Skip to comments.A Question for my Catholic and Orthodox Brethren
Posted on 09/12/2007 4:06:00 AM PDT by beachdweller
This is a religious vanity post I suppose. I am a Christian raised mainly Baptist with some attendance at other denominations. I have, in the course of my life, had a couple of experiences of the intercession of the Holy Virgin for my help and Protection. I have also witnessed the Mass a few times as an outsider and felt drawn away from my Protestant identity. The order and sense of Apostolic succession appeals to me in the Church as opposed to the churches. However, my main point of confusion now is whether to draw close to the Roman Catholic Church, or the Orthodox. I feel questions about both, and drawn to both. I sincerely ask for advice. I feel unsure about the supremacy of the Pope (a great man) as opposed to the consensus of Bishops and the church. At the same time, while the Orthodox Church seems to have an unbroken link to Christ and a moving celebration of God, why is the RCC so much more numerous and successful. I see beauty and real authority in both, but am unsure which way to go. At the same time I am NOT trying to cause conflict among Christ's servants and ask that anyone responding be respectful of the other side. Also please, my Protestant brethren who may object to this subject I ask you do not attack me or anyone who answers in this thread. One last thing, I live in San Diego and any direction where to go for guidance here would be appreciated. Thanks and go with Christ.
BD, pray for discernment and listen carefully. The Holy Spirit approaches quietly, in a humble fashion. Try praying silently and continually to yourself “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” You’ll be fine.
Thank you. That is the best suggestion I have heard in my search.
My honest question is: Have you only been influenced by orthodox and catholic sources recently, or have you actually looked to the roots of your protestant faith?
Were you taught the doctrines of your Baptist faith, or did you grow up in some watered down, Charles Finny-influenced, alter-call and revival, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart type church where doctrine was just something which divides, and is to be ignored?
If it were so, then perhaps you are walking away from one heretical church to another.
I suggest reading some Charles Spurgeon, Johnathan Edwards, John Piper and R.C. Sproul. Unless you have already decided that there is nothing on the Reformed side that you are even interested in looking at, in which case it matters not, your mind is made up, and blinders are on.
Really posted as an honest question, from someone that escaped from the Catholic church.
No I am well educated and aware of my Protestant roots, and appreciate many of the points and questions my predecessors raised, but something is just missing in those churches. I can’t exactly describe it, but it is a little like having tea when you want strong coffee. No offense intended.
Welcome to the Church and good luck on your journey.
As a historical matter, the Americas were colonised by Spain, Portugal, France, England, and Russia. Not too many Orthodox in the first four nations ... and Russia wasn't to vigorous about developing its colony in Alaska. The Tsar ended up selling it to USA for a penny an acre. (That was still a hefty chunk of change. Alaska is HUGE.) This says nothing of the relative merits of the Orthodox or Catholic Churches.
As to that ... I'm Catholic ... so you can guess which direction I think you should go. ;'}
Beyond that, I'll echo my Brother Kolokotronis' suggestion of humble prayer. Listen for that small, still voice ...
I am a Calflick.
What Kolo said is right. God will show you the way in which you should walk.
At its root, the word "obedience" is just an intensive of "listening".
I am a Catholic (convert from Presbyterian - nothing against them, fine people). I believe that Christ’s establishment of the Peter as earthly head of the church is the sure guarantee of the continuity of the Christian Faith.
I understand that the Orthodox view the authority of Sacred Tradition in a somewhat different way from Catholics, and they consider their perspective the correct one. (I get a headache if I try to think about it too much.) However, to me, the authority of the Pope, as the one leader designated by Christ, is absolutely essential.
As a Reformed Protestant who has researched this issue, I would suggest the Orthodox church. In my mind there are only two true positions, Reformed Protestant and Orthodox. Everything else is a shade of these. I would suggest you research the difference and make your decision. May God guide you according to His will.
I hear ya...I feel your pain...
I’m a Catholic but I’m leaving to join a Baptist church...Hey, do they let you drink alcohol at those Baptist churches???
lol no not any I went to at least.
Thank you, that makes a lot of sense to me.
Well I have to go to bed, but hope to continue this discussion tomorrow.
Hmm, Patrick Madrid doesn’t believe in “a penny for your thoughts,” apparently. His thoughts are worth $15.00 minimum. Get your credit card out.
I’ll try to give you a neutral answer, though as a Catholic I see everything through glasses colored Catholic.
First, I would suggest studying the authorative teaching on Papal Primacy from Catholic sources, you may find that your current understanding is not quite the same.
Second, find the rythm of life that feels inspired....whether it be the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Churches (or Eastern Catholic Churches in Communion with Rome), or the Latin Rite Catholic Church...or even the Extraordinary usage of the Latin Rite.
Third, study the Theological (seperate from the Ecclesiological) differences between the Churches...being very careful not to listen to anyone with too many biases.
Fourth, don’t listen to any apologetics that say, “I’m right because they are wrong”...it always seems like bootstrapping to me.
Hope this helps you straighten and smooth the rocky, winding road your traveling.
You’re a Catholic? If you’re “leaving” to join a Baptist church it sure is taking you a LOOOOONNNGG time to do it.
Wow. That's news to me, too!
As a convert from Protestantism, I understand your journey and your search. I was halfway there before I realized I was even going on the journey.
I would recommend a lot of prayer and patience. God knows where your heart is and if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead, He will.
I like your analogy because I know exactly how you feel. You have faith, you have love of God but now you’re ready for a more intimate relationship.
My suggestion is: make list of Orthodox and Catholic (both Roman and Eastern) parishes in your area, say within 20 miles, and visit/participate in the various liturgies.
Sounds to me from reading between the lines in your post that you have never actually joined or been active in any Protestant Church. Hence I suspect that your protestant roots are not very deep and that you probably don't have a full grasp on the differences between Catholic theology and Protestant theology.
In that sense it does not appear that you are leaning towards "leaving" protestantism as much as you are just leaning towards joining something.
As someone who has studied protestant theology, church history, and the evolution of Catholic thought, I would suggest that before you take the plunge, that you examine carefully the distinctions between Catholic and Protestant doctrines.
One last thing, I live in San Diego and any direction where to go for guidance here would be appreciated.
Here, try this place:
Here are some Eastern Catholic parishes in San Diego:
Holy Angels, (Byzantine - Ruthenian/Van Nuys)
2235 Galahad Road, San Diego, CA, 92123-3998, Phone: (619) 277-2511
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Byzantine - Ukrainian/St. Nicholas-Chicago)
4014 Winona Ave., San Diego, CA 92105, Phone: (714) 282-9538
Sunday Divine Liturgies are at 8:00 am English and 10:00 am Ukrainian.
St. Ephrem Maronite Mission (Maronite-Los Angeles)
7830 Stalmer ST. #4, San Diego, CA 92111, Phone: (619) 569-1219
as to Roman Catholic, just pick a few closest to your home, and the same for Eastern Orthodox
Find a Catholic Church that offers daily Eucharist Adoration and Pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
All are welcome to attend Adoration .Here is a website by state that lists many Churches that offer Adoration
You can also try the local Catholic Diocese websites
Our Blessed Lord will lead you from there.
I will keep you in my prayer’s
I wish you a Blessed Day
I would echo both the Orthodox and the Latins.
You may wish to consider attending Mass in both; perhaps an interview with the priest of the church that draws you the most might also be of value.
I am Roman Catholic; it matters to me not a whit which Catholic Church God calls you to. I hope and pray that we’ll all be reunited in my lifetime anyway, so the distinctions to me are more cultural than theological. I think that the important thing is that you have made the decision. Vaya con Dios.
Trust in God and pray that He reveal His will for you. I am Catholic but if you find that Orthodoxy draws you closer to our Savior and allows you to serve Him with your whole being I heartily say go East.
I am not familiar with Orthodox apologetics but there are some very good Catholic ones. Some authors that come to mind are: Scott Hahn, Thomas Howard, and Peter Kreeft. The Surprised by Truth series edited by Patrick Madrid is a must read for persons considering conversion.
I pray that you will continue to love and serve God no matter where you end up. For that is the first duty of man and one we too often fail.
Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. According to the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, the Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the Pope of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity (LG, no. 23). At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. The new Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, uses the phrase "autonomous ritual Churches" to describe these various Churches (canon 112). Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective. Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this nicely:
"From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them... Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC no. 814).
Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite.
To learn more about the "two lungs" of the Catholic Church, visit this link:
The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).
A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his or her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith at a Maronite Catholic Church. Like the Chaldeans, the Maronites retain Aramaic for the Consecration. It is as close as one comes to being at the Last Supper.
Please freepmail me if you would like more information on the Eastern Catholic Churches.
One other resource that would be helpful in making a choice, is EWTN's Monday evening program, The Journey Home. This exciting call-in show examines why so many people from Protestant to fallen away Catholics are being drawn into the Catholic Church. They discuss their personal conversion stories and how a specific teaching of the Catholic Church or experience influenced their Decision. And, since it is live, you may call in or email your question ahead of time.
September 17 - Marcus interviews himself ;-)
September 24 - Dr. Francis Beckwith, Former Evangelical
Marcus also has a web site Coming Home Network , that offers many resources and a discussion forum where others, like yourself, are pursuing their journey.
As Kolokotronis commented, all journeys begin with prayer! Rest assured of my prayers for you and your family!
One of the pope's most strident arguments against the validity of other Churches is that they can't trace their bishops' lineages back to the original apostles, as the bishops in the Roman Catholic Church can. There are three problems with this idea.
First, many Protestants deny the importance of apostolic succession as a guarantor of legitimacy. They would argue that faithfulness to the Bible and/or the teachings of Christ is a better measure of authentic Christian faith than the ability to trace one's spiritual ancestry through an ecclesiastical bureaucracy. A peripheral knowledge of the lives of some of the medieval and early modern popes (e.g., Stephen VI, Sergius III, Innocent VIII, Alexander VI) is enough to call the insistence on apostolic succession into serious question. Moreover, the Avignon Papacy and the divided lines of papal claimants in subsequent decades calls into serious question the legitimacy of the whole approach. Perhaps the strongest argument against the necessity of apostolic succession comes from the Apostle Paul, who was an acknowledged apostle despite not having been ordained by one of Jesus' original twelve disciples. In fact, Paul makes much of the fact that his authority came directly from Jesus Christ rather than from one of the apostles (Gal 1:11-12). Apostolic succession was a useful tool for combating incipient heresy and establishing the antiquity of the churches in particular locales, but merely stating that apostolic succession is a necessary prerequisite for being a true church does not make it so.
The second problem with ...insistence upon apostolic succession is the fact that at least three other Christian communions have apostolic succession claims that are as valid as that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Churches, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, can trace their lineages back to the same apostles that the Roman Catholic Church can, a fact acknowledged by Unitatis Redintegratio 14. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as the Coptic and Ethiopic Orthodox Churches, split from the Roman Catholic Church several centuries earlier, but they too can trace their episcopal lineages back to the same apostles claimed by the Roman Catholic Church as its founders. Finally, the Anglican Church, which broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the reign of King Henry VIII, can likewise trace the lineage of every bishop back through the first archbishop of Canterbury, Augustine. In addition to these three collections of Christian Churches, the Old Catholics and some Methodists also see value in the idea of apostolic succession, and they can trace their episcopal lineages just as far back as Catholic bishops can.
The third problem with the idea of apostolic succession is that the earliest bishops in certain places are simply unknown, and the lists produced in the third and fourth centuries that purported to identify every bishop back to the founding of the church in a particular area were often historically unreliable. Who was the founding bishop of Byzantium? Who brought the gospel to Alexandria? To Edessa? To Antioch? There are lists that give names (e.g., http://www.friesian.com/popes.htm), such as the Apostles Mark (Alexandria), Andrew (Byzantium), and Thaddeus (Armenia), but the association of the apostles with the founding of these churches is legendary, not historical. The most obvious breakdown of historicity in the realm of apostolic succession involves none other than the see occupied by the pope, the bishop of Rome. It is certain that Peter did make his way to Rome before the time of Nero, where he perished, apparently in the Neronian persecution following the Great Fire of Rome, but it is equally certain that the church in Rome predates Peter, as it also predates Paul's arrival there (Paul also apparently died during the Neronian persecution). The Roman Catholic Church may legitimately claim a close association with both Peter and Paul, but it may not legitimately claim that either was the founder of the church there. The fact of the matter is that the gospel reached Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Edessa, and other early centers of Christianity in the hands of unknown, faithful Christians, not apostles, and the legitimacy of the churches established there did not suffer in the least because of it.
For me, I can’t see how anyone can get past Matt 16: 18,19 without torturing the text.
Unless an individual holds “the keys,” the “lock” is meaningless.
I can recall not one Biblical example of something being “bound or loosed” by the deliberations of majority and minority factions in leadership.
Do you watch Journey Home on EWTN Mondays at 10pm?? (and Saturday at 7 pm Pacific). That program really answered so many of our questions. Also Scott Hahn’s book on how he was called to the Catholic church echoed so many of our own experiences in the Protestant churches (where we learned SO MUCH).
I came across the same mini-dilema in my journey home. I knew that, historically-speaking, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches could all be considered to be part of the ancient, apostolic and undivided Church. This can also be said for the Assyrian Church of the East as for the Churches in the Oriental Orthodox Communion (who separated from the historic Church for political and cultural reasons much more than for theological ones after the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, respectively). As such, all of the aforementioned ecclesiastical structures rightly claim an unbroken apostolic succession and a correct (biblically and historically) view of the Eucharist. God-willing, barriers will continue to diminish between the members and heirarchies of all of these venerable institutions and, in time, we will see a true and corporate reunification of the ancient Church, East and West. I am realistic enough to realize that this will likely not happen in my lifetime and I also realize that reapproachment is a messy process simply because it involves a bunch of humans, but the hope is based on real possibilities and, more importantly, on the prayers of Christ - so there are reasons to remain optimistic.
This being said, you find yourself in the same place I found myself years ago: trying to discern God’s will for your spiritual journey and, in some sense, trying the choose the “best” of two good options - Catholicism or Orthodoxy. For me, personally, I felt a draw eastward in large part due to the beautiful liturgies of the Orthodox Churches. Our small-town Catholic parish, though vibrant in faith, couldn't’t hold a candle (if you’ll pardon the expression), in my eyes, to the Byzantine liturgy. This was troublesome to me until I discovered hope for the modern Catholic liturgy. This hope has come in the form of the “reform of the reform,” an effort by laity and by many Church officials (including the Holy Father himself) to re-center the modern Mass in the proper context of organic development and historical continuation. In other words, there are real and growing efforts being made in the Catholic Church to rescue the modern Mass from the banality with which it is celebrated in local parishes across the country (indeed, throughout the world). With God’s grace and guidance, the proper celebration of the modern Mass will be bolstered by a greater availability of the older Mass (now called the “extraordinary form of the Roman Rite”). There is much to be optimistic about in this area, but still much work to be done.
The other “roadblock” to Orthodoxy, for me, came in a realization that I am of Western European descent. Well, I didn’t exactly just recently come to that realization, but that fact weighed heavily on my decision. I realized that in my conversion to the historic Church, I shouldn’t fall into the trap of “church shopping.” Instead I became (and remain) convinced, that as a man of Western European stock, I am a Catholic. THAT is the Western branch of the ancient and undivided Church. If I were of Greek, Russian or Eastern European ancestry, my journey would (and should) end in Orthodoxy. But I could not reject outright the notion that there is something important about the different rites of the ancient Church and about how Holy Spirit led the Faith to be interpreted in different cultures and, thus, in different rites. My connection to the historic Faith runs through France and the British Isles. My patriarch is the bishop of Rome.
This is all written off the cuff so I hope it’s not too convoluted to follow. Another important step for me was reading Steven Ray’s book Upon This Rock, which examines the Petrine Office (i.e. the pope) and gives compelling evidence for the Catholic view of the papacy. Above all, I wish you well, I remain open to your questions if you wish to ask me something personally and I urge you to pray, pray, pray!
I am a Catholic deacon and would suggest that you read the Fathers of the Church. It will give you a great understanding about the Catholic Church and help in your discernment
You were raised Baptist. Yeah, right.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal. Reading minds is a type of “making it personal.”
Since the Religion Moderator seems to have a problem with my statement, then let me rephrase. A Baptist would never refer to Mary as the “Holy Virgin” or talk about her ‘intercession’ on their behalf. (A Baptist wouldn’t even seek intercession from Mary, as a Baptist would know there is one intercessor between God and man, and that is Jesus.)
I'm curious as to how this worked.
Thanks. They are compelling arguments.
Why do you think it was Mary?
God does not send dead humans back to protect us. Please consider that you are being led by something else.
In other news: You don't think being "full of Grace" make one holy? Is it, so to speak, de fide among Baptist that Mary did not remain a virgin?
And we've already done the thing about asking people to pray for one -- done it to death.
BTW "Yeah, right" doesn't strike me as saying anything more than, "I don't believe you and think it preposterous that you would expect me to." That is problematic intrinsically. IMHO the RM made a good call.
Ceremony and circumstance? Perhaps it's what you feel to be real worship via kneeling and submission?
You are exactly right, and it's hardly the same as intercession.
So you are agreeing that he has been involved with the Catholic and/or Orthodox church for some time. That was my point.
You don't think being "full of Grace" make one holy?
All believers are holy, i.e. set apart for God. I guess that means that everyone should call me "Holy MEGoody."
Is it, so to speak, de fide among Baptist that Mary did not remain a virgin?
No, but no Baptist would use the term "Holy Virgin". They would simply call her Mary. (Just as no Baptist would call Abraham "Father Abraham" as the Jews do, yet scripture says that believers are children of Abraham.)
And we've already done the thing about asking people to pray for one
Then I have to wonder why I never hear Catholics or Orthodox go on about the 'intercession' of the next door neighbor the way they do the 'intercession' of Mary. Of course, it is because they view her 'intercession' as something other than just asking someone to pray for them.
IMHO the RM made a good call.
He's the RM and makes the call. That's why I restated it. As to your take on what I said in my original post, I won't dispute it.
Your best bet (IMHO) would be to attend both a Roman Catholic Mass and an Orthodox Divine Liturgy and determine for yourself which moves you closer to God. Ultimately, that’s the result which matters the most.
There is an error in that graphic: there is no such thing as the Yugoslav Orthodox Church.
So do you have a problem with Patrick making a living and supporting his wife and eleven children?