The Orthodox Question: A Reflection as I dive into Church History

It can be said, ironically, that one of the stepping stones in my reversion to Catholicism were my many interactions with the Eastern Orthodox. They were just one piece in the puzzle that made me rethink my Protestant presuppositions.

So what made me turn to Catholicism rather than Eastern Orthodoxy?

Well, in short, my conversion was very much a matter of where the Church authority was. At the time, my understanding of Church authority was the Catholic Church. Not a very convincing argument, sure. But when my faith was shaking and I was sinking into the waters, the Blessed Virgin Mary took me into her arms and led me to her son and into the boat of the Catholic Church.

Only now when I look around me, I am still pretty shaken. The boat appears to have rotten wood, it creaks and leaks. There are mice everywhere and the captain of the ship seems more confused than I am. There are other boats on the ocean. There are many small rafts that throw stones at the ship I am on. There is another boat on the horizon, towards the East, that is a temptation. The outside appears painted and clean. Yet a closer look reveals, it too is crumbling. There is more than one captain and they are all running around, talking in different languages, and some even throw themselves tiny rafts, tied to the main boat via a string. Ok, I’m losing you with my boat metaphors.

Essentially, things are looking pretty rough right now.

One of the things I fear when looking into Church history is that ultimately I will basically be doing sola scriptura but with history, the Fathers and doctrines. What I mean is, I fear that I am ultimately making myself the interpreter and authority over these things. When I converted I realized that sola scriptura was a flawed foundation because it made me the foundation. I was the one who looked at history, the many denominations and Reformers and it was in my decision (based on a flawed understanding of scripture) that determined what was orthodox.

In studying the Church Fathers, conciliarism vs papal primacy, filioque and history, at the end of the day I have to be the one to make that decision.

Yet I will not allow Protestants to latch on and say “see! You yourself admit that the interpreter needs an interpreter! Your Church lacks clarity! haha” No this is hogwash and silliness. Just because I may be confused sometimes doesn’t negate the Church’s legitimacy. And to say that a certain lack of clarity in a specific period of time somehow means that the Church is wrong does not hold up. I encourage you to read about the Early Church and all the things they had to deal with.

The Truth is one. There are answers to be found.

When I came to Catholicism I did not have everything figured out. Remember, I was sinking. I had to take a leap of faith. And it was then that God granted me the grace to slowly understand and accept Catholic doctrine.

Yet when I listen to EO accusations and compare what I see externally, my spirit is perturbed.

So I have decided to research. I have listened to Father Ray Ryland’s presentations on Reconstructionism and find his analysis interesting. I have books on my shelf that I plan on reading soon. Yes, I will look into these things prayerfully and soberly. And for now, I believe the papacy is biblical, historical and logical.

Ultimately a decision must be made. I am a young woman with a desire to please God. Lord willing, I will have children with my husband one day and I want to be able to raise them in the faith and have the confidence to teach them well.

I know that if I go to Orthodoxy, it will not be for the right reasons. It may be for aesthetics or to escape the confusion in Rome. But when liberalism is creeping into Orthodoxy, will there be any other branch to cling to? Therefore, being convinced that Catholicism is the Mother over all other apostolic churches, no matter how sick and frail she appears, I will cling to her skirt and pray that she may be well once more.

The Orthodoxy vs Catholicism debate has certainly made my faith shake, but I have not fallen. My interest in the East has only made me fall in love with the Eastern Catholic rites. My house is covered in Eastern iconography, filled with Eastern music. I keep a prayer rope beside my rosary. And when I reflect on this, I see it is the unity of these things that make the faith rich and whole.

Taking into account my Arrogance of the Tongue article (which I plan to read and reread as a reminder), I will not claim to be a mighty Catholic apologist. It is not my place. Regardless I would encourage others who are more intelligent than myself to pursue charitable discussions in this area–it is certainly worth it. And perhaps I will chime in my two-cents worth every once and a while.

We must be charitable but also hold fast to Truth where we may find it. As I cling to the cross and the tumultuous ship I am on, I call to mind the witness of the past, the present and the prophecies for the future. The ship has always had rough waters to overcome. But we were promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. As the gates of Hell burn mightly against her we must call to mind that God is faithful to his promise.

In the future, I wish to explore some of the most compelling arguments which, in my estimation, are important to consider. This post is not meant to be an all-encompassing apologetic. As you may have noticed, I haven’t really made any arguments. I am simply reflecting on what I have been pondering over the last months.

To close, I want to ask all Christians of good faith to pray for unity. We must remember the words of Jesus:

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” -John 17:20-23

The disunity in the Church is further fuel for those who wish to destroy it. It is a stumbling block to the faith and a great tragedy. We must pray, keep the faith and be charitable to our neighbors. Do not let the confusion and your zeal for the Truth make you become bitter and full of hatred. Your pride does nothing to further the Faith.

Let us reflect on the words found in the Catechism:

Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time. Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her (CCC 820)

May God bless you always

2 thoughts on “The Orthodox Question: A Reflection as I dive into Church History

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  1. Thanks Cathy. I think that at this time we live now in the West we classical Christians shouldn’t waste energy and effort fighting each other. On the contrary!

    I myself am a very high church Lutheran priest, in practice I teach seven sacraments and am very pro-life. I even pray for pope (not for his conversion, but for all his intents that are godly). I’m a great fan of pope emeritus. I occasionally ask for Virgin Mary’s and other saints intercessions. I love the CCC, even if I cannot fully agree with everything.

    As for the Eastern Orthodoxy, some of the best services have been Divine Liturgies.

    While I know that there are many kinds of Lutherans and Reformed Christians, I’m still deeply saddened by the anti-Lutheran rhetoric I see online by traditional Catholics. It doesn’t help at all! Every “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” or some funny meme of Luther burning in flames just pushes us apart. It doesn’t serve the Gospel, it doesn’t serve unity. It makes even me feel disillusioned with the Catholic Church.

    Please pray for unity and for me. Let’s show love of Christ towards each other and build bridges. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God bless you very much! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. We live in times of disunity and degeneration of morality and when it seems as though everything is falling apart all we can do is rest in Christ. I agree that unity is something we must strive for– it was Christ’s prayer for us afterall! Indeed I will keep you in my prayers 🙂

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