Friday, March 26, 2010

It's that time of year again

...when the media gives us all sorts of articles and "insights" as to what really happened during Holy Week and what Christ's Resurrection "really means." More often than not, we are bombarded by scholarly opinions about how current Christian observance of Holy Week and Pascha are misguided and are mere inventions of third century totalitarian bishops (read, Pope of Rome, which is, of course a historical anachronism) wishing to impose an orthodoxy that was at odds with the beliefs and faith of MOST of the world's Christians. Also, at this time, such ecumenical groups as the National Council of Churches laments that the observance of Western Christians and Eastern Christians is, with the exception of this year and next, most often on differing dates. So, the NCC, with its obvious respect to the traditions of other Christian confessions, says that we must all observe Pascha of the Lord on the same date so as not to give a divided witness. In fact, you can read their most current press release about that very issue here.

It is no secret that I favor the Old (Julian) Calendar to determine ALL feast days of the Orthodox Church and that the adoption of the New (Revised Julian) Calendar by the Antiochians, Greeks, Romanians and Bulgarians among others, does nothing, whether in this country or in the world, to promote an Orthodox unity while respecting local traditions. The calendar issue is no small "t" tradition as many hierarchs would make it out to be. To reverse the canons as egregiously as this requires the imprimatur and approval of nothing less than ecumenical council. We all pray that such an event may happen sometime soon. Though we will use the Old Calendar to calculate the date of Pascha and thus observe with our fellow Orthodox our Lord's triumph over death, why should we not also celebrate our Lord's Nativity together or the Annunciation to Our Lady? Are those of less importance? Surely not, even though Pascha is called rightly the "feast of feasts and holy day of holy days."

As such, I must reiterate on no uncertain terms that for any Orthodox hierarch, priest or layperson to suggest that we should join with the NCC and other confessions to support a common observance of Pascha is unacceptable. The argument goes that all Christians should celebrate together because, otherwise, we are giving a divided witness. Well, news flash: WE ARE DIVIDED AND WE ARE GIVING DIVIDED WITNESS ALREADY! Celebrating on the same day does nothing to eradicate the facts that too many western confessions of Christianity give a blatantly false message of our Lord's Pascha, going even so far as to deny that it actually happened! What is the point of celebrating with christians who see Christ's resurrection as nothing more than a symbolic act or as nothing more than a metaphor instead of the reality of God's triumph over death? Why celebrate with many of these confessions who think that faith in Christ and faith in mankind are but one and the same Gospel? Why celebrate with many christians who deny the sin for which Christ even came into the world? Why celebrate with many christians who deny the Virgin Birth, deny the incarnation, the sacraments among other things? Why celebrate together the feast, the source of all Eastern theology, when that theology is merely branded as one choice of many, not holding any more truth than what a Methodist may believe? Therefore, I hope and pray that all Orthodox hierarchs, priest and laity continue to support what has always been church tradition. If it should come to it that an Orthodox ecumenical council adopts a new means for celebrating Pascha that is in line with other western confessions, fine. But, let me make it clear that until Ecumenical Council is called, there should be no deviation from Holy Tradition and practice, not now, not ever.

1 comment:

  1. Christopher,

    Just speaking as one who lives in a divided family, I rather rejoice when we begin Lent together and reach the Resurrection feast together. Not that I'd suggest the Orthodox change how they calculate the Feast; just that on those rare years when they do coincide I rejoice; and it reminds me of God's will for His people to be one. FWIW.