I was under the impression that the Orthodox Church makes no judgment on the validity or lack thereof of the Roman sacraments.
I have never understood what that means. Judgements are made frequently. Every time a Catholic, an Anglican, a Lutheran, or a Pre-Chalcedonian or Old Catholic or a member of the Old Calendarist Churches is received into the canonical Church or wishes to marry an Orthodox Christian, judgements must be made as to their sacraments. In some cases this is ad hoc by individual priests, in other cases the bishop has made the judgments and issued instructions to his priests.
In terms of this thread every Orthodox Christian entering a Catholic Church and seeing the Tabernacle or seeing the Host exposed in a Monstrance must make a judgement - to acknowledge that he is standing in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus Christ and to make some form of obeisance and worship, or to decide he is only in the presence of bread and ignore it.
To put this in a little bit of perspective, Catholics entering a Catholic Church and seeing the Tabernacle or a Monstrance in Exposition, ought to make the same discernment.
It is no small or easy thing to stand in the presence of the Living God. So for those outside trying to discern, you are not alone.
Thank you for the work you are doing in this thread, Father Ambrose.
As a footnote please let me add my own belief, the teaching which I received
from my spiritual father in Serbia, may his memory be eternal. It differs
entirely from the Russian.
Because of my Serbian background I in fact do not agree with the Russian position,
but it would be dishonest of us not to admit that it is the historical
attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox assessment of Catholic and Pre-Chalcedonian sacraments is not
Once when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb was visiting the holy
monastery of Zica, Serbia, together with a small party of bishops and
priests he shared lunch with us in the monastery's guest refectory.
I suppose it would help to put you in the picture if I relate something of
Fr Dositej's place in the Serbian Church.
My spiritual father (and the person who tonsured me) was Fr Archimandrite
Dositej of the holy monastery of Zica. He was tonsured and ordained by Saint
Nikolai Velimirovic of Zica
and was his disciple. He was a spiritual friend of Saint Justin Popovic and
in the esteem of the Serbian faithful second only to him as one of Serbia's
spiritual fathers. In a country which has dozens of excellent monasteries
and many many excellent spiritual fathers, this means quite a lot. He was
the spiritual father of Zica monastery with 27 monastics and he was the
confessor of many other monks and nuns from other monasteries and he had
numerous spiritual children throughout Serbia. This helps to make it clear
why I trust and hold
to the tradition which I received from him.
Back to the anecdote....... At the meal Archbishop Kuharic asked Fr Dositej
what he saw as the difference between Catholic and Orthodox sacraments.
Fr Dositej took two identical glasses and he filled one with water. He
pointed to that one and said: "This glass is the sacraments (tainstva) of