Theological Diversity and the Communion of Saints   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

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IN PARTICULAR, WITH REGARD TO MY ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS

My methodology of adding to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days entails filling vacant slots on a day-by-day basis.  If I, for example, have two vacant slots for a given date, I ponder saints, consider how much information is available about them, and decide how best to fill both slots, if possible.  Sometimes I leave slots vacant, for filling later.  My current policy is to have a maximum of four posts (with one or more saints per post) per day, except a date with a Biblically-themed feast, when I usually reserve that date for that feast, unless I make a rare exception to that rule.  March 25, for example, is the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of St. Dismas, both Biblically themed feasts.  January 1 is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus; it is also World Peace Day.  Nevertheless, January 6 is solely the Feast of the Epiphany on my Ecumenical Calendar.  I plan to change the maximum number of posts for most days to five in 2020 or 2021, and perhaps to more eventually.  My Ecumenical Calendar can be a long-term project always in progress, assuming that I lead a long life.

Longevity is not a guarantee, of course.  Yet I make plans, just in case I am around and able to continue work on this hobby.

Since I think about additions to my Ecumenical Calendar on a day-by-day basis, looking at the trees, not the forest, so to speak, I do not collect data about societal categories (such as gender, ethnicity, and national origin) and assign quotas based on them.  Affirmative action, for all its societal value in many settings and cultures at certain times, has no place in my Ecumenical Calendar.  I do, however, enjoy recognizing people whose stories of faith have fallen into the shadows of others, including other saints.  Many of these overlooked saints fall into categories such as women, racial or ethnic minorities, and members of powerless or less powerful populations.  I cite, for example, my recent post about Niebuhrs, which includes not just Reinhold and H. Richard, but Hulda and Ursula also.

I do think purposefully about theological diversity.  Thus Popes rub shoulders with Protestants and Orthodox Patriarchs, Anglican bishops with Puritan missionaries, dogmatic theologians with non-dogmatic theologians, and mystics and alleged heretics with the conventionally orthodox, by the standards of their contexts.  In the New Testament a saint is simply a Christian; that is my definition of a saint.  The great cloud of witnesses spreads out across a wide spectrum.

According to an old saying, each Christian is somebody’s schismatic.  One might make a strong case for Roman Catholicism being schismatic from Judaism.  As surely as each Christian is somebody’s schismatic, he or she is also somebody’s heretic.  God defines heresy with certitude; we mere mortals do not.  Often we define heresy to exclude those who disagree with us, but sometimes our definitions overlap with God’s.  But how are we to know how often that happens?

I steer a moderate course through the thicket of heresy and orthodoxy, learning from early Ecumenical Councils and Church Fathers, and from Desert Mothers and Desert Fathers.  While I do this I acknowledge that, according to the Roman Catholic Church, I, as one who belongs to another Christian communion (The Episcopal Church, to be precise), I lack the fullness of the faith.  Roman Catholic orthodoxy since Vatican II holds that, since Holy Mother Church alone has the fullness of the faith, all other Christians are “separated brethren.”  At least I am no longer going to Hell, allegedly.  Progress is progress.

For all the theological diversity represented on my Ecumenical Calendar, unity is also evident.  The unity of serving Christ is present; that outweighs many differences.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY; AND HIS SON, WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY; HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET AND RELIGIOUS WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

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