Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"Orthodoxy" and the veneration of images

Hey, I was wondering. Why do Byzantine Catholics call the first Sunday of Lent "Orthodoxy Sunday"? It is true that our Orthodox Catholic faith triumphed in Constantinople in 843 but I don't want people thinking that the Orthodox Church has "triumphed" in some way, with all due respect to our separated brethren.
I don't have a problem with that, just like the Ukrainian Catholic Church isn't afraid of the word "orthodox" in English. (My first traditional Catholic Mass 31 years ago was Ukrainian.) We can interpret it, as in this case regarding the option of images, as both a triumph of small-o orthodoxy and of the big-O Orthodox tradition. I don't believe in any such thing as the Orthodox Church. These are dioceses sharing a tradition that are estranged from us.
In a great irony of history, it was due to the Latin Church that the Eastern Churches maintained images.
Iconoclasm was an Eastern heresy.
I would dare to say the Eastern Churches have kept the Latin Church from jumping off the deep end if you catch my drift.
"Byzantium," the Orthodox tradition, is good: entirely Catholic, preserving a pre-Vatican II way, and offering options and answers "outside the box" of typical Catholic and Protestant thinking. It only becomes a problem when you put it above the church, as the Orthodox do.
The "option" of images? What does that mean?
It means my Latin parish doesn't need an iconostasis to be in the church. The seventh ecumenical council taught that images are allowable, not idols. The church could require images, as your rite does, as a matter of discipline but not as doctrine; the latter would be a kind of idolatry, pushing a culture, not the faith. For example, the Armenians and the Nestorians use images very sparingly, the Nestorians often using no images except the cross. A valid option.
The veneration of images is absolutely doctrine. An anathema was given to those who refuse to do so. How each church chooses to do that is one thing but to refuse it altogether is heresy.
That means you can't consider the use of images to be idolatry; it doesn't mean you have to use them. That's the sin of the Orthodox: "If it isn't Byzantine, it's crap," their little Western Rite missions notwithstanding and even those are heavily byzantinized.
Statues are included in the definition of Nicea II. I've never seen a Roman Catholic parish without one or two statues. It's the same thing. And no, it means what exactly what it says:
"We decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways. If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema. If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema."
That's not voluntary; that's compulsory and dogmatic. It doesn't have to be Byzantine icons but statues and the like are to be present for veneration in each and every church. And as I said, I've not seen one that doesn't have at least one.
I wouldn't go that far. Again, the Nestorians: you don't have to use them; you just can't go Protestant and say they're idols and thus wrong.
Nestorians are heretics; I don't care what they say or do. And it doesn't matter what you would do. You're a Catholic, not an Anglican. Get on board.

The twenty-fifth session of the Council of Trent (Dec., 1543) repeats faithfully the principles of Nicaea II: "The Holy Synod commands that images of Christ, the Virgin Mother of God, and other saints are to be held and kept especially in churches..."
I am on board: you have to accept images as an option; you don't have to use them. If you want to call me an Anglican, fine; at the end of the day I don't care what you think. A long time ago, I tried idolizing a culture the Orthodox way. No thanks, b*tches. The Nestorians might be heretics yet the church recognizes their orders, the credal orthodoxy required for such being that basic, the other requirements being unbroken apostolic succession and true teaching about the Eucharist. I don't have a problem with the idea that the split was a misunderstanding. Also, I should have been clearer: I meant the Nestorian tradition including the now-larger (than the Nestorians) Chaldean Catholic Church, Iraq's biggest church before the recent war. There are regulations for a rite and then there is doctrine. We are one faith but many rites, many cultures.
You're a pseudo-Iconoclast. And you're choosing to ignore Canons from Nicea II and Trent. Good luck with it, dude; your intense dislike for the Orthodox has blinded you.
I intensely dislike error and falsehood especially when they endanger souls, as with the few Catholics who leave the church for such (often egged on in online fora). Iconoclast? Reread me: one must accept the veneration of images in principle; one doesn't have to use an image except according to the discipline of one's rite. And you really don't know me. I never wanted to be a Protestant even as an Episcopal kid. As I write, there is a foot-and-a-half-tall statue of Our Lady next to my desk, a crucifix and a relief plaque of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the wall, and on the opposite wall, a modest Russian icon corner, completely in accord with their rite. The schismatics don't include us, but we include the East.

1 comment:

  1. There is good historical (archaeological) evidence that "Nestorian" avoidance of all images except for the Cross was a 14th/early 15th century development/innovation which they adopted in the face of severe Muslim persecution, which in less than a century reduced a church which had spanned Asia from China to Cyprus and Siberia to Socotra to a small remnant in Mesopotamia and Persia, with outliers in South India and on the two islands mentioned above.


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