Category Archives: Eastern Church

Fr Robert Taft advocates ecumenical scholarship & theology as a new approach to restore communion among the churches of East and West

taft.jpgThe
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their
past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Archimandrite Robert F.
Taft, SJ.

Fr. Taft, a Jesuit priest of the New England Province and professor emeritus of the history of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was
sustained primarily by offensive actions–not theological differences.
He delivered “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations
Today,” on June 28 at Fordham University.

“The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical
dialogue is not doctrine but behavior,” Fr. Taft said. “The issue is
not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and
live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is
that we do not know how to act.”

He
pointed to Catholic “uniatism”–aggression against another church–as a
major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He
added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also
refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of “ecumenical scholarship and theology”–a
new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite,
rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic
and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic
sister churches, he said.

The
point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and
Orthodox never disagree. “What it does mean, is that at the official
level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously,
without invective, rudeness, and slander,” Fr. Taft said. [Fordham
University]

Praying the Maronite Liturgy

Today, I was one of the acolytes at St Ann Melkite Church (Waterford, CT) for the Maronite Liturgy celebrated in the another Eastern Church, the Melkite Church. It is not typical for one Liturgy to be celebrated in a church of another Eastern Church but since there are a number of Maronite Catholics who live in southeastern Connecticut it was judged rightly to have the Maronite Liturgy this weekend. The Liturgy was done in both English and Arabic. My friend Archimandrite Edward Kakaty welcomed visiting Maronites with their priest from Our Lady of Lebanon Church, Waterbury, CT, to St Ann’s.

For nearly three years I served as acolyte for the Maronite Liturgy and frequently the Melkite Liturgy so today was like coming home.

Watch part I of the Diving Liturgy here, part II here and part III here.

Basil M. Schott, OFM, Ruthenian metropolitan archbishop RIP

BM Schott.jpgAfter struggling with Leukemia Metropolitan Basil Myron Schott, OFM, died this morning. He was 71. I have fond memories of meeting the archbishop and always found him to be a kind and holy man.

Since 2002, Archbishop Basil was the head of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church in the USA.

May his memory be eternal.
The funeral arrangements for His Eminence, Metropolitan Basil, Schott funeral arrangements.pdf.
A glimpse into the Metropolitan’s life here and here.
A Pittsburgh Tribune Obit is posted here.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

saint-ephrem2.gifIt is indeed fitting to honor the blessed deacon of
Edessa for his desire that the preaching of the divine word and the training of
his disciples rest on the purity of Sacred Scripture. He also acquired honor as
a Christian musician and poet. He was so accomplished in both arts that he was
called the “lyre of the Holy Spirit.” From this, Venerable Brothers,
you can learn what arts promote the knowledge of sacred things. Ephrem lived
among people whose nature was attracted by the sweetness of poetry and music.
The heretics of the second century after Christ used these same allurements to
skillfully disseminate their errors. Therefore Ephrem, like youthful David
killing the giant Goliath with his own sword, opposed art with art and clothed
Catholic doctrine in melody and rhythm. These he diligently taught to boys and
girls, so that eventually all the people learned them. In this fashion he not
only renewed the education of the faithful in Christian doctrine and supported
their piety with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, but also happily kept
creeping heresy at bay.


The artistry introduced by Blessed Ephrem added dignity
to sacred matters as Theodoretus stresses. The metric rhythm, which our saint
popularized, was widely propagated both among the Greeks and the Latins. Indeed
does it seem probable that the liturgical antiphonary with its songs and
processions, introduced at Constantinople in the works of Chrysostom and at
Milan by Ambrose (whence it spread throughout all of Italy), was the work of
some other author? For the “custom of Eastern rhythm” deeply moved
the catechumen Augustine in northern Italy; Gregory the Great improved it and
we use it in a more advanced form. Critics acknowledge that that “same
Eastern rhythm” had it origins in Ephrem’s Syrian antiphonary.

It is no
wonder then that many of the Fathers of the Church stress the authority of St.
Ephrem. Nyssenus says of his writings, “Studying the Old and New
Scriptures most thoroughly, he interpreted them accurately, word for word; and
what was hidden and concealed, from the very creation of the world to the last
book of grace, he illumined with commentaries, using the light of the
Spirit.” And Chrysostom: “The great Ephrem is scourge of the
slothful, consoler of the afflicted, educator, instructor and exhorter of
youth, mirror of monks, leader of penitents, goad and sting of heretics,
reservoir of virtues, and the home and lodging of the Holy Spirit.” Certainly
nothing greater can be said in praise of a man who, however, seemed so small in
his own eyes that he claimed to be the least of all and a most vile sinner”
(12-14).

Pope Benedict XV

Principi
Apostolorum Pet
ro (On St. Ephrem the Syrian), 5 October 1920

Fr Ragheed Aziz Ganni: 3rd anniversary of death

ragheed.jpgJune 3rd is quickly becoming a date that most Christians will not forget too easily: 1) the liturgical memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga, 19th century African martyrs; 2) the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII; 3) the murder of Father Ragheed and his companions; and now 3) the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, OFM Cap.

Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni’s death with the three subdeacons is still a rather moving memory for me, not just on the anniversary but throughout the year when thinking of the plight of the Eastern churches. But why? Because he could’ve gone the other way, avoided the situation of his people and saved his life. Instead he confronted evil head-on with courage. Like other things one remembers, the deaths of people who unknowingly become incredible, beautiful witnesses to the Presence of Christ right now (not some time ago).
Father Ragheed was a Catholic priest of the Chaldean Church in the Diocese of Mosul. Ganni was ordained a priest October 13, 2001. He was 35 years old, a young priest, and a collaborator in Truth for the Kingdom of God. He was convinced in the beauty of God’s Word and His enduring Presence in the world and that we ought not to be scared away.
More on Father Ragheed can be read here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory