Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This past Sunday our General Intercessions (aka, “Prayers of the Faithful”) included a petition for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew—why?  There was a hint (obscure enough) at the end of those prayers, when we asked the intercession of “Mary, Mother of Christ our King, St Andrew and all the saints in light.”  Yes, it has to do with Friday’s Feast.

In recent decades, thanks be to God, there have been exchanges of delegations between Rome and Constantinople (Istanbul) to recognize each other’s major patrons.  So the Eastern Orthodox journey to Rome for Saints Peter and Paul (29 June), and the Vatican sends its representatives to the East for:  the Feast of St Andrew (30 November).   It is a good-will gesture that has its roots in the fraternal embrace of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, back in 1967—at which they agreed to drop the mutual bans of excommunication that were formally in place since 1054.  We still do not share the Eucharist together; we do not always like or trust each other; but we are able to celebrate with and pray for each other.  It’s a start.

As it turns out, it would take a VERY high authority to insert Pope Benedict’s name (or even Patriarch Bartholomew’s name) into the “Eucharistic Prayer” of the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox; and I as a priest don’t have the authority to return the favor, either.  But I can (and did) insert that name into our overall “Bidding Prayers,” and I gladly did so.

This is all the more important after the delightful evening at Our Savior on 18 November, when there was a celebration of the Vatican II Declaration on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, at which Greek Orthodox Fr Elias Stevens and I shared the rostrum for public conversation and questions/answers from the audience.  From meal beforehand to last comments, it was a wonderful evening.

My last year (I think it was) at St Bede, Orthodox and Western Easter dates coincided, and at the suggestion of Fr Demetrios, then pastor of the Greek Church in Montgomery, we celebrated the Vespers of Pentecost together, followed by a wonderful meal.  What is wrong with this picture?

What is RIGHT with this picture?  What ISN’T right about this picture??  Let me look into your eyes; let me say to you that I see a brother/sister; let me eat/drink with you and engage in communion (which will indeed be holy) with you.  Jesus Christ died and rose for you—why would I not love you?

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