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St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church #410711 02/23/15 11:53 AM
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Filipe YTOL Offline OP
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Hello all!

I just read that Pope Francis today declared St. Gregory Narek as Doctor of the Church.

Now as far as I can make out, St. Gregory was of the Armenian Apostolic Church and, therefore, not in communion with the Catholic church at the time of his life or death.

Am I the only one who finds this surprising? Are there any other cases of non-catholics being recognised as Doctors of the Church?

All the best!
Filipe

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410712 02/23/15 12:35 PM
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griego catolico Offline
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Wow, great news!

St. Gregory of Narek is officially recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. He is listed in the Martyrologium Romanum
on Feb. 27, which is this Friday. The listing reads (translated from the official Spanish version):

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In the monastery of Narek in Armenia, Gregory, monk, doctor of the Armenians, illustrious for his teaching, his writings and his mystical wisdom (1005).


He is also referred to in Article 2678 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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2678 Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St. Ephrem or St. Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same.

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: griego catolico] #410713 02/23/15 12:43 PM
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Filipe YTOL Offline OP
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That's fascinating!
But I am correct in assuming that he was never, oficially, a Catholic? Are there many other cases of people recognized as saints by Rome despite not being oficialy in communion with the Pope

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410714 02/23/15 01:12 PM
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Nelson Chase Offline
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Quote
That's fascinating!


Very!

Quote

But I am correct in assuming that he was never, officially, a Catholic? Are there many other cases of people recognized as saints by Rome despite not being officially in communion with the Pope.


Yes, he died outside of communion with Rome. I think this new deceleration points out (and confirms from a Catholic pov) that while separated from each other we (Orthodox and Catholic) are part of the one Catholic Church. At least that is my opinion.

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410715 02/23/15 01:35 PM
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griego catolico Offline
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Originally Posted by Filipe YTOL
That's fascinating!
Are there many other cases of people recognized as saints by Rome despite not being oficialy in communion with the Pope

Yes, there are a few more.

In the Martyrologium Romanum, you will also see listed:
Saint Sergius of Radonezh
Saint Stephen of Perm
St. Domitian of Armenia
St. Anthony and St. Theodosius of Kiev

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you will find a reference to St. Simeon of Thessalonica:

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1690 A farewell to the deceased is his final "commendation to God" by the Church. It is "the last farewell by which the Christian community greets one of its members before his body is brought to its tomb."192 The Byzantine tradition expresses this by the kiss of farewell to the deceased:

By this final greeting "we sing for his departure from this life and separation from us, but also because there is a communion and a reunion. For even dead, we are not at all separated from one another, because we all run the same course and we will find one another again in the same place. We shall never be separated, for we live for Christ, and now we are united with Christ as we go toward him . . . we shall all be together in Christ."193

193 St. Simeon of Thessalonica, De ordine sepulturæ. 336:PG 155,684.

In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope St. John Paul II refers to Seraphim of Sarov as "Saint Seraphim of Sarov" and at least in one speech, he referred to Gregory of Palamas as "Saint Gregory of Palamas".

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410716 02/23/15 01:59 PM
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Filipe YTOL Offline OP
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A friend has sent me a convincing explanation.

When a church enters communion with Rome, as did part of the Armenian church, the Holy See accepts as valid all of its spiritual and theological patrimony, including canonizations, so long as there is no explicit contradiction with Catholic doctrine.

This is what happened when the Armenian Catholic Church was formed, regarding St. Gregory and his work.

It would also explain the other cases mentioned in this thread.

Also, it appears, St. Gregory was persecuted in life for defending the Council of Chalcedon, which would also count in his favour.

It sounds convincing to me! Any one disagree?


Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410718 02/23/15 04:46 PM
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Quote
That's fascinating!
But I am correct in assuming that he was never, oficially, a Catholic? Are there many other cases of people recognized as saints by Rome despite not being oficialy in communion with the Pope


Why would you assume that St. Gregory "was never, officially, a Catholic? The Armenian Orthodox Church was part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Nicene Creed when that creed was formulated. So she has the same right as Rome to call herself Catholic. I think it's a bit of arrogance for anyone to think that Catholic must mean in communion with Rome, as if Rome alone were the Catholic Church spoken of in that creed.

I think Vatican II meant for those of us who call ourselves Catholic to begin to expand our thinking because we have been too parochial in our Western thinking and geography for too long.

I have read somewhere that the Armenians were not invited to Chalcedon so they don't recognize that particular council, not because they oppose the theology or formulatons, but because they were not part of it. On another thread it was mentioned that part of the reason for the Oriental Orthodox opposition to Chalcedon had to do with Imperial over-reach into the life of those Churches--the same type of big group trying to force the smaller group into its mold that we see so many times throughout Christian history in so many places.

If we take an honest look at how God has made known His pleasure with the spiritual progress and life of people canonized outside the Roman communion, we have to humbly admit that no one has a lock on saintliness or holiness and that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in many Churches of Apostolic origin that are not in communion with the Bishop of Rome due to one or another historical reason.

IMHO, as we progress toward full communion in Christ, we will have to acknowledge far more frequently these men and women whose holy lives have been lived apart from what we have come to think of as the Catholic Church (of the West/Rome) but whose lives have been lived fully in the communion of the Holy Trinity as Rome-canonized saints have lived. In a thread about what communion really means, we discussed the fact that God cannot be divided, even when we become so, and that if one is in an Apostolic Church and has communion with the Trinity in the Liturgy they serve, then somehow they are in communion with all of us who also claim the same apostolic root for our communion--on a level that God sees and blesses, even when we cannot see it or understand it.

Bob

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410720 02/23/15 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Filipe YTOL

It would also explain the other cases mentioned in this thread.


Filipe,

I'm not sure I find that explanation wrong exactly, but to me the point is that including a saint from some other communion is tacit acknowledgement that the Church is really present there. It's not simply the result of some formal act of union.

I can think of a few more examples than those which griego also adduced. For example, St. Isaac of Nineveh lived outside the communion of both Rome and Constantinople and yet he is venerated in both communions. Likewise, I believe the Ethiopian king St. Elesbaan is commemorated in both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox calendars.

Caleb

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: eastwardlean?] #410721 02/23/15 05:28 PM
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Eastwardlean has the best explanation, in my view.

The Armenian Apostolic Church to which St Gregory of Narek belonged was not in communion with Rome and, as mentioned, neither was that of St Isaac of Nineveh.

In the latter case, Isaac belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East (called "Nestorian"). Yet, he and his writings are revered universally even by the Miaphysites who were the "Nestorians'" greatest enemies (and vice-versa).

It all has to do with the nature of the writings of any given saint/teacher. St Gregory of Narek espoused no heresy in anything he wrote. His writings were deeply spiritual and, like those of St Isaac and others, have a universal appeal.

The Pope simply acknoledged this and declared him a Doctor of the universal Church. Note that the Pope did not "canonize" him since, by his action, he recognized the sainthood of St Gregory of Narek, having been canonized by his own Church only and accepted as a saint by Armenian Catholics as part of their Armenian Christian heritage. (Eastern Catholics venerate the saints they have always venerated during their Pre-Union period with Rome - that doesn't make them saints on the calendar of the Latin Church. Those Orthodox Saints that are in the Roman Calendar were put there by Popes who, in so doing, extended their cultus to the Latin Church on similar grounds.)

But the Pope set an important and amazing precedent by declaring someone who was personally not in communion with Rome as a Doctor of the universal Roman Church. Certainly, St Gregory of Narek would have had to pass the test of orthodoxy from Rome's pov and he obviously did.

Even though he was not in union with Rome (and his Church hadn't been in union with Rome for several centuries), the Pope acknowledged that the fullness of Christian teaching can and does exist outside of that full union. This Pope is quite the revolutionary. Thank God for him!!

I'm sure that all Armenians, worldwide, feel complimented by this and feel very close to this Pope especially.

There could have been no greater ecumenical gesture that this Pope could have made than in this amazing act to add a Doctor of the Church from the Armenian heritage.

And it has nothing whatever to do with the Armenian Catholics venerating him etc. (Catholic news agencies have been trying to make this point but it is nonsense against the backdrop of the acceptance of saints like St Isaac of Nineveh and others.)

Once again, he's left us all breathless.

Viva il Papa!!

Alex




Last edited by Orthodox Catholic; 02/23/15 05:31 PM.
Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: theophan] #410725 02/23/15 08:10 PM
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Filipe YTOL Offline OP
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Naturally I agree with you, which is why I find this news exciting. I meant Catholic in the formal sense, of course. One does have to use certain terms in order to have some sort of clarity.

I too consider myself orthodox in my beliefs without being part of the Orthodox Church, etc. etc. I'm pretty sure most people will have understood that I meant no offense or arrogance of any kind.

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #410726 02/23/15 08:14 PM
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Filipe YTOL Offline OP
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Orthodox Catholic:

"There could have been no greater ecumenical gesture that this Pope could have made than in this amazing act to add a Doctor of the Church from the Armenian heritage."

That was my gut feeling as well, just wanted to make sure I wasn't getting overexcited about nothing. What a wonderful event!

Thank you all for your replies.


Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410731 02/24/15 10:03 AM
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It seems fitting (and intentional?) that this declaration of St. Gregory Narek as a Doctor of the Church is taking place during the 100th anniversary year of the Armenian Genocide.

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410732 02/24/15 10:37 AM
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Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Filipe YTOL] #410733 02/24/15 10:40 AM
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Run, do not walk, to get a copy of St. Gregory's compunctionate masterpiece, The Book of Lamentations. It has been my beloved companion for fifty-five years now. I can't imagine the Great Fast without it! My only regret is that I never acquired the Classical Armenian language (Grabar) so as to be able to read Narek (as the book is familiarly called) in the original.

Re: St. Gregory of Narek - Doctor of the Church [Re: Economos Roman V. Russo] #410734 02/24/15 10:52 AM
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Pope Francis appears to be doing, however, a disservice during Lent.

How can people like me feel compunctionate when I'm so overjoyed at this news? smile

Alex



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