Monday 9 November 2009

Liturgy and Ecumenism

On September 18th, the 43-year-old Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, of the Russian Orthodox Church, met with Pope Benedict at Castel Gandolfo. He is the delegate of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in his relations with the Catholic Church: as it were, his 'foreign minister'. This is what he had to say about the liturgy:
As a boy of 15, I first entered the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of Holies of the Orthodox Church, but it was only after my entrance into the altar that the theourgia, the mystery and 'feast of faith' began, which continues to this very day. After my ordination, I saw my destiny and main calling in serving the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, everything else, such as sermons, pastoral care and theological scholarship, were centred around the main focal point of my life — the liturgy. 
Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard. I have had the opportunity to be present at both Protestant and Catholic services, which were, with rare exceptions, quite disappointing. Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, services have become little different from Protestant ones.
Quoted in Lead Story, Inside the Vatican Oct.09

My guess that Archbishop Hilarion and Pope Benedict understood each other very well.

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