05 October 2010

The Difference Between the Orthodox and the Catholics

Abbot Nikon, from Letter #31:

You write of arguments...concerning Catholic saints. Here polemics are useless. The point is not in the logos, but in spiritual activity. What did the Eastern saints seek in spiritual endeavors and what by contrast did the Western saints seek? The Western saints strive with all their might toward that which is strictly, definitely forbidden and warned against by the Eastern fathers. In contrast to those who were in a state of prelest [spiritual delusion], all the Eastern fathers considered themselves unworthy of any visions and spiritual gifts. If, quite apart from their own will, they received such gifts, they begged God to either remove them or give them special protection so that such gifts would not be harmful for them or lead to perdition. They believed that repentance is required of all men to the end of their days on earth, because man is an insolvent debtor before God. He can never "earn" enough to pay off his debt, let alone amass a surplus of earnings over and above that which he owes. When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do (Luke 17:10). All the debtors, as the Gospel shows, received a release from their debt; no one cold pay off his debt--not the one who owed 50 pence, nor 500, and especially not the one who owed 1000 talents. Where is there any mention of earnings in excess of the amount of the debt? Concerning the gifts received by the Apostles, the Lord days: Freely ye have received, freely give.[1]

[1] Abbot Nikon, Letters to Spiritual Children. Trans. Maria Naumenko. Richfield Springs: Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 1997. Pages 66-67.


hill said...

Significant distinctions. Thanks for sharing that.

Justinian said...

They are, indeed, significant. That is why I think that all the ecumenical dialogue in the world will not be effectual until we address the issue that what they mean by the mystical/spiritual life is what we call spiritual delusion.