16 October 2006

Swimming The Bosphorus.


Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons, has left the Catholic Church for Orthodoxy, and has explained his decision, laying bare the sad reality of too much of American Catholicism - the scandals included - and his own sins as well. It makes for painful but important reading.

". . . When I told Julie what Father's true background was, we were both shattered. I mean shattered. Given all that had come before, and given that we finally thought we could let our guard down, that we were among orthodox Catholics now, and we could trust them -- well, something broke in us.It would be months before we realized how broken. We returned to our old parish, and spent months going through the motions. It's hard for me to express how spiritually depressed we were. The only strong emotion I felt about faith in those days was ... anger and bitterness

. . .

In fact, the further I moved from Catholicism, the more I was able to love it. I think it's because I felt somehow released from feeling responsible for the Scandal. It's important for me to say, though, that at no time in this journey did anybody at St. Seraphim's speak ill of the Catholic Church (in fact, one new friend there, a Russian, once told me that there are too many sins and scandals in Orthodoxy for the Orthodox rigorists to spend their time carping about Rome). They only bore joyful witness to what they had discovered in Orthodoxy. This made an impression on me.

Julie and I put off converting as long as we could, but we finally had to admit to ourselves that we loved these people, that we loved this faith, and we didn't want to leave it. The only thing keeping me personally away from making the decision for Orthodoxy was love of my Catholic friends, whom I knew I would disappoint. And, to be honest, I didn't want to leave Rome because it is all I've ever known as an adult Christian. Some will doubt this, but for all the pain, I will always love the Catholic Church, and I sometimes get a little emotional thinking about that. And yet, staying there was killing me spiritually. Leaving was like chewing my own leg off to get out of a trap.

And this bit is a salutary warning to those of us embroiled in the Anglican difficulties:

". . . What's more, I had become the sort of Catholic who thought preoccupying himself with Church controversies and Church politics was the same thing as preoccupying himself with Christ. Me and my friends[*] would go on for hours and hours about what was wrong with the Church, and everything we had to say was true. But if you keep on like that, it will have its effect. One night, some Catholic friends left after a long and vivid night of conversation, and Julie and I reflected that we had all spent the entire evening talking about the Church -- but never mentioned Jesus. Julie said, "We need less Peter around here, and more Jesus." Her point was that all this talk about the institutional Church was crowding out our devotion to the spiritual realities beneath the visible structure. And she was right. But I didn't learn that until it was too late. . ."

Here's the whole thing. Fr. Neuhaus comments here (second item).
*I just couldn't help pointing out this egregious sin against English grammar coming from an editor of a major newspaper.
 

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