From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 6),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 325-354
THE REUNION OF ORIENTAL AND
[transcribed by Mr Benjamin Andersen, St Mark's Church, Denver, Colorado]
HAVING had the opportunity during the past summer of visiting Russia, and, by invitation of some of the higher ecclesiastics of the Russian Church, having been privileged to confer with them upon the momentous theme of bringing closer together the two communions of which respectively we are members, there may be some among American and other Anglican Churchmen who will be interested in an account of our trip, and of the kindnesses shown our party as representatives, though unofficial, of the Anglican Communion.
The late Presiding Bishop of our American Church, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Clark, gave us a most kindly letter of introduction to His Eminence Antonius, the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Presiding Member of the Holy Governing Synod, conveying also his fraternal regards to his Eminence.
We were accompanied by our Chaplain and W. G. Birkbeck, Esq., of England. We visited the principal churches in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the great monasteries in both cities, the famous Troitsa not far from the latter city, and were the Metropolitan's guests at the Chudoff Monastery in the Kremlin. We saw something of their charitable, educational, and other institutions, were received and entertained in some of their Academies and Theological Seminaries, and were in communication with the Metropolitans and other Bishops and ecclesiastical professors and leading laymen, and were all received most fraternally. Not only was their welcome warm in words but it was expressed in many acts of brotherly recognition. There was a universally expressed desire for a better understanding and recognized fellowship between the two Communions. We must learn of one another, they said, not merely by books, but by friendly intercourse, "for Religion is not a philosophy but a life." They sincerely pray that closer relations may be established between us and so the outward wounds in Christ's Church be healed. We know that there are many in this country who, with like warmth, recip rocate this heavenly inspired desire and with increased devotion labor for its fulfilment.
Perhaps nothing can give us more encouragement than a realization of the Orthodox conception of the Church, from which their love and longing for us, their Western brethren, derives its strength. Their conception of the Church has not been marred, as that in the West has been, by the moulding influences of the feudal system nor the rationalizing ones of scholasticism. The former assisted the development of the Papal monarchy, the latter, by turning opinions into dogmas, the Papal additions to the Creed. Nor has the East been obliged to go through the convulsions of a Reformation. Resting more on Holy Scripture and tradition than on rationalism, the East, rejecting Protestant negations and Roman additions, has preserved the ancient faith. It has retained, as the West has not, the Nicene Creed in its original form. Preserved from the effects of the forged decretals and of feudalism, the Church's governmental system developed in the East on an apostolic and canonical basis, freed from the Roman assertion of a divinely granted supremacy. The Eastern idea of the Church is not, therefore, of a body culminating in one visible Representative of Christ to whom obedience is due; but the Church is one spiritual organism, embracing all Christ's members, in whatever state in heaven or earth they are, united sacramentally to the indwelling Lord, while here preserved from schism by canon law and united to one another by divine charity.
It is this spirit of love that makes them reach out to us and desire our possession of it in union with themselves. Hence while, Rome's attitude towards us is that of an imperious demand of submission to her authority as the arbiter of doctrine and the source of all jurisdiction, the Orthodox Russian Church only asks: Do we hold together the same faith? If we do, we are brethren. We may differ, must now differ in matters of discipline, ceremonial, ritual; but the essential matter is, do we profess the same scriptural and traditional faith with themselves?
It is at once obvious that we as an integral portion of the Catholic Church do so to a very large extent. We have the same conception of the Church as a divinely founded society and spiritual organism of which Christ is the living and ever present Head. We believe alike in the validity of a ministry, gathered by the successors of the Apostles into Apostolic fellowship, and so into union with Christ Himself, and evangelizing consequently with His authority and power. We hold that there are three orders in this hierarchy, consisting of Bishops, Priests,. and Deacons, and that to the first alone belongs the power of ordination. We regard the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God and the Church as the authorized guardian and interpreter of Holy Writ. We believe alike that the Revelation made by Jesus Christ and declared by the Apostles in its fulness, was not a changeable quantity, but a sacred deposit committed to the Church to be preserved for all time. We believe the Church to be the divinely protected and authoritative teacher of the faith, and we accept in common the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. We believe that the sacraments or Gospel mysteries are ordained channels of grace; have allke a Liturgical worship with ordered ritual and ceremonial; celebrate in a language understood by the people; observe the fasts and feasts of the Church; commemorate by festivals the Saints; pray for the departed; and keep the Christian Year. Alike we repudiate the Lutheran and Calvinistic errors respecting Church government, predestination, justification, and good works, and also the Papal Supremacy, the Papal Infallibility, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the withholding of the Chalice from the Laity, the additions made to the Creed by Pope Pius IV; and we allow of the marriage of ecclesiastics. In these and other matters we have much in common.
It must, however, be allowed that we of Western Christendom have not only suffered from the mediaeval excesses of Romanism, but from the invasion of Protestant and Puritan heresies, from which the East, by its isolation and conservatism, has been comparatively free. It is of course true that the Anglican Church cannot have a mind or theology of its own apart from the consensus of United Christendom; the definitions of the Ecumenical Councils; the Church's ancient Creed; the faith as witnessed by the Church's order, government, sacraments, and embalmed in her ancient Liturgies. Our Bishops only speak with authority in declaring dogma when they utter the mind of the whole Body of Christ. The Patriarch of Rome, we may also say, can speak with no authority while he is separated from his four brother Patriarchs of the East. We may ask of the East, what their theologians would gladly give, explanations concerning some of the devotional language in their offices and Liturgy; we must also show by explanatory statements that our Prayer Book, rightly interpreted, according to our common standard of faith, agrees with their doctrine, and so that we are one with them. We must claim from them that our formularies be interpreted according to the declared intention of the Reformers in a Catholic sense; and we must be ready on our part to receive and to put a most charitable construction on all the explanations they may have to offer us. In this way and this way only can we come to an agreement. Nothing is easier than to discover differences, nor more self-deceiving than that it is a duty to insist on them. The charity that unites, ever involves some victory over self and our own opinions. The reunion of Christendom is the noblest cause Christians can work for, and the end desired, the nearest to the Heart of Our Blessed Lord. So far as the providence of God points the way, it lies through union with the East. Let us put aside our prejudices and work for it.
There are four or five points we must, if reunion is to be regained, clearly and lovingly explain to our people, and seek for general acceptance.
First. The recognition of the sacraments or "mysteries," ministered in the Church, as being channels of grace. The Easterns, it may be observed, do not ordinarily use the term "sacrament," but speak of the seven "mysteries." Our Prayer Book uses, in various places, the same term. Christ, we are told, "hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries." In regard to their number there seems to be no essential difference between us. Teaching in her practical way, the English Church in the "Short Catechism" (obviously thus an incomplete one), tells children, as preparatory to the Confirmation, in old Elizabethan English, that there are two sacraments only "as generally necessary," that is universally necessary, to salvation. But our Church does not thereby mean there are only two sacraments. She does not say there ate only two sacraments, but two sacraments only as necessary to salvation. This is a very different thing. She holds there are others, for in the Homilies she calls Orders a sacrament. And in the Articles, which are for adults, she speaks of the other five, "commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction." The phrase "commonly called" we may observe, is a Prayer Book expression. It is one not denying that the title is given correctly, but rather allowing it. Thus, "the Presentation of Christ in the Temple" is said to be "commonly called" the "Purification of St. Mary," and " the Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas Day," is the title of that day in the Prayer Book. In both these instances, the latter names are those commonly and accurately -- in use.
There is, however, a difference between these seven mysteries, one which Easterns as well as ourselves recognize, and which divide them into two classes. Not as is occasionally with some incorrectness said, that there are two greater and five lesser sacraments. For in that they are ordained means of conveying, to rightly disposed recipients, the graces they respectively signify, they are in this respect alike. But there are two, as Khomiakoff has said, which belong to the Church considered in relation to Christ and the Church's eternal being, and others concerned with the Church on earth in its temporal and militant condition. The matter and form of the Two were ordained by Christ Himself and are unalterable; the matter and form of the others are subject to the regulation of the Church.
The anointing of the sick has fallen largely into disuse amongst us, partly from a rejection of the Roman practice of using it chiefly as a preparation for death. Along with the East, we reject the practice of "Extreme Unction." But as connected in Holy Scripture with the healing of the soul, by confession and absolution, an anointing which invokes God's healing of the body and brings comfort and peace to the sufferer, is coming to be more commonly recognized among us. It was recognized by our Reformers in the first Prayer Book of King Edward VI. Our Prayer Book does still supply an office for the spiritual part of this mystery. Moreover, our Bishops at their consecration are told as part of their office to "Heal the sick." If this be taken in its original scriptural sense., as relating to the body as well as to the soul, it authorizes them to provide for the healing of the sick by consecration of the Oleum Infirmorum, as some Bishops now do. We have thus in Holy Scripture a command, and injunction in our Prayer Book to fulfil it.
Admitting, however, our deficiency in the use of this mystery, yet we believe that practically the larger number of our American Bishops and clergy recognize, Confirmation, the gift of Holy Orders, the pronouncement of Absolution, Holy Matrimony, the priestly special Visitation of the Sick, as ordained, means of grace. Taken in this sense, we agree with the East in the retention of these five mysteries, together with those Two which are of universal obligation, as necessary, where they can be had, to salvation.
It may be asked what attitude is taken with regard to our orders. The Orthodox Church has taken no official action, and it is not likely it will, for a long time. But what the judgment will be, in my opinion, depends much on the action of our own Bishops. For the love and good will of their theologians as we conferred with them thus expressed itself: "You have a good case on paper. We are not blinded by the late Roman political decision or its argument about your lack of intention to ordain to the Priesthood. This intention is clearly expressed in your Prayer Book." We gave to some, Dr. Fulton's very able treatise on that subject. "If," they say, "you have orders, and so sacraments, you know it by their effects and the witness of the Holy Spirit. Will your Church, through her accredited Bishops, formally assert that you believe Holy Orders to be a Sacrament? Your arguments as far as they go are good. But you know best. We love you, we believe in you. If Holy Orders is held to be a sacrament with you, plainly declare it to us."
Let us pray that our Bishops will have the courage and fidelity to say what our homily does, and what Archbishop Bramhall did and many of our theologians have done, and call Holy Orders a sacrament.
Thus we must see the necessity, if the divine cause of Christian reunion is to be forwarded, for us to recognize these seven mysteries of grace which we, alike with the East, possess under the customary title Christendom has given them.
Another subject, which requires some explanation on both sides, concerns the doctrine of The Holy Communion.
We ventured to state, according to our inherited interpretation of the Prayer Book, what was the doctrine of the Church, and why we did not, like themselves, use the term "Transubstantiation." We stated that the Anglican Church had passed through a double contest, one in the deliverance of herself from Latinism, and, the other from Protestantism. At the time of the Reformation there was a popular belief known in England as "the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation." According to this doctrine, the elements at the time of consecration were so physically changed that they ceased to exist and remained in appearance only. This the Reformers rejected on the ground that it overthrew the nature of a sacrament, which must consist of two parts. When, on the other hand, the Protestants denied the reality of the Presence of our Lord's Body and Blood, then, in the seventeenth century, the Church made a further and more explicit statement of her doctrine and embodied it in her official Catechism. She there declared that the outward part or sign was the bread and wine, but that the inward part or Thing was the Body and Blood of our Lord. She moreover stated that the grace or benefit the faithful received was the strengthening and refreshing of their souls. By making these distinctions between the Sign, the Thing, and the Grace, the Church rejected the subjective theory of Protestantism. For we are not taught by our Catechism that the outward sign or form is the eating or drinking of the elements, but that the outward part or sign is the bread and wine; and we do not say that the inward part is the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, but that the inward part or Thing is the Body and Blood of the Lord.
This doctrine of the Real Objective Presence of Christ, as occasioned by the consecration, was further protected by the Articles of Religion. For though never regarded as a confession of faith, and signature by the clergy is not required to them in America, yet they may rightly be referred to in explanation of the doctrine contained in the Catechism which is of universal obligation. Thus it is said in Article 28: "That the Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten only after a heavenly and spiritual manner." The same word "spiritual," is also in our Catechism. Here the objectivity of the presence of Christ's Body in the sacrament as occasioned by the consecration is asserted, for the Body to be "given and taken" must be there before it is received. And as to the "heavenly and spiritual manner," we have both Eastern and Western authorities for its use.
We read in Aquinas (Summa iii. 75): "That the Body of Christ is not in the Sacrament in the manner in which a body is in place, but in a certain spiritual manner which is proper to this sacrament." "In heaven, It (the Body of Christ) exists after the manner of a Body, but in the sacrament It does not exist after the manner of a body (in that it does not occupy space), but in a spiritual manner" (De Eucharistica V.). So, too, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who in his catechetical Lectures (xix. 7) teaches that "after the invocation the Bread becomes the Body of Christ and the Wine the Blood of Christ," also (see XXII. 4, 8, 9), speaks of its spiritual character and partaking thereof as spiritual.
In the 28th Article we read that "The manner whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten is faith." It does not say, "made present by faith," nor "given by faith," but "received and eaten by faith." Here, too, our reformers followed Aquinas, who says: "In order to understand the Excellency and Heavenly dignity of this sacrament, it is to be noted that although all the sacraments of the Church have their effect by the faith of the Passion of Christ, and also from faith and through faith profit only the faithful unto salvation; this is, nevertheless, to be said most especially of the sacrament of Faith." St. Thomas and St. Cyril are here also in agreement. For St. Cyril says (Lec. xxii. 6): " Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ, for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ."
Again, our 29th Article states that "The wicked eat not the Body of Christ," and the wicked who receive the sacrament are not thereby made "partakers of Christ." We must note here the two words used "receiving" and "partaking," and their different significations.
The Articles, as is well known, have an authorized Latin as well as an English form, and for the better understanding of this, we must often compare together the language employed in either. Now in this 29th Article, the Latin words for "receiving" are "accipere" and "sumere"; but for the interior eating or assimilation of the Lord's Body, the word used is "percipere." Thus the Article declares that the wicked eat and yet they eat not. They eat because they bodily receive the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood, nevertheless, they eat not, because, the eye and mouth of the soul being closed, they do not "percipere "partakeof Christ.
Thus our Church, holding the ancient faith, believes in a change metabolh [metabole] effected by the consecration. The Ancient Fathers to whom our Church looks as standards of authority are full of this teaching. Dr. Pusey's sermon, This is My Body, contains a mine of patristic citations. It is interesting, also, to note how the doctrine is stated in the newly discovered Prayer Book of Sarapion of the fourth century: "Let Thy Holy Word come upon this Bread, that the Bread may become Body of the Word, and upon this Cup, that this Cup may become Blood of the Truth."
The ancient teaching is that before the 'consecration the elements are simply bread and wine. They are given us by God to support our life in the natural order. After the consecration they are what our Lord's Holy and Omnipotent Word declares them to be, His Body and Blood. When man nameth a thing he simply labels it; when God nameth, that He maketh: "Bread into His Body changeth, Wine His True Flesh comes to be." This change, effected by the action of the Holy Ghost, is a divine Mystery. It can be paralleled by no change in the physical or natural order, and is unexplainable by our finite metaphysics. We do not, like the Latins, dogmatize about it. Consequently, we do not use the term Transubstantiation, for as it is used in the West, it is popularly understood as involving the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accident. Fearing to rationalize on so great a mystery, we object to erecting this human, metaphysical conception into a Dogma.
But while, if we used it we should here be understood as adopting the Roman dogma, we must not allow the use of it by the Orthodox Russian Church, where it would not be so understood, to be a barrier to intercommunion. For when the. great and saintly theologian, Philaret, who died in 1867, translated, by order of the Holy Synod, the decrees of the Council of Bethlehem for the use of the Russian Church, while retaining the word " Transubstantiation" in the sense of metabole or change, he eliminated the terms "Substance" and "Accident." Plato, Metropolitan of Moscow in 1775, a great authority, wrote "that the Catholic Oriental Church admits Transubstantiation in a certain sense, not a physical and carnal transubstantiation, but a sacramental and mystical one."
The language of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, as used by the Russian Church, is strikingly in accord with our Anglican belief:
"Send down thy Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these laid out Gifts, and make this Bread the precious Body of thy Christ, and that which is in this Chalice, the precious Blood of thy Christ, Transmuting them by thy Holy Spirit, So that they may be to those that partake, unto sobriety of soul, unto remission of sins, unto communion of thy Holy Spirit, unto fulfilment of the Kingdom of the heavens, unto boldness toward thee, not unto judgment, nor unto condemnation."
The Sacrament is by the East reserved for the sick. But it is not carried about in Procession as is done by the Romans. Nor do they have the service of Benediction, the latter being something lately invented in the West. Thus we believe that the Orthodox Russian Church agrees with us in holding to the sacramental metabole, while rejecting along with us as a dogma the Tridentine explanation.
We venture to think that the number of the Councils admittedly Ecumenical presents no very. difficult barrier to the agreement of the Churches. The only question arises in respect to the seventh or the second of Nice. This Council "received" (Hore's History of the Greek Church, P. 245), "the recognition both of Eastern and Western Christendom, which is all that is necessary to render a Council Ecumenical." Owing, it is believed, to a mistranslation or misunderstanding of the decree, a Gallican Synod it Frankfort, 794, rejected it. A full and careful review of the matter is to be found in Dr. Percival's work on The Seven Councils.
A very clever explanation was written by the late John Henry Hopkins which so approved itself to the late learned Bishop Christopher Wordsworth, that he wrote him (see John Henry Hopkins' Life, P. 228) commending, "His wise and original remarks on the true solution of the Iconoclastic Controversy." Dr. Darwell Stone in his work, and the Rev. E. T. d'E. Jesse's book, on the 22nd Article may well be consulted. Whatever hesitancy there was at first through the misunderstanding or the Emperor's influence, the Gallican Church subsequently recognized the Council. At the Council of Lyons, 1274, all were united in accepting the Seven Synods, and as part of Western Christendom the Church in England did so likewise.
Concerning the doctrinal decree of the Council, it enjoined that supreme self-surrendering worship, "latria," should be given to God only; that reverence and honor should be paid to holy persons and things. It is a broad and sensible distinction and unlike the puzzling Roman subtleties between latria and dulia and hyperdulia. It is also very different, and this is the important distinction, from the Roman teaching and practice. Cardinal Bellarmine wrote that "the Images of Christ and of the saints are to be venerated and absolutely by themselves, so that they themselves are the end of the veneration."
Very different is the Eastern practice from that of St. Bonaventura who claimed that the worship of latria should be given to the image of Christ: "A man speaks to the Image in his Prayers, therefore he speaks to the Image as a reasoning creature, therefore, he speaks to the Image as to Christ, and just as he speaks, just so does he worship and adore, and therefore, he ought to adore the image of Christ." We can from this well understand how our Church rejected, in her 22nd Article, this Romish doctrine of the worshipping of Images.
The belief of the East is different. "The Eastern cense Icons, but they never pay either dulia or hyperdulia to them, neither does the work of any Eastern divine of authority advocate more than due reverence." In the Orthodox Catechism these questions are asked:
"Q. Is the use of holy Icons agreeable to the second Commandment?
"A. It would then, and then only, be otherwise, if anyone were to make Gods of them; but it is not in the least contrary to this commandment to honor Icons as sacred representations, and to use them for the religious remembrance of God's works and of His saints; for when thus used, Icons are books, written with the forms of persons and things instead of letters.
"Q. What disposition of mind should we have, when we reverence Icons?
"A. While we look on them with our eyes we should mentally look to God and to the Saints, who are represented in them."
At the Reformation the Anglican Church, while repudiating the "Romish doctrine," never repudiated the Seventh Council, but continued to pay reverence and honor to holy persons and sacred things. She has never yielded to Puritanism or Quakerism in their rejection of the reverence and titles to be given to the saints. She formally sets buildings apart from all common and secular uses by solemn acts of consecration. Unlike Protestants, she, with Episcopal benediction, hallows her churches and treats them by outward signs with reverence. We bless our fonts, altars, instruments of music, bells, holy vessels, and vestments We place the holy sign of our redemption and the representations of the Saviour and the Saints on our Church walls, over our altars, and on the church windows. We bow, according to our old English custom, towards the altar, kiss the word of God, sign our children with the sign of the Cross. By the permissible use of incense in our churches they are censed, and so all that is within them. Seeing thus that the teaching of the Council is accepted and acted upon, we must, to be consistent, not fail to recognize it. If having, as the Anglican Church has, accepted it, it should now be repudiated, a fatal blow would be given to all hope of reunion with the East. If, they would argue, after so many years of practical acceptance, your Church should now officially say we can only recognize six Councils as possessed of Ecumenical authority, and so repudiate this one, how can we trust you that in time to come you will not repudiate others also?
Seeing, therefore, there is no real difference in principle between us and our Eastern brethren, both alike following, in our reverence for our consecrated temples and sacred things, Holy Scripture and the example of Christ, we should be one in our acceptance of the Seventh Council. No Eastern or Anglican gives supreme worship to pictures or icons, for both alike hold this adoration to be due to God only God forbade the making of any representations of Himself before He gave us a true one in the Incarnation. Since then it has been lawful and lovable as well by picture as by word to represent Him to the mind. In the old time, God ordered representations of the angels to be used in the embroidered hangings of the Holy of Holies and in the figures of the Cherubim over the Ark. He made also the symbol of the Cross and its victory over the serpent, a means of life to the stricken Israelites. Only when it came to be misused and adored as an idol did He approve of its destruction. Veneration, honor, reverence, belong to one category, adoration as supreme, self-surrendering worship, belongs to another. The latter, God forbids to any but Himself; the former, to sacred persons and things He commands.
Thus we both alike use holy symbols, and in their presence obey the spirit of the divine commands to put our sandals "from off our feet," to "pray towards the holy place," to guard reverentially the Ark or aught that symbolizes God's presence, to wash the feet ere one enter into the holy place, to guard the temple from all secular profanations, to carry no burden through it, to observe ceremonial details as Christ did in handing the sacred Roll back to the Ruler of the Synagogue, to salute and honor the saints as Paul did St. James and the brethren.
Easterns and Westerns will always allowably differ in their outward expressions of honor and reverence. The Eastern prostrated himself before his Sovereign, the Western warriors of old raised him on their shields. The one, as we sing in our Venite, "worships and falls down," the other but bows the head or bends the knee. Our great Hooker defended against the Puritan our Church's customs of worship as based on right principles and the word of God, and we must let no academical dispute or fears of Rome keep us from uniting in this matter with the Orthodox East.
There is another point also requiring, perhaps, some explanation and forbearance on both sides, but which should not, when we consider the important interests at stake, separate the Churches. It concerns the Invocation of the Saints.
It is sometimes regarded as a practice merely, but it is a practice based on a doctrine, and any doctrine for its acceptance must have the support of Holy Scripture.
The doctrine is that the Church is one body, and that the saints departed are with Christ, and that we, with them, are engaged in a continuous service and common worship. We need not pause to show how this is proved by Holy Scripture and, as well, set forth in the Nicene Creed. St. Paul longed to depart and be with Christ. The Creed bids us believe in "the Communion of Saints." The bond which binds the whole Church together in one spiritual organism is divine charity. Grace unites us to Christ, the Holy Spirit to one another. Love to be loving must, we know, express itself in action; and the action by which it expresses itself is prayer. Engaged in one united worship, we join ourselves to their prayers who are in heaven and they to ours, and so "with the angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven," as we say in our Liturgy, we laud and praise His Holy Name.
Likewise the East in their warmer language say in their Liturgy: "Making mention of our All Holy, undefiled, exceedingly blessed, glorious Lady, Theotokos and ever Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and to one another and all our life to God." United by the dearest and closest of all ties, the whole Church strives thus for each other's spiritual welfare by mutual intercession; we here on earth pray for them and they for us. It is the universality of this mutual intercession that so characterizes the East and differentiates it from Rome. The East does what Rome would not. It recognizes the truth that all creatures, wherever they may be, are dependent on God's care and support. It prays, consequently, for the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Thus they say in their service: "We offer to Thee this reasonable worship for those who are in faith deceased, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Continent ones, and every righteous spirit in faith made perfect, especially our holy, undefiled, blessed, glorious Lady, ever Virgin Mary."
How deeply the East recognizes the unity of the Spiritual Body of Christ is seen in this, that they not only hold the saints are not without us made perfect, but that their graces here and their glory there were obtained by the united prayers of the Church, past, present, and future. They regard these prayers as forming one body of loving devotions. They are prayers which were foreseen or rather always present in the sight of God. They all, so to speak, rise up out of the angel's hand before God's all-seeing Omniscience and Predestinating Love, as one united energy of intercession. It is thus united intercession of the whole Church that brought to the saints and to Mary their graces and gifts.
So, too, not only do they pray for the saints, but they also ask of God a part in their prayers. This combination we noticed at the tomb of the blessed Philaret at Moscow. First came the inscription: "May the Lord God be mindful of thy Episcopate in His Kingdom'.'; and then below: "By the prayers of Philaret, Jesus Christ our God have mercy upon us."
The extravagant legends and direct prayers to the Saints, as Sources of grace, led our Reformers to omit the Litany of the Saints from our public service. But yet we still call on the "servants of the Lord" and "the spirits and souls of the Righteous to bless the Lord," and so surely we may call upon them as engaged in a common act of worship to pray to Him with us and for us. We are all praying together for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom and we are praying for them and they for us. And what we may do en bloc, we may do individually naming the Apostles, and Martyrs, and Saints. As the hearing of our particular petition by any saint is not necessarily part of the doctrine involved in this practice, it is not necessary to prove it from Holy Scripture. But as love demands reciprocal action between those who love, we may trust Divine Love, who unites all in Himself, to make, so far as it is best, our request available. No one supposes that the saints can hear us as we in the flesh hear one another. But as they themselves once asked of God, the prayers of those gone before, so they know we who are struggling are asking God for theirs.
No one can believe that their interest has lessened by their nearer approach to their Lord, or that their supplications for His Kingdom and His Love has slackened. But we are not left to surmise and argument only. We know we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, who must, to some extent, have knowledge of us. We know also that the angels who guard our little ones and in heaven rejoice over every repenting sinner, can make our requests known, as easily, at least, as our human intelligence can send its messages of love and sorrow through the vacant air. We should not then with a rationalizing Nicodemus ask how can they be made acquainted with our requests, knowing that in God and through God the saints may be made cognizant of them. It was the disuse of prayers for the dead that led to a widespread unbelief in immortality. It is the disuse of all recognition and invocation of the saints that has so obscured our realization of the unseen world and the glories of heaven.
Let us not be afraid of what is true and right in this matter, while careful to observe the right proportions of the faith. On our side there is something for us to learn from the East, and of the Easterns we may ask something of explanation. Our disuse of invocation of the saints in the sixteenth century came largely from a fear that as then practised the Person and Mediatorship of Christ were obscured. This is, we believe, the real objection now with some faithful and Christ-loving souls. As the Orthodox hold the faith, we may see this is not so. They desire the prayers of all the saints, not as being omnipotent or omnipresent, nor as in themselves sources of grace or virtue, nor as independent of Christ's Mediatorship, nor as having jurisdiction over special persons or cases, but as one with them in the Church of God. The East asks their prayers as our brother worshippers and as the Friends of God. We, on our part, reverence profoundly above all. saints and angels the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, Bringer-Forth of God, but we are shocked when she is represented as she is by Romans, as the special seat of Mercy, while Christ is that of justice; or when she is by them made a Co-Redemptorist, or a Mediatorship is given her as the Neck of the mystical Body through whom, from Christ the Head, all grace must pass.
Equally abhorrent to such a view we found the Orthodox East. When, too, we asked of them the meaning they attach to the suffrage in their offices: " Most Holy Mother of God, save us," or others like it, the explanation given was that here the word "save" is similar to its use by St. Paul, where he said: "He became all things to all men that he might 'save' some." As Paul saved by his preaching, so Mary saved us as, the bringer-forth of the Saviour and by the aid of her intercessions. We may not wish to adopt their expressions, but the evangelical and living conception of the Church, on which their practice of invocation is based, must commend itself to us. "It is that we profess when we sing, 'The living and the dead but one communion make."' For "Prayer addressed by us to the saints, is," they write, "to obtain their intercession, or rather the communion of their prayers, and it proceeds in no wise from a feeling of doubt in divine mercy."
"But we know that prayer ought to be fervent, persevering, pure; and feeling our own weakness we call upon the saints as upon our brethren in Jesus Christ to assist our imperfect intercessions. As God is not the God of the dead but of the living, as the Church in her divine universality belongs neither to some peculiar place nor time, but unites in her bosom all the faithful -- those who still live upon earth and those who dwell already beyond the limits of this lifetherefore, does the communion of love and prayer exist between the Church upon earth and the Church of heaven."
Surely in such a conception of the "Communion of Saints," which is an Article of our Creed, we may find nothing to keep Christians apart.
Lastly, if the two Churches are to enter into recognized fellowship, the old barrier about the "Filioque" must in some way be removed. Very few of our laity know that the words, "from the Son," in the Nicene Creed were not in the original. They were inserted in the West, and by the Roman Church, after the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus had declared that no further addition should be made to it. As a part of the Western Church we inherited this interpolated and uncanonical addition from Rome. It is certainly a great satisfaction that between ourselves and the Eastern Orthodox Church there is no difference in the doctrine involved. Very correctly the East has said that the unity of the Godhead demands the belief that there is but One Source or fountain of life in the Godhead. This is designated as the Father. To make the Holy Spirit proceed in the same way from the Father and the Son is to make two original sources of life in God and so to break up the unity and oneness of God. The great Eastern theologian, John Damascene, taught that while there was but one [arch] [arche] or source in the Godhead, the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father through the Son. Taken in this sense the term Filioque is patent of an orthodox meaning. But while in this sense it may be a true opinion, it is impossible for the East to put it into the Creed. The question with them is not whether it is true, but what right has it to be made a dogma and inserted in the Creed without the consent of the Church Catholic? There are a good many other doctrines which may be true but have no place in the Symbol of Faith. This article was put in by no Ecumenical Council, and stands there on the authority of the West alone and of the Pope. The East's whole position and existence is involved in this controversy. If the Pope has a right to sanction one article of faith in the Creed, then he has others. If we admit, they say, the Filioque, then logically we should admit the Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception. It all hangs together. It is impossible, therefore, for the East, after their 900 years of protest, to accept it.
How then, we must ask ourselves, can they enter into communion with us if we retain it? There is no Ecumenical authority for it. It is the one remaining shackle that marks our former Roman servitude. May God in His great mercy so enlighten His Church that this cause of division may be removed. If there is a sincere desire for the union for Christ's sake, we cannot doubt but He will melt our hearts and show us the way. There exists in England, or did, a Society entitled the "Nicene Creed Association," having for its object "its restoration to its true form as sanctioned by the General Councils, by the removal of the unauthorized addition, 'and the Son,' and the re-insertion of the omitted word 'Holy' before the words 'Catholic and Apostolic Church."' In 1902 a memorial was presented to the Bishops in the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury saying that "A most serious and weighty grievance" was felt, in that "the Clergy and Laity of the Church of England should be required to profess a creed differing in so momentous a subject from that which the primitive Church through her great councils had handed down to posterity."
Whether the Orthodox Church could, with safety to itself -- for it has the large separated body of old believers and others to considerallow us to retain the words, with a note that they were not to be taken as part of the Creed, has lately been put to them by way of a suggested solution. We Americans once did this, inserting an explanatory clause concerning the descent into hell. The Commission on the Prayer Book in 1689 proposed to the English Convocation that "it is humbly submitted whether a note might not have been added with relation to the Greek Church in order to our maintaining Catholic Communion." It does not seem needful here to go further into this matter. At the Bonn Conference in 1875 it was formally acknowledged "that the addition of the Filioque was not made in an ecclesiastically regular manner." This unlawful addition is the chief impediment to Re-union. We must not wait for its removal by England's Church, prevented, as she is, by the State from taking any action, but the free Church of America must lead the way. For my own part I think the right and straightforward course is to remove it. What is the future of American Christianity to be? Surely in a possible reaction from unbelief and the uncertainties of Protestantism, and in our contest with Rome, it will be a vast advantage if our Church is in recognized fellowship with the East, with its one hundred or more million Catholics and its four ancient Apostolic Patriarchal sees. God grant our Church the charity that puts aside unworthy suspicions of brothers, needless antagonisms within herself, and enable her to lead the cause of re-union. May she gain the blessed title and record of being the Peace Maker of Christendom!
We have thus, it is clear, a great educative work to do before the Churches can be united. It calls for divine patience, divine enthusiasm, wonderworking faith. It is not to be the work of a day or generation. Our Church is in the transition period of recovering her Catholic heritage. The progress made in the century from 1803 to 1903 is indeed wonderful, and shows how God has been with us. It is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes. If we are faithful, in 2003 our successors will find a like advance. Man is ever impatient and in a hurry. God works slowly, but His work endures. The cause is God's cause, and opposition cannot overthrow it. God will bless in the future, as He has in the past, our hindrances to the sanctification of His Church and the promotion of His Glory.
Let us grow in charity towards all our brethren in Christ. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. Let the sanctity of our lives bear witness to the truth that the possession of the Indwelling God-Man, by the means of sacramental grace, produces a peace, joy, strength, and more illuminated vision, than the lesser and more imperfect union with God by virtue of His immanence in Nature can give.
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