Author Topic: efficacious?  (Read 377 times)

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Offline Hinterlander

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efficacious?
« on: November 15, 2013, 02:37:03 PM »
Do Orthodox believe their sacraments to be, in any sense, efficacious?

Or perhaps constructive? potent?

Offline IoanC

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 02:58:17 PM »
Do Orthodox believe their sacraments to be, in any sense, efficacious?

Or perhaps constructive? potent?

You mean like a potion? No, they are existential; they (re)unite us with God and one another.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 03:20:24 PM »
Do Orthodox believe their sacraments to be, in any sense, efficacious?

Or perhaps constructive? potent?

Would you expand on this?  I don't know that there's enough context to offer an answer. 
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Mor no longer posts on OCNet.  He follows threads, posts his responses daily, occasionally starts threads, and responds to private messages when and as he wants.  But he really isn't around anymore.


Offline Rufus

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 03:47:40 PM »
Do Orthodox believe their sacraments to be, in any sense, efficacious?

Or perhaps constructive? potent?

Yes, for sure, at least in some sense.

What exact exact sense that might be is rather difficult to determine. I don't have a deep knowledge of the theology behind the RC term "efficacious." It is not a word I can ever specifically recall an Orthodox saying.

Remember that the Orthodox try to avoid intellectualizing the Sacraments.

Looking at Orthodox pre- and post-Communion prayers may answer your question.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 04:00:42 PM »
Do Orthodox believe their sacraments to be, in any sense, efficacious?

Or perhaps constructive? potent?

Would you expand on this?  I don't know that there's enough context to offer an answer. 

I'm with you on this one: the question needs more clarity and definition before I'd even attempt a reply.
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Offline Hinterlander

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 06:40:27 PM »
My question stems from this comment:

Quote
I guess I would say it this way: We Orthodox believe that the Orthodox Church is the true Church, our surest means of salvation. However, on the level of each individual person, I'd be willing to bet that we're probably no better than those outside the Church at actually living in accordance with our faith.

Would any Orthodox disagree with the above quote?

My assumption is that Orthodox believe participation in the liturgical/sacramental life of the Orthodox Church changes a person.  My efficacious I mean simply "produces a change" . . . I know nothing of RC theology so I don't want to go there.

Why is it improper to expect Orthodox to be different than the Heterodox? 

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 08:35:02 PM »
My question stems from this comment:

Quote
I guess I would say it this way: We Orthodox believe that the Orthodox Church is the true Church, our surest means of salvation. However, on the level of each individual person, I'd be willing to bet that we're probably no better than those outside the Church at actually living in accordance with our faith.

Would any Orthodox disagree with the above quote?

I wouldn't.  At the individual human level, Orthodox and heterodox are the same: human.  Each has his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses, but there is also commonality.   

Quote
My assumption is that Orthodox believe participation in the liturgical/sacramental life of the Orthodox Church changes a person.  My efficacious I mean simply "produces a change" . . . I know nothing of RC theology so I don't want to go there.

Why is it improper to expect Orthodox to be different than the Heterodox? 

I would say it is not improper to expect the Orthodox to be different from the heterodox because, in the way you're using the term, I'd say the sacramental life of the Church is efficacious.  Provided that any given Orthodox Christian has not put obstacles in the way of God's grace, s/he receives that grace through the sacraments and it is transformative.  That is a "benefit" that the heterodox simply do not have until and unless they enter the Church.   

The problem is that, at the individual human level, no two Orthodox will be equally receptive to God's grace because there are obstacles.  Again, each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and these are one form of obstacle.  To the extent that we can remove them through our ascetic struggle, God's grace (which gives us the power to do this in the first place) can be even more effective.  But not everyone will do that in the same way: some will take great pains to remove obstacles, others will struggle a little, others not at all.  Some have great messes to clean up, and others have very little.  And also, we need to account for what God is doing in any particular person's life.  Can God take a person struggling to prepare himself for Communion through prayer, fasting, ascetic struggle, and confession, give him Communion, and instantly perfect him?  Yes.  But is it possible that God has a reason for allowing such a person to continue struggling rather than "give him the Kingdom" all at once?  Of course. 

In short, the sacraments are independently efficacious--all the "power" is there--but there are so many variables when it comes to the person receiving them that it's difficult to say that the process should look the same for everyone.  The only thing that would be the same is a general emphasis on the need for prayer, fasting, struggle, and confession.  How much prayer, how much fasting, whether to struggle against all vices or one at a time, how regularly and how thoroughly to confess and commune, etc. all can vary with each individual.  What each individual person brings to the table will vary.  The path to healing and holiness will also vary.  But the starting point is always God's grace within the sacramental life of the Church, and in that sense we have everything we need.   
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Offline mike

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Re: efficacious?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2013, 12:14:55 PM »
I feel changed after confession.