I love the Orthodox Church and I enjoy it’s culture. What I say here also applies to my own Eastern Catholic Ukrainian parish but I don’t want to focus on them right now. Right now I want to focus on the Orthodox. Why? Because the Ukrainians are not here in the west to convert others but to tend to their Ukrainian flock who are immigrants working here.
I think that’s brilliant and I wish them God speed and so they’ve an excuse not to be converting and picking off Roman Catholics.
The Orthodox church however have a duty to convert people to their Church but they’re failing and not even making it on the radar. Not because they don’t have a beautiful enriched Liturgy and expression of theology, but because like the Ukrainians they’ve set up church only for those who are far from home.
Countries are tribal and patriotic. I for one despise patriotism and worship of ones culture and so does God, he thinks it’s silly also BUT He too understands its necessary bait to reel in the fish. For this reason using the culture and language of the country you reside in is very important.
Take my country Ireland for example. How easy is it to use our pre-schism saints, cultural art and language and create an Irish Orthodox Church? It’s really that simple. However they’re not doing it and so time and time again their parishes are largely seen like the Ukrainian Catholic ones, that is, a respite for those far from their own country. Hey, that’s fine but when setting up a church in the west, don’t call it a ”mission” to convert the Irish if you’re going to be ethnically ”Arabic” or ”Romanian” or ”Russian.
I love all these countries and I enjoy listening to their art, music and reading all about their history. In fact, all the countries I just named I would love to visit before I die especially Russia.
But my love for Russia and ability to listen to Russian hymns in Slavonic or Russian is not shared by every other Irish man. So I feel that if the Orthodox want to make any kind of gains in western Europe they need to understand these principles than the Roman Catholics do.
Roman Catholics have always adopted the culture of the land they arrived in. In doing so they were able to cleverly convert the tribes they met in the amazonian forests of the time using their culture, art and music.
At the same time they were able to incite within these tribal people an appreciation of the Latin music which describes the roots of their church.
Look, when I go to Russia I want the whole Russian package. I want to enter an Orthodox church only to hear and see russian people. But when I’m in Ireland, do I really want to see that? Not that I’m advocating we kick all the roots of the Orthodox Church out but I’ve just yet to see a Orthodox Church that lives up to what it calls itself which is ”Universal”.
I recall when I wanted to convert to the Orthodox Church that I had intentions of creating Irish themed Orthodox videos and prayer groups. I’m still waiting on those.
You can even see the predicament I’m in. I attend a fully Ukrainian Greek Catholic Parish in which all of it including the homily is in Ukrainian. My kids are English speaking and they don’t understand any of it.
But I made a promise to Fr.Serge I would raise them in the parish as he asked me before baptizing my first born and had me promise to raise them Greek Catholic.
It is frustrating though and I can understand why the UGCC in my area keep it in Ukrainian. It’s an hour away from me and we are the ONLY Irish converts there. the only ones. Often the people approach Audrey and ask ”Why your husband like it here, is it the music and hymns?”
They’re such a loving people they really are but have no idea just how bad roman Catholicism has become and my struggle of faith to remain in the Catholic Church at all.
Perhaps one day God will resolve to give me peace and just have me choose. If I choose Orthodoxy there’s no doubt in my mind that I will strive to open an Irish Orthodox Church and would work hard at seeking new converts using every means possible using the culture to do so.
Or I can just stay in my Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish, bite my lip and just accept it will always be Ukrainian. I must admit the latter day by day, week by week and year by year is proving more difficult than the former, especially seeing as my bishop has most likely refused my canonical transfer.
That’s pure speculation but four years ago I asked for it but I heard nothing back. Now I’m extremely irate that my two sons are canonically Ukrainian Catholic but I am not. Drives me wild as the desire to distance myself from the Roman Church is very strong, so much so that, in the end, I will mostly likely jump ship and swim east. But only time, the Lord and grace will tell if that happens.