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A Convert from the Schismatic Church
Asks Orientation

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Tradition in Action,

My thanks for providing this much needed service, and being a much needed shining light in the darkness of the online community. I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian, but planning to convert to the Church (I have a meeting scheduled with a priest next week). Even while I had no such plans, Tradition in Action served as a valuable source of social and historical knowledge for me. I have a few questions which I hope that you'll be able to help me with:

  1. While much of the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church is in agreement with the Catholic Church, many Catholic traditions and devotions are foreign to me. What are some of the most important of these?

  2. Various religious goods, such as icons and a "Holy Table" with prayer books and the like, are important in the homes of Orthodox Christians. What are the proper equivalents of these to be kept in the Catholic home?

  3. Where can I obtain the texts for appropriate daily prayers of Catholics?

  4. Your socio-political stance seems to support capitalism, but I'm less certain of your opinion on governmental structure. Do you favor democracy, or would you be more pleased with an aristocracy, monarchy, or theocracy? Also, though capitalism is an exceptionally powerful and successful economic strategy, it has the capacity for a great deal of abuse. How do you propose that this be mitigated?

  5. Finally, I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and am now obtaining certification for secondary education (I hope to teach social studies and/or history, helping combat modernist thought among today's youth). In your opinion, is it possible to do such work, even very subtly, in the public school system? Would it be better to seek work at a Catholic school? Also, can you recommend any teaching sources or methods for me?

I sincerely appreciate any responses which you have time to muster for this lengthy email. I eagerly anticipate your response,

     G.H.

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TIA responds:

Mr. G.H.

We appreciate your consideration for our work. It is an honor for us to help you enter the Catholic Church by clarifying your doubts to the best of our knowledge. Your questions are quite clear and we will answer them in the presented order.
  1. It is not correct to say, as you did, that most of the doctrine of the so-called Orthodox Church is in agreement with Catholic doctrine. There are major divergences, since the “Orthodox” Church denies the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, which is a dogma Catholics profess in the Creed. It also denies the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, as well as the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Besides these dogmas, there are still many other doctrinal points, such as the monarchical structure of the Catholic Church and the role of the Sovereign Pontiff in this monarchy that it rejects.

    These mentioned differences are more than enough to show that the “Orthodox” are not orthodox at all, but normally should be called heretics, since they deny at least three Catholic dogmas. Until Vatican II the Catholic Church called them schismatics rather than heretics as a kind of courtesy, given that the closest historical motive that led Greek Schismatics to be separated from the Catholic Church was disobedience to the Pope.

    Therefore, it seems highly consistent that the two most important devotions that a convert from the Schismatic Church should have are devotions to the Immaculate Conception of Mary and Papal Infallibility.

  2. Since we are ignorant about the devotions among the so-called Orthodox, it is difficult to point out equivalent Catholic ones. However, the most important devotions among Catholics are the devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the devotions to the Blessed Sacrament and the Rosary. It is a normal practice for Catholic families or individuals to have a place in the home with a statue or a picture of Our Lord, Our Lady or a saint around which they gather for common prayers. It is also usual for families to have a reproduction of the Last Supper in their dining room, or a St. Benedict’s medal over the front door to protect their members and houses.

    But regarding devotions, the Catholic Church leaves to its children a full liberty to choose what they are more inclined to, without imposing any special practice further than the Commandments of God and of the Church. To be adopted by the faithful, a prayer or a religious practice needs only have a general approval of the Church, which is the nihil obstat, nothing prevents it from being done.

  3. You can acquire a book of prayer and devotions in a good Catholic bookstore, better a traditional one, that will provide the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Act of Contrition, Salve Regina, Memorare, suggestions for morning prayer with a corresponding offering of the day to Our Lord, and for evening prayer, with an examination of conscience before sleeping. TIA plans to have all these on its religious page, but so far has not achieved this goal.

  4. In theory, we support the three forms of government the Church approves – Monarchy, the government of one; Aristocracy, the government of the best ones; or Democracy, the government of the people. Better than any single one of the three is the mixture of the three, as St. Thomas teaches.

    In practice, however, we think that each country, or even each region within a country, should have the form of government that suits it better. We are not favorable to artificial models being imposed from outside on countries and regions independent of their history and organic development. This would be to repeat the mistake made by the French Revolution, which imposed on France an artificial regime deduced from wrong theories, a regime that had never been applied in its History before. Still worse was the Masonic spreading of that French revolutionary model to almost all the Western countries.

    We don’t know of models of theocracy in the New Covenant. The only true theocracy existed when God governed the Elect People through Prophets and Judges in the Old Covenant. After that, some Monarchs, like the Russian Tsar, pretended to be inspired by God, but it was a velleity that no one took seriously. Some African or Indian tribes are ruled by their shamans, speaking on behalf of some “deity.” These practices also cannot be considered as an authentic expression of theocracy.

  5. Congratulations on your graduation and receiving your certificate to teach in secondary schools. You ask our opinion if it is possible to attack Modernism in either the public school system or in Catholic schools. In principle, it is most desirable to do so. But if you lead your classes in this direction in the public school system, you will be censured by the administrators for not showing religious tolerance. If you do so in Catholic schools, unless you teach in one of the few traditionalist schools, you will simply be fired, because the immense majority of Catholic schools are controlled by progressivists who are the heirs of Modernism.

    Regarding classroom style and methodology, we would suggest you follow the traditional models, where the teacher commands the classroom. Students should rise when he enters the room, raise their hands to ask questions, and address him as “Mr. X” or “Prof. X.” To set the tone of the classroom, you should be dressed appropriately in a jacket and a leather shoe. Class material should be well prepared, with a defined goal for each day. Awards should be given to the students who excel, and punishments to those who fail or cause trouble. This time-honored system maintains hierarchy, respect and order.
We sincerely hope these answers may help you.

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk
Posted August 1, 2007

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