There's a discussion going on over at Pontifications regarding the relative merits of Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The good Fr. Kimel, host of Pontifications, has finally (after many clear hints) delivered himself definitively of the view that lay Episcopalians should get out without further ado ("Fly, you fools!"). To help us make up our minds where to go, he's invited two ex-Episcopalians, one currently an Orthodox priest and the other a Catholic priest, to explain their respective choices. The Orthodox priest. Fr. Freeman, wrote a wise and eloquent account of how he came to Orthodoxy. The Catholic, Fr. Hart, shocked everyone by announcing that he wasn't really that thrilled with Catholicism but it was the "default." It is in continuity with the early Church, and papal primacy allows Catholicism to adapt itself to various cultures while retaining its integrity.
Now perhaps it's a measure of just how jaded I've become that all of this seemed quite sensible to me--indeed I found Fr. Hart's candor refreshing. Too many people choose Catholicism or Orthodoxy as one takes up a hobby, because it's exciting and enjoyable. If the claims of either of these Churches are true, then whichever of them is true is not a hobby but a home, not a mistress but a mother. If the Catholic Church is the true Church, then it is the sinful, wandering people of God (yes, thank you Vatican II). I love Orthodoxy, but at times there seems something a bit docetistic about it. Yes, the Liturgy should be heaven on earth--at least it should be a glimpse of heaven. But there is also a "not yet." Catholicism has messed up far more spectacularly than Orthodoxy, but some of its failures have come precisely from its attempt to be the People of God rather than simply a dispenser of sacramental grace (I'm thinking of the Gregorian Reforms, for instance).