NR. 4 – 2014



Rezumate Studii Teologice 2014.4

† Laurențiu STREZA Semnificația pomenirilor și a rugăciunilor de mijlocire din cadrul Sfintei Liturghii

Summary: The significance of remembrance and intercession prayers during the Holy Liturgy

The Holy Liturgy is the mystery of God’s presence among people, it is the sole and full Theophany, heaven on earth, the jubilation of creatures due to their Creator, the transfiguration of the entire cosmos through man, the foretaste of the afterlife and the icon of the Kingdom of Heaven. Every moment of the Holy Liturgy, this Mystery of God’s dwelling within and among people, is accessible to humanity through this material world, through acts, gestures, words that gradually reveal to those attending the Liturgy, the presence of Christ among his new chosen people. Thus, patristic Tradition emphasizes that the Church uses a number of visible, symbolic means, in order to initiate and introduce the human person into the sacramental mystery, taking man from the mere physical sight to spiritual contemplation, to the ineffable experience of Christ’s presence in Church worship. Among the visible liturgical acts involving the worshippers directly in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, a very important one is the remembrance of names during the Holy Liturgy. Byzantine theology views the liturgical memorial firstly as God’s „remembering” people due to His Son’s sacrifice, and this divine „remembrance” performed in the Liturgy in worshippers’ liturgical acts, constitutes the substance of Christian faith and the new life imparted to the Church. In their worship Christians remember God’s wonders and providential intervention in the history, as a response to the divine „remembrance”, attention, care and presence, which are revealed in all ecclesial acts.

Thus the memorial worship act is simultaneously commemoration, presence, and anticipation. According to the divine commandment, it commemorates the salvific, redemptive, revelatory work of the living, personal God, engaging the threefold dimension of history: past, present and future. Remembrance brings both past and future to the present, hence the explicit commandment the Saviour at the Mystical Supper: «This do for my remembrance» (Luke 22, 19). This anamnesis in which the liturgical memorial is thus rooted, must be interpreted in a Palestinian rather than Hellenistic sense: «τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν» means not «so that you remember Me», but most likely: «so that God may remember me» – that is, Christ and His disciples. The anamnesis is not to be seen as an exhortation to the disciples to remember Jesus, but as an eschatologically-oriented command addressed to the disciples who were requested to continue to observe the Eucharistic ritual as a new community of love, thus beseeching God through the sacrifice of His Son to fulfill His redeeming economy in the Church. This significance of the anamnesis is also revealed by the Byzantine Eucharistic Anaphora, addressing Father in the name of the Son through the Holy Spirit, for God «remembers» the crucified, resurrected and ascended Christ, since He perpetually sends the Holy Spirit, to make Him pneumatically present until His second coming.

Church worship enables man to participate in all the events of Lord Jesus Christ’s life, by sharing everything He his deified humanity experienced, through the Holy Mysteries. This is possible only by virtue of sacramental as well as ascetical incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, the Church. In the living Person of the Saviour, all the events of His earthly life are contained and ever-present, and through the descent of the Holy Spirit they become present and actual for all those who remember and celebrate them during every Holy Liturgy. In their present act of worship the faithful reach communion with Christ through chanting and prayer, becoming His contemporaries along His way on earth, or rather, He becomes their contemporary along His way. This journey where Christ accompanies us in Church worship is a mysterious reality brings to the hearts of all Church members the joy of every feast during the church year.

The Holy Liturgy is a mystical exchange of gifts between God and man. It is not only God who remembers His people and bestows His great mercy through Christ’s pure sacrifice, but Christians also remember God extolling Him, thanking Him for every act in the economy of salvation, for His coming, presence and activity within the Church. This loving dialogue between man and God encompasses the entire cosmos, the entire humankind. Thus during the Holy Liturgy all saints and Christians, both living and dead, are remembered by name. The named received on the Baptism makes Christians aware of their personal responsibility and the need to be constantly engaged in a loving dialogue with other persons. The name belongs to the person, who is called and aspires towards communion with both God and the fellow people. The name is not only a concentrated expression of one’s qualities, but also an expression of one’s uniqueness, and to utter a person’s name is to touch its very concrete uniqueness. A person’s name is power, it is energy through which people can communicate, it is a bridge across any temporal or local distance. This is why when the Church addresses God through its visible servants, He is certain to respond, for names’ remembrance triggers a circuit of loving communion. Thus during the Holy Liturgy, as prayer of the entire Church for the entire Church, remembrance of names is greatly significant.

The ritual of the Proskomedia, complete by the 11th century, expresses Church awareness that the sacrifice of every faithful is personally assumed by Christ in His own sacrifice and thus brought before the Father. By rememering names and placing the particles next to the Lamb, personhood is preserved in the offering which maintains a distinct, personal character. On the holy Diskos, during the Proskomedia, the entire Church – the triumphant one in heaven and the militant one on earth – gathers around the sacrificed Lamb, Who conveys and imparts His own sacrificial state and thus brings the Church to the Father as an extension and the fruit of his offering. Christ’s sacrificed Body carries the sacrifice of the Church as well, bringing it to the Father in a personal manner, at the same time united to His sacrifice and distinct from it. The particles placed on the Holy Diskos do not become the Saviour’s Body and Blood, for they represent those Church members who are remembered by name during the Proskomedia, to show that all those gathered around the Lamb partake of the gifts of His Sacrifice. The saints are now in heaven, attending the Liturgy of eternal trinitarian love, and perpetually offer themselves together with Christ to the Father, as they did during their earthly lifetime. On the other hand the living faithful, who are still bound to their bodies in this world, can also take part in this eternal offering brought by Christ to the Father, by joining their own offering to that of the heavenly Lamb through the visible liturgical ritual, by which Christ descends and offers His sacrificed Body and Blood and thus brings to the Father all those who believe in Him, as pure sacrifice. Thus the particles cut out for the saints represent their mystical commending to God, to whom they dedicate all their spiritual victories as fruits of His sacrifice; other particles are cut out for the living and the dead, in order to enable those still on their way to the Kingdom of Heaven to know, taste and share in the dynamics of perfect, selfless love of the Holy Trinity.

According to Romanian Hieratikon, names’ remembrance performed during the Proskomedia, which accompanies the faithful’s offering, is prepared by two intercessory prayers, one on behalf of the living and the other on behalf of the dead. The prayer for the living, borrowed from the Litya litany, begins with an intercession formula for «the remission of sins committed by all our brethren in Christ», going on to list a number of needs of the community and various categories of believers: the travellers, the sick and suffering, those who do good works, etc., which express the purpose for which name are remembered. The prayer for the departed, based on the canon for the dead, sung on the days of general remembrance, intercedes «for the remembrance and remission of sins of those reposed in the Orthodox faith». They are remembered into categories, in a particular order, from our kins and relatives to church founders, benefactors, donors, celebrants and supporters of the holy place of worship, church hierarchy and heads reposed in the Lord. Remembrance by name of the departed concludes with an intercessory prayer for all the faithful who died a Christian death, having prepared themselves by receiving the Eucharist.

During the Holy Liturgy, Church intercession started at the Proskomedia culminates in the Holy Sacrifice. The special supplications (ektenias or litanies), which are dialogical prayers, the Church continues to express in detail the final purpose of the offering that accompanies our supplications. Our offering makes part of Christ’s one, and we are represented by His side through the particles cut out for us, and bring all our needs before our Saviour. To express concern with community as well as individuals, the Church also makes special petitions for «various necessities in life», ordered according to the structure of the Holy Liturgy and included in the final part of the Hieratikon. For every need in particular (e.g.: drought, excessive rain, journeys, disease, etc.) a special petition is uttered during the Proskomedia as well as the Great Litany and the Litany of Fervent Supplication.

The Church concludes and crowns the names’ remembrance with a supplication for general intercession, during the Anaphora, known as the prayer of diptychs. It includes two distinct elements: on the one hand, a number of petitions following the Eucharistic epiclesis, and on the other hand, the diptychs proper, that is, the remembrance of the names of both living and dead, an element inserted in this prayer of petition that follows the transubstantiation of gifts. It is not known when and how this remembrance of names was added to the Eucharistic Anaphora, but the history of the Holy Liturgy indicates that after the Proskomedia was placed at the beginning of the Eucharistic synaxis (5th-6th centuries) the remembrance of names uttered aloud, during this ritual, continued to be placed in some liturgical traditions (such as the East-Syrian and the Maronite one) before the Anaphora, that is, in the place originally held by the Proskomedia, while in other traditions (the Byzantine, Antiochian and Jerusalemite ones) they were introduced into the Eucharistic canon, in the prayer after the epiclesis, being „attached” to the petitions for the needs of various categories of worshippers, uttered after the transubstantiation of gifts.

Remembrance of names is a central element of Orthodox worship. The Church thus asserts that the person, as well as interpersonal communion, are fundamental to the Christian faith. It is only as a person that one can experience communion with God and one’s fellow people, and it is only as a person and in communion with other persons, that one can partake of Christ’s sacrifice at the supper of Heavenly Kingdom.


Pfr. Georgios DIAMANTOPOULOS  Das Gebet in den Werken des Niketas Stethatos unter Berücksichtigung der Geschichte und der Züge des studitischen Mönchtums

Rezumat: Rugăciunea în opera lui Nichita Stathathos, în cadrul istoriei și tradiției monahale studite

În textul de față este tratată în mod sistemtatic problema rugăciunii la Stathatos, prilej cu care sunt prezentate principalele caracteristici ale istoriei monahismului studit, cu o privire specială asupra reformei Sf. Teodor Studitul, care reprezintă fundalul spiritual al gândirii teologice a lui Stethatos, care va fi și el monah și apoi stareț al Mânăstirii Studion. Într-o primă parte (Istoria Mânăstirii Studion) sunt tratate întemeierea Mânăstirii, activitatea de aici între sec. V-XV și personalități studite (înainte și după Stethatos). În acest fel este realizată o facilitare a localizării persoanei lui Stethatos în cadrul întregii istorii a monahismului studit, ceea ce va conduce la o mai bună înțelegere a teologiei sale. În tot cazul, sunt puși în evidență Sf. Simeon cel Smerit și Sf. Simeon cel Nou. În a doua parte a textului sunt expuse principalele trăsături ale reformei Sf. Teodor Studitul, care contează ca fundamnt al monahismului studit peste veacuri: exact această influență diacronică a teologiei monastice studite trebuie să ne ajute să înțelegem mai bine învățătura lui Stethatos printr-o analiză istoric-comparativă. Aici sunt avute în vedere: a) fundamentele teologiei monastice ale Sfântului Teodor, care lămuresc reforma întreprinsă de acesta; nucleul perspectivei sale este ilustrat de termeni fundamentali precum: sfințenie și mântuire, imitatio Christi, ordine, autoritate, ascultare; b) restaurarea monahismului cenobitic, o extrem de dificilă sarcină a Sf. Teodor Studitul, în special prin confruntarea cu viața anahoretică și cea isihastă din vremea sa; c) constituirea confederației monahale studite, pe baza asocierii unor mânăstiri din Bithynia, supuse Mânăstirii Studion, consolidată printr-o comunicare intensivă între starețul studit și celelalte mănăstiri.

În acest cadru general este tratată sistematic (partea a III-a) teologia rugăciunii la Stethtatos. Astfel, sunt prezentate toate locurile în care acesta vorbește în opera sa despre rugăciune, punând astfel la dispoziție un fel de instrumentul studiorum, care să sprijine analizarea spiritualității lui Stethatos, în special a aspectului special pe care îl reprezintă rugăciunea. Această parte a textului este orientată textual și tratată sistematic. O analiză istorică (contextualizare) amănunțită solicită însă un subiect de cercetare a unei lucrări independente. Aici este vorba mai mult de o cercetare cu caracter introductiv, cu o oprire specială a atenției asupra unor lucruri noi care privesc spiritualitatea studită. Analiza întreprinsă asupra operei lui Stethatos a pus la dispoziție un material bogat care privește rugăciunea și a scos în evidență diversitatea temelor care ating toate aspectele problematicii. Deși Stethatos nu a redactat nicio lucrare specială cu privire la rugăciune, el se dovedește a stăpâni foarte bine această problemă, pornind aât de la baza pe care o reprezintă tradiția patristică care îi premerge, cât și folosindu-se de propriile experiențe mistice. El ne pune astfel la dispoziție suficient material pentru a înțelege ce este rugăciunea și care sunt trăsăturile ei mai importante. În ceea ce privește conținutul, potrivit învățăturii lui Stethatos referitoare la rațiunile adecvate, trebuie menționate următoarele: pe de o parte teologia apofatică, care apare ca un principiu general al conținutului oricărei rugăciuni, pe de altă parte rugăciunile din tipicul lui Stethatos, pe care, cel mai probabil, el l-a redactat pentru a fi folosit de către monahii studiți. Aceste rugăciuni sunt influențate în mod fundamental de mistică și trebuie înțelese drept cadru general pe care Stethatos l-a considerat necesar pentru orice rugăciune.

Înainte de toate o atenție deosebită este acordată premizelor rugăciunii. Și mai întâi trebuie menționate condițiile dogmatice (triadologie, hristologie, combaterea monofizitismului) și canonice (pânea nedospită, slujba în timpul Postul Mare, etapele pocăinței, rugăciunea ș.a.). Pot fi însă constatate și aspecte care sunt mai mult practice sau morale, precum ascultarea, lectura ș.a., precum și probleme determinate de spațiu și de timp sau cu un caracter mai mult niptic și teoretic, nepătimirea ocupând aici, în sensul de neafectare a duhului omului, cel mai important loc. Rugăciunea neîntreruptă și condițiile acesteia reprezintă și ea un punct central al teologiei rugăciunii la Stethatos. Aici sunt discutate și premizele imnografiei (îndemnul venit de la părintele duhovnicesc dar și de la Sfântul Duh), cadru în care imnurile trebuie înțelese ca o formă de rugăciune. Ca fundament al oricărei rugăciuni apare astfel teologia apofatică, în cadrul căreia este accentuată pe de o parte incapacitatea omului de a surprinde în concepte pe Dumenzeu și pe de altă parte actul de descoperire al lui Dumnezeu, Care permite preamărirea Sa în imnuri. Rugăciunea contează și ca o condiție a predicii și a actului pastoral în general.

Nenumărate referiri la efectul rugăciunii pot fi găsite în lucrările sale. Ele privesc atât dimensiunea practică (de ex. nepătimirea, dragostea față de om și față de Dumnezeu, încercările), cât și pe cea teoretic-mistică a vieții duhovnicești. În cazul din urmă sunt puse în evidență vederea lui Dumnezeu și viziunile de lumină, atât de amănunțit descrise în Viața Sf. Simeon Noul Teolog (Βίος Συμεών). Însă rugăciunea este înțeleasă și ca premiză a rezolvării unor probleme teologice, fiind pusă în legătură și cu dogmatica (triadologia, eshatologia). Referitor la imnurile liturgice și la Sfânta Liturghie se face referire în lucrarea „Vedere duhovnicească a ierarhiei bisericești și cerești” (Θεωρία καὶ σύνοδος ἱερὰ Νικήτα μοναχοῦ καὶ πρεσβυτέρου τοῦ καὶ Στηθάτου, εἰς τὴν οὐράνιον ἱεραρχίαν καὶ τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴν ὡσαύτως ἱεραρχίαν), în care expresii din Sfânta Liturghie își găsesc corespondența în imnurile celor trei cete îngerești, înțelese la rândul lor ca rugăciune. Inclusiv cinstirea sfinților prin imnuri și prin slujbele Bisericii, înțelese ca rugăciune la rândul lor, este tratată în opera teologului bizantin. Este scoasă astfel în evidență și hotărârea Sf. Simeon Noul Teolog, asumată și de Stethatos, în legătură cu cinstirea și părznuirea Sf. Simeon Evlaviosul: cinstirea acestuia de către creștini, tocmai pe fundalul interzicerii ei de către patriarh, este considerată drept premiză a prăznuirii corecte a unui sfânt, ceea ce și îmbogățește învățătura cu privire la rugăciune. În tot cazul, Stethatos a fost preocupat de problemele liturgice, așa cum foarte clar poate fi observat în opera sa, în care a apărat corectitudinea slujbelor studite.

Stethatos pomenește foarte des pe Sf. Teodor Studitul, pe care îl prezintă ca model în primul rând în probmele de viață monahală. Spre deosebire de spiritualitatea studită în general, impregnată de reforma Sf. Teodor Studitul, învățătura despre rugăciune a lui Stethatos pare a fi mai mult teoretic-mistic orientată. În niciun caz însă, pentru că ar lipsi în situația Sfântului Teodor trăsăturile mistice (cf. ideea de comunitate ca trup tainic al lui Hristos). În cazul Sf. Teodor Studitul a fost vorba de la bun început de constituirea unei comunități monastice care să fie mai mult orientată practic, în timp ce în cazul lui Stethatos accentul este pus pe latura mistică a unei mânăstiri cu o activitate de mai multe secole și a cărei spiritualitate era mai mult practic orientată. În această ordine de idei, contribuția sa teologică trebuie înțeleasă mai mult ca o creștere (αὔξησις, vezi Styl.G. Papadopoulos) și nu ca o venire în dezacord cu tradiția studită.


Pr. Constantin OANCEA Motivul „Chaoskampf”-ului în trimiterile vechitestamentare din ritualul Sfântului Botez

Summary: The “Chaoskampf” Motif in Old Testament References Included in Baptismal Ritual

In some of the baptismal statements, water is associated with harmful forces, which nevertheless are subject to God’s will. The motif of water obeying Creator’s will originates in the Old Testament. Some texts allude to a fight of the Creator against sea or other life-threatening elements. Biblical theology terms this motif “Chaoskampf” – fight against chaos.

The best-known version of the Chaoskampf, recorded in several Old Oriental texts, can be found in the Babylonian epic poem Enuma Elish: the god Marduk defeats Tiamat – the goddess of salt waters, having a monstruous appearance – thus bringing world and people into existence. Mythological texts of ancient Ugarit (Phoenicia) tell of the war waged by god Baal against the god of the sea (Yam) and the god of death (Mot).

The Chaoskampf motif also appears in the Old Testament texts describing world creation. However, the Old Israel did not see creation as a completed act of times immemorial. Creation provided the occasion to acknowledge God’s salvific intervention in the past of the people and conjure His present and future support. Thus fight against chaos can take the historical form of Lord’s triumph over the foes of Israel, according to the “Exodus tradition”: “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm”, God drives waters away and destroys the enemy Egyptian force.

Water is associated with chaos in the case of sea, rivers and sea depths, as well as the beasts personifying them: dragons (tannīnīm), Rahab and Leviathan (e.g. Ps 33 [32],7; 74,13-14 [73,14-15]; 89 [88]; 93,3-4 [92, 4-5]; 104 [103], 6-10; 135 [134], 6; Isa 27,1; 51,9). The pairing sea (water) – monster, which is hostile to divinity, is present in virtually all Biblical texts. It also occurs in Ugarite and Babylonian mythology. Biblical authors evoke these instantiations of chaos only to assert their powerlessness against God’s might. According to the psalms God’s providential care for all beings is so great that these symbols of chaos are, if not completely debunked, at least made to appear more benign. In psalm 104 [103] – the wonderful hymn praising Creator’s providence – Leviathan is but one of God’s creatures, whom He made „to sport with” (v. 26 New Jerusalem Bible). And the primordial sea (tehōm), that once covered mountains, withdrew at God’s command within the boundaries set by the Creator (v. 6-9). Gen 1,21 states that sea monsters (tannīnīm gedōlīm) are made by God and placed by Him in the depths of the sea. Moreover, in Ps 148,7 dragons (tannīnīm) and abyss (tehōmōt), together with all created things, are urged to intone a cosmic hymn glorifying the Creator.

Biblical reiterations of the Chaoskampf motif are present in the first two prebaptismal exorcisms as well as the prayer for water sanctification (the blessing of the water) prior to the baptism.

First exorcism

(a)        “…I rebuke you in the name of the One who walked on the waves of sea (θαλάσσης) as if it were solid ground and stilled the winds…” (cf. Matt 14,22-33 par. and Matt 8,23-27 par.)

(b)       “…Whose gaze causes the abyss (αβύσσους) to drain and mountains to melt…” (cf. Judg 5,5; Ps 18,16; Nahum 1,4-5; Hab 3,6)

(c)        “…Who is seated upon cherubim and gazes into the abyss (αβύσσους)…” (cf. Sg. of 3 Childr. 1,31)

(d)       “For whose fear tremble the heaven, the earth, the sea (η θάλασσα) and everything it contains…” (cf. Ps 69,35 [68,38]; 96 [95],11; 146 [145],6.)

The Chaoskampf is alluded to in the two New Testament episodes where the Savior stills the sea, walking on the sea (Matt 14,22-33 par.) and abating the storm (Matt 8,23-27 par). The sea appears as an antagonistic element. By walking on water and making the storm cease, Jesus Christ reveals Himself as God, the Creator and Master of the sea.

The abyss is an instantiation of chaos. The above-quoted excerpt reminds of several hymns evoking the Sinaitic theophany (Judg 5,5; Ps 18,16 [17,17]; Nah 1,4-5; Hab 3,6) and the chant intoned by the three young men 1,31. The respective texts extol God as universal King and proclaim His rule over the heights and depths of the created world.

“The sea and everything it contains” may allude to the sea monster, a symbol of chaos. They are also associated in the Chant of the three young men (1,56). “The whale” (κῆτος) is the Septuagint Greek term describing the three instantiations of marine chaos: tānnīn (Gen 1,21), Rahab (Job 9,38; 26,12) and the Leviathan (Job 3,8).

The second exorcism

(e)        “…at whose command the earth was set upon waters (υδάτων)…,

…who surrounds the sea (θαλάσση) with sands and establishes firm ground under deep water (ύδατι σφοδρώ)…,

…who set the firmament like a tent and covered in waters (ύδασι) its heights…

…who summons the waters of the sea (το ύδωρ της θαλάσσης) and spreads them on the face of the entire earth…”

(cf. Ps 136 [135],6; Jer 5,22; Ps 77,20 [76,18]; Isa 43,16; Sol 14,3; Amos 5,7-8; Gen 1,6-7; Ps 104 [103],3)

The statements of the psalms and prophets’ books employ the motif of the Chaoskampf to stress the supremacy of God over nature. God established the earth upon waters (Ps 136 [135],6) to be inhabited by people.

God set boundaries to the sea, to restrict its potentially harmful action (Jer 5,22; Prov 8,27-29; cf. Ps 104,9 [103,10].

The path set by the Redeemer of Israel in the sea (Ps 77,20 [76,18]; Isa 43,16; Sol 14,3) is an element in the exodus tradition. The fact that waters obey his command, engulfing the ground, is a warning addressed to those who trespass against the laws and the righteousness of the Creator (Amos 5,7-8). Dividing the waters from the waters to create the firmament (Gen 1,6-7; Ps 104 [103],3), as well as the other above-mentioned acts, demonstrates the supremacy of the Creator over the created world.

The blessing of water

(f)        “…The abyss (άβυσσοι) fears you. Springs (αι πηγαί) obey you … You set the earth upon waters (των υδάτων). You surrounded the sea (την θάλασσαν) with sands…. (cf. Ps 77,17 [76,15]; Gen 7,11; Sg. of 3 Childr 1,54; Ps 136 [135],6; Jer 5,22)

(g)        “…You, by sending your Holy Spirit down from heaven, sanctified the stream of Jordan and crushed the heads of the dragons (των δρακόντων) that had nestled there.”

The strongest echo of the ancient Chaoskampf in the Baptismal service is the assertion that God crushed the heads of the dragons (δρακόντων) dwelling in the water of Jordan. The wording in the prayer for water’s blessing and sanctification is almost identical to that of Ps 74,13-14 [73,14-15].

You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.

You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness (Ps 74,13-14 NRSV)

Three petitions following this statement demonstrate that the motif of fight against dragons received new significance in the exegesis of baptismal ritual.

(h)       “…Make it (the water) …, able to destroy devils (δαίμοσιν), to cast away the malevolent powers (ταις εναντίαις δυνάμεσιν) … May the foes (οι επιβουλεύοντες) of your Creation flee from it…

… May the sign of your Cross break all malevolent powers (αι εναντίαι δυνάμεις)

… and let not the dark spirit (δαιμόνιον σκοτεινόν) hide within this water (τω ύδατι)…”

Obviously, the “dragons” signify devils, and the fight against chaos has become the fight of man against the devil.

In conclusion, the Chaoskampf motif has a dual function in the baptismal ritual. In keeping with the Biblical authors, the motif of combat against chaos is a way of proclaiming the obedience of the entire created world to the Saviour. Old Testament references, mainly those included in the prayer for water sanctification, also show that the same motif proclaims the supremacy of the Saviour in the war against devil. By His death and Resurrection, Christ triumphed decisively over evil. In their baptismal reinterpretation, biblical references emphasize the fact that evil powers cannot prevail against the Lord and cannot resist the power that casts them away from the baptized person.


Ciprian STREZA Sfânta Euharistie – Cina de Taină a Împărăției cerurilor și Hrana vieții veșnice

Summary: The Holy Eucharist – the Mystical Supper of the Kingdom of Heaven and Food for eternal Life

After Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, He can no longer be seen in the body, as His countemporaries beheld Him, but He is encountered in a wholly new manner in Church worship, through the visible matter. This encounter between man and God, within the Church, culminates in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Christ thus carries out the economy of salvation, and dwells into those who believe in Him, as the only efficient means to impart His entire life and its gifts to all people, thus lending to worshippers’ bodies and souls His pure senses and the dynamism of His sacrificial state. Man’s encounter with God occurs within a unique atmosphere and context: the Mystical Supper of the Kingdom of Heaven. As all Christians are invited to this royal supper, the Church Fathers dwelt on this unique, eternal reality, to show Who is the One summoning people to this supper; which are the gifts He imparts; how He is united with those who receive Him in faith; how the invited one must be attired; and which gifts they must bring to this wedding feast. Saviour Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, Offering, Altar, and High Priest celebrating the reconciliation of man with God, is the one who summons, and waits on the eternal feast of Trinitarian love. The heavenly supper He prepares, that of the Kingdom, is is nothing but selfless, generous and disinterested love of the Holy Trinity, a love which the Trinity wants to extend to all created rational beings. Made in the image of God and intended to become a son of God through grace, having tasted the eternal, sacrificial Trinitarian love, man has been called from the very beginning to receive this heavenly food perpetually, so that he may be filled with this love and thus he may reunite the entire cosmos around him and return it to God as a token of this selfless love, thus becoming a mediator between the created and the uncreated, between the intelligible and the sensible, between heaven and earth, between paradise and this world, between man and woman.

Man’s fall diverted him from this unifying, synthesizing mission and deprived him of the communion provided by Trinitarian selfless love. This blissful communion was regained through the Incarnation, the Sacrifice and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who made Himself into the eternal Food of the new heavenly feast, the High Priest officiating man’s reconciliation with God, the perpetual Offering, the supreme, eternal Altar, by entering the Heavenly Tent, «the inner sanctuary» (Hebrews 6,20) and bringing Himself to the Father as pure, sweet-smelling Sacrifice. He remains there forever as pure offering, continuously preparing and offering the Gifts of His eternal Mystical Supper. At the Mystical Supper of the Kingdom of Heaven, our Saviour is not only the Food given to all and the perfect Offering, but also the High Priest celebrating the reconciliation of man with God. At this mystical wedding the Son of God brings the ultimate Gift, His own Person offered as a sacrifice to the Father. The offering brought by Saviour Jesus Christ is unique and perfect, because he has entered the Upper Chamber of the Holy of Holies, to prepare the Mystical Supper not with the blood of bulls and calves, but with His own precious Blood, much more valuable than any offering ever brought by any man. Our Saviour’s sacrifice is unique and has the greatest possible efficacy, because Christ as a perfect man gave Himself to God, offering not some impersonal gifts or some other people (as pagans used to do), but offering HImself for the sake of others, and at the same time being the supreme Priest, the High Priest par excellence, who in his solidarity with his fellow people – his brethren, evinced the immensity of divine love and died in order to sanctify Himself and bring all those who believe in Him to the Father.

In order to enable man again to come before the Father and sit at the table of the Kingdom’s Supper, our Saviour Jesus Christ became incarnate, assumed human nature in His hypostasis and imbued it with complete openness to God, culminating in death as the ultimate token of His complete obedience. It was the only way for humanity to regain communion with God, and only in our Saviour Jesus Christ could a human person accept death out of love, obedience and trust that God will resurrect him, thus responding to the love of the Father. His complete self-renunciation, His complete surrender to God, during His entire human life, culminated in His death on the cross, as visible manifestation of His will to maintain and impress on the human nature he had assumed, the willingness to surrender Himself even in His humanity to God the Father and to be eternally in communion with those who follow Him in self-sacrificial love. Christ, the New Man, undertook His crucifixion as visible expression of His true death to any self-centeredness, in its perfect form. „It was meet for Christ – Father Dumitru Stăniloae says – to bring this ultimate proof of His sincerity and accept the supreme form of sacrifice. Circumstances required this proof”.

A peculiar trait of the heavenly Supper is the fact that our Saviour Jesus Christ is the High Priest that eternally officiates man’s reconciliation with God. Father Dumitru Stăniloae pointed out that the uniqueness and sublimity of Christ’s eternal priesthood lies in this perpetual self-sacrifice to the Father and especially in the fact that His sacrifice is personal, a deep and heartfelt one, full of selfless love and delicate sensibility. The Saviour would not offer to the Father something devoid of life and feeling, but He gave Himself with His sensibility as a Son of man, unaltered by sin, experiencing and living human sinfulness as His own, and willingly accepted death, like no man could. His pure affectivity and delicate sensibility enables Him to be a perfect sacrifice and at the same time High Priest in eternity, as well as the highest place of offering – that is, an Altar above heavens, for He could not bring His offering any closer to the Father than He does in Himself. He is both sacrifice, sacrificer and the sanctuary where sacrifices are brought. He is the closest to God, and permanently in a state of sacrifice, extending it to those who receive in love the dynamcs of His bringing them to the Father.

Christ is the most precious gift that could be offered to the Father, because He gives Himself to redeem all humankind, gaining the Father’s love for all His brethren according to humanity. The Creator chose to elevate human nature enabling it to grasp and experience such full, all-pure love and taste the communion of intratrinitarian life. It was only Christ who could achieve this, through His perfect sacrifice that imbued human nature with the utmost sesibility and complete self-giving, so that man may fully experience communion with God and his fellow people. Our Saviour’s self-sacrifice could elevate humanity to such sensibility as to feel the ineffable divine presence and sensibility, and fill man with compassion for his fellow people, thus turning all of them into children of the Father and His brethren according to the human nature. In the Holy Eucharist, in man’s mystical attending the Supper of Heavenly Kingdom, occurs the ineffable encounter and union between man and God. Those who are alike end up in perfect union, as St Gregory Palamas says, and love makes man one body and one Spirit with Saviour Jesus Christ, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, being united with Him by means of this heavenly Bread. And union with Christ, encounter with Him in the Holy Eucharist is mysterious and personal. This union is complete because by virtue of it, Christ’s body is extended into the body and soul of every Christian, imparting all qualities and beauty of His deified human nature.

The Holy Eucharist is a wondrous exchange of gifts between man and God. The Saviour brings Himself as the supreme gift at this Mystical, heavenly Supper and man is called to join Him wearing a „festive attire”, bringing the gift of self-sacrifice. This heavenly Feast can only be attended in a sacrificial state, the only one allowing man to feel and experience the delicate, selfless love of Christ, completely opposed to the insensitive, rude selfishness of vice. The depth of man’s and God’s communion is manifest in the reciprocity of selfless love. Man loves because he is loved, and the nobility and loftiness of divine love prompts an adequate response from the part of man. Christ offers Himself in the Holy Eucharist with the sensibility of His selfless love. This is the manner of offering which Christ teaches us so that we, like Him, as free persons, may be fully and completely present in the gifts we offer, giving our entire life to God in order to receive it anew, deified and imbued with the fragrance of His selfless love.

Patristic theology and especially the philocalic one emphasize that, in order for this extraordinary exchange of gifts to take place, man must approach the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist in a self-sacrificial disposition, manifest in fasting, watchfulness and observance of the divine commandments. The visible enactment of this exchange of gifts between God and man is the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Christians bring to the Holy Liturgy bread and wine, the basic elements that sustain life; thus they symbolically place their entire life before God. Bread and wine are fruits of the earth and gifts of God, but they also involve man’s toil and effort and thus they can be offered back to God as a gift to which man’s own sacrifice is added. Christ’s bringing us, as persons, to the Father is clearly seen in the practice of cutting out particles and remembering names during the Holy Liturgy. The entire ritual of Proskomedia, fully-fledged by the 11th century, expresses ecclesial awareness that the offerings of all believers are personally assumed by Christ in His sacrifice and thus brought before the Father. Remembering the names and placing the particles beside the Lamb shows that they preserve their personal character while their offering is also a distinct and personal one.

During the Proskomedia, on the Holy Diskos is represented the entire Church – both the triumphant one in heaven, and the militant one on earth – gathered around the sacrificed Lamb, who conveys His sacrificial state to it and thus offers it to the Father as an extension and result of His own sacrifice. Christ’s sacrificed Body includes the sacrifice of the Church, which is brought before the Father in a personal manner, united with but distinct from His sacrifice. Thus the particles placed on the Holy Diskos do not become the Body and Blood of the Saviour, for they represent all the Church members mentioned by name during the Proskomedia to show that all those gathered around the Lamb partake of the gifts of His sacrifice. The saints who are now in heaven partake of the Liturgy of eternal intratrinitarian love and perpetually give themselves, together with Christ, to the Father as they did during their earthly lives. The faithful, still living in the body in this world, can participate as well in this eternal self-offering of Christ to the Father, by joining their own sacrifice to that of the heavenly Lamb through the visible ritual of the Holy Liturgy, whereby Christ descends and offers His Body and Blood to bring to the Father, as pure offerings, all those who believe in Him. The particles cut out for the saints represent their mystical surrender to God as they dedicate all spiritual achievements to Christ, as fruit borne by His sacrifice within themselves. The particles for the living and the dead are cut out in order to help those still on their way towards the Kingdom of heaven to know, taste and experience the dynamics of selfless love within the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Eucharist is the perfect means and vehicle of man’s encounter and union with God. The Mystical Supper has not ended, but it continues in the light and joy of the wedding feast of the Son of the eternal King, with the souls – brides entering in white wedding attire into the chamber of the heavenly Groom, who with His pure, delicate sensibility offers Himself up as sacrificial food. Man can attend this heavenly feast only in a sacrificial state, which enables him to feel and experience the lofty, selfless love of Christ, completely opposite to the insensitivity, rudeness, selfishness of sin. Only thus can man be united with Christ and become one Body and one Spirit with Him, so that the Body of Christ is extended into the body and soul of every Christian, imparting all its qualities and beauty to the deified human nature.


Octavian FLORESCU Despre numirea «numelui mai presus de orice nume» (Flp 2, 9-11)

Summary: On the title “the name above every name” (Phil 2, 9-11)

This article concerns an exegetical issue regarding the real „name above every name” in the Christological hymn of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (2, 5-11). The passage has probably prompted more commentaries than any other passage in the New Testament. From the ethical to the soteriological interpretation, from the polemics on its Gattung to the intense debates over its authorship, this hymn remains a cornerstone for the believers’ faith and a continuous challenge for biblical scholarship. One main reason for such great attention could be the fact that these verses represent in nuce the first creed of the Early Christian Church. It is a confession of faith that culminates in the proclamation of the universal truth: Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2, 11).

While many scholars take for granted that „τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα” given to exalted Jesus, in Philippians 2, 9, is „κύριος”, the present article contends that the “the name above every name” may actually be „Jesus” and it tries to prove it by taking into account other options suggested by the narrative, the Pauline treatment of divine onomatology, and other early Christian sources. In fact, its main tenet is that what the revealed, divine Name YHWH stood in for the Old Testament, the Name JESUS signifies for the New Testament, without any breach of the monotheistic faith as the novel appropriation of Isaiah 45, 21-25 demonstrates. In order to demonstrate this hypothesis, the article puts forth a new exegetical, literary, graphical and theological reading of the Pauline hymn, which has been so far overlooked due either to an “earthly” understanding of the revealed name Jesus or to a Religionsgeschictliche approach indebted to the Greco-Roman milieu.

The present paper draws upon the historical-exegetical studies of Heitmüller, Moule, Bauckham, Hurtado and Nagata, to whom it adds new elements borrowed from rhetoric, and additional data from biblical and non-canonical literature in order to prove that “the name above every name” in Phil 2, 9 is „Jesus”. The article begins with a historical excursus about the supporters of the name „Jesus” as the „name above every name” in Phil 2, 9, from Origen to St. Gregory of Nyssa and up to the present-day exegets like C.F.D. Moule or Takeshi Nagata.

The mainstream view of recent scholarship (Lohmyer, R.P.Martin, Hawthorne, O’Brien, Fee, Bockmuehl) supports „κύριος” as „the name above every name”, on historical and exegetical grounds, while Vincent and Mayer settle for „Jesus Christ”. Against the scholarly consensus there are a few commentators who designate the name „Jesus” as the supreme Name (Heitmüller, Knox, Bartsch, Moule, Caird) by interpreting „Ἰησοῦ” in verse 10 epexegetically as „at the utterance of the name Jesus”. The most persuasive and persistent among them is C.F.D. Moule who points to „Jesus” as the name referred to in verse 9. He sets apart the name „Jesus” from the title „Lord” and translates „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ” naturally as „when the name Jesus is uttered”, taking „Ἰησοῦ” as explicative, appositional, instead of the possessive genitive „the name of Jesus”. Others challenge the validity of „κύριος” as a Greek substitute for the Tetragrammaton (Howard, Bauckham), or just take „Jesus” as appositional while accepting instead „κύριος” as Jesus’ bestowed name ( Silva, Nagata). Recently, Takeshi Nagata comes up with new evidence concerning the early Christian innovative reading of the Old Testament writings (Is 45, 23) in justifying their devotion to Jesus as co-recipient of divine worship. He contends that in order to make sense of the „namelessness of the central figure up to v. 9” it is not the bestowed name „κύριος”, but the name Jesus that is called in the heavenly court. Nagata has drawn attention to the peculiar inconsistency in the LXX version of Is 45, 23 between the use of the first person pronoun „ἐμοὶ” and the third person of the noun „τῷ θεῷ” as the object of homage in one and the same direct speech. This provided the occasion for the Christian midrashist to distinguish between „κύριος” (the name of the speaker) and the figure designated by „θεός” in v. 23. This made Bauckham coin Philippians 2, 9-11 „a Christological version of the eschatological monotheism in Isa 45:23”.

The author suggests that even more relevant for Jesus’ Exaltation in Phil. 2, 11 is Is 45, 25, which the biblical scholarship has unjustly neglected. The Hebrew verse „In the Lord (ביהוה) shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall have glory” is rendered in the Septuagint as „by the Lord (ἀπὸ κυρίου) shall they be justified, and in God (ἐν τῷ θεῷ) shall all the seed of the children of Israel be glorified”. Against those that take for granted that the „the name above every name” in Phil 2, 9 is „Lord”, based on the Septuagintal use, he provides counterevidence taken from the same speech of YHWH in Is 45, 18-25. A quick analysis shows that the Hebrew Tetragram is translated into Greek as „κύριος” and „ἐγώ εἰμι” in v. 18, „κύριος” in v. 19, „θεός” in v. 21, respectively. It is completely missing in the Hebrew version in the often-cited v. 23, and twice translated in v. 25 as shown above. This inconsistency at first sight casts doubts on the appropriate translation or substitution of the Ineffable Name by the Greek title „κύριος” both in the LXX and the New Testament writings. However, confessing Jesus as „Lord” has the further consequence that actually all the titles of honour for God himself (with the exception of the „Father”) may be transferred to Jesus.

Next, the author undertakes an exegetical inquiry of the Greek idiom „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ”, which sometimes is used interchangeably with „ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί” (Dative) and „εἰς τὸ ὄνομα” (Acc.), and its Pauline use, in order to establish its proper meaning within the sentence. The common LXX formula „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is unusual in classical Greek as it attempts to render literally and exactly the Hebrew בשׁם. According to Bietenhard, the most general meaning of „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is „with invocation of”, analogous to LXX translation of the Hebrewבשׁם . He who says or does something in the name of someone appeals to this one, invoking his authority. It may also mean „with calling upon” or „with proclamation of the name”, which is closer to its meaning in Phil 2, 10. The use of „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” with the meaning „at the mention of the name” is also employed in Mark 9, 38; Luke 10, 17; Acts 4, 7, 10; 10:48; Js 5, 14, while the translation „at the command of / commissioned by” appears in Matt 21:9 and John 5, 43.

Paul, a diaspora Jew and speaker of Aramaic, uses the Greek idioms in his letters to render לשׁם or בשׁם y „ἐν ὀνόματι” three times (Eph 5, 20; Col 3, 17; 2Th 3, 6), the same as „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” (1Cor 5, 4; 6, 11; Phil 2, 10), „ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί” is absent, while „εἰς τὸ ὄνομα” occurs only once in 1 Cor 1, 13, when Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are not baptized in his own name. As we can see, the Pauline phrase „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι” is rather related to a vocal performance (BDAG), which I render with its semantic variations, being related to different actions: singing psalms „while naming the name of Lord (Jesus)”, issuing injunctions „while calling on the name of the Lord Jesus”, and being justified „when the name of Lord Jesus is called” (recorded in the rite of baptism, when the name of Jesus was pronounced over the catechumen). These pre-Pauline devotional practices anticipate those witnessed later by Pliny the Younger, when the persecuted Christians „carmenque Christo quasi deo” (Epistulae X. 96).

A literal rendering of the Hebraic idiom בשׁם, the phrase „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησου” in Phil 21, 10, has been regarded a particular hermeneutical case, as most of the Bible versions bear witness (e.g., „at the name of Jesus” [KJV, RSV, NRSV, NJB, NET]; cf. „au nom de Jésus” [FBJ, TOB], but „in the name of Jesus” [ASV], and „in honor of the name” [GNB, CJB]). It is a sui generis phrase in the entire Pauline corpus (and in the whole Bible in the construction „ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κάμπτειν”). However, when we examine the phrase closely and compare it with other contextual occurrences we distinguish a theo-aural trait that compels us to make the exegetical decision of translating ”ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησου” as ‘at the utterance of the name Jesus’. This solution reveals the utmost importance and the tremendous power of the pronunciation of the name „Jesus” in a Judeo-Christian, devotional setting.

This inference is further confirmed by rhetorical evidence, namely the chiastic structure (9a:9b; 10a:10b), centered on the word „name”, which is none other than „Jesus”.

διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν (9a)

καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, (9b)

ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ (10a)

πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων (10b)

The juxtaposition of „τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα” with „Ἰησοῦ” can be taken as explicative or as appositional to mean that „the name above every name” is „Jesus”. Even following the logic of the narrative, after reading the first verse, one would infer that the name already mentioned in v. 9 is to be disclosed in verse 10. Since it is not explicitly revealed, it might be argued that Paul tried to avoid redundancy by explicitly revealing it in the name „Jesus”.

Furthermore, the scribal treatment of the name „Jesus”, for some the oldest of the fourteen Nomina Sacra in the Christian manuscripts of the first four centuries is further proof of the early Christian devotion to the theophoric name „Jesus”. The special scribal treatment of the name „Ἰησοῦς” abridged , or along with „Θεος” (), „κύριος” (), and „Χριστὸς” () is attested in the earliest manuscripts (P. Chester Beatty, P. Oxyrinchus, P. Bodmer II, א , A, B). They may be related either to number symbolism (old Greek numbers were letters with an overbar) or to some cryptic language (Rev. 22, 13) that contracts a word to its first and last letter.

 C.H. Roberts assumes that „Ἰησοῦς” was the first name to be treated as a nomen sacrum, followed by the analogous . This would certainly illustrate special reverence for the name „Jesus”. Hurtado suggests that the suspended form  may have been intended to signify an association between „Jesus” and the Hebrew word חי („life”) since both have the numerical value 18. The author sees a direct relationship between the Name Christology around the name „Jesus” and its subsequent scriptural materialization in the early Christian manuscripts.

Finally, heological evidence based on the Deuteronomistic Name Theology builds upon the already mentioned arguments in order to prove that the name „Jesus” has for the early Christians the same significance as the Tetragrammaton had for the monotheistic Jews. Just as „the Name” was a pious Jewish surrogate for God, so for the early Jewish Christians it became a metonymic designation for Jesus, the Lord’s Christ, and it connoted the divine presence and power. As cardinal Danielou noted, this Name Christology, where „the Name” (i.e., Jesus) is a distinctive person from the Father, represents an original, cultic development of the Old Testament theology of the Name in the apocalyptical milieu of the Early Jewish Christianity. At the core of this Christology is actually a Soteriology of the Name „Jesus” (Jesusology), proclaimed through Peter’s bold statement in front of the Sanhedrin: „There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved”. (Acts 4, 12). Even if the name „Jesus” is sometimes the referent of „Christ” or associated with the title „Lord” or both („Lord Jesus Christ”), it is eventually his human name, Jesus, that defines his divine-human nature or person.

The author concludes that while the name „Jesus” is the true „name above every name” and so the “silver lining” in the cloud of our unknowing of God, because Jesus was both man and God, He may also have a „Name above every name” known only to Himself, to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, as only The Holy Trinity is above every name.


Cristian ANTONESCU Funcționalitate filocalică și liturghie practică la Sfântul Ioan Cassian

Summary: Philocalic functionality and practical liturgy according to St John Cassian

St John Cassian’s theology is an edifying source, revealing how spiritual life was lived during the early Christian centuries. Even though he is not frequently quoted by later patristic writers – although his works, written in Latin, were translated into Greek, a rare ocurrence in the Christian Antiquity –, his influence can be easily traced in the writings of neptic authors of the subsequent centuries. His theological inquiry is centered on an in-depth examination of human soul, the trials it faces and the ways in which it can overcome the temptations through which the enemy of salvation struggles to distract man from his ultimate goal – deification. The present study, strictly centered on the philocalic themes, and not on St John’s theology as a whole, addresses the following teachings of the great Father: meditation, watchfulness, incessant prayer and its role in ascetical struggle, acedia (spiritual negligence or torpor), spiritual failings, spiritual progress, detachment, dispassion, deification (theosis).

Clear awareness of the purpose and goal of spiritual life has two extremely important results: on the one had, it spares the struggler from pointless detours, keeping him on the verified path of the Fathers, and on the other hand it supports him in his struggling, since by focussing on the true life found in the practice of virtues, man no longer finds it difficult to undertake hesychast struggle but he rather finds joy and satisfaction in it. Among other aspects that claim the struggler’s attention, achieving a pure heart is a major one. An evangelic commandment, stated in the Beatitudes, by which our Saviour promises the contemplation of God, the pure heart holds a promient place in hesychast theology. By insisting on the notion that a clean heart is the path to God’s Kingdom, St John indicates that there is no other path leading to this desideratum. The straightest path – a pure heart – can be followed only by those who have deeply impressed on the desiring part of their souls, the yearning for the Kingdom of Heaven. Strong will and mental effort – that is, watchfulness – are necessary to prevent straying from this path.

Although watchfulness is often described as hard to attain, it is the method that enables ascetics to reach the contemplation of God, and is described by many neptic Fathers as a prerequisite to spiritual life. Obviously, to St John Cassian as well as other Fathers, the highest virtues are humility and love, but, in keeping with the patristic teachings – preached by the Fathers of the Egyptian desert –, he points out that no virtue can be obtained without watchfulness. Watchfulness helps the struggler become aware of the slightest strayings from his chosen path. If this does happen, then the ascetic needs to react promptly, every time he finds himself straying, and regain his position according to the norms of conduct he has adhered to. And the norm is given by the Kingdom of Heaven. Constant focus on God, through prayer, is critical as this is the only means that provides the struggler with true life. Everything beside this activity brings about only spiritual death.

Trenchant as this line of thought may seem, spiritual logic can only see things as right or wrong. What is beneficial is prayer, while what is harmful is whatever hinders incessant prayer – the essential concern of ascetics. Also known as the prayer of the mind, the prayer of the heart or Jesus’ prayer, it has always been the absolute tool in the spiritual struggle. The stake of constant prayer is union with God. For this reason, any other concern of the mind, beside prayer, is not only devoid of importance but even harmful, because it delays this encounter with God, and may even thwart it altogether if minor concerns interfere constantly. Though it is generally deemed very difficult – virtually impossible – for man to keep only prayer in mind, St John Cassian points out that mind can only go where it is directed.

Prayer is not simply part of the ascesis, but its very foundation. To overcome the obstacles to spiritual life, divine grace is always needed, and this aid can only be granted through continuous prayer and communion with God. Beside prayer, an ascetic also has to undertake many other struggles in order to cleanse his soul. Actually, he needs a number of interdependent endeavours: constant watchfulness to prevent harmful thoughts from affecting the soul; abstinence from food to encourage repentance and curb the force of passions that affect the body; night vigil when prayer is purest; all these perfected and sustained by God’s grace.

In this context, acedia poses one of the greatest challenges of spiritual warfare, as it causes such sadness that seems reasonless, pushing the soul to loneliness and despair. St John teaches that this hindrance can have three distinct causes: negligence from the part of man, a temptation from the devil, or a trial from God. The worst of the three is the failure of the ascetic, because in this state man proves to be lukewarm in his relation with God, and unwilling to make real efforts in order to become a new man. In believing that he can reach perfection soon and easily, but finding that this is not possible, such man is overwhelmed by frustration, selfishness and pride. This problem hehimself has created can only be solved when he becomes aware of the harm he does to himself.

To be constantly aware of his own state, the struggler must also know the causes that may hinder his spiritual life, in order to cope with them and also to understand that temptations arise for a reason and not blame the devil for them, thus cultivating his selfishness. No failure can occur all of a sudden, without a clear reason to be found in man’s inner state. Fall is prepared long in advance and it is a voluntary choice made by man. Even when the one aware of his fall is disconcerted and fails to understand what has happened to him, he still is responsible for it because he has strayed from God through negligence and carelessness, and now reaps what he has sown.

It is to be noted that spiritual strugle has to be permanent. Any compromise in cultivating virtues has a negative influence on the soul. Awareness of the dynamism of mind must stir the ascetic’s willingness to foster virtues. Otherwise, unless he strives to advance, passions and sins will draw him into the whirl of this world. Watchfulness clearly enables him to gauge his own state: if he sincerely finds that he has advanced in virtue, then he is on the right path. If, however, he fids he has not, then he must remedy the situation. One’s inner state cannot be stagnant, anyway, and if the struggler concludes that he has neither progressed nor regressed, then he deludes himself, does not actually know himself and is obviously regressing.

Dispassion requires a radical change of man’s former life, before his decision to climb the ladder of virtues. To St John Cassian, dispassion is the starting point in a truly spiritual life. Soul is so created that it naturally reaches towards God, but following his failure man needs a constant voluntary effort to drive sins and passions away. Dispassion is also a prerequisite to making prayer into what it is meant to be, that is, a means to address God directly. Any earthly care hinders perfect prayer. The ascetic has to examine himself carefully, to see whether he retains any residual earthly cares, even though he has formally renounced all material concerns and things.

Achieving dispassion is one of the most important steps in spiritual life. Although it is sometimes regarded as an end in itself, it actually is a means to man’s union with God. This is the stage of real intimacy with God, who can now dwell in man’s soul purified of sins. Struggle must be undertaken joyfully and willfully. St John Cassian describes Abba Serenus’ enthusiastic spiritual struggle and his tirelessness. Ascetical struggle should not be marred by reluctance, regret or sadness, but it should be joyous, proving that man knows what he is striving for – the Kingdom of Heaven. If, however, fatigue and sadness are frequent, it means that the decision to follow Christ was not sincere and completely selfless.

Since most faithful view deification as perfection impossible to reach, we often forget it is the real mission of man. Even though difficulties and sins keep alienating man from God, the Holy Fathers have bequeathed to us the means to renounce sins and become close to God. Deification is not a desideratum, but a commandment. This is not to say that it is imposed on man, but that to any reasonable person deification is the only possible choice.

St John Cassian’s writings also stress the so-called inner phenomenology. The Philocalia is the most important theological work documenting the extremely complex and crucial realities of the inner world. This inner world is not unknown to St John Cassian; on the contrary, he is an outstanding precursor of mystical theology. Another notable element in both the Philocalia and the writings of St John Cassian is the so-called ascetical, spiritual and theological realism. Nothing in his writings suggests that he might have expressed anything but his partaking of the grace of God. This is another important trait of the philocalic spirit which many have sought in the modern times, to justify and ground their own theological positions. Thus St John Cassian’s philocalism is natural, free, not subject to any particular criteria. This highlights the authentic character of his theology and experience.


Andreea-Monica CHELU-POGOR Les rapports entre le Christ et l’Église selon Éph 5,21-33, prototype du projet de vie commune et du salut des époux

Rezumat: Legătura lui Hristos cu Biserica potrivit textului din Ef 5, 21-33, prototip al proiectului de viață comună și de mântuire a soților

Studiul de față are în vedere citirea atentă și actualizarea uneia dintre cele mai cunoscute pericope biblice. Dacă popularitatea versetelor 21-33 din Epistola către Efeseni se datorează faptului că acestea sunt lecturate în cadrul Sfintei Taine a Căsătoriei, înțelegerea lor oscilează între propuneri ermeneutice mai mult sau mai puțin fericite. Înțelegerea tainei unirii dintre soți suferă influențe, uneori covârșitoare, în urma transformărilor sociale, politice, etice și economice specifice epocii moderne. Astfel, sub presiunea logicii umane și a ateismului ambiant relațiile conjugale din zilele noastre devin din ce în ce mai complexe (feminismul, sterilitatea, violența conjugală, pornografia, mijloacele contraceptive, fecundarea in vitro etc.).

Având în vedere că Ef 5 conține teme esențiale și adevăruri fundamentale care ar putea fi înțelese, în lumina exemplului lui Hristos, ca un sfat „conjugal“ sau „familial“, această pericopă poate fi utilizată în societatea contemporană ca un intrument foarte folositor atât pentru prevenirea, cât și pentru vindecarea „bolilor căsătoriei”. Această epistolă este un text bogat în înțelesuri adânci și cerești, ce limpezesc cu precădere tema planului din veșnicie al lui Dumnezeu de a împlini trupul lui Hristos, care este Biserica. Autorul nu urmărește să corecteze derive doctrinale sau morale, ci țintește mult mai sus, propunându-și să vorbească despre iubirea lui Dumnezeu pentru Fiul Său și pentru noi, și despre jertfa din dragoste a Fiului Său cel Unul-Născut pentru Biserică.

Fragmentul biblic ales spre analiză comportă două raporturi. Primul are în vedere relația dintre soț și soție, iar al doilea vizează legătura dintre Hristos și Biserică.

Raporturile femeie – barbat
Supuneți-vă unii altora în teama lui Hristos (v. 21)

 

soții, fiți supuse soților voștri, (v. 22a) precum Domnului (v. 22b)
pentru că soțul este capul soției (v. 23a)

 

după cum Hristos este capul Bisericii, El Mântuitorul trupului Său (v. 23b)
așa soțiile să fie supuse soților lor în toate

(v. 24b)

După cum Biserica se supune lui Hristos (v. 24a)

 

Bărbați, iubiți-vă soțiile (v. 25a) după cum Hristos a iubit Biserica și S-a dat El însuși pentru ea (v. 25b)
Așa trebuie să-și iubească bărbatul soția sa, precum trupul său. Cel care își iubește soția, pe sine însuși se iubește (v. 28) în așa fel încât să o sfințească curățindu-o prin spălare cu apă în Cuvânt (v. 26)
 

 

în așa fel încât să-și prezinte Biserica slăvită, fără pată, rid ori altceva, ci în așa fel încât să fie sfântă și ireproșabilă (v. 27)
Și acum, fiecare dintre voi să-și iubească soția ca pe sine însuși, încât soția să se teamă de soțul ei (v. 33) Din moment ce nimeni vreodata nu și-a urât trupul său; dimpotrivă, și-l hrănește și-l încălzește (are grijă de el), după cum și Hristos Bisericii (v. 29)

Chiar dacă la prima vedere sensul general al acestor versete trimite la ideea de „supunere“ a femeii față de soț, o citire atentă arată că acest modus vivendi conjugal trebuie să fie înțeles din perspectiva iubirii jertfelnice. În acest sens, Epistola către Efeseni caută să surprindă taina unirii dintre bărbat și femeie prin comparația făcută cu raporturile dintre Hristos și Biserică. Apostolul Pavel folosește o terminologie specifică timpului său, fapt ce permite acceptarea epistolei de către cititorii reali, și în același timp propune o serie de adevăruri duhovnicești, ce depășesc logica umană. Acest mod de înțelegere înalță realitatea unirii dintre soți la nivel de Taină.

Biserica nu poate fi cu adevărat Biserică decât dacă primește de la Hristos tot ceea ce face ca ea să devină trupul Lui. Este vorba de jertfa lui Hristos Care s-a dat Bisericii până la capăt, El fiind capul Bisericii. Iubirea acestuia este comparată simbolic cu unirea nupțială. Paralel, jertfa din iubire a bărbaților pentru soțiile lor este înțeleasă ca o analogie a imaginii de „șef-trup”. Cu toate acestea, relația nu constituie un raport de forță, în sens de funcție, ci de recunoaștere. Astfel, soțul este capul soției doar dacă acționează precum Hristos, adică în calitate de mântuitor ce își dă chiar propria viață. Prin analogia Hristos-Biserică, termenul de „supunere“ primește o altă valență. În Ef 5, 25-33, bărbatului i se cere să-și iubească soția după cum și Hristos a iubit Biserica. Iubirea bărbatului este prin aceasta sinonimă cu „moartea“ sau cu „jertfa necondiționată“. În același timp, pentru Sf.Ap. Pavel acest raport dintre soți depășește ideea de model ce trebuie urmat de fiecare creștin, pentru a fi un eveniment ce se cade a fi trăit de către ambii soți. De aceea, prin căsătoria creștină nu se urmărește doar plinătatea umanității (după cum sugerează Fc 2, 24), ci și taina dumnezeiască. Prin urmare, căsătoria devine locul unde taina jertfei mântuitoare a lui Hristos se actualizează și se face vizibilă în icoana jertfei soțului pentru soția sa.

Apostolul Pavel devansează tradițiile și prejudecățile timpului său și invită creștinii să își iubească soțiile precum însăși trupurile lor (v. 28). Segregările și violența conjugală sunt abolite și interzise în căsătoria creștină, căci atât bărbatul cât și femeia sunt membri ai Bisericii, deci mădulare ale trupului lui Hristos (v. 30). Două idei noi îmbracă concepția paulină din această epistolă în ceea ce privește taina căsătoriei. Prima este teologia iubirii ce face ca dragostea lui Hristos pentru Biserică să devină prototipul comuniunii nupțiale, iar a doua este anularea oricărei forme de violență din înțelesul obișnuit pe care îl acordăm termenului de „supunere“. Prin aceasta, crucea soților în căsătorie este atât suferința Golgotei, cât și bucuria Învierii. Este o variantă chenotică de existență în cadrul Tainei Căsătoriei ce nu exclude pe niciunul dintre soți, lăsându-i în același timp liberi. În urma acestei lecturi amănunțite, putem conchide că, teologia nupțială din Ef 5, invită cititorul să se elibereze de barierele sociale și juridice ale epocii sale și să trăiască taina unirii bărbatului cu femeia urmând logica iubirii lui Hristos pentru Biserică.


Marian-Florin BĂBUȘ Importanța Sfintei Cruci pentru cultul Bisericii

Summary: The Importance of the Holy Cross in Divine Worship

The Cross and Resurrection are central to the Orthodox faith and worship, to the new life in Christ. They are landmarks in the earthly life and activity of the incarnate Son of God, because through the death and resurrection of the Saviour the dominion of death and darkness were abolished and the world was given life. The Cross sums up the entire Church doctrine, it is its very essence. Beholding the cross, Christians recall all the Lord’s teachings and acts, intended to release mankind from the bondage of sin. It has the transformative, sanctifying and salvific power that turned „fishermen into apostles” and gentiles into Christians. The Cross, with its transfiguring power, made the Holy Apostle Paul – once a persecutor of the Church – be forever united to Christ.

By means of various types and symbols, God revealed the importance and role of the Cross in the history of mankind. In the Old Testament, the Holy Cross is prefigured as early as the Edenic times and throughout the entire Old-Testament period, as symbol of the restoration of the severed bond between man and God. Prefigurations are placed in the context of human salvation during the times of Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus, Old Testament messianism includes – beside foretellings concerning the wonder-working activity of Jesus Christ – clear mentions of the Lord’s passions and death on the Cross. Thus the Cross which was prefigured by the Tree of life in the middle of the Eden, later acquires a new dimension and reveals its mystery and operation, always in conjunction with the Person of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as all its significance and workings partially revealed and partially hidden in symbols and metaphors in the Old Testament, where it appeared as an yet undeciphered „prophetic sign”. It is confirmed by our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, when He speaks of the copper serpent raised by Moses in the desert, to heal those bitten by venomous snakes. It is the sign of the exchange of love between man and God. And Christ was not ashamed by His Cross because through it He saved us, remitted our sins, showed to us His greatest love. Therefore the Cross becomes „Christ’s Cross”, as well as „the Cross of Christ’s followers”. The Cross was honored and venerated by the Holy Apostles, becoming the subject of their preaching and their pride, because – as the Holy Apostle Paul says – «the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God» (1 Cor. 1, 18). He can only find glory in the Cross of the Lord: «May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world» (Gal. 6, 14).

The Cross has been venerated by Christians since the earliest days of the Church and will be venerated until the end of time, when it will accompany Saviour Jesus Christ in His glory, as a sign of the „Son of Man”, as a token of His triumph over sin, death and devil. Once it had been elevated under emperor Constantine the Great, the Cross became an actual, historical object of veneration. The Church dedicated to it feasts of remarkable beauty and theological depth, as well as a special hymnology that extols it as true «giver and maker of life». Our liturgical books contain many hymns dedicated to the Holy Cross expressing dogmatic, moral, spiritual truths of great depth and beauty. In glorifying the Holy Cross, Church Fathers thoroughly studied the Old Testament and compiled all prefigurations of the Cross on which our Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified and especially its divine power manifest in the prophets, priests or kings, in the historical and religious circumstances of the Jewish people. They showed the salvific power of the Cross and developed an astounding poetical-dogmatic demonstration of the link between Cross and Resurrection, and between the Cross and the resurrection of the dead. They showed that it is through the sanctifying, renewing and transfiguring power of the Cross that people fight the temptations coming from the devil.

The Orthodox Church has never venerated the Cross alone, without Christ crucified on it and has never mistaken veneration for worship. There is a close connection between Cross and Resurrection and they are interdependent. There is no resurrectin without Cross, while the Cross is meaningless without the Resurrection. The Incarnation of the Son of God would be meaningless without the culmination of the way of the cross through Resurrection. The Incarnation, the Cross and the Resurrection make up a whole in the economy of man’s salvation; each of these moments holds a particular, indispensable place in the process of salvation. The Cross is the altar on which our Saviour Jesus Christ was sacrificed, and also the instrument by which the world was saved. And if the Old Testament greatly honored the altar because it was consecrated to God, and therefore those who touched it were deemed to be sanctified, we owe all the more veneration to the altar where Jesus Christ was sacrificed to redeem us from the bondage of the devil. From an instrument of doom and mockery, as it used to be in the Old Testament, the Cross becomes, in the New Testament, a means for saving us from the devil. The Cross now becomes the divide between sin and virtue, between the lot of worshippers who honor it, and the lot of its foes. The Cross is an indispensable path and means of salvation and an object of God’s love for people. This is why the Cross is preached by our Saviour even before His crucifixion on this ancient instrument of torture, in order to prepare His disciples for this unique moment in the history of mankind. The pain caused by the crucifixion of the Lord has turned into empowerment of the Christians and in its eschatological becoming the Cross has turned into weapon against the devil, as the sign of the One who was like us in all things, except sin.

We note that, in venerating the Holy Cross, we do not adress the material of which it is made, but the One crucified on it who sanctified it with His precious Blood; its saintlines is conferred by Christ because His Holy Blood was shed on it. As Christ has sanctified it with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Cross is indispensable in any act of worship performed in the Church and in the life of any believer. Its presence in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries and hierurgies proves its importance for the liturgical and sacramental life of the Orthodox Church, opening a new horizon to Christians. The Cross has thus a significant role in man’s life in all his social, cultural, economic as well as spiritual activities. Seeing the world from the perspective of the Cross, man is able to resist the urge of having it for himself. Without Christ’s Cross, man is tempted to use his gifts selflishly, which may isolate him from his fellow people and from God. Man and things are sanctified in the light of the Cross; in the light of the Cross worldly things reveal their character as gifts that can be offered in order to enhance the loving communion between God and man. This perfect communion is made possible by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and His self-giving, which enables man to open himself to his fellow people and to God. To the one who fails to approach the gift of the world through the Cross, this gift becomes an opportunity for sin and wrongdoings. However, whoever approaches this gift bearing the Cross in the heart, knows how to approach anything without seeing the world as an occasion for sin or sinful attraction. The Cross is an incentive that operates upon the entire being of the faithful, protecting them from the forces of evil and making them open spiritually to God.

Man must renounce physical pleasure, deny his individual nature, suppress his urges and individual will, which project the natural impulses of pleasure upon the world’s beauty. Renouncing natural urges voluntarily, through the Cross, gives man the only opportunity to discern the truth beyond the visible appearance of things and phenomena. The truth becomes known only through the Cross within one’s personal relationship with the fellow people, by which one breaks the closed circle of life which is natural individuality in order to humbly learn the reasons of things. The Cross is an exhortation to ascesis, to physical abstinence, to moderation, to love, as means by which man can know the true beauty of things. Perceived dispassionately, all things in the world and the entire Creation acquire a greater importance, as steps towards the fellow people and God, but this worldview is the result of ascetical exercise, aiming to restore man’s spiritual power. This is the lifestyle proposed by the Church to its faithful, through the Cross, whereby the Holy Mysteries always bring Christ in a sacrificial state, as a living, inexhaustible source of saintliness and salvation. Thus we may assert that all consequences of our Saviour’s sacrifice on the Cross and implicitly the Cross itself are beneficial to the man, the world, the cosmos, the entire creation in heaven and on earth.


François BŒSPFLUG La Trinité entre deux mondes. Dieu un et trine dans l’art, en Hongrie et Roumanie

Rezumat: Sfânta Treime între două lumi. Dumnezeu-Unul și Treimic în artă, în Ungaria și România

Sfânta Treime a fost reprezentată în mod diferit în arta bisericească apuseană față de cea răsăriteană. Acești doi centri originari ai creștinismului reprezintă de facto nu numai două teologii trinitare, ci, în plus, două percepții ale aceleiași Taine, care sunt exprimate prin două reflectări ale imaginilor. Acest articolul încearcă să demonstreze cum s-au departajat, dar și cum s-au influențat reciproc cele două tipologii iconografice ale Sfintei Treimi, în Europa Centrală și de Est, în special în zona Ungariei, Transilvaniei și României, în perioada Evului Mediu târziu. Cu ajutorul unei selecții de opere de artă, articolul caută să analizeze modalitatea prin care aceste țări din Europa de Est ilustrează două tipologii de a aborda problema reprezentării Sfintei Treimi în artă sau, dimpotrivă, a inova și de a contribui la o modificare profundă a sensului în aceeași chestiune. Cercetarea de față, care se concentrează în exclusivitate pe reprezentările Sfintei Treimi, lăsând deoparte reprezentările trinitare (precum cea de la Botezul Domnului), analizează modul în care, în mod concret, istoria politică a Ungariei și a artei sale religioase reflectă o dependență mai mult sau mai puțin sesizabilă față de arta iconografică apuseană sau dacă, dimpotrivă, au putut avea loc interacțiuni între cele două tipologii ale artei creștine în anumite perioade, precum Evul Mediu târziu și epoca modernă, în special în Transilvania și în România, unde au fost fondate aproximativ șase mănăstiri de rit oriental.

Mai întâi, autorul apelează la interpretarea a două momente-cheie din istoria reprezentării Sfintei Treimi în arta occidentală. Astfel, sec. al XII-lea a cunoscut apariția așa-numitelor viziunile mistice ale Treimii (Rupert de Deutz, Christine de Markyate, Elizabeth de Schönau etc.) și a cinci principale teme iconografice a acestei Taine (Tronul harului, Treimea din Psaltire, Paternitatea, Treimea triandrică tricefală și cu trei fețe). În timpul secolului al XV-lea, au apărut alte patru noi teme iconografice: Dubla Mijlocire, Teascul mistic, Compasiunea Tatălui și Încoronarea Fecioarei de către Sfânta Treime. Articolul identifică apoi locurile unde se regăsesc aceste teme iconografice specific apusene în arta religioasă maghiară sau bulgară. Astfel, Tronul harului (Arbanassi) și Compasiunea Tatălui (Bardejov) a reușit să pătrundă în ambele țări, însă discret, fără să se răspândească spre Est și, respectiv, spre Nord-Est. În schimb scena Paternității a fost identificată în trei locuri în sec. al XIV-lea (Almakerek, Podolin, Vizsoly). De asemenea, în ciuda condamnării acesteia prin deciziile sinodale de la Moscova (1551 și 1666), aceasta a reușit să se păstreze atât în România, cât și în Bulgaria și Rusia.

Treimea din Psaltire, reprezentare destul de rară în Ungaria în Evul Mediu, a cunoscut mai multe reproduceri, într-un stil specific apusean, în timpul epidemiilor de ciumă (Budapesta, Kremnica, Sopron), însă a apărut, de asemenea, și într-o catedrală precum este cea de la Sibiu, construită înainte de alipirea Transilvaniei la Vechiul Regat în anul 1918. Treimea teandrică nu este prezentă decât sporadic în Europa de Est (Levoca, Slovacia). În ceea ce privește temele ramificate ale reprezentărilor tricefale și cu trei fețe, acestea se regăsesc în arta frescelor de la Zehra (Slovacia), Sighișoara (România), fără să mai vorbim despre apariția acesteia atât în Orient, cât și în Occident, în reprezentarea Comuniunii Apostolilor în fresca din capela castelului din Lublin sau într-o icoană din colecția Muzeului de Artă din Belgrad. În sfârșit, Încoronarea Fecioarei de către Sfânta Treime, una dintre cele mai importante inovații ale artei apusene din sec. al XV-lea, apare la Hărman (Szaszhermany / Honigberg), în apropiere de Brașov. Deși această reprezentare nu are aprobare deplină în lumea ortodoxă, în cele din urmă a penetrat sfera iconografiei răsăritene (Sucevița, România).

Una peste alta, cele două tipologii iconografice ale Sfintei Treimi, cea orientală și cea apuseană, prezentate în cele mai multe cazuri ca fiind antitetice și fundamental ireconciliabile, au avut în comun, pe lângă referințele scripturistice, sinodale, patristice și dogmatice, și o dialectică pragmatică comună, situată între canonul oficial și nevoile și aspirațiile credincioșilor. Astfel, în pofida a ceea ce se consideră în mod obișnuit, în domeniul artei religioase, cel puțin în privința anumitor reprezentări ale Sfintei Treimi, se poate argumenta faptul că teologia ortodoxă a fost influențată de arta bisericească apuseană.


Pr. Mircea BASARAB Taina Sfintei Spovedanii și a Sfintei Euharistii, între tradiție și abatere

Summary: The Mystery of the Holy Confession and Holy Eucharist: Tradition Observed or Infringed

The importance and beauty of local traditions, in all their diversity, require correct assessment from our part. Originally, bread breaking took place on Sundays; later – starting from the 3rd century – the Liturgy was celebrated on other days of the week also, according to local customs. Saints John Chrysostom and Ambrosius of Milan reproached their faithful the fact that they received the Eucharist only on great feast days. These mentions, both in the East and in the West, show the realities of the time, namely the fact that the practice of frequent communion (or during every Liturgy) was less and less observed, and by the 4th century it had become an act of personal devotion. Exhortations to receive the Eucharist daily in monastic circles (St Theodore the Studite, †826) or every Sunday in parishes (St Gregory Palamas, †1359) continued, but the early Church’s zeal for frequent communion was lost; the reason some invoked was their personal respect and veneration towards the Holy Eucharist. Restricting the administration of the Eucharist to those prepared to receive was mentioned by Apostolic canons 8 and 9, as well as canon 2 of the local Council of Antioch (341).

The commentaries on these canons by renowned 12th-century Byzantine canonists (Aristen, Zonaras and Balsamon) show that liturgical practice allowed communion, motivated by piety, only when personal preparation was undertaken. Given the newly-created circumstances, the Church became more lenient. Most theologians now admit that the practice of communicating during every Liturgy diminished as the „breaking of bread” became increasingly frequent, or even daily. Preparation could not keep pace with Eucharistic celebration and for the same reason Liturgy attendance also decreased. In the Orthodox Church, the exclamation «holy things, unto the holy!», heard during every Liturgy, actually makes us aware that only those with a clear conscience can receive communion. St John Chrysostom stated: «let no-one approach this spiritual source unprepared and recklessly». Christians become saints by virtue of receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord; their saintliness, however, is not ontological but derived by partaking. An important prerequisite for Confession is repentance, of which the same St John Chrysostom wrote wonderful words, calling the faithful to daily repentance. It is only after we repent that we may come to the Holy Eucharist in a clear conscience, having also prepared through fasting and prayer. A clear conscience must be examined by the confessor priest, and confession must be accompanied by penance, the rule of prayer and personal sacrifice through fasting and almsgiving. This is the only wedding attire in which we may attend Lord’s Supper!

According to the tradition of the Romanian Orthodox Church, confession of sins made before the confessor priest is a condition sine qua non for receiving the Holy Eucharist. Communion without prior confession is seen as an innovation and straying from the liturgical and canonical norms, as is the lack of preparation through fasting and abstinence, and failure to read the prayers before receiving the Holy Eucharist. Excessive lenience or strictness, haste, group confession, frequently changing the confessor, choosing a lenient confessor, or confessing sins only partially are also seen as innovations and breakings of liturgical norms concerning Confession. Based on these assertions of the Church Fathers, contemporary theology, through theologians such as R. Guardini, F. von Lilienfeld, P. Florensky, B. Langenmayer, I. Fundulis, W. Kasper, O. Casel and others stresses the presence of Christ in the Holy Liturgy, the Holy Mysteries and Church worship at large. Christ’s presence in the Liturgy, ritual, prayers and sermons is also emphasized by Father Stăniloae. We note that Christ remains within us after the Eucharist. The discussion around Christ’s Body and Blood remaining in the one who receives them is an old one, and Sevastos Kymenites, headmaster of the Greek School in Bucharest (17th century), argued that they «stay there forever». Of course, this belief is very important and compels us to reconsider very attentively the matter of frequent communion, which may lead those who communicate too frequently into temptations and mistakes. Paradoxical though it may seem, zeal must be held in check and guided by the confessor priest. Experience of spiritual life has often confirmed the necessiy of such surveillance and the consequences of the lack thereof, even though the modern man may perceive this control as a limitation of his freedom and disregard for his maturity.

To Saints John Chrysostom and Nicholas Cabasilas or to modern theologians, invoking the «holy things, unto the holy » is a call addressed only to those who have prepared themselves for this by personal efforts. This is why the personal character of the Eucharist governs Orthodox spirituality. The fact that the name of the person is mentioned on receiving the Eucharist and during the absolution prayer in the Holy Confession is further proof of the personal character of these two Mysteries. Personal piety required by the Eucharist cannot be considered subjective, because communicants do not decide their own „worth”, but their efforts are discussed with their confessor during the Holy Confession, when penitents become aware of various aspects of their spiritual life. On the contrary, the danger of subjectivity apears when we decide by ourselves how worthy we are to approach the chalice. Of course, Christian spirituality and the prayers before the Eucharist emphasize the ontological deficiency of human nature; however this cannot be an argument in favor of unprepared communion but is rather a reason to strive to be as worthy as possible. The confessor plays a critical role as he sees to it that his spiritual children maintain a spirituality based on Scripture and Tradition. He also gives a communitarian character to Christian spiritual life, because no one is self-sufficient. We greatly need one another, and we set examples to each other.

Father Schmemann considered that only capital sins need confession and sacramental absolution, while the sins pertaining to our general sinfulness and unworthiness are forgiven through the prayer uttered while we are approaching the chalice. In his view these sins do not necessitate confession and sacramental absolution. Such a theological position is unacceptable to our tradition. It is also disproved by our great spiritual directors who, based on their great experience, reject such an approach that seems to propose a particular ecclesiology that forsakes the age-old liturgical tradition of our spiritual experience and life. Such downplaying of the Confession is surprisigly close to the current understanding of this sacrament in the Western spiritual tradition. In this context, the criticism against those who prescribed communion at every Holy Liturgy concerned the fact that Confession was thus reduced to 3-5 minutes, becoming a mere formality. Then, under Western influence, the stress shifted from penance to absolution, seen as a sacrament in itself (ex opere operatum); some had gone so far as to grant absolution without Confession. Criticism also points out that the Holy Confession was often equated with mere advice from the confessor, and it was only with Petru Movilă’s Euchologion that the Mystery of Confession became mandatory for receiving the Holy Eucharist. It has been also reproached that the absolution included Roman-Catholic elements, among them the stress laid on the prerogatives of the priest, who forgives sins, and as a result engendered the notion that absolution may be granted without confession of sins, being perceived as a cvasi-magical or even magical formula. Also, the same Western influence is blamed for the notion that Confession is necessary only for laypeople and not for priests.

Absolution or „the prayer for the remission of sins” is not a magical formula, but a prayer beseeching God to forgive the sins of the penitent. According to Romanian tradition, the prayer for the remission of sins is not offered without prior Confession and without repentance, the promise to improve and the observance of the epitemia. This prayer slightly differs in the traditions of Orthodox sister-Churches. If the Latin influence can be seen in the absolution formula stated in the first person, then we must also stress that the contents of both prayer and absolution belong to the Orthodox tradition. The priest utters this prayer with the belief that «the grace of God bestowed on me» (1 Corinthians 15,10) is the one that operates in prayer. The grace of Christ received upon ordination is at work and remits sins. It is also as an intercessor, that the priest lays his hand on the penitent’s head as blessing, according to an old Orthodox tradition. Regarding frequent communion, we mention the clarifications provided by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the 18th-19th centuries in order to settle heated disagreements among Athonite monks. Patriarchal tomoi issued by Patriarchs Theodosios (1772), Gabriel (1785 ) and Gregory (1807) mentioned that frequent communion is not prescribed for particular intervals, but preparation by repentance and confession of sins is very necessary; examination of every believer is the task of confessor priests. Further discussions concerning frequent communion took place at Mount Athos in the 1960s-1970s, but they yielded nothing new.

We do not reject frequent communion granted to spiritually advanced persons or the elderly, but we do think that caution is necessary in this respect. Such is the advice of our great spiritual directors as well as the overwhelming majority of our priests. Love for Christ and willingness to be united with Him are important indeed, but do not preclude self-examination, fasting, prayer and confession before the priest. We rest assured that frequent confession, preparing us for the supreme moment of communion, is more beneficial than frequent communion when only capital sins have been confessed. Originality is a wonderful gift. However, many seek it out of vainglory. Therefore we think that Fathers’ prescriptions should not be regarded as a museum collection, because they have retained their relevance; rather than adhere to positions informed by the Enlightenment, self-reliant spirit, let us pay the proper attention and devotion to the traditions that express continuity, our connection to our forefathers, and assess the new practices intended as a return to the tradition of the early Church, with all the respect due to the Holy Mysteries.


Adrian MARINESCU Neo-Ortodoxie, neo-teologie, post-creștinism. Idiosincrazii ale mișcării „ortodoxe” de înnoire liturgică în modernism – Studiu de caz: Γεώργιος Ν. Φιλίας, Παράδοση καὶ ἐξέλιξη στὴ Λατρεία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας (Tradiție și evoluție în cultul Bisericii), Ἐκδόσεις Γρηγόρη, Ἀθήνα, 2006, 419pp. –

Summary: Neo-Orthodoxy, neo-theology, postchristianity. Idiosyncrasies of the „Orthodox” movement for liturgical renewal in modernity

While peer-reviewing a text recently sent to an Orthodox review of international visibility, the author of the present paper first came across the notion of „postchristianity”. This is a perfect match to terms such as „post-patristic”, „neo-patristic”, and „neo-Orthodoxy”, already known to him and tackled by the vast and complex theological literature, that aims to counter the arguments put forward by their proponents, as they depart from the ecclesial line of thought. At the same time, an „Orthodox” book (Γεώργιος Ν. Φιλίας, Παράδοση καὶ ἐξέλιξη στὴ Λατρεία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, Ἐκδόσεις Γρηγόρη, Ἀθήνα, 2006, 419pp.) occasioned not only contact with some elements of the so-called neo-Orthodox liturgical renewal, but also with the notion of „neo-theological Orthodox movement”, also part of the post-Christian post-Orthodox post-theology. Thus the present text is prompted by a more comprehensive „phenomenon”, challenging Orthodoxy and apparently tending to affect the most important tenets of the Church. It is supported by persons from within Orthodoxy, most likely keener on intellectualist, „reforming” positions. There is extensive literature signed by personalities of theology, in support of the ideology of these „Orthodox” theologians, who often invoke the „necessity for the Church to adapt to the modern world” or „remedying the deviations occurred in time”. Such views postulate a certain kind of „return to the past”, which however is not characteristic to Orthodoxy which sees the Church as a reality meant to look towards the future; the evolution of her worship practices has actually given more mature forms to her services, based on a deeper experience of the partaking of God. Thus the Church does not accomodate the times’ realities, but rather, sheoffers an appropriate response to every epoch, by calling the world to transfiguration in the Holy Spirit.

The complex analyses, more or less pertinent, provided by the above-mentioned text, dwell on important moments in the historical and theological evolution of Church worship, and fundamental data on the existence and role of services in Orthodoxy, which makes the most significant part of the book. Its author starts from the premise that reform is peculiar to Orthodoxy and thus it took place in every one of its major epochs (thus conveying the idea of a complementarity between Church life, tradition and liturgical innovation), and is now more necessary than ever. The book’s title – Tradition and Renewal in Church Worship – reveals its focus: Church services and their historical evolutions, as motivations for a liturgical reform today. The themes of the three sections (preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion) is also telling. However, despite presenting important patristic and scriptural texts concerning the history of Church worship, the author seems to focus only on the reform, failing to make a clear distinction between the „renewal of liturgical life” and the „liturgical renewal”, in other words mistaking „spiritual renewal” for the „renewal of worship practices”. The book promotes the dialectics between renewal (καινοτομία) and growth (αὔξησις), somehow ignoring the fact that the latter was characteristic to patristic thought and Eastern spirituality. Therefore, the reality of the Church does not rely on the changing character of the liturgical acts and the stable character of the doctrine, but, as the Holy Fathers pointed out, on the (much more complex and mandatory) interdependence of three fundamental elements of Church life, allowed by the encounter between God and man: priesthood (= bishop) – worship (= Eucharist) – revealed truth (= the teachings of the faith).

Most attention, however, is given to the (positive or negative) perceptions of liturgical reform today – a sensitive issue, considering the diversity of opinions. Whereas for the rest of the book the author aims to identify and ascertain the theological and historical grounds for the so-called reform, in this section he attempts to theorize it. Thus the reader is „guided” step by step towards accepting the reform, which proves the book to be part of a broader project: an endeavour to analyze, identify and describe the criteria of liturgical (r)evolution. Among the elements supporting the author’s argument, we mention: the so-called extemporizing of prayers during the early Christian centuries; the emergence of new liturgical forms over time; the perpetual renewal of spiritual life; the fact that worship practices have never been uniform; the necessity to make them understood in every epoch; the intention to reach out to contemporary man; the principle of „the new” as reasserting „the old”; the unification as well as evolution always involved by worship practices; the unity in diversity; the necessity to have today’s man take active part in the religious services; the lack of liturgical education; the so-called lay priesthood; the borrowings from outside Orthodoxy and the need to eliminate them; the Kollyvades Movement as an Orthodox model for liturgical reform.

„Far-fetched” conclusions are put forward throughout the book, resulting from the rigid manner in which patristic writings are understood and applied to contemporary theological thought. On the other hand, many of the author’s remarks are quite pertinent, however the way in which they are interpreted and placed in his overall system of thought is generally inadequate. Throughout his book G.N. Philias aims to substantiate his key argument in support of his demonstration and conclusion: namely, the changes in Church ritual and history occurred freely and naturally, and are a constant trait in the life of the Church. A recurrent theme in G.N. Philias’ book is the notion of „early Church”, which captures our attention in many ways. However, the extemporaneous praying during the first Christian centuries cannot prove the necessity of a liturgical reform today. Importantly, Church services are closely related to the ideal of monastic life (purification, illumination and perfection), incessant prayer constituting a premise for attaining the monastic (= Christian) ideal, thus bearing on the entire system of services during the liturgical year. According to the Holy Fathers, access to the liturgical texts and processess is based on „spiritual discernment”, actually the norm of Orthodox spirituality.

Conveying a „logical” significance is the first step in „understanding” a text or (liturgical) reality. „Reaching” Truth, however, requires a more special, superior procedure. Theological proceedings in general have a peculiar phenomenology which, moreover, must be tuned to every person and by every person. Also, the outlook on the world – including old texts – must have a theological key, imparted precisely by the realm to which the Church belongs and which is, or ought to be, integral to her. Even more so, when both text and author belong to this theological and ecclesial realm. Therefore, the worst failure of a contemporary Orthodox theologian is estrangement or detachment from the Church and her thought.

A number of questions remain open or unsatisfactorily answered: 1) The much-discussed awareness (ἡ συνειδητοποίηση αὐτοῦ τοῦ μυστηρίου), is it tantamount to participating in, and partaking of liturgical realities? 2) To what extent is there a difference and a relationship between man’s inner renewal and „liturgical renewal”? 3) Why, in speaking of a liturgical reform, the author refers almost exclusively to Greece? 4) To what extent does liturgical renewal actually involve an artificial type of worship? 5) Should we understand that it is precisely the „rudimentary character” of worship during the early Church (might) ensure to Christians better access to God? Or that it is the „richness” and „deviations” of today’s worship that prevent a similar encounter with God, as it was at the beginnings of the Church? 6) Are canonical and non-canonical evolutions of the tipikon a result of divine economy? 7) Does the establishment of unitary worship practices in the Church, a way by which God prepares her for His Second Coming?

The paradox of liturgical renewal (as well as the patristic one) lies in the fact that it is meant to be a „restoration of the old ways”, which often did not even exist as such, but are invented through the modern interpretation. Thus what is offered is a surrogate, which is attractive simply because it is different, that is, new (καινοτομία). Of course, the adherents to this trend have their imagination and wishes to innovate fueled by a particular type of literature. In this complex context, the most significant part of this book is the description of the premises of Orthodox worship (λατρεία), illustrated with abundant and important patristic and scriptural excerpts. We note that in Orthodoxy, both the expressions of worship (movements, cult objects, various liturgical elements), and the liturgical „word” (the message conveyed by the liturgical text) play an important but not decisive role. What is decisive is God’s work that lies behind all the liturgical processes and elements which are seen, heard, perceived, as the presence of the Holy Spirit in and through them is the absolute guarantor of their authenticity.

The second part of the text, as an epilogue of sorts, discusses a material published in the non-Orthodox space (Robert F. Taft, „Between Progress and Nostalgia: Liturgical Reform and the Western Romance with the Christian East; Strategies and Realities”, in: David A. Pitt, Stefanos Alexopoulos, Christian McConnell (eds), A Living Tradition. On the Intersection of Liturgical History and Pastoral Practice. Essays in Honor of Maxwell E. Johnson, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2012, pp. 19-39), also dwelling on the liturgical reform, this time in both East and West. Here, rejecting a so-called Catholic romanticism towards the liturgical East, the author puts forth ideas such as: Orthodoxy has to undertake a liturgical reform; the priest celebrates services facing the people in the Orthodox churches also; failure to implement the reform renders Orthodox worship inflexible; the Eastern liturgical myth; renewal as a reality in the history of all Churches; the return to the past; the importance of post-patristics and contextual analysis (despite the failure of neo-patristics). Anyway the reform, although it did occur in the history of Orthodoxy, was initiated in the modern period in the West, which also discovered its modern attributes. Last but not least, modern liturgical reform is a process closely related to, and determined by, the movement of patristic and scriptural renewal.

However, the Church is not interested in finding to which extent today’s liturgical practices match yesterday’s ones, but in the extent to which today’s man can partake, through them, of the workings of God in the world and in the Church as he did before. Thus the main focus is the theological perspective and the appropriate preparation for the future of the Church. Better awareness of the communitarian unity of the Church – given her unique theological background and in view of the spiritual-eschatological cohesion it achieves (at the end of time) – and more concrete actions to preserve and capitalize on its intrinsic values would solve the problems allegedly challenging Orthodoxy and its predicament in modernity. This would entail a real theological and spiritual renewal and thus the Church would take new, major steps forward. Forms evolve and change, but contents stays the same. And if man partakes of the content, then forms too become spiritualized. Obviously, liturgical reform aims at a certain uni-formity, which will render Church worship stereotypical. A real renewal of the Church cannot depend on „life circumstances”, but the spiritual issues and the spiritual condition of the times. Thus Church worship evolves only as a result of reaching new, deeper spiritual stances. Of course, any post-Orthodox Orthodoxy can be nothing but crass orthodoxism. In other words, separating orthodoxism from Orthodoxy offers a good chance for evading the post-modern condition.

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