Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
We can only be members of the Whole by being joined to it in Part.
I agree with Alex’ statement. I also agree with Alice’s wisdom.
Originally posted by alice: Your post brings up many realities IF one views union as being an administratively united Church. I think that a more realistic view of a 'unified' Church is that which was pretty much set forth in writings of Pope JPII, of blessed memory, which I vaguely remember....that we would both continue *as we are*, with the only difference being that of a 'spiritual' COMMUNION. This 'spiritual' communion would recognize the Bishop of Rome as being the elder Patriarch and first among equals, as was in the first Church, and as pastor of his huge flock. This 'spiritual' communion would have worked out the kinks of theology so as to proclaim us united enough to partake of the Eucharist in each other's church.
Now, how to do that?
Clearly, in our apostolic Churches, the hierarchs must make the final decision and the official arrangements.
Clearly also, the laity must be willing to accept unity or else any reunion will simply be a legal fiction.
Growing the laity into reunion through love and understanding is a wonderful --and necessary-- thing. As you put it so well,
Real unity is on the horizon as the world polarizes into shrinking Christian and growing anti-Christian. Christendom is almost finished in the West (the partnership of governments with Christianity). We have got to ‘circle the sacramental wagons’ for what remains – and what remains will be people who have made the conscience choice – to stay with Christ.
But, again, how to do that?
I understand now that your original proposal was simply to found a group that would foster mutual awareness, knowledge, forgiveness and love between Eastern and Western Christians, with the goal of growing the laity toward an eventual reunion of the Churches. (Ray, did I get that right?) I have no problem with that. Indeed, I laud that.
Yet, I must ask what specifically can such a group do that isn’t being done already at this Forum? Ray, I thank you in advance for explaining this to me because I am sometimes a dimwit, and therefore I still don’t see what this proposed group will actually *do* that this Forum isn’t already doing. We can’t achieve reunion by pretending that there is already union, and we can’t achieve reunion by ignoring our very real differences. Now, I do not
accuse you of either of those things. And, I laud the situation you described in your area, where Orthodox and Catholics get along so well and so respectfully. But, I do say this: We (East and West) are
different; and we are
still separated; and therefore I am concerned that such a group which you propose will eventually end up erring by minimizing the importance of our differences precisely by seeking our commonality. I know that is not what you intend, but I suspect that is what would happen anyway.
And that is because of what you posted, Ray:
It is entirely selective blindness to say that one church is more catophatic than the other or that one church is more scholastic than the other.
I disagree with you on this. Yes, both East and West have mystics. Yes, both East and West have scholars. Yes, both have produced saints of deep interior and exterior sanctity. Yes, both East and West have participated in each other’s development. Yes, both have some elements of the other in them.
Yet, East and West are different. I’m almost at a loss for words (imagine that ... ;-0 ) to express it. But, it is more than a difference in “church experience” as you wrote. There is something more basic underlying it all. There is the same Christ; there is the same Gospel; there are the same ecumenical councils; but we have become different in how we see these and interpret these and live these. The West really does have a more intellectualizing, legalistic and, yes, cataphatic view of religion. The East really does have a more mystical, more “economic,” and more apophatic view of religion. It’s not just in texts, although it is there in the preponderance of writings. It is also --mostly-- in the mindset, the practices, the liturgies, the whole way of life of Christian East and Christian West.
Hence, I must be concerned when you posted about what your group would do:
help others to discover the unity which we have found here at the Byzcath board. Take the fruit we have (understanding and appreciating each other) and put that out there for others. We can skip the discussions that we do here – and jump right to the fruit we have produced. And that fruit is specifically how to understand, get along with, etiquette, and appreciate – each others church experience.
Ray, you have been charitable and patient and well intentioned. And, I thank you. But, for the life of me, I honestly don’t have a clue about what you are referring to here. What is this “unity which we have found here”? We are still members of different Churches. What is the “fruit” that is “understanding and appreciating each other”? As far as I can tell, we (all of us on this Forum, and I have only been posting for 10 months) have only established:
1. We once were one Church.
2. We know that Christ wants us to be one Church.
3. Many of us individually want to become one Church again. Also,
4. Theoretically, we could be one Church again because of our first thousand years together. But,
5. We have become really different since the schism of 1000 years ago. Hence,
6. We --especially our hierarchs-- don’t know yet how to put the Church back together again.
Now, there is a lot of love at this Forum, and that is a “fruit.” Perhaps, that is the best fruit of all.
But, how is that fruit going to be put to practical use, absent the participation of the hierarchs and distinct from the work that this Forum performs? Put another way, what else can we --the laity-- do except become holy ourselves and get to know each other better and learn to love each other more? How and what *can* a new lay organization do, practically, when the six points I mentioned above still remain? I don’t mean to be flippant nor disrespectful, and I hope you can sense this from this post. Yet, I honestly do not see what good this proposed group would do; and I honestly fear that such a group can confuse people into thinking that greater unity exist than is really the fact.
Somehow, in a way I haven’t worked out yet in my own mind, the apostolic Churches of East and West, by and through our hierarchs, must maintain a dynamic tension that would balance our commonality with our particularities. That seems to be the real issue (after overcoming pride) for reunion.
And that, I think, is a topic that was well expressed by Myles, to wit:
I'm not saying we should abandon our the theological traditions of our own particular church's. What I'm asking is how far is too far? How little is too little? How much is it legitimate to take from another local churches traditions? Is there a marker at which point a theologian corrupts the patrimony of his particular church by using methods of theology from other particular churches? At which point does integration of ideas within the Catholic patrimony but outside of ones own particular church become 'latinisation' or 'hellenisation'?
Exactly. How do we maintain our particularities while rediscovering our unity? How do we *do* that beyond “love” -- how specifically, how practically? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can and do recognize the validity of that question. And, I can recognize that it is an urgent question too, because there is an urgent push for reunion. Right now, we as laity can communicate with each other and share with each other and learn from each other and love each other and pray for each other and become holy for each other and ourselves. Beyond that, I do not see what else we the laity can do. More than that, we risk overlooking our real differences and distinctiveness: which is not only our current disunity but which would also be our particularity within a one day reunited Church. In close, if we don’t maintain the distinctness of the Churches while we reunite, we will not have reunion; we will have instead an eviscerated mess.