Catholic, Pro and Con

Ruth asked this past week why I/we had not chosen the Roman Catholic Church over the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is a fitting question, one which I probably would have bungled by video (or I may turn this post into a video montage, for my YT only crowd) so I am answering it in text.

To start off, I have close and extended family who are Catholic. I have dear blogging friends who are Catholic. You know I love you all. This post is light on the theology (feel free to correct if I get too far off) and heavy on personal opinion.

Firstly, I have first-hand experience (obviously) with the RCC Mass and culture. Grandma had vigil candles in front of Mary and Jesus. Attended weddings and funerals. Never was baptised into the RCC.

Edit: Mama J wanted to know where the “Pro” was for Catholicism. You can count the following two paragraphs as my pros, plus I am adding some more after them.

During my high school years, I became enamored with Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Like, so seriously enamored, I even flirted with the idea of joining the Church and becoming an MC. But, my mind was so firmly entrenched in Protestant thought that I couldn’t get over the Mary and Eucharist stumbling blocks. I later discovered Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers. Wow-wee! I still would totally cozy up with that crowd if there were any in town. Social Justice and doing the Works of Mercy are big on my list. I recently discovered Mother Maria of Paris. She gives me hope that I am not too late to the Kingdom of God.

Early in our marriage, I broached the idea of Catholicism with Jeff. We even had a “Mary moment”. His uncle loaned us a movie about Fatima. Shortly after watching it, we went over to the local church to see if it was open for prayer (WAS NOT on a Friday evening?!?). We walked around the side of the church to a garden courtyard where there was a bench in front of a statue of Mary. On the bottom of the statue was engraved, “Our Lady of Fatima”! HA! That left an impression. πŸ˜‰

We never went to a Mass. Keep in mind, Jeff had NO previous liturgical worship experience. It would have taken a major, major leap of all stuff and sorts to get him into a “traditional church”. It was about a year later that we began investigating and visiting an Orthodox church.

For some other Pros:

1.) The RCC is everywhere and widely (mis)understood by the larger culture. The Orthodox Church in North America is clustered mostly in major cities and on the coasts.

2.) The force of institutional girth. Somewhere, somebody might be doing what you want to do (within reasonable faith limits). Special interests abound.

3.) It is Western European. I admit, I love my British Isles and Germanic heritage. The cultural atmosphere is understandable and familiar.

4.) Dittoes with musical heritage. Wrapping my head around the Tonal systems in the OC is exhausting.

5.) Strong(er) stance on Pro-Life issues. This can be haggled one way or the other…but I admire the staunchness of the RC on this subject.

6.) More “missionary” minded. [Which could be a Con, depending on the time/space/culture continuum.]

Ok, so why Oranges instead of Apples, for me? Get on with the Cons:

1.) Theology: The Mary teachings (even to my uneducated Proty sniffer) smelled funny. Original Sin seems to get you no where. Purgatory, iffy. Lack of focus on the Resurrection.

2.) Hierarchy: I like Concilliar over Pyramid. No Pope-bashing. I just like the power spread about and closer to home. Helps the Faithful survive serious persecutions, too.

3.)For the lack of better terminology: Effeminate Atmosphere of Catholic Worship. High Pitched singing by MEN. Lace On Men. [Ok, I know our hierarchy loves brocade and jewels…but full-out 8 inches of white lace on gowns? I can’t take it with a straight face.] Girly looking statues of Jesus. Lack of Beards. Priests can’t marry.

4.) Decorated Statues.

5.) Lack of concerted Fasting Rule.

6.) Orthodox have always missionized in local languages and translated Scriptures thusly.

7.) Multitudinous Religious Orders. Even though I love many of the works of various ones (Franciscans and the MC), its all so…entrepreneurial? Confusing? I feel like I need a cheat sheet the size of an Olive Garden menu to figure out who is whom. Within the Orthodox church, its pretty standard (and not standard…LOL) that when one desires to be a monastic, you join up without having to figure out which of the 510 flavors you want.

8.) Smorgasbord of prayer devotions. The OC seems to have a more unified approach to prayer, public and private.

9.) A certain je ne se qua or archetype as to how saints should be defined and legalized. Saint adoration in the OC is organic, from the roots of the faithful and recognised by the church later. Sorry to be vague for the Protestant readers. My RC/OC friends will get it.


This is all personal impression and guidelines for my research into the Orthodox Church.


11 Responses to “Catholic, Pro and Con”

  1. 1 Kurt November 14, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    This is a sensitive issue. I was RC for 28 years and my children are RC. However, I have to say the difference for me is I found the OC to be a “hospital” for my bruised and battered soul after divorce. This was a huge contrast to the legalism and guilt where I was. It was an easy choice and I will never regret making it. For podcast on this subject: Search for Orthodoxy and Hetrodoxy.

  2. 2 mamajuliana November 15, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Is there a Catholic Pro?

  3. 3 mamajuliana November 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I pushed submit too soon. What I meant by Catholic pro is was there any draw there for you to the RC or was it not considered as an option? The reason I ask is I am a convert from the RC to Orthodoxy and it seems that most of the converts in our parish are from evangelical Protestantism. They never even considered the RC when looking outside their Protestant heritage.

    My husband is still RC and I attend Mass with him and the kids…I have been asked by RC folks why I did not consider Byzantine Rite Catholicism. My ‘off the cuff’ answer is always…didn’t know it was there. (Of course the answer is so much deeper…)

    Just wondering…

    Love reading your blog!

  4. 5 Amber November 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hmm, well, you know I’m a recent convert to Catholicism, and I’ll admit to jumping before I’d finished looking. πŸ™‚

    Funnily enough, many of the things you list as cons to Catholicism are issues I’m having with it.

    “3.)For the lack of better terminology: Effeminate Atmosphere of Catholic Worship. High Pitched singing by MEN. Lace On Men. [Ok, I know our hierarchy loves brocade and jewels…but full-out 8 inches of white lace on gowns? I can’t take it with a straight face.] Girly looking statues of Jesus. Lack of Beards. Priests can’t marry.”

    lol. I know you didn’t mean that to be funny, but I never thought about it before! πŸ™‚ It is sort of true…

    As for the rest, like I said. All areas I’m having issues in, I think.

    I think, for me though, a ‘major issue’ is the Pope. Now, I like the current Pope, but, if the Orthodox are right, then all the ‘infallibly defined’ dogmas get thrown out the window. Like the Immaculate Conception.

  5. 6 alana November 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    For me the pro-Orthodox stuff came down to a study of history, looking at the issues present in the schism of 1054 and coming down on the more “conservative” side. In my reading of the Early Fathers of the Church, I started letting them judge me, instead of me judging them. And I think that St. Vincent of Lerins’ definition of Catholicity applies better to the Orthodox Catholic Church than that which the Roman Catholic Church has developed in to.

    What would it be like if there were an end to the schism? Lord have mercy.

  6. 7 Jenny November 16, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    On our spiritual journey we spent 5 years RC and basically the issues we struggled with were the ones you touched on, Anna. We were just never able to look around and “see” the same Church that the Fathers talked about – though we looked really hard and were told it was the same. When we learned about Orthodoxy we did consider the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church for a little bit – it would have been a really easy fix for some of the theological issues we were dealing with. But it didn’t solve them all – and the only parish around had the feel of a church that was dying (mostly because the eparchy is so low on priests – they can’t get any of the men who apply to be accepted by the Vatican. Unlike their Latin Rite counterparts, the Eastern Rite bishops don’t get to just choose their candidates, educate them and then ordain them – they have to be “accepted” by the Vatican too – and most of the time they are rejected for one reason or another – so all their priests are dying off and there’s no one to replace them). Our own personal need to balance the teachings of the Fathers with the way we worship pushed us to continue searching. It only took one Orthodox Vespers service for us to know that we had found what we were looking for. We are now Catechumens and finally (after so many years following Christ) feel like our spiritual growth is beginning. πŸ™‚

  7. 8 thegeekywife November 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Every now and then I’ll think to pray about the healing of the Great Schism. I figure if a day in His presence is a thousand elsewhere (Psalm paraphase), and it’s only been a thousand years of discord, then it’s only been a day. πŸ™‚ I told that to my mom and dad when I had to out myself as leaving RC and joining OC.

  8. 9 Reza Mikhaeil November 19, 2009 at 8:13 am

    This is a great subject, many people that I’d come in contact with, that are converts, decided to convert because of their research into the early church fathers, miracles and/or wanting to find a church that is unified.

    Particularly, many former pentecostals I know convert to Orthodoxy over Roman Catholicism because of the strict form of worship to the Holy Liturgy. In Protestantism/Pentecostalism, they were told to worship God, “however you want…” or according to how they’d wanted to worship him. In Orthodoxy, we’re told to worship God how he wants to be worshipped, through the Liturgy as those that compiled the Bible did.

    This caused them to reject the Pentecostal forms of worship, even abandoning the penetecostal charismatic “gifts” believing they were not of God [as Fr. Serephim Rose wrote extensively considering] and strictly adhere to the Liturgy. This is a confliction in the Roman Catholic Church which has a liturgy but also encourages Pentecostal forms of worship [hence, charismatic catholics, which Pope John Paul II endorsed].

    Setting that aside, I’m curious as to why Eastern Orthodoxy and not Oriental Orthodoxy [which I belong to…]. Thou there isn’t a full communion between the two, there is a partical communion [accepting each other’s baptisms, just not christmations]. Much of the old riffs have been reconciled, such as the myth that Oriental Orthodox Christians were Monophysites [the truth is their Miaphysites].

    Thou I don’t like to just refer to myself as “Oriental Orthodox”, rather just Orthodox, I’d been baptised/christmated Oriental Orthodox because of a number of reasons.


    – During the age of the martyrs, the Oriental Orthodox had the most Saints cannonized.

    – Most of the saints that I’d had the closest connection with were Oriental Orthodox [thou many are also recongnized by Eastern Orthodox Christians].

    – The Oriental Orthodox Communion was found in Isaiah prophesied.

    – The Liturgy itself is longer, more strict with more meaning. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgy, the Ark of the Covenant is venerated along with the stone ten commandments, etc. [It it no surprise that it possesses the original ark of the cov.?]

    – I believe that the Oriental Orthodox concept of Miaphysitism is more accurate.

    – St. Mohreal and other child saints [she was only 12] that had the faith at such a young age to go to Diocletian and proclaim their faith, knowing that they would be martyred and willingly laying down their lives. The miracles that flowed through them as they were punge to their bodily death.

    —————————Modern Miracles——————–

    – The aparitions of St. Mary in Our Lady of Zeitoun, which helped to convert Muslims to the Coptic Rite/Oriental Orthodox Church and give hope to others. It was witnessed by so many people for so many years that it was undeniable, where as many miracles and aparitions such as the Roman CAtholic Fatima, there is less evidence for.

    – Modern Miracles of St. Mina/Pope Kyrillos VI healing people. Many Saints we read about healing people in the past, hundreds or thousands of years ago, but this was as early as the 50’s [and in the case of St. Mina’s relics healing people, on going].

    – St. Abanoub apparitions in which have been modern, such as children testifying that he interveined in a fight between a Christian and a Muslim, thou he was martyred in the 3rd century.

    This is but a short list [the large list could be quite extensive].

    Given that you’re Orthodox and your interestes, I thought I’d suggest two books that you may like to read.

    – More spirited then lions: an orthodox response to feminism
    – Honorable marriage according to St. Athansias.

    I have lots of icons and orthodox books that my wife and I could send to you if you’re interested. We are converts to Orthodoxy too.

  9. 10 mirancs8 December 10, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Nice to see another Oriental Orthodox here!

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"I can't say I don't believe in your God, but I don't believe He meant the world to be as it is." ~Nicholas Higgins. North and South.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." No idea where that last quote came from, but I like it!

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