Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carol Saba on the 3 D's

The French original, along with other recent Antiochian news can be found here.

An Editorial in Three D's
I D as in Dynamic: The current period is characterized by a certain dynamic. Pope Benedict’s historical trip to the land of the Anglican Church. In the East, the final plans for the Vatican’s special synod on the Middle East. The future of Eastern Christians at the heart of the discussions! On the Orthodox level, a small gathering of primates from the Middle East. A coordination of common witness. But also the challenges which face the Christians of the East are on the agenda. In the middle of August, the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Antioch took place in Damascus. Plenary session. All the metropolitans from all parts of the world took part. This has not happened in quite a while. Many essential issues, both internal and external to the church were discussed. In anticipation of a roadmap for mobilizing the Antiochian charism. Last May, Patriarch Bartholomew was in Moscow. His visit was judged to be “historic” in how it occurred and also possibly in its results. Cooperation seems to take over from confrontation. Then, in June, Constantinople visits the churches of Poland and Bulgaria. The visit to the Patriarchate of Romania will be in October. The process accelerates in anticipation of the Great and Holy Council. The current pan-Orthodox momentum seems favorable. The new Orthodox geopolitical reality is also ready. All the churches are ready to face together the many challenges of our age. So are we now in a dynamic of convergence that will witness that much-anticipated great pan-Orthodox council? In peace let us pray to the Lord that it may be so. The major challenge for such a conciliary encounter? The direct expression of Orthodoxy in today’s world. Beyond difficulties and opposition. Putting the Orthodox witness into the heart of the city, into a positive and daring dialectic with regard to the unity of the Church and the diversities of her expressions and charismas. Is that too much to ask? Is it too much to hope to be faithful to the Nazarene crucified and risen from the dead for us?
II D as in donation of relics. Russian Orthodoxy once again exerts its attraction for the Christian East. The relations between Antioch and Moscow are longstanding. In the 10th edition of the Chronicles, for May 10, 2010 we discussed how from the time of Ivan the Terrible, through Gregory IV of Antioch, who presided in 1913 over the festivities for the 300th anniversary of the enthronement of the Romanovs to the time of Ignatius IV who in 1988 participated in the celebration of the millennium of the Baptism of the Rus. There are the saints who are connected through the new ascetic “momentum” of exchange. Russia sends to Antioch relics of one of her greatest popular saints and Antioch in turn gives her relics of one of her martyred saints from the Mamlouk period who was tortured in the body and was a witness to Christ on that holy mountain of North Lebanon, Hamatoura, today dedicated to the Theotokos, an Athos away from Athos. The bodies of the saints stretch out to create, beyond boundaries, borders, and distance a shield of holiness, an ascetic umbrella, which should be for each of us a call to deepen and revisit these models of holiness Do our prayers not end with the prayers of our holy Fathers? “ By the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us!”
II D as in Discernment. To have the ability to say true and right things. To confront wrong in order to edify. To reorient souls towards the good, the just, the true. To highlight the right path, not that of our attitudes but of the Church, of Her doctrine and her truth. Archimandrite Touma (Bitar), abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan at Douma (North Lebanon) cultivates week after week, on his blog and in his editorials, such a posture of discernment on many different subjects. The governance of the Church, marriage, the relationship between fathers and sons, titular bishops and auxiliary bishops, the organization of spheres of communion within parishes, the participation of all in the edification of the body of the Church, the role of involved laypeople, the Orthodox Youth Movement, its necessary role and the limits of its mission within the Church… As well as fundamental questions posed to the ecclesial conscience of all the faithful who are aware of the requirements of their baptism and the progress of their life in Christ. Geronda Touma’s abundance of writings is welcome. More and more, they are a reference which help to resituate discussions in a good ecclesial and spiritual direction. In the Church, it is important to have the ability to discuss any subject, even those that are controversial, in a spirit of edification rather than in a spirit of partisanship in order to avoid adding to already existing tensions. Speaking the truth in peace, in an irenic, clear, and spefic manner, within a logic of “continuum” and not of partisanship of one against another. It is the confusion of genre, carelessness, and a lack of discernment which rapidly transform a given moment into a confrontation. To resituate things according to the measure of the Church is an absolutely necessary attitude, especially in our times. An attitude which one should cultivate and develop from day to day. Since there is no authentic and just witness “in truth” without such an attitude of discernment. The Church should constantly be in “movement”, constantly in “mission”, to transfigure the world. This can only happen through audacity and discernment. The Church cannot suffer to stay in place without running the risk of being lukewarm. And to be lukewarm is the worst of spiritual attitudes. The Book of Revelation has no place for the lukewarm: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
Carol Saba is the media and communications director for the Orthodox Bishops' Assembly of France.

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