Do we think in Jerusalem of seasons’ differences and even gaps? No… not that much. Today the Jews started to pray for rain. It should rain in the Land Of Israel. It is time. Usually it starts during the last days of the Feast of Sukkot/Tents. But right now, the land, the soil, the earth requires some heavy and quick rainfalls. Curiously, South Africa is now in Spring and rains fall a bit everywhere like blessings that have been expected for such a long wintertime – that corresponded to Northern Summer. Some weeks ago I got two books with the Roman Sunday Missal of the Roman Church of the Latins in Afrikaans. Comparing this version to the Dutch Catholic and Eastern Orthodox texts, I consider to produce the Afrikaans version of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
It is not my essential work! But I did the same work years ago into Yiddish for both the Catholic and the Orthodox rites and it was a fascinating task. In my church I celebrate in Hebrew first, then Ukrainian, Modern Russian, some Church Slavonic, Romanian, Serbian, and then Yiddish and any other tongue provided that some parishioners or faithful of different tongues participate in the ongoing Liturgy. This is why I get some Georgians (they are numerous in Israel and a bit abandoned), Finnish visitors, German, Danish, Icelandic, Spanish, Italian, French, English and all kinds of various dialects and if someone wants to read or say a specific prayer, they are all welcome to utter these in their own language and parlance. This is the universality of our very Oriental symphonic chanting.
It is very important to measure the distance that exists between the words we use to speak of divine matters and the way we often want to limit or even cancel them. The Latin Roman Catholic “Canon Missae” or First Anaphora has these words: “et omnibus orthodoxae atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus = all all those who practice the Orthodox and Catholic and Apostolic Faith”. It means a move to be like the Apostles sent to proclaim the Kingdom in a Catholic = “open to the totality” and Orthodox = “authentic, true, glorifying and correct way”.
The phrase is never correctly translated in vernacular languages. In a recent inter-faith venue, and this happens very often, the Catholic specialists of Liturgy had removed the word “Orthodox” as it is not present in most translations. We think of “Catholic and Orthodox Churches” as being separate and split bodies. Viewed from Jerusalem and curiously from Cape Town/Kaapstad, Mid-East cannot be considered that way. In Jerusalem, we have no right to split the Church any further according to multiplied colonization procedures. Let us come briefly to Luke (21:24): “And Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. This prophecy uttered by Jesus himself is never considered, at any generation concerned.
“Esperanto” pan-Slavic language that do
The collapse of the Ottomane Empire and the other Western Empires or rules in the region is an ongoing process. It started in 1914, defined in 1918 and changed the whole of the former Roman Empire regions on which the Early Church, quitting Jewish Jerusalem and also Hebrew Christianity, extended as the part of this Roman Empire East-West huge cultural Church of Greek and Latin expression. Furthermore, Greeks saints Cyril and Methodios created a Church pan-Slavic Interlanguage duplicated on Greek, which continues to question the Russian Church on her own identity and self-government.
This is why the Church of Jerusalem assembles all kinds of all the possible splits that happened throughout history. On the other hand, it is evident that we locally deeply feel the heritage of the Indivisble Roman Empire Church that split for more misunderstanding than real theological dialogue.
Christianity and colonization are aching at the present in the Mid-East. It makes sense that the present Synod on the Mid-East at Rome mirrors the scary and painful long-distance dialogue between the two wings of East and West Roman Church. We barely think in terms of universal and exact faith and theology. In 1964, Patriarch athenagoras and Pope Paul VI met on the Mount of Olives at the invitation of Patriarch Benediktos of the Greek Orthodox of Jerusalem. Patriarch Theophilos II is his heir, but the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church today are confronting the revival of the East, re-development of the many strategic regions.
Gregorios III of the Greek Melkites, who served many years in Jerusalem, mentioned at the Synod on the Mid-East that such a convention should take place in the East and in the Middle-East, even if there could be some tactical hardships. Most of the experts come from the West. The Arab world seemingly faces with possible enmity or suspection both Islam and Judaism. But it should be noted that the West Roman Church showed up in the Mid-East as foreigners who killed and murdered the natives who used to proclaim the same faith in Jesus Christ. Most Oriental “patriarchates” are considered as “joint-ventures” to the Roman See, “Communion conceded”, which the Latins would never accept if it were requested from their part toward any Oriental patriarch!
It is a venue that shows more fright and “Angst” rather that a true desire to reach unity in faith. Or, it is sad that this is the only aspect we experience locally. There is a general threat, raised from the awakeining of the Oriental Churches. Immigration provides now numerous possibilities to serve in all rites, but also the Oriental ones throughout the Middle East. This opens “scope of conquest and competition” while we should, on the other hand, be able to “believe peacefully and together” in a wide symphonic context.
The Oriental Catholic Churches are somehow enjoying the “pax romana”, a real organization. It does not preserve the traditions. The question is thus the same as at the end of the Second Council of the Vatican. It is getting to be an enormous interrogation. The Oriental patriarchs and bishops never confirmed the Council by local Synods. Many would endeavour to firstly reconnect with the Eastern Orthodox before envisioning more than a “conceded Communion” by the Bishop of Rome who abandoned his title of “Patriarch of the West”, one of the most real and actual functions he really exercises.
Indeed there are so many expatriates from the Oriental Churches all over the planet… This connects Catholic and Orthodox Churches and challenges them on the way to the One Body of the One Saviour. In this view, Ukraine appears to be a real laboratory for unity above all splits and estrangements.
We have the same situation in Jerusalem, in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. One of the most striking factors is the way many western Churches would consider to “welcome” the faithful that came to Israel from former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (Former Yugoslavia at the present, Kossovo, i.a.). Still there is no Eastern rite Byzantine clergy for these people. When the Church takes the risk, in the name of redemption, to baptize people and individuals of multi-faceted cultural backgrounds and identities, they would do that in a respectful incultural way and keep them in native Liturgy. In the East, Liturgy is the Word of God and His Teachings and never a sort of passive administration.
At this point, we are only at the wake of a real perception of the One Church as the One Body.
av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
October 15/2, 2010/7519 – Mar’heshvan 7, 5771 – 3 Thw al Qadit 1431