An Eastern priest’s vision for Catholic-Orthodox relations

James Dominic Rooney, O.P., is a priest and a doctoral student in philosophy at St. Louis University.

Excerpt from America magazine:

I recently encountered an Orthodox priest who was taking a group of well-known Russian iconographers to look at religious art at the St. Louis Art Museum. I had met him a little earlier when visiting his parish. He introduced me to the group, in Russian, as a “uniate priest.” He likely never intended anything disparaging by this, but the label rang in my ears.

The term uniate, while sometimes used by Eastern Catholics themselves, originally carried a disparaging connotation. It was used after the Union of Brest (1596) by Orthodox people to identify those previously Orthodox members of the clergy and laypeople who had agreed to the “union” with Rome. Its foreign-sounding character connoted submission to the “Roman foreigners.” Today, given the term’s history, it is avoided in any official discussions, even though it continues to be used without any ill will by some Orthodox.

But those past tensions continue to play out in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue and in the popular Orthodox mind. A historic Great and Holy Synod—a synod of all the worldwide episcopal primates of the Orthodox churches—will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete from June 16 to 27. While not an ecumenical council, it is in some ways parallel in significance to the Second Vatican Council. There has not been such a meeting among the Orthodox for many hundreds of years, and the synod, like Vatican II, will deal with the church’s relations to the modern world.

But the release of a preparatory synod document on relations with non-Orthodox Christians occasioned what might seem to outsiders a surprising amount of criticism among some Orthodox. There is a significant and vocal minority of Orthodox who fear that any ecumenical activity will involve compromising the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Orthodox Church. This has been termed the “pan-heresy of ecumenism,” insofar as these people perceive ecumenism to rest on doctrinal indifferentism and disregard for truth. Catholics familiar with the history of the Second Vatican Council will likely recall similar criticisms voiced by Catholic traditionalist groups in regard to ecumenism. It is not an unfitting comparison in tenor or mentality.

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Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The most pure Temple of the Savior, * the most precious Bridal-Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasury of the glory of God, * is brought today into the house of the Lord, * bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. * The angels of God praise her in song: * “She is the heavenly tabernacle.” (Kontakion - Tone 4)

(November 21st)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (Proverbs 3:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

If you want, or rather intend, to take a splinter out of another person, then do not hack at it with a stick instead of a lancet, for you will only drive it in deeper. And this is a stick – rude speech and rough gestures. And this is a lancet – tempered instruction and patient reprimand. “Reprove,” says the Apostle, “rebuke, exhort,” but he did not say “beat” (2 Timothy 4:2). And if even this is required, do it rarely, and not with your own hand.

St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 8, On Freedom From Anger and On Meekness