Monday, July 16, 2007

NEW LINK: Anastasis Dialogue

You will notice a new link under my blog list, Anastasis Dialogue. What is this, you ask? Well let the blog's author, Byzantine Catholic priestmonk Fr. Maximos, speak for his own work:

Welcome to the latest ecumenical endeavour of Holy Resurrection Monastery. We have always been convinced that Eastern Catholic monastics have a special responsibility to work for the re-union of the Churches, especially those Churches with which they share their tradition of prayer, theological reflection and ascetic practices. Not only is this idea one we hold firmly, it is actually a demand made of us by our own Church, and made with special forcefulness by the late Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen.

There are a number of monastic ventures around dedicated to building bridges between ecclesiasial communities and faiths. The Benedictine and Cistercian families in particular have institutionalized this work in such important organizations as the Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique and in the special vocation of the monastery of Chevetogne in Belgium. The monastic family of Holy Resurrection Monastery (including the sisterhood of Holy Theophany Monastery in Olympia, Washington) with the blessing of our hierarch, His Grace Bishop John Michael (Botean), and the encouragement of a number of other prelates both Catholic and Orthodox, is now beginning to embark on our own, more humble, version of these ministries.

Hence, The Anastasis Dialogue, a way to bring together Catholics and Orthodox, especially in the English-speaking world, to explore their common monastic heritage with a view to finding common ecumenical ground.
This latest addition to what Fr Maximos (following Walter Cardinal Kasper) calls "spiritual ecumenicism" is right in line with the different projects that have come my way in the last few weeks.

To give you a bit of the flavor of this most interesting site, let me quote again from Fr Maximos' work. Referring the the recent document of the Roman Church that communion with the Pope of Rome "is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles," our intrepid priestmonk writes:

Yes. That makes sense to me. But should it not also be one of the "internal constitutive principles" of a particular Church that it should also maintain itself in communion with all other particular Churches? And if this is so with any particular Church, should it not especially be so with respect to that particular Church, namely the Roman Church, to which is granted the special charism of maintaining the universality of the whole Church?

In other words, aren't all the Churches today, whether Catholic or Orthodox, "lacking something"? Perhaps rather than claim for itself sole proprietorial rights to be the visible Church professed in the Creed, we Catholics should begin to reclaim a more patristic kind of language, speaking of a "wounded" Church on the level of history. This disunity between the Churches is nothing knew. The fathers saw plenty of it: the Meletian schism, for example, or the quite long breach between Rome and Constantinople after the deposition of St. John Chrysostom. What makes the current schism different is not, I think, the seriousness of the disagreement, but that it has gone on for so long that it has begun to seem like business as usual. The danger of that is that we no longer feel any urgency to heal it.

Fr Maximos' response is not only irenic, but it demonstrates a deep appreciation of how insensitive we have all become, Orthodox and Catholic, to the schism that now almost 1,000 years old! While we can argue back and forth as to who is or isn't the truest, True Church, both Catholics and Orthodox would do well, I think, to ask themselves if they are really better off without the other and if our side is committed to reconciliation as we are to, oh I don't know, justifying or excusing the rather bad behavior of some of our own clergy? Why is it that we don't invest at least as much energy and resources in reconciliation that we squander on triumphalism?

Any way, Axios! Dear Fr Maximos! May God grant you and your brother monks many years!

I would commend The Anastasis Dialogue to all of you who read this blog.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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