Friday, May 30, 2008

Ecumenism Reading List

Last week, while following a trail of links, I landed on this interesting post from the blog Torn Notebook. It quotes from a book by Bp. Hilarion Alfeyev, who cites St. Gregory the Theologian, who was reflecting on St. Athanasius. St. Gregory, like St. Athanasius before him, valued the unity of the Church so much that he was not willing to permit division over petty disputes about doctrinal semantics. Both the passage from St. Gregory and the commentary on it by Bp. Hilarion are well worth reading. This is the second in a series of five posts on the subject of “Church Unity and Legitimate Variance,” all of which can be found archived here, though you'll have to scroll down a bit on the page to find them all.

Continuing a bit further on the ecumenical trail tonight, I found a couple of other interesting items. Earlier this month, Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III addressed Pope Benedict XVI on the state of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. His address included this section in which he recounted the Melkites' particular vocation for Christian unity. He concluded with this appeal:

We are indeed rather the Eastern “enfant terrible” in communion with the Church of Rome. That was the goal of the initiative of the late Archbishop Elias Zoghby in 1996: to be in full communion with the Church of Rome and with Orthodoxy. That may be a dream, an Utopian vision, but it is also a prophetic vision.

We would like to live, in the very heart of the Catholic Church, a life that could be accepted by Orthodoxy. Let us do so, Most Holy Father. That is the key to all real progress along the ecumenical way. Accept us, Holy Father, as we are: Eastern Orthodox, who want to live our full and complete Eastern Orthodox tradition in full communion with Rome. That is the really big challenge for the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, as has been evident at every stage of the ecumenical dialogue since 1980 and especially at Belgrade and Ravenna.

For all that, Most Holy Father, we need your prayer, your approbation and your blessing.

Finally, the Byzantine blogosphere is buzzing with commentary on the news from Timisoara, Romania, that an Orthodox metropolitan received communion in a service at a Romanian Catholic church. No one seems to know for sure what the metropolitan was thinking, but some are describing it as a bold step forward in ecumenical relations, while others see it as a scandal.

I will close with a list of blogs I have encountered that focus on Church unity:
The Anastasis Dialogue
Byzantine, TX
De unione ecclesiarum

Friday, May 9, 2008

Steward of the Treasury of Grace

A friend, formerly Anglo-Catholic, now Roman, just sent me a list of links to his favorite blogs. This one, written by an Anglo-Papalist priest and scholar in the UK, recently featured a series of four short posts that, together, constitute a translation of a short passage from a homily by St. Gregory Palamas on the Mother of God. The section I found most striking was the end of part three, which offers the image of Mary as keeper of the treasury of grace:

[T]hrough thee is illumined the spirit by the indwelling of the divine Spirit; for thou didst become steward (tamiouchos) and full content (perioche) of graces; not so that thou mightest keep them by thyself, but so that thou might fill the whole of everything (ta sumpanta) with grace – because the Dispenser of inexhaustible treasures ordains (epitropeuei) it on account of the distribution: for why would he make the undiminshed wealth to be closed up?

To read the whole thing (which is quite short, even though it is spread out over four posts), click here and then scroll down to the second-to-last post. The four posts are titled, "Mary's Month of May."