Feast of St. Josaphat: Time for Full Communion Between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches
There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us
The two lungs of Christ's Church must breathe together again in the Third millennium as they did in the First Millennium. That breath is the breath of the Holy Spirit. That breath will fuel a new missionary age of the Church.
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On November 12, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St Josaphat, an Eastern Catholic Bishop (1580 - 1623) who in life - and in death - poured himself out in imitation of Jesus Christ so that the Church would once again be one.
Over the years, Josaphat has been referred to as the "thief of souls". Sadly, his heroic efforts have been misunderstood and misused by some to further the very division between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches which he gave his life to heal.
I propose that heroic man was - in fact - plundering hell itself! The full communion of the One Church, with all of its rich and legitimate diversity within theological orthodoxy(right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right practice) will unleash the most powerful spiritual renewal in recent Church history.
I must lay all my cards on the table. I long for the full communion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. I pray daily for the full communion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. I do so because I believe it is the will of God that "All May be One" (John 17: 21).
I believe that the healing of the division between the two sister churches will unleash a profound renewal of the entire Church - at the dawn of what I believe is a new missionary age. I also believe that the gifts found in the whole Church will enrich both East and West, assisting us in the mission which we must face together in our One Lord.
I long for this full communion because I am convinced that, as the West implodes under the fierce ravages of what Pope Benedict XVI properly called a "Dictatorship of Relativism", it is only the true humanism found in the fullness of truth as revealed in Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church, which can save the West - as well as the East - from rushing over a cliff to its own demise.
I long for this full communion because, as a "revert", one who returned to my Catholic faith as a young man, I walked the way home by way of the early Church Fathers. Had I not had been baptized a Catholic of the Latin Rite; I might have become an Eastern Christian.
As the decades of my life have unfolded in theological studies and ordination to the Order of Deacon, my vision and theological viewpoint are still profoundly Eastern. So too is my worship. I have long prayed with icons and love the Divine Liturgy. However, I cherish the unity that comes with the Chair of Peter.
Let me be clear, I am deeply and happily ensconced in the Roman Catholic Church. I am glad that I have authorization to serve the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church. For a number of years I had the privilege of regularly serving the Divine Liturgy and I miss it. I love the Liturgy, East and West, however I find the depth of the Mystery is beautiful captured in the Liturgy of the East.
There is a Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the whole Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi". It means that the law of prayer or worship is the law of belief and the law of life. Or, even more popularly rendered, as we worship, so will we believe and live!
Worship is not an "add on" for a Catholic or an Orthodox Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic and Orthodox identity; expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.
How the Church worships is a prophetic witness to the truth of what she professes. Good worship becomes a dynamic means of drawing the entire human community into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ, lived out in the communion of the Church. It attracts - through beauty to Beauty. Worship informs and transforms both the person and the community which participates in it. There is reciprocity between worship and life.
Finally, I long for the coming full communion of East and West because my oldest son is an Orthodox Christian. He, his wife and their children are all practicing Orthodox Christians. I must admit that the more I visit them these days the more I appreciate the beauty of the interweaving of faith and life which comes with Eastern Christianity and its practices.
Yet, I experience something else during these visits. As I participate in his family life, the more painful our separation at the Altar also becomes. I believe it gives me a glimpse, perhaps a participation, in the very heart of the Lord who longs for our unity and weeps over our division as He wept over Jerusalem of old.
So, yes, I watch for every sign that the two lungs of the One Church are beginning to fill with the one breath of Divine Life, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone can animate the One New Man, Jesus Christ, to heal the division which has gone on for too long in His Body. ...
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