Monday, July 2, 2007

Tending the weeds, pruning the shrubs, O what a happy day

Where would I be without you, the little people?

(Wait, don't answer that. I'd rather not know. Allow me to keep basking in my faux magnanimity.)

But seriously, FCA may not get a lot of comments -- something I've wondered at for years, and even once took a blog poll about -- but I do appreciate them when they come.

Here are two comments I recently caught sight of.

On June 2, 2005 I discussed my reservations about Palamite theology, viz., its actual distinction between God's essence and His energies. Recently, syriancatholic asked:

Does the term "Un-created energies" used by Palamite Orthodox, simply mean action of the Holy Trinity outside of the Holy Trinity?

I replied:

Technically, no, the term "uncreated energies" is not merely about the Holy Spirit's actions ad extra (i.e., in connection with the world outside the inner mystery of the Trinity). The term refers to the Palamite distinction between the complete nature of God and his pure essence. So, in a non-technical sense, you're right that uncreated energies are about how the Holy Spirit connects with us ad extra. But the energies are not just proper to the Holy Spirit; they are a fundamental characteristic of the three divine persons. Even before (in eternity) there was an "outside" to which the energies of God could relate, God's nature was both His essence and His energies. That, at least, is how I understand the rudiments of Palamite theology. But I might be wrong.

In response to my recent update of FCA's Eastern patristic florilegium on the papacy, a Michael commented:

I hope you considered the Eastern Catholic Churches when you decided to profess the Catholic faith.

Anyhow, as to the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome - I think this can be seen from many fathers; BUT these should not be mingled with SUPREMACY. These two concepts are entirely different. Most Orthodox can accept PRIMACY, they will not accept SUPREMACY - and the way that it is worded by many Latins, their refusal is quite understandable.

To which I replied:

I most certainly did consider entering an Eastern Catholic rite. But partially because of a lack of such rites in Taiwan and also because of a genuine affinity for the Roman Catholic tradition, I became a Roman Catholic. You'll notice in my initial comments before listing the patristic quotes, when I asked who else sounds like these Fathers, I said "outside of the Catholic Church," not "the Roman Catholic Church." It seems stranger to me that Eastern Orthodox can share virtually the same liturgical and canonical patrimony as Eastern Catholic rites, while refraining from the latter's union with the papacy, than that fully Eastern Catholics can have union with the papacy. Are you saying Eastern Orthodox are more Eastern than Eastern Catholics? Unless you are, the existence of Eastern Catholics in union with Rome is a peculiarity in need of much explanation for [sic] Easterns who refuse to maintain ecclesial unity.

As for the finer points of debating supremacy versus primacy, I am aware of that sometimes very casuistic distinction. I leave it to you to review the patristic evidence I've provided here and see how the Fathers parse the difference. Look, for example, at Epiphanius's, Chrysostom's, Asterius's, and especially Maximus's comments with an eye on the word "power".

And the beat goes on: Any comments you'd like to add about these annotated comments?

At some point we might reach a critical mass and descend into a self-referential madness that only a Borgesque biblioteca infinita could contain!

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