... & upon this rock


I often read the Daily Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary & a few of the readings are from St John Chrysostem’s homilies. Naturally i looked him up & read some of his other homilies.

Good stuff. Never thought much of him being of the Orthodox Church.

Last few days I’ve been reading here about the Orthodox Church & quite frankly I am more confused than I’ve been in a while.

Many of the beliefs the Orthodox Church holds to they claim they received from Apostolic tradition. The Catholic Church makes the same claim.

I understand the different levels of Theory (or whatever the official name is). & I accept that, more or less. But if we’re talking about things like the dormition of the BVM, the righteousness of St Joseph, how can we be so far apart if our beliefs were handed down, by word of mouth from one Apostle to his successor & to his successor after him?

There is a tradition, I believe, in the east that the Apostles came together at Mary’s death to say goodbye to her. If that is true, how can the West deny her passing?

Does the East consider St Joseph a Saint? I’ve read stories where they consider his doubt of the incarnation an obstacle. How is it that the West believe so differently.

Back to St John Chrysostom. I just read this from this homily.

If He can establish in peace a city torn by factions, how much more is He able to establish the Church! The Church is stronger than heaven. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. What words? Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Is he saying what I think he is saying? & if so, how does that explain the chasm between us now?


Theologically the eastern and western churches agree on most things.

The real debate between the two is a question of authority.


Metropolitan Kallistos Ware is highly recommended here. He has several lectures on YouTube regarding Catholic/Orthodox dialogue and differences. He sees reason for hope of reunion, and I pray he is correct. Particularly interesting are his views on purgatory, immaculate conception of Mary and a view of the pope as “supreme pastor” of the universal Church. Check him out!


Will do.

& I thank you both for your replies. But my real question, how can both Churches resolve to such different realities if they’ve been handed down knowledge from one Apostle to his successor & his successors after that.

Either BVM died or she didn’t. Surely one Apostle’s witness to the fact can’t be that different than the others.

Either St Joseph was a devout, just man or he wasn’t. The Apostle’s recollection can’t be so different one tradition would venerate St Joseph as a Saint while the other does not… right?

I mean what exactly did the Apostles hand down by word of mouth?


St Joseph is not a saint in Orthodox churches?


He may be. Me hearing he wasn’t from unapproved sources may be the reason for my confusion


St Jospeh the Betrothed is indeed a saint in the Orthodox Church. He is commemorated the Sunday after Nativity

Speaking to some of the questions above from an Orthodox perspective, it seems to me that East and West have, over the years, developed very different ways of talking about/explaining things, to the point that even when we are saying the same thing it sounds very different, even “off” to the other’s ears. It’s hard to get around that


The Latin Church has never taken a position on whether Mary died or not, and its members are free to believe that she did or that she didn’t. What the Latin Church requires its members to believe is that she was assumed bodily into heaven at the end of her life, whether this happened before bodily death occurred or after it occurred.


I take comfort in the abundance of unanimity between Catholic and Orthodox. It’s not an insignificant point. If the two churches are mostly aligned, especially on crucial matters (and I think they are), then I guess I’m ok with that. Reunion is what is desired—not finding out which is “right.” In a way, they’re both right.


[quote=“Justin_Mary, post:4, topic:534186”]
I mean what exactly did the Apostles hand down by word of mouth?
The very nature of the passage of information by word of mouth lends itself to uncertainty after the original teller of the information is passed on and no longer available for clarification. Both the Easyrrn and Western churches have been very careful to faithfully pass on information, and there is more that we agree on than we disagree on, but there are areas of significantly different understanding. I wonder if it’s one of the reasons that Sila Scriptural (aka, “where is that in the Bible?”) is so popular among some religious groups?

FWIW, I don’t think the RCC denies the dormition of Mary. I think, rather, that it’s not specified either way. As I understand it, and I’m not a scholar in this area, the major area of debate between Eastern and Western Catholicism is the authority of the Pope. As said prior, there is much hope for reconciliation.

And, yes, the RCC considers St. Joseph to be one of the greatest of saints. My husband and I both pray for his intercession for my husband as leader of our household.


To be clear, it is “communion” and not “reunion” that is sought–there was never “union”, but communion was the norm through the first millennium (and actually for centuries into the second, until folks started taking the schism more seriously. The Melkites actually managed a couple of long periods of simultaneous communion . . .



Hawk, I don’t really follow the distinction you were trying to draw. The restoration of unity is how you translate into English Unitatis Redintegratio from Vatican Council 2. Or, consider the way Pope John Paul II titled his ecumenical encyclical, ut Unum Sint- That they may be one. The restoration of full, Visible and Sacramental unity is what is sought by the Catholic Church. But if the word unity, or the phrase the restoration of unity, or the word reunion make you uncomfortable, then I suppose communion will have to do for you.


Understood. My intention is not to find out who is right. I’ll try to express my question one more time.

Using the example of Mary’s dormition, if this is something that was handed down from Apostle to successor, why are their accounts different? If an Apostle told a Bishop Mary died, why would another Apostle tell another Bishop, “Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.”

If an Apostle told a Bishop Mary was born free from original sin why would another Apostle tell another Bishop she was purified at the moment of the incarnation?

If one Apostle told a Bishop to use unlearned bread, why would another Apostle tell another Bishop to use leavened bread?

If an Apostle told a Bishop the Bishop of Rome has primacy over the Church, why would another Apostle tell another Bishop the Bishop of Rome is merely first among equals.

Again, I’m not asking who is right, I’m asking about Apostolic Tradition.


Doctrine is culturally, historically, and linguistically conditioned–the experience of each particular Church shapes how it understands first level theology or theologia prima.



Unity never meant union; it meant that the churches were in communion. Union would be merging into a single church or hierarchy. That all be one means that the One Holy and Apostolic Church will once again be its constituent churches in communion with each other.

Union would be the “under the pope” thinking of a single particular church–which will not be happening.

Ever played “telephone”?

Why does the Good Thief only appear on one gospel, while all the others mock Him in the others?

Why is the Last Supper on Wednesday in John and on Passover in the synoptics?

Why do you think these are inconsistent? Both were true in the first millennium.

Primacy doesn’t have to mean absolute authority over the others. In fact, it doesn’t have to include any authority; out could mean “first among equals.” . . .



Not with the Holy Spirit, no.


You’re quibbling about the difference between “union” and “unity,” which is a distinction that doesn’t make a difference. The only thing you could be assuming here is that my use of the work “union” is loaded. It isn’t. I mean unity. It is clear that the Orthodox will never accept juridical authority of the pope over all the Sees. Both sides will have to give for reunion (or re-unity, as you like it). Sorry you took me to be saying something I wasn’t, but that probably happens a lot in these discussions! :v:t3:


Good. But the standard usage of “union” or “reunion” by Catholics in this context is not what you mean. This is hardly a new conversation here; these terms have been used for a long time . . . if you use the term near anyone who has been involved in the discussion for a while, you’ll get this same reaction.


I’m not new to the ecumenical discussions between Catholic and Orthodox. But I am in the Catholic camp, so I’m willing to admit that I didn’t realize that for some, “union” means something other than the restoration of full, visible, sacramental unity. You suggest that it means juridical union only under Rome. Ok…


I’m not sure that the Latin Church denies this. From apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” it kind of leaves it open to interpretation. However, most Roman Catholic scholars believe that it was the consensus of the early Church that she did pass away.

Dr. Ludwig Ott in his piece Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma writes, “common opinion” of the tradition that the the Virgin Mary died.

Pope Pius, writing about the early Christians states, “that the great Mother of God … had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes.”


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