Monday, October 6, 2014

Wisdom Attend-Quote East and West

The West could stand to begin valuing their own history which
is too full of iconographic worship and incarnational and communal catechesis written into it's liturgy, if we could but excavate it.

"Even apart from the liturgy, church life in the East has never become an exclusively clerical preserve. Lay theologians and preachers, permanent deacons and subdeacons, lay representation in the government of the Church are all common. And the Eastern clergyman, generally married, does not belong to a social class above his flock. Go into any Greek village in the cool of a summer evening, and you will find the local papashaving an ouzo with the men of his flock, a villager distinguishable from his fellows only in coiffure and dress. Chanceries in the East are always overflowing with the laity, peasant and merchant as well as dignitary, who have come to seek a favor, redress a grievance, or to pay their respects.

This inevitably has its effect on worship, which in the East has remained a true leitourgia or public service of the whole community. Hence there is no question of any need for a ‘liturgical movement’ to bring the piety of the people back to its source in the prayer of the Church. The East has never known the separation of spirituality, theology and ecclesiology from liturgy, with the consequent denigration of piety into individualism finding its expression in private prayer, meditation, and devotions in the face of inaccessible, clericalized public rites.

Present strenuous efforts in the West to forge once again the link between individual piety and the public prayer of the Church highlight the case with which Easterners situate their spiritual life within the cadre of liturgical prayer. If we were to ask Eastern Christians which of their devotions were “private” and which “liturgical”, they would not know what we were talking about. It is all one: popular piety is liturgy, the very life of the local church."

– Robert Taft, SJ. “The Spirit of Eastern Christian Worship” in Beyond East and West: Problems in Liturgical Understanding. 2nd ed. (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 2001), 153

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