Skip to comments.Homily of the Ecumenical Patriarch before Benedict (Fr. Z's Commentary)
Posted on 12/01/2006 7:48:24 PM PST by Pyro7480
During the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of St. Andrew the Ecumenical Patriarch gave a homily that got my attention. Remember how important the Divine Liturgy is for the identity of the Orthodox.
Frankly, I think liturgy is a serious issue for ecumenical dialogue with the East. Think about this. They look at the stupid things the Latins have done and are doing to the sacred liturgy, about how those desiring traditional liturgy from lay people to priests, are marginalized and berated. They see the leaders of a group of "traditionalists" are ecommunicated. And they are going to get closer to Rome? Would they hope that their traditions would be respected were they to give greater submission to the authority of Peter which the Pope of Rome exercises?
Here is the text of the Patriarch’s homily (my emphasis and comments).
With the grace of God, Your Holiness, we have been blessed to enter the joy of the Kingdom, to "see the true light and receive the heavenly Spirit." Every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is a powerful and inspiring con-celebration of heaven and of history. [BOOM. This concise phrase also expresses what the Latin Church thinks. This is an encounter with the transcendent. An encounter which transforms the human experience.] Every Divine Liturgy is both an anamnesis of the past and an anticipation of the Kingdom. [Holy Mass makes the historical event present in a sacramental way, which is no less "real" than the reality we sense and touch, etc.] We are convinced that during this Divine Liturgy, we have once again been transferred spiritually in three directions: toward the kingdom of heaven where the angels celebrate; toward the celebration of the liturgy through the centuries; and toward the heavenly kingdom to come. [Perfect. Beautifully put.]
This overwhelming continuity with heaven as well as with history means that the Orthodox [And Latin!] liturgy is the mystical experience and profound conviction that "Christ was, is, and ever shall be in our midst!" For in Christ, there is a deep connection between past, present, and future. In this way, the liturgy is more than merely the recollection of Christ’s words and acts. It is the realization of the very presence of Christ Himself, who has promised to be wherever two or three are gathered in His name.
At the same time, we recognize that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith (lex orandi lex credendi), [When I heard this phrase, in Latin, from the lips of the Ecumenical Patriarch I almost did a spit-take on my monitor! In my opinion, the Patriarch is letting us know one of their serious points of concern about their Western brothers. What are we doing with our liturgy? If you Latins are celebrating your Mass in the way we see you celebrating, what on earth do you believe? Do you believe what we believe?] that the doctrines of the Person of Christ and of the Holy Trinity have left an indelible mark on the liturgy, which comprises one of the undefined doctrines, "revealed to us in mystery," of which St. Basil the Great so eloquently spoke. This is why, in liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith as well as in prayer. Therefore, we kneel in humility [This is amazingly ironic. The Orthodox don’t kneel as much as Latins do, in one sense, as when we enter our churches. No… wait… in a lot of places you never see Latins kneel at all anymore, do you? Especially during Mass?] and repentance before the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious Name we bear and yet at the same time whose seamless garment we have divided. We confess in sorrow that we are not yet able to celebrate the holy sacraments in unity. And we pray that the day may come when this sacramental unity will be realized in its fullness.
And yet, Your Holiness and beloved brother in Christ, this con-celebration of heaven and earth, of history and time, brings us closer to each other today through the blessing of the presence, together with all the saints, of the predecessors of our Modesty, namely St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. [Good reminder.] We are honored to venerate the relics of these two spiritual giants after the solemn restoration of their sacred relics in this holy church two years ago when they were graciously returned to us by the venerable Pope John Paul II. Just as, at that time, during our Thronal Feast, we welcomed and placed their saintly relics on the Patriarchal Throne, chanting "Behold your throne!", so today we gather in their living presence and eternal memory as we celebrate the Liturgy named in honor of St. John Chrysostom.
Thus our worship coincides with the same joyous worship in heaven and throughout history. Indeed, as St. John Chrysostom himself affirms: "Those in heaven and those on earth form a single festival, a shared thanksgiving, one choir" (PG 56.97). Heaven and earth offer one prayer, one feast, one doxology. The Divine Liturgy is at once the heavenly kingdom and our home, "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21.1), the ground and center where all things find their true meaning. The Liturgy teaches us to broaden our horizon and vision, to speak the language of love and communion, but also to learn that we must be with one another in spite of our differences and even divisions. In its spacious embrace, it includes the whole world, the communion of saints, and all of God’s creation. The entire universe becomes "a cosmic liturgy", to recall the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor. This kind of Liturgy can never grow old or outdated. [Again, I ask, what must they think about what we are doing in our churches? what we are doing to those who want the traditional forms?]
The only appropriate response to this showering of divine benefits and compassionate mercy is gratitude (eucharistia). Indeed, thanksgiving and glory are the only fitting response of human beings to their Creator. For to Him belong all glory, honor, and worship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; now and always, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Truly, particular and wholehearted gratitude fills our hearts toward the loving God, for today, on the festive commemoration of the Apostle founder and protector of this Church, the Divine Liturgy is attended by His Holiness our brother and bishop of the elder Rome, Pope Benedict XVI, together with his honorable entourage. Once again, we gratefully greet this presence as a blessing from God, as an expression of brotherly love and honor toward our Church, and as evidence of our common desire to continue – in a spirit of love and faithfulness to the Gospel Truth and the common tradition of our Fathers – the unwavering journey toward the restoration of full communion among our Churches, which constitutes His divine will and command. May it be so.
This gorgeous homily gives us serious food for thought. You would have to be pretty darn hard of heart not to rethink any cold resistance you might have to anyone who have entirely legitimate aspirations for traditional expressions of the Church’s ongoing grateful worship of Almighty God.
Also, apply what the Patriarch said about your parish and your manner of participation.
I think you'd all appreciate this article. :)
Were those relics taken from Constantinople by 4th crusade in 1204?
They were. John Paul II gave them back in 2004.
Absolutely and they ended up in Rome.However,Pope John Paul II returned those relics on the 27th. November 2004 to Istanbul.
Thank you for posting Fr. Z's commentary.
Thank you for posting Fr. Z's commentary.
I think y'all appreciate reading this. I sure did
That is a fascinating article. I'm at a loss for words.
I spent a year of my life painstakingly going through the Latin documents of the sack of Constantinople by the 4th crusade, but I missed the reports of the return of these. The reliqaries are definately new, though.
The other important point was that which is Divine (and the Liturgy is such) never gets old and out of date. Oooh, that was as direct as it can get in a diplomatic language of the Church.
Lest someone think that this was a snipe at the Latins, I am sure the Patriarch said nothing that he previously did not discuss with the Pope and +Benedict's little wink, smile, and a friendly gesture at the end of the Patriarch's homily indicated that everything went exactly as they had agreed.
Likewise, we need to post the Pope's homily as well for it too contained important messages for both Church communities. All this was agreed upon and designed for analysts to sift out after the fact. For us ordinary viewers, overwhelmed by the history in the making, the homilies were soothing words we all so much wished and anticipated and prayed for.
This was not a Sunday, and so many Orthodox (especially in the US, where so many Orthodox churches have pews) do kneel on Sundays! (maybe it's time SCOBA starts asking all those communities to remove them and start worshiping like the Orthodox did since the beginning).
But your comment is spot on because I do not understand how the Latins started to kneel on Sundays if they fully recognize (and therefore abide by) the First Ecumenical Council's decisions. I guess that will be another topic...but again the Orthodox have no leg to stand on as long as they imitate Western Christians in America and are breaking their own obligations with the Councils.
I sincerely doubt that the Patriarch was intimating any such thing at all. This simply would never happen with us. We wouldn't allow it, period, end of discussion
I agree. The message is no different than any other message. We do not proselytize among Christians. If asked, we show how we worship and tell what we believe. There is no attempt to convert, or to diminish the other side.
That being said, I believe that the Pope and the Patriarch agreed on the texts of their homilies and the message they were to convey.
I know the Liturgy was not a Sunday Liturgy; that's why I said the canon referred to Sundays. The reason I even mentioned it is that it struck me as odd that Fr. Z commented on it.
"I guess that will be another topic...but again the Orthodox have no leg to stand on as long as they imitate Western Christians in America and are breaking their own obligations with the Councils."
Well, that's certainly true and it is a topic for another time, but I will say that the argument supporting kneeling on Sundays is that the canon is a disciplinary one peculiar to the times it was written, when daily attendance at the Liturgy was common. I don't say I agree with that; indeed I don't, but that is the argument. By they way, I've seen kneeling during the consecration on Sundays in Greece in small villages and large cities so its more widespread than simply America.
By the way, BAC & P, who is this Fr. Z?
Bump for Fr. Z.!!!!!!
From his blog: "Fr. Z is Moderator of the Catholic Online Forum and the ASK FATHER Question Box. The WDTPRS columns appear weekly in The Wanderer. Fr. Z lives in Rome, though he is often in the USA. He is available for retreats."
I've never heard of this title of Our Lady. After doing a little research, I found out that Hebei is in China. What are the origins of this title?
"From his blog: "Fr. Z is Moderator of the Catholic Online Forum and the ASK FATHER Question Box. The WDTPRS columns appear weekly in The Wanderer. Fr. Z lives in Rome, though he is often in the USA. He is available for retreats."
Ah, I see I should have clicked on the link! :)
Fr. Z's comment was very appropriate, Kolo. The Orthodox, as a rule (I am speaking now of numbers) do not kneel on Sundays, or any other day for that matter (Pentecost notwithstanding).
"Fr. Z's comment was very appropriate, Kolo. The Orthodox, as a rule (I am speaking now of numbers) do not kneel on Sundays, or any other day for that matter (Pentecost notwithstanding)."
Nothing inappropriate at all about it Kosta. I find it odd that he remarked about it and then went on to remark, with apparent disdain, that Latin Catholics seemed to have abandoned the practice of kneeling. Like I said, not inappropriate, odd.
I don't know the details of how the practice originated, but if I were to hazard a guess I would point to the scriptural references of every knee bending at the name of Jesus and at His second coming. Kneeling and genuflecting are signs of respect as well as acts of humility.
The context in which the Patriarch mentioned kneeling was obviously in refrence to the priest serving the Divine Liturgy who will actually kneel at the altar (as Pat. Bartholomew I did) after the consecration at every Liturgy.
There are some gestures that are reserved only for the clergy, such as praying with raised hands (which some Protestant converts to Orthodoxy bring with them), or the peculiar way the deacons pray and read.
In the context of the Patriarch's remark, I believe Fr. Z missed that it was referring to the priests and not the Orthodox in general. Certainly, the laity did not divide Christ's seamless garments, but the hierarchy.
I also noticed another interesting little detail regarding external dmeonstration of pay deference to the Pope as the elder bishop: before Bat. Bartholomew I read his homily, he motion Pope Benedict XVI to sit. But when the Pope read his ho,ily, the Patriarch remained standing.
Likewise, the Joined Declaration bears the signature of Pope Benedict first (on the left), followed by Bat. Bartholomew's (on the right), not below. In other words, equal but after the Pope. Curious, but quite fascinating.
Other than that, I don't know if the Roman Catholics stopped kneeling. I don't go to a Catholic church. I figure, if there are pews with kneelers, people will kneel.
" I also noticed another interesting little detail regarding external dmeonstration of pay deference to the Pope as the elder bishop: before Bat. Bartholomew I read his homily, he motion Pope Benedict XVI to sit. But when the Pope read his ho,ily, the Patriarch remained standing.
Likewise, the Joined Declaration bears the signature of Pope Benedict first (on the left), followed by Bat. Bartholomew's (on the right), not below. In other words, equal but after the Pope. Curious, but quite fascinating."
The ancient canons come alive. Very didactic. Excellent!
Well, it's not the Second Coming yet. :)
The Church specifically designated Sunday (the Day of Resurrection, the name it has in Russian, for instance) as the day when the faithful will not kneel. The reason for that was that we stand resurrected in Christ and that resurrected means to rise again. Now, that which is risen is not sitting or kneeling. :)
But again, we Orthodox do kneel (Pentecostal Sunday), and the priest kneels at the altar (both knees) every Sunday after the consecration of the bread and wine (some even do full prostration). We also prostrate and kneel during the Great (aka Holy) Week (mostly because the services are during week days.
Now, do remember that we receive the Eucharist standing and not kneeling and it doesn't get much closer to being with God.
Canon XX of the First Ecumenical Council states:
Commentaries in this Canon (Hammond) notes that Tertullian "in a passage in his treatise De Corona Militis, which is often quoted, mentions it amongst other observances which, though not expressly commanded in Scripture, yet were universally practiced upon the authority of tradition."
This, quoting Terutillian as saying:
Thus, the Greeks to this day observe the period from the Resurrection (Easter) to the Pentecost as a no-kneeling period. Slavic Orthodox Churches practice kneeling on the Pentecost Sunday.
St. Augustine explains that the practice of no kneeling on Sundays was to commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord, and to proclaim the joy of our own resurrection (from the spiritual death we are born with)
This is history. It's fascinating that the Church only lay dormant, yet fully aware of all its canons and traditions, and in full possession of its consciousness and memory.
The whole idea of "primus inter pares" was being manifested throughout the whole visit with the E. Patriarch, down to such details that most of us (certainly I) simply never noticed or thought of as important.
*Both. I could, but won't, take pedantic issue with some of Fr. Z's comments.
No. I absolutely loved the homily.
I know and agree with the vast majority of your commentary and many of the points you raised are ones I have -continually argued.
I do believe I have been robbed of my spiritual heritage in the Liturgy due not to the Church or the legitimate reform but due to the protestants in Fiddlbacks within the Church who are every bit as distatseful and repugnant to me 6as the Protestants in Fiddlebacks in the schism.
I think those whose poverty of humilty has been obscured by their wealth of pride have taken advantage of a particular epoch to advance their personal opinions,predelictions, preferences etc all to the detriment of the Liturgy.
It has been more than 40 years since the end of the Council and I am still waiting for a Liturgy that would please the Church Fathers who desired a reform of the liturgy.
Tahnkfully,God has Graced me with an amsing amount of patience re the matter :)
liturgical discipline. the church, which established the no kneeling, can, later, reform that discipline
Convert. He is much loved and admired due to his knowledge of Latin and his zeal. He is the ONLY reason to get The Wanderer
That's like saying the States can enact something that is contrary to the American Constitution. The Church established Church discipline with regard to praying. The decision was made by an Ecumenical Council and is binding to all particular Churches, who, individually, cannot change it on their own (hence the problem with inserting the Filioque as well).
Thus what the Church as a whole decides (through an Ecumenical Council), the Church as a whole can change (through an Ecumenical Council). To the best of my knowledge, no Ecumenical Council changed Canon XX of the First Ecumenical Council.
*No. Disciplinary Canons are not Dogmatic Canons. And I don't know of any general rule that disciplinary Canons are intended to remain in force in perpetuity unless specifically voted out of existence. It is true that subsequent Coun`cils specifically said that some Canons must remain in force but Councils would become excessively pedantic and legalistic were every Ecumenical Council required to re-examine, debate, and vote upon all previous disciplinary Canons.
That is not the purpose of an Ecumenical Council
I don't think I had ever heard of St. Maximus the Confessor before I read this post by Father Z. I have spent parts of the past day reading what I could find about him on the Internet. I find him to be very interesting.
In the Wikipedia article about him, he is quoted as saying, "I have the faith of the Latins, but the language of the Greeks" (this was in the context of his opposition to the heresy of monothelitism). It was because of this opposition that "at age 82 received his final sentence: he was flogged, his tongue cut out, his right hand cut off, he was exhibited in the streets as an example to the people, and was sent into exile" (from Patron Saints Index).
It's occasions like this that makes clear to me how deficient my religious education has been in my life. I've learned more in the past 4 years or so on my own than I probably had during 12 years of Catholic schooling (and that's just plain sad).
I also found this intereting summary from a doctoral dissertation that is available for purchase on Amazon.
Since the ninth century the filioque has been the most contentious theological issue dividing the Western and Eastern Churches. All attempts at resolving the dispute, including the ill-fated Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438--39), ultimately failed because by the eleventh century (if not earlier) the two halves of Christendom had developed theologies of the procession that appeared to be diametrically opposed: either the Spirit proceeded from the Father alone (as the Greeks held) or from the Father and the Son (as the Latins maintained). Yet there was one Church father whose writings offered a way out of this impasse: Maximus the Confessor (c. 580--662). In his Letter to Marinus (PG 91, 136), Maximus claimed that in using the filioque the Romans, 'do not make the Son the cause of the Spirit, for they know that the Father is the one cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by procession, but they show the progression through him and thus the unity of the essence.' This seemingly irenic text was brought forward at Florence several times, but, read solely within the context of the Photian-Carolingian dialectic, the Letter to Marinus remained merely another proof-text---the Greek anti-unionists viewing it as a clear demonstration of the Latins' heresy (since Laetentur Caeli did attribute causality to the Son), the unionists believing it an apology for filioquism. Yet I maintain that the Letter to Marinus, properly understood, provided the hermeneutical key to resolving the ancient question of the filioque, and that even in the fifteenth century there existed a school of Byzantine trinitarian theology capable of providing this interpretation. Seen as a clear explication of Maximus's own trinitarian thinking and the consensus patrum as it existed in the seventh century (i.e., the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and his eternal flowing forth through the Son), the Letter to Marinus offered the Florentine delegates, and continues to offer today, the best way of reconciling East and West and of establishing (or re-establishing) a genuinely ecumenical understanding of the procession of the Holy Spirit.
I get the impression that St. Maximus' writings and intercession could be a key to a closer relationship between East and West.
St. Maximus the Confessor, pray for us!
"It's occasions like this that makes clear to me how deficient my religious education has been in my life. I've learned more in the past 4 years or so on my own than I probably had during 12 years of Catholic schooling (and that's just plain sad)."
Without a working knowledge of The Fathers, and I certainly don't mean in a proof texting manner, there is absolutely no way to have even an inkling of what The Church believed before the Great Schism, except of course for the basics contained in the canons of the 7 Ecumenical Councils. Here's a web source which is a good place to start:
Thanks for the link. I was actually thinking about going to graduate school to get a master's in theology, with a concentration in patristics. But now that I know that I'm being called to the priesthood, I'll be learning patristics anyway. ;-)
" But now that I know that I'm being called to the priesthood, I'll be learning patristics anyway. ;-)"
Better start reading those Fathers now and make sure you pick the right seminary.
I am happy to hear that you loved the Ecumenical Patriarch's homily.
Regarding Fr. Z's comments: notice that my seeming-quirky insistence on 'Latin' as a designation for your church is not so odd or obstinate. Fr. Z, when he puts words the the EP's mouth in his comments, scrupulously observes the usage.
I suspect Fr. Z's take on the import of the Patriarch's remarks is both correct, and also in agreement with Pope Benedict's views on liturgics, so you may manage to get back what you were robbed of if his papacy lasts long enough, or he has a successor of the same mold. May God grant it!
"It is true that subsequent Coun`cils specifically said that some Canons must remain in force but Councils would become excessively pedantic and legalistic were every Ecumenical Council required to re-examine, debate, and vote upon all previous disciplinary Canons.
That is not the purpose of an Ecumenical Council"
As a "general" proposition with what are disciplinary canons, I agree with BAC, Kosta. But I don't think we should carry this too far. There are very, very few canons, dixciplinary or dogmatic, which deal with the Liturgy, for example. That's for us to preserve.
We don't generally consider that the disciplinary (as distinct from doctrinal) canons of e.g. Nicaea I apply to us, or apply in perpetuity, or anything like that.
"Don't kneel on Sunday" is a disciplinary thing. I think it's fine that the East maintains it, but as far as we're concerned, we haven't followed that particular canon for centuries, if indeed we ever did.
"make sure you pick the right seminary"
Isn't that the truth. A couple of relatives of a good friend of mine were recently ordained to the Catholic priesthood -- they were both fortunate enough to get to go to the Vatican for much of their education. They love BXVI, which is a good sign. One of them didn't dare go back to his home diocese, knowing that he'd end up getting in big trouble with his very liberal bishop in short order.
One of the seminaries near where I once lived was colloquially known as the biggest gay frat-house in the state. And that was what friendly Roman Catholics had to say about it -- it went downhill from there.
From what I've been told, it isn't easy to find a Catholic seminary in the US with traditional morals, traditional theology, traditional liturgics -- and that's without even touching the question of getting a grounding in patristics that would meet Kolokotronis's standards! :-)
I wish you all the best -- let us know what happens. And we'll be here to guide you in the proper understanding of the Fathers, and you can pass the info on to your profs. :-)
There are some good ones. The Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio and Holy Apostles in Connecticut are two that I hear good things about.
Thanks for all the advice. :) My "ideal" is to join the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, since I have fallen in love with the pre-conciliar Latin rite. But that depends on a lot of things, God's Providence being the biggie. ;-)
Get thee to Nebraska, but buy a good winter coat first. ;-)
Of course, but He is really and truly present in the Eucharist.
But that's not what the NT says about bending of every knee. It specifically refers to His second coming.
So, you are somehow exempt from Ecumenical Council pronouncements, but obey local council disciplinary rules?
"Don't kneel on Sunday" is a disciplinary thing. I think it's fine that the East maintains it, but as far as we're concerned, we haven't followed that particular canon for centuries, if indeed we ever did
That much is obvious. I only wonder where and who gave the Latin Church specifically the authority to ignore the binding decisions of the whole Church and make its own rules?
To the best of my knowledge, there are no specific instructions which part of an Ecumenical Council one is to follow and which to ignore. Are you telling me that for instance the American Catholic Church can make its own rules contrary to the Vatican II?
There are two issues at hand: the Councils specifically prohibited additions or deletions from their text. Addition of the filioque into the Creed is a violation of that prohibition.
Second, if the Latins truly believe that the Son is also not the cause of the Spirit, they need to state so emphatucally in their Catechism: the cause of the Spirit's existence is not the Son.
Better yet, just stick with the original Creed.
No, I think what I should have said is that we don't view those (disciplinary) rules as binding-in-perpetuity. They can be overridden by later law.
But after researching this issue, that doesn't appear to be what happened. It appears that the West understood this canon to apply primarily to the formal "bidding prayers" or intercessions at Mass. (This would correspond to the ektenia in the Byzantine tradition, but is not exactly the same thing.) NB that the canon says "the prayers," but isn't exactly clear which prayers.
Apparently, the custom at the time was to kneel after every individual petition, and the West understood the Nicene canon as prohibiting that kneeling on Sundays, etc.
Today, the only place the formal bidding prayers survive is in the liturgy of Good Friday, where we do in fact kneel (of course). They were abrogated completely in the Tridentine Rite of the Mass. They were restored as the "General Intercessions" in the new rite, but those are always offered with everyone standing.
As far as the anaphora is concerned, I'm not clear how Western kneeling during the anaphora relates to the Nicene canon historically. I can try to find out more on the history; this is what I was able to dig up on the Internet.