Metropolitan Hilarion: The Eucharist and Culture

Recently, his Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Head of the DECR, spoke to Roman Catholic bishops, clergy and laity participating in the 50th International Eucharistic Congress that took place in Dublin, Ireland from 10–17 June 2012. You can find the complete text of the presentation on Dom Mark Daniel Kirby’s blog Vultus Christi. An American, Dom Kirby is the Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland.

In his own introduction to Metropolitan Hilarion’s presentation, Fr Mark writes that in his view “no speaker at the IEC delivered a message more reflective of the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI on the current crisis in faith and culture.” Having not attended I can’t attest to the accuracy of Father’s comparison of Pope Benedict and Metropolitan Hilarion’s thinking. What I can say, however, is that the Metropolitan has accurately diagnosed the spiritual problem we face in America and in his teaching on the centrality of the Eucharist offered us a way past our current situation. If this is the thinking of the current pope as well, then thank God!

I have posted the conclusion of Metropolitan Hilarion’s talk after the break. The subheadings are Fr Mark’s.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Destruction of Age-Old Traditions. The new consumerist religiosity is quite consonant with the laws of market demand. It is morally neutral. If we look at the reality around us we will see this type of religiosity offered everywhere, something even penetrating into Christianity, thus destroying age-old traditions and deforming the dogmatic and moral teaching under the cover of concern for the human being.

A Spiritual Battle-Field. Encountering such challenges and threats, we as Christians should first of all admit our share of guilt for the situation. It is not hopeless, but we need to have spiritual power and determination to oppose any further degradation of the European culture. Precisely the culture that has grown on the Christian soil has become today a battle-field against the forces who seek to eradicate all the positive things that Christianity has brought to the world. They do it to pave the way for the opportunity to manipulate the mass consciousness in their pursuit of power, influence and super-profit. Social phenomena devoid of inner positive content are doomed to self-destruction in the process of inner implosion.

Martyrdom? What is based on traditional morality lives forever. Precisely for this reason, Christianity in its time conquered the whole oikoumene without arms and showed vitality as compared to the heathen pseudo-morals devoid of creative impulse. This happened through the efforts of thousands of people of faith ready to sacrifice themselves for the ideas they preached. There is hardly anyone who will agree to sacrifice themselves for the sake of universal consumerism empty inside and closed in itself and attractive only from outside.

Authentic Meaning of the Social Community. Baptism and the Eucharist in their interrelation make it possible for us to come to a deeper understanding of the conciliarity of the Church, to feel the authentic meaning of the social community based not on partiality but on charitable service for our neighbours who find themselves in need. In the Eucharist, Christians find the identity of the people of God reconciled with the God of humanity: You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…, Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Against Spiritual Hosts of Wickedness. In this we find a source of tremendous power capable of opposing the degradation of the individual and society brought about by ‘this world’. Today it is culture that becomes a battle-field of destructive and creative principles. And the words of St. Paul: We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12) become especially relevant in this context. In opposition to the work of the demonic powers of ‘rulers of this age’, Sartre’s Nothingness (néant), we are given a weapon different in nature and power, which is the creative positive impulse we draw from the sacrament of the Eucharist and from the life to the full (Jn. 10:10) given by Risen Christ to the world.

Christians Have Lost the Salt. The Church has been sent to the world by our Saviour and she cannot dissociate herself from her apostolic mission or to become like a salt which has lost its saltiness (Lk. 14:34). The decay of Europe – isn’t it come because Christians have lost the salt, that is, the positive creative impulse which used to build European culture for centuries? The modern culture devoid of this powerful and effective filling, which used to feed it for centuries, is becoming a self-sufficient closed system doomed to stagnation in the process of spiritual entropy. Meanwhile, culture cannot be self-sufficient since it is a product of the work of the human spirit which can die down. It is something against which the Word of God has warned us, saying, Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19).

Different from the Sons of This Age. Today as before we hear the admonition of St. Paul, saying, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Col. 4:6). Divine life Christ gives us in the sacrament of Thanksgiving is precisely this salt. The taste of this salt makes Christians different from ‘the sons of this age’, the new creation different from the old creature who, resisting, tries to prevent all that is new. Our struggle is against the energies of non-existence, death and hell, which have been conquered by our Divine Teacher by His descent to the hell of the earth. As St. John Chrysostom says in his catechetical Paschal Sermon, “Hell was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen!”

Eternal Life in Full. Devil and hell are already defeated by Christ. His victory is our heritage: And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith (1 Jn. 5:4). May our faith in the Lord Jesus Who rose from the dead and who has granted us eternal life which we partake of in Baptism and receive in full in the Eucharist become for us the victory over the powers of hell and death whose time has come, for ‘life reigns

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