That's right. I have left Catholicism and tonight my husband, youngest son, and I became Catechumens of the Russian Orthodox Church. If all goes according to plan, we will be baptized and received fully into the Church at the Easter Vigil and Divine Liturgy that will begin on April 27 and end early on April 28.
I have given a great deal of thought to when and how to announce this and how much to say and explain and I've decided that less is more. But people will naturally wonder why we did this. To put it unusually succinctly for me: My husband and I simply came to disbelieve some key doctrines and beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church which we know we are required to hold to remain there. We could not continue to attend and commune under false pretenses or have our children further Catechized that way. I don't want to, and will no longer, argue theology and doctrine with people. And, out of respect for our Catholic friends, we have been careful in how we approach this. I know people have analyzed these issues and come up with different answers for themselves and, for once, let me say, that's OK.
For me also, and because it is an obvious question that readers will have, yes, the hierarchy played a role. I will not deny that my personal experiences with the heretical Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops ("TCCB"), who support involuntary passive euthanasia here in Texas, which I have devoted nearly this entire blog to covering, played a role. Initially, I did not want to admit that even to myself. I now have no shame in doing so. It is what it is.
Things have been ugly, public, and heated between the TCCB (the instigator of the attacks) and Texas Right to Life and those of us who actually are pro-life (and consistent with the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church). While we were not all called out by name, the vitriol of the TCCB was aimed at all of us that work to protect all life. I have had occasion to work with those in Texas Right to Life and I admire and respect them all tremendously. They have shown nothing but restraint in dealing with the unceasing, scandalous, and defamatory attacks of the TCCB and those other groups that speak for them, as I've covered on this blog.
I will be brutally honest here and say that it damaged me spiritually - damage which began in 2013 when I first jumped into the opposition to the Texas Advance Directives Act ("TADA") - and which continued and grew. I simply could not understand - and still cannot understand - that level of, not just being incorrect, but promoting evil and then attacking publicly those who work to uphold the value and dignity of all life in such a heinous way.
The final straw for us both, however, was Francis' changing the Catechism unilaterally to a heretical teaching on the death penalty (and the other innovations we believe are on the way). His action was the final proof we needed that many of the teachings we are required to believe in the RCC we could no longer believe. To be clear, it's not the death penalty issue that is the issue (I'm not a huge fan of it, but it is not immoral in all cases); but that official Church doctrine could be changed unilaterally to error (in that it ignored both Scripture and Tradition) that was the issue. Everything is now on the table and I, in particular, came to the RCC (I was a convert in 2000 from the United Methodist Church) for a solid, unchanging doctrine. There is no assurance of that now. That calls into question many things for us; too many to be overlooked.
Then there were the latest rounds of scandals and watching how they were mis/handled and seeing how deep, far, wide, and historical they were and are was also transformative. Now, understand that we knew much of this before it hit so publicly because we read some lesser known people who have investigated these matters. Somehow, we just overlooked that for too long. But when the totality of the circumstances were viewed by us this past summer, we could no longer stay.
There are other reasons, deliberations, and explanations for why we have left that are personal to us, and to my husband individually, which I will not blog about here. I also respect my Catholic friends who remain and I do not in any way want to insult or hurt them. It's difficult to give all the reasons you choose to leave something because those reasons will be seen as insulting to those who stay or an attack on the institution they still hold dear. I do not wish to do that and I would not mean it in that way were I to list all the reasons. But misunderstandings on something so personal are to be expected and I wish to minimize that. I have been very careful not to tell anyone they should leave or what they should do, even as I know many of my Catholic friends are hurting deeply about the overall situation. Just to be very clear about this: I do not think my friends that have stayed are wrong. Further, that we chose something else is not a commentary on others' choices.
Anyway, after all this it was clear to us that Catholicism and any church in communion with Rome was no longer for us, but we needed to be fed spiritually and I needed to actually find a solid spirituality for myself again. Because we want a Sacramental and Liturgical life, that left only Eastern Orthodoxy. The issue was which "branch." For a variety of reasons, we chose Russian Orthodoxy via ROCOR, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, as opposed to the others. The "why" there is lengthy and not relevant to this post.
What is important is that we are happy and have found our home. We are thriving again religiously and spiritually. We are at peace and gaining strength.
So, how does this change the nature of this blog? As far as the coverage of life issues, particularly TADA and euthanasia, it does not change that at all. I will still be covering that. I will still be as active in all of those issues as I can, sometimes in ways that I do not write about. When the legislative session begins in a few weeks, provided there is anything going on with these issues, I will be covering those and do what I can there.
As for the TCCB, I will still oppose it and any other group, individual, organization, politician, etc., who is a threat to life. For now, the Catholic doctrine on abortion and euthanasia is still the same. Anyone can read that and understand when the hierarchy is correct and when it has gone off the rails. One does not have to be a scandalized Catholic to blog about that.
But, obviously, I will no longer be blogging as a Catholic. I am Russian Orthodox now and we have a consistent, unchanging life ethic. I will blog from that perspective. I am unlikely to blog much about Orthodoxy itself as religion per se has not been the focus of this blog. I am toying with the idea of starting a second blog dedicated to what I'm learning about spirituality, discoveries and observations I'm making along this journey, and so forth, but I've not made that decision yet. So much of this is very personal and just difficult to put into words and explain at this point. I am busy learning, growing, and experiencing at the moment and it is not time to start writing about it. But if I do decide to start such a blog, I will announce it and link to it from here.
In the meantime, I am praying that everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As a ROCOR Church, our Christmas is January 7 under the "old calendar." This year, my family will celebrate twice which seems appropriate.
Pray for a good legislative session as well!
And, as always,
Thanks for reading!