Friday, June 10, 2011

Quote of the Day: Fr. Thomas Hopko

There was a whole thousand years when the Church had multiple rites of praise to God. In fact, the irony is, the time when there were the most multiple rituals for the sacraments and the services was the time there was the greatest unity in doctrine and spiritual life, evangelism, et cetera. In any case, the ritual is not of the essence of the Faith. Language isn’t, calendars are not…all those things are not part of the essence of the Faith. But unless we have the desire for unity, which then would lead us to feel that we have an absolute obligation from God to distinguish between what is really essential and what is not, we are never going to be united.


  1. I have great respect for Fr. Thomas, and I agree that unity of dogmas matters more than unity of ritual. However, I disagree with classing calendar in with non-essentials like ritual and language. No Church council has ever cared about rituals or language as far I as know, but they have cared very much about calendar issues. The 1st Ecumenical Council and the local Council of Whitby are two examples. Different rituals do not divide, but different calendars do.

  2. I must confess that I don't know the issues brought forward by supporters of either the old or new style in depth, but the impression I was under was that the import of the assorted councils that dealt with calendar issues was that the Catholic Church needed to be united in its celebration of the Lord's Pascha, not that the Fathers wanted to canonize the Julian calendar as The Calendar.

    If one takes a broader view of Orthodoxy, then the old versus new dispute seems rather unnecessary. I believe the Syrians and Armenians used to follow the Julian calendar as well (the latter two now follow the new style as well), but the Copts and Ethiopians both have their own calendars (the latter derived from the former in most aspects I think) and have had them for centuries, I would imagine since well before the schism over Chalcedon's compromise.

    I personally would prefer we remain on the Julian calendar, but that would be as much for a reconciliation and convenience's sake as anything else - it gets old switching back and forth between calendars just within one's area, much less when one is traveling.

    Wasn't Whitby very much concerned with ritual? I thought it imposed the Roman Rite on Great Britain? (Or was that another council?) And the Sixth/Seventh Council was very much concerned with rituals, with an import largely lost on us today. (It forbade baptisms in rivers if I'm not mistaken and those still happen :-).)