Think you've shot yourself in the foot for this one.
Indeed. The sacraments are not magic. They are the works of God. To suggest that anyone can make God do their bidding just by using the formula 'right matter + right words (spell?)= sacrament' smacks of sorcery. One of the things I find most disturbing about Roman Catholic doctrine is their reduction of the sacraments to that level. The idea that rank heretics can confect the Holy Mysteries of the altar just because someone can trace back a line of people who recited the correct magic formula (Dutch Touch?) is not simply insulting, it comes perilously close to blasphemy.In ICXCJohn
Those members of a church in schism who are not culpable for this schism can receive grace in the sacraments, I believe.I doubt, for example, that God would have cut off the grace "taps" to a peasant family in Thrace when their bishop fell out of communion with Rome.
Well, is grace the only thing that happens in the Sacraments?The Eucharist could still be the Body of Christ even if people in schism receive no grace (at least objectively speaking) when taking it (just as a mortal sinner "within" the Church would).Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination could all still confer an indelible character, from which the grace would "revive" when they do get into the True Church. The priests could still have the powers to confect the eucharist and do these other sacraments. The conduit could still be made even if it isn't yet plugged into the power-source, as it were.Marriage could still create an indissoluble bond even without grace (and make the sex between the spouses not a sin).Confession, of course, requires jurisdiction anyway, and it would be hard to say what restoration to grace would mean unless we admitted they have grace. It's also hard to say what, objectively, Annointing of the Sick would do without grace. But the other sacraments have effects beyond just "grace" as we usually speak of it.You just want to be Eastern Orthodox. I agree they have lots of good points that complement Latin theology...but they also have weak points too. A narrative that would make them better on all questions than the West is unrealistic.
@A Sinner: "A narrative that would make them [Eastern Orthodox] better on all questions than the West is unrealistic." Really? They haven't trashed their ancient liturgy, neither have they added fanciful doctrine as dogma to the received Tradition and Catholic Faith. The West has. Your point was what?!
John (Ad Orientem), to put it one way, you've got it bang to rights mate!
Come on John. Outside the Church, no grace. Inside the Church, grace. Outside the Church, no grace, and so on. Who's playing with the tap here? At least the RC recognizes that God may not be forbidden by the Church to work His grace into those who do not belong to her.
Patricius, how do you square your agreement with John (Ad Orientem)'s Cyprianite opinion with your tentative openness to the reality of Anglican sacraments (and those of the Eastern Orthodox, for that matter)?
Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said... "Really? They haven't trashed their ancient liturgy, neither have they added fanciful doctrine as dogma to the received Tradition and Catholic Faith. The West has. Your point was what?!"This ... from an Anglican? Astounding.
@John(Ad Orientem):The idea that rank heretics can confect the Holy Mysteries of the altar just because someone can trace back a line of people who recited the correct magic formula (Dutch Touch?) is not simply insulting, it comes perilously close to blasphemy."Perhaps I am showing my ignorance of Eastern Orthodox sacramental theology, but what exactly is it that you are proposing as the correct view one should take?Yes it is both a wonder and mercy of our Lord that sacramental validity does not depend on the piety and fidelity of the celebrant. Sacraments work ex opere operato -that is, they confer grace by the working of the minister. This was defined by St. Augustine to counter the Donatist schism, the followers of which held that the worthiness of the minister affect Sacramental validity. Since it is Christ who operates through them, their effectiveness does not depend on the worthiness of the minister. Yes you can have a valid sacrament that does *not* confer grace due to several factors. Those who receive improperly disposed (e.g. State of Mortal Sin) may validly receive the Sacrament, but the graces are withheld until they make themselves properly disposed (e.g. Confession and Absolution). Those that knowingly receive a Sacrament unworthily validly receive, but commit a grave sin of sacrilege.A person who belongs to a schismatic sect and receives knowing their own position cannot receive properly (hence, no grace). So with those in schism, Sacraments do give grace, but the state of the soul of the individual, due to that schism, may mean that the grace given is given, but not applied due to improper disposition.
One wonders about a family somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates in the sixth century, or those say in India or Ethiopia - did they receive Sacraments? Perhaps their spirits looked down on His Majesty's Parliament rejecting the 1928 amendments to the BCP and mused 'church and state'?
I think there is some misunderstanding here as to my intent in publishing this post (especially, not surprisingly, from the Trad side). I am not talking here about personal worthiness, either of the Celebrant who procures the Sacrament, or those who receive them. I am talking about Sacraments outside of the Church, procured by so-called ''heretics.'' I cannot understand the Roman view, which as John (Ad Orientem) says, comes dangerously close to reducing the ministry of the Sacraments to sorcery.If outside the Church there is no Salvation, then outside the Church there are no Sacraments. This is the rule; there are, of course, some exceptions to it, but it seems safer to me to hold this view than to get bogged down in triviality and ''exceptions.''
@Texan Traditionalist--I don't want to put words into John's mouth, but I believe that what he is saying is that the whole Scholastic framework of thinking about sacraments is all wrong. "Sacramental Theology" as a category, with its form-matter distinctions, &c. is false. Rather, sacramental theology should be seen as a subset of Ecclesiology. Sacraments don't work because came duly-empowered individual with the right intention fulfills the form and matter requirements, but rather they "work" because the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church.None of this denies the possibility of the Holy Spirit working outside the Church--He does as He wills. What it does mean, however, is that whatever is going on outside the Church, it is not a sacrament, or to use Orthodox terminology, it is not a Holy Mystery, because the Mysteries are of the Church. We can say for sure where the Holy Spirit is (in the Church), but we cannot say where He is not, and only in that place where He is can we say that sacraments exist.@Patricius--Since you agree with John, are you merely saying that there are no sacraments outside the Roman Catholic Church and so the RCC's definition of sacraments makes no sense, or are you endorsing the line of thought put forth by some contemporary theologians reconciling your view with the official Roman one by saying that there can be a schism within the Church?
Han, neither.There can be no schism ''within'' the Church, though there can be dissent from Church teaching and other deviations from orthopraxis. I reject the ''branch theory'', and other modern ecclesiologies. There is One Church, One Baptism, One Lord.As to which Church this actually is, well I need to work that one out. No one would in conscience reject the True Church, unless possessed of demons or inspired by contempt of the Faith, but one may legitimately identify with the True Church if the spectacle exhibited by Roman clergy is seen to be evidence of a gigantic fraud repugnant to the Gospel.Pray for me that I may make this final gesture.
So, I take it, since you regularly go to St. Magnus (and, I assume, think that those in the pews around you are really baptized and that something is really happening on the altar), you consider the Anglican Communion to be in the running as the True Church?
@Han:"Sacraments don't work because came duly-empowered individual with the right intention fulfills the form and matter requirements, but rather they "work" because the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church."This a false dichotomy. Yes, Sacraments are confected validly through the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is the Holy Spirit that has guided the Church in defining what must be fulfilled in order to have Sacramental validity. If these divinely instituted components of a sacrament are found missing, then no sacrament can be confected. I find it very hard to believe that the Orthodox do not believe in such distinctions. Would a valid Divine Liturgy (i.e. one in which the Eucharist is consecrated and consumed) take place if (either individually or all together):1.) A woman or layman assumes the role of the Priest?2.) A Priest uses a block of chocolate as the Prosphora?3.) The entire Anaphora (with the Epiclesis) is omitted?4.) The Priest makes a conscious internal disposition to not consecrate the Eucharist? My guess would be, "no". Am I correct? Would the Holy Spirit allow a Divine Liturgy to be confected with a female "priest" (proper minister), a chocolate Prosphora (proper matter), an omission of the entire anaphora (proper form) and a deliberately contrary disposition on the part of the celebrant (proper intent) or any combination thereof? The terms and components of a valid sacrament, as defined by the Church, serve a divine purpose in safeguarding the integrity of the sacraments and insuring the faithful that what they are indeed receiving is a valid sacrament. This is both logical and theologically sound. The Orthodox reject these distinctions out of nothing more than an ongoing ceasaropapist fixation and blind anti-Roman Catholic contempt.
@Patricius: "If outside the Church there is no Salvation, then outside the Church there are no Sacraments. This is the rule; there are, of course, some exceptions to it, but it seems safer to me to hold this view than to get bogged down in triviality and 'exceptions.'"So what is that "you" believe? That there are no valid Priests, Bishops, Masses, Baptisms, etc. outside of the true Church? What chaos this would be!Indulge me as I make this point, Patricius:Obviously the Great Schism cannot be pinpointed to a perfectly exact point in time, far less for individual clergy. So, for the sake of argument, lets imagine that it took place *exactly* on January 1st, 1054. All individual clergy also made this shift internal on this exact day as well. Now according to your argument, no valid sacrament can exist outside of the Church. In addition, a valid Priest's ability to validly say the Mass is never rescinded (it may be rendered "illicit" through canonical impediments, but it is never and can never be "de-validted", so to speak). With that in mind what conclusion can you draw in regard to the presence of sacraments in the schismatic party at the very beginning of the Great Schism? Did the Priests and Bishops who partook of the schism "lose" their ability to confect valid sacraments from one day to the next ... even when we acknowledge that a Priest is *forever* a Priest regardless of his personal piety and fidelity, and that a Priest's ability to confect the sacraments is as much an integral ability of his as breathing and thinking?Do you see what I am feebly trying to say? In order to support your own individual notion that there is no sacramental presence in any sect outside of the Church, you would need to to propose that either A.) A validly-ordained Priest can cease to be a Priest based on an internal corruption of his character orB.) Valid Priests, while still remaining Priests, can lose their ability to say valid Sacraments. In addition, you have posted here many times of your (quite frankly) scandalous participation in non-Catholic liturgical services, even going as far as to assume a liturgical function in one of them (serving as straw subdeacon in an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy). By your own admission, you have participated in three mutually exclusive rites and religions:1.) Anglicanism2.) Catholicism3.) Eastern OrthodoxyBy your logic then, you have personally participated in no more (and no less) than two ceremonies wholly devoid of sacramental validity. To do so either knowingly or in a state of uncertainty is sinful. And now your last post expresses your uncertainty of which is the True Church ... what road are treading, Patricius? I am genuinely concerned for you, sir. For all the sins of her clergy, it is the Holy Catholic Church that will always be our mother. Do not leave her.
Julio and Tex Trad,In brief Han has addressed the point succinctly. I would simply add that what the Church teaches is not that God's grace is wholly absent absent outside the Church. The Church is silent on what goes on outside her. What it does teach is that heterodox sacraments are not the same thing as Orthodox Sacraments. They are defective by reason of their separation from the Church. Think of the churches (small 'c') as houses. And The Church as the power station. Your house can be very beautiful and have all of its wiring intact, but if you are not connected to the main power station the lights are not going to work.The oft repeated charge of Donatism demonstrates a misunderstanding of that heresy. Donatism was the belief that personal sin can cut off your priest or bishop from the grace of the Holy Mysteries. But heresy is not a personal sin. It is a public sin by which one separates oneself from the Church. There is a huge difference. At one time this was the understanding of the whole Church (East and West). Augustine however posited a dramatic change in the understanding of the nature of the Church. He suggested that the Church had a dual nature and that it was possible to be connected to the Church while being outside of her canonical boundaries and even an avowed heretic. The West accepted this radical change in its understanding of the Church and over time, without formally repudiating the doctrine that there are no sacraments outside the Church, has nonetheless reduced it effectively to meaninglessness. It goes without saying that while most Orthodox venerate Blessed Augustine for his personal sanctity, his theology which is the cornerstone of much of modern Western doctrine, has generally not been received by the Christian East. The majority of Orthodox consider Augustine to be the father of countless Western errors on everything from ecclesiolog and Trinitarianism (the double procession) to grace and sin.In ICXCJohn
Texas Trad,You are positing a question based on a false assumption, namely that everyone agrees with Rome's teaching...In addition, a valid Priest's ability to validly say the Mass is never rescinded (it may be rendered "illicit" through canonical impediments, but it is never and can never be "de-validted", so to speak). With that in mind what conclusion can you draw in regard to the presence of sacraments in the schismatic party at the very beginning of the Great Schism?That is not the traditional teaching of the Church. It is certainly one in keeping with the Augustinian approach. But it is not and has never been accepted in the East. There is no "indelible" character to Holy Orders. Which is why there is no such thing as vegante priests or bishops from the Orthodox POV. A priest who separates himself from the church is just an overdressed layman. Likewise a priest and yes, even a bishop who is deposed is deprived of the grace of Holy Orders since such flows only through the church via one's local bishop or the Synod of bishops.In ICXCJohn
@Texas Trad.--It is not a false dichotomy--there is no dichotomy. It is more like category error. You asked about Orthodox sacramental theology, so I tried to write about it. Certainly, if you are a Roman Catholic, you need not accept it, but I will follow up with this comment based upon the assumption that you are truly trying to understand where we are coming from.In your response, it is clear that you are having difficulty thinking about the topic of sacraments without the aid of Scholastic terminology. These words, "valid", "licit", "form" and "matter" are all Scholastic terms that force the user into a certain mode of thought. To understand Orthodox sacramental theology, you need to abandon these terms altogether along with the theological framework they create.Start, first, with the Church. Christ ascends into Heaven, then sends the Holy Spirit to found His Church. Yet, the Holy Spirit is not some impersonal force but a divine Person in His own right that gives life to and governs the Church. It is by the will of the Holy Spirit that grace is conferred in the Holy Mysteries. A good analogy is to think of pagan nature myths. According to Greek mythology, the sun rises and sets every day because the sun god chooses to ride his chariot across the heavens. Now, the scientific explanation is that the sun and the earth are impersonal objects that have no will of their own, and the earth's rotation around the sun are governed by laws of physics. Using this analogy, the Holy Spirit's "activation," if you will, of the Holy Mysteries is more like the old pagan myths than science--the difference being that the Holy Spirit really is God, therefore is truly a Person in possession of a will. In the Mysteries, one receives the Holy Spirit Himself, becoming, as St. Peter put it, a partaker of the divine nature. But because the Holy Spirit is a person, not simply an object, and an omnipotent person at that, He cannot be compelled to go anywhere. Rather, He goes where He wills. The problem, then, that we see with the Scholastic approach to sacramental theology is that it reduces the Holy Spirit to an object; the governing Spirit (q.v. Ps. 50) becomes governed, and a voluntary act by God instead becomes an event predicatable and explainable by science (i.e. sacramental theology).So how do we know with any certainty if God is giving Himself to us (N.B. "receiving" Him is another matter--one of individual disposition)? We have faith that we are receiving the Heavenly Spirit because we have faith in the Church. Because the Trinity is of one essence, all the Persons of the Trinity have but a single divine will. Since Christ willed to establish His one true Church on earth as the means through which mankind can become one with Him, the Holy Spirit must likewise will to give Himself in the Holy Mysteries of this one true Church. It is not a science, and it is not magic (which is actually a form of technology, if one thinks about it); rather we know that we receive God in the sacraments because we have faith that God keeps his promises.On a more pragmatic level, if the question is whether or not something is happening at any particular Divine Liturgy, the relevant questions are (1)Is this particular priest authorized by an Orthodox bishop to celebrate liturgy--i.e. (a)has a bishop ordained him and (b)does he have an antimension from the bishop of the jurisdiction in which the church is located, and (2)Is this Liturgy being celebrated in accordance with the Tradition that Orthodox everywhere recognize as Orthodox?
I have never acted as a ''straw'' (whatever that means) Subdeacon in the Orthodox Church. I presume you're referring to the photo I uploaded a while back. This was playing fancy dress, and the chap (a friend of mine) who loaned me the vestments, and who is, incidentally, an ordained Subdeacon in that Church.
@John (Ad Orientem): "Donatism was the belief that personal sin can cut off your priest or bishop from the grace of the Holy Mysteries. But heresy is not a personal sin. It is a public sin by which one separates oneself from the Church. There is a huge difference."You are mistaken, John. Donatism was a reaction to the *public* scandal caused by the public apostasies of clerics during the persecutions of pagan Rome (such as offering incense to pagan deities) and of the *public* scandal of the so-called "traditors"(people who had handed over sacred texts, vessels, etc to Roman authorities out of fear of repercussion). The Donatists did in fact claim that public heresy and apostasy (in addition to private offenses) stripped Priests and Bishops of their sacerdotal character. How does this differ from what you are positing as the EO position?@Han: "It is by the will of the Holy Spirit that grace is conferred in the Holy Mysteries."I have said nothing contradicting this. The Church teaches that valid sacraments can be confected outside of her confines but do *not* confer grace upon its recipients due to their adherence to schism. However grace can be present in sacraments confected outside of the Church when the recipient procures them out of invincible ignorance or in instances of emergency.
@PatriciusMy apologies. I mistakenly assumed you donned the role of a subdeacon in an EO Divine Liturgy."Straw"-subdeacon is the term used for clerics (tonsurati and above) who have not yet been raised to the subdiaconate who assume the role of a subdeacon during a Mass.
@John(Ad Orientem): "But it is not and has never been accepted in the East. There is no "indelible" character to Holy Orders."... Hmm. According to "you", apparently. Here is what the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has to say on this matter:"Those called and ordained to serve the Church are referred to as "clergy" (kleros), because they are chosen and set apart. The character of ordination is indelible. Therefore, ordination is never repeated, even in the case of clergy who have apostatized or have been defrocked, and are received again into the Church."http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7106So who am I to believe holds the true EO position on this matter (if such a thing is even tenable)?
Why are the posts I put the least effort into the ones which attract the most comments?
I doubt if there's anything I can usefully add, but I'd like to pick up on a couple of points nevertheless. The only indelible, "ontological" priestly character acknowledged in Orthodoxy is that of Jesus Christ, received at baptism. The character of the ministerial priesthood is not ontological but, well - ministerial. A man is ordained by his bishop not to act vicariously in the person of an absent Christ, but to present (or "image") the Christ who is ever present in His Church, in the Holy Mysteries. It is in the ministry (and the Mystery of priestly ordination) itself, for the sake of the Church, that an "indelible character" resides, not in the minister who exercises it. A priest whose ministry is revoked by his bishop (for whatever reason - insanity, malice, separating from the Church by using a chocolate prosphora) simply ceases to be a priest. That's why the Orthodox rarely speak of a priest "celebrating" as opposed to "serving" the Divine Liturgy; and why you'll never hear an Orthodox speaking of "Father X's Mass". It's why vagantes are practically unheard-of: no antimension, no Eucharist.St Ignatius of Antioch famously provides the most succinct summary of Orthodox Eucharistic ecclesiology:...Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. (Letter to the Smyrneans)I know very well how extremely difficult it is for Roman Catholics to extricate themselves from deeply embedded categories and methodologies of scholastic theology. Thus, in order to vindicate "Roman" self-understanding, it's considered necessary only to appeal to some aspect of Roman self-understanding - and this fatal circularity itself remains hidden from RC's, for whom no other approach appears conceivable without succumbing to "modernism". The paradigm of doctrinal development is therefore invoked, to demonstrate that Orthodoxy is simply "undeveloped". Orthodoxy, however, has never consented to the casting of Christianity as an intellectual system; to confusing theologia with technologia (St Gregory of Nyssa). Orthodox theology remains in absolute opposition to the mechanistic, the legalistic, the "magical", the speculative, as inimical to the living Tradition of the Fathers. Far from clarifying the Tradition, it recognises tendencies in Latin theology as having suffocated it in a web of human contructs: not "development", but departure, with every subsequent "development" setting the Tradition at an ever greater remove. This is consistent with what one sees everywhere today in Western Christianity, Catholic and Protestant. It's deeply paradoxical that those most consciously opposed to Modernism don't hesitate at the same time to wrap themselves in Modernism's prototype.Mention has already been made of those characteristic errors traceable to Blessed Augustine; one might consider also as relevant misapprehensions as to the nature of grace itself, understood in Latin theology as a created effect, as opposed to the indwelling of the life-giving Spirit Himself.
So when Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions fall out of communion with each other (which happens time and again), the bishops and priests of the schismatic side (if that can be determined!) cease to be bishops and priests? Thus the people under them are not baptized and receive only bread and wine at the (pretend) Divine Liturgy?So the Old Calendarists and others are not even baptized Christians? In other words, no better than us unbaptized heathen Catholics?God must be very tired, running to and fro, turning on and off the taps of grace. Good luck with this mess. I considered the Eastern Orthodox churches once upon a time, but this confusion was one of the barriers. Were I to join, I would be re-baptized or re-chrismated, depending on what bishop I happened to talk to. Seriously you folks need to hold a general council, like 800 years ago already.
there are nor sacraments nor grace outside the Church.... when schismatics celebrate Eucharist the grace and the sacraments comes mystically, mysteriously, and directly from the Catholic Church not the "North Estonian Russo-Uralic Orthodox Church" or whatever elongated named nationalist oriented religious organization out there
James CGrace is not something that comes out of a tap. It is not a matter of plumbing, of connecting components correctly. It is the life and presence of God Himself, abiding in the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church, being a Body, is visible, but though we can know where it is we can't say with certainty where it isn't. We know that everything is given into the hands of sinful men, and that everything is a function of "synergia" (St Paul), or "co-operation". "I hear that among you", he says (1Cor,11:18), "there are schisms and heresies...and so it must be that those who are approved may be recognised among you." God does not "turn off the tap" - ever. Rather, we are responsible, always, from one minute to the next, of ensuring that we're hooked up properly to the mains, and not being led astray by passions and demonic suggestions. If that entails a degree of untidiness, well that's the way it is. Tidyness is not a characterstic of "synergia", of the working out of things that God requires of us. Tidyness is the mark of human invention. If it's tidyness you want, go for Islam - or for the kind of alienated theology that would insist on the "validity" of a satanic Black Mass, or relegate "orthodoxy" to extracting the right document from a mountain of documents and saying "yes" to it. What you have failed to recognise is that the relative weakness of Orthodox ecclesiology is, after the pattern of the Cross, in fact its strength. That's always God's way; and the proof of it is the stability and robustness of the Tradition within Orthodoxy and the brokenness and attenuation of it everywhere else.
@Texas Trad.--You wrote: "The Church teaches that valid sacraments can be confected outside of her confines but do *not* confer grace upon its recipients due to their adherence to schism"Then what does "valid" even mean? How can a sacrament be a sacrament if it does not confer grace? Does the Baltimore Catechism not define a sacrament as "the outward sign of invisible grace". If the sacrament does not confer grace, then God must not be present in it (since grace is naught but the uncreated energies of God). So if God is not there, in what way is it "valid"? Is "validity" merely a term to describe metaphysical transubstantiation? Are you then saying that a valid but illicit sacrament is one wherein, as a matter of metaphysics, the bread and the wine have been transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, but nevertheless, God is not doing anything at all through the sacrament? How then is this not simple magic? How is this not the compelling of God to be substantially present in the bread and wine against His will, effected by the power of some ordination in the past?You also wrote:"However grace can be present in sacraments confected outside of the Church when the recipient procures them out of invincible ignorance or in instances of emergency"I do not disagree with this, other than to say that we would be presuming too much if we claim to know when, how, or why God will be present in extra-Ecclesial rites.
@James C.--Your rhetorical question about what happens when Orthodox bishops break communion with one another is a fine illustration of the fundamental difference between Orthodox and Catholic ecclesiology.Fundamentally, Orthodox see membership in the Church as being part of a Tradition, which happens to have within it authoritative figures including (but not limited to) bishops. Catholics see membership in the Church as being part of an authoritative teaching body with the power to dispense grace, and which happen to have traditions associated with it.Schisms within the Church happen because Christians are human, and humans are neither infallible nor impeccable. Nevertheless, the parties to such schism, unless it is apparent that one side adheres to some obvious and blatant heresy, are still considered to be Orthodox Christians. We consider the pain and confusion that these disputes sow a small price to pay for adhering to the true ecclesiology, but we are confident that such disputes, when they do not involve a real heresy, get patched up in time.
General comment: I grow rather tired of this ongoing belittling of scholastic theology and theological terminology even when it is fully understood by everyone here and pertinent to the matter being discussed. I could just as easily dismiss the alternative being posited here as mere formless, stunted sophistry that fancies its paucity as mysticism, fueled by nothing more than a ceasaropapist contempt for anything of Rome ... But I wont. @Han: "Then what does "valid" even mean? How can a sacrament be a sacrament if it does not confer grace?"... In the same way a man in a state of mortal sin is deprived grace in consuming a truly consecrated Eucharist. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." - (1Cor. 11:29)Even among schismatics who possess valid sacraments, grace can be conferred onto those who adhere to this schism through no fault of their own or through invincible ignorance (the instances and factors involved in this merit another discussion) ... a grace that is surely necessary to remove oneself from said schism. So yes, there is no such concept as a valid sacrament that is devoid of the conveyance of grace *without exception*. It can be generally "assumed" that sacraments existing outside of the confines of the Church do not confer grace due to the schismatic disposition of both the celebrant and the recipient, but there can be exceptions on the plane of individuals.
I wont. I'm glad. Otherwise I'd suspect you, in your determination to evade the point, of attempting to drown reasoned critique in a stream of risible, hackneyed jibes. I know you're better than that. :0)
@Anagnostis: "I know you're better than that. :0)"I should hope so!
@Texas Trad.--You wrote:"Even among schismatics who possess valid sacraments, grace can be conferred onto those who adhere to this schism through no fault of their own or through invincible ignorance (the instances and factors involved in this merit another discussion) ... a grace that is surely necessary to remove oneself from said schism. So yes, there is no such concept as a valid sacrament that is devoid of the conveyance of grace *without exception*. It can be generally "assumed" that sacraments existing outside of the confines of the Church do not confer grace due to the schismatic disposition of both the celebrant and the recipient, but there can be exceptions on the plane of individuals."Then what is the content of "validity." If validity and grace are not the same, what does valid mean? If it means "according to recipe" does following the recipe actually do anything? If not, what is the point? If following the recipe does something, such as transubstantiation, but no grace is conferred, then why is this not magic (after all, something is happening, but God is not doing it)?More importantly, if you admit that one cannot say with any certainty whether a sacrament is conferring grace when the sacramental rite is performed according to recipe by a schismatic (even going so far as to assume that grace is not being conferred), then are you not really just agreeing with Patricius and asserting that there are no real sacraments outside the Church? After all, if sacraments work ex opere operato, and if sacraments are the outward sign of invisible grace, and if one cannot be sure that any grace is being conferred by an illicit sacrament, then an illicit sacrament is not really a sacrament, and any grace that an individual may receive in partaking is not a result of the "sacrament" but rather by the condescension of God irrespective of the illicit rite (the alternative would be that sacraments don't work ex opere operato or that the Baltimore Catechism, notwithstanding its imprimatur, is wrong about what sacraments are). If this is the case, then I would comment that the valid-licit framework is useless at best, or in the alternative give rise to a not unreasonable belief that sacraments are magic (see e.g. the origins of the term "hocus pocus"). Of course, were I to so point out the internal inconsistency of the Scholastic framework, it would only be because of "ceasaropapist contempt for Rome", not because the Scholastic framework has problems. Such a thought could not be borne, since the Scholastic framework has been adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore, by a priori logic, could not be wrong. It seems that in such a world utilizing one's critical faculties to discuss theological matters is "sophistry that fancies its paucity as mysticism," whereas throwing about invective on the internet to question the motives of blog commentators as a means of defending one's own position is the exercise of reason.
I distinctly remember the Lord rebuking his apostles for rebuking those who dare to forgive in His Name without being members of the Lord's own group. Methinks that is important in this context. The Sacraments are not the Church's alone. They belong to Christ and He uses people and mysteries to His own ends and were I a faithful person, I wouldn't dare say He can't recognize anyone's celebrations as valid. How efficacious the mysteries are to believers would be the question but again, the tap does not belong to the RCs.
@Han: You wrote:"(see e.g. the origins of the term "hocus pocus)"This comment is laughable at best. The origin of "Hocus Pocus" is of a jocular Satanic mockery of the words of the Roman Canon and the very words of our Lord Himself (HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM), nothing more and nothing less. To say this is evidence of a common understanding of Thomistic theology as being akin to wizardry and spell-casting is a comment of supreme ignorance. I will not return to this disgusting diversion."Then what is the content of "validity." If validity and grace are not the same, what does valid mean?"Hello, Han. Let me see if I can approach this in the following manner:I'd imagine, Han, that EOs and RCs share a common belief in the sacrilege incurred upon an unworthy reception of the Eucharist. A man in a state of mortal sin who has the audacity to approach the altar and receive of our Lord commits the sin of sacrilege. It is indeed sacrilege because the sin involves the defilement of the sacred (i.e. the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord being consumed by someone unworthy). It would not be gravely sacrilegious were a man in a state of sin to consume a host (or Amnon) that remains unconsecrated. Hence we can be sure that even a man in a state of sin truly consumes our Lord present under the species of bread (and/or wine). As far as I'm aware, the EO Church does not ascribe to a notion of a consecrated host somehow "de-consecrating" Itself upon contact with an unworthy recipient. Am I correct in this? Where would sacrilege take place if a man in a state of sin simply consumes ordinary bread or wine? Thus, in the case of a recipient in a state of mortal sin, we have here an example of a truly consecrated Host being, not only devoid of grace and spiritual nourishment, but an occasion of even greater sin and damnation unto the recipient (1Cor. 11:29). How would *you* then describe the sacramental state of what is occurring in the aforementioned scenario? The Host is truly consecrated and consumed and yet the man in sin "eatheth damnation unto himself."For sacraments existing outside of the confines of the Church, the same principle applies. Personal sin on the part of the recipient severs any spiritual benefit from true and valid sacraments in the same manner as the collective or individual sin of schism severs any spiritual benefit from true and valid sacraments. However, our Lord in His infinite mercy provides a true Priesthood and a true Sacramental presence even among schismatics for the benefit of those who adhere to the schismatic sect through no fault of their own ... and it is to these wayward souls that grace is *not* deprived. For it is this very sacramental presence that exists *in spite* of its ministers (and recipients) that is essential to the rescuing of those souls attached to schism. Am I making any sense, Han, truly? I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination. I am simply attempting to convey the theological patrimony of Holy Mother Church as best as my feeble abilities allow. In regard to any "invective" towards EO thought/praxis, all I can say is those living in glass houses should not throw stones. If the 2nd comment of this article involves the insinuation of "sorcery" and "magic" on the part of adherents to the Thomistic school of thought (a comment that has continually been confirmed and reiterated by you and others throughout this discussion) then do not be surprised to have that same invective returned in kind. A Blessed Sunday to you.
@Texas Trad.I fully understand what you are saying, but you have assumed your conclusion. Trying to analogize the unworthy reception of the Eucharist by one who is in the Church (as an aside, I would say that what is going on here is that grace is being bestowed, and the individual is rejecting it) to what happens outside the Church is not appropriate because the question posed in the original post was whether there can be sacraments outside the Church at all.Again, my answer was no, there cannot be sacraments as such outside the Church, because sacraments are of the Church to build up the body of Christ. Because we take it axiomatic that Christ wills that there be but one Church, it logically follows that there could not be sacraments outside the Church because if there were, they would be building up a second body. As a corollary, therefore, if grace is being bestowed by God outside the Church, such grace is not a result of an extra-ecclesial sacrament but rather because of an ad hoc decision by God to make Himself present.The Scholastic view which you have advanced seems to assert that so long as the extra-ecclesial minister had at some point received "valid ordination" he now is imbued with the irrevocable power to make sacraments happen, so long as certain other formulae are followed (viz. form, matter and intent). The criticism raised by John(Ad Orientem) is that this view reduces a Holy Mystery to mere magic, because the sacrament is no longer a result of the Holy Spirit's vivifying activity in the Church as per the promise of Christ, but the result of the power that the priest gains to bring God down onto the Holy Table without so much as a by-your-leave from God's Church.The use of the word "magic" is not at all invective, but rather quite technical. Magic, after all, is metaphysical technology, just as engineering is the technology of science. In both cases, the practitioner claims to be able to bring about certain consistent and predictable results based upon applying knowledge of certain principles. In the case of engineering, the principles are scientific and the results are stuff like airplanes, suspension bridges, and microwave ovens. In the case of magic, the principles are metaphysical and the results are, for lack of a better word, spells. The underlying commonality is that the practitioner has the power to make things happen.Does the Scholastic explanation of sacraments, then, result in sacraments being magical? I say it does because under the Scholastic system, a priest gains the power to transubstantiate the elements into the Body and Blood of Christ. Significantly, this is a power that he holds in his own right by virtue of an ordination having been once performed upon him. It seems that even if he is cut off from the true body of Christ--the Church, he still retains this power. The priest then is not a minister to the people of God exercising delegated authority on behalf of the Church, but rather one who has his own power that he can exercise independently of the Church merely because other clerics decided to grant him such powers.Just because the Anglicans used the term "hocus pocus" as an anti-Catholic slur should not blind you to the historical reality that such a term must have come from somewhere. I do think that Scholastic theology is to blame because Scholastic theology resulted in the private Mass. A private Mass, especially one commissioned to be said by some private individual for his or her own private reason reifies the Eucharist, turning it from what makes a congregation of like-minded Christians into the Church into a sort of grace pill that the Church dispenses. Priests then are no more than apothecaries who have the power, or techne--skill, to confect this thing. It is therefore quite easy to see how a term like "hocus pocus" would be coined.A blessed Sunday to you too.
Han,Was not a definition of magic by Crowley (and if I remember correctly Levi before him) "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will"?What are your views (and those of Anagnostis?) on the sacraments say of Arememians, Copts etc who have been in a state of separation for 1500 years?A late friend of mine who was a priest serving O.C. Ukranian Orthodox under the EP in the USA managed to concelebrate at an Armenian Eucharist without any reprisals.
@Rubricarius--All my knowledge of Crowley comes from secondary sources so I do not know if the quote is accurate or not, although I would not be surprised if it were. When it comes to 20th Century personages, he certainly would be the authority on matters of magic.I cannot speak of Anagnostis, but I consider the Oriental Orthodox to be Orthodox (as an aside, the very term "Oriental Orthodox" as distinct from "Eastern Orthodox" must be an English language curiosity since "eastern" and "oriental" are synonymous). It seems to me that they have maintained a recognizably orthodox liturgical, ascetic and spiritual tradition to this day. Notwithstanding what happened in the 5th Century, my reading of the Pope Shenouda III's works is that when he talks about "one nature" he means what St. Cyril meant by it. Recent consultations between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox hierarchs have yielded joint statements on Christology to the effect of "we believe that Jesus Christ was true God and true man without separation or confusion". In the United States, OCA and Antiochene parishes communicate Ethiopian Orthodox Christians even in cities where the Ethiopians have their own church (suggesting that this is a recognition of common Orthodoxy, not a matter of economia), and I know of at least one GOA bishop who allows an Armenian Orthodox community to celebrate their Divine Liturgy in his cathedral (since they lack their own church). I therefore do not think that I am alone in my belief that the term "Oriental Orthodox" is not merely a P.C. euphemism designed to sooth the hurt feelings of monophysites, but rather a term that actually describes who they are. The standing official schism then, is more like the schism between Moscow and Constantinople (concerning jurisdiction over Estonia) in the late 20th Century, than the schism between the Orthodox and Rome that developed between the 11th and 13th Centuries.
RubricariusI'm absolutely ignorant about anything canonical. However, we have an Ethiopian family in our (Greek) parish. Our priest baptised their baby daughter; and I vaguely remember getting a ticking-off from somebody for using the M-word in relation to the Copts.
Re: the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox schismWhat is a schism but a rent in the Body of Christ? You've already insisted that sacraments only exist within the undivided Body. Now you unilaterally suggest that the OO have true sacraments. But how can they when they have not accepted all of the Ecumenical Synods, rejecting the (Orthodox) Church centuries ago, and when they have not been given leave by the Church to celebrate sacraments? Another issue is the Greek Old Calendarists. They LEFT the Church when they withdrew from the Church of Greece and set up an alternative hierarchy. If your absolute "no sacraments outside the Church" position is consistent, you would have to conclude that these Old Calendarists are unbaptized and that their priests are not priests.
Han,Your comment dated January 17th at 00:31 pretty much sums up my own view, though as usual the demonstrable ignorance of the blog host is shown most clearly in the erudition of his readers.James C, even more interesting is the position of the Russian Old Believers, who, if anything, have more of a claim to Orthodoxy than the Moscow Patriarchate, or even ROCOR. Those who haven't gone into downright heresy, or some other ''Protestant'' (if you will) form of extremism have retained the authentic Russian liturgical tradition, and yet most of them have no hierarchs...how is it that the tradition of the Church is maintained so often by heretics and schismatics, and yet the ''established'' Church discards it? Do the Old Believers procure real Sacraments (that is, those of them who have Bishops and Priests to do so in the first place)?
All this talk of "Scholasticism" (the favorite hammer used by EO polemicists-- good luck defining that nebulous term) is somewhat anachronistic, since the Catholic understanding of sacraments working ex opere operato (even among schismatics) goes back at least to St. Augustine. -Schism certainly will affect the efficacy of sacraments; those culpably adhering to schism will not receive the grace imparted by the sacraments. But those who are not culpable will receive, out of God's mercy. A pious Greek peasant family in the 11th century is not going to lose all of the sacraments (including baptism, which Our Lord tells us is necessary for salvation!) because their bishop happens to go into schism. You could put it this way: There is a visible Church, but the boundaries of this Church are murky.
"Do the Old Believers procure real Sacraments (that is, those of them who have Bishops and Priests to do so in the first place)?"Indeed the Devil has certainly made a mess of Christian unity.In the midst of all this confusion, I think the Catholic position is the right and most sensible one. I can say "no sacraments outside the Church", but only by adding that God (in his mercy) allows the Church to be present in certain places outside her visible boundaries.
Thank you Han and Anagnostis.It is certainly an interesting question of how the Oriental Church, pre-Chalcedonian Christians etc, however one wishes to appeallate them, fit into the scheme of things. I confess almost total ignorance, to my shame, about them except for a few things about the Armenians. I also confess to be rather sympathetic to the view presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch (originated by others) of the distinction between Imperial and Non-Imperial Christianity. My gut instinct is that they have quite important things to tell us.
All this talk of "Scholasticism" (the favorite hammer used by EO polemicists-- good luck defining that nebulous term)No luck required, James - it's very simple: where philosophical categories and methodologies eclipse theoria; where the subordination of kataphatic to apophatic theology is reversed; where purification leading to illumination is supplanted by mastery of an apparatus.
@James C.--I did not write that The Oriental Orthodox were an extra-ecclesial body that had valid sacraments, I wrote that they are Orthodox.Once again, your comment illustrates the very real difference in how Orthodox and Catholics think about ecclesiology. As I wrote above, Catholics tend to see membership in the Church as being part of an authoritative body (which happens to have traditions) whereas Orthodox tend to see membership in the Church as being part of a body of tradition (which happens to have authorities).What makes one Catholic, it seems, is being under the authority of the Pope. Indeed, your questions about the Oriental Orthodox as well as the Greek Old Calendarists all boil down to "Whose authority do they recognize?" Issues of how they worship, what they actually believe and how they live out Christian life seem to be secondary at best. If, on the other hand, you look at my answer, I wrote first that (1) they have maintained authentic tradition, (2) their use of "one nature" is in line with the orthodox formulation of St. Cyril rather than the heretical extremism of Eutyches, and (3) that as proof that I am not a proponent of heretical outlying opinion, the actions of unquestionably Orthodox hierarchs demonstrate that exhibits (1) and (2) satisfy more than just me. My conclusion then was that these folks are Orthodox, i.e. they are within the Church and that any continuing schism is an intra-ecclesial schism like that between Constantinople and Moscow in the 1990's.More interesting than what is happening on our end, is the question of what is happening on the Catholic side of things. Today in the U.S., disposable hand-missalettes found in Roman Catholic pews have a paragraph indicating that Roman Catholic Holy Communion is open to Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Old Catholics (in the Polish National Catholic sense of the word) and the Assyrian Church of the East. What is meant my this? From our standpoint, such an announcement would seem to be a declaration from Rome that she believes the Orthodox to be Catholics--except that this cannot be because even if one can paper over differences with the filioque and what not, Rome as defined Papal Infallibility to be dogma, and it is not logically possible to explain away our rejection of such an innovation. So then, does that mean that Rome is unconcerned with doctrine, and that what is important is "validity of orders"? Since the persons to whom the announcement is directed are unlikely to be in orders anyway, what does it matter? But since one can receive Communion in a Catholic church while denying what the Catholic Church considers to be a dogma, why can Protestants not also receive. The protestant layman and the Orthodox layman are not ontologically different from each other simply because the protestant minister is just a guy in a robe whereas the Orthodox minister has supposedly undergone some ontological change. What is this limited open communion about?
"where purification leading to illumination is supplanted by mastery of an apparatus. "Ah, yes. Well, I certainly hope to see more illuminated Easterners around. If I remember something about Aquinas, he gave everything up when he realized that all that he knew could never measure God's infinite wisdom. I don't know how the Lord thinks but I believe He'd appreciate a man's maximum use of the faculties that God gifted him with rather than all this pious giving up of this world for union with Him in the present life. After all, His Kingdom is not of this world isn't it?
Han, if the OO and Old Calendarists are within your church, then please go to Divine Liturgy at their parishes and receive communion. Also invite them to receive communion at your parish. Get back to me when you do. Otherwise, it is clear that this whole (Latin-sounding!) "interecclesial schism" business (as well as your unilaterally giving them the "Orthodox" seal of approval) are not to be taken seriously.
Correction: "intra-ecclesial" schism.Would love to see some references to this concept in the Fathers.
@James C.--Are you not reading anything that I wrote above before posting your responses? Did you miss the part where I wrote that Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are receiving communion in OCA and Antiochene parishes?
...and in mine?