Category Archives: Tradition

With the Fire Divine

Aflame in thy heart, O Laurence, with the fire divine, thou burntest
away the fire of passions utterly, O firm staff of athletes, O thou
God-bearing Martyr; and thou in truth while contesting didst cry with faith:
Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ.

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Tradition and the Future

Compelling series of posts on the Fathers and Tradition over at Fr. Ted’s Blog. A couple quotes that stood out:

“In the light of eschatology, even the tradition of the Church itself acquires a new meaning and a different dimension — an optimistic and hopeful perspective. In this perspective, Tradition is not identified with habits, customs, traditions or ideas or in general with historical inertia and stagnation, but with a person, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory who is coming. As Saint Cyprian of Carthage reminds us, “The Lord said: I am the Truth. He did not say: I am the custom.” Tradition, in other words, does not refer chiefly to the past; or to put it differently, it is not bound by the patterns of the past, by events that have already happened. Strange as it may sound, in the authentic ecclesial perspective, tradition is orientated toward the future. It comes principally and primarily from the future Kingdom of God, from the One who is coming, from what has yet to be fully revealed and made manifest, from God’s love and the plan He is preparing for us, for the salvation of the world and man. So the eschatological understanding of tradition appears as the counterpart to the Pauline definition of faith: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb. 11:1. cf. Heb. ch. 11; Rom. 8:24)

And:

“The future is not merely something exacted or awaited – it is something created … And genuine historical synthesis lies not in interpreting the past, but in creatively fulfilling the future.” -Fr. George Florovosky

Read it all.

Never Be Deceived

“Someone who lives
not by his own decisions
but by the example of the ancients
will never be deceived.”

-John Cassian, Conferences, 67.

(H/T: The Virtuous Life)

God Touches Everyone

Creation

“Every free creature lives in God. God is everyone’s salvation. God loves believers and unbelievers, the just and the unjust, the pious and the impious, those free of passions and those subject to passions, monks and those living worldly lives, the educated and the illiterate, the healthy and the sick, the young and the old. God is like an outpouring of light, a glimpse of the sun, or changes in the weather. God touches everyone, without exception, through these things.” -St. John Climacus

(via Glory to God for All Things)

“Baptists, Eucharist, and History”

Scott Morizot of Faith and Food is currently working on a series by the title of this post. So far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed  Scott’s brief but insightful articles as he compares and contrasts his Baptist tradition’s handling of the Eucharist with the belief and practices of  the Church in her early years. I’d recommend reading what he’s put together.

Here’s a link to the series’ intro–look for the other installments in Scott’s sidebar or on the first couple pages of his site.

More on Closed Communion

Following Met. Kallistos’ thoughts on closed communion, posted below, I thought it would also be helpful to share the following episode of “Our Life in Christ” on the same topic. These guys have a knack for making the complex accessible, and for explaining difficult points of view with kindness. I can’t promise you’ll like what you hear. But perhaps this will be helpful in bringing greater understanding, making clear what is so often confusing to Christians who approach Orthodoxy from other traditions.

Play Audio: Our Life in Christ – Closed Communion

A Tough One: “Closed Communion”

The Mystical Feast
This excerpt is taken from an interview with Met. Kallistos Ware on the topic of living the sacramental life. One of the most challenging things to understand about Orthodoxy (and Roman Catholicism for that matter) is the concept of “closed communion.” Met. Kallistos does a good job of gently pointing out why the Orthodox guard the sacrament as they do. If you’ve ever felt the sting of being denied the cup somewhere, hopefully this will be helpful in one way or another, even if you don’t agree with his point of view. Interesting to note: exclusivity in the Eucharist was the norm for nearly all Christian traditions (yes, even Protestants), to one degree or another, until the late 20th Century.

Fr. Steve Tsichlis:

Your Eminence, the sacrament of the Eucharist – the Divine Liturgy – is the heart and core of our worship as Orthodox Christians. What are some of the differences in our understanding of the Eucharist as Orthodox Christians from the many other Christian confessions that exist, and why are Christians of other confessions not able to receive Communion when they attend the celebration of the Eucharist in our church, the Orthodox church?

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:

There are two questions there.

So let’s take the first of them. In the Orthodox Church, we believe that the bread and wine, through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become the true body and blood of Christ. So we believe that the Eucharist is not simply a commemorative meal in which we recall the Last Supper. We believe Christ is objectively and immediately present in the consecrated elements. So here there is a clear difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism, not just a recollection. In the Divine Liturgy, recollection becomes reality. So, we receive the true body and blood of Christ.

But this is mystery. We do not understand how, but we do regard the reception of the consecrated elements as the supreme moment of our personal encounter with the Saviour. Now many Anglicans [and] Episcopalians, though not all, would likewise say that the Sacrament is the true body and blood of Christ. So on this point some Anglicans differ from us but others agree with us. The Romans Catholics firmly believe that the Sacrament is Christ’s body and blood. They use to describe the change in the elements the word “trans-substantiation.” In the past from the 17th century onwards Orthodox often used that same word. I prefer to avoid because it is not a word used by the early fathers; it is a word bound up with a particular philosophical system – Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy – which we Orthodox on the whole do not employ.

But I do not see a difference here fundamentally between ourselves and the Roman Catholics. We both believe in the real presence. We Orthodox perhaps put greater emphasis on the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the consecration, but in the last 30 years, Roman Catholics have also begun to stress much more the work of the Spirit in effecting the consecration. So I would not think that is a primary difference here between us and the Roman Catholics.

If the Roman Catholics share with us essentially the same faith in the Eucharist, and if many Anglicans do as well, why can we not have Communion together? That is your second question.

I long for the day when all Christians can receive Communion together. It causes me deep sorrow that I cannot offer the Holy Communion to non-Orthodox. At the same time I believe that the Orthodox discipline here rests on important theological principles. When we come to Holy Communion, this is not simply an isolated act – me personally coming to my Saviour – I come to Communion as a member of the Church – as a member of the family of believers, not alone but with others. And when I come to Communion, I am summing up and expressing the totality of my whole Christian faith, of my entire church membership.

It is a painful reality but nonetheless a fact, that at this moment Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Protestants, we are divided; we belong to separated ecclesial bodies. We are seeking unity but we still have a long way to go. So long as we are separated as ecclesial communities, it is not realistic for us to have Communion together. Communion expresses our total unity in faith, our solidarity as members of one ecclesial family. If our faith is different and if we belong to separated ecclesial families, it is somehow untruthful for us to have Communion together. The reception of Communion should not be seen as a means towards an end, not as a means towards greater unity. It should be seen as the expression of the unity that we possess. It is a gift from God, and until that unity is fully expressed, we have to accept that we cannot receive Communion together. It would not be truthful. It would not be realistic to the facts of our separated church membership.

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