It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here and there’s a reason for that: I thought I had abandoned the journey east. There were several reasons for doing so but mostly because I thought that my age and physical condition (which is good except for my feet) were making things impossible. I thought that, since I couldn’t attend the Divine Liturgy and stand through the whole thing, and since I was unlikely to be able to observe the fasting rules in the strictist manner, I shouldn’t try to become Orthodox, it would be hypocritical. And so, I thought it necessary to turn aside and continue with the Catholic Church.
While there has been a lot going on in my life, there’s been even more going on in the life of the Catholic Church, much more. As you’re probably aware, the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops convened early in October and met for two weeks under varying degrees of secrecy and intrigue. That was unfortunate, but stuff happens. When the dust settled and all the bishops went home, we’d seen doctored documents released, Cardinals making racist remarks, some walking back of committe appointments, banging on tables, and, oh yes, the Russian Orthodox bishop at the meeting dumping all over the Ukrainian bishop, also present at the meetings. It was certainly lively but, in the end, changed nothing.
There’s also been much speculation that, even though Church teachings haven’t been officially changed, many are trying to say they should be changed through an update in “pastoral practice” which means they’ve been changed in practice. Many priests are reporting that people in “irregular” living arrangements are coming to them demanding to be admitted to Communion because the Pope said it was OK, or something along those lines. It seems the main fruit of the Synod has been confusion, and little else.
None of that is directly responsible for my renewed quest to learn more about Orthodoxy. I know there is no perfect Church, not on this side of the roots at least. By becoming Orthodox I’m not going to pretend I will find heaven on earth, not in the most practical sense anyway. Notice, I said “directly.”
What the Synod did highlight for me is the nature of the Church and the problems that can arise in a Church structured as the Catholic Church is, i.e., as a hierarchy with one person vested with supreme authority. That situation is a disaster waiting to happen. That became abundantly clear in the Synod this month. The teachings of the Church didn’t change, but the widespread fear was, it could change if the Pope decided it would. Vatican Council I declared the Pope infallible when teaching on matters of faith and morals and by doing so, made it theoretically impossible for the convened bishops to override him if things got out of hand. Not good, and quite clearly, not what the Fathers ever intended.
By the time all was said and done, my whole attitude towards the Church changed and I realized that the only place for me might well be the Orthodox Church; at least they have a solid idea of what the Church should be. I made contact with my local parish late last week and have attended Great Vespers on Saturday and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday and felt, once again, at home. And yes, I had to sit during much of both liturgies. For you purists out there, I’m sorry, I mean no disrespect, I’m a wimp. But I hope, someday, to be an Orthodox wimp, I hate feeling like the rug could be pulled out from under me at the whim of just one man, no matter how infallible he is.