Athanasius Contra Mundum

Monday, February 1, AD 2010

Athanasius Contra Mundum

Saint Athanasius, a Doctor of the Church, and the foremost defender of the divinity of Christ, is one of the key figures in the history of the Faith.  His era, the Fourth Century, was a time period of turbulent change, not unlike our own in that respect.  With the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christ, the Church was suddenly transformed from a proscribed cult into the religion of the Empire.  Instead of being executed for their faith in Christ, bishops found themselves important players in what was rapidly becoming a Christian Empire.  To many Christians, it seemed as if they had reached a golden period in human history when the Church could rapidly reach its goal of bringing all men to Christ.  History, however, never ceases to twist and turn as it charts the affairs of Man.

One of the more dangerous twists of History in the Fourth Century for the Church, was the meteoric rise of the Arian heresy.  A priest of Alexandria, Egypt, Arius propounded the doctrine that the Son, since he was begotten of the Father, was a creation of God, and not God.  He was the greatest of God’s creations, and next to God, but he was not God.  Of course, Arius thus destroyed the doctrine of the Trinity, and reduced Jesus from being God to being a creature serving God.  This doctrine, if it had prevailed, would have transformed Christianity into a Unitarian faith and inevitably downplayed the centrality of Christ.  The doctrine of Arius began to spread, until it was necessary for it to be addressed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the first of the ecumenical councils.  Called specifically to address Arianism, the Council was unequivocal in its condemnation of Arianism as indicated by the Nicene Creed written at the Council:

We Believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten, not made, Consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit, and those who say “There was when he was not” and “Before his generation he was not” and “He came to be from nothing” or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of other hypostasis or substance; or “created” or alterable” or “mutable”; the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.

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13 Responses to Athanasius Contra Mundum

  • The Eastern half of the Roman Empire seems to receive the brunt of everything bad.

    Arianism, Chalcedonian schism, the doctrine of ceasaro-papalism, and Islam.

    I really feel for those guys, our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

  • Arianism is still alive and well in our time, in the form of the Adventist religions – particularly the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • And some Pentecostals.

    They don’t believe the Holy Spirit is not part of the triune God.

  • I think you’ve got a double negative there, Tito. 🙂

  • Don,

    I blame my public school education.

    😉

  • I blame the Reformation. 🙂

  • I tend to blame the French Revolution myself.

    Never trust a freemason frog.

    🙂

  • A lot of Catholic don’t believe in the divinity of Christ either.

  • “A lot of Catholics don’t believe in the divinity of Christ either.”

    Then they aren’t Catholics Tony.

  • Everyone is Catholic – some of us actually know it.

    I don’t want to be excessively critical and my Latin is very, very weak; however, doesn’t the Creed actually begin with I believe, instead of We believe?

    I think the distinction is a recognition of our free will. I freely choose to believe what the Church believes, but I cannot speak for what you believe. Hence when we are in Mass with divinity-denying Catholics (referenced above) we can still state what we believe as individual members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Or, perhaps, I don’t really know what I am talking about.

  • The Nicene Creed was written in Greek AK. I believe the English translation is an accurate rendering of the Greek, although I confess my Greek is weak!

  • It is all Greek to me 🙂

    The revised translation of the Novus Ordo begins the Creed with, “I believe” as opposed to “We believe”. I am fairly confident that is to emphasize that we are individual parts of the Mystical Body, each with a free will and that each of us on our own accord chooses to believe what the Church (We) believes.

    Just another reason why the Mass should be in a dead, uncorrupted, static language. Well, at least the propers should be.

    Kyrie Eleision (that’s all the Greek I know 😉

  • I think the official Latin uses “Credo” which I believe (ha ha) translates to “I believe” rather than “we believe.”

History and the End of Schism

Wednesday, September 16, AD 2009

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill

Rumors and rumors of rumors of an imminent end to over a thousand years of the Great Schism between Catholics and Orthodox have exploded over these past few days.  If these rumors are correct then not since the Ecumenical Council of Ferrara-Florence have these great Church’s been so close to unity.

In A.D. 1054 Catholic prelate Humbert and Orthodox prelate Michael Cærularius excommunicated each other.  This marks the beginning of the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox Church’s.

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18 Responses to History and the End of Schism

  • Good post, balancing the hope with realism. One slight correction: Mount Athos contains a solid bloc of hardcore anti-Catholics, perhaps (probably?) even the majority of the monks there. But there are those loyal to the Ecumenical Patriarch who are there, too.

  • This has already been all over the blogosphere in Orthodox circles as well as Catholic – Archbishop Pezzi is clearly expressing naive optimism here. Archbishop Hilarion is indeed visiting Rome, but Pezzi made his announcement before Hilarion even set foot in the eternal city. The other question is what did Pezzi actually say in Italian; perhaps it is a mistranslation.

  • Alan,

    I read Irenaeus posting and my impression was it was all over the Orthodox blogosphere, not necessarily the Catholic blogosphere. Just wanting to be exact.

    I agree that Archbishop Pezzi was overly optimistic, but my thinking is that he’s basing it on previous dialogue with the Orthodox, not a prediction of the Hilarion-Kasper talks.

    Dale,

    I only threw in the “Mount Athos crowd” to represent the many Orthodox that are against any form of ecumenism Patriarch-and-Pope-be-damned.

  • “Just wanting to be exact since you want to make a pointless point.”

    The blog to which I linked is a Catholic/Orthodox blog.
    The story was also on NLM just yesterday. The “pointless point” judgment seems kind of harsh – not sure where that is coming from?? Maybe it didn’t come across in my comment, but my point was that most seem to be taking this with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

  • Alan,

    I edited that out before you were able to reread it.

    No harm done.

    Posting isn’t the same as talking in person.

    I don’t read the NLM as much as I used to in the past, so I missed that one.

  • Teófilo over at Vivificat also has a good post on the subject from Monday with some interesting points.

  • LOL…

    I didn’t want to bash Archbishop Pezzi, so I tried to be diplomatic concerning his enthusiasm, but I do agree with Teofilo’s assessment on the archbishops exuberance!

  • Thank you for the link to Vivificat!

    With all due respect to Archbishop Pezzi, the expectations he has ignited need to be dowsed with a cold, wet showert of realism.

    In Christ,
    -Theo

  • Assuming this somehow goes through, would that mean RCs could fulfill Mass obligations by going to an Orthodox parish (will they still be called RC and Orthodox)? What would the post-schism Church look like?

  • c matt,

    I believe you already can fulfill your obligation to go to Mass in an Orthodox parish ONLY IF it is impossible to fulfill that obligation in a Roman Catholic Church (or those in communion–Byzantine, Ukrainian Catholic… ect.) Though, you can not partake in Communion.

  • Daniel,
    I believe you already can fulfill your obligation to go to Mass in an Orthodox parish ONLY IF it is impossible to fulfill that obligation in a Roman Catholic Church (or those in communion–Byzantine, Ukrainian Catholic… ect.)

    That’s correct and would change if they were in full communion, you’d be free to assist for any reason and even switch rituals formally (with permission) as is the case with th Uniates now.

    Though, you can not partake in Communion.

    the Catholic Church permits you to receive as long as you defer to the celebrant. As I understand it Orthodox are quite restrictive and will not allow it unless perhaps prior arrangements are made.

  • Matt is more or less right here. The Catholic Church is more permissive than the Orthodox (any Orthodox is welcome to take our communion, but told to follow the rules of their jurisdiction), and we are told, in various circumstances (not all) that we can take Orthodox communion (though most Orthodox will not give it to Catholics, some will). Then there are some, like the Armenian Orthodox and Catholic, who freely share communion.

  • I like the fact that we are able to partake in some sacraments with the Orthodox under certain conditions.

    Though the Orthodox in America are more receptive to this, do you see this attitude changing for the better in traditional Orthodox lands?

    I am aware of the amount of distrust that many Greeks and Russians share towards Catholics, is this changing as well?

    Just questions because of all of the ecumenical efforts we’ve done since Vatican II, it is the Orthodox that I see real progress in reuniting with more than any other ecclesiastical group (the Orthodox being the only other real Church).

  • Mr. Edwards and friends,

    In your article/commentary you said the following, which needs correction:

    “Outside of malefactors such as the Mount Athos crowd and the Orthodox resentment of the sacking of Constantinople, anything is possible.”

    Webster’s dictionary defines malefactor as:

    “one who does ill toward another”.

    It is unfortunate that such ignorance or malice exists among those roman catholics who respect the Orthodox Church and desire to be united to it. For, the Holy Mountain of Athos is THE ark of true Christian Spiritual Life in the Church, a bastion of true Christian spiritual practice and defender of the Truth of Revelation for over 1000 years. Her life and Saints are the heart of the Orthodox Church in the 2nd millenium. To say that the holy fathers of Athos are intent on doing ill to others or even to the desire for true unity in Christ is an affront to all who love Truth and to all Orthodox Christians. They have been and are today lights to every sincere practitioner of Christian love and without them and their agreement no true union can take place.

    Your ignorance is one of the many obstacles standing in the way of real progress toward unity in Christ. I hope that you will correct your error and take time to learn more about the Garden of the All-Holy Mother of God (as Athos is known).

    Sincerely,

    Panagiotis Dimitriadis

  • Panagiotis Dimitriadis,

    It is unfortunate that such ignorance or malice exists among those roman catholics who respect the Orthodox Church and desire to be united to it

    We desire the return of ALL Christians to the One Holy Catholic Church. We pray that the Orthodox chuches return in their integrity as particular churches.

    Your pride is one of the many obstacles standing in the way of real progress toward unity in Christ.

  • Panagiotis Dimitriadis,

    I noticed you referred to Catholic with the small “c”, but the Orthodox with the large “O”.

    You need to remove the speck in your own eye before commenting.

    By the way, the ARK is the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus to birth and I referred to the Mount Athos crowd, ie, those like yourself that hold ill-will towards Catholicism in general and unity in particular.

  • Regarding the Unity of The Holy Spirit and the Filioque: If we believe in the UNITY of God, The Father, The Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is, seen and unseen AND one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of The Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten, not made, ONE IN BEING with The Father…THEN, in order to be a Trinity, The Holy Spirit, The Love Between The Father And The Son, must proceed from The Father AND The Son, to begin with.