Friday, August 29, 2014

Nice Orthodox

A Catholic turned Orthodox writes:
I follow the example of St Silouan in his response to a zealous archimandrite in the Orthodox Church:
Father Silouan’s attitude towards those who differed from him was characterised by a sincere desire to see what was good in them, and not to offend them in anything they held sacred. He always remained himself, he was utterly convinced that ‘salvation lies in Christ-like humility’, and by virtue of this humility he strove with his whole soul to interpret every man at his best. He found his way to the heart of everyone to his capacity for loving Christ.

I remember a conversation he had with a certain Archimandrite who was engaged in missionary work. This Archimandrite thought highly of the Staretz and many a time went to see him during his visits to the Holy Mountain. The Staretz asked him what sort of sermons he preached to people. The Archimandrite, who was still young and inexperienced gesticulated with his hands and swayed his whole body, and replied excitedly, ‘I tell them, Your faith is all wrong, perverted. There is nothing right, and if you don’t repent, there will be no salvation for you.’

The Staretz heard him out, then asked, ‘Tell me, Father Archimandrite, do they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the true God?’
‘Yes, that they do believe.’
‘And do they revere the Mother of God?’
‘Yes, but they are not taught properly about her.’
‘And what of the Saints?’
‘Yes, they honour them but since they have fallen away from the Church, what saints can they have?’
‘Do they celebrate the Divine Office in their churches? Do they read the Gospels?’
‘Yes, they do have churches and services but if you were to compare their services with ours—how cold and lifeless theirs are!’
‘Father Archimandrite, people feel in their souls when they are doing the proper thing, believing in Jesus Christ, revering the Mother of God and the Saints, whom they call upon in prayer, so if you condemn their faith they will not listen to you ... But if you were to confirm that they were doing well to believe in God and honour the Mother of God and the Saints; that they are right to go to church, and say their prayers at home, read the Divine word, and so on; and then gently point out their mistakes and show them what they ought to amend, then they would listen to you, and the Lord would rejoice over them. And this way by God’s mercy we shall all find salvation ... God is love, and therefore the preaching of His word must always proceed from love. Then both preacher and listener will profit. But if you do nothing but condemn, the soul of the people will not heed you, and no good will come of it.’
From Saint Silouan the Athonite, by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) (Essex, England: Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, 1991), pp. 63-65.
Flip the sides and this is true. There are lots of nice Orthodox; ethnic, knowing who they are, and having nothing to prove.

The fellow who posted this wrote:
I was born to a Roman Catholic family and baptized as an infant but was largely unfamiliar with the Latin rite to be honest since I was born post Vat. II and from the time I was young, we went to a Greek Catholic parish until I became an adult... I became Orthodox not because of my issues with the papacy. I still have a great deal of admiration for the popes. I loved JPII and basically grew up with him. In fact I've seen two popes in my lifetime in person — Paul VI as a child, and John Paul II in my youth... My own issues were somewhat more 'practical' and less 'theological' in nature. The filioque (or rather "lack of it") was not something of an issue for me since as a Byzantine Catholic, we did not recite it. For me it was about the availability of the parishes and sacraments. Look into most phone books in any given town and you'd be hard pressed to find a Greek Catholic parish and that was my first issue... Second was the calendar or rather 'paschalion'. I often went to my parish and celebrated ours and then visited an Orthodox just to celebrate it with them later when most of the Eastern Churches celebrated it (I was not well aware of Greek Catholics who celebrated Pascha according to the Julian paschalion)... Also, another issue for me was that in the Greek Catholic parishes, I was always considered an 'outsider' and a 'Latin' because I was not baptized into the same rite and they were mostly from that tradition because of heritage, in the Orthodox Church, I knew that although there were ethnic parishes too, that Orthodoxy had been established worldwide among non-European peoples for generations and the way the missions were established were quite different from the way Roman Catholics missionized many peoples (i.e. Russians among the Native peoples of Alaska). I still have a great respect for my Catholic sisters and brothers, including the Latins, as my family is mostly and devoutly Catholic. We pray together at home — including the rosary when my mother was alive. I know there are 'differences' and many will judge me from both sides and misunderstand me. I've been questioned by people from the Latin side who questioned my 'catholicity'; as well as Orthodox who have called me a 'uniate' at heart (using it as a pejorative, I believed). I'm ok with that... I pray and wait for the hierarchs to decide and come to some unity in my lifetime, but I won't hold my breath... If the arguments in this group are any indication... (and the reactions I've gotten or lack of support from people), then it may be a long time indeed before we work out our differences... If I have ever said anything to offend anyone, I ask their forgiveness. God bless.
I understand converting as you did, out of love for the rite and wanting to be "the real thing" in it, because, after all, it IS the Orthodox rite. But of course I don't agree with doing so, because even if you're nice, like you and St. Silouan, you've turned your back on us, denying we are in any sense the church, because that's a valid opinion in Orthodoxy. Stopped kidding myself about that many years ago and took a long walk home.

The Byzantine Rite is better than the Novus Ordo, but a Catholic becoming Orthodox is worshipping a rite instead of God.
I am saddened and sorry that you feel that you feel I have "turned my back on you," or that I "deny" you are in any sense "the church", because that's not me, nor has it ever been my opinion nor feeling. You can ask anyone — any Catholic (or non-Catholic) who has known me all my life. Having said that, I understand why you feel the way you do as many who have converted to Orthodoxy from the See of Rome, have felt as if they have and no longer identify as such, even "in spirit" with their Catholic sisters and brothers, Latin or otherwise. I have never turned my back on Rome or those in communion with her. We have a mural icon of Saint Peter at the parish I attend currently, next to Christ, and on the other side St Paul. I always kiss the foot of the Apostle Peter, as I once kissed the old worn-out foot of his statue in the Basilica named for him in Rome... others may not understand, but St Peter does. That I may not be 'officially' in communion with those who fill the shoes of that fisherman, is not for anyone else to judge... God may yet bring me in union with them some day... When St John Paul II passed from this life, my brother (a Roman Catholic) and I both drove over an hour away to the Cathedral in Los Angeles to attend a memorial service for him. A reporter asked us in an interview for a paper why we drove so far. We simply said: "Because we grew up with him as the Pope of Rome and want to honour his memory as is befitting him." If his current successor would come to visit my town and were I blessed enough to approach him, I would kiss his ring as any Catholic, then introduce myself as an Orthodox brother: let others talk as they wish. Forgive me.
God forgives. I tried being like that too. I think you might come back, because in your heart of hearts you know we are the church.
We are the Church! ...we just happen to be broken at the moment. We mortals only know 'moments'... remember that, John, but God knows and understands eternity. To Him, eternity is but a moment. ...something to think about.
The trouble with well-meant "we're all schismatics" or "the church is broken" or "we're both the church" is they really mean "there is no church," which neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy teaches. It's not fair to us or to the church you've embraced. However, it resembles us more than them, because we hold that they are an estranged part of us, with no heretical doctrine and having bishops and the Mass. Doctrinally, they are agnostic about us: they are the church, period. Someday you will have to choose between us and them.

Someone else chimed in:
It only looks like that to those that wear blinkers, John.
Sounds gnostic and Masonic: the churches' teachings are for the dumb masses while the enlightened have the real brotherhood. No, thanks. I'd rather be a boring old Roman Catholic.

Meanwhile, unlatinized Byzantine Catholicism seems to have an agent provocateur or at least has shot itself in the foot:
Simply put: we do not care a whit what the Latin view is on anything. Go in peace, brothers, but GO!
That board, with its fantasy church (gnostic pseudo-brotherhood) in Byzantine garb, neither Catholic nor Orthodox, really HATES unlatinized Byzantine Catholicism, as it does latinized, and I imagine doesn't really like the Orthodox either. Fake religion is a lifestyle accessory for one's wonderful self.

Disappointing from the parish priest of St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church in New York, which I've been to several times and have always recommended. Size doesn't matter; truth does. This obscure jurisdiction seems to "get it": they love everything Orthodox except schism. At least they seemed to until I read this.

Better: Bitten by the Golden Bow-Wow: Pitfalls of East/West dialogue. Anti-Western snobbery. Yes, I respect the rite but the Mass is the Mass, for example.


  1. Are you denying that the Catholic Church is in schism, John?

    1. So VII does not exist for you?

    2. Like some well-meaning Orthodox you've fallen for the liberal misreading of Vatican II. Catholicism can't change defined doctrine so Vatican II didn't even try. While everything in church polity except the papacy and the episcopate is negotiable, Catholicism still teaches it is the true church.

    3. “According to John Beeler the Catholic Church is NOT in Schism, and is the only one and true Church. If this is true, then we might as well give up and close this group down. Your thoughts?”

    4. If it misrepresents the teachings of either Catholicism or Orthodoxy by denying their true-church claims, then to hell with it. Shut 'er down.

    5. That is the point, they are both the true Church, that means schism, yet that is what you deny.

    6. Relativistic nonsense that's insulting to both churches.

    7. Fr. Augustine9:41 am

      We need to change the viewpoint here...... This is ONE CHURCH, ruptured. The "trick" is to heal the rupture. It's not about "good guys vs bad guys", or about the historical, political, polemic. Its about WHAT WE DO NOW..... to heal the rupture.

    8. The two sides aren't equally the church, Father, but as I say, everything in church polity except the papacy and the episcopate is negotiable. That's the foundation of Catholic/Orthodox dialogue.

  2. "The trouble with well-meant "we're all schismatics" or "the church is broken" or "we're both the church" is they really mean "there is no church," which neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy teaches. It's not fair to us or to the church you've embraced. However, it resembles us more than them, because we hold that they are an estranged part of us, with no heretical doctrine and having bishops and the Mass. Doctrinally, they are agnostic about us: they are the church, period. Someday you will have to choose between us and them. "

    Very well said.


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