Author Topic: Sacraments, Canon Law  (Read 1035 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline wolf

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
Sacraments, Canon Law
« on: May 18, 2011, 01:09:03 PM »
I just wanted to ask a question about Eastern Orthodox sacramental theology.
Essentially, I would like to know what makes a sacrament a sacrament. In Catholic theology there is a bare minimum (form + matter) that must be satisfied for baptism to be valid, for Eucharist to be validly consecrated ect. The rest, prayers and so on, can be changed and are not necessarily essential, but not doing them would make the Sacrament "illicit" - because the priest/bishop is under the rule of the pope who has set the discipline. At least, this is my understanding.

Does Orthodoxy make this distinction - can the prayers and rituals surrounding the celebration of a sacrament every be changed and would discarding them make the Sacrament worthless? I ask the same of Canon Law, whether it can be changed. I guess an explanation on Orthodox discipline would be helpful - which days are fasted on for example - is this set by the local Bishop or some other authority, and can it change?

I ask in order to understand the idea that those who have been baptised into non-orthodox faiths may receive re-baptism or re-chrismation.

I hope that makes sense.

Offline AWR

  • Greetings from the Southern Jersey Shore.
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 240
  • Expelled from Paradise
    • Church  of the Mother of God
Re: Sacraments, Canon Law
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2011, 03:01:43 PM »
Well as for canons, not all cannons are doctrines and not all doctrines are are expressed in the cannons.  It is most likely better to learn Christian Doctrine than cannons.

Quote
Taken by themselves, the canon laws of the Church can be misleading and frustrating, and therefore superficial people will say "either enforce them all or discard them completely." But taken as a whole within the wholeness of Orthodox life -- theological, historical, canonical, and spiritual --- these canons do assume their proper place and purpose and show themselves to be a rich source for discovering the living Truth of God in the Church. In viewing the canons of the Church, the key factors are Christian knowledge and wisdom which are borne from technical study and spiritual depth. There is no other "key" to their usage; and any other way would be according to the Orthodox faith both unorthodox and unchristian.
- http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=8

Offline wolf

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
Re: Sacraments, Canon Law
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2011, 01:10:27 PM »
I see. So the Orthodox see Canons more as guides than laws.

If anyone can help with my other questions, that would be great.

Offline Shanghaiski

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,980
  • Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti, Georgia
Re: Sacraments, Canon Law
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 04:20:56 PM »
The Orthodox Church does not  re-baptize anyone because it does not recognize that there is real baptism outside the Church. There can only be the form of baptism--triple immersion and in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This form is without grace. According to the understanding, reception through chrismation fills up what was lacking in the empty form of baptism. Of course, there is the question of what to do if the form itself is not wholly there.

All this, however, is quite a separate question from sacraments, which exist only in the Church, and whether or not they are "valid," which is not a term traditionally employed in the Orthodox tradition.

All I can answer to this is an unsourced, potentially apocryphal, anecdote involving a holy bishop who did not himself always liturgize, but prayed in the altar (behind the iconostasis). This was at a seminary. A new priest was particularly nervous or distracted and forgot some important prayers from the consecration of the holy gifts. People were wondering whether or not it was really communion and asked the holy bishop. He allegedly said, "The Holy Spirit knows to come when He's supposed to."

Now, this may not have happened at all, but I think, maybe, it is still a good illustration of the Orthodox position. Would it have been possible in this alleged incident  to go back and redo what was skipped? I think so. But, I think, from my perspective, the question of whether something is "valid" or even, in Orthodox terms, whether a sacrament is grace-filled (IIRC), has more to do with events that happen well after the event occurred. Roman Catholics annul marriages, allegedly, because it was "invalid," not all the criteria were there. They also declare sacraments of churches outside their communion to be valid for their own purposes--such as potential reunification.

Granted, in the Orthodox Church, there are some sacraments which are unfortunately performed incorrectly or inconsistently. For example, some Orthodox are baptized by sprinkling and others may not have received chrism on each body part called for in the service book. IMO, there is a good argument for many of these things to be corrected, for purposes of spiritual health, order, and adherence to norms. However, others are opposed to this for the same reasons.
Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.

Offline Shanghaiski

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,980
  • Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti, Georgia
Re: Sacraments, Canon Law
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2011, 04:22:54 PM »
I see. So the Orthodox see Canons more as guides than laws.

If anyone can help with my other questions, that would be great.

Neither a guide nor a law, a measuring stick. To me, "guidelines" sounds too optional. Anyway, the application of the holy canons is the responsibility of those who have vowed to uphold them, namely the bishops.
Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.

Offline wolf

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
Re: Sacraments, Canon Law
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 12:11:55 PM »
Shanghaiski

Thank you for the info. It makes sense when you think about it, that sacraments outside the Church cannot be valid seeing as they are something for the church, and wouldn't be doing it the way the church does.