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Author Topic: Comments of Dr. Constantine Cavarnos  (Read 7786 times) Average Rating: 0
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pensateomnia
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« Reply #45 on: May 12, 2006, 10:01:36 AM »

It puts an unecessary legalistic burden on the shoulders of your brothers and sisters,ÂÂ  to conform to your standards,ÂÂ  not Christ's.

The source of the canonical tradition, as well as its purpose, is not at all legalistic. Canons are only accepted and applied in the Church in so far as the "sobornost" of the Church recognizes that these canons bring salvation and healing. I know others have mentioned this (a very basic point of Christian experience). If you would like to read more, please check out this article by my professor, who is an eminent canonist and a God-fearing Christian: http://goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7071.asp

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Jesus would not turn Mother Theresa or any sincere believer away from His table to be nourished on His Body, because He is looking at their heart, not their canonical status.

Again, you are completely misunderstanding the nature and purpose of canons. They are not arbitrary "laws" designed to exclude people from salvation. They are pastoral traditions that have, as their main concern, the good order of the Church and the salvation of Her members. Part of good order includes boundaries (this is a point so obviously true that even psychologists recognize it!). The Church does not WANT to exclude people, but She does want to protect that which is sacred from defilement or misuse.

Let's take your statement about Mother Theresa as an example. You claim that Jesus would not turn her away, which, in essence, is a statement that you yourself have personally discerned that Mother Theresa is a right-believing and holy person. That may indeed be true. But the Church, as a Body, must have some criterion in order to discern if She agrees with your personal feelings. While the canons may seem to you to be impersonal (have you actually read them?), they are, in fact, motivated by an extremely personal and charismatic reality. Not only do they come from the Holy Fathers, who prayed and fasted in writing them, but they have been accepted by the Body of Christ in Ecumenical Synod and through the common practice of all Orthodox (well before the "Great Schism", mind you!).

But not only this! When it comes to "closed" communion, the criterion is even MORE spiritual and personal. The Holy Fathers who wrote the canons on this issue realized that it is impossible to come up with some kind of universal "rule." Thus, they declare that any person's status as a communing member of the Body of Christ has to be determined on a personal basis. By whom? Just anyone in the Church? How? Based on one individual's feeling that another individual is, in fact, a faithful Christian? No. By the Bishop, who has been entrusted with the particular charisma to exercise such discernment.

THIS is the fundamental, personal "criterion" for canonicity: That one, in submission and agreement with one's Bishop, humbly professes the universally accepted deposit of Faith and practice -- a deposit whose teaching is entrusted to a person, the Bishop. For the good order of the Church, as St. Paul tells Timothy, only the Bishop should determine if a person actually professes the true faith. He is the man with the charisma of discernment, whose office includes such duties. If we have a system, it is that we trust in our Bishop. We depend on his discernment. And he discerns that only certain other Bishops are true shepherds. With these shepherds, he con-celebrates and communes -- and, thus, so do we.

That's why people asked, "Who is your Bishop?" He may, in fact, teach many things that are good. But until he is recognized by the sobornost of the Church and by the synod of Bishops at large, then we simply cannot be sure of the fact that your Bishop's teaching, liturgy and practice are fitting and holy. To make such a decision -- one way or another -- is not our calling, nor our charisma.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2006, 10:22:03 AM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: May 12, 2006, 10:09:20 AM »

Mother Anastasia, I don't want to put you on the spot or dissapoint you, but if I may ask, what church do you belong to? The Eastern Orthdoox Church? The Roman Catholic Church? A church which practices a bit of both?

Suffice it to say that Mother Anastasia is a member of a Church which is unfortunately not in communion with any Bishop or Synod of the Eastern Orthodox Church or of the Roman Catholic Church.

I think she would agree with that statement, based on her many posts...
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« Reply #47 on: May 12, 2006, 11:22:28 AM »

"so the seriousness of church is not a stumbling block?  Its actually a bonus?"

You can call it a bonus if you like. It certainly is to me.

If I may attempt to interpret, its not that the liturgy is somber or serious in that sense (like a serious illness or some such), but rather that it comes across as important - not a game, but not a chore, and definitely not entertainment.  I will add that if feels like the Church really means it when it worships.  Yes, especially at Pascha there are those who show up just for the first part and then bail out, etc., but the what I'm saying is that the behavior of the priests and even the altar boys is that this stuff is important.  Even coming from an AngloCatholic parish, you often got the impression that most of those serving at the Altar were bored and were just doing the liturgy to get the day of obligation out of the way.  You know, get the sacrament over with so you could go on with whatever was next in your life.

It was very difficult teaching our Catechumenate class to adults, or addressing the youth in the Bible study I lead, and telling them that worship is to give us a foretaste of life in heaven.  The reaction is generally that nobody really wants that.  The service is boring, the priests are bored, why do I want to be in heaven doing this?
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« Reply #48 on: May 12, 2006, 02:36:48 PM »

AncientFaith: Exactly. It does seem to be a stumbling-block for some, but I think that depends on what kind of background you come from.
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« Reply #49 on: May 13, 2006, 04:30:45 AM »

please check out this article by my professor, who is an eminent canonist and a God-fearing Christian: http://goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7071.asp

Thank you.  This article was very informative and a cause of much hope.  Here are some notes I made on a few points:

1.  Contrary to what some have believed, the Church's law differs essentially from secular law. Its difference lies mainly in the premise that the original source of canon law is found in the will of God to establish His Church on earth.

purpose (humanity's salvation), time (extending beyond this life into the next life), scope (including one's conscience), and place (the universal Church).

The cannons can only be true to the will of God, in the measure that the hearts of the men who created them are pure.


2. The Main Goal of Canon Law

When our Lord entrusted the work of salvation to the Church, which is a society of mortal men and women, He obliged her to provide herself with the necessary means of survival. This was to assist her in organizing herself, in overseeing the orthodoxy of her members, and in guarding against factions.
 
In the present time, the proliferation of factions,  is strong evidence that a revision in the existing canons is needed.


3.  The law which emerged from the earliest times developed in response to the needs of the ecclesiastical community. During both good and bad periods of the Church's history, her law has adapted itself constantly to the circumstances of the time, up to the present day.

The needs of the ecclesiastical community have changed. 

There are authentic signs of  salvation and sanctification by Christ, in non-Orthodox churches.

Despite the fact that they are lacking all the sacraments, there are certain gifts and charisms producing authentic fruit of the Spirit,  that are meritorious and highly developed.

This is a posting on the sharing of authentic gifts between churches.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8972.msg120473#msg120473
 
With the advent of electronic media,  the world has been united in dialogue, which is bringing into sharp contrast the divisions among Christians, creating a disparity that calls into question our authenticity as Believers.

 "All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another."

There is a need for redefining the norms for intercommunion so that all Christians  not possessing the fullness of the true faith,  may without any inference of condemnation or inferiority,  be drawn into the fullness of orthodoxy, and nurtured in His family on His Body.


4.    The collections of laws......they reflect a certain imperfection; however, this imperfection lies not in the institution of the Church but in those individuals of whom it is composed. As an institution of divine origin composed of human beings, the Church is at the same time both a human and a divine institution.

5.  Finally, it must not be forgotten that the Church is not to be identified with her rules. The Church indeed has rules, but she has much else besides.

She has within her treasures of another order and another value besides her canons.

She has her theology, her spirituality, her mysticism, her liturgy, her morality.

And it is most important not to confuse the Gospel and the Pedalion (collection of canons), theology and legislation, morality and jurisprudence.

Each is on a different level and to identify them completely would be to fall into a kind of heresy.

The canons are at the service of the Church; their function is to guide her members on the way to salvation and to make following that way easier.

The Church's legislation is only one aspect of her life, and above all does not represent her essence. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

I see much of Mother Theresa's life as an expression of the essence of the Mystical Body of Christ, and yet she would be denied communion. 

"Each is on a different level and to identify them completely would be to fall into a kind of heresy."


6.  The overriding consideration in the acceptance of a local Church's custom as law is the spiritual well-being of the members of Christ's Mystical Body. What is of importance is how people in any age or place may best serve and worship God.

7.   It is obvious that what is well intentioned for the Church as a whole may not be so well suited to some particular local conditions. Similarly, what is good for one age or place may under different conditions constitute a hindrance. Thus it is that the Church's canonical tradition has such regard for local custom. Having evolved within the context of local conditions, it best expresses the mind of the local Church on how the cause of God may be served in her special conditions.

We have be criticized by some for our Celtic worship before Mass and for worshiping in tongues before Mass.  And yet this is how the Holy Spirit has established our order of worship for this community of Taos, New Mexico, which is a culturally diverse and unique community.


8.  3. The Characteristics of the Church's Law
Applicability of Canon Law

Any discussion of the characteristics of the Church's law must necessarily address the question of the applicability of the holy canons to today's realities.

As I listed above, there are gaping holes that are multiplying factions even as we speak.  This is not an immutable reality,  with God's grace it can in some cases be prevented.


Viewpoints expressed on this vital issue range from one extreme to the other, and are mutually exclusive.

On the one hand, there are those who revere the letter of the canons. But as has already been remarked,

"no one seems to absolutize all of them"

John Meyendorff, "Contemporary Problems of Orthodox Canon Law," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 17 (1972): 41.)

Then there are those who deny the relevancy of the entire body of canons in its present state. Obviously, both views leave little room for a conciliatory approach but rather tend to polarize.

We cannot please all, but we can please God by creating canons in union with His will,  to establish His Church on earth, and maintain her vitality.


9.  How were the holy canons meant to be understood? Nicholas Afanasiev, in his article entitled "The Canons of the Church: Changeable or Unchangeable?" offers a formula which might be acceptable to all factions, (St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11(1967) 54-68.):

"Canons are a kind of canonical interpretation of the dogmas for a particular moment of the Church's historical existence...

They express the truth about the order of Church life,

but rather than expressing this truth in absolute forms, they conform to historical existence" (Ibid., p. 60).

Such a formula recognizes the absolute validity of all the canons as practical aids which gave expression to doctrinal truths at some point in history.

Some of these aids, however, it sees as having outlived the purpose for which they were originally intended, i.e., they are conditioned by time.

Consequently, they cannot give expression to doctrine without causing distortion, simply because they were intended for another era.


10.  The Concept of "Economy."

Unlike secular law, or Mosaic law, the purpose of the Church's law is the spiritual perfection of her members.

Mere application of the letter of the law is replaced by a sense for the spirit of the law, and adherence to its principles.

This purpose is the determining factor when authority is granted to apply the law when circumstances warrant according to each individual case.

The spirit of love, understood as commitment to the spiritual perfection of the individual, must always prevail in the application of the law.

The abolition of the letter of the law by the spirit of the law has led to the institution of "economy," exercised in nonessential matters. Through "economy," which is always an exception to the general rule, the legal consequences following the violation of a law are lifted.

The "nonessential matters"  needs to be revised to make room for the authentic movement of the Holy Spirit.

11.  "Economy" is granted by the competent ecclesiastical authority and has not so much the character of urgency as it does the character of compassion for human frailty.

The character of compassion is justified by the Church's ardent desire to prevent any adverse effects from the strict observance of the law in exceptional circumstances.

The premise upon which an exception is granted is the general welfare of all concerned. This premise exists in all systems of law but it finds its fullest expression in the Church's law. As the law of grace, it is characterized primarily by the spiritual attributes of compassion, pastoral sensitivity, and forgiveness.

12.  In conclusion, it is the Church's canons and canonical tradition which assure the external means of security within which the life of the spirit is nurtured and preserved.

If the Church's canons and canonical tradition are going to secure the means within which the life of the spirit is nurtured and preserved, they must be relevant to the times we live in, and protect the movement of the Spirit of God which is what animates and gives life to the Body.   


These are just a few observations from my limited perspective, please forgive and correct anything I have taken out of context.  Thank you.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2006, 02:18:35 PM by Mother Anastasia » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: May 13, 2006, 02:28:47 PM »

Unfortunately, I haven't the time right now to read your post in detail (got to prepare for tomorrow!), although it seems that you certainly have grasped some of the essential points. I'll read everything more carefully when the opportunity presents itself, but, one thing I would stress:

Quote
"Economy" is granted by the competent ecclesiastical authority and has not so much the character of urgency as it does the character of compassion for human frailty.

Economy is a very important concept in Orthodox canon law. But notice -- again! -- how important the "competent ecclesiastical authority" is! It's not important for reasons of power or compulsion, but because of good order and charisma. In the Church we need what St. Basil called "individualization", i.e. the ability to take the canons of the Church and apply them to the particular-life situation of particular people for their salvation. But that "individualization" can't just come from anyone and everyone -- or we would have chaos! Hence, the need for recognized authority and voluntary submission...
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« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2006, 03:31:19 PM »


In the present time, the proliferation of factions,  is strong evidence that a revision in the existing canons is needed.

3.  The law which emerged from the earliest times developed in response to the needs of the ecclesiastical community. During both good and bad periods of the Church's history, her law has adapted itself constantly to the circumstances of the time, up to the present day.

The needs of the ecclesiastical community have changed. 

There are authentic signs of  salvation and sanctification by Christ, in non-Orthodox churches.

Despite the fact that they are lacking all the sacraments, there are certain gifts and charisms producing authentic fruit of the Spirit,  that are meritorious and highly developed.

There are also those like ourselves that want to adhere to the purity of faith and morals taught by the church, but are tired of political heavy handedness, serious departures from piety and orthodox practice and belief,  and suppression of callings and the gifts entrusted to us by God.

We want to return to the beauty and purity of the first century and early church and to the Desert Fathers, but not by throwing the baby out with the bathwater, i.e. discarding all the RC saints, and every RC tradition.

We want to give our lives for the Church,  but the institutional church is not supportive, rather it is a hostile environment with strong political currents and exclusivism, that distract and weaken, diverting the focus to man's agendas, rather than strengthening the work undertaken purely for Christ. 

We are not the only ones who have been called out of the institution because she was opposing the Holy Spirit,  the internet is full of such groups.  Not all of them can be dismissed as disobedient, rebellious and heretical..rather the majority  of them reflect the very same complaints.  They have no legitimate covering that will beat their swords into ploughshares, repair the nets and get busy with the harvest, so their only recourse is to be self governing.

I believe that those who leave the protestant denominations and naively embrace Orthodoxy as a cure all, are going to find the same problems there that they encountered where they came from.   These problems are not being addressed.  They are being covered over with more tradition, which has a legitimate place in worship and  is novel to the newcomer for a while,  but cannot exist on its own; content has got to support form.

What we need is an entirely new breed of "institution",  one that is Christ centered, holding fast to what is good and relevant in tradition,  and restructuring for the health of the Body, without in anyway compromising the true orthodox faith, and user friendly to those still without the other six sacraments.  It seems to me, from the way Lewis Patsavos presented the canons, that the Church already has the means within her tradition to bring this reform about.






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« Reply #52 on: May 13, 2006, 03:34:38 PM »

In the Church we need what St. Basil called "individualization", i.e. the ability to take the canons of the Church and apply them to the particular-life situation of particular people for their salvation. But that "individualization" can't just come from anyone and everyone -- or we would have chaos! Hence, the need for recognized authority and voluntary submission...

I very much like what you have said here, it addresses the heart of the law and the backbone of the Body as well.
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I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
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