Friday, September 26, 2008

We interrupt these reviews of major weight loss programs to announce …

that the Curvy Catholic has decided to remain Catholic!

I know, only about 3 people read this blog so who cares, right? But just in case any of those 3 people were in suspense, here’s the deal:

For several months now I have been reading and absorbing everything I could find about Eastern Orthodoxy. There is much of substance and beauty there.

Unfortunately, there’s also a whole heck of a lot of confusion, in this humble Westerner’s opinion. The more I read, the harder it is for me to figure out just who separated from who in the Great Schism.

The Romans say the East left; the East says Rome left. But to me, and I suspect to a lot of other people who aren’t 100% committed to either side – it looks like they left each other.

Frankly, I think the Great Schism was nothing more or less than an unusually nasty and messy divorce. There was fault on both sides.

I know, I know … the Crusades, the Filioque, etc. … Believe me, I sympathize with the passionate feelings of the Orthodox who, even today, still carry the bitterness of their ancestors towards Rome. And I agree with them – the Popes and Bishops of that time were not exactly John Paul the Great.

But there’s nothing I can find anywhere in the Bible that says you automatically stop sinning once you start following Christ. Just because members of the Catholic Church acted like total stinkers from time to time doesn’t mean the Catholic Church has no claim to be the True Church of Christ.

(Oh, and to the Catholics who fling charges of “caesaropapism” at the Orthodox, that works both ways.)

John Paul II, a great Pope who I admired very much (and who died on the exact same day that my wonderful little cat “Princess” was born … but I digress), loved the Orthodox Church and believed it was our “Sister Church”. I know most of the Orthodox (at least the ones who regularly post at online forums) chafe at that description, but I think it’s true. So the idea of leaving Catholicism for Orthodoxy was an attractive idea.

For one thing, I’ve been attending the Byzantine Catholic church for several years now (it’s where I met and married my wonderful husband). It’s where I learned to love and appreciate the way of Eastern Christianity. So that’s why I was attracted to the idea of “going all the way” to Eastern Orthodoxy.

But you know what? Last Sunday I took a little holiday from my beloved B.C. parish and revisited St. Casimir’s, a Lithuanian Catholic church in Silverlake, California. I used to go there regularly on Saturday mornings and always loved it, not only because it’s beautiful but because the priests who run it refused to let Cardinal Roger Mahoney (God grant him many years) bully them into discarding their Communion rail. Yes – you can still kneel to receive the Eucharist there! As far as I know there are only a handful – if that many – of churches in the Los Angeles Archdiocese where that’s the case.

So anyway, last Sunday I went there for 8:00 A.M. Mass. And was struck anew by the beauty, reverence and, above all, SILENCE in that Mass. Not a forced silence, as is sometimes the case in churches attempting to be “modern”, where they just stop talking right after the Homily, as though the priest’s words are so brilliant that the unwashed masses must sit quietly in order to take it in. But a real, genuine, peaceful and completely natural silence.

That silence was there all the way through the Mass, behind the quiet murmurs of the priest and the people. I could hear birds chirping outside; cars going busily to and fro in the distance (what I called, as a child, the “Traffic River”); and all the sounds of civilization, just far enough away to remind us that the “real world was out there, but not close enough to hinder us from recognizing Reality itself, there on the altar.

And after this Mass was over, I returned to St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Sherman Oaks, California, where I helped my husband cantor at the 10:15 Divine Liturgy. And it was a beautiful Liturgy, and I felt completely at home there.

I am so blessed to have more than one church where I can feel “at home” – and both those churches are, as the expression goes, “in communion with Rome”. So it occurred to me that my summer-long research and speculation about “doxing” had come to an end. Because, like Dorothy at the end of “The Wizard of Oz”, I realized that I already had everything I wanted, right here in my own backyard. I didn’t need to go “over the rainbow” to find it – or rather, to find Him. Because He’s already here, on the altar of the churches I already know.

So, long story short, the Curvy Catholic is still curvy – and still Catholic!

Back to weight-loss issues (and my promised review and update of Weight Watchers) after the weekend!


The Cellarer said...

As this is on Eastern Catholicism I'll open with

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Bottom line for me is we are both Churches and it is a tragedy communion remains broken. Most would now agree that it was a process of gradual estrangement due to difficulty communicating ( no internet!), different mindsets of east and west, different culture and different emphasis in theology, even from the times of the fathers. This estrangement started in the early church through to 15th century rather than a clean break in 1054 or any other date.

Good luck with the diet and good luck with the blog!

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Anonymous said...

Hi Curvy -
I was raised Catholic and was confirmed right around the time of Vatican II, which I did not realize until decades later was a disastrous turn for the Church. I have the good fortune of having a mother who is Russian Orthodox, so I enjoyed many years of exposure to the beautiful religion of eastern orthodoxy while tending to my own Catholic faith. In the recent past I have rededicated myself to my spiritual growth. This has led to the re-discovery the Tridentine Mass of my youth. I am working on a Faith page for my blog where I will go into more detail about this. At any rate, I am deeply grateful that I have been able draw on the rich religious exposure I had to the Catholic and Orthodox religions. God Bless!

Bernadette said...

Oooooh, I loved this post! Thank you for sharing part of your journey. It resonates with my own in so many ways, though I'm not nearly as eloquent as you. Blessings.