Friday, April 30, 2010

Quotes from St. Justin Popovich on the Papacy and the Apostolicity of the Church

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Fresco from Decani Monastery of Christ appearing to the Apostles after the Resurrection (taken from: http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/AfterResurrection/CX4K3061_l.html)

I've been wanting to include various quotes from our Righteous Father Justin Popovich for a while, but for one reason or another, I haven't gotten to. However, the announcement that I saw today (see: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/04/fr-justin-popovich-fr-simeon-of-dajbabe.html), that on May 2nd he will officially be proclaimed a Saint by the Serbian Orthodox Church, gives me an extra incentive to do so. May we all have his blessing!
  
Quotes from St. Justin Popovich on the Papacy
"In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope.

The principal characteristic of falling into sin is always the same: wanting to be good for one's own sake; wanting to be perfect for one's own sake; wanting to be God for one's own sake. In this manner, however, man unconsciously equates himself to the devil, because the devil also wanted to become God for his own sake, to put himself in the place of God. And in this self-elevation he instantly became devil, completely separated from God, and always in opposition to Him.

Therefore, the essence of sin, of every sin (svegreha), consists of this arrogant self-aggrandizement. This is the very essence of the devil himself, of Satan. It is nothing other than one's wanting to remain within one's own being, wanting nothing within one's self other than oneself. The entire devil is found here: in the desire to exclude God, in the desire to always be by himself, to always belong only to himself, to be entirely within himself and always for himself, to be forever hermetically sealed in opposition to God and everything that belongs to God.

And what is this? It is egotism and self-love embraced in all eternity, that is to say: it is hell. For that is essentially what the humanist is - entirely within himself, by himself, for himself, always spitefully closed in opposition to God. Here lies every humanism, every hominism. The culmination of such satanically oriented humanism is the desire to become good for the sake of evil, to become God for the sake of the devil. It proceeds from the promise of the devil to our forefathers in Paradise—that with his help, "they would become as gods" (Gen. 3: 5). Man was created with theanthropic potential by God who loves mankind, so that he might voluntarily direct himself, through God, toward becoming God-man, based on the divinity of his nature. Man, however, with his free will sought sinlessness through sin, sought God through the devil. And assuredly, following this road he would have become identical with the devil had not God interceded in His immeasurable love of mankind and in His great mercy.

By becoming man, that is to say God-man, he redirected man toward the God-man. He introduced him to the Church which is his body, to the reward (podvig) of theosis through the holy mysteries and the blessed virtues. And in this manner he gave man the strength to become "a perfect man, in the measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), to achieve, that is, the Divine destiny, to voluntarily become God-man by grace.

The fall of the pope is a consequence of the desire to substitute man for the God-man...In the kingdom of humanism the place of the God-man had been usurped by the Vicarius Christi, and the God-man has thus been exiled to Heaven. This surely results in a peculiar deincarnation of Christ the God-man, does it not?

Through the dogma of infallibility the pope usurped for himself, that is for man, the entire jurisdiction and all the prerogatives which belong only to the Lord God-man. He effectively proclaimed himself as the Church, the papal church, and he has become in her the be-all and end-all, the self-proclaimed ruler of everything. In this way the dogma of the infallibility of the pope has been elevated to the central dogma (svedogma) of the papacy. And the pope cannot deny this in any way as long as he remains pope of a humanistic papacy."
(From "Reflections on the Infallibiity of European Man" in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1994, Asterios Gerostergios, ed.; from: http://www.monachos.net/forum/showthread.php?t=5003&highlight=infallibility)
  
"In Western Europe, Christianity has been gradually metamorphosed, to humanism. Over a long period of time and with perseverance, the Divine-Human [God-man] has steadily been diminishing. He has been changed, He has been narrowed down and finally reduced to a mere man: to the “infallible” man in Rome and the equally "infallible" men in London and Berlin.

This is how Papism came into being, by stripping Christ of everything, just as Protestantism similarly did, by asking little of Christ, and quite often, nothing at all.

Both in Papism and in Protestantism, man has replaced the Divine-Human Christ, both as the highest value and the highest criterion.

Painstaking and deplorable changes to the Divine-Human's work and teachings have been accomplished. Papism has steadily and persistently been striving to substitute the Divine Man with a mortal man, until finally, in its dogma defining the infallibility of (a mere mortal) the pope, the Divine-Human Christ was once and for all substituted by an ephemeral, "infallible" man; because thanks to this dogma, the pope was decisively and clearly pronounced as being something superior – not only to all men, but even to the holy Apostles, the holy Fathers, and the holy Ecumenical Councils. With this kind of deviation from the Divine-Human Christ, from the ecumenical Church which is the Divine-Human’s organism, Papism outdid even Luther, the founder of Protestantism.

Therefore, the first radical protest that was voiced in the name of humanism but against the Divine-Human Christ and his Divine-Human organism—the Church—should be sought in Papism, not in Lutheranism. Papism is in fact the first and the oldest form of Protestantism."
(http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/papismos.htm)
  

The Apostolicity of the Church
"The holy apostles were the first god-men by grace. Like the Apostle Paul each of them, by his integral life, could have said of himself: "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). Each of them is a Christ repeated; or, to be more exact, a continuation of Christ. Everything in them is theanthropic because everything was recieved from the God-man. Apostolicity is nothing other than the God-manhood of the Lord Christ, freely assimilated through the holy struggles of the holy virtues: faith, love, hope, prayer, fasting, etc. This means that everything that is of man lives in them freely through the God-man, thinks through the God-man, feels through the God-man, acts through the God-man and wills through the God-man. For them, the historical God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the supreme value and the supreme criterion. Everything in them is of the God-man, for the sake of the God-man, and in the God-man. And it is always and everywhere thus. That for them is immortality in the time and space of this world. Thereby are they even on this earth partakers of the theanthropic eternity of Christ.

This theanthropic apostolicity is integrally continued in the earthly successors of the Christ-bearing apostles: in the holy fathers. Among them, in essence, there is no difference: the same God-man Christ lives, acts, enlivens and makes them all eternal in equal measure, He Who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Through the holy fathers, the holy apostles live on with all their theanthropic riches, theanthropic worlds, theanthropic holy things, theanthropic mysteries, and theanthropic virtues. The holy fathers in fact are continuously apostolizing, whether as distinct godlike personalities, or as bishops of the local churches, or as members of the holy ecumenical and holy local councils. For all of them there is but one Truth, one Transcendent Truth: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, the holy ecumenical councils, from the first to the last, confess, defend, believe, announce, and vigilantly preserve but a single supreme value: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The principal Tradition, the transcendent Tradition, of the Orthodox Church is the living God-man Christ, entire in the theanthropic Body of the Church of which He is the immortal, eternal Head. This is not merely the message, but the transcendent message of the holy apostles and the holy fathers. They know Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended. They all, by their integral lives and teachings, with a single soul and a single voice, confess that Christ the God-man is wholly in His Church, as in His Body. Each of the holy fathers could rightly repeat with St. Maximus the Confessor: "In no wise am I expounding my own opinion, but that which I have been taught by the fathers, without changing aught in their teaching."

And from the immortal proclamation of St. John of Damascus there resounds the universal confession of all the holy fathers who were glorified by God: "Whatever has been transmitted to us through the Law, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the evangelists, we receive and know and esteem highly, and beyond that we ask nothing more… Let us be fully satisfied with it, and rest therein, removing not the ancient landmarks (Prov. 22:28), nor violating the divine Tradition." And then, the touching, fatherly admonition of the holy Damascene, directed to all Orthodox Christians: "Wherefore, brethren, let us plant ourselves upon the rock of faith and the Tradition of the Church, removing not the landmarks set by our holy fathers, nor giving room to those who are anxious to introduce novelties and to undermine the structure of God's holy ecumenical and apostolic Church. For if everyone were allowed a free hand, little by little the entire Body of the Church would be destroyed."

The holy Tradition is wholly of the God-man, wholly of the holy apostles, wholly of the holy fathers, wholly of the Church, in the Church, and by the Church. The holy fathers are nothing other than the "guardians of the apostolic tradition. " All of them, like the holy apostles themselves, are but "witnesses" of a single and unique Truth: the transcendent Truth of Christ, the God-man. They preach and confess it without rest, they, the "golden mouths of the Word." The God-man, the Lord Christ is one, unique, and indivisible. So also is the Church unique and indivisible, for she is the incarnation of the Theanthropos Christ, continuing through the ages and through all eternity. Being such by her nature and in her earthly history, the Church may not be divided. It is only possible to fall away from her. That unity and uniqueness of the Church is theanthropic from the very beginning and through all the ages and all eternity.

Apostolic succession, the apostolic heritage, is theanthropic from first to last. What is it that the holy apostles are transmitting to their successors as their heritage? The Lord Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the imperishable riches of His wondrous theanthropic Personality, Christ—the Head of the Church, her sole Head. If it does not transmit that, apostolic succession ceases to be apostolic, and the apostolic Tradition is lost, for there is no longer an apostolic hierarchy and an apostolic Church.

The holy Tradition is the Gospel of the Lord Christ, and the Lord Christ Himself, Whom the Holy Spirit instills in each and every believing soul, in the entire Church. Whatever is Christ's, by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes ours, human; but only within the body of the Church. The Holy Spirit—the soul of the Church, incorporates each believer, as a tiny cell, into the body of the Church and makes him a "co-heir" of the God-man (Eph. 3:6). In reality the Holy Spirit makes every believer into a God-man by grace. For what is life in the Church? Nothing other than the transfiguration of each believer into a God-man by grace through his personal, evangelical virtues; it is his growth in Christ, the putting on of Christ by growing in the Church and being a member of the Church. A Christian's life is a ceaseless, Christ-centered theophany: the Holy Spirit, through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, transmits Christ the Savior to each believer, renders him a living tradition, a living life: "Christ who is our life" (Col. 3:4). Everything Christ's thereby becomes ours, ours for all eternity: His truth, His righteousness, His love, His life, and His entire divine Hypostasis.

Holy Tradition? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the riches of his divine Hypostasis and, through Him and for His sake, those of the Holy Trinity. That is most fully given and articulated in the Holy Eucharist, wherein, for our sake and for our salvation, the Savior's entire theanthropic economy of salvation is performed and repeated. Therein wholly resides the God-man with all His wondrous and miraculous gifts; He is there, and in the Church's life of prayer and liturgy. Through all this, the Savior's philanthropic proclamation ceaselessly resounds: "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mt. 28 20): He is with the apostles and, through the apostles, with all the faithful, world without end. This is the whole of the holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of the apostles: life in Christ = life in the Holy Trinity; growth in Christ = growth in the Trinity (cf. Mt. 28: 19-20).

Of extraordinary importance is the following: in Christ's Orthodox Church, the Holy Tradition, ever living and life-giving, comprises: the holy liturgy, all the divine services, all the holy mysteries, all the holy virtues, the totality of eternal truth and eternal righteousness, all love, all eternal life, the whole of the God-man, the Lord Christ, the entire Holy Trinity, and the entire theanthropic life of the Church in its theanthropic fullness, with the All-holy Theotokos and all the saints.

The personality of the Lord Christ the God-man, transfigured within the Church, immersed in the prayerful, liturgical, and boundless sea of grace, wholly contained in the Eucharist, and wholly in the Church—this is holy Tradition. This authentic good news is confessed by the holy fathers and the holy ecumenical councils. By prayer and piety holy Tradition is preserved from all human demonism and devilish humanism, and in it is preserved the entire Lord Christ, He Who is the eternal Tradition of the Church. "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (I Tim. 3 16): He was manifest as a man, as a God-man, as the Church, and by His philanthropic act of salvation and deification of humanity He magnified and exalted man above the holy cherubim and the most holy seraphim."
(Originally published in Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb., 1981), pp. 28-33. Translated by Stephen Karganovic from: The Orthodox Church & Ecumenism (in Serbian), by Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) (Thessalonica: Chilandar Monastery, 1974), pp. 64-74; http://archangelsbooks.com/articles/church/AttributesofChurch.asp)
  
Picture of our Righteous Father Justin Popovich (to be canonized on May 2nd and to be celebrated on June 1/14; for more on his life see: http://www.serfes.org/lives/stjustin.htm(taken from: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Holy_Fathers/St._Justin_Popovich/1.shtml)
  
Apolytikion of the Holy Fathers in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
(chanted on the Feasts of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils)
You are greatly glorified, O Christ our God, who established our Fathers as luminaries upon the earth, and through them led us all to the true Faith. O most compassionate, glory to You.

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

7 comments:

ellie said...

Excuse me, but the old bickering between the Catholic (not "Roman Catholic", the Latin right only makes up a portion of the Catholic Church) and Orthodox are very trivial and seem to be based more upon spite than anything else. We have so much in common, what is the battle really about? The papacy is not evil, it is biblical. "You are Peter, and upon THIS ROCK I will build my church". The Catholic church did not split, your church did. If anyone can be called the "original protestants" it is the Orthodox Christians. I do love the Orthodox Church, so it pains me to see this unnecessary schism propitiated. I pray for the unity Christ prayed for; that we would be one, even as He and the Father are one.
Peace,
Ellie

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

The differences between Orthodox dogma and that of the West are not trivial. Though there are many common beliefs, this does not outweight the numerous doctrinal and spiritual differences.

This is not the venue for a lengthy discussion on the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (I can have a separate post dealing with this more in detail), but I will solely say that the infallibility of the Pope is a recent innovation and has no scriptural or historical basis.

In the quote of Christ that you mentioned, it is helpful to examine the Greek. Christ says: "you are Peter (masculine form), and upon this rock (feminine form) I build my church...". Thus Christ is referring to Christ's confession of faith, not him as an individual. And throughout the scriptures and tradition, St. Peter never went beyond being a "first among equals" of the apostles--never Christ's sole vicar upon the earth as Popes of Rome later claim.

We also pray to Christ daily for the unity of His Church, but this can only be achieved in authetic love and truth.

ellie said...

You are right, love and truth are the keys. I commented without much thought last time. I really like this blog, but I do believe in the primacy of the pope. I did not mean to imply that you did not desire unity as well. While you are correct about the grammar of this particular passage, there are two reasons why that interpretation is untenable. The first being that 99.99 % of scholars agree that Jesus did not speak Greek with His disciples. He spoke Aramaic and would have said "You are Cephas and upon this cephas I will build my church". Some people still argue the fact that Matthew used two different forms when he wrote his gospel under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this was that Peter was given as a name, and no one would use the feminine form to name a male in the Greek language. I am not a part of the clergy or anything, so here is a source for the sake of validity: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/origins-of-peter-as-pope

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

I appreciate your kind words.

As I said before, unfortunately this is not the best venue for a lengthy discussion of the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Hopefully I will have time for more detailed posts in the future.

In the mean time, here are several good articles addressing the differences between Orthodoxy and the West, and also discussing the scriptural basis (namely the lack thereof) for the infallibility of the Pope of Rome:

http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/diafores2.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/kleidia1.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/dogma/eksousia_petrou1.htm

May Christ have mercy on us all and save us, guiding us to His Truth! Amen!

Kaleb Lippert said...

We will unite this post is not Christ like like most Orthodox hate the papacy

Kaleb Lippert said...

Most Orthodox hate us some like us when we unite some of them will turn protestants lol. Even they r very decentralized in their Church never give up it Catholic faith!

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

The Orthodox do not hate our Roman Catholic brethren, but we love everyone, and we affirm that we are all created in the image of God, and that Christ "did everything" to save us all and come to the knowledge of the Truth.