Conversion to Orthodoxy
#11
I can hardly add more here than Clare and Ermy_Law, other than to suggest that if you really love the East than start praying and fostering an Eastern devotional life. My favorite Prayerbooks for this are by far the Old Orthodox Prayerbook and the Old Rite Horologion which are both put out by the ROCOR Old Ritualists in Erie, PA. They are solid books that can help you develop an Eastern style without having to leave the Roman Church. 

Both have the basic outline for the hours, Troparia and Kontakia for the 8 tones on Sunday's, Troparia and Kontakia for major feasts etc. The Horologion itself has Troparia and Kontakia for each day of the year, meaning if you have a psalter you can pray a very basic form of the Office for everyday of the year. Both also have a calendar of saints days in both the old and new style and a paschalion with all the movable feasts through 2099.

Nothing is stopping you from also taking up the Jesus Prayer or reading stuff like the Prologue of Ohrid and other things about various saints either. You'll find that you do not necessarily have to become Orthodox to be Eastern.

Personally I have found that the only Church where one can drink deeply from the wisdom of both East and West is right here in the Roman Church. In general Western Rite Orthodoxy has been a failed experiment, and Western Orthodox are, like Trads in Rome, largely unwanted pariahs. The Orthodox generally do not share anything approaching John Paul II's much maligned but very spot on and wise " two lungs" way of looking at the eastern and western traditions. They largely look at the West as one big hotbed of bizarre devotions and graceless schism and heresy. Of course this isn't true for all Orthodox but it's true for quite a lot.

Many of the Orthodox polemic against Roman teachings are not much more than ignorant hothead attacks against things they really don't understand.

I admit things are really bad within Rome these days, I mean we cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend otherwise. The Roman Catholic Church under the aegis of the papacy has practically deliberately destroyed our western patrimony. The last 100 plus years of innovation,wreckovation and nonsense coming out of the See of Peter makes swallowing the papal claims a lot harder in this day and age. When it's been the popes that have been at the forefront of so much destruction what's the point? Can one really still defend the  papacy as necessary? Perhaps, but only if, like Clare said you become a papal minimalist in a sense.

At times it's only an intuitive sense that tells me that Rome really is the true Church,or that somehow, despite the monsterous destruction wrought by the popes in modern times the office is still necessary and perhaps defensible.

That being said I cannot judge anyone who, after looking at everything as objectively as possible, praying about it and really agonizing over it, decides to become Orthodox, go SSPX " recognize and resist", starts attending the new rites exclusively, starts attending Sede chapels or simply has to take a hiatus and pray alone at home for awhile. We are all dealing with some very difficult things in very difficult times and there are no easy pat answers, no magic bullets to totally assuage your doubts.
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#12
Papal infallibility flows logically from the primacy and the infallibility of the Church.  The true faith will always be handed on by the Church.  The Church hands on the faith infallibly because the truths revealed by God are for all men in all times, so God preserves the truth for all time  and the Church is charged with teaching it.  Because of the primacy, the Pope is the final court of appeal for doctrinal questions in the Church.  Therefore, his definitive judgments must also be infallible since they affect what the Church teaches. 

But to use an analogy of St. Francis de Sales, not everything a king says and does becomes law.  Not everything a Pope says or does therefore becomes the rule of faith.  However, when he does lay down the rule of faith for the whole Church, then his judgments are endowed with the same infallibility God has endowed His Church as a whole to hand on that rule.

In fact, the same Holy Spirit ensures that the Church ultimately assents to these judgments after they are made.  This was reiterated by the relator during the debates at the First Vatican Council when some bishops placed a false dichotomy between papal authority and the consent of the Churches.  This was later made explicit by the Second Vatican Council citing to the relator's very statements during the First: "To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith. (44*)"

It's also helpful to look at the circumstances as to why the First Vatican Council saw it necessary to definitively confirm the Pope's infallibility.  The Rationalists at the time argued that the Church's dogmatic judgments, especially those from the Pope, were not the final say, but were subject to the judgment of individual natural reason, and that they could not command the assent of faith. The infallibility of the entire college of bishops and of the whole Church were planned to be explained in a subsequent document at that Council, but the Council got cut short.  Vatican II essentially just quotes from the Vatican I draft documents on these topics, thus filling in the gaps and placing papal infallibility in its proper context within the broader teaching function of the Church.
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#13
(11-30-2015, 03:42 PM)ermy_law Wrote: I made the same trip from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy and back again.  I agree with Claire to a large extent. 

Before you reject papal infallibility, make sure you take some time really thinking about whether you're rejecting the actual doctrine or the misappropriation of the idea that we see spreading so widely in our times.

I think that, viewed in the correct perspective, this topic is really overblown.  Contrary to what certain people in our time (both sedevacantists and "liberal Catholics") want people to believe, papal infallibility is an extremely rare invocation.  On those things that are pronounced infallibly, there is a rather long history of belief in those doctrines.  Let's take an example in the proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The pope proclaimed this doctrine infallibly, which means that it is an objectively true thing that should be believed.  It did not become objectively true because the pope pronounced it -- it was always true, and the pope commented on its truthfulness.  The Orthodox believe in the Assumption.  So for this proclamation, everyone agrees that the pope spoke infallibly because he said what was true.

The conditions for infallibility limit the pope in such a way that he really cannot make a pronouncement that would be something that the Church did not already recognize as objectively true.  The conditions precedent to an infallible declaration prevent the pope from innovating in these pronouncements.  If he were to innovate, then his pronouncement would not be infallible.

Really, every bishop is infallible when they teach the Truths of the Church.  The pope has the particular ability to close questions of theological debate with an infallible pronouncement, or he can deliberately leave the issue open (as in the case of the Assumption where the pope did not define whether Mary died since the issue is still debated). 

The issue of papal supremacy is a much bigger deal, in my opinion, than papal infallibility.  Still, I don't know how much this all matters on a day-to-day basis.  The pope isn't calling me up telling me to do stuff that is contrary to the faith.  My connection to the pope is tenuous at best -- I attend Mass in the neighboring diocese at the FSSP parish.  I'm in communion with bishops who are in communion with the pope.  Aside from that, what the pope says and does can only have an impact on my faith to the extent that I allow that to happen.  I think we should fight for the faith, even if it happens that we're fighting against the local bishop or the pope.  There have been heretic popes in the past and people fought against them.

Yes, this. This whole drama about the pope this and the pope that, changing doctrine as he goes along, at the end of the day, is completely overblown. If it were not for mass media (a hell's invention--or implementation, to say the least) the pope would be a name the priest says at the Canon and the more pious Catholics pray at times in their devotions.

The matter of supremacy is far worse. I mean, that the pope can willy-nilly change the liturgy, that's a hard one to swallow. But at least we're not required to say that what his committee comes up with is better, or comparable, to what was molded by the saints through the Holy Spirit throughout the ages.
In any case, one can still cling to the older forms with every right every Catholic has of ignoring anyone who calls you schismatic for that alone. So, at the end of the day, yes, we were dealt a not so good hand, but its up to us, as always, and we can hardly blame the pope.

Also, to emphasize what ermy said: make sure you know what you're rejecting.
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#14
SaintSebastian makes clear something that formerbuddhist mentioned -- much of the Orthodox polemic against the Roman Catholics is based on a misunderstanding or misstatement of the Catholic doctrine.  When seen as an instrument of the Church, papal infallibility makes sense.  If it were the case that one could point to historical examples of popes wielding this charism in strange and novel ways, the Orthodox polemic would make more sense.  As it is, we have definitions that are wholly in line with long-held beliefs, such as the Assumption. 

The better Orthodox polemicists will sometimes point out that there is no infallible list of infallible proclamations.  This appears to be a rather strong argument, but it should not pass muster for someone who has studied their Catholic faith since such a person is aware of the varying levels of teaching authority in the Church and the assent owed to each sort. 

Again, I think it is important to have a correct understanding of what doctrine is in order to correctly understand papal infallibility (or concilliar definitions, for that matter).  Let's take the example of concilliar definitions to illustrate the point.  The Orthodox do not agree on whether the councils were infallible.  Some say they were completely, some say only in the definitions, some say not at all.  One could say that the councils were not infallible to make the point that it is not the defining of the doctrine that brings it into existence.  The definition is nothing more than an observation on reality.  Saying that the sky is blue does not make the sky blue -- it is merely a comment on the state of affairs.

Similarly, when the pope defines a doctrine infallibly, he does not bring it into existence.  He is merely commenting on the state of affairs that already existed and that the Church already recognized.  Papal infallibility itself was defined as it was to make sure that the infallibility remained limited in this way.  We can see now just how providential it was for this definition to come about before we started to have the popes that we have had for the past few decades -- what a remarkable thing for God to care for his people in such a way!
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#15
(11-30-2015, 06:06 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I mean, that the pope can willy-nilly change the liturgy, that's a hard one to swallow.

I agree with this... this is a much bigger deal than infallibility.  I'm not sure how I would respond to this, honestly.  If the pope were to, once again, suppress the Roman Rite, I am not sure what my response would be.
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#16
(11-30-2015, 06:08 PM)ermy_law Wrote:
(11-30-2015, 06:06 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I mean, that the pope can willy-nilly change the liturgy, that's a hard one to swallow.

I agree with this... this is a much bigger deal than infallibility.  I'm not sure how I would respond to this, honestly.  If the pope were to, once again, suppress the Roman Rite, I am not sure what my response would be.

I also agree. Papal infallibility when seen for what it really is does not vex me in the least, but the ability of the popes to just rearrange, suppress and innovate at will is definitely not easy to answer. Perhaps we are just living in a very turbulent time for the papacy, and that in time things will correct themselves. It's definitely hard to be a cheerleader for the papacy today when the popes have been so disasterous in terms of policy and whitewashing our patrimony.

Should a pope suppress the older rites I suppose the only thing to do would be to carry on as usual, perhaps like the SSPX within a parallel ecclesial structure operating entirely outside the boundaries of Rome yet not really wanting to be separated from her. I'm not sure what else to do really. Ive spent enough time within Orthodox circles to love the Eastern Patrimony deeply but to have zero desire to become Orthodox. I've got nowhere else to go.

I love guys like Father Chadwick who do their own thing in the ACC ( he offers the Sarum rite and is an ex Catholic with Anglo Catholic sympathies) but it would be intellectually dishonest for me to become part of Continuing Anglicanism.  There's really no place to be other than in Rome,or in some relation to it. This is what my conscience says at least, but I try not to judge anyone else.
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#17
I did not make the jump to Orthodoxy, but I was really close to doing it.  In the end, I found an Eastern Catholic parish and the rest is history.

As was said before, you will be exchanging one set of issues for another.  You may have an issue with Papal Infallibility.  But what is your view on divorce & remarriage?  How about contraception?  If you hold the traditional catholic position on these issues, you will have an issue with Orthodoxy.  And these are only two issues.  There are many more. The grass is not always greener.

To be candid, I could care less about what the Bishop of Rome does or says so long as he leaves my Eastern rite alone. 
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#18
To piggy-back off ermy's good post on infallibility,  I can't think of a single doctrine that has historically been given a definitive judgment by the Pope in his name only (rather than by a Council) that the EO have a problem with, except the Immaculate Conception indirectly (since they now oppose the doctrine on original sin, even though they were in agreement with the Catholic Church  on the matter during previous centuries).  Also, I don't know of any such papal judgment where the Pope hasn't consulted the other bishops, at least some of them, if not all of them.  As St. Francis de Sales wrote, the Holy Spirit leads, He doesn't carry. The Pope is not omniscient or given special inspiration, he still must use the necessary means at arriving at the truth, but the Holy Spirit is involved in this process as well (again, this is another way the charism of infallibility fits into the larger relationship of the Holy Spirit with the Church).

Concerning a list and why there isn't one:

Books and copies of papal decrees may be lost and destroyed, etc., etc. We rely on the ordinary and universal Magisterium ordinarily--the continued teaching of the true faith by Popes and bishops in their words, letters, catechisms; the belief and handing on of the faith by the faithful in all times and places; in the Church's worship and traditions, etc. Our faith is not just a list of papal and concilliar definitions--the Pope's or a Council's ability to define the faith is called an "extraordinary" exercise of the Magisterium for this reason.

When the clarity of a truth is cast into doubt (not in the sense that people know what the Church teaches but don't believe it, but rather in the sense that what the Church actually teaches becomes uncertain) and the ordinary means fail to bring this clarity and unity of faith, it is the duty of the Pope to definitively settle the matter and call all to the unity and clarity of faith, so these truths once again can be handed on by the ordinary means throughout the world for ever and ever.

It falls ultimately to one man in order to remove the case of an insolvable schism.  While it has always been the Church's practice to settle major issues in common if possible, if it ultimately fell to many, they could possibly be divided against themselves and it would be impossible to settle which side was on the side of truth unless you knew the truth ahead of time (but the reason appeal is made to a definitive judgment is because the truth is not settled ahead of time).

In some ways the two most celebrated papal definitions are anomalous in that the questions had become settled through the ordinary means, but a definition was made as a kind of capstone to that process, to honor the Virgin, encourage devotion, nurture hope after a time of devastation (in the case of the Assumption), and give a kind of holy middle finger to the rationalists (in the case of the Immaculate Conception). Unlike during the debates at the First Vatican Council or the pre-1854 writings on papal infallibility (like that of St. Francis de Sales which I keep referencing), these two anomalies are popularly viewed as the standard which clouds the idea of a list a bit--but this just brings me back to my point. 

Ultimately, what matters is the Church still teaches the truth now, whatever the various circumstances were that have enabled the Church to continue teaching it over time.  For example, a Catholic can profess the truth of the Creed without knowing the historical circumstances that once seriously threatened and then preserved it (don't get me wrong, it's very good to know the history, it's just not absolutely necessary).  Papal infallibility is important when the Pope is settling a truth in doubt at the time, but it really has little relevance in other circumstances.
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#19
Thank you all for your very thoughtful and kind replies. They have been VERY helpful.
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#20
(11-30-2015, 09:37 PM)jpcullen70 Wrote: I did not make the jump to Orthodoxy, but I was really close to doing it.  In the end, I found an Eastern Catholic parish and the rest is history.

As was said before, you will be exchanging one set of issues for another.  You may have an issue with Papal Infallibility.  But what is your view on divorce & remarriage?  How about contraception?  If you hold the traditional catholic position on these issues, you will have an issue with Orthodoxy.  And these are only two issues.  There are many more. The grass is not always greener.

To be candid, I could care less about what the Bishop of Rome does or says so long as he leaves my Eastern rite alone.

You're absolutely right.  Both Churches have their fair share of problems and issues.  The Church has been rife with them right from the very beginning.

As for what I highlighted and bolded, I tend to agree with you.  The problem with that is that, unfortunately, it probably won't happen, if we are to judge from history. :(
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