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Becoming Hinged

just me, peering through a glass darkly

Being Faithful

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m truly ‘becoming hinged.’ God has taken most of the questions and doubts in my life and either has answered them or provided peace in them. Those that still remain simply don’t come to mind at this time. I’m sure they’re there, lingering . . . waiting to be used by the enemy at the most opportune time in order to loosen the screws on the newly-hinged me. But that’s okay. That’s not now. Now is a time of learning. Of trusting. Of letting go and letting God.

Yet in this time of feeling like God really is sorting me out . . . I’m being pressed with an issue of faithfulness to God and His Church’s teachings.  I can almost literally see the fork in the road.  Either I can remain in this feeling of God’s protection – choosing obedience over convenience; or I can take the more traveled road and potentially lose all the progress in this journey.  Please pray for me.

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Great post on growing up in the racist South

Check it out.

I’m not quite as old as the author of the post linked to above.  I do, however, remember well growing up in a very similar environment.  I can still recall the day I called a black classmate nigger simply because I thought this is what they were.  I quickly learned from that situation that that word was uttered safely away from the ears of African Americans.  I consider myself a funny enough person, but I can’t remember a joke well enough to tell it coherently.  Yet, I can remember many of the racist jokes that were told to me in all kinds of places – including the places of worship that I attended as a child.

I can remember the first time I saw a black man walk into church on Sunday morning.  You could breathe the tension in the room.  I remember my first boss telling me that the black guy he had hired was an exception, because he usually didn’t hire them.  This was in the early 1990’s.

Whatever we do in this debate about Obama’s pastor and what was said and what Obama knew, etc. etc. – let’s not pretend the issue of racism magically disappeared.  There are real hurts, real chasms of generational proportions.  God knows I’m guilty of my own racial prejudices in the past.  I hope and pray that God is healing me of them every day.

Instituted Acolytes

This is for anyone to answer: Does your diocese have the ministry of instituted acolyte?

I’m asking because I recently discovered that this is the ministry that altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are based upon. Only when an instituted acolyte is not present are these ‘ministries’ to be present. What’s the solution for dioceses across the world? Simply have no instituted acolytes. Problem solved. Now the duties of the acolyte can be assigned to whomever without regard to the actual teaching on this ministry.

Here’s a breakdown of what I understand, and I welcome all input and correction:

  • Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law states, “Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.”
  • The USCCB, in their complimentary legislation on Canon 230, state, “The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 230§1, hereby decrees that a layman who is to be installed in the ministries of lector or acolyte on a stable basis must have completed his twenty-first (21) year of age. The candidate must also possess the skills necessary for an effective proclamation of the Word or service at the altar, be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church, be free of any canonical penalty, and live a life which befits the ministry to be undertaken.”
  • However, in their Guidelines for Altar Servers, the USCCB states “Although institution into the ministry of acolyte is reserved to lay men, the diocesan bishop may permit the liturgical functions of the instituted acolyte to be carried out by altar servers, men and women, boys and girls. Such persons may carry out all the functions listed in nos. 98-100 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.”

So there it is. The ministry of instituted acolyte should be reserved for men of a certain age, determined by the conference of Bishops. Okay. So what does our conference of Bishops do? They provide a loophole so that in the absence of instituted acolytes, their duties (short of purification of the Holy Vessels) can be done by anyone. And naturally, any loophole provided the American Church becomes standard procedure.

My First Latin Mass

I was finally able to attend my first Latin Mass in the extraordinary form.  Wow.  It was indeed very different from the ordinary form, however, it was quite a wonderful experience.  I felt very close to Christ even though the opportunities for ‘participation’ were not as numerous.  It was a dialog mass, so if I was up on my Latin I could have done more, but as it was I merely tried to take it all in.  The silence was amazing.  The prayers of the priest are, for the most part, inaudible. This makes for some serious time of reflection.  Also, the time spent on my knees made me realize why so many saints were formed under the extraordinary form – my knees were aching so bad toward the end. I simply offered it up and tried to focus on Christ.

I would encourage anyone to experience this at least once. I definitely want to go back.

St. Theresé, First Things, and Accuracy

My recent conversations with UpstateLutheran (UL) reminded me of a past issue raised by UL in a TheologyWeb discussion we had months ago on a thread entitled Catholic ‘Salvation’. I won’t focus on the the thread itself, but one particular point repeatedly pushed by UL in the thread – that of St. Theresé Lisieux’s supposed ‘Lutheran’ sentiments, which were supressed by her fellow nuns.

Now, I can’t give UL credit for the claim. He came by it the honest way – by relying upon a source which should be fairly trustworthy: the online journal First Things. The title of the article used by UL is “Are Protestants Heretics?” by Fr. Edward T. Oakes, S.J., a professor of theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. I should point out that First Things seemingly has corrected the mistakes in Fr. Oakes’ article. Perhaps I had something to do with that.

The original article had these two paragraphs, which are now missing:

Sometimes, when I’m in an impish mood with the seminarians in my class, I like to quote something out of character from someone famous and have the students guess who said it. When I read these quotes from Thérèse, they’ll take a stab and say it’s from Martin Luther in one of his more pious moods, or John Calvin, or maybe Karl Barth. Imagine the shock when I tell them it came from that “Lutheran Carmelite,” the Little Flower!

Not surprisingly, these passages were suppressed from the first edition of her writings (edited by her fellow nuns at the Carmel in Lisieux) but were restored by more scientifically inclined scholars in the 1950s. These restored passages brought about a revolution in the interpretation of Thérèse, showing her to be a theologian of remarkable depth and uncanny insight, though unschooled in every way except in the crucible of her own experience. In fact, it was these very passages that led Pope John Paul II to declare her a Doctor of the Church.

After dealing with UL’s repeated claims on the thread at TheologyWeb, I decided to make sure for myself. This is a portion of the letter I sent to First Things:

I was surprised to read this, especially in light of recently downloading a facsimile copy of an English translation of “A Story of a Soul” published in 1912. This can be downloaded here: http://www.archive.org/details/saintthaeraeseof00thaeuoft . Also, Project Gutenberg has the same text available. In both versions, St. Therese is translated thusly:

I am happy at the thought of going to Heaven, but when I reflect on these words of Our Lord: ‘I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his works,’ I think that He will find my case a puzzle: I have no works. . . . Well, He will render unto me according to His own works!”

and

When comes the evening of life, I shall stand before Thee with empty hands, because I do not ask Thee, my God, to take account of my works. All our works of justice are blemished in Thine Eyes. I wish therefore to be robed with Thine own Justice, and to receive from Thy Love the everlasting gift of Thyself. I desire no other Throne, no other Crown but Thee, O my Beloved!

I believe, that when compared to the two quotes provided by Edward T. Oakes, it will be clear that he is wrong in attributing these two quotes from the version published in the 1950’s, supposedly containing, “suppressed” passages.

I am grateful that First Things decided to alter the article to eliminate the two misleading paragraphs. I am not, however, pleased that they didn’t issue a formal correction (as best I can tell), or include a notation in the article acknowledging the change. The Lutheran websites that latched onto the charge of suppression of Lutheran thought in St. Theresé most likely won’t bother doing the research I did, nor will they be aware of the editing of the article by First Things.

I say all of this, and relate it to UL, only because of the recent hullabaloo on the Internet by people like James Swan and James White over some supposedly problematic quotes used by Catholic apologist Steve Ray (see here for background). UL has ‘taken up the cause’ so to speak, and has been a vociferous supporter of Swan’s accusations. Of course, wouldn’t you know it, UL relied upon a Catholic priest – a seemingly reliable source – for his information concerning St. Theresé’s writings. He used the article as a source in an argument both on TheologyWeb and his own blog. I hope the irony sets in soon.

UPDATE: Fr. Al Kimel pointed me to the blog at First Things where Fr. Oakes did indeed acknowledge the error. Here is the link. Thank you, Fr. Kimel.

Another go at “Satisfaction”

The truly penitent accepts the punishments due his sin. This acceptance is an actual entering into the satisfaction won by Christ – and is His alone. It is an act of freedom, inspired by grace.

When one sins mortally, he literally breaks communion with God and His church. And there are consequences to this act of freely choosing a moral evil. Firstly are those eternal consequences – consequences that, if not addressed appropriately, will lead to the ultimate and final act of freedom: separation from God.

Secondly are those temporal consequences – loss of moral surety, a darkening of one’s soul – perhaps immediate losses of friendships and health, and other consequences like the hardening of one’s heart. Outside of a penitent heart, these temporal punishments can only be seen as paths of light, hoping to show the sinner the way to repentance.

The penitent (he who has come to sorrow over sin and who has confessed with his mouth), however, embraces these consequences of sin and joins himself to the sufferings of Christ. In this way he is truly purged and made fruitful. For what is purged from an unfruitful branch but those parts of it which are wasteful and of no use. But ‘in Christ’, joined to the Branch in repentance (in acquiescence), we are sanctified. This is satisfaction, and it cannot be ours, but is His alone! There cannot be forgiveness (for what is forgiveness, but that rejoining the branch) without satisfaction.

A truly penitent man accepts the consequences of his sin. To do otherwise is to mock justice. A man who gives himself to lust must live with those who love him doubting his fidelity. A man who invites ‘the world’ into his home, must live with seeing his children lost to the world’s seductions. But when the sinner turns to Christ in repentance, there is no guarantee that the wife so wronged for so long will suddenly abandon her doubt, or that the children so lost to the world will suddenly return. These too are temporal punishments, and in joining themselves to Christ even in the midst of suffering the consequences of their sin, the truly penitent can experience true healing.

Again, the one who lusts may live a lifetime in pitched battle with his accumulated habits, but the penitent, in seeking forgiveness and healing, enters into the purging of the husbandman willingly.

The penances issued by the priest in the confessional should be one more instance where man joins himself to Christ. “I have sinned!” Yes, now, “You are absolved! Now, do this as an act of joining with the satisfaction of Christ.” For sin is an act of freedom, of choice, and so must be penance. “Weep! Mourn! Let your laughter be turned to weeping!” For in our freedom, we have entered the sty and in our freedom we must say, “Yes!” to the care of the husbandman. A branch rejoined does not reject the shear.

Abide in Him! “Search me, O God, and see if there be any wickedness in me! In penances, offered and willingly accepted, let me unite myself to your satisfaction, O Christ! Against you, and you alone have I sinned! Help me to bear fruit that befits repentance!”

There is a sense in which the Council of Trent treats the action of satisfaction (purging through penances and in unifying ourselves to Christ) as the temporal punishments. There is another sense in which Trent treats the consequences of our sins themselves as the temporal punishments. Like so many things in Catholic theology, it is not a case of contradiction. But it is a case where clarity is needed, and that is why the recent developments are so important.

What is sin?

I think it would be helpful to try to put flesh upon the Catholic theological ideas so often associated with the ideas behind sin and justification. At least helpful to me.

It is my understanding that man was endowed by God with certain supernatural gifts.  This is a term that isn’t exactly used often in the homilies a Catholic might hear on any given day of the week.  I think a better, and often used, understanding of these supernatural gifts  is one of relationship with God.  This relationship must not be understood in terms of simply knowing God.  For there is no such thing.  Knowing God, and being known by Him entails a change in the knower.  One cannot enter a river and remain dry. Nor can one “see Him as He is” and be unchanged.  We were made for God, to “walk with him in the garden.”

The sin of our ancestors was a breaking of relationship, and therefore, in the language of theologians, a loss of supernatural gifts.  Well, they’re too many to list, or at least the various classifications of them would drag this simple blog post into a bog.  The one that stuck out to me was the sonship of God.  This, of course, fits right in with what I’ve been saying about relationship.  Our natural selves could never hope to claim the sonship of God.  However, God’s grace (gift) to us raises us up to this supernatural existence.

So, is sin simply the stepping away from this river of God’s supernatural gifts? A toweling off, back to our natural state?  That assumes, of course, that our natural state is sinful.  It isn’t, of course.  God created all thing good, and nothing is good that is sinful.  If I understand things rightly, man, even in his natural state – apart from the supernatural gifts which raise him to a grace-filled state – is ordered toward God.  We are gifted with conscience, reason, and freedom.

The sin of our ancestors was not merely a willful stepping away from the supernatural relationship with God, it was a stepping into spiritual  quicksand.  Sin is defined as a moral evil.  Evil is defined as a privation of form.  In other words, my human nature is damaged due to the ancestry of sin.  Adam and Eve didn’t merely shed themselves of the supernatural graces . . . they emptied trapped themselves (and us) in a pigpen of disordered nature.

Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Orthodox priest, uses the story of the Prodigal Son to teach about the ancestral sin – and its effects on all of us today.  Adam and Eve, through an act of the freedom God gave them, lost true freedom.  They moved to the pig pen of Jesus’ parable.  Not only did they stay, but their whole progeny stayed.  For thousands of years, they knew mostly nothing of the world outside the pig pen. Perhaps a glimpse or two of a different world, but it wasn’t until God himself entered the pig pen to show us a better way that we could truly leave that former life.

I like that analogy.  However, like all analogies, it fails in some sense.  Obviously there were righteous dead before Christ was incarnate.  These were men and women who left the pig pen, so to speak.  Through God’s gradual revelation of Himself, some were able to escape, in a certain sense, that life of slavery.  Remember the rock from which you were hewn.  God, through Grace, prepared people to experience forgiveness and covenantal relationship with Him.  This can’t be denied – simply look at the writings of the Old Testatment.

So, why Jesus?  Why the cross? Though these righteous in the Old Covenant escaped the miry clay of the pig pen, they still had not reentered the Father’s house.  This was the act of the atonement, an act that only Jesus could accomplish.  Man would once again be able to enter the sonship which accompanies the supernatural gifts of God.  The prodigal didn’t show up unannounced to the Father’s house, the Father ran to greet him and usher him in as if he had never left.  This ‘running to greet’ is the act of the Incarnation.  Without the cross, without the atonement, we could never ‘see Him as He is.

‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Punishment’

My friend, UpstateLutheran (as much friend as someone I’ve never really met and with whom I constantly bicker over theological/apologetical issues can be), has responded to a post I made at TheologyWeb concerning an article over at The Anastasis Dialogue, which was a quote of a post made by Fr. Al Kimel over at Beggars All . . . got that? :)

Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Fr. Al Kimel’s position, especially in light of some unclear language he uses. Until I’m comfortable with what he’s exactly saying, I can’t agree or disagree. One such example is his use of the term “existential consequences.” I’m not a philosopher or theologian, so without some clarification on Fr. Kimel’s part, I can only guess at what he means, and guessing isn’t good enough.

I did post the article over at TheologyWeb, but I did it merely for discussion sake. A discussion that UpstateLutheran has taken up in this post on his blog.

Now, before I begin addressing UpstateLutheran’s post directly, I’ll simply link to a wonderful article by Mark Shea on Indulgences and use some of his insights to help clarify terms.

Shea writes, ” Catholic theology has an incorrigible knack for obscuring marvelous insights in confusing terminology.” He couldn’t be more right. Shea goes on to say, “In reality, temporal punishment is just Catholicese for what Protestants call chastisement.”

Firstly, is he correct? In the section on indulgences, the Catechism states, “While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds . . . the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace.” The Bible often speaks of chastisement as God’s act of correcting what is ‘not correct’. For lack of more imagination, I would say God’s chastisement is the act of straightening what is crooked. Or, as Christ puts it in John 15:2, the unfruitful branches, though abiding in Him, will be purged so that they may be fruitful.

Shea continues, “In short, temporal punishment is part of how God redeems our sinful actions and turns their consequences into occasions of sanctity rather than damnation.” That is enough from Mr. Shea, as the remainder of his article deals more specifically with indulgences.

Now, on to our friend’s post:

In any case, what is being developed is what “temporal punishments” we have to make “satisfaction” for.

I do not believe that this is the gist of what Fr. Kimel was trying to say or indeed said. In the comment section at Beggars All, Fr. Kimel first quotes from Pope Benedict XVI (I think from a book when he was Cardinal Ratzinger):

Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where man is forced to undergo punishment in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather it is the inward necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God, and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints.

So, here we have Fr. Kimel’s main point: Purgatory, or the suffering of ‘temporal punishments’ (whatever that may be – to be explored later) is the process by which we are transformed into that ‘straightness’ God desires for each of us. I hope Fr. Kimel will forgive me if I butchered his actual sentiment.

After all, sin is (in its Eastern understanding especially), the ‘missing of the mark’. The incorrectness or unfruitfulness that necessitates purging by the Husbandman. Fr. Kimel states:

. . . . the key to understanding the Catholic teaching on “temporal punishments” is to realize that these punishments are not external acts of divine vengeance but are the existential consequences of our sins to ourselves and to others. Since God has willed that we suffer these consequences, they are and must be an expression of divine justice.

UpstateLutheran’s contention that ” what ‘temporal punishments’ we have to make ‘satisfaction’ for” is in question is not exactly accurate. Fr. Kimel definitely believes that we have to ‘make satisfaction’, etc., as he clearly states:

Only when the Catholic doctrine of the atonement is understood can we begin to address the meaning of purgatorial purification as “punishment” for which “satisfaction” must be made. One thing is very clear: these two words (“punishment” and “satisfaction”) are being used analogically in this context. The words came into the tradition through the ancient penitential system and its assignment of penances. They are an attempt to explain the ancient intuition of the Church that post-mortem purification is necessary for most of the redeemed–hence the moral and spiritual imperative to pray for the faithful departed.

In other words, the question isn’t what temporal punishments we have to make satisfaction for – it’s what is temporal punishment? Fr. Kimel states that temporal punishment can be understood as “existential consequences of our sins,” and I believe that this is the phrase that throws UpstateLuthern (and me, to some degree) off Fr. Kimel’s message.

I think that Fr. Kimel’s meaning of “existential consequences” should be taken to be only those natural consequences arising from our sins. In other words, those things that happen as a result of our sins. Fr. Kimel states that these consequences “are not external acts of divine vengeance.” And here, I think is the key dispute. Fr. Kimel, of course, is exactly right and he’s following the Catechism in stating that the temporal punishments should not be understood as ‘divine vengeance’. But UpstateLutheran states:

Unfortunately, this seems to contradict Trent Session 14, section 8

So, what does Trent say about this issue? Before I get there, let me dwell a bit on what Fr. Kimel states so plainly: the words satisfaction and punishment are deeply rooted in the ancient penitential practices of the Church. This practice is well attested in Church history and the Fathers of the Church, and I won’t linger on it at this point – though I’m more than willing to come back to the topic later. I wanted to reiterate Fr. Kimel’s point in order to put Trent in perspective. The act of penance after confession of sin was and is considered a healing remedy. It is also directly related, in the mind of the Church, to the power of the Church to bind and loose sins. And, taken as a whole, the penitential system should be seen as one more way God chastises those whom he loves.

Trent states:

And it beseems the divine clemency, that sins be not in such wise pardoned us without any satisfaction, as that, taking occasion therefrom, thinking sins less grievous, we, offering as it were an insult and an outrage to the Holy Ghost, should fall into more grievous sins, treasuring up wrath against the Jay of wrath. For, doubtless, these satisfactory punishments {penances} greatly recall from sin, and check as it were with a bridle, and make penitents more cautious and watchful for the future; they are also remedies for the remains of sin, and, by acts of the opposite virtues, they remove the habits acquired by evil living.

We see in this passage the understanding of ‘punishments’ being the actual penances given to those who have sinned after baptism. Notice their purpose: to make straight the crooked, to correct the uncorrected. This is a perfect example of the chastising of God’s beloved. Now UpstateLuthern bolded the first portion of that passage. If I had my druthers, I’d emphasize the last portion. I’ll just leave it be for now.

But Upstate says:

Now, at first I thought “Hey!, they are saying that God forgives the sin and the punishment! Well, that is not so bad.” But then I re-read the passage and realized it says just the opposite, it does not say God forgives our sins and our punishment, it says that unless we make satisfaction, i.e. are punished, our sins are not forgiven.

In this particular instance yes. It is the clear teaching of the Church, both in Trent and in the new Catechism, that ‘satisfaction’ (penance) must accompany the penitent’s confession. In fact, the Catechism quotes from Trent quite liberally in the paragraphs concerning satisfaction and temporal punishment. The emphasis, in the above quote, should not be the necessity of satisfaction, but of the purpose of satisfaction – to purge us, God’s branches.

UpstateLuthern continues:

Not only that, it seems to me that, contrary to Fr. Kimel’s claims about the “development” of this doctrine, the council clearly calls the “effects” punishments. i.e. they are not “accidents of sin” as it were, but punishments inflicted by God, or ourselves.

I’m not sure what UL’s point is, for it is obvious that Fr. Kimel never called temporal punishments “accidents of sin”. He plainly stated that use of the word ‘punishment’ is derived from the penitential practices of the Church and that the acts of satisfaction (penances) are tools of the Church used to conform us to the image of Christ. Neither the Catechism, nor any writing cited by Fr. Kimel called the temporal punishments due to sin “accidents of sin”. They are, as Fr. Kimel states plainly, consequences brought about by our own sin. The Council of Trent goes on to say,

But not therefore did they imagine that the sacrament of Penance is a tribunal of wrath or of punishments; even as no Catholic ever thought, by this kind of satisfactions on our parts, the efficacy of the merit and of the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ is either obscured, or in any way lessened . . . .

In other words, this ‘punishment’ should be understood in exactly the way that Fr. Kimel (and the Catechism) explicitly states: not external acts of divine vengeance. So how should it be understood? Well, remember that the Bible teaches that the Husbandman purges the branches in Christ. Also, that God chastises those whom he loves. Corrects those who need correction. So, if we, as Mark Shea advocates, understand ‘temporal punishment’ as the purging, correcting, chastising of God’s people – I think we are closer to the truth of what both Trent and Fr. Kimel are getting at.

One interesting passage of Scripture which illustrates this concept in a unique way is II Timoth 2:19-21:

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: The Lord knows those who are his, and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

This is from the ESV, and I love the translation, but the King James Version is even more explicit: If a man therefore purge himself. This penitential action by the believer, this act of ‘purging’ is encouraged to be performed by the believer. We can see here the Biblical and Catholic understanding of penitence – this undertaking of identifying ourselves with the sufferings of Christ. As Trent states so plainly:

But neither is this satisfaction, which we discharge for our sins, so our own, as not to be through Jesus Christ. For we who can do nothing of ourselves, as of ourselves, can do all things, He cooperating, who strengthens us.

UL spends the remainder of his post aghast that the Catholic “can have no confidence our sins are forgiven unless and until we have made enough “satisfaction” for our sins.” Of course, he neglects the most important part of the whole of Trent’s treatment of satisfaction, a part which is prominently quoted in the Catechism – that when we enter the very act of penitence, we unite ourselves with His suffering, His supreme satisfaction. That any acts of penance are done through his efficacy won on the Cross. Any purging, any correcting, any straightening is done because we have entered the realm of surrender to Him, He who strengthens us. I’m reminded of Hebrews 12. We are not told to just look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; but that we should throw off the weights that weigh us down, and sin which ‘clings so closely’. This is the act of ‘satisfaction’ of ‘penance’ of ‘conformity to Christ.’

And so, we come to the conclusion and purpose of Fr. Kimel’s comments: Purgatory is a post-mortem continuation of this ancient and truly apostolic belief.

Why not Orthodoxy? (p.5b)

I promised I would weigh in on the filioque issue before I moved on in my series. I really don’t have much more to say than what the links I had previously provided surely show: the filioque is not a Church-dividing issue. Of course, the first to make it a Church-dividing issue was Patriarch Photius of Constantinople (wiki article/Catholic Encyclopedia article). I have said (and I’m not the first to say it, I’m sure) that Photius was Martin Luther before Martin Luther was cool. I am not saying that Photius created the animosity between East and West out of whole cloth. Surely the fissures were already beginning to form. But what Photius did do was to make the anti-Western sentiments into a clear movement, one that took hold in that most orthodox of Orthodox institutions – the monasteries. There the sentiment would fester and grow. The Latins were beardless. The Latins used unleavened bread. The filioque was an issue which this anti-Latin party could latch onto with fervor. I have one more link to provide, a brief quote from that link, and I will be done with the filioque.

De unione ecclesiarum is a blog I’ve recently begun reading. I would recommend it highly. The blog’s author is in the midst of studying Patriarch John Bekkos, the man who supported reunion at Lyon, and a man who has been anathematized by the Orthodox churches. I hope you will study more about Bekkos, as I find him a fascinating character. And while you are doing that, continue on several decades and study Demetrios Kydones, a brilliant Easterner who also wished for reconciliation between East and West. James Likoudis’ book, Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism : Containing The 14th C. Apologia of Demetrios Kydomes for Unity With Rome . . . is a wonderful place to start. Anyway, over at De union, the author has a blog entry entitled, Bekkos on Photius’ motives. Read it. Here is an excerpt.

As for the historical account, to speak of it concisely, the course of events went like this. The patriarchal throne was adorned by Ignatius, a man who had attained to such a state of holiness that, to this day, his memory is celebrated in the Church according to the dignity allotted to those who have been well-pleasing unto God. Photius had his eyes on the throne; but, although he was a man of eminent culture and not ignoble with respect to wisdom, still, he did not do well to thrust off him who sat upon the throne, and to install himself there. Ignatius refers an account of the violent act to Pope Nicholas, who at that time adorned the apostolic see. There followed the requisite defense of the wronged party by the holy defender, a defense of which the saint surely was in need. A letter came to Photius enjoining that he restore to the victimized man his honor and his see. The letter provokes Photius’s anger — and why wouldn’t it, since it did not allow him free enjoyment of the things he coveted? — he conceives a grudge against the Roman Church, but, nevertheless, he does not yet allow the birthpang to break forth, but he still holds the wicked embryo of dissention in his belly; and, while he remains suspended with hopes, he takes counsel with himself in this way: either, if he should attain his desires’ object, to let his heart’s embryo die unformed; otherwise, if he should fail of this, to let the baby loose and bring forth the offspring of strife unto the manifest division of the Churches — which in fact took place, to the destruction, alas! of our nation and our sovereignty.

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