Ecclesiology of the early church: eucharistic or universal?

Part 1

First the material that inspired this post.

From the opening statement of Eastern Orthodox Chris in a debate with Catholic apologist Scott Windsor:

What is Primacy?

At an Eastern Church service where multiple clergy are present, every bishop and priest has a position of rank, and each takes his position in the service based on that. This doesn’t mean that the higher ranks lord it over the lower ranks. It is an honorary status, a right to chair a meeting if you are the highest rank present. Some quotes will shed light on the early church’s understanding of Peter’s primacy:

Peter and John were equal in dignity and honour. Christ is the foundation of all - the unshakable rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice. ~Cyril of Alexandria to Nestorius.

He has not the primacy over the disciples but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons. ~Augustine, Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.

But observe how Peter does everything with common consent; nothing imperiiously. ~John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12

To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power (parem potestatem) and says "As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you: " ~Cyprian, De Unitate 4.

For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose… when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, claim anything to himself unsolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held a primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed by novices and those lately come. Cyprian, Epistle LXX concerning the baptism of heretics.

In the administration of the Church each bishop has the free discretion of his own will, having to account only to the Lord for his actions. None of us may set himself up as bishop of bishops., nor compel his brothers to obey him; every bishop of the Church has full liberty and complete power; as he cannot be judged by another, neither can he judge another (Cyprian’s opening address to the Council of Carthage.

… through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the church is founded upon the bishops and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this then is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church. ~Cyprian to the Lapsed, Epistle XXVI.

Where were the cries of heresy to these statements of Cyprian and others if the Bishop of Rome were the supreme head of the Church?

Peter and the Rock

A large part of the Catholic claim about the position of the Pope comes from the claim that Peter is the rock upon which Christ builds his Church as per Matthew 16:18. … [S]ome Catholic apologists will say that we can’t distinguish between Peter’s confession and Peter himself. This makes no sense at all, because his confession is one that every Christian confesses, it is not unique to Peter. But in any case, it is the Fathers themselves who clearly distinguish between Peter and his confession, so we need not speculate on this:

Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was NOT OF THE PERSON but of the faith of St Peter that is was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, it is the confession of faith that has vanquished hell. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He did not deny the grace of His name when he called him Peter, because he borrowed from the rock the constancy and solidity of his faith. Endeavor then thyself to be a rock - thy rock is thy faith and faith is the foundation of the Church. If thou art a rock, thou shall be in the Church, for the Church is build upon the rock" ~St Ambrose, On the Incarnation.

“Rock is the unity of faith, not the person of Peter.” ~St Cyprian, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, cap. 4-5

More to the point, of all the Fathers who interpret these passages in the Gospels (Matt 16:18, John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors.

Part 2

From a This Rock article by Catholic writer and convert Ray Ryland:

The Orthodox Church, says Alexander Schmemann, has branded Catholic teaching about the papacy as “heretical.”[Alexander Schmemann, “The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology,” in John Meyendorff, Alexander Schmemann, Nicolas Afanassief, Nicolas Koulomzine, The Primacy of Peter (London: Faith Press, 1963), 36f. Schmemann does not tell us how this declaration was made.] An encyclical letter issued by the Eastern Patriarchs in 1848 taught that “papism” is a heresy comparable to the fourth-century heresy Arianism. A Russian theologian reminds us that this encyclical “is still considered a document of belief for the Orthodox Church.”[Alexis Stavrovsky, “The Papacy and the Orthodox Church” in Diakonia (vol. 3, no. 3 [1968]), 312.]

To draw out Eastern interpretations of the papacy, it will be necessary to start not with the scriptural record but with a particular doctrine of the Church. This doctrine is the presupposition used by most modern Eastern apologists for interpreting the biblical material on Peter. “Eucharistic ecclesiology” is the title given by its proponents to the doctrine we are going to consider. It has been espoused by prominent Eastern theologians in recent decades. Meyendorff says that in contemporary Eastern thinking about the Church “there is remarkable agreement” in focusing on Eucharistic ecclesiology. Indeed, he regards this doctrine as “the basis, the nucleus of Orthodox ecclesiology itself.”[Catholicity and the Church,134, 135.]

Nicolas Afanassief (1893-1966) is generally credited with being founder of this school of thought. He claims Eucharistic ecclesiology is not new but ancient. In setting forth this doctrine, he says, he is only recovering the Church’s original way of understanding herself. At some point in the third century–Afanassief holds Cyprian of Carthage responsible–the Church went off on an ecclesiological sidetrack. According to him (though not in these terms), the Church traveled that sidetrack for over sixteen centuries, until he and his followers brought her back on the main line.

Eucharistic ecclesiology focuses on the local church, t he local Eucharistic communi ty, as the real Church. (As in Catholic terminology, for Eastern theologians “the local church” is the diocese under the direction of its bishop.) Proponents of this doctrine take as their starting-point part of a sentence from a letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the church in Smyrna. Ignatius wrote, in a famous line, “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”“Letter to the Smyrnaeans” (James A. Kleist, S.J., translator, The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch [Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1949]), section 8. ]These words, says Meyendorff, mean that “the Catholic Church is the fullness of the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist.”[Catholicity and the Church, 134f.]

In other words, in the first three centuries each local church was regarded as “the Church of God in all its fullness.” The fullness of being belongs to the local church, “and outside it nothing is, for nothing can have being outside Christ.” The basic principle of Eucharistic ecclesiology, in other words, is that “the unity and fullness of the Church attach to the notion of a local church, and not to the fluid and indefinite notion of the Universal Church.”[Nicolas Afanassief, “The Church Which Presides in Love” (Meyendorff et al., The Primacy of Peter), 74, 75,76.]

Eucharistic ecclesiology’s advocates distinguish it from what they call “universal ecclesiology.” The two are mutually exclusive. Universal ecclesiology is Catholic ecclesiology, “crowned,” says Schmemann, “by the Vatican dogma of 1870.”

According to Catholic universal ecclesiology, the Church as organism is expressed adequately only in “the universal structure of the Church, its universal unity.” The Church (in the full, true sense of the term) is the “sum of all local churches, which all together constitute the Body of Christ.” Universal ecclesiology conceives of the Church in terms of the whole and its parts. Each local church is only a part of the Church; it is Church only because it is part of the whole.[Schmemann, 35.]

Advocates of Eucharistic ecclesiology deny what they regard as a parts-and-whole mentality. The local church is not a part or member of a wider universal organism; it is simply “the Church.” In the Eucharist we have the whole Christ, not a part of him. Therefore the Church which is “actualized in the Eucharist” cannot be simply a member or a part of the whole; it can only be “the Church of God in her wholeness.”[Ibid., 38.]

If we believe in the indivisibility of Christ’s Body,then we must believe that fullness of the Church is to be found in each of the local churches.[Afanassief, 75.] As Meyendorff expresses it, if the local church is only part of a universal Church, then Christ is only partially present in each local community. But the notion of a partial presence is “utterly alien” to the theology of Paul.[John Meyendorff, Orthodoxy and Catholicity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966), 4.] Consistently, these theologians argue that the word ekklesia (Greek for “church”) in the New Testament always refers to the local church, not to something called universal Church.

Part 3

As noted earlier, supporters of Eucharistic ecclesiology admit that, since the third century, universal ecclesiology has held sway in Eastern canonical practice and thinking. Cyprian of Carthage is responsible, they say, for the Church’s having operated on the basis of a faulty ecclesiology for sixteen centuries. Can it be true that the Church has been so wrong so long on a basic doctrine? What happened to Christ’s promise to lead her into all truth?

Why did no one before Afanassief detect Cyprian’s allegedly disastrous error? Speaking of the authoritative role of the Church Fathers, Meyendorff acknowledges that “each father may have had his own one-sided views of the mystery of Christ, and he must then be corrected by the consensus.”[Meyendorff, Catholicity and the Church, 79f.] Where was the consensus in Cyprian’s day? Why did it not correct such far-reaching error (as is supposed) as his?

If the Fathers of the third century were as vigilant as Meyendorff seems to believe, and if their “consensus” (whatever that may be) did not question Cyprian’s views, then those views must have been acceptable to the “consensus.” Universal ecclesiology, rather than twentieth-century Eucharistic ecclesiology, therefore was the original and authentic understanding of the Church as a whole.

Turn now to the other reason the Eastern local-church ecclesiologists reject universal ecclesiology. The clearest statements are in the writings of Afanassief and Schmemann. They insist that Eastern theologians who operate from the working assumptions of universal ecclesiology (and a great many still do) simply cannot refute Rome’s claims for the papacy. Universal ecclesiology leads logically to Roman primacy as Rome understands it.

One argument popular in Eastern apologetics is that the Church can have no visible head because Christ is her invisible head. Schmemann flatly rejects the argument, branding it “theological nonsense.” Followed consistently, the argument would also eliminate the office of the bishop as the visible head of each local church.

If universal ecclesiology is true, says Schmemann, “the need for and the reality of a universal head, i.e. the Bishop of Rome,” becomes “not only acceptable but necessary.” Clearly reflecting Catholic teaching, he declares, “If the Church is a universal organism, she must have at her head a universal bishop as the focus of her unity and the organ of supreme power.” Again, there can be no denying that if universal ecclesiology is true, “then the one, supreme, and universal power as well as its bearer become a self-evident necessity because this unique, visible organism must have a unique, visible head.”[Schmemann, 36.]

Furthermore, in universal ecclesiology not only is primacy in the Catholic sense necessary. That primacy “is of necessity power and, by the same necessity, a divinely instituted power; we have all this in a consistent form in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Church.”[Ibid.] Afanassief concurs by saying that in universal ecclesiology, “a unique, personal power founded on rights is a necessity. You cannot construct a universal ecclesiology without admitting the idea of primacy.”[Afanassief, op. cit. 107.] A Catholic can only say “Amen!”

Afana ssief and his follower s admit that universal ecclesiology has been the framework for Eastern canonical practice and doctrine. It certainly has its defenders today in Eastern churches, especially the Greek Church. P. N. Trempelas has written a vigorous refutation of Eucharistic ecclesiology and its presuppositions,[Bernard Schultze, S.J., “The Primacy of Peter and His Successors According to the Principles of Universal and Eucharistic Ecclesiologies” (Diakonia, vol. 4, no. 4 [1969]), 341-345.] though from an anti- papal perspective.

The advocates of Eucharistic ecclesiology seem to be in the majority today. Yet they readily grant that universal ecclesiology (non-papal, of course) has dominated Eastern teaching and canonical practice for sixteen or more centuries. So who is right? What is the official position of what we commonly but loosely call “Eastern Orthodoxy”?

Now the questions for your consideration:

  1. Did Cyprian believe in eucharistic or universal ecclesiology? One Eastern Orthodox claims him for his cause, while others of the same faith apparently fault Cyprian for “taking the proto-Catholic position”!

  2. If universal, rather than eucharistic, ecclesiology was really in play in the patristic era, what concrete evidence can be brought forward to demonstrate this? Giving me particular pause are the comments in this thread–specifically posts 19 and 21-24–which are coincident with the lack of a convincing case that I’ve encountered so far for Catholic ecclesiology in the early church.

Is this issue so obscure that Pope Benedict XVI himself should be called in to comment? :stuck_out_tongue:

At this rate I may end up starting Eastern Orthodox catechesis next fall… unless James Likoudis’s books are the “silver bullet” in the arsenal of Catholic claims about the papacy…?

I still don’t understand what eucharistic and universal ecclesiology are.

Did you manage to plough through the three opening posts?

If not, I’ll summarize the two notions:

  • Eucharistic ecclesiology: the local church is an expression of the church in full. It must be in communion with other churches which share the same faith, but each diocese is equal in authority throughout the whole world.

  • Universal ecclesiology: the local church is an expression of the church in part. It must be in communion with at least the one other church schism from which would potentially involve grave sin and lead to inherent illegitimacy or deficiency, which is the diocese in authority over the whole world.

This is a difficult topic, but the true ecclesiology of the early church will be a huge factor in determining whether many others and I will be Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.

Dear brother Trebor,

Thank you for the invitation to this thread. Forgive me for not getting back to you sooner. I will definitely be joining this discussion, but not until this weekend.

General comment:
AFAIK, Catholic ecclesiology is a mixture of eucharistic ecclesiology and universal ecclesiology. Catholic ecclesiology officially recognizes the FULL ecclessiastical reality of the local Church headed by the local bishop, but ALSO understands that each local Church is part of a larger body.

It appears that the term “universal ecclesiology” was imposed on the Catholic position by the EO proponents of the debate. But it is a sheer mischaracterization to try to pidgeonhole Catholic ecclesiology to merely “universal ecclesiology,” as the EO apologists present it.

I do not see how you can find the EO argument for “Eucharistic ecclesiology” to be compelling, especially as (1) the EO apologists admit that the early Church worked on the principle of “universal ecclesiology” (or what they call “universal ecclesiology,” at any rate), and (2) there are EO apologists who propose “universal ecclesiology,” as well. On the face of it, “eucharistic ecclesiology” looks like nonsense to me. It is impossible for any single local Church to be self-sufficient BECAUSE it is part of a body. Any Apostolic Christian who accepts the reality of the Ecumenical Council - which represents an authority that goes beyond the local Church - could not possibly adhere to a “eucharistic ecclesiology.”

This will inevitably turn into a discussion between the Low, High, and Absolutist Petrine views. The Low Petrine view is represented by what is termed as “Eucharistic ecclesiology”; the Absolutist Petrine view would be represented by “universal ecclesiology”; the High Petrine view, the actual position of the Catholic Church, is represented by a combination of both.

I’ll be looking forward to discussing the matter with you.

Blessings,
Marduk

I’ll unashamedly ride the coat-tails of Marduk’s excellent summation of the two seemingly contrasting positions as ‘created’ by the EO apologist.

In truth, they are interwoven and exist in harmony on the ‘Roman’ side of the road.

EVERY Bishop is the head of his diocese, complete and whole. But he and the diocese do not exist in a vacuumn with an understanding that the Holy Spirit will guide them in all things without need of any other human contact or input.

Every bishop understands that they are part of a body of worshippers throughout the globe. He is free to consult with the nearest bishop(s) - if he wishes - to resolve some concerns or issues in his diocese, or for his own peace of mind!

The question then is, what if they are at odds with one or each other?

Councils. Can a local council decide on it’s own what/how to do in the Pacific, for instance? Most assuredly!

Can 25 bishops, whether unanimous or by majority vote, be correct in all matters Christian for the Pacific and carry on in blissful oblivion? Probably, if there were no other bishops claiming the same faith and belief throughout the globe.

Where to then for clarification?
Global / Ecumenical council, or simply seek ratification from the ‘source’ of our practice or beliefs.

Where’s that? Rome or EO?
Well now, let’s see. If we attended a council with the EO our numbers of bishops swell and by majority we might feel we’re on the right track!..but that leaves those like us in the ‘Roman’ side out! If we attended the ‘Roman’ council or seek ratification just from the Vatican, we leave the EO side out!

What do we do?
Evidence of pedigree!
Prior to the Bible being compiled there were about 40 Popes. Prior to the EO ‘existing’ there were about 150 Popes. The current one is number 266.

Why is that important? Roman bishop, specifically?
Because we base our faith on the proclamations of Pete, who revealed our Source to humanity. He died as bishop of Rome and that became the Seat of our faith.

But Pete is dead.
The office remains as seat, just as any monach’s seat remains WHERE it is located upon their death.

Nah. We’d rather stick with our ‘original’ 25 bishops then!
So we become like the EO?

We’ll just stick to our one bishop and what he says then!
So we become self governing and self correcting like the protestants?

So we go to Rome for ratification then?
Sound advice.

:cool:

Dear brother Trebor,

Permit me now to respond to the statements you gave from non-Catholic apologists:

Peter and John were equal in dignity and honour. Christ is the foundation of all - the unshakable rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice. ~Cyril of Alexandria to Nestorius.

The High Petrine view does not deny that the Apostles were equal in dignity and honor; but this is not the same thing as being equal in responsibility. Christ definitely gave to Peter a responsibility that he did not give to the other Apostles, even though they were all equal in dignity and honor. This unique responsibility is the basis for the office of the head bishop (on whatever level of the hierarchy – metropolitan, patriarch, pope, primate, etc.).

He has not the primacy over the disciples but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons. ~Augustine, Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.

As an adherent to the High Petrine view, I am in full agreement with this statement. Primacy (or Supremacy – as an Oriental Christian, they are the same thing to me) can only be exercised within the context of collegiality.

But observe how Peter does everything with common consent; nothing imperiiously. ~John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12

Amen to this, too. This statement from St. Chrysostom is perfectly aligned with the High Petrine view of the Catholic Church (though it is at odds with the exaggerated position of Absolutist Petrine Catholics).

To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power (parem potestatem) and says "As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you: " ~Cyprian, De Unitate 4.

Amen to this, too. This is the official Catholic position. Many non-Catholics, and Absolutist Petrine Catholics, for that matter, make a big deal about the greater jurisdictional prerogatives of the bishop of Rome. But these persons forget that the Catholic Church teaches that the episcopal hierarchy of the Church possesses two powers –the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction. Catholicism affirms that (1) the power of orders is GREATER than the power of jurisdiction, and (2) EVERY bishop possesses the power of orders in its HIGHEST degree. In terms of the power of orders, each bishop is SUPREME in his own local diocese. This EO apologist doesn’t know enough about the Catholic Faith if he thinks this statement from St. Cyprian contradicts ANY Catholic teaching.

For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose… when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, claim anything to himself unsolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held a primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed by novices and those lately come. Cyprian, Epistle LXX concerning the baptism of heretics.

Amen! The Pope is not above correction. St. Robert Bellarmine himself, a doctor of the Church, affirmed that if the Pope is found to be tearing down the Church, we are morally bound to oppose and correct him. Low Petrine detractors, and Absolutist Petrine exaggerators, like to take little snippets from the Vatican 1 decrees, wrench them from their proper context within Sacred Tradition, and even from the comments of the V1 Fathers themselves, and think that every decree of the Pope cannot be challenged. This is simply not true. And I am more than willing to challenge and refute any misinterpretation that Low or Absolutist Petrine advocates impose on the Decrees of the First Vatican Council.

In the administration of the Church each bishop has the free discretion of his own will, having to account only to the Lord for his actions. None of us may set himself up as bishop of bishops., nor compel his brothers to obey him; every bishop of the Church has full liberty and complete power; as he cannot be judged by another, neither can he judge another (Cyprian’s opening address to the Council of Carthage)

Low Petrine advocates wrench this statement from St. Cyprian out of context. St. Cyprian was here referring only to matters of local governance and discipline. Elsewhere (e.g., in one of his letters against the Donatists), he affirms that in terms of doctrine, the Church of Rome COULD NOT err, and others must be in agreement with her. There is nothing here, once again, that violates the principles of the High Petrine view, though the Absolutist Petrine view would certainly have problems with it.

… through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the church is founded upon the bishops and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this then is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church. ~Cyprian to the Lapsed, Epistle XXVI.

This statement is perfectly reflected in the Vatican 1 document De ecclesia (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), one of the Decrees prepared by the Committee De Fide, but was not voted on due to time constraints. This ordinary, universal Magisterial teaching is explicitly present in the Decrees of Vatican 2, which completed Vatican 1. Again, this EO apologist does not know enough about the Catholic Faith if he thinks this statement from St. Cyprian can impugn the Truths of the Catholic Faith in any way.

CONTINUED

CONTINUED

Where were the cries of heresy to these statements of Cyprian and others if the Bishop of Rome were the supreme head of the Church?

First of all, no cries of heresy would come from the Catholic Church because the official position of the Catholic Church is High Petrine, not Absolutist Petrine. These previous statements are perfectly consonant with the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is only the exaggerated position of the Absolutist Petrine view that would have problems with these gems from Sacred Tradition.

Secondly, so what if we call the bishop of Rome the “supreme head?” “Supreme” is not the same thing as “absolute.” It does not have that meaning even in common English parlance, so I don’t know why this EO apologist wants to impose that meaning on it. We Orientals (Orthodox and Catholic) use the term “supreme” of our head bishops regularly, and we always understand it in its proper meaning and context – to us, it means only “highest,” not “highest and only,” and we never wrench that term out of its proper collegial context. Low Petrine dectrators and Absolutist Petrine exaggerators are pulling rabbits out of a hat by imposing a meaning on the term “supreme” that is not there to begin with.

A large part of the Catholic claim about the position of the Pope comes from the claim that Peter is the rock upon which Christ builds his Church as per Matthew 16:18. … [S]ome Catholic apologists will say that we can’t distinguish between Peter’s confession and Peter himself. This makes no sense at all, because his confession is one that every Christian confesses, it is not unique to Peter. But in any case, it is the Fathers themselves who clearly distinguish between Peter and his confession, so we need not speculate on this:

Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was NOT OF THE PERSON but of the faith of St Peter that is was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, it is the confession of faith that has vanquished hell. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He did not deny the grace of His name when he called him Peter, because he borrowed from the rock the constancy and solidity of his faith. Endeavor then thyself to be a rock - thy rock is thy faith and faith is the foundation of the Church. If thou art a rock, thou shall be in the Church, for the Church is build upon the rock" ~St Ambrose, On the Incarnation.

“Rock is the unity of faith, not the person of Peter.” ~St Cyprian, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, cap. 4-5

This comment represents a caricature of the Catholic position. The notion of “Peter” in general Catholic understanding does not refer to a person per se, but to a charism, a charism based on a promise of Christ Himself to His Church. The notion of “Peter” in Catholic understanding goes beyond the person. That is why the Official Relatio of Vatican 1 explained, in relation to the papal infallibility, that it is not normatively regarded as “personal,” but only in a very limited sense that it is utilized by a certain person (the bishop of Rome) WHEN and ONLY WHEN he is performing a certain God-established function in the Church. It is NOT attached to the person who holds the office, but to the office itself. When Catholics say that “Peter is the Rock,” we are not saying that Simon is the Rock. Rather, we are referring to a certain God-protected charism that attaches to a particular office/role in the Church established by Christ for the edification of His Church. That is the significance of why our Lord changed Simon’s name to Peter. “Peter” is something beyond Simon that is connected to something more than the person who is Simon.

It is true that Catholic apologists will sometimes coin the phrase “the person of Peter,” but it should be noted that this is simply and always for the purpose of distinguishing the “person of Peter” from (merely) “the person of Simon.” To repeat, in the Catholic understanding, the “person of Peter” does not refer to a mere person, but to a quality pre-eminently and intimately related to the Rock (Petra) Who is Christ.

I would also like to add a comment to Fr. Ray Ryland’s good analysis and refutation of the “Eucharistic ecclesiology” of certain Eastern Orthodox. When you think about it, the term “Eucharistic ecclesiology” is actually more applicable to Catholic ecclesiology than EO ecclesiology (at least certain circles within EO’xy). It is a fact that the Eucharistic THEOLOGY of the Catholic Church is more perfectly aligned with its own ecclesiology than that of the EO. According to the Catholic Faith, the Eucharist, anywhere, and everywhere, represents the WHOLE Christ (body, blood, soul and divinity); the Blood (wine) OR the Body (bread) separately OR together represents the WHOLE Christ; even the smallest particle of the Eucharist (Blood OR Body) represents the WHOLE Christ. This is the doctrine of concomitance, which is not perfectly believed by the Orthodox Churches (i.e., many in the Orthodox Churches deny it). This is a great mystery (I’m referring to the doctrine of concomitance, not the Orthodox (some) denial of it), and it is perfectly reflected in the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, NOT the Eastern Orthodox Church, for Catholic ecclesiology, in perfect accord with its Eucharistic theology, asserts that each local Church is a FULL representation of the Church, yet does not deny that the Church in its fullness also exists on a more expansive, universal level. Unless, and until, the Orthodox Churches (not in communion with Rome) fully and officially adhere to the doctrine of concomitance, I don’t believe that they can properly claim the term “Eucharistic” to apply to their ecclesiology.

Blessings,
Marduk

You seem not to understand the Orthodox or their Eucharistic theology . Perhaps you should stick to explaining how Catholics view the Eucharist, and allow for some Orthodox posters to explain how they view the Eucharist.

For the Orthodox, the Eucharist is the mystery. All mysteries are a means of dispensing grace (to use Latin terminology), but the Eucharist alone is unique in its function. The entire Divine Liturgy as an act exists outside of space and time, and as such, the Liturgy is for us both a foretaste of things to come, but even more importantly, it joins us in the celebration of the age to come which has already occurred when the Liturgy takes place, since the Liturgy is our departure from temporal existence.

Everything in the Divine Liturgy, from the litanies to the hymns and prayers, takes place as part of this vision that the participants are leaving temporal existence and becoming a part of the age to come, and then departing from it (that is, leaving it at the dismissal). The celebration of the Eucharist then, and the commemoration of hierarchy at the Divine Liturgy is for the Orthodox the primary gesture or act of unity, which is achieved through holding one faith in common, as those who celebrate the Eucharist together literally enter the Kingdom of God and sit at one common table to partake of His body and blood.

It is from this perspective that each local church in Orthodoxy can paradoxically be both the whole Church and yet part of the whole Church. The journey to eternity and into the mysterious Kingdom of the Lord is both what bestows upon each community which celebrates the Eucharist the wholeness of the Church, yet also unites these communities into the Oneness of the Church.

That’s what the Catholic Church teaches too. So I don’t know why this EO apologist that is being referred to in this thread is trying to claim that EO have a “Eucharistic ecclesiology” but the CC does not.

But I do still believe that the doctrine of concomitance makes the Catholic ecclesiology more Eucharistic, for it is in that doctrine that the idea of “separate yet whole” is more explicit.

I don’t know why you keep accusing me of generalizing Orthodox teaching. I know many Orthodox who believe in the doctrine of concomitance, as I explicitly implied in my post. I made no suggestion that the Orthodox have a “primitive” doctrine on the matter, only that not all Orthodox believe the doctrine of concomitance. Did I say something false? It seems you are simply trying to score points with the audience by accusing me of doing something bad, when I did not actually do what you are accusing me of.

Blessings,
Marduk

I apologize if that wasn’t your intention, that’s just how it came off. I think it’s noteworthy to point out that not all Orthodox really think Afanasiev’s Eucharistic Ecclesiology is correct or really complete. John Zizioulas is certainly one of them. There is really no one proper teaching on Ecclesiology (and there probably shouldn’t be, as the Church is a great mystery herself) within Orthodoxy at this time. If it ever reaches a point where it is hotly contested enough, I am sure there will be a council to settle the matter.

Sorry to dig this up from late last year, but what you described here is exactly how Catholics understand the mass! See…? We have much more in common than we think. :wink:

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