Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Questions and Answers 58 - 63

Ukraine, Russia and Constantinople

Question 58: I see conflicting opinions and histories about the Ukraine Church situation, specifically if it is coming from a Russian side or from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Both bring different historical arguments and it becomes confusing. I get worried when I hear that it could lead to a split in Orthodoxy. Wanted to know what the real history is? Is it something we should be concerned about?

Answer: I tend not to address jurisdictional issues, as I don't think it is an issue but for Bishops to address, since they are the only ones involved with the issue. The problem is that it confuses the faithful and even affects them in what I would call a minor way. The Orthodox Church does not have a defined well-rounded ecclesiology universally accepted, despite what many will tell you, which is why the Church has so many ecclesiological problems. Ecclesiology did not really begin to develope in the Orthodox Church until the 19th century, or some would say the 20th century. And with all the problems the various jurisdictions went through in the 20th century, it makes jurisdiction problems much more difficult to address and be universally accepted.

As far as the Ukraine issue is concerned, I believe the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the correct one, and it does have the canonical authority to grant autocephaly in Ukraine. Whether it is the right time to do it and under the conditions it is done can be debated, but I do not believe it is uncanonical, and it has historical precedence to do so, even though it is done in a rather odd way by making a schismatic body immediately canonical and autocephalous. The Russian Church however has its own way of looking at its authority, based on their 19th century perception of it being the Third Rome, which is absurd, and by this justifies itself to overstep its authority and canonical abilities. Splits between Russia and Constantinople have occurred in the past, such as in the 1990's, and the Bishops are obliged to heal this issue as soon as possible, preferably synodically. Personally I am not concerned about it, as it has no effect on my spiritual life or life in the Church. I will continue doing what I have been doing This is primarily a Ukrainian issue, and unless you belong to a church that has immediate ties to Ukraine then it is not an issue others should be concerned with either. Jurisdiction schisms and issues come and go.

More on Fr. Romanides and Christian Hedonism

Question 59: Responding to question 51, my question is really, is Fr. Romanide's opposition to Eudaimonia being a goal of salvation sort of the same thing as him being opposed to Christian Hedonism. I would understand Christian hedonism to be a state of Eudaimonia, or working towards it, delighting in the Lord, as the end goal of existence. So, I don't know if Piper is all that novel if I understand Eudaimonia correctly. With Romanides, since he was opposed to Augustine's Eudaimonia, it seemed like an opposition to feeling, God being passionless, and our theosis leading to self-less love seems static. I don't believe he would think of God as static. I do need to acquire more of his writings, but if our love is self-less, has no self-centered motivation, I'm at an imaginative difficulty in seeing this as much more than static. I can use the Essence/Energy distinction to overcome this with God, but don't know how to apply to humans. Forgive my confusion.

Answer: I think I addressed all your questions in my previous response, so I won't repeat myself. Plus, Fr. Romanides never addressed Christian Hedonism as defined by Piper in any specific way, so I think it would be irresponsible of me to assume his answer; I can only give you my interpretation, as I did in Question 51. I suggest you read more of Fr. Romanides, as you have some clear misunderstandings. A good place to start would be the two-volume works of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos called Empirical Dogmatics According to Fr. John Romanides. This should begin to clarify things for you in a more systematic way.

Miracles of Panagia Malevi

Question 60: 22 May 2018 last year I went to prison for 8 days exactly. Got out on the 30th of May. The day I got bail, my mother was showing me an icon within the crowd, wasn't sure what it was: "Panagia Malevi." How she grabbed hold of that icon, is scary. 8 years ago she went to church, some lady tapped her on her shoulder and said you will need this icon within your family. That very moment she grabbed it, my brother over a period of 8 years recovered. We waited patiently for him to recover. In between this time she gave it to another lady for her mother to get better from an illness, so she lost it because we lost contact with them. Now when I was in prison, my mother was saying to herself, now that I really need the Panagia to help my son where is it. Before leaving home to get me out it reappeared on my mothers kitchen table. The scary thing was that the icon, soon as she laid eyes on me again, it disappeared out of her hands. She was looking everywhere for it, but couldn't find it. 2 weeks later it reappeared in another mysterious way as a key ring and haven't left us since. My question is for a really long time now. My heart has been telling me to tell my testimony and to tell others. I have been getting this thrive like someone is telling me to tell people. What should I do?

Answer: Sounds like something really interesting is going on, but I am left with many questions and don't really have a clear understanding of everything that has happened in your family. If you can put down things more clearly, I would be happy to explore it further with you and maybe get your story out.

Miracles and the Graves of the Saints

Question 61: I do not wish to make the impression of a miracle monger, but may I ask which grave of which Orthodox saint exhibits the greatest manifestation of numinosity and clear miracles happening there?

Answer: This is something difficult to answer, as there are no studies to show what you are asking for. I can only guess from the things I have heard and read, but at best it would be an educated guess. The first three that come to my mind are Saint Spyridon in Kerkyra, Saint Gerasimos in Kefallonia and Saint Nektarios in Aegina, but there are many others which may have more miracles done at their graves. Even if we knew which grave worked "the most" miracles, it really is the same grace through which all the miracles have their source, so it really does not matter nor does it up your chances of a miracle if you go to one or another.

More on Ukraine, Russia and Constantinople

Question 62: I have a question that is quite sensitive about Ukraine autocephaly. I found out recently that Patriarch Kirill has not mentioned Patriarch Bartholomew's name anymore while celebrating the liturgy. What does it mean? What about my position as a member of the Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of Constantinople? Am I not allowed to receive communion in the Orthodox Church under Moscow's jurisdiction anymore? And what about the other patriachates, are they also broken off from eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriachate?

Answer: Refer to Question 58 above for most of your answers. As of right now, the Russian Church does not allow communion with anyone under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so the Russian Church does not welcome you for the time being. However, as of today, Constantinople has not made any proclamation on the matter, so if anyone in a Russian church welcomes you, then you may go and commune. The other patriarchates have not made any official declaration as of today against either Russia or Constantinople.

Orthodoxy and Ancestor Worship

Question 63: Do you know whether the Orthodox Church permits its members to participate in any of the practices of veneration of ancestors who are not Orthodox, and not Christians? (For example, in China, Korea, Japan, or Africa.)

Answer: The Orthodox Church does not permit such things. For example, in China it is not mere veneration of ancestors that is done, but actual worship of ancestors who they believe have become gods. This is totally opposed to any Orthodox teaching on anthropology and eschatology. If you want to honor your ancestors in a special way, you can pray for them, or even give alms and fast for them, but participating in these foreign rituals is not permitted.

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