Author Topic: Intercommunion in the time of Saint Ambrose article by Fr. Peter Heers  (Read 660 times)

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Offline PJ26

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There is an interesting article on Pravoslavie today by Fr. Peter Heers about Saint Ambrose and how he was chosen by and governed a diocese consisting of a mixed Orthodox and Arian community.

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/99597.htm

However, I was struck by his concluding paragraphs:

"The inescapable conclusion is that the Orthodox at the time, while struggling continually for the universal acceptance of the decisions and Faith of Nicea, did NOT possess the contemporary ecclesiological outlook of those who see as MANDATORY the indiscriminate cessation of communion with any and all who are in communion with heretical hierarchs (who today preach bare-headed the heresy of syncretistic ecumenism). They clearly struggled against heresy without “walling off” or declaring the mysteries of those in communion with heretical hierarchs as “null and void” (even, amazingly, fifty years after the First Ecumenical Council had condemned the heresy).

Moreover, they also do not appear to possess another theory currently being proposed by some that, even though the Eucharist of those in communion with heresy-preaching hierarchs is true, those who commune in those churches are not enlightened but actually spiritually darkened. For, the Orthodox in the time of St. Ambrose were clearly in communion not only with heresy-preaching hierarchs who had yet to be synodically condemned, but heretics professing a heresy ALREADY condemned by an Ecumenical Council.

Given the witness of St. Ambrose and the Orthodox of his time, our conclusion is this: Although the Royal Path of resistance to syncretistic ecumenism does indeed include the possible (not obligatory) cessation of commemoration of heresy-preaching hierarchs, per Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council (under St. Photios in 861), it does not include the cessation of communion with those who have not done so but remain in communion with the (yet-to-be condemned by a Council) heresy-preaching hierarch. The life and witness of the times of our Father Among the Saints Ambrose of Milan (and St. Meletius of Antioch) make this much abundantly clear."

I'm assuming he has in mind those hierarchs who are in support of the synod on Crete and in particular its document on the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christian communities because his focus is on "syncretistic ecumenism." But why can't his same conclusions be applied to intercommunion with Oriental Orthodox and Catholics?  Wouldn't Oriental Orthodox for him fall into the category of "heretics professing a heresy ALREADY condemned by an Ecumenical Council."  Couldn't the Pope be considered a "(yet-to-be condemned by a Council) heresy-preaching hierarch?" 

I don't know.  Maybe I'm misreading the article.  I'm not personally in favor of a shared chalice and I doubt Fr. Heers is either, however that seems to me to be where his logic leads.

Offline Vanhyo

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Re: Intercommunion in the time of Saint Ambrose article by Fr. Peter Heers
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2016, 06:22:40 PM »
Quote
I'm assuming he has in mind those hierarchs who are in support of the synod on Crete and in particular its document on the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christian communities because his focus is on "syncretistic ecumenism." But why can't his same conclusions be applied to intercommunion with Oriental Orthodox and Catholics?  Wouldn't Oriental Orthodox for him fall into the category of "heretics professing a heresy ALREADY condemned by an Ecumenical Council."  Couldn't the Pope be considered a "(yet-to-be condemned by a Council) heresy-preaching hierarch?" 

Observation:

a unity with those groups was lost long time ago.

In our case, the Church is technically united, there are pious bishops from all local churches who struggle for the truth, in some local churches the ecumenists have taken the upper hand, in others places they are minority with very little influence.

If schism happens it is going to be very confusing where the Church is...

« Last Edit: December 22, 2016, 06:23:56 PM by Vanhyo »

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: Intercommunion in the time of Saint Ambrose article by Fr. Peter Heers
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, 07:12:32 PM »
Yeah, the idea we can share the chalice with heretics is nonsense. The only ones I'm willing to share the chalice with are the non-Chalcedonians, when and if they decide to return to communion. Protestants don't confess what we confess, and Roman Catholics, although I have certain sympathies for the traditionalists and Eastern Catholics, nonetheless I cannot conceive of sharing the chalice with them either.

Quote from: The Divine Eucharist, The Bishop and the Unity of the Catholic Church
http://oode.info/english//biblia/episkopos1/kef2_2.htm#2_2
Despite the increased emphasis on the component of orthodoxy, the Divine Eucharist continued even in this period to be inseparably bound up with the catholicity of the Church. This connection appears in the sources under two aspects. Firstly, orthodoxy is unthinkable without the Eucharist. This is expressed emphatically by Irenaeus who more than anyone else stresses the element of orthodoxy at this period. Connecting orthodoxy with the Eucharist, he writes, "our doctrine (i.e. the orthodox faith) is agreed on the Eucharist, and the Eucharist confirms our doctrine... For we offer Him [God] His own, consistently proclaiming communion and union and confessing the rising of flesh and spirit."241 Besides, it is well-known that Irenaeus attributes immense importance to the Eucharist in the Church's struggle against heresies especially against the dualism of the Gnostics. According to Irenaeus, the Eucharist constitutes the strongest affirmation of the value of creation and of the material world,242 and also the expression par excellence of the unity of the Church in the body of Christ.243

The second aspect under which orthodoxy appears in connection with the Eucharist in the sources of the period under examination is expressed clearly in these sources through the principle that the Eucharist without orthodoxy is an impossibility. This principle requires particular examination because it is the most decisive factor in the position of the Catholic Church vis-a-vis heresies.

Orthodoxy had of course always been a precondition in the Church for participation in the unity of the Eucharist as shown by the confessions of faith incorporated into liturgical texts which are known already from New Testament times.244 The same precondition was preserved insistently in the early Church especially in the East.245 But the most decisive period for the establishment of this principle in the Church's consciousness proved to be the second half of the second century and the beginning of the third. A contributory factor in this was the development in the phenomenon of heresy itself which took place in the meantime.

241. Adv. Haer. IV.18.5 (PG 7:1028).

242. Cf. A.W. Ziegler, "Das Brot von unseren Felder. Bin Beitrag zur Eucharistielehre des hl. Irenaus," in Pro mundi vita, Festschrift zum Eucharistischen Weltkongress 1960. Herausgegeben von der theologischen Facultat der Ludwig-Maximilian Universitat, 1960, pp. 21-43.

243. See Adv. Haer. V.2.3 (PG 7:1126-1127). Cf. also P. Gaechter, "Unsere Einheit mit Christus nach dem hi. Irenaus," in Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie 58 (1934), 516.

244. Cf. above, p. 17.

245. See the sources in W. Elert, op. cit., where it is shown that for the early Church, particularly the Eastern Church, right faith was an essential precondition for participation in the Church's Divine Eucharist.

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Re: Intercommunion in the time of Saint Ambrose article by Fr. Peter Heers
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 10:30:59 PM »
Quote
I'm assuming he has in mind those hierarchs who are in support of the synod on Crete and in particular its document on the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christian communities because his focus is on "syncretistic ecumenism." But why can't his same conclusions be applied to intercommunion with Oriental Orthodox and Catholics?  Wouldn't Oriental Orthodox for him fall into the category of "heretics professing a heresy ALREADY condemned by an Ecumenical Council."  Couldn't the Pope be considered a "(yet-to-be condemned by a Council) heresy-preaching hierarch?" 

Observation:

a unity with those groups was lost long time ago.

That's easy to say fifteen centuries later, but apply Fr Heers' application of the "Ambrosian" precedent he cites to the case of the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox/Roman Catholics in the period immediately after Chalcedon (e.g., ca. 500).  How would you answer the OP?

Quote
In our case, the Church is technically united, there are pious bishops from all local churches who struggle for the truth, in some local churches the ecumenists have taken the upper hand, in others places they are minority with very little influence.

If schism happens it is going to be very confusing where the Church is...

It sounds like you barely have a handle on knowing where the Church is now if you can only say it is "technically united". 
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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: Intercommunion in the time of Saint Ambrose article by Fr. Peter Heers
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2016, 01:19:57 PM »
However, I was struck by his concluding paragraphs:

"The inescapable conclusion is that the Orthodox at the time, while struggling continually for the universal acceptance of the decisions and Faith of Nicea, did NOT possess the contemporary ecclesiological outlook of those who see as MANDATORY the indiscriminate cessation of communion with any and all who are in communion with heretical hierarchs (who today preach bare-headed the heresy of syncretistic ecumenism). They clearly struggled against heresy without “walling off” or declaring the mysteries of those in communion with heretical hierarchs as “null and void” (even, amazingly, fifty years after the First Ecumenical Council had condemned the heresy). 

That is my estimation of studying the history of the Church as well.  Early Christians simply did not have the institutional formalism that developed in Christian confessions after the Reformation.  They had a "generous orthodoxy".

"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."   - Martin Luther