Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Blog Series

I have been asked to do a bit of history and compare/contrast on the differences between Eastern Orthodoxy and the "Eastern Catholic Churches," which have periodically been referred to as Eastern Rite Catholics or Uniate churches (more on those terms later).

This request interests me, but I have to admit that I actually do not know a whole lot about the Eastern Catholic Churches in full Communion with Rome. I have attended a Byzantine Catholic service once, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. I actually know a great deal more about Eastern Orthodoxy, as I thought very hard about converting to Orthodoxy after it became clear that God was leading me away from the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I studied Orthodoxy in some great detail, having befriended a Ukrainian Orthodox priest and deacon when I was living in Lincoln. My wife and I went to Vespers at that little church on Wednesdays quite often the first year we were married.

Long story short, I never could reconcile some Orthodox claims about Catholicity and Holy Tradition to my satisfaction, so I never swam the Bosporus, as they say, but I did thoroughly enjoy studying Orthodox theology, as it is a branch of Christianity that really evolved quite differently in theology than did the West. I have always argued that the major reason for this is that Saint Augustine, who only wrote in Latin, was not largely read in the West until really the 1400s.

The Eastern Orthodox church also had a major period known as the Iconoclastic controversies that went on few a few centuries that the West never really went through. There were various spats in the West over sacred images and idolatry, mainly coming from more Puritanical/Protestant realms, but for whatever reason, the vast theological debates and subsequent theology of icons that evolved in the East that really is quite central to Eastern Christian thought in terms of the nature of the priesthood, the liturgy, the Transfiguration, etc., never really happened in the West. Really all the discourse that happened in the West was really more, "Sacred images are wrong because we are worshiping them, which violates the Commandments, and so therefore we have to get rid of them (Not to mention they reek of Popery.)"

So, not knowing a whole lot of the history from the (Roman) Catholic side of the Eastern Catholic churches, I am going to have to do some research on that. In the intervening period, I may offer some reflections I have picked up on Iconography and Eastern Christian thought, some of which seems quite novel to Western Christians.

Hopefully, I will be continuing this series in the coming weeks.

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