Forgiveness Sunday is right around the corner and the door to Great Lent stands ajar beckoning. This year I’m both in a state of prolonged acedia and dryness and at the same time excited that I have an opportunity to really knuckle down, keep the fast to the best of my ability and grow closer to God. This acedia and dryness and sheer boredom with prayer and even Christianity itself, especially Catholicism, has thrown me into uncharted waters and rough seas. Lately I’ve both reread a lot about Buddhism again and undertaken a serious and sustained study of something I swore I’d never study–Islam.
I’ve not got any serious desire to return to the Godlessness of Buddhism nor to abandon Christianity for Islam, but I’ve just needed something to delve into in order to shake me out of these doldrums. I’ve still got a soft spot for Zen and Haiku poetry, and I’m thoroughly surprised at how rich and varied Islam really is beyond my prejudices and the headlines.
These days I’m still keeping up with my prayers— both the Old Orthodox Prayerbook and the Jesus Prayer but like I said, it’s mostly because of habit, and because despite the dark gloomy boredom of my spiritual life I feel a deep need to pray. This need to address myself to God has always been there, even from my earliest childhood.
I’ve all but formally abandoned Roman Catholicism in everything other than my nostalgia for Gregorian Chant, the smell of Frankincense and my appreciation for stained glass and other parts of the Western Patrimony. I feel Orthodox at heart— perhaps I always have. I search within and find that I never, ever really believed in the papacy as it came to be, nor was I ever able to live the cognitive dissonance of trying to be a trad in a Church that had moved on. I also studied enough to realize that the era of Catholicism many within trad circles held in such esteem as basically the highest form of Christianity was in fact only one era ( 19th century to 1950’s), one Rite ( Latin Rite, truncated 1962 to boot!) , and one theological system ( manual scholasticism). Of course not all trads were or are like that or stuck in that generalization, but that was my take and my experience.
Recognize and resist was a position I could just never hold, and the only other options were sedevacantism or mainstream watered down Catholicism, neither of which I could feel comfortable with in the long run. Realistically I believe that if one is really going to be a Roman Catholic the only faithful option is to just become a mainstream Catholic and if you must love the Latin Mass and older devotions than do so, but only as an optional extra.
The reality on the ground is that the Popes and bishops have largely abandoned the Western Patrimony and traditions on an official level. If the popes and bishops and an ecumenical council ( Vatican II is one according to the Catholic Church) changed the course of things than there isn’t much choice in the matter, one must simply get with the program and follow the leaders.
The Arian era was different than this, as back than other than a fairly obscure( but important) point of Christology the externals were basically unchanged, today nearly everything has changed. The law of praying is the law of believing; inner and outer cannot so easily be separated. Rome through the popes has turned into a different church, and today’s trads are basically like yesterday’s Old Catholic movement. I know this is hotly debated and I could be wrong, but I must follow my conscience and based on all my prayers, studies and the nagging of my conscience I cannot see this any other way.
I searched for years for an acceptable answer to the dilemma of how or whether it were possible to basically reject authority and the consensus of popes and bishops and official documents by ” recognizing and resisting” but personally couldn’t do it. My answer was simply to walk away from Rome.
I have throughly deconstructed Roman Catholicism in my heart as being nothing more than a temporary shelter on my life’s journey, but not my final home.
I’m adrift but my faith in Jesus is intact, and my prayers however dry sustain me. One thing is for sure, and that’s that this journey of life is never dull, it’s always interesting.