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What Does "Common Prayer" Involve?

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  • george_cthomas
    From as early as apostolic times, according to the teaching of our Church, heresy has had devastating effects on Man. It has isolated him from God and led him
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 12, 2013
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      From as early as apostolic times, according to the teaching of our Church, heresy has had devastating effects on Man. It has isolated him from God and led him into perdition. That is why the Lord Himself and His Apostles are especially strict with «heresies of perdition»[1].

      The Fathers of the Church have always alerted us to this great danger, and, in adherence to all the Apostolic admonitions [2], they call upon Christians (especially those who are not yet fully familiarized with the faith) to not associate with heretics, because the danger threatening their salvation is certain. [3]

      Unfortunately however, there are many who –albeit lacking any essential association with the spirit of the Fathers and the life of the Church– imagine that behind prohibitions such as these lurks a hatred and hostility of the Church towards the persons of heretics. Saint Nectarios, however, when succinctly summarizing Orthodox teaching exhorts us thus: «Turn away from faithlessness and heresy and schism, and not from the faithless or the heretic or the schismatic - not the person. Abstain from the opinion, not from nature. As far as opinion is concerned, it is something alien and different; it is condemned to encounter aversion and hatred. As for nature, it is a familiar and close thing; it is deserving of mercy and sympathy and quite often, (deserving) of guardianship and care»[4]. «The prohibitions pertaining to the variform associations with heretics essentially sprang from the Church's love. In other words, the Church strove on the one hand to protect Her more robust members from the soul-destroying sickness of the cacodox and on the other hand, to alert the latter (the cacodox) with this stance of Hers and make them realize they are on the wrong path. Abstinence, therefore, from any communication with them, simultaneously had an educational character also»[5].

      When studying Patristic teaching on one's association with heretics, we notice that our Saints are especially austere and categorical in their prohibition of communication with heretics or schismatics [6] in matters of Worship and common prayer. Patristic references on the issue are multitudinous [7]. We shall not refer to the Patristic testimonies in this article, but confine ourselves exclusively to the Canonical Tradition of our Church on the issue of common prayer with heretics; in other words, we shall focus on the precise adherence (akrivia) to the Sacred Canons.

      Notes
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      [1] Matthew 7:15, Acts 20 & 29, II Corinth. 11:13, II Peter 2:1, I John 2:18, II John 7
      [2] Titus 3:10, II John 10-11
      [3] George Kapsanis, "Poemantic Ministry according to the Sacred Canons", Athens 2003, p.155-165.
      [4] Saint Nectarios Kefalas, Eugene Bulgaris: Draft on Religious Tolerance, Athens 20002, p. 21.
      [5] The struggles of the monks in favour of Orthodoxy, published by the Holy Monastery of Hossios Gregory, Holy Mountain, 2003, p.362.

      [6] «Schismatics are those who are deviate from Catholic (overall) Church, not for dogmas of the faith, but for certain issues that are ecclesiastic in nature and easily healed.» Saint Nicodemus of the holy Mountain, an interpretation of the 1st Canon of Saint Basil, Pedalion, Thessaloniki 1991, p. 588. However, given that the dividing line between schism and heresy was not discernible, «schism is confused with heresy and is often used in its place», fr.John Zizioulas, "The Unity of the Church in the Eucharist and the Bishop during the three first centuries", Athens 19902, p. 121.
      [7] as above, p. 361-376.

      Source: Orthodox Outlet For Dogmatic Enquiries


      George C. Thomas, Kuwait
    • george_cthomas
      Α. What common prayer is and what it isn t But what does the term common prayer mean? In ancient Hellenic literature, according to John Stamatakos, the
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 15, 2013
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        Α. What common prayer is and what it isn't

        But what does the term "common prayer" mean? In ancient Hellenic literature, according to John Stamatakos, the term "συνεύχομαι" (pron. syn-éfhomae) means "I wish (pray) in common with someone; I join my wishes with his" [8].

        In Patristic literature, according to G.W.H.Lampe[9] the term "συμπροσεύχομαι" (pron. syn-proséfhomae) means "I pray together, pray with", while the term "συνεύχομαι" (pron. syn-éfhomae)means (a) "I pray with" (pray together with) and also (b) "I also wish one well".

        Furthermore, we can say that we have a case of "common prayer" when:

        1. there is a coinciding of the place and the time of prayer [10] (a necessary, but not an adequate prerequisite).

        2. there is a common desire for the same purpose of performing prayer[11] (an adequate and necessary prerequisite).

        3. we participate in the development of prayer, through the observance of a common schedule of worship; i.e., when the content of benedictions or hymns is common; when there is a common response to the commands of the officiating minister[12], and also when the clergymen's liturgical attire is common. (an adequate but not necessary prerequisite)

        4. In conclusion: When, with our overall associations (with words, works, behavior), we strive to give the impression to others that we too desire to participate in their worship.

        In accordance, therefore, with the above, we cannot say that common prayer is taking place when we have a case of someone visiting or observing a certain religious ceremony, only for scientific, tourist, social reasons or for reasons of etiquette[13].

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        [8] J. Stamatakos, Lexicon of the ancient Greek Language, Athens 1972, p.950.

        [9] G.W.H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford 1961, p.1290, 1325-1326.

        [10] Of course only the simultaneous presence in the same place without any other prerequisites designated, is not adequate for the performing of common prayer; for example: the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel with the priests of Baal (III Kings 18:36); the prophet Jonah in the ship going to Tharsis (Jonah 1:5); the apostle Paul in prison, in the presence of other prisoners (Acts 16:25); the Russian representatives in the Holy Temple of Haghia Sophia in Constantinople, prior to the Christianization of the Russians.

        [11] see Apostolic Canon 64 (to enter….in order to pray) and Canon 9 of Laodicea (for the sake of a blessing or therapy).

        [12] Apostolic Canon 45, "to perform any act, as Clergymen".

        [13] Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, "the two extremes" (Ecumenism and Zealotry) Athens 1986, p. 187
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        Source: Orthodox Outlet For Dogmatic Enquiries

        George C. Thomas
        Kuwait
      • Ninan Mathai
        If one studies the heresies, one would come across the founders of heresies as good Christians and many of them were bishops. They were influenced by the Greek
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 15, 2013
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          If one studies the heresies, one would come across the founders of heresies
          as good Christians and many of them were bishops. They were influenced by
          the Greek thought which was rational. They were labelled heretics because
          their thoughts differed from those of the Patriarchs of Christianity,
          mainly the Pope of Rome.

          One cannot deny the fact that Malankara Nazranis were supported and
          nurtured by the Persian Church, which was Nestorian. So, we were heretics
          for centuries!!! If the British had not interfered with our Church and we
          had not requested the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria for support, our
          Church would have been Nestorian and would have been termed Heretic by the
          Catholics!!!

          Thus, the Malankara Church should be more tolerant to the 'Heretics'.

          Cdr Ninan P Mathai IN (Retd), Mumbai
        • ES John
          Dear Ninan Mathai, Despite we were under the Nestorians indirectly for a short while, our Orthodox faith was not at all derailed in any way. Read Malankara
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 17, 2013
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            Dear Ninan Mathai,
            Despite we were under the Nestorians indirectly for a short while, our Orthodox faith was not at all derailed in any way. Read Malankara history by E.M.Philip who had very well delineated the area that you referred to. That is why we say that God has been looking after this small flock as the temple of His eyes since the days of our apostle who only had the blessing of putting his hand into His wounds. All other apostles only saw His wounds, Lk.24. Liberators would come when we are under the yoke of sufferings.

            We should pray for the heretics to turn back and got accepted in the right faith, instead of us accepting the heresy.

            E.S.John, Australia
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