Part 2- I have struggled to complete this it has been difficult to organize the various factors in a coherent manner. The Second sex abuse scandal has broken in the time since then, as well as Pope Francis changing the Catechism. In spite of these things my resolve and conviction to remain Catholic has persisted and in fact grown stronger. For both parts I have let go my perfectionistic tendency’s, in the interest of just getting them out (I expect I will be editing extensively at some point). A lot of this is quite personal.
As I said previously, my awareness of the Christian East and first millennium increased. I found that the Byzantine theological perspective and much of the spirituality resonated very deeply with me. There are 4 eastern Christian churches within 25 minutes of my home. Three of them are Orthodox of differing jurisdictions and one of them is Ukrainian Catholic. I began attending Divine Liturgy semi regularly at the Ukrainian church, largely to escape the inner conflict I experienced at the Novus Ordo Mass. I know too much about the formation of the Novus Ordo and its rubrics, my inner awareness of these things would cause unspoken disturbance. What I experienced at the Ukrainian church was a received liturgy, I resolved to learn as little as possible about the Divine Liturgy so that nothing improper would disturb me. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. It is an aging and slowly dying, very ethnic, and very Latinized parish. When they received a new priest things began to get problematic, what I call “Irish Low Mass Syndrome”. The Saturday liturgy which was in English began to be more, and more then entirely spoken and rapidly. Parts were left out and things got sloppy. I eventually stopped attending because I felt not enough care was taken with the communion spoon. The last time I attended Divine Liturgy was 45 minutes long (75-90 is the typical length of a DL) One block away from the Ukrainian Church was an Orthodox Church in America parish, I knew they had Matins at 8:30 on Sunday followed by Divine Liturgy. I was curious but resisted.
One weekend when my wife was out of town with the children for some reason I don’t now remember. I went to the early 7:30 AM Mass. It was horrendous, half the Mass was adlibbed, the homily downplayed the actual demands of the days gospel. I went out, sat in my car and thought- “I don’t feel like I went to church, my soul is disturbed, I feel like I went to anti-church. I’m going to Matins at the Orthodox Church.”. I stood through Matins and Divine Liturgy, it was sung well. I was already familiar with the structure but this was richer than those other liturgies. It is a vibrant parish, very welcoming and clearly uncompromisingly oriented toward Christ. I couldn’t help feeling that we were of the same religion while the priest who sabotaged that mornings Mass clearly was not.
I was now forced to examine the claims of Orthodoxy vs the claims of Rome. There are lots of periphery factors in the Great and continuing Schism but the core of it is the question of proper ecclesiology, and specifically what the role of the bishop of Rome is.
I guess there is going to need to be a part three where I hash out the historical/theological details and why I’m sticking with Rome.