Monday, March 15, 2021

The religious answer

The religious answer for me wasn't neatly in a box and gift-wrapped. I had to figure out how to put together everything good I learned from several churches and use it as a Catholic. Many of the Romans I knew weren't much help, to be blunt. To be fair, something bigger than us all wrecked their community 50 years ago. Not their fault. Part of the answer for me was as simple as going to the Orthodox for Saturday Vespers and to the Catholics for Sunday Divine Liturgy. I love and support the traditional Latin Mass community, literally as I buy my coffee from them. Spent four years in it full-time last decade, most Sundays. I've worked for the SSPX and would do so again. Their integralism is the true seamless garment, a complete Catholic worldview. Yet the emphases in my religion and even the words of the psalms I read are directly from my Anglican roots. It's not at all about the Pope's person. Gospel, creed, authority, liturgy, and sacrament, not devotional sideshows and racy clerical political gossip. Newman, not Manning.

I'm Catholic because of contraception, remarriage after divorce without annulment, and anti-Westernism. I couldn't buy the Orthodox on those - play at being a super-strict Christian by denying your non-Orthodox baptism and making a show of fasting while joining the secular world on contraception - but am fine being Orthodox otherwise. And regarding my Anglican roots and women's ordination, nothing personal against them but nothing gets between me and the larger church and its sacraments. Nothing.

What most Catholics who even know about the Orthodox know and think, a bit condescendingly: pretty Mass, icons, and valid sacraments, but not under the Pope because they're mad at Catholics for saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and Son.

Anyway, even though God didn't become man, suffer, and die for niceness's and middle-class decorum's sake, "getting along," "be excellent to each other."

Why don't Byzantine Catholics just become Orthodox?

Why don't Byzantine Catholics just become Orthodox? Like me, professor Anthony Dragani understands the desire to be "the real thing" so he rhetorically asks.

Devout born members of either church almost never switch now. This question is for Western walk-ons, "graecophile transritualists," like him, me, and the late Metropolitan Andrew (Sheptytsky), whom I think should be our patron saint.

The answer: contraception, remarriage after divorce without annulment, and anti-Westernism. In short, I won't deny my non-Orthodox baptism and put on a show of fasting while signing onto contraception and remarriage after divorce without annulment. That's playing at being a super-strict Christian while joining the secular world. And I won't say that the Latin Mass, etc. has been a mistake or fraud the past 1,000 years. The Catholic Church doesn't make you hate one rite to love another. Other than all that I'm happy being effectively Orthodox, sharing a rite, the Slavonic language, and the first seven Catholic councils with them. I'm not trying to "Uniatize" the Orthodox by individually converting, splitting, or replacing them, and latinization is right out. Those who have known me online for more than 20 years know it's taken me a long time to find peace with all this. The answer didn't come to me neatly in a box. I go to the Orthodox for Vespers and to the Catholics for Liturgy and Communion. Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt and I have four post-schism Orthodox saints' icons on my wall. Note my reasons are nothing to do with the textbook history about the Pope or the filioque.

Tracking the edits to the book The Orthodox Church by Kallistos (Ware), the best Orthodox instructional book, on contraception it seems the church that never changes has done, just like Protestants and at about the same pace. I asked the late Peter Gillquist, nice man, to his face about the issue and he changed the subject.

P.S. Real Western Rite Orthodoxy would be Benedictine monks in bare even iconless stone churches chanting Solemn Mass and Solemn Vespers in Latin, and priests and others doing charitable works such as schools, hospitals, and a safety net for the poor, among a generations-old community, not little groups of byzantinizing converts.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Orthodox ups and downs

  • From 2014, a story repeated in many old American industrial towns and among Greek Catholics: Faces of faith, the rise and fall of an Orthodox parish. Like so many churches, we have lost almost a whole generation of parishioners who moved out of the area or unfortunately no longer follow the faith their parents gave them. We no longer celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 though that hasn't brought people back.
  • From 2013: the history of Orthodox U.S. military chaplains.
  • Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick: 16 realistic observations about Orthodoxy online. "Way more popular and visible topics on the Internet than in 3D space." Yep, the Greek Catholic churches are tiny and not perfect.

Monday, March 08, 2021 rewrites your posts if it doesn't like them

I first posted at's Byzantine Forum back in 2001 incognito on my road back to the church, looking for someplace to express my actual faith without retribution and thinking from the name that it backed the teachings of the church. (There is a disclaimer stating it doesn’t so it’s covered now.)

Then an Orthodox member exposed me and I didn’t have the guts to return to the church yet, so I thought I had to play along with the Orthodox line. Like blackmail really.

Now? In the Facebook age it’s on its last legs; a handful of regulars, almost all at least nominal Catholics.

So I posted this and this and got this and this back from a moderator, a Catholic liberal who’s swallowed Zoghby and Koehl. (Zoghbyism/Koehlism: Both and neither the Catholics and the Orthodox are the true church; let’s dump half our teachings.)

I got thrown into moderation. Annoying but okay.

Somebody posted about a health problem and another chap shared about his heart failure. (Yikes!) So I mentioned having pneumonia a month before and the consolation of going to confession and Communion, and of making final plans and finding someone to act on them, even at the last minute. Outrageous stuff, I know.

A moderator wiped my words and posted his own under my name. It doesn’t matter what he said. It wasn’t my post anymore.

Aaaaand I was banned.

Board owners and moderators have the right to ban you. (I don’t think the owner/admin did it.) Nobody has the right to do what this person did.

Even Facebook isn’t this bad.

In 26 years online I’ve only encountered this three times, twice on poorly configured boards in which a troublemaker created fictitious accounts and posted in someone else's name.