I had started writing this blog back in 2011, and one can see the progression. Even then, I lamented the fact that the online Catholic catechesis courses I was in were advocating "centering prayer", which sparked a massive rant about the influence of the New Age on Catholic spirituality. My rants became more frequent as I encountered more and more strange things - spiritualities, events, and experiences.
I became less-and-less concerned about my relationship with Christ, and more concerned about venting over all the spiritual and liturgical problems in the Church. My spiritual life began to die. If you want to see what this period was like, read my earlier posts on this blog - though, I did take some down out of sheer embarassment at who I had become, there are a few left.
I generally kept more to my interior prayer and tried with all my might to not notice all the little things that I had not noticed before - things that indicated that there had been a force in the Church that was eating away at its insides like a horde of termites. I just hoped for a renewal, a kind of resurrection, a chance to help "rebuild the Church." Some said to me that it was a product of a dying generation that would soon be gone, which to me always sounded far too harsh: "just wait for the people who changed it all to die, and then we can be really Catholic again." I couldn't hold to something that cold, no matter how frustrated I was.
And yet my eyes widened at all the tribal in-fighting in the Catholic Church between "Trads," "RadTrads," "Semi-Trads and Half-Trads," "Progressivists and Liberals," "Modernists," and the vanguards of mainstream Catholicism which I found out were derisively referred to by some as "Neo-Catholics." It was a sad picture, and one that only served to cause a great despair in me. None of it should have really mattered I suppose - it's not like the Church never had periods of crisis before - but it was definitely difficult to sit back and observe it all.
Now Church politics, of course, is an inevitable cross that every Christian must bear because we are human. It is a tiring phenomenon that has existed since the very first days of the Church's existence - witness St. Paul's exasperated cries of whether we are of Cephas, Apollo, and the like. Protestantism has seen all manner of church-shopping, poaching of churchgoers, and personality cults surrounding pastors who all try to outdo each other in being more "relevant", more "cool". As I pointed out in the Catholic Church, the tribalism and bickering especially since Vatican II has been exhausting, and has seeped into daily parish life; Eastern Catholics, as some themselves have said in my experience, often seem to feel marginalized, treated as "second-class Catholics". In Orthodoxy, the same issues seem to rear their heads - issues over calendars and jurisdictions, etc. Frankly, at this point, I no longer care about anything to do with daily church politics. It's an inevitable pain, a moot point.
So I eventually turned my back on all the drama going on in the Catholic Church largely due to its devastating effect on my spiritual life, digging deeper and deeper into the writings of the saints and fathers of the Church, especially of the East, and kept writing and working as though nothing was really happening.
After joining up with Catholic news aggragator Big Pulpit in order to manage Byz Pulpit (a news aggregator covering all things Eastern Christian, both Orthodox and Catholic), I found myself immersed in the world of Eastern Christianity.
I noted that most of the mainstream blogs and news I read in the East were of an entirely different calibre than the West's (and here I speak of the mainstream, not of the many quality Catholic blogs out there that seem to remain criminally ignored) - Eastern writers, either Catholic or Orthodox, by and large were not engaged in endless debates over every little thing the Pope did or didn't say, but writing about the things that had initially brought me to the faith in the first place: the interior life, the saints, CHRIST. Yes, there were still the politics and everyday issues present in the mainstream Eastern Christian world, but at least I didn't feel like I was reading celebrity rants or battles between egos, but writings on the actual Christian life.
I began to turn East with greater force of spirit than before. Beforehand, I had suppressed it often, regarding the Orthodox writings as just a nourishing supplement to my spiritual diet; often, I would shelve all of my Orthodox books entirely. The Eastern Catholic world was incredibly difficult to find writings in, but I did everything I could to make the Latin West realize that there was a whole other world out there - perhaps, I was only answering myself (after all, I never knew of Eastern Catholicism in my many conversion years, other than a brief mention during RCIA).
I attended the Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish usually once a month for awhile, mostly because of issues surrounding my status as a parishioner at my normal parish; apparently, I was expected to settle in to a particular parish. But my heart became more and more Eastern in every way as the time flew by. I never forgot The Way of a Pilgrim, that wonderful little book that opened the door on a whole new world for me.
Thanks be to God, I ditched the rants, the venting, the frustrations and anger at the usual issues in the Catholic Church, and began to dig deeper into my own spiritual life. One friend said I wrote as though nothing had happened to the Church since Vatican II, as though I was living in some other forgotten era. I think this is partially true, part of the "bubble" effect.
Now I knew about real life in the Church, outside of hagiographies and theological texts. Truly, being a Catholic is not about being in a perpetual spiritual honeymoon. But my spiritual life had taken a beating, and despair was setting in harder than before.