Papist Orthodoxy

November 4, 2009

The Great Adventure

Filed under: Education, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:14 pm

This post does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the featured product. I am just calling it to the attention of those who wish to potentially profit more from the study of Sacred Scripture. I invite those who read this blog to review the product and offer their opinions in the comment box for this blog-post. Thank you and I look forward to reading your opinions. There is potential for interesting discussion.

–Antiochian-Thomist


From the website for “The Great Adventure”

The Great Adventure is a Catholic Bible learning system that makes the complex simple by teaching the story (the narrative) of the Bible. Every day, more and more people are encountering God’s Word through the methods taught in The Great Adventure.
Jeff Cavins developed The Great Adventure in 1984 when he realized that most people, despite their strong faith, did not grasp the big picture of the Bible. Though they knew selected stories, they were not able to connect them into a full narrative. His answer was to identify the books of the Bible that tell the story from beginning to end. By reading just these 14 narrative books, a chronological story emerges.
From this idea grew the immensely popular Bible Timeline program, which teaches the story in a way that is easy to remember and helps people to continue reading Scripture on their own. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have learned to read the Bible through this system, which provides a solid foundation for all other reading and study.
Since the creation of The Bible Timeline, The Great Adventure has grown into a remarkable system designed to give the average Catholic a solid foundation for a lifetime of Bible reading. Parishes around the world are finding renewed faith and increased involvement among parishioners whose lives have been changed by this exciting study series.

Testimonials:

“I am impressed with the methodology and growth of The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible. The canonical approach that The Great Adventure employs is a marvelous way to introduce the faithful to salvation history. When Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium are all brought together in study the result is a clearer picture of God’s will, resulting in a road map for living. The Great Adventure, being faithful to Dei Verbum (the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Divine Revelation), is bearing much fruit in the Church today and contributing to a stronger, more informed laity.”

–Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago

“I have seen real change in many of my parishioners. They have not only learned about the ‘big picture’ that contextualizes salvation history, but they’ve gained practical insights into walking with the Lord and learning to trust Him. If every parish did this program, we’d see a true revolution in the Church.”

–Rev. Tomi Thomas, St. Matthew Catholic Church, Norwalk, CT

“Wondering whether a twenty-four week course would work, I started The Bible Timeline in the parish. A solid group of about twenty-five stayed with it for the whole time. I myself got a great deal from it; for the first time I have a grasp of the chronological aspect of the story of salvation. The same group followed through with Matthew. This was a more in-depth, probing study that touched everyone’s heart. We are looking forward to the study of Acts and Revelation next year. I consider The Great Adventure to be one of the most important contributions I have made to the parish, a legacy I leave my successor after my retirement soon.”

–Msgr. Charles Quinn, St. Stanislaus, Pleasant Valley, NY

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November 3, 2009

THE DOMESTIC CHURCH (PART 2): THE UNIVERSAL CALL TO RELIGIOUS LIFE

Filed under: domestic church, Liturgy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:56 am

According to Christians of the East, both Catholic and Orthodox, the Domestic Church is the Christian family comprising the smallest unit of the Christian community based upon the dictates of Our Lord as found in St. Matthew’s Gospel (18:20): “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Based on this, logic clearly shows that essentially the Christian home is the gathering of two or more people because of and in the name of Christ. As the smallest extant example of the Church, it has in its microcosm the same general duties of, let’s say, a parish church: worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy.

It is here that the notion of the “universal call to religious life” is to be understood. Too often Christians misinterpret this “universal call” as a universal call to some version of monasticism or priestly (ministerial) life, as if this is all that comprises what is “religious” or what is Christian. The laity, by this mindset, are relegated to something that has to be tolerated — as a group that should show up and shut up — “pay, pray, and obey” — for the laity are “weak” since they did not follow the “universal call” but instead accepted the barely tolerable state of the lay, family life. This attitude is regularly conveyed if not outright spoken. This attitude, my friends, is nothing short of CLERICALISM and is condemned by the Church. In spite of the efforts of various Popes going back to Bl. Pius IX to curtail this error, it seems that many Catholics embrace this attitude and dub it as “traditional”. “Traditional” because of what –it’s antiquity? Heresy is ancient too.

Further, some of my friends and I have been told that we must have a vocation to the ministerial priesthood because we pray, read the Bible, and go the Divine Liturgy/Mass regularly. The normal has become mistaken for the extraordinary (and folks, I’ll be the first to admit that I could afford to spend more time praying — so in this I do not feel I even meet what should be the “norm”), and the universal call of the Christian is mistaken for the special call to the ordained life. Fulfilling the basic norms of the Christian, whatever his state, is not a sign of a special calling to the priesthood or monastic life.

The universal call to the religious life is nothing more than what is fulfilled in a loving and devout Christian home, the Domestic Church: worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy. St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism, even says that the Christian home, too, is to be “a school for the Lord’s service”. We are ALL called to the religious life; however, NOT ALL  are called to be monks and nuns. Yes, shocking as it may be to some…marriage is a VOCATION and a SACRAMENT.

The universal call to the religious life is best exemplified in prayer; and in the Domestic Church, it is the prayer of the family. What prayer? Which prayers? Well, any really; but if you want to “bring the Church home”, as it were, then bring the prayer of the Church home as best epitomized in the liturgies. The most ancient practice of this, both East and West, was the praying of the psalter as a family around the house shrine, the icon corner, the home altar.  St. Hippolytus as far back as the second century makes reference to its common practice among the laity. The psalter, the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours as it is more commonly referred to today, is the official liturgical prayer of the Church, second ONLY to the Divine Liturgy/Mass due to its sacred origins. The Psalms are divine poetry composed by God through human instrumentality and directed back to God. Who better to praise God than God? Who better to instruct in Wisdom and show us the prophecies than God? So, instead of the smorgasborg of personal, private devotions for one’s morning and night prayers, why not pray Prime or Lauds for morning prayer and Vespers or Compline for night prayer? Why not pray it as a family? This is the Devotio Antiqua. If you do this, then those artificial distinctions between “lay spiritualities” and “monastic spiritualities” and “clerical spiritualities” disappear, for the spirituality simply becomes a scriptural and liturgical spirtuality — the spirituality of the Apostolic Fathers, the Desert Fathers, and the Fathers of the Church.

Yes, be a religious, for we are all called to pray and perform works of mercy. Some of us are even called to be monks, nuns, and priests.

October 29, 2009

THE DOMESTIC CHURCH (PART 1)

Filed under: Doctrine, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 10:53 pm

A priest at the seminary for the Fraternity of St. Peter said to me, “Families are the future of the Church.” Fr. Berg, the Superior General of the Fraternity of St. Peter, said on the same day that all that the seminary does is to refine in a few years what the families have been doing for 18+ years — that the families did all the real or hard work. I say, “God bless them both for their kind acknowledgement.”

However, to rephrase what these priests said, all formation begins in the Domestic Church — the Christian hearth & home. It is in the Domestic Church where we are (or should be) principally formed. Let us look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church and see what it has to say about this [and I mean the current edition].

From the Vatican website.

VI. THE DOMESTIC CHURCH

1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”164 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.165 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.166 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”167

1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.”168 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.”169 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.'”170

IN BRIEF

1659 St. Paul said: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:25, 32).

1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 # 1; cf. GS 48 # 1).

1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).

1662 Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love.

1663 Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful.

1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child (GS 50 # 1).

1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.

1666 The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.

October 28, 2009

SSPX Meetings with the Vatican

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:00 pm

From the Holy See Press Office.

On Monday 26 October 2009 in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the study commission made up of experts from “Ecclesia Dei” and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work.

[01551-02.01] [Original text: Italian, traduzione a cura della Sala Stampa]

[B0663-XX.01]

October 23, 2009

The CATHOLIC HOLIDAY and HERITAGE of HALLOWEEN: Part 2 — How Halloween Can Be Redeemed

Filed under: History, Morality — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:35 am

The following is an introduction to an article that originally appeared in Catholic Update and was written by Page McKean Zyromski.

How Halloween Can Be Redeemed

by Page McKean Zyromski

Halloween has grown into a major secular holiday in American culture. But for those who don’t value devotion to the saints, the Eve has become “hollow” instead of “hallow.” The purpose behind it has been lost—like celebrating New Year’s Eve without a New Year’s Day. Take away the saints and our beliefs about the dignity and destiny of human beings, and the only thing left is pre-Christian superstition regarding the dead.

Among many Christians, there has been concern that things have gotten out of hand. After all, doesn’t Halloween glorify evil? Is it right to send our children out as devils and vampires, or is it better to emphasize the saints, whose nearly forgotten feast day is the reason for Halloween? Hallow is the same word for “holy” that we find in the Lord’s Prayer, and e’en is a contraction of “evening.” The word Halloween itself is a shortened form of “All Hallows Eve,” the day before All Saints Day. In this Update we’ll consider how Catholics can “redeem” Halloween. This holiday, properly understood and celebrated with all of its fun trappings, can be a way for us to deepen our understanding of our faith. The key to this understanding is close at hand for Catholics in our love of the communion of saints.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

October 22, 2009

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:41 pm

Croatian Politician Invites Pope to Visit

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, “We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.

“People don’t understand our divisions and our discussions,” the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will “not spare any efforts” to work for the quick restoration of “communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

Bishop Tichon said that “the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together.”

“A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together,” he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that “this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly” of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

“We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly,” he stated.

Initiatives

After the bishop, Luka Bebic, speaker of the Croatian Parliament, addressed the Holy Father, inviting the Pontiff to visit his homeland and thanking him “for the support the Holy See has given our people since independence, during the war back then and now in the process that will lead Croatia to enter the European Union.”

Benedict XVI next greeted members of the Association Rondine Cittadella della Pace [Citadel of Peace], which promotes dialogue and peace by bringing together students from conflict areas to live and study in community.

They shared with the Pope a concrete proposal titled “14 Points for Peace in the Caucasus” that was developed at an international congress the association organized in May.

The proposal was also distributed to the ambassadors of the Caucasus countries and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Young people of all the ethnic and religious groups of the Caucasus were also present at the audience.

Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha, whose founder, Cardinal Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervas, was beatified Sunday in Toledo, Spain, also greeted the Pontiff. Headed by their superior, Sister Maria del Carmen Dominguez, the religious expressed to the Holy Father their commitment to be faithful to their original charism “of service to the poor, orphans and the elderly.”

Many Churches of the (former) Anglican Communion to Reunite With Rome

Filed under: Ecumenism, Petrine Primacy — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:18 am

Exciting news regarding the relations between many churches of the former Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s Unexpected Announcement

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A text message sent Monday evening ensured that Vatican correspondents wouldn’t miss today’s announcement that Benedict XVI is facilitating the process for groups of Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

[…]

Given the Vatican’s announcement, several agencies and newspapers began to publish brief articles, which in general coincided in interpreting this message as the announcement of the entry of numerous Anglicans into the Catholic Church, something that had been expected for more than a year.

However, these sources had no more details on Benedict XVI’s imminent apostolic constitution with which he creates personal ordinariates to receive former Anglican faithful.

Hours after the press conference, images of the meeting were published on the Vatican’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/vatican).

Anglican Archbishop: Our Prayers Have Been Answered

Welcomes Pope’s Offer of Personal Ordinariates

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The prayers of Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church have been more than answered today, according to the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Archbishop John Hepworth said this today in a statement that responded to the Vatican announcement that Benedict XVI would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

This policy has been established in a forthcoming apostolic constitution, and it responds to requests from Anglicans who have expressed wishes to become Catholic, particularly as the Anglican Tradition continues to take steps toward opening their priesthood and episcopate to women and active homosexuals, and blessing same-sex unions.

Between 20 and 30 Anglican bishops have made such a request.

The constitution was announced at a press conference at the Vatican today, offered by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Hepworth, who also heads the Diocese of Australia in the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, said that the Traditional Anglican Communion is “profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”

Traditional Anglican Communion on Personal Ordinariates

“It More Than Matches Our Prayers”

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement published by Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in response to the Vatican announcement today of a provision that has been established by Benedict XVI that would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

* * *

I have spent this evening speaking to bishops, priests and lay people of the Traditional Anglican Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the United States and South America.

We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He offers in this Apostolic Constitution the means for “former Anglicans to enter into the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church.” He hopes that we can “find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to us and consistent with the Catholic faith.” He then warmly states “we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

May I firstly state that this is an act of great goodness on the part of the Holy Father. He has dedicated his pontificate to the cause of unity. It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours.

While we await the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, we are also moved by the pastoral nature of the Notes issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. My fellow bishops have indeed signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and made a statement about the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, reflecting the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter “Ut Unum Sint”.

Other Anglican groups have indicated to the Holy See a similar desire and a similar acceptance of Catholic faith. As Cardinal Levada has indicated, this response to Anglican petitions is to be of a global character. It will now be for these groups to forge a close cooperation, even where they transcend the existing boundaries of the Anglican Communion.

Fortunately, the Statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects the understanding that we have gained from him that he does not stand in our way, and understands the decisions that we have reached. Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn. We now express our gratitude to Archbishop Williams, and have regularly assured him of our prayers. The See of Augustine remains a focus of our pilgrim way, as it was in ages of faith in the past.

I have made a commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of our National Synods. They have already endorsed our pathway. Now the Holy See challenges us to seek in the specific structures that are now available the “full, visible unity, especially Eucharistic communion,” for which we have long prayed and about which we have long dreamed. That process will begin at once.

In the Anglican Office of Morning Prayer, the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Te Deum, is part of the daily Order. It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today. This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.

Other Commentaries

The End of the Anglican Communion

Pope Benedict to Anglicans: Come Home to Rome

October 17, 2009

A Catholic View of Orthodoxy by Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P.

originally from: New Blackfriars, Vol 77, No. 905, June 1996

this version from Christendom-Awake.org.

In this article I attempt an overview in four parts. First, I shall discuss why Catholics should not only show some ecumenical concern for Orthodoxy but also treat the Orthodox as their privileged or primary ecumenical partner.

Secondly, I shall ask why the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches occurred, focussing as it finally did on four historic ‘dividing issues’.

Thirdly, I shall evaluate the present state of Catholic-Orthodox relations, with particular reference to the problem of the ‘Uniate’ or Eastern Catholic churches.

Fourthly and finally, having been highly sympathetic and complimentary to the Orthodox throughout, I shall end by saying what, in my judgment, is wrong with the Orthodox Church and why it needs Catholicism for (humanly speaking) its own salvation.

Part 1

First, then, why should Catholics take the Orthodox as not only an ecumenical partner but the ecumenical partner par excellence? There are three kinds of reasons: historical, theological and practical – of which in most discussion only the historical and theological are mentioned since the third sort ? what I term the ‘practical’ takes us into areas of potential controversy among Western Catholics themselves.

The historical reasons for giving preference to Orthodoxy over all other separated communions turn on the fact that the schism between the Roman church and the ancient Chalcedonian churches of the East is the most tragic and burdensome of the splits in historic Christendom if we take up a universal rather than merely regional, perspective.

Though segments of the Church of the Fathers were lost to the Great Church through the departure from Catholic unity of the Assyrian (Nestorian) and Oriental Orthodox (Monophysite) churches after the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) respectively, Christians representing the two principal cultures of the Mediterranean basin where the Gospel had its greatest flowering – the Greek and the Latin – lived in peace and unity with each other, despite occasional stirrings and some local difficulties right up until the end of the patristic epoch.

That epoch came to its climax with the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, in 787, the last Council Catholics and Orthodox have in common, and the Council which, in its teaching on. the icon, and notably on the icon of Christ, brought to a triumphant close the series of conciliar clarifications of the Christological faith of the Church which had opened with Nicaea I in 325.

The iconography, liturgical life, Creeds and dogmatic believing of the ancient Church come down to us in forms at once Eastern and Western; and it was this rich unity of patristic culture, expressing as it did the faith of the apostolic community, which was shattered by the schism between Catholics and Orthodox, never (so far) to be repaired.

And let me say at this point that Church history provides exceedingly few examples of historic schisms overcome, so if history is to be our teacher we have no grounds for confidence or optimism that this most catastrophic of all schisms will be undone. ‘Catastrophic’ because, historically, as the present pope has pointed out, taking up a metaphor suggested by a French ecclesiologist, the late Cardinal Yves Congar: each Church, West and East, henceforth could only breathe with one lung.

No Church could now lay claim to the total cultural patrimony of both Eastern and Western Chalcedonianism – that is, the christologically and therefore triadologically and soteriologically correct understanding of the Gospel. The result of the consequent rivalry and conflict was the creation of an invisible line down the middle of Europe. And what the historic consequences of that were we know well enough from the situation of the former Yugoslavia today.

After the historical, the theological. The second reason for giving priority to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox is theological. If the main point of ecumenism, or work for the restoration of the Church’s full unity, were simply to redress historic wrongs and defuse historically generated causes of conflict, then we might suppose that we should be equally – or perhaps even more – interested in addressing the CatholicProtestant divide.

After all, there have been no actual wars of religion – simply as such – between Catholics and Orthodox, unlike those between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth century France or the seventeenth century Holy Roman Empire. But theologically there cannot be any doubt that the Catholic Church must accord greater importance to dialogue with the Orthodox than to conversations with any Protestant body.

For the Orthodox churches are churches in the apostolic succession; they are bearers of the apostolic Tradition, witnesses to apostolic faith, worship and order – even though they are also, and at the same time, unhappily sundered from the prima sedes, the first see.

Their Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers, their liturgical texts and practices, their iconographic tradition, these remain loci theologici – authoritative sources – to which the Catholic theologian can and must turn in his or her intellectual construal of Catholic Christianity. And that cannot possibly be said of the monuments of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed or any other kind of Protestantism.

To put the same point in another way: the separated Western communities have Christian traditions – in the plural, with a small ‘t’ – which may well be worthy of the Catholic theologian’s interest and respect. But only the Orthodox are, along with the Catholic Church, bearers of Holy Tradition – in the singular, with a capital ‘T’, that is, of the Gospel in its plenary organic transmission through the entirety of the life – credal, doxological, ethical – of Christ’s Church.

There is for Catholics, therefore, a theological imperative to restore unity with the Orthodox which is lacking in our attitude to Protestantism – though I should not be misinterpreted as saying that there is no theological basis for the impulse to Catholic-Protestant rapprochement for we have it in the prayer of our Lord himself at the Great Supper, ‘that they all may be one’.

I am emphasising the greater priority we should give to relations with the Orthodox because I do not believe the optimistic statement of many professional ecumenists to the effect that all bilateral dialogues – all negotiations with individual separated communions – feed into each other in a positive and unproblematic way.

It would be nice to think that a step towards one separated group of Christians never meant a step away from another one, but such a pious claim does not become more credible with the frequency of its repeating. The issue of the ordination of women, to take but one particularly clear example, is evidently a topic where to move closer to world Protestantism is to move further from global Orthodoxy – and vice versa.

This brings me to my third reason for advocating ecumenical rapport with Orthodoxy: its practical advantages. At the present time, the Catholic Church, in many parts of the world, is undergoing one of the most serious crises in its history, a crisis resulting from a disorienting encounter with secular culture and compounded by a failure of Christian discernment on the part of many people over the last quarter century – from the highest office – holders to the ordinary faithful.

This crisis touches many aspects of Church life but notably theology and catechesis, liturgy and spirituality, Religious life and Christian ethics at large. Orthodoxy is well placed to stabilise Catholicism in most if not all of these areas.

Were we to ask in a simply empirical or phenomenological frame of mind just what the Orthodox Church is like, we could describe it as a dogmatic Church, a liturgical Church, a contemplative Church, and a monastic Church – and in all these respects it furnishes a helpful counter-balance to certain features of much western Catholicism today.

Firstly, then, Orthodoxy is a dogmatic Church. It lives from out of the fulness of the truth impressed by the Spirit on the minds of the apostles at the first Pentecost, a fulness which transformed their awareness and made possible that specifically Christian kind of thinking we call dogmatic thought.

The Holy Trinity, the God-man, the Mother of God and the saints, the Church as the mystery of the Kingdom expressed in a common life on earth, the sacraments as means to humanity’s deification – our participation in the uncreated life of God himself: these are the truths among which the Orthodox live, move and have their being.

Orthodox theology in all its forms is a call to the renewal of our minds in Christ, something which finds its measure not in pure reason or secular culture but in the apostolic preaching attested to by the holy Fathers, in accord with the principal dogmata of faith as summed up in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church.[1]

Secondly, Orthodoxy is a liturgical Church. It is a Church for which the Liturgy provides a total ambience expressed in poetry, music and iconography, text and gesture, and where the touchstone of the liturgical life is not the capacity of liturgy to express contemporary concerns (legitimate though these may be in their own context), but, rather, the ability of the Liturgy to act as a vehicle of the Kingdom, our anticipated entry, even here and now, into the divine life.

Thirdly, Orthodoxy is a contemplative Church. Though certainly not ignoring the calls of missionary activity and practical charity, essential to the Gospel and the Gospel community as these are, the Orthodox lay their primary emphasis on the life of prayer as the absolutely necessary condition of all Christianity worth the name.

In the tradition of the desert fathers, and of such great theologian-mystics as the Cappadocian fathers, St Maximus and St Gregory Palamas, encapsulated as these contributions are in that anthology of Eastern Christian spirituality the Philokalia, Orthodoxy gives testimony to the primacy of what the Saviour himself called the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, for it is in the light of this commandment with its appeal for a God-centred process of personal conversion and sanctification – that all our efforts to live out its companion commandment (to love our neighbour as ourself) must be guided.

And fourthly, Orthodoxy is a monastic Church, a Church with a monastic heart where the monasteries provide the spiritual fathers of the bishops, the counsellors of the laity and the example of a Christian maximalism. A Church without a flourishing monasticism, without the lived ‘martyrdom’ of an asceticism inspired by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection, could hardly be a Church according to the mind of the Christ of the Gospels, for monasticism, of all Christian life ways, is the one which most clearly and publicly leaves all things behind for the sake of the Kingdom.

Practically speaking, then, the re-entry into Catholic unity of this dogmatic, liturgical, contemplative and monastic Church could only have the effect of steadying and strengthening those aspects of Western Catholicism which today are most under threat by the corrosives of secularism and theological liberalism.

1. Cf. A. Nichols, O. P., Light from the East. Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology (London 1995).

Read the rest of the article HERE.

The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity: The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Greek and Latin Traditions

Filed under: Doctrine, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 1:24 pm

by the Pontifical Council Promoting Christian Unity.

from the website: CatholicCulture.org.

The Greek and Latin Traditions About the Procession of the Holy Spirit

In its first report on The Mystery of the Church and of the Eucharist in the Light of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, unanimously approved in Munich on 6 July 1982, the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church had mentioned the centuries-old difficulty between the two Churches concerning the eternal origin of the Holy Spirit. Not being able to treat this subject for itself in this first phase of the dialogue, the Commission stated: “Without wishing to resolve yet the difficulties which have arisen between East and West concerning the relationship between the Son and the Spirit, we can already say together that this Spirit, which proceeds from the Father (Jn. 15:26) as the sole source in the Trinity and which has become the Spirit of our sonship (Rom. 8:15) since he is also the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6), is communicated to us particularly in the Eucharist by this Son upon whom he reposes in time and in eternity (Jn. 1:32).” (Information Service of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, no. 49, p. 108, I, 6).

The Catholic Church acknowledges the conciliar, ecumenical, normative, and irrevocable value, as expression of the one common faith of the Church and of all Christians, of the Symbol professed in Greek at Constantinople in 381 by the Second Ecumenical Council. No profession of faith peculiar to a particular liturgical tradition can contradict this expression of the faith taught by the undivided Church.

On the basis of Jn. 15:26, this Symbol confesses the Spirit “to ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” (“who takes his origin from the Father”). The Father alone is the principle without principle (arche anarchos) of the two other persons of the Trinity, the sole source (peghe) of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, takes his origin from the Father alone (ek monou tou Patros) in a principal, proper, and immediate manner.1

The Father’s Monarchy

The Greek Fathers and the whole Christian Orient speak, in this regard, of the “Father’s Monarchy,” and the Western tradition, following St. Augustine, also confesses that the Holy Spirit takes his origin from the Father principaliter, that is, as principle (De Trinitate XV, 25, 47, P.L. 42, 1094-1095). In this sense, therefore, the two traditions recognize that the “monarchy of the Father” implies that the Father is the sole Trinitarian Cause (Aitia) or Principle (Principium) of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone as Principle of the whole Trinity is called ekporeusis by Greek tradition, following the Cappadocian Fathers. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, in fact, characterizes the Spirit’s relationship of origin from the Father by the proper term ekporeusis, distinguishing it from that of procession (to proienai) which the Spirit has in common with the Son. “The Spirit is truly the Spirit proceeding (proion) from the Father, not by filiation, for it is not by generation, but by ekporeusis” (Discourse 39. 12, Sources chretiennes 358, p. 175). Even if St. Cyril of Alexandria happens at times to apply the verb ekporeusthai to the Son’s relationship of origin from the Father, he never uses it for the relationship of the Spirit to the Son (c.f. Commentary on St. John, X, 2, P.G. 74, 910D; Ep 55, P.G. 77, 316D, etc.). Even for St. Cyril, the term ekporeusis as distinct from the term “proceed” (proienai), can only characterize a relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Trinity: the Father.

That is why the Orthodox Orient has always refused the formula to ek tou Patros kai tou Uiou ekporeuomenon [an unwisely proposed translation of “who proceeds from the Father and the Son”] and the Catholic Church has refused the addition kai tou Uiou [and the Son] to the formula ek to Patros ekporeumenon in the Greek text of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Symbol, even in its liturgical use by Latins.

Orthodox View: Holy Spirit from the Father Through the Son

The Orthodox Orient does not, however, refuse all eternal relationship between the Son and the Holy Spirit in their origin from the Father. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a great witness to our two traditions, makes this clear in response to Macedonius who was asking: “[Macedonius asks] What then is lacking to the Spirit to be the Son, for if nothing was lacking to him, he would be the Son? We say [Gregory answers] that nothing is lacking to him, for nothing is lacking to God; but it is the difference in manifestation, if I may say so, or in the relationship between them (tes pros allela scheseos diaphoron) which makes also the difference in what they are called” (Discourse 31, 9, Sources chretiennes No. 250, pp. 290-292).

The Orthodox Orient has, however, given a happy expression to this relationship with the formula dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon (who takes his origin from the Father by or through the Son). St. Basil already said of the Holy Spirit: “Through the Son (dia tou Uiou), who is one, he is joined to the Father, who is one, and by himself completes the blessed Trinity” (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 45, Sources chretiennes 17 bis, p. 408). St. Maximus the Confessor said: “By nature (phusei) the Holy Spirit in his being (kat’ousian) takes substantially (ousiodos) takes his origin (ekporeuomenon) from the Father through the Son who is begotten (di Uiou gennethentos)” (Quaestiones ad Thalassium, LXIII, P.G. 90, 672 C). We find this again in St. John Damascene: “ho Pater aeien, echon ex eautou ton autou logon, kai dia tou logou autou ex eautou to Pneuma autou ekporeuomenon,” in English: “I say that God is always Father since he has always his Word coming from himself, and through his Word, having his Spirit issuing from him” (Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, P.G. 94, 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354; c.f. P.G. 94, 848-849 A). This aspect of the Trinitarian mystery was confessed at the seventh Ecumenical council, meeting at Nicaea in 787, by the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Tarasius, who developed the Symbol as follows: “to Pneuma to agion, to Kyrion kai Zoopoion, to ek tou Patros dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon” (Mansi, XII, 1122 D).

This doctrine all bears witness to the fundamental Trinitarian faith as it was professed together by East and West at the time of the Fathers. It is the basis that must serve for the continuation of the current dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox.

Catholic Teaching on the Filioque

The doctrine of the Filioque must be understood and presented by the Catholic Church in such a way that it cannot appear to contradict the Monarchy of the Father nor the fact that he is the sole origin (arche, aitia) of the ekporeusis of the Spirit. The Filioque is, in fact, situated in a theological and linguistic context different from that of the affirmation of the sole Monarchy of the Father, the one origin of the Son and of the Spirit. Against Arianism, which was still virulent in the West, its purpose was to stress the fact that the Holy Spirit is of the same divine nature as the Son, without calling in question the one Monarchy of the Father.

We are presenting here the authentic doctrinal meaning of the Filioque on the basis of the Trinitarian faith of the Symbol professed by the second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople. We are giving this authoritative interpretation, while being aware of how inadequate human language is to express the ineffable mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God, a mystery which is beyond our words and our thoughts.

The Catholic Church interprets the Filioque with reference to the conciliar and ecumenical, normative, and irrevocable value of the confession of faith in the eternal origin of the Holy Spirit, as defined in 381 by the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in its Symbol. This Symbol only became known and received by Rome on the occasion of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. In the meantime, on the basis of the earlier Latin theological tradition, Fathers of the Church of the West like St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great, had confessed that the Holy Spirit proceeds (procedit) eternally from the Father and the Son.2

Since the Latin Bible (the Vulgate and earlier Latin translations) had translated Jn 15:26 (para tou Patros ekporeutai) by “qui a Patre procedit,” the Latins translated the “ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” of the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople by “ex Patre procedentum” (Mansi VII, 112 B). In this way, a false equivalence was involuntarily created with regard to the eternal origin of the Spirit between the Oriental theology of the ekporeusis and the Latin theology of the processio.

The Greek ekporeusis signifies only the relationship of origin to the Father alone as the principle without principle of the Trinity. The Latin processio, on the contrary, is a more common term, signifying the communication of the consubstantial divinity from the Father to the Son and from the Father, through and with the Son, to the Holy Spirit.3 In confessing the Holy Spirit “ex Patre procedentem,” the Latins, therefore, could only suppose an implicit Filioque which would later be made explicit in their liturgical version of the Symbol.

In the West, the Filioque was confessed from the fifth century through the Quicumque (or Athanasianum,’ DS 75) Symbol, and then by the Councils of Toledo in Visigothic Spain between 589 and 693 (DS 470, 485, 490, 527, 568), to affirm Trinitarian consubstantiality. If these Councils did not perhaps insert it in the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople, it is certainly to be found there from the end of the eighth century, as evidenced in the proceedings of the Council of Aquileia-Friuli in 796 (Mansi XIII, 836, D, ff.) and that of Aix-la-Chapelle of 809 (Mansi XIV, 17). In the ninth century, however, faced with Charlemagne, Pope Leo III, in his anxiety to preserve unity with the Orient in the confession of faith, resisted this development of the Symbol which had spread spontaneously in the West, while safeguarding the truth contained in the Filioque. Rome only admitted it in 1014 into the liturgical Latin version of the Creed.

In the Patristic period, an analogous theology had developed in Alexandria, stemming from St. Athanasius. As in the Latin tradition, it was expressed by the more common term of ‘procession’ (proienai) indicating the communication of the divinity to the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son in their consubstantial communion: “The Spirit proceeds (proeisi) from the Father and the Son; clearly, he is of the divine substance, proceeding (proion) substantially (ousiodos) in it and from it” (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaurus, PG 75, 585 A).4

In the seventh century, the Byzantines were shocked by a confession of faith made by the Pope and including the Filioque with reference to the procession of the Holy Spirit; they translated the procession inaccurately by ekporeusis. St. Maximus the Confessor then wrote a letter from Rome linking together the two approaches — Cappadocian and Alexandrian — to the eternal origin of the Spirit: the Father is the sole Principle without Principle (in Greek, aitia) of the Son and of the Spirit; the Father and the Son are consubstantial source of the procession (to proienai) of this same Spirit. “For the procession they (the Romans) brought the witness of the Latin Fathers, as well, of course, as that of St. Cyril of Alexandria in his sacred study on the Gospel of St. John. On this basis they showed that they themselves do not make the Son cause (aitia) of the Spirit. They know, indeed, that the Father is the sole cause of the Son and of the Spirit, of one by generation and of the other by ekporeusis — but they explained that the latter comes (proienai) through the Son, and they showed in this way the unity and the immutability of the essence” (Letter to Marin of Cyprus, PG 91, 136 A-B).

According to St. Maximus, echoing Rome, the Filioque does not concern the ekporeusis of the Spirit issued from the Father as source of the Trinity, but manifests his proienai (processio) in the consubstantial communion of the Father and the Son, while excluding any possible subordinationist interpretation of the Father’s Monarchy.

The fact that in Latin and Alexandrian theology the Holy Spirit proceeds (proeisi) from the Father and the Son in their consubstantial communion does not mean that it is the divine essence or substance that proceed in him, but that it is communicated from the Father and the Son who have it in common. This point was confessed as dogma in 1215 by the fourth Lateran Council: “The substance does not generate, is not begotten, does not proceed; but it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, the Holy Spirit who proceeds: so that there is distinction in persons and unity in nature. Although other (alius) is the Father, other the Son, other the Holy Spirit, they are not another reality (aliud), but what the Father is the Son is and the Holy Spirit equally; so, according to the orthodox and catholic faith, we believe that they are consubstantial. For the Father, generating eternally the Son, has given to him his substance… It is clear that, in being born the Son has received the substance of the Father without this substance being in any way diminished, and so the Father and the Son have the same substance. So the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from them both, are one same reality” (DS 804-805).

In 1274, the second Council of Lyons confessed that “the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles but as from one single principle (tamquam ex uno principio)” (DS 850). In the light of the Lateran Council, which preceded the second Council of Lyons, it is clear that it is not the divine essence that can be the “one principle” for the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church interprets this formula in no.248 as follows: “The eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as the ‘principle without principle,’ is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Spirit proceeds” (Council of Lyons II, DS 850).

The Catholic Church understands that the Eastern tradition expresses first that it is characteristic of the Father to be the first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who takes his origin from the Father” (“ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” cf. Jn 15:26), it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque). “This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no.248). Being aware of this, the Catholic Church has refused the addition of kai tou Uiou to the formula ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon of the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople in the churches, even of Latin rite, which use it in Greek. The liturgical use of this original text remains always legitimate in the Catholic Church.

If it is correctly situated, the Filioque of the Latin tradition must not lead to subordination of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Even if the Catholic doctrine affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son in the communication of their consubstantial communion, it nonetheless recognises the reality of the original relationship of the Holy Spirit as person with the Father, a relationship that the Greek Fathers express by the term ekporeusis.5

Harmony of Catholic and Orthodox teaching

In the same way, if in the Trinitarian order the Holy Spirit is consecutive to the relation between the Father and the Son, since he takes his origin from the Father as Father of the only Son,6 it is in the Spirit that this relationship between the Father and the Son itself attains its Trinitarian perfection. Just as the Father is characterised as Father by the Son he generates, so does the Spirit, by taking his origin from the Father, characterise the Father in the manner of the Trinity in relation to the Son and characterises the Son in the manner of the Trinity in his relation to the Father: in the fullness of the Trinitarian mystery they are Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.7

The Father only generates the Son by breathing (proballein in Greek) through him the Holy Spirit and the Son is only begotten by the Father insofar as the spiration (probole in Greek) passes through him. The Father is Father of the One Son only by being for him and through him the origin of the Holy Spirit.8

The Spirit does not precede the Son, since the Son characterises as Father the Father from whom the Spirit takes his origin, according to the Trinitarian order.9 But the spiration of the Spirit from the Father takes place by and through (the two senses of dia in Greek) the generation of the Son, to which it gives its Trinitarian character. It is in this sense that St. John Damascene says: “The Holy Spirit is a substantial power contemplated in his own distinct hypostasis, who proceeds from the Father and reposes in the Word” (De Fide Orthodoxa I, 7, PG 94, 805 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1973, p.16; Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, PG 94. 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354).10

What is this Trinitarian character that the person of the Holy Spirit brings to the very relationship between the Father and the Son? It is the original role of the Spirit in the economy with regard to the mission and work of the Son. The Father is love in is source (2 Cor 13:13; 1 Jn 4:8.16), the Son is “the Son that he loves” (Col 1:14). So a tradition dating back to St Augustine has seen in the Holy Spirit, through whom “God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5), love as the eternal Gift of the Father to his “beloved Son” (Mk 1:11, 9:7; Lk 20:13; Eph 1:6).11

The divine love which has its origin in the Father reposes in “the Son of his love” in order to exist consubstantially through the Son in the person of the Spirit, the Gift of love. This takes into account the fact that, through love, the Holy Spirit orients the whole life of Jesus towards the Father in the fulfilment of his will. The Father sends his Son (Gal 4:4) when Mary conceives him through the operation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35). The Holy Spirit makes Jesus manifest as Son of the Father by resting upon him at baptism (cf. Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:33). He drives Jesus into the wilderness (cf. Mk 1:12). Jesus returns (“full of the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1). Then he begins his ministry “in the power of the Spirit” (Lk 4:14). He is filled with joy in the Spirit, blessing the Father for his gracious will (cf. Lk 10:21). He chooses his apostles “through the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2). He casts out demons by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28). He offers himself to the Father “through the eternal Spirit” (Heb 9:14). On the Cross he “commits his Spirit” into the Father’s hands (Lk 23:46). “In the Spirit” he descended to the dead (cf. 1 Pet 3:19), and by the Spirit he was raised from the dead (cf. Rom 8:11) and “designated Son of God in power” (Rom 1:4).12 This role of the Spirit in the innermost human existence of the Son of God made man derives from an eternal Trinitarian relationship through which the Spirit, in his mystery as Gift of Love, characterises the relation between the Father, as source of love, and his beloved Son.

The original character of the person of the Spirit as eternal Gift of the Father’s love for his beloved Son shows that the Spirit, while coming from the Son in his mission, is the one who brings human beings into Christ’s filial relationship to his Father, for this relationship finds only in him its Trinitarian character: “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba!Father!” (Gal 4:6). In the mystery of salvation and in the life of the church, the Spirit, therefore, does much more than prolong the work of the Son. In fact, whatever Christ has instituted — Revelation, the church, the sacraments, the apostolic ministry, and its magisterium — calls for constant invocation (epiclesis) of the Holy Spirit and his action (energeia), so that the love that “never ends” (1 Cor 13:8) may be made manifest in the communion of the saints with the life of the Trinity.

Footnotes

[1] These are the terms employed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, Ia q. 36 a. 3 1um and 2um.

[2] It is Tertullian who lays the foundations for Trinitarian theology in the Latin tradition, on the basis of the substantial communication of the Father to the Son and through the Son to the Holy Spirit: “Christ says of the Spirit ‘He will take from what is mine’ (Jn 16:14), as he does from the Father. In this way, the connection of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Paraclete makes the three cohere one from the other. They who are one sole reality (unum) not one alone (unus) by reason of the unity of substance and not of numerical singularity” (Adv. Praxean, XXV, 1-2). This communication of the divine consubstantiality in the Trinitarian order he expresses with the verb procedere (ibid., II, 6). We find this same theology in St. Hilary of Poitiers, who says to the Father: “May I receive your Spirit who takes his being from you through your only Son” (De Trinitate XII, PL 10, 471). He remarks: “If anyone thinks there is a difference between receiving from the Son (Jn 16:15) and proceeding (procedere) from the Father (Jn 15:26), it is certain that it is one and the same thing to receive from the Son and to receive from the Father (De Trinitate, VIII, 20, PL 10, 251 A). It is in this sense of communication of divinity through procession that St. Ambrose of Milan is the first to formulate the Filioque: “The Holy Spirit when he proceeds (procedit) from the Father and the Son, does not separate himself from the Father and does not separate himself from the Son” (De Spiritu Sancto, 1, 11, 120, PL 16, 733 A = 762 D). St. Augustine, however, takes the precaution of safeguarding the Father’s monarchy within the consubstantial communion of the Trinity: “The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as Principle (principaliter) and, through the latter’s timeless gift to the Son, from the Father and the Son in communion (communiter)” (De Trinitate XV , 25, 47, PL 42, 1095). St. Leo, Sermon LXXV, 3, PL 54, 402; Sermon LXXVI, 2, ibid. 404).

[3] Tertullian uses the verb procedere in a sense common to the Word and the Spirit insofar as they receive divinity from the Father: “The Word was not uttered out of something empty and vain, and he does not lack substance, he who proceeded (processit) from such a (divine) substance and has made so many (created) substances. (Adv. Praxean, VII, 6). St. Augustine, following St. Ambrose, takes up this more common conception of procession: “All that proceeds is not born, although what is born proceeds” (Contra Maximinum, II, 14, 1, PL 42, 770). Much later St. Thomas Aquinas remarks that “the divine nature is communicated in every processing that is not ad extra (Summa Theologica Ia, q.27, a.3, 2um). For him, as for all this Latin theology which used the term “procession” for the Son as well as for the Spirit, “generation is a procession which puts the divine person in possession of the divine nature” (ibid., Ia. q.43, a 2, c), for “from all eternity the Son proceeds in order to be God” (ibid.). In the same way, he affirms that “through his procession, the Holy Spirit receives the nature of the Father, as does the Son (ibid., Ia, q.35, a.2, c). “Of words referring to any kind of origin, the most general is procession. We use it to indicate any origin whatever; we say, for instance, that the line proceeds from the point; that the ray proceeds from the sun, the river from its source, and likewise in all kinds of other cases. Since we admit one or another of these words that evoke origin, we can, therefore, conclude hat the Holy Spirit proceeds from the son (ibid., Ia, q.36, a.2, c).

[4] St. Cyril bears witness here to a Trinitarian doctrine common to the whole school of Alexandria since St Athanasius, who had written “Just as the Son says: ‘All that the Father has is mine’ (Jn 16:15), so shall we find that, through the Son, it is all also in the Spirit” (Letters to Serapion, III, 1, 33, PG 26, 625 B). St. Epiphanius of Salamis (Ancoratus, VIII, PG 43, 29 C) and Didymus the Blind (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, CLIII, PG 34, 1064 A) link the Father and the Son by the same preposition ek in the communication to the Holy Spirit of the consubstantial divinity.

[5] “The two relationships of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Father oblige us to place two relationships in the Father, one referring to the Son and the other to the Holy Spirit” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Ia, q.32, a.2, c).

[6] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.248.

[7] St. Gregory of Nazianzus says that “the Spirit is a middle term (meson) between the Unbegotten and the Begotten” (Discourse 31, 8, Sources Chrétiennes, no.250, p.290). Cf. also, in a Thomistic perspective, G Leblond, “Point of view on the procession of the Holy Spirit,” in Revue Thomiste, LXXXVI, t.78, 1978, pp.293-302.

[8] St. Cyril of Alexandria says that “the Holy Spirit flows from the Father into the Son (en to Uiou),” (Thesaurus, XXXIV, PG 75, 577A).

[9] St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: “The Holy Spirit is said to be of the Father and it is attested that he is of the Son. St. Paul says: ‘Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’ (Rom 8:9). So the Spirit who is of God (the Father) is also the Spirit of Christ. However, the Son who is of God (the Father) is not said to be of the Spirit: the consecutive order of the relationship cannot be reversed” (Fragment In orationem dominicam, quoted by St. John Damascene, PG 46. 1109 BC). And St. Maximus affirms in the same way the Trinitarian order when he writes: “Just as the Thought (the Father) is principle of the Word, so is he also of the Spirit through the Word. And, just as one cannot say that the Word is of the voice (of the Breath), so one cannot say that the Word is of the Spirit” (Quaestiones et dubia, PG 90, 813 B).

[10] St. Thomas Aquinas, who knew the De Fide Orthodoxa, sees no opposition between the Filioque and this expression of St. John Damascene: “To say that the Holy Spirit reposes or dwells in the Son does not exclude his proceeding from the Son; for we say also that the Son dwells in the Father, although he proceeds from the Father (Summa Theologica, Ia, q.36, a.2, 4um).

[11] St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Augustine, writes: “If we say of the Holy Spirit that he dwells in the Son, it is in the way that the love of one who loves reposes in the loved one” (Summa Theologica Ia, q.36, a.2, 4um). This doctrine of the Holy Spirit as love has been harmoniously assumed by St. Gregory Palamas into the Greek theology of the ekporeusis from the Father alone: “The Spirit of the most high Word is like an ineffable love of the Father for this Word ineffably generated. A love which this same Word and beloved Son of the Father entertains (chretai) towards the Father: but insofar as he has the Spirit coming with him (sunproelthonta) from the Father and reposing connaturally in him” (Capita physica XXXVI, PG 150, 1144, D-1145 A).

[12] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem nn.18-24, AAS LXXVIII, 1986, 826-831. Cf. also Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 438, 689 690, 695, 727.

October 14, 2009

Gregory Palamas: Knowledge, Prayer, and Vision

by M.C. Steenberg

from Monachos.net.

Three foundational aspects of the Theology of St Gregory Palamas

The theology of St Gregory Palamas, as expressed during the Palamite Controversy of the mid-14th century, is far too extensive to be addressed in its full breadth in a paper such as this. Rather than attempt a manifestly impossible task, then, we will limit the focus of this essay to three central points in that theology: first, the idea of knowledge as expressed in the conflict between Gregory and Barlaam; second, the matter of prayer and the body; and third, the notion of the divine vision, which will lead naturally into a discussion of the energies and the essence of God.

A Knowledge Beyond Knowing: Barlaam’s Objection to Apodictic Theology

One of the first objections raised against St Gregory Palamas’ theology was brought forth by Barlaam of Calabria, and dealt specifically with the issue of knowledge. Two fundamentally different views on knowledge were involved in this dispute: first was that which Barlaam and others held, and which might broadly be termed, following Meyendorff, as the Dialectic Method of knowing God.1 This was a largely philosophical view, based upon the position that knowledge of God might be gained by the use of discursive reason, dialectic, and rational investigation. As this very fact would suggest, the dialectic approach involved a strong element of kataphaticism. Yet, following the course of the great philosophers, it also readily admitted of the incapability of affirmative theology to truly apprehend the divine truths of God; and thus there was a strong, if not consuming trend towards apophatic theology present in this view. Barlaam himself seems to have based his own severe apophaticism on the model and example of Pseudo-Dionysius, with which he was quite familiar; yet his understanding of that writer was incomplete: where Dionysius was to stress certain positive elements of his apophatic reasoning (such as the positive experience of the divine darkness), Barlaam’s model seems to have been almost wholly negative—to the point of bordering on a certain agnosticism. God is transcendent, he taught, and thus to ascend to purer knowledge we must espouse negative theology and transcend our own perceptive reason; yet ultimately the Transcendent cannot be truly known, even with apophaticism used to its utmost. At the heart of Barlaam’s teaching is the significant idea that God cannot truly be perceived by man; that God the Transcendent can never be wholly known by man the created and finite.

Gregory, on the other hand, taught something quite different. This second conception of knowledge of God brought it out of the realm of mere dialectic—whether positive or negative, kataphatic or apophatic—and into the arena of demonstration; what Meyendorff terms Apodictic Knowledge of God.2 Natural knowledge, believed Gregory, is one aspect of man’s relationship to his Creator; and yet it is quite a different thing to know about God, than it is to actually know Him. The great divergence between this view and that of Barlaam, was that Gregory believed the latter aspect to be not only a hypothetical possibility (which Barlaam would have denied), but a fully attainable reality. It was not a question of whether or not man could know God by direct, immediate knowledge, but whether or not he would, given the life he was leading.

Gregory’s view should not be seen to undermine a positive view of philosophical thought as a whole, which was a continual accusation made by Barlaam. Taken as a tool for the progression of the human person towards a state receptive to divine grace, Gregory saw philosophy and discursive knowledge as a perfectly reasonable set of aids for the Christian. It was only when philosophy, whose created end is the furtherance of knowledge of God,3 was misused by the philosophers and turned, in effect, into God, that Gregory raised his voice in ardent opposition. This was the ‘fallen’ state of knowledge, which did not betray an evil inherent in knowledge itself, but simply the misuse made of it by certain philosophical schools. Gregory understood natural knowledge within the metaphor of the natural world revealing aspects of God; to which revelation God Himself would add the grace to know Him intimately. He writes:

There is a knowledge about God and His doctrines. (…) The use and activity of the natural powers of the soul and of the body do shape the rational image of man, but that is not the same as the perfect beauty of the noble state which comes from above; that is by no means the supernatural union with the more than resplendent light, which is the sole source of sure theology.4

Thus Gregory viewed natural knowledge, in all its philosophical forms, as a tool leading to something greater, yet every bit as real as that very knowledge: the divine grace which brings about union, the true source of contemplative knowing.

But this conception clashed harshly with that of Barlaam, who seems firmly to have espoused the neo-Platonic tradition as he interpreted it from Dionysius, and could not find common ground between his own rationalist views and those of Gregory. Much of the earlier arguments in the Palamite conflict centred in this very issue of knowledge, and apart from being an interesting debate in its own right, this dispute led Gregory into the formative stages of the theological conceptions he would bring forth later in the controversy. The relationship of apophaticism to human knowledge, and that to God’s nature as transcendent Being, would come into play with great importance a short time later, and, as we shall see, would have direct bearing on Gregory’s famous argument for the distinction of energies and essence.
(more…)

October 13, 2009

Genesis: St. Jerome’s Prologue

Filed under: Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:34 pm

[Translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb]

BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE OF SAINT JEROME THE PRESBYTER ON THE PENTATEUCH

I have received the desired letters of my Desiderius, who in a foretelling of things to happen has obtained with Daniel a certain name [see Vulgate Daniel 9.23: quia vir desideriorum es tu, “for you are a man of desires”], beseeching that I might hand over to our hearers a translation of the Pentateuch in the Latin tongue from the Hebrew words. Certainly a dangerous work, open to the barkings of detractors, who accuse me of insult to the Seventy to prepare a new interpretation from the old ones, thus approving ability (or “genius”) like wine. As has very often been testified by me, I, for my part, am able to offer a portion in the Tabernacle of God, without the riches (or “abilities”) of one being damaged by the poverties of others.

But that I may have dared, the effort of Origen provoked me, who mixed the translation of Theodotion to the ancient edition, with asterisk and obelus, that is, star and spit, a work distinguishing everything, while he either makes to shine those things which were previously lacking, or he slays and pierces through everything superfluous. And especially by the authority of the Evangelists and the Apostles, in which we read many things from the Old Testament which are not found in our books, as it is (with): “Out of Egypt I have called My Son,” and “For He shall be called a Nazarene,” and “They will look on Him Whom they have pierced,” and “Rivers of living waters shall flow from his belly,” and “Things which no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has arisen in the heart of man, which God has prepared for those loving Him,” and many others which are desiring a proper context (or “book” [Jerome uses a Greek word here: συνταγμα]).

Therefore let us ask them where these are written, and when they are unable to say, we may produce them from the Hebrew books. The first witness is in Hosea, the second in Isaiah, the third in Zechariah, the fourth in Proverbs, the fifth is also in Isaiah, of which many are ignorant, the follies of apocrypha being followed, preferring Iberian dirges to authentic books.

The cause of the error is not for me to explain. The Jews say it was done wisely in deliberation, so Ptolemy, the worshipper of one god, might not yet discover a double divinity with the Hebrews; he made them (do so) chiefly for this reason, because he was seen to fall into the dogma of Plato. Accordingly, wherever anything sacred in Scripture is witnessed of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, they are either translated otherwise, or they have passed over all in silence, so they might both satisfy the king, and might not divulge the secret of the Faith.

And I don’t know who was the first author to construct with his lying the seventy cells in Alexandria, into which were divided those who wrote, with Aristeas the champion [another Greek word: υπερασπιστης] of the same Ptolemy, and many after the time of Josephus having reported no such thing, but rather (for them) to have gathered in groups, writing in one basilica, (and) not to have prophesied.

For it is one thing to be a seer, another to be an interpreter. In that one the Spirit predicts things to come; in this one by his learning and abundance of words he translates those things he has understood. Unless Tullius (Cicero) is understood to have translated, by inspiration of the spirit of rhetoric, the Economics of Xenophon, the Protagoras of Plato, and the For Ctesiphon by Demosthenes. Or the Holy Spirit wove together the witnesses of these books one way through the Seventy interpreters and another way through the Apostles, so that what they passed over in silence, what was written by these was invented [? – obscure].

Therefore, what? We condemn the ancients? By no means! But after those earlier in the House of God, we work at what we can. They are interpreted before the coming of Christ and what they didn’t know, they tranlated in ambiguous (or “uncertain”) sentences. We write after His Passion and Resurrection, not so much prophecy as history. For in the one are told what things were heard, in the other what were seen. What we understand better, we also translate better.

Hear, therefore, O rival; listen, O detractor! I do not condemn, I do not censure the Seventy, but I confidently prefer the Apostles to all of them. Christ speaks to me through their mouth, who I read were placed before the prophets among the Spiritual gifts, among which interpreters hold almost the last place. Why are you tortured by spite? Why do you incite ignorant souls against me? If anywhere in the translation I have been seen by you to err, ask the Hebrews. Consult the teachers of the many different cities. What theirs have of Christ, yours do not have. It is another matter if they have afterward removed the testimonies used by the Apostles against them, and the Latin copies are more correct than the Greek, (and) the Greek than the Hebrew! Truth is against these enviers.

Now I pray you, dearest Desiderius, so that in such a great work which you have made me undertake and take up a beginning from Genesis, you might help in (your) prayers, how I might, by the same Spirit by Whom the books were written, be able to translate them into Latin words.

END OF THE PROLOGUE

From the Tertullian Project.

October 8, 2009

Wartime Jews Praise the Italians Who Saved Them

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality — Tags: — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:31 pm

Last of the Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories

By Edward Pentin

ROME, OCT. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Largely thanks to the movie “Schindler’s List,” most people know about its eponymous hero Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews during World War II.

Yet other untold stories of similar acts of wartime heroism took place all over Europe, many of them in Italy. And although not always on the scale of Schindler’s valiant rescue, they were nonetheless remarkable acts of selfless courage.

Now a new book reveals the true extent of how much ordinary Italians, many of whom were priests and religious, helped save Jews from the Holocaust. Titled “It Happened in Italy,” author Elizabeth Bettina, an Italian-American New Yorker, records fascinating testimonies from survivors whose lives were saved by Italians from all walks of life.

Her search began when, during summer trips to her grandmother’s house in a remote Italian village in Campagna, southern Italy, she saw a picture of a rabbi in a church. She learned that a number of Jews from outside Italy had lived in the area and, having grown up with many American Jews in New York, she was naturally curious to know why. Later, Bettina was to discover that the village was the location for an internment camp for Jews during the war, one of many others in Italy.

So after receiving encouragement from a friend, she decided to look further into how so many Jewish lives were saved in Italy — as many as 32,000 out of a population of 39,000, according to some historians.

It’s interesting to note that the survival rate for Jews who lived in wartime Italy is one of the highest in Europe, and among the most heroic Italians was Giovanni Palatucci, who is estimated to have saved as many as 5,000 Jewish lives. But unlike Schindler, who survived the war, Palatucci died in Dachau at the age of 36.

Helping neighbors

Bettina stresses that not all Italians risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors, but the extent of the heroism was nevertheless impressive. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard: ‘The whole village knew we were Jewish and nobody turned us in,'” she says.

Italy’s policy during the war was that Jews born in the country were allowed to stay in their own homes, while those who had arrived before the war were interned. The camps, however, were largely very humane: The book shows Jews dressed casually, smiling and playing musical instruments. It wasn’t until Italy sided with the allies toward the end of the war and Germany invaded the country that their lives were put in real danger.

A number were deported to concentration camps, along with their relatives who were living at the time elsewhere in Europe. “Some bad things happened and I acknowledge them in the book,” says Bettina. “Either someone betrayed you, they didn’t help even if they could, or you were just unlucky — there was no one to try to help because they were someplace else.” But she adds there are “many, many reasons why so many survived in Italy, and the bottom line is that somebody helped them.”

She explains that those who saved Jews at risk of losing their lives (they would undoubtedly have been shot had they been discovered, according to survivors) fell into five groups of individuals: The first was a simple, ordinary Italian who refused to notify the authorities or hid them. The second was a police officer who would perhaps warn that he would come back to arrest them the next day, thereby giving them time to seek refuge. The third was a person working for the civic authorities who would fake identity documents. The fourth was a local priest or nun who gave them refuge or helped issue a false baptismal certificate.

“Did they get an official order? I don’t know,” she says when asked if perhaps Pope Pius XII might have instructed them to save their Jewish neighbors. “But many people I interviewed said there was a priest or a nun who was involved in helping them.” Finally, there were the people working in the internment camps who tried to make life as humane as possible for them (so humane that those interned were free to do as they pleased, resulting in many not knowing the camps even existed).

Out of the woodwork

But what also gives added interest to this story is that “It Happened in Italy” is the result of countless coincidences — of people somehow providentially coming into contact with Bettina and telling remarkable stories out of sheer gratitude to the Italians who saved them — or a close relative — during the war. A series of further coincidences also enabled her to bring a group of survivors to the Vatican to have a special audience with the Pope. “Everyone who comes into contact with this book has a funny way of ending up in it,” she says with a laugh.

Yet the project never started as a book; rather it took on a life of its own as more and more people came forward with testimonies from all over the world. “We had no clue this story would be so vast, and it just kept going,” Bettina says. She also insists there is no hidden purpose behind the project. “I have no agenda except to make sure these stories stay honest and true,” she explains. “I want these people who told me the stories to be listened to. I want them to get the satisfaction.”

A lingering question remains, however: Why has it taken so long for these Jews to come forward and express their gratitude? Bettina believes many Jewish survivors were just so overwhelmed by what happened that initially they just wanted to put it behind them. She says that it was only when films such as “Schindler’s List” came out that they started thinking: “And what about me and my story?” Others believe it’s because some Jews want nothing good to be associated with the Holocaust.

Catalyst

At a Rome press conference to launch the book last month, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy, said he also didn’t know the reason, but that perhaps all they needed was someone like Elizabeth Bettina to trigger their gratitude.

He also said he was puzzled why Italian Jews, who have their roots in Italy and were also saved during the war, are “not always very keen” to express their thanks. He said it might have something to do with a history of difficult relations between Roman Jews and the Vatican, but he highlighted the “very strange phenomenon” of Jews who were saved in monasteries, yet are “still expressing quite anti-clerical expressions.”

Bettina says her book could be made into a movie, although she stresses that was never her intention. “I’m not a writer, I’ve never written a book before and I […] have never made a movie or a documentary,” she says. Rather one of her main motivations is she’s mindful that time is running out for these stories to be told. “They’ve all said that after us, there’s nobody,” she explains. “These are the last of the generation.”

The objective, she added, wasn’t to make Italy look great, just to show there can be good people who do the right thing, and to convey an important teaching: that if you’re not indifferent, things can be different. “Someone wasn’t indifferent,” she says. “They helped, and these people lived.”

* * *

Edward Pentin is a freelance writer living in Rome. He can be reached at: epentin@zenit.org.

October 5, 2009

East-West Union: Speculations a Bit Premature Says Metropolitan of Pergamon

Filed under: Doctrine, Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:49 pm

From the blog Communio.StBlogs.org.

Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon sent a letter to the Archbishop of Greece and to all Metropolitans of the Church of Greece reflecting on their acerbic and uninformed opinion regarding theological dialogue with the See of Rome. Rigid adherence to one’s opinion is sinful. Metropolitan John is a consequential theologian and therefore I think his insight matters. Clearly one gets the impression he distrusts imprudent public speculation as to when and how a “reunion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches” is to take place. A too hopeful stance is unrealistic and does not account for the continued dogmatic, ecclesiological differences yet to be resolved. One wonders if the Catholic theologians and media people actually do their homework or whether clichés is all they know. There is reason to believe we want to see partial reality.

Your Eminence,

Given that much turmoil has been unduly created by certain circles, on the subject of the official theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, and that views have also been expressed, which often range between inaccuracy and open falsehood and slander, I am hereby addressing Your affection in order to clarify the following:

1. The aforementioned theological Dialogue does not constitute a concern of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and much less, that of a specific person, but is something that is taking place upon the decision of all the autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox Churches without exception. Specifically with regard to the present period of the Dialogue, during which the undersigned has the co-chairmanship from the Orthodox side, the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches for the continuation of the Dialogue has been recorded in Memoranda signed by the venerable Primates of the Orthodox Churches, which are hereto attached in photocopy.  As Your Eminence will see when reading these Memoranda, even the most holy Church of Greece – and in fact with a Synodical decision – has admitted that “despite the existing difficulties, which spring from the provocative activities of Unia to the detriment of the flock of the Orthodox Church, the said Theological Dialogue must continue.”  Consequently, those opposed to the said theological Dialogue are doubting and judging pan-Orthodox decisions, which have been reached synodically. By claiming solely as their own the genuine conscience of Orthodoxy, these people are in essence doubting the Orthodoxy not only of certain persons – as they misguidedly insist – but of the very Primates and sacred Synods of all the most holy Orthodox Churches.

2. The same things apply in the case of the said Dialogue.  We are informed that a certain professor in his letter to the Reverend Hierarchs is censuring the topic of primacy as a chosen topic for the theological Dialogue, and believes that the Dialogue should be concerning itself with other matters.  But the said professor is either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the fact that – again – the topic of the Dialogue was decided on at a pan-orthodox level. The attached Memoranda, signed by all the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, testify to and verify this.  The most holy Church of Greece thus accepts that “this discussion (regarding Unia) can, for the sake of facilitating the course of the Dialogue, be conducted within the framework of ecclesiology through the prism of the primacy”.  This is precisely what we normally intend to do, during the forthcoming discussion of the subject “The Primacy during the 2nd Millennium”, which is also when Unia first appeared. The remaining topics that the said professor referred to will by no means be overlooked by the Dialogue. However, during the present phase, as decided at an inter-orthodox level from the beginning of the Dialogue, the focal point of the discussion is Ecclesiology. It is duly respected and legitimate, for the said professor – or anyone else – to have a different point of view, but it is inadmissible to be crying out that Orthodoxy is in danger because the Primates who are shepherding Her do not share his opinion.  Where are we heading as a Church, my Reverend holy brother?

3. It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!) and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!!  Clergy and laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be signed in Cyprus, in October!  Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Church.  However, those who are disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course, because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the “signing” of a union, given that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches. Therefore, why all the misinformation? Can’t the disseminators of these false “updates” think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church?  «He who agitates (God’s people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be» (Galatians 5:10).

Your Eminence,

The responsibility of all of us, and mostly of the bishops who have been appointed by God to cater to the safeguarding of the canonical unity of their flock, is an immense one.

What is being jeopardized is ecclesiological: What is the authority and the prestige of Conciliar decisions? Do we conform to the Conciliar decisions as we are already doing – and being attacked for doing so – or do we conform to the “zealots” of Orthodoxy?  Can there be an Orthodoxy and Dogmas without any Conciliar rulings?

We ask you to please place yourself on the matter, before we are led to a complete demerit of Conciliar decisions, and before Your flock disintegrates because of negligence on our part.

In humility and in awareness of episcopal responsibility, we submit the above to Your affection and judgment and remain,

in Athens the 26th of September 2009

With Respect, honour and love in the Lord

+ John of Pergamon

Orthodox Co-Chairman of the Committee for the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics

October 4, 2009

Epistle & Homily: Corinthians & Chrysostom

Filed under: Ascetical & Mystical Theology, Doctrine, Liturgy, Morality, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Antiochian-Thomist @ 4:04 pm

(Divine Liturgy) For the 18th Sunday After Pentecost (2 Corinthians 9:6-12)

Brothers and sisters, the point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. (NRSV)

Homily XIX of St. John Chrysostom on 2 Corinthians, Chapter 9.

For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to
write to you.

THOUGH he had said so much about it, he says here, “It is superfluous
for me to write to you.” And his wisdom is shown not only in this, that
though he had said so much about it, he saith, “it is superfluous for me to
write to you,” but in that be yet again speaketh of it. For what he said
indeed a little above, he said concerning those who received the money, to
ensure them the enjoyment of great honor: but what he said before that,
(his account of the Macedonians, that “their deep poverty abounded unto the
riches of their liberality,” and all the rest,) was concerning loving-
kindness and alms-giving. But nevertheless even though he had said so much
before and was going to speak again, he says, “it is superfluous for me to
write to you.” And this he does the rather to win them to himself. For a
man who has so high a reputation as not to stand in need even of advice, is
ashamed to appear inferior to, and come short of, that opinion of him. And
he does this often in accusation also, using the rhetorical figure,
omission, for this is very effective. For the judge seeing the magnanimity
of the accuser entertains no suspicions even. For he argues, ‘he who when
he might say much, yet saith it not, how should he invent what is not
true?’ And he gives occassion to suspect even more than he says, and
invests himself with the presumption of a good disposition. This also in
his advice and in his praises he does. For having said, “It is superfluous
for me to write to you,” observe how he advises them.

“For I know your readiness of which I glory on your behalf to them of
Macedonia.” Now it was a great thing that he even knew it himself, but much
greater, that he also published it to others: for the force it has is
greater: for they would not like to be so widely disgraced. Seest thou his
wisdom of purpose? He exhorted them by others’ example, the Macedonians,
for, he says, “I make known to you the grace of God which hath been given
in the Churches of Macedonia.” He exhorted them by their own, for he saith,
“who were the first to make a beginning a year ago not only to do, but also
to will.” He exhorted them by the Lord’s, for “ye know” he saith, “the
grace of our Lord, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became
poor.” (ibid. 9.) Again he retreats upon that strong main point, the
conduct of others. For mankind is emulous. And truly the example of the
Lord ought to have had most power to draw them over: and next to it, the
[consideration] of the recompense: but because they were somewhat weak,
this draws them most. For nothing does so much as emulation. But observe
how he introduces it in a somewhat novel way. For He did not say, ‘Imitate
them;’ but what?

(more…)

September 27, 2009

St. Thomas Aquinas by Jacques Maritain

Filed under: Doctrine, Philosophy — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:28 am

The entire treatise, including the chapter shown below, can be found here.

IV. The Common Doctor

Because Thomas illuminated the Church more than all
the other Doctors
. — John XXII (1318).

The Church declared Thomas’ doctrine to be her own.
— Benedict XV (1921).

I would wish that no one misunderstand the intention of this chapter, in which, considering the philosophy of Saint Thomas in abstraction from the theology, which latter maintains an intrinsic and essential relationship with faith, I try to characterize the attitude of the Catholic Church in regard to this philosophy. In publishing it I am fully aware that it would be absurd to try to replace by the argument from authority or by a kind of constraint the reasons of intrinsic evidence which alone can motivate scientific adherence to a system of philosophy. It is not in religious faith nor in the authority of the Church that Thomist philosophy has its principles and its raison d’être, and one would be greatly deceived if he were to see in it a doctrine reserved for clerics and for sacred offices. It is a philosophy, it is founded on evidence alone, it lives by reason alone. Of itself it belongs to the same secular cycle as the liberal arts. I even think that the time has come for it to spread into every order of secular speculative activity, to leave the walls of the school, the seminary or the college in order to assume in the whole world of culture the role that befits a wisdom of the natural order: its place is among its sister sciences, it must converse with politics and anthropology, history and poetry; formed in the open air, in the free conversations of peripateticism, it desires, though all the while remaining apart from the traffic of men, to take an interest in everything that concerns the life of men, it is essential for it to keep contact with sensible experience; to maintain its own vitality it needs a vast breathing space and incessant exchanges.

But the body politic, with all its secular culture, is enveloped by the Church as the earth is enveloped by the heavens; the Christian lay is part of the Church. The more lay it becomes, and the more it advances boldly toward the most exposed frontiers, the more will the perennial philosophy, to preserve its integrity, have to remain in continuity with the superhuman sources without which the human weakens, with the sacred wisdom which transcends it and whose native land is the contemplative activity of the Church. This is why it was normal and consonant with the eternal order that, venturing into the universe, it should first be commissioned by the Papacy.

This predilection of the Church, these recommendations, these exhortations of the Popes, do not constitute and do not claim to constitute an intrinsic demonstration of the truth of Thomism. They are extrinsic arguments and guarantees, signs which induce in the intelligence of the believer a well-founded confidence. Unbelievers, no doubt, are unmoved by them; nay more, such recommendations rather render suspect to them a philosophy thus patronized. For all that, the Church does not lower her voice; she does not mind compromising philosophers with her company and that of Jesus Christ; she doubtless considers that if these unbelievers do not listen to First Truth, they would listen still less to metaphysical reasonings, because their hearts are prejudiced; let them take scandal at seeing a science honored by faith, she regards their scandal as pharisaical. In any event, it would be ridiculous to present before them evidence based on the feeling of the Church in favor of one philosophy.

(more…)

September 26, 2009

A Would-be Muslim Head-Hunter of Coptic Christians…

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 10:16 pm

From Coptreal.

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Egyptian police have detained a Muslim man who allegedly killed a Coptic Christian and seriously injured two other Copts in two different villages, north of the capital Cairo, Christians said Wednesday September 23. Galal Nasr el-Dardiri, 35, attacked 63-year-old Abdu Georgy in front of the victim’s shop in Behnay village late September 16, news reports said.

Christians said El-Dardiri stabbed Georgy several times, disemboweled him, slit his throat and began sawing off his head. El-Dardiri then allegedly went to a nearby town and stabbed Coptic shopkeeper Boils Eid Messiha, 40, and then went to Mit Afif and attacked another Copt, identified as Hany Barsom Soliman.

Messiha reportedly remained in intensive care and Soliman suffered lacerations to his arms. On Thursday, September 17, about 1,000 people gathered at Georgy’s funeral to protest the killing and assaults on Coptic Christians.

“BLOOD NOT IN VAIN”

Protestors reportedly chanted that Georgy’s “blood was not [spilled] in vain” as they carried signs that read, “Where are you, government? The terrorists are going to kill us.” [Personally, I think this horrendous incident is a good apologetic for the necessity of the religious military orders. –Antiochian-Thomist]

El-Dardiri was arrested also September 17 and charged with murder, church sources said.

The latest attack underscored international concerns about growing tensions between minority Christians and majority Muslims in Egypt. There have been several violent attacks against Coptic Christians in recently in the mainly Islamic nation.

For the full article, go here.

September 25, 2009

On Prayer

Filed under: Ascetical & Mystical Theology — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:11 pm

“There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with Him, for prayer unites us with God and His companions. As our bodily eyes are illuminated by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by Him. Of course, the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine — it is deliberate and earnest. It is not tied down to a fixed timetable; rather it is a state that endures by night and day.

“Our soul should be directed to God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else. If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and remembrance of God. Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a savory dish for the Lord. If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.

“Prayer is the light of the soul, giving us true knowledge of God. It is a link mediating between God and man. By prayer the soul is borne up to Heaven and in a marvelous way embraces the Lord. This meeting is like that of an infant crying on its mother, and seeking the best of milk. The soul longs for what it needs and what it receives is better than anything to be seen in the world.

“Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God; it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections. You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God’s grace. As Saint Paul says:

We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

(Romans 8:26)

“Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from him, a heavenly food filling up the soul. Once he has tasted this food, he is set ablaze by an eternal desire for the Lord, the brightest of fires lighting up his soul.

“To set about this prayer, paint the house of your soul with modesty and lowliness and make it splendid with the light of justice. Adorn it with the beaten gold of good works and, for walls and stones, embellish it assiduously with faith and generosity. Above all, place prayer on top of this house as its roof so that the complete building may be ready for the Lord. Thus He will be received in a splendid royal palace and by grace His image will already be settled in your soul.”

St. John Chrysostom

Homily 6 On Prayer

Kathleen Sebelius: Communion Prohibition “Painful”; Archbishop Naumann Responds

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:59 pm

An article has appeared on Life Site News discussing Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s prohibition of pro-abort, Kathleen Sebelius, from receiving the Sacred Mysteries due to her publicly known moral stances which run contrary to Church teachings and the Natural Law. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Sebelius claims the prohibition to be “painful”, appealing to the erroneous notions of the “separation of church and state.”

Excerpts of the article follow with selected responses from Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

From LifeSiteNews.com.

By Peter J. Smith and Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over a year after Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann publicly prohibited the pro-abortion U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from receiving Communion, Sebelius has broken her silence on the matter.  Appealing to the “separation of church and state,” Sebelius said the episcopal order was “one of the most painful things I have ever experienced” and implied that her pro-abortion position was part and parcel of upholding the rights of an inter-faith constituency.  In a response given to LifeSiteNews.com, Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City said the secretary’s argument “misrepresents the issue” to make it appear that “she was the victim of merely upholding the law.”

Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius proved her bona fides to the pro-abortion movement time and again through close associations with now-slain abortionist George Tiller and Planned Parenthood, and through numerous vetoes of pro-life legislation and common-sense regulations on the abortion-industry.

But the former governor described by the late-columnist Bob Novak “the national pro-choice poster girl” is far from being a Catholic in good-standing with the Catholic Church – a status that rankles the HHS Secretary and for good reason: Sebelius has the distinction of being one of the highest ranking Catholics in the Obama Administration, who is forbidden to receive Holy Communion – a Church sacrament that also symbolizes spiritual unity with the rest of the Church’s members.

Back in May 2008, Archbishop Naumann publicly directed Sebelius to refrain from presenting herself for Holy Communion until she takes “the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.”

KathleenSibelius2

Excerpts From interview Dialogue

Sebelius: Well, the Archbishop in the Kansas City area did not approve of my conduct as a public official and asked that I not present myself for communion.

Washington Post: What did you think about that?

Sebelius: Well, it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, and I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that my actions as a parishioner are different than my actions as a public official and that the people who elected me in Kansas had a right to expect me to uphold their rights and their beliefs even if they did not have the same religious beliefs that I had. And that’s what I did: I took an oath of office and I have taken an oath of office in this job and will uphold the law.

Washington Post: Do you continue to take communion?

Sebelius: I really would prefer not to discuss that with you. That’s really a personal-thank you.

ArchbishopNaumann200

Arcbhishop Naumann Responds to LifeSiteNews

However the Catholic Church views abortion and as first and foremost a moral issue – not a religious or faith issue – because the sacredness of human life pertains to the natural law, which reveals the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of human acts through reason.

In response to Sebelius’ statements to the Post, Archbishop Nauman told LifeSiteNews.com that he issued the request “to motivate her to recognize the serious error of her past support and advocacy for legalized abortion, and to protect other Catholics from being misled by the Governor’s actions into thinking that abortion is not a grave moral evil.”

“Secretary Sebelius misrepresents the issue by her attempt to invoke separation of church and state,” wrote Naumann.  “At no time did I ask her not to execute her oath of office.

“Secretary Sebelius makes it appear that she was asked not to receive Holy Communion because she was the victim of merely upholding the law.  In reality, Secretary Sebelius opposed even such modest restrictions on abortion as parental notification of minors, required waiting periods before an abortion, as well as meaningful regulation of abortion clinics to protect, at least, the mother’s health.”

Naumann said it was “very painful” to ask Sebelius not to receive Communion.  “However, I had exhausted every reasonable means to convince her to change her position,” he said.  “I also had a serious obligation to uphold the integrity of the Eucharist and to protect other Catholics from being misled by the former Governor’s support for legalized abortion.

“I continue to pray for Secretary Sebelius that she will accept the grace to acknowledge the grave evil in which she has been involved and will have the courage to take the necessary steps to correct the scandal created by her past actions.”

For the full article, go here.

Sacred Scriptures: How to Study Them

Filed under: Doctrine, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:27 am

Hebrew Scriptures

St. Augustine on how we should proceed in the study of Scripture (On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 9):

“And in pursuing this search the first rule to be observed, as I said, to know these book [of Holy Scriptures], if not yet in understanding, still to read them so as to commit them to memory [emphasis mine –Antiochian-Thomist]…. Next, those matters that are plainly laid down in them, whether rules of life or rules of faith, are to be searched into more carefully and more diligently…. For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life, –to wit, hope and love…. After this when we have made ourselves to a certain extent familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and and investigate the more obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure…. And in this matter memory counts a great deal.”

St. Augustine on knowledge of languages for Sacred Scriptures (On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 11):

“The great remedy for ignorance of proper signs is knowledge of languages…. And men…need two other languages for the knowledge of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek [emphasis mine]…. For in some languages there are words that cannot be translated into the idiom of another language.”

St. Augustine gives counsels on how and what to study in Sacred Scriptures. From the context, it should be evident that our Latin Father of the Church is addressing the clergy and learned laity. Nonetheless, his pronouncements should still ring true for our clergy and apt laity of today. Consider the instruction of Pope St. Pius X in his letter Quoniam in Re Biblica (24 March, 1906) which established the rules governing education in Holy Writ in the seminaries. It is as though he read St. Augustine, put down the book, and picked up the pen and scribed the following:

“In all of the academies, the candidates for the academic degrees of theology must answer certain Scriptural questions concerning the historical introduction of the Bible and its critique, and also concerning exegesis; and they will show by an examination that they can interpret Holy Writ with relative ease and understand Hebrew and Biblical Greek [emphasis mine].”

Further, consider this from Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus

“It is necessary that professors of Holy Scripture –and the same applies to theologians– know the languages in which the canonical books were originally drafted by the sacred writers, and it would be excellent if the ecclesiastical students acquire the same knowledge, above all those who aspire to academic degrees in theology. It will be necessary to take special care to have, in all Academies, teaching chairs in the languages of antiquity, above all the Semitic languages [emphasis mine].”

How many seminaries, ‘traditional’ or otherwise, Latin or Eastern, can claim to train at least the better part of their seminarians in this manner (admittedly, probably more Eastern than Latin)?

It should be noted that the Church continues to encourage the laity to delve into the infinite riches of Sacred Scripture. Although many of the faithful do not have the time or the aptitude to memorize Scripture or the learn Scriptural languages, much wisdom can be gleaned from the prayerful rumination of Holy Writ translated into one’s vernacular. Further, there exist several good translations of Scriptural commentaries composed by various Fathers of the Church and St. Thomas Aquinas, so one need not worry about lacking good guides through some of the complexities of Holy Writ.

In the words of Our Lord to St. Augustine as the latter was pondering a theological issue: “Tolle et lege!” [Take and read!]

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo

September 24, 2009

Anselm’s Three Stages of Theology

Filed under: Doctrine, Philosophy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:57 pm

From Zenit.org.

Pope Benedict XVI notes St. Anselm’s three stages of theology.

Excerpts follow:

‘VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- St. Anselm is one of the eminent personalities of the Middle Ages, but his teaching continues to be pertinent today, 900 years after his death, according to Benedict XVI.

‘The Pope reflected today during the general audience in Paul VI Hall on the life of the “magnificent doctor” (1033-1109), claimed by the cities of Aosta, Bec and Canterbury. […]

‘The Pope said that the “clarity and logical rigor” of Anselm’s thought always sought to “raise the mind to the contemplation of God.”

“He states clearly that whoever attempts to theologize cannot just count on his intelligence, but must cultivate at the same time a profound experience of faith,” the Holy Father noted. “According to St. Anselm, the activity of a theologian, therefore, develops in three stages: faith, free gift of God that must be received with humility; experience, which consists in the incarnation of the word of God in one’s daily life; and lastly true knowledge, which is never the fruit of aseptic thoughts, but of a contemplative intuition.’

Read the full article here.

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