Fr. Schmemann on Orthodoxy in America

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Bbd

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Jan 26, 2007, 8:37:45 AM1/26/07
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We teach our children to be "proud" of Orthodoxy, we constantly
congratulate ourselves about all kinds of historic events and
achievements, our church publications distill an almost unbearable
triumphalism and optimism, yet, if we were true to the spirit of our
faith we ought to repent in "sackcloth and ashes," we ought to cry day
and night about the sad, the tragical state of our Church.

If "canonicity" is anything but a pharisaic and legalistic
self-righteousness, if it has anything to do with the spirit of Christ
and the tradition of His Body, the Church, we must openly proclaim that
the situation in which we all live is utterly uncanonical regardless of
all the justifications and sanctions that every one finds for his
"position." For nothing can justify the bare fact: Our Church is
divided. To be sure, there have always been divisions and conflicts
among Christians. But for the first time in history division belongs to
the very structure of the Church, for the first time canonicity seems
strangely disconnected from its fundamental "content" and purpose-to
assure, express, defend and fulfill the Church as Divinely given Unity,
for the first time, in other terms, one seems to find normal a
multiplicity of "jurisdictions".

Truly we must wake up and be horrified by this situation. We must find
in ourselves the courage to face it and to re-think it in the light of
the genuine Orthodox doctrine and tradition, no matter what it will
cost to our petty human likes and dislikes. For unless we, first,
openly admit the existence of the canonical problem and, second, put
all our thoughts and energies into finding its solution, the decadence
of Orthodoxy will begin-in spite of the million-dollar churches and
other magnificent "facilities" of which we are so justly proud. "For
the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if
it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the
gospel of God?" (1 PET. 4: 17)....


When told that all Patriarchs have agreed with the Patriarch of
Constantinople that Monotheletism is an Orthodox doctrine, St. Maximus
the Confessor refused to accept this argument as a decisive criterion
of truth. The Church ultimately canonized St. Maximus and condemned the
Patriarchs. Likewise, if tomorrow all Patriarchs agree and proclaim in
a solemn "tomos" that the best solution for Orthodoxy in America is to
remain divided into fourteen jurisdictions, this decision will not make
our situation canonical and this, for the simple reason that it does
not comply with the canonical tradition or the truth of the church.

For the purpose and the function of the Hierarchy is precisely to keep
pure and undistorted the tradition in its fulness, and if and when it
sanctions or even tolerates anything contrary to the truth of the
church, it puts itself under the condemnation of canons....

...the Church cannot be reduced to "jurisdiction." She is a living
organism and her continuity is precisely that of life. The function of
the Episcopate and of "power" in general is to preserve, defend and
express this continuity and fulness of life, but it is a function
within and not above the Church. The ministry of power does not create
the church but is created by God within the Church, which is
ontologically prior to all functions, charisms and ministries. And
"jurisdiction" when it is divorced from the real continuity of the
Church can become, and in fact often becomes, a principle of
discontinuity and schism...

Full text:
http://www.jacwell.org/Fall_Winter99/Fr_Schmemann_The_canonical_problem.htm

R.V. Gronoff

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Jan 26, 2007, 2:32:27 PM1/26/07
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Bbd a écrit :

> We teach our children to be "proud" of Orthodoxy, we constantly
> congratulate ourselves about all kinds of historic events and
> achievements, our church publications distill an almost unbearable
> triumphalism and optimism, yet, if we were true to the spirit of our
> faith we ought to repent in "sackcloth and ashes," we ought to cry day
> and night about the sad, the tragical state of our Church.
>

There's nothing wrong with being proud of having such a God and Saviour
as Jesus-Christ and being sensible enough to stay in the faith of His
Church instead of wandering around according to our mind's very own
little fantasies.

Please read again Saint John the Monk. ;-)

Bbd

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Jan 26, 2007, 2:39:31 PM1/26/07
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On Jan 26, 2:32 pm, "R.V. Gronoff"

Fr. Alexander was talking about the situation of the Church in America,
not about Orthodoxy per se.

R.V. Gronoff

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Jan 26, 2007, 4:16:11 PM1/26/07
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Bbd a écrit :

The problem with OCA is that it's composed of Americans whose culture is
basically anti-traditional.
It's already tough for Western Europeans to convert to Orthodoxy and
avoid sentimentalism as well as "naturalism" (ie veneration of natural
events like the so called "lovers' feast day" or "holy family", etc.)
because that's a strong part of the RC culture.
Now it's even much worse in prostestant countries where the mindset
tends to spontaneously reject whatever comes from the Tradition.

Bbd

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Jan 26, 2007, 4:41:43 PM1/26/07
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On Jan 26, 4:16 pm, "R.V. Gronoff"


<regis.gron...@ahmadinejadifrance.com> wrote:
> Bbd a écrit :
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Jan 26, 2:32 pm, "R.V. Gronoff"
> > <regis.gron...@ahmadinejadifrance.com> wrote:
> >> Bbd a écrit :
>
> >>> We teach our children to be "proud" of Orthodoxy, we constantly
> >>> congratulate ourselves about all kinds of historic events and
> >>> achievements, our church publications distill an almost unbearable
> >>> triumphalism and optimism, yet, if we were true to the spirit of our
> >>> faith we ought to repent in "sackcloth and ashes," we ought to cry day
> >>> and night about the sad, the tragical state of our Church.
>
> >> There's nothing wrong with being proud of having such a God and Saviour
> >> as Jesus-Christ and being sensible enough to stay in the faith of His
> >> Church instead of wandering around according to our mind's very own
> >> little fantasies.
>
> >> Please read again Saint John the Monk. ;-)
>
> > Fr. Alexander was talking about the situation of the Church in America,
> > not about Orthodoxy per se.
>
>The problem with OCA is that it's composed of Americans whose culture is
> basically anti-traditional.

Yes, but this article is not primarily about the OCA.

It is about the inconsistency of the plurality of "jurisdictions" in
North America with Orthodox ecclesiology, and with the fact that many
Orthodox in America have scandalously come to regard this state affairs
(which I like to call "SCOBA Orthodoxy") as "natural".


> It's already tough for Western Europeans to convert to Orthodoxy and
> avoid sentimentalism as well as "naturalism" (ie veneration of natural
> events like the so called "lovers' feast day" or "holy family", etc.)
> because that's a strong part of the RC culture.


It is certainly true that in North America we suffer greatly from the
kind of sentimentalism that leaves some people unable to distinguish
the essential from the accidental. This can take the form either of
"cultural" reductions or of pharisaic legalism.


> Now it's even much worse in prostestant countries where the mindset
> tends to spontaneously reject whatever comes from the Tradition.

You must understand that there are two main "streams" of protestantism
here. What you describe is characteristic of the more liberal type of
protestantism. The "evangelical" or "fundamentalist" type of
protestantism claims not to value Tradition, but dishonestly
substitutes its own tradition (e.g. of scriptural interpretation) from
which the slightest deviation is not tolerated.

jmd

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Mar 8, 2007, 6:33:15 AM3/8/07
to
Bbd wrote:
>

since 2 years, I wanted to find a good occasion to translate it.. well, at least, the
extract is now translated :-)

"P. Schmemann: Orthodoxie, juridictions et canonicité en Occident"

http://stmaterne.blogspot.com/2007/03/p-schmemann-orthodoxie-juridictions-et.html

> Full text:
> http://www.jacwell.org/Fall_Winter99/Fr_Schmemann_The_canonical_problem.htm


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