What I Love About Catholicism...
Christ is in our midst!
There is so much I could and want to say... Someday I will write a book but until then here are my thoughts.
I love Catholicism for The Religious Sense - the love of truth, beauty and good. It is open to all of reality. I love how the Catholic Faith impacts culture, i.e. literature, art, poetry, theater, music, politics, economics, international relations/foreign affairs, etc. Catholicism asks the hard questions. It doesn't shy away from public discourse or talking about the common good. I love how developed Catholic social ethics is, i.e. the dignity of the human person, the centrality of family, the meaning of work, etc. The Papacy matters b/c unity matters. Really read Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope B16 and Pope Francis. There is a great diversity in Catholicism, i.e. different spiritualities and charisms - Eastern, Benedictine, Augustinian, Thomist, Franciscan, Traditional/Latin Mass, etc. Lay movements are vibrant and a live there, i.e. Communion and Liberation, L'Arche, Madonna House, Charismatic, etc. Not all parishes are equal. Look for a priest with a solid formation. Stay close to a religious order. I love G.K. Chesteron, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings. The best contemporary Catholic writers are Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean Danielou, Joseph Jungmann, Louis Bouyer, Romano Guardini, Luigi Giussani, Regis Martin, John Saward, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Glenn W. Olsen, David L. Schindler, Tracey Rowland, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Dororthy Day, Thomas Merton, Catherine Doherty, and Michael O'Brien.
There is much good in the East. The liturgy is central, it's everything, it is your life. Fasting is still practiced and quite intense. Monasticism is still its backbone. It tends to be rather other-worldly to a fault. It can become moralistic or legalistic. It tends to be very ethnic, i.e. Russian, Greek, Arabic, etc. Culturally it tends to shy away from asking or answering the hard questions. They tend to avoid moral issues or current events. Recommend avoiding old calendar parishes. Look toward the Antiochians or Orthodox Church in America (OCA) who tend to be much more balanced and less rigid. Maybe with the Greeks as well but I do not have any personal experiences with them. The best contemporary Orthodox writers are Kallistos Ware, Paul Evdokimov, Olivier Clément, John D. Zizioulas, Hilarion Alfeyev, David Bentley Hart and Michael Plekon.
One of the biggest differences between the two is that Catholicism loves the East and still considers it to be part of their heritage. They love the Eastern Fathers and the later Eastern saints. They appreciate and recognize the Eastern liturgy. It is not either/or but both/and. As examples refer to the Madonna House in Canada or Russia Cristiana in Italy. The East does not appreciate the West, its saints, its history, its liturgy, its... They reject it as either heretical or at best heterodox. They view Catholics to be in error on any number of different topics. That is the general tendency within contemporary Orthodoxy. Some Orthodox are more open to the West than others. Refer to the list of writers above who at least recognize that there is at least some good in the West.
I for one cannot reject who I am, my history, my people or my place. Catholicism for me is like wearing moose skin moccasins. In the end though, it was Our Lady who called me home...