Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Road to Rome? Part II

Some of these comments were published and others were not at Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy so I will post them all here.

Fr. Damick and others,

Christ is in our midst!

I can only speak for myself but in no way am I trying to be insulting or condescending to you or anyone who follows this site including the author of this post.  I am not playing games or trying to be dishonest.  I was honestly just trying to have a good discussion.  I apologize if you or anyone else took it any differently. 

Frankly, I think you or anyone could have a beautiful discussion with someone like Fr. Davies if your heart was open to it.  Let us pray this might be possible someday.  Fr. Davies or Fr. Abbot Nicholas are a priest like you.  They are well studied and understand the history, as well as the problems, between the East and West.  For example, why not discuss what your understanding of anathemas are with them?  That would be one humble suggestion of something to consider in your discussion if you are serious about really understanding what divides us. 

I for one am in a serious dialog with an Anthiochian Archpriest and have been for over a year.  I have known many, many Orthodox priests over the last decade which includes a priest/monk from the Holy Mountain. I deeply appreciate my Orthodox friends and value our friendship.  I hope to make new friends here.  

I would encourage docility to my Orthodox brothers/sisters in the following way.  Do not pretend to tell the Catholic Church what it teaches or means.  Honestly try to understand Her for what she really teaches and not what you project onto Her.  I will promise to do the same regarding the Orthodox Church.  We should provide fraternal correction to each other if we are missing some key points though.  We should grow together in our understanding of what truly divides us.  It is critical not to build paper tigers to rip others apart but to engage each others human faces who are made in the image of God.

Here are some important points to consider related to my comments above.  Watch and judge the following videos:

Who Are Eastern Catholics?

What is Eastern Theology?

Eastern Fathers on Involuntary Sin

I would love to hear your judgment on them.  I suspect you will agree with most of them.  If not, why?

On a different point, are you familiar with Ressourcement or Communio school of thought within the Catholic Church? Are you familiar with the thought and works of Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean Daniélou, Yves Congar, and Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI? For example, how about their work on Origen, Maximus the Confessor, The Bible and the Liturgy, Prayer, etc. That is where you will find Hans Boersma's work to be extremely helpful, it is an accessible introduction to their thought. It might serve as a good starting point for a productive and fruitful discussion about why we have the problems that we do in the West.  I honestly believe you would be presently surprised by engaging the work of Dr. Boersma.

Let us not be overly romantic about the East though. It is not without its own significant problems as well. The East has struggled with heresy, division, and disunity from the very beginning. I would cite this problem of disunity to be of central concern.

The jurisdictional mess of not just separate Orthodox Churches here in the U.S. but also throughout the entire Western Hemisphere, and for that matter much of the rest of world. Anywhere that Orthodox people have immigrated to this has been and is a current problem. And need I bring up the old vs. new calendar division which separates the body of Christ (for concelebration or communion) for the Orthodox communities?  This sin of real disunity in Orthodoxy is a substantial problem.  It is a sin.  Look no farther then the history of Russian Orthodoxy right here in the U.S. over the last century, over the last decade.

The history of the East is as messy as that of the West.  Sin infects all the Church.  Look no farther than our own jurisdiction of Antioch.  It divided many centuries ago as well.

As significant a problem related to lack of real authority which can unite all of Orthodoxy is its inability to develop its thought. Why have the Orthodox been unable to hold any Ecumenical Council in literally many centuries to deal with the doctrinal, liturgical or pastoral problems within the worldwide body of Orthodoxy? The Orthodox are to Catholics what the Amish are to the Protestants.

Too often Orthodox tend to live in the past and not in the present. To pretend to be in the first millennium when we are now in the third millennium is not embracing the reality of the world as it really is now. How many Orthodox remain in Turkey? How many remain in Alexandria? How many remain in the historical location of Antioch for that matter? Where are the majority of Orthodox populations today and why can we not embrace that reality as it is today and develop new models to see the world of Christianity through?

What about the real problem of Caesaropapism in the East throughout the ages? Why was Orthodoxy unable to build a culture to first prevent and then to resist Muslim or Communist dominations?
No my friend, the world desperately needs the unity which the successor of Peter and Paul provides through the Holy Spirit.  Even His Excellency, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), recognizes the Primacy of Peter as do other Hieararchs of the other Orthodox Churches.  The rub, the problem arises on how this authority is to be applied in the contemporary context and reality.

The following question is for all of us so I shall ask again.  Are we personally digging with a pick and shovel so that our disunity is deepened or are we working to heal this divide and wounds?  As (new or old) friends we should be able to ask the hard questions and work together to find common ground.  Will it be easy?  No, it's hard.  It is easy to build paper tigers.  We both should desire union with Christ and His body which is the Church.  Christ calls us to this mission.  Let us walk together on this journey.

Related Post - The Road to Rome?
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