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Ecumenical Evangelization PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 07 July 2007 04:24
I had a most interesting two hour conversation with a very sharp Orthodox priest last week which gave me new understanding of Orthodox life in this country in a few very specific areas. Fr. X is intrigued by our work at the Institute and wanted to see how what we are doing might be adapted to his situation.

(I need to make clear right now that what I know about Orthodox theology, history, ecclesiology, and current practice could be put into a thimble with what I know about nuclear physics - with room to spare. So I spent most of the time asking questions and listening, trying to understand his quite different situation.)

Several things startled me: Fr. X's statement that only about 150,000 of the members of his communion in the US attend the Liturgy on Sundays. (And we think we have problems with 25 - 48% of Catholics at Mass on Sunday - that's at least 18 million.)

He said that, to his knowledge, there was almost no evangelizing initiatives among his group, that there is no theological understanding of a lay spirituality or mission dedicated to the evangelization of the secular and that the vast majority of "practicing" Orthodox do so for cultural reasons.

When I asked him to describe what a truly holy lay person looked like according to Orthodox tradition, he hesitated and then said "I can't describe one because there isn't a tradition of lay sanctity. Monastic holiness is the ideal for everyone, lay people are expected to be less intense about it than monks."

He was most interested in some form of ecumenical cooperation centered not around historical or theological debates but around a common concern for evangelism and the formation of all the baptized - which we would certainly be interested in exploring. Evangelization and formation with "both lungs" of the Church! What a great idea!

He hopes to attend a Called & Gifted workshop in the fall with a few friends and then we'll talk some more.

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