Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Skeeved by Byzantium
The paradox of Byzantine Christianity's beauty. As I like to say, Byzantine Christians turned me against them. I've been to Christ the Savior, Chicago, for example: an almost-fiancée joined; her conversion was nothing to do with me. Everything you see and hear in this link is objectively good (the icons and the singing are entirely Catholic) and better than the Novus Ordo, but, knowing the Orthodox' true-church claim including what they think Catholics are, I long wanted nothing more to do with this stuff, and now it's so. I could be Greek Catholic, and under some circumstances I would, but that is why I'm not.
All this got me thinking. My acquaintance with the Christian East goes back 30 years and is much more than my "doing time" with the Orthodox (that's what it felt like). I don't regret that my first traditional Catholic Mass was Ukrainian.
It can be so good and holy; they say the worst is the corruption of the best. It seems to have potential to be a fine, traditional form of American Catholicism. Some Latin Catholics are called to it; Metropolitan Andrew (Sheptytsky) should be their patron saint. But even in the church, it dies by the third generation in America. It has no future here.
Both unlatinized and latinized, as long as it's not Novus Ordo, are good.
So let me back up. Real Orthodox normally don't creep me out. And yes, theologians, I know that sacramentally every member's the same. That said, of course you know what I mean. How and why I'm pro-Russian, pro-Putin, politically. Christos running his local eatery with the best spaghetti sauce around. Heck, at the Olympic Flame in Wildwood I've given to the family's donation can for St. Demetrios Church. I mean born Orthodox who just are what they are, with nothing to prove. Estranged Catholics acting in good faith, with a clear conscience. They don't know they're schismatic. God understands.
There are principled Westerners who don't accept the Catholic Church: the high-church Anglicans such as the Tractarians and Bishop Grafton, for example, and their spiritual progeny.
Still, what weirds me out about convertodoxy, the hyperdox Hermans, beyond their aggressive anti-Catholicism is, rather like how I see the Episcopal Church now, those parishes are creepy counterfeit Catholic churches by Westerners to convert other Westerners.
I know we have freedom of religion in America, which protects us, but any healthy Catholic community would literally tell those folks to get out of town.
Then there are the Byzantine Christians worse than the convertodox, the "Orthodox in communion with Rome," mostly an Internet phenomenon (like Dungeons & Dragons for church geeks). Because they're trying doubly hard to deny they're Catholic, sort of like Rachel Doležal making an extra trip this month to the tanning salon. They want us to get rid of our teachings. Just like Catholic liberals.
Religious Catholics almost never switch anymore. The few the schismatics get tend to be indifferent ones, probably most often, as before, through marriage, with a few who came in by way of fervent Evangelical Protestantism. Convertodoxy won't last beyond two generations. It's not a threat. It's just that it's so spiritually wrong, in a way that hurts more than Evangelicalism because they have the Mass, for example, that it's annoying.
By the way, the reason Christ the Savior's building looks Anglican is I understand it was built for the Irvingites, the Catholic Apostolic Church, actually not related to Anglo-Catholicism or even Anglicanism but contemporary with early A-Cism. Rather fitting venue for self-hating Westerners.
My reaction to groups of literal ex-Catholic Orthodox, such as some Slavic-Americans, is different from either the one to born Orthodox or to the ex-Protestants. Felt that once, seeing the now-ACROD parish in St. Clair, Pa., St. Michael's. Profound sadness. As a Catholic friend understands, they didn't choose "the crazy" at first; they almost had it forced on them. Nothing to do with our teachings and, though it takes two to have a fight, mostly our fault.
Photo: Never been and plan on never going. A convert parish of "the Russian Church Outside Reality" in Michigan.