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Vision of Our Church #304292
11/14/08 07:41 PM
11/14/08 07:41 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 222
Pennsylvania
Mike L. Offline OP
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Mike L.  Offline OP
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Glory to Jesus Christ!

I ran across a wonderful article written several years ago by Bishop Nicholas Samra. He writes about his vision of the Melkite Catholic Church for the Third Millennium. I share his vision and I believe that any of the Eastern Catholic Churches could use this as a template for speading the Gospel of Christ, especially here in America.

Quote

I offer a vision for this third Christian millennium. We need to live it today:

1. We need a stronger and direct role of the laity. Through Baptism and Christmation each is a part of the royal priesthood; you share in the work of evangelizing and spreading Christianity. You need to live the Liturgy that is celebrated in church and in the world after you leave the church. We need to evangelize those we have within our parishes and welcome others into our communities.

2. We need to recognize our gifts and talents for the building up of the body of Christ.

3. We need to emphasize stewardship, the proper use of our God-given gifts, for the life and growth of the Church,. I speak of our gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure. Stewardship is not a program but a way of life.

4. We need to re-focus on religious education, especially for the adults from whom the youth learn. In this area our Church is almost sterile; we have good people but they are very poorly formed spiritually.

5. We need to emphasize spiritual leadership; our churches are not businesses like IBM or General Motors – they are houses of God and need to be run in a businesslike manner but never become businesses. How can we expect laity to lead without formation programs?

6. We need to use language as a medium of communication – whether it be Arabic, English, Spanish or others. We must pray in the language of the people and not use foreign language because we like its sound or because of its antiquity or history with in our Church. The Russian and Slavic peoples would not be Christian today if Cyril and Methodius forced Greek upon them. The largest Eastern Catholic Church is the Ukrainian, with 5 million people. Following them is the Syro-Malabar, with nearly 4 million. These people are Christian because they were evangelized in their own languages. Arabic is important for those who need it and properly understand it. One of the reasons for losing so many young people is the language. If they do not understand Arabic they will filter way from our communities and go where they can understand. English is the language of our country and should be the major focus.

7. We need to worry less about haflis and tabooli – it is not the task of our churches to propagate Arab culture. The Church’s task is to propagate Christ.

8. We need to return to financial stewardship, or God’s plan of giving. We call this plan tithing. We must reeducate our people about this biblical system blessed by God. As soon as possible we need to delete the gambling and drinking fund raising techniques and teach our people to put God first. He is our hope and trust. This task is awesome and probably the most difficult, but without it we are heading towards financial and spiritual bankruptcy.

9. We need to keep and maintain our proper traditions that are based in the East, and are so needed by our diverse communities today.

10. We need to break the bonds of animosity, jealousy and competitions with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We need to work on a grass roots level to prepare for our full unity.

11. We need to say “yes” once again to the man who has a genuine vocation to the priesthood and yet is married. If God calls a person to service and we say no – how damned we shall be for rejecting what God wants.

I could go on and one with other dreams and visions but I will end with naming just these few.


In Christ,

Mike

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Mike L.] #304294
11/14/08 07:56 PM
11/14/08 07:56 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
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PA
Paul B Offline
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Mike,

Bishop Nicholas led our deacon candidate retreat several years ago. I consider him a "visionary" with regard to the Eastern Church in the West.

Also,there seems more movement from the Melkites and Chaldeans toward unifying Eastern Catholics and Orthodox than from other Churches. Perhaps persecution has something to do with this; they set aside differences and draw strength from each other.

Fr Deacon Paul

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Paul B] #304301
11/14/08 08:40 PM
11/14/08 08:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 222
Pennsylvania
Mike L. Offline OP
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Mike L.  Offline OP
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Pennsylvania
Originally Posted by Paul B
Also, there seems more movement from the Melkites and Chaldeans toward unifying Eastern Catholics and Orthodox than from other Churches. Perhaps persecution has something to do with this; they set aside differences and draw strength from each other.


I agree, one would have thought that persecution under communism could have had a similar effect on the other Orthodox and Catholic churches of the Byzantine Rite.

Mike

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Mike L.] #304330
11/15/08 09:37 AM
11/15/08 09:37 AM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 632
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Collin Nunis Offline
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Collin Nunis  Offline
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Very true. I like this vision of Bishop Nicholas Samra. I'm now afraid if my Melkite parishioners see this... They're 100% pure-blooded Arabs.

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Collin Nunis] #304655
11/18/08 01:52 PM
11/18/08 01:52 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 7,461
Kansas/UGCC
Diak Offline
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Quote
I agree, one would have thought that persecution under communism could have had a similar effect on the other Orthodox and Catholic churches of the Byzantine Rite.



All this is variable from place to place; in some places the relations between the Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Catholics is quite close. We have Panakhydas and Molebens requested by the faithful of each other's Church; and sometimes have these concelebrated by clergy from both Churches. For Providna I have gone to gravesites of Orthdox as well as Greek Catholics by request.

Orthodox hierarchs are generally guests of honor at every episcopal consecration and vice versa.

Bishop Nicholas' comments are pertinent indeed - and echoing some of those made by Archbishop Joseph (Tawil) many years ago. I think as well one cannot abandon one's particular tradition; this has to be made a point of welcoming rather than a point of exclusion. Patriarch Josyp spoke towards the end of his life about the resulting "deritualization" that came to many parishes in a modern American millieu.

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Diak] #304663
11/18/08 02:14 PM
11/18/08 02:14 PM
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Posts: 1,173
East
JohnS. Offline
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East
This might be helpful for our discussion...

A Vision for the Future -- Metropolitan Jonah

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Diak] #304666
11/18/08 03:05 PM
11/18/08 03:05 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
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Takoma Park, MD
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Two Lungs Offline
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Takoma Park, MD
Originally Posted by Diak
... We have Panakhydas and Molebens requested by the faithful of each other's Church; and sometimes have these concelebrated by clergy from both Churches. For Providna I have gone to gravesites of Orthdox as well as Greek Catholics by request.

Orthodox hierarchs are generally guests of honor at every episcopal consecration and vice versa. ...


Indeed, this is true. Orthodox clergy came to the Catholic Cathedral in Philadelphia for a Panakhyda for our late Bishop Walter Paska.

http://www.ukrarcheparchy.us/way/THEWAY080914ENG.pdf


Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Diak] #304669
11/18/08 03:21 PM
11/18/08 03:21 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,373
Pittsburgh, PA
Ung-Certez Offline
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Ung-Certez  Offline
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Mike L.,

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has maintained certain Ukrainian cultural traditions which are very difficult to seperate from their Ukrainian Church traditions. At the same time their sister "Sui Juris Metropolitan Byzantine Catholic Church", formerly labeled the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church, has emphatically rid itself of ethnic cultural ties in favor of an "American Byzantine Catholic Church".

I believe there is no intrinsic evil to maintain cultural traditions, especially if they have been apart of their churches for centuries. Would you not have the Ukrainian Greek Catholic and the formerly Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Churches not bless Paschal Foods at Pascha? Would you not have them hold Holy Suppers that incorporate fasting in anticipation of the Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany of Christ? How far do we go in shedding perceived ethnic traditions that are intertwined with authentic liturgical practices of the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Churches that both developed from the authentic "Ruthenian Recension" liturgical expression?

If we do, we then become a very bland and dull Americanized Church and that would be sad.

Ung

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Ung-Certez] #304704
11/18/08 08:28 PM
11/18/08 08:28 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,217
Illinois
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Lawrence Offline
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I totally disagree with Number 6, and I'd love to see a wider use of Church Slavonic.

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Lawrence] #304707
11/18/08 09:06 PM
11/18/08 09:06 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,876
Western Australia
Pavel Ivanovich Offline
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Why would you want wider use of that language. Do you speak a Slavic language? How would you appreciate the liturgy better and follow it's prayers?

I watched a TV program on the Lapp people of Northern Finland and saw a liturgy in the Lapp language sung according to Chants I recognised from my visits to various Russian Church.

cool

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Pavel Ivanovich] #304709
11/18/08 09:19 PM
11/18/08 09:19 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,217
Illinois
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Lawrence Offline
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Illinois

I would like to see a return to Church Slavonic because of it's great tradition. I can't speak any Slavic language, but the Ukrainian Liturgy get's easier every Sunday.

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Ung-Certez] #304710
11/18/08 09:42 PM
11/18/08 09:42 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 222
Pennsylvania
Mike L. Offline OP
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Mike L.  Offline OP
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Pennsylvania
I believe what Bishop Nicholas speaks of is ethnic assimilation, not spiritual assimilation.

I myself love many of the cultural traditions of the Eastern Europeans, but do believe that they could be a hindrance to others considering an Eastern Catholic Church for a spiritual home do to culture shock .

I do not disagree that it would be difficult to separate "cultural traditions" from "church traditions". I would hate to see anyone lose their national customs, but I do not think national identities should be imposed on non-Ukrainian, Ruthenian, or Arabs to join an Eastern Catholic Church. You certainly do not need to be Roman to be Roman Catholic.

I think that many Eastern Churches could benefit from an Eastern Church Tradition often ignored here in the U.S., the use of vernacular at Divine Liturgy.

Originally Posted by Ung-Certez
I believe there is no intrinsic evil to maintain cultural traditions, especially if they have been apart of their churches for centuries.


No one mentioned evil!

Originally Posted by Ung-Certez
Would you not have the Ukrainian Greek Catholic and the formerly Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Churches not bless Paschal Foods at Pascha? Would you not have them hold Holy Suppers that incorporate fasting in anticipation of the Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany of Christ?


Is this tradition(cultural) or is this Tradition(doctrine)?

The blessing of Pascha baskets are a neat custom. I remember putting together my first Pascha basket, new parishioners were given a handout as to what should go into a traditional basket. When my wife and I looked at the handout I remember us thinking that we do not even eat half the things that were listed. Seemed odd to go out and buy these items to put into our basket and we didn't fast from them during lent, or we would really look forward to eating them later that day. So what purpose did it serve? Would the tradition not be better served for some by actually putting food in their baskets that thier families traditionally eat on Easter?


Originally Posted by Ung-Certez
If we do, we then become a very bland and dull Americanized Church and that would be sad.


BTW, America is many things but not bland and dull!

I leave you with a few quotes from the late Archbishop Joseph Tawil:
Quote
We have, therefore, a two-fold mission to accomplish within the Catholic Church. We must fight to insure that latinism and Catholicism are not synonymous, that Catholicism remains open to every culture, every spirit, and every form of organization compatible with the unity of faith and love. At the same time, by our example, we must enable the Orthodox Church to recognize that a union with the great Church of the West, with the See of Peter, can be achieved without being compelled to give up Orthodoxy or any of the spiritual treasures of the apostolic and patristic East, which is opened toward the future no less to the past.



Quote
In a ghetto life is closed in upon itself, operating only within itself, with its own ethnic and social clichés. And the Parish lives upon the ethnic character of the community; when that character disappears, the community dies and the parish dies with it.

One day all our ethnic traits - language, folklore, customs - will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, primarily for the service of the immigrant or the ethnically oriented, unless we wish to assure the death of our community. Our Churches are not only for our own people but are also for any of our fellow Americans who are attracted to our traditions which show forth the beauty of the universal Church and the variety of its riches.


Quote
Without doubt we must be totally devoted to our American national culture. We must have an American life-style. We must be fully American in all things and at the same time we must preserve this authentic form of Christianity which is ours and which is not the Latin form. We must know that we have something to give, otherwise we have no reason to be. We must develop and maintain a religious tradition we know capable of enriching American life. Otherwise we would be unfaithful to our vocation.



Mike

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Lawrence] #304711
11/18/08 09:44 PM
11/18/08 09:44 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 222
Pennsylvania
Mike L. Offline OP
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Mike L.  Offline OP
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Pennsylvania
I love the Antiquity of Church Slavonic as well, but how will its use help grow a church in America?

If SS. Cyril and Methodius had not brought the Gospel to the Slavs in Greek rather than in their own vernacular, I doubt their mission would have been as successful.

Mike

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Mike L.] #304718
11/19/08 01:25 AM
11/19/08 01:25 AM
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West of Johnstown
Etnick Offline
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Here's living proof that Slavonic is still loved by many, and will not go away anytime soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WxClH76ygo&feature=related

Beautiful!...Isn't it?

Re: Vision of Our Church [Re: Etnick] #304723
11/19/08 03:10 AM
11/19/08 03:10 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,373
Pittsburgh, PA
Ung-Certez Offline
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Ung-Certez  Offline
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Originally Posted by Etnick
Here's living proof that Slavonic is still loved by many, and will not go away anytime soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WxClH76ygo&feature=related

Beautiful!...Isn't it?



Hispanic Roman Catholics are encouraged to attend Hispanic language Masses in California and Florida because of the large number of recent immigrants. But Ukrainian immigrants who have recently immigrated to the United States and Canada since 1991 aren't aloud the same courtesy? That's a double standard.

By all means, let's be a dull, Anglo-Centric American Church! Let's put Hot Dogs and Cherry Pies in our Pascahal Baskets and make sure we have shortened Sunday Divine Liturgies as not to miss the NFL 1 PM kickoff start times. By all means, let's be a dull American Church!

Ung


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