is a demand believers live Orthodoxy, in faith, in prayer, and in the company of believers, no matter where they are found. I look most to a church that doesn’t change its mind with every passing whim, movement or transient concern, while holding forth the opportunity for worship in truth and in the love of fellow believers. No church is perfect. I know walking into any Orthodox church that I will be treated as a member of the family of God, and that I will be respected for my beliefs. Where I am wrong, I will be gently corrected. Where right, we celebrate together.

    I don’t view other churches, or even other faiths, as competition or entities to be criticized. Rather, I believe in sharing the rightness of my faith and let others make up their own minds. As for the churches, while the schism remains, it remains for both sides of that breach to heal what needs healing. Until then, my heart tells me where my home is. All roads may once have led to Rome, but for me, they lead to the Orthodox church near my own home where worship is. And wherever that church is, that is my home.

    As for Islamic kooks kidnappings of clergy, thus becoming our enemy, these things likely must be handled as political matters as we’ve unfortunately had leaders mention Crusades and other hot button ideas, raising military actions of secular governments into nearly religious matters, depending on one’s view. It was reprehensible, but cannot be handled by the community of faithful except under some extraordinary circumstances, so far unknown to most of the public. Until then, we have to let governments and leaders in the Middle East, work to free these prisoners. Our best work could be prayer, and petitions to governments to act responsibly and retrieve the Bishops soonest.

  7. Ben in SoCal says:

    I have often remained on the fence in this regard; I am Roman Catholic by birth and baptism, and I remain in that “camp” to retain religious unity in my upcoming marriage. It is not healthy or wise to create any kind of division in a marriage, in my humble opinion. Not to say it hasn’t caused me severe internal disputes! But I agree with the Orthodox position on authority, which is not centralized in one Church’s hands. If Rome was always Supreme, why did St. Peter not call the Council of Jerusalem and preside over it? Why was St. Peter sent on missions, instead of him ordering others to do so? Why did the pope not convene and adjudicate solely at Nicea or the other early gatherings?

    Half my family is Orthodox, and they hailed from Serbia, which is a cultural heartland of the ancient Faith. The major problem with the Orthodox, which generates substantial confusion, is the jurisdictional divisions. You have overlapping dioceses that, when divided in that manner, create very small parishes. On one hand, I agree with the “fear” of losing ones culture. Look around at mainstream American culture: soulless addiction to materialism, secularism, hedonism; a hysterical abiding devotion to sports team, with failing knowledge of civics and history. ANd let’s not forget our slothful and obesity-causing food habits. It is not really a culture to emulate!

    Orthodox people rightly want to retain their culture. My suggestion would be to host mandatory language classes for folks of that background. If you and your children are Greek, learn the language! Save up and pay a visit to your familial heartland. Learn the music and the traditions.

    But the Orthodox Church should have one unified jurisdiction; like Catholic parishes, you can have a 9 am Divine Liturgy that is English, which is right for this country, and have a noon D.L. that is in your cultural language, if you so choose. Traditional parishes in Maine do this- one for English, one for French. But we are not called the “English Catholic” or “French Catholic” Church.

    May God bless His Church, and may Pope Francis continue to lead the See of Rome down the humble path of rich spirituality. I think we all can agree that Pope Francis is interested in seeking unity with the Orthodox.

  8. Charlie says:

    Pauline: if you you look carefully at the ‘third white area’ you will see that we are indeed most emphaticallcay not “Two Lung Churches”. It is ( too make a very long story short) precisely because of this reason why I; a trained theologian, converted from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy instead of (Roman) Catholicism.

    Matthew: (Just an hour and a half?”) and in you own car, I suppose….
    well I’m 70, no car, remnantsof a broken hip and it takes me 2 hours by public transit and a three block walk each way. Fortunately there’es a Pot-Luck lunch after the Divine Liturgy. (The only one in English in Vancouver, and I’m getting a little old to be learning Russian or Greek!)
    You said you want to learn? well, there are any number of sites on the ‘net – start with Google first or your preferred browser – there is a site called “orthodoxwiki” or something close – you could try that; both the Orthodox Church of America and the Antiochean Orthodox Church, both English language, (same “Church”) different ‘Patriarchates’ – like Church of England and Episcopalian, sort of….
    Best of luck, God Bless!\

  9. I don’t think different Patriarchates are an issue for the Orthodox church. When I first moved to my current apartment the closest Orthodox church was over one hour drive, a Greek one. I was babtized in a different Patriarchate, but I went there and was accepted. I kept going there for over a year, but was to shy to talk to the pastor. Then a found another Greek church which is only about 25 min away. They accepted me. Greeks alternate between Greek and English and have books that make it easy to follow the liturgy. I do not speak Greek. Sometimes I go to a Russian church too and I am accepted there too. I have to admit that I understand Russian although I can not call myself fluent yet. And having a noon liturgy is not a good idea. Orthodox are supposed to fast before the communion. Even a 9:30 or 10 am liturgy is a bit hard for me, 7:30 am is much better.

  10. Fr. John says:

    Don’t worry Eve, Greeks don’t understand the Greek in it either – it’s 4th century Koine Greek not modern Greek. And the Russians don’t understand their liturgy either – that’s 11th century Slavonic.

  11. In Kallistos Ware’s excellent book “The Orthodox Church” he explains clearly (in a way that I can understand!) the Orthodox view of Rome. I am aware that things are far more complicated than they seem, but sometimes, for me, things in a nutshell turns the light on. I am Roman Catholic, and only recently wanted to know more about the Orthodox faith, because frankly, I was ignorant of it. I, Roman Catholic. What else did I need to know? But having become increasingly frustrated with post Vatican 2 liturgy and its peripherals, I began seeking out pre-V2 churche, for the traditional or “Mass of Pope Pius V”. Few and far between, but I found them, though they are not encouraged in the diocese. You may be aware that there is a scandalous amount of in-fighting and bitterness among trad and non-trad Roman Catholics, even between trad Roman Catholics! The internet is full of it! I digress.
    Yes, I thought Rome was the be-all and end-all. Until I read Kallistos Ware’s book. Rome was only “first among equals”, having the “primacy of honour”. However, Rome took on itself to be supreme – over and above the other patriarchates, a “supremacy of external power and jurisdiction”. Arrogant, I would say. And a tragedy! And the “infallibility” of the pope. Church, infallible, yes. Pope…?
    If ever Orthodox and Roman Catholicism were to reunite (Please God, one day) then Rome would have to revoke the dogma of the pope’s infallibility, take out the filioque, etc., and have a worthy liturgy, like the Mass of Pius V.
    I shuddered with embarrassment when I saw on YouTube the comparison of Orthodox Divine Liturgy and a Roman Catholic Mass somewhere in the US….

  12. It looks like the “Ascent of Carmel” blog is down, but Jason is indeed Orthodox now 🙂 Here’s his story on Death to the World:

    http://deathtotheworld.com/articles/our-ascent-is-unending/

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