Saturday, December 16, 2006

OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

By Anthony Bashir, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Syrian Archdiocese of North America

From Orthodoxy* (10:4, Autumn 1964)

In conclusion, and to avoid misunderstanding or exploitation by the popular press, I insist that these proposals are made as a loyal representative of the Orthodox Church who holds it to be the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of the creed, outside of which there is no salvation. I am not glossing over the schism or heresy of the west, and by no means suggesting any other solution to division than the reunion of all Christians with the same Orthodox Church. If reunion cannot be accomplished by a restatement of the two positions, however, I do not see it as possible in any other way.

Read more: OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)

Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)

By Anthony Bashir, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Syrian Archdiocese of North America

Orthodoxy* (10:4, Autumn 1964)

We all share the privilege of living in a most exciting, even exhilarating time for Christian believers. The age of mutual recrimination and proliferating schisms appears to be drawing to a close and all who profess loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ now feel the challenge of His will that 'all may be one.' However Christians differ from each other in their understanding of their heritage, they seem to be laying hold upon the vision of a united Christendom. Orthodox and Catholics can turn from the frustration engendered by the observation of the bewildering variety of sectarian creeds and customs, and contemplate with satisfaction the truly vast area of agreement which they have in common. They can draw comfort further from the significant fact that while orthodoxy (with a small 'o') does not depend on the counting of noses, as St Athanasius well knew, the great general agreement that includes Orthodox and Catholics in an almost unanimous tradition places the onus on Christians outside of these two bodies to justify their minority witness.

Read more: OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)


In his blog "Reflections on Faith and Culture," Catholic layman Gil Bailie offers his reflections on what he (accurately I think) the "intellectually robust revival of conservative thought."

After briefly considering and rejecting for himself the media created "neocon" ("a liberal who has been mugged") and "theocon" (which he says "works better, but it, too, has certain connotations (especially in the glazed eyes of those who use it disparagingly), which are somewhat problematic," though he does not specify what these problems are), he introduces a new term for his own position. Bailie identifies himself as a "rubicon."

A rubicon, Bailie writes, "is someone who realizes, again belatedly, that his culture is under a serious assault from enemies within and without, and that the historical success and momentary preeminence of the culture built on Judeo-Christian foundations does not in any way guarantee that it will emerge triumphant from the present challenge." A rubicon is not interested particular interested in politics or the culture wars. Indeed for Bailie, he is only involved in these conversations as a "distasteful necessity, a draftee in the struggle to preserve the foundations of civil order and to remain faithful to religious principle."

But the heart of the rubicon philosophy is one that any Orthodox Christian--or indeed traditional Catholic, Anglican or classical Reformed Christians for that mater--cannot help but affirm. For Bailie a rubicon is someone who "realizes either intuitively or by bitter experience, that the burning heart of the tradition that nurtures everything he holds dear is ultimately liturgical."

It is only with a "a deep appreciation for rubrics, whether they are the liturgical rubrics of Christian sacramental life or the traditional constitutional rubrics of political liberalism which are currently being twisted in knots by domestic postmodern apparatchiks and mocked by the West's external enemies, whose fascist tendencies are daily more in evidence" that it is possible to maintain the Great Tradition on which Western culture is founded.

The challenge we (not simply Orthodox, but also Catholics, Anglicans and classical Reformed Christians) face today is "the liturgical rubrics, that red-letter essence of Christian worship which is the true font of the bounty enjoyed by those cultures fortunate enough to have been hosts to these liturgies" are being evermore marginalized even in those traditions that are self-identified as liturgical. While this is more graphically seen in Roman Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, even in the Orthodox Church there is an indifference to the anthropological content and implications of out liturgical tradition.

If we are faithful to our liturgical tradition, then we will realize that as members of the Body of Christ we are food and drink for one another. In other words, we are dependent on one another and not simply for the practical necessities that constitute the life of the Church. Our dependence on one another is more intimate then that. I cannot become who Christ has called me to be apart from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Together we are the Body of Christ and it is only together that we can each of us become who we are most truly.

The Liturgy is not simply something that we do--it also expresses who we are both personally and communally. It is this anthropological insight that must be further studied and explored. At the heart of this study must be the willingness and the ability to bring into ever increasing conformity the pastoral and administrative practice of the Church with our liturgical tradition.

To read more of Bailie's essay: Reflections on Faith and Culture: Only half in jest . . .

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory