Should I stay, or should I go?

by Bernard Brandt

Gabriel Sanchez, whose estimable weblog Opus Publicum, I have long read and admired, has outdone himself this time, with his most recent posting, Heaven Forbid.  I heartily recommend that you read his words, as any attempt on my part to offer a precis of them would fail adequately to express either their prudence or their charity.

His words, however, have inspired a few of my own, which I made as a comment on his entry. I offer them to the six or seven readers of this weblog, for what they are worth. Probably, quite little:

I have long stopped caring regarding which side of the Great Divide my friends and others choose. I have long thought that both sides, Orthodox and Catholic, inhere at the center of Christ’s Church. The besetting problems of both sides are that, on one, it is the right faith given to the wrong people; on the other, it is the right faith taught by the wrong clergy.

That said, I have been in the middle, largely hated by both sides. For almost thirty years, I have been looked down upon by the East as a dirty little uniate. And, the full spectrum of the West, from Trad to Mod, has generally and often quite vocally looked down upon me as not quite ‘theirs’. Sigh.

I have found most of the liturgies from the full spectrum of the West to be unremittingly ill informed and bleak, with the exception of a handful, which include the Vatican (under Benedict) and a little Dominican parish in Seattle, Washington. On the other hand, I am at home at most Orthodox parishes, and have standing offers from five choirs to join them, should I ‘come to my senses’. It would take me a month or two to become comfortable in a Slavic speaking church, and perhaps a year or two for a Greek speaking church.

But I can’t yet bring myself to stand before an Orthodox priest and say, before God and everybody, that I renounce the teachings of the Pope of Rome. On the whole, I think they have been rather good. I also happen to think that if we are going to be following all the canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, we should include the one about giving Rome the primacy of honor. Or the one saying that there should be only one bishop to a city. Just sayin’…

And finally, I was baptized and confirmed as a Roman Catholic. Although I feel that the West has abandoned me, or at least, anything beautiful or true or wise in the Faith, I still am its abandoned child. I am fortunate to be at an Eastern Catholic Church that has all of those things. I suppose that if I were forced to leave it, or if I found that the West had well and truly lost the Faith (as some of the darker sayings attributed to our Blessed Lady have put it), then I would have to march to the other side. But not now. Not yet.