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April 20, 2012

Looking East

I’ve been searching for a very long time, the journey has been wonderful and terrible, all at the same time. Michelle has settled into the Catholic way of life, and we have been faithful to the agreement that was made on the day of our confirmation. So much has changed in the last 7 years, children growing up, leaving, sometimes on different paths than we would have chosen. Our time in the Evangelical Wilderness made us much wiser than when we first arrived there, but we still have a long, long ways to go.

Our faith has changed as well, what was once acceptable in our evangelical beliefs, are now the very things we shy away from. We have also taken the time to educate ourselves, and submit to the teaching of others. I will never know enough for me to be fully comfortable with my faith, but that is the way my maker wired me, I accept it and live with it everyday. As I have mentioned before I have been studying the Orthodox faith for some time now, the more I read the more it dawns on me just how common sense most Eastern Orthodoxy theology is. My one regret is that the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox can’t fix the schism of 1032, it has caused me a great deal of consternation.

There are so many things that the two churches agree on, that it seems silly they can’t find some way to heal the rift and go back into mutual communion. But then one reads the declarations of Vatican I, and Vatican II and you realize that Rome for all it’s beauty missed the mark on infallibility, divine authority of the papacy (not primacy mind you) pushing a belief that one cannot find in the early church. Add to that the dogma of the immaculate conception, the consumption of Mary, the Filoque, and the liturgical abuses since Vatican II, the legalistic nature of the churches teaching, and you begin to realize the actual scope of the problem.

I’ve been looking East for a time now, and the one thing that has kept me away is that by the canon of the Catholic Church, I cannot take communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Frustrating, but I did agree to follow the teaching of the Catholic Church (by the way that agreement, does not cover my objections and questioning). So now to experience the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy, I have to play a shell game, take communion at my local parish (because, it’s a mortal sin to not take weekly communion), the rush over to share in the liturgy at my local Orthodox Church. To even experience their liturgy means that I have to juggle schedules, because I can’t miss weekly mass.

However, tomorrow night we are heading over to share in the Saturday Night Vespers service. The Fr. was gracious and offered to meet with us before service and go over questions that we both have. So we are going to dip our toe in the pool, meet with the good Fr. and begin to get a feel for where this is all leading. I will do a more detailed post on why I’ve been looking east for so long, and why I’m slowly coming to realize that it may be where we needed to be all along.

I want to make a couple of points very clear so there is no misunderstanding, Michelle and I both love the Catholic Church. We love the liturgy, the sacraments, and being part of the church family. But I have always had some reservations, and as I have dug into the past, some have gone away, but a small important set have stayed. Some have been game changers for me, that doesn’t mean I intend to bash Catholics in any way shape or form. I just have core issues that I disagree with, I have not found any apologist who can make an airtight case on those issues. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but in my own studies, I’ve concluded that some things just aren’t as clear as they are made out to be. The one thing that drew us into the Catholic faith was the idea of a centralized leadership, coming from the evangelical world where everyone makes up their own rules, and dealing with mainlines, who have no real structure or control over their parishes, the Catholic model makes so much sense. The Papacy IS in the early writings of the church fathers, but it’s different than what we have today, but the Bishop of Rome has had a seat of primacy since first century AD.

And we haven’t left yet, we are just exploring to see what the Orthodox have to offer,  to find out first hand, rather than learning it from a book. Its a pattern we have done before, the difference this time is that we have done a great deal of research to get to this point, so we have a good solid understanding of what we are looking for. But boy did it take a long time!!!





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