Recently I made up my mind to visit Eastern Catholic parishes. Though canonically Roman Catholic, I have long known my theological portion to fall with Origen and his heirs. But for reasons now dark to my gaze my theological predilections did not translate to liturgical ones. Until anyhow they did—not least due to the compelling (if inadvertent) advertising campaign for the Eastern Catholic Churches pitched by Adam A.J. DeVille’s Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed (Angelico Press, 2019). Resolved, I flick through some Robert Taft books on the history of the Divine Liturgy and tell my children (7, 5, 1) to steel themselves for “a long Church.”
I visit the Melkite parish first. Its white brick climbs skyward, its motion stymied only by a golden dome outfitted with a Greek cross. No Latin parish, this. Perfect.
Allow me to begin by suggesting that today’s “new circumstances and challenges” referenced in the Draft Document “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World” (par. 24) require a radical kenosis among Christians. The rapid rejection of Christ’s truth in the West, and the equally widespread secularization of the educated classes in the East, demand a new commitment to “modeling the new man in Christ” (cf. par. 23). This “new man in Christ” blesses those who curse him and does good to those who hate him (cf. Mathew 5:44). This kind of love shatters secularism’s self-assuredness.
In 1987, the Primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, publicly asked forgiveness of the Russian Orthodox Church in the following words: “Following the Spirit of Christ, we extend our hand of forgiveness, reconciliation and love to the Russian nation and the Moscow Patriarchate. We repeat the words of Christ that we spoke during our act of reconciliation with the Polish nation: ‘Forgive us, as we forgive’ (Matthew 6:12).” Unfortunately, this gesture has remained unanswered to the present day. Can Orthodox and “Uniates” not begin a new era of relations by having their Protohierarchs send – and respond to – such letters on a regular basis? Continue Reading…