The Wrong Question: Mysteries, Grace, valid and licit?

Discuss the holy Mysteries and the liturgical life of the Church such as the Hours, Vespers, Matins/Orthros, Typica, and the Divine Liturgy. All Forum Rules apply. No polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.
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Lydia
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The Wrong Question: Mysteries, Grace, valid and licit?

Post by Lydia »

There has been much discussion about the Mysteries of heretics and The Grace Of God.
Maybe the question should be are their Mysteries both valid AND licit?
Those who support the position that there is Grace in these Mysteries are declaring that they are valid, but are they licit? Does a heretic priest have the authority and power to perform The Mysteries?
Does the "act" occur, but illegally? And do those recieving the Mystery do so illicitly? To kill in self-defence is both valid and legal. Murder is valid and illegal. The act occurs in both instances.
This seems to be the position of the RCC. Any takers?
Last edited by Maria on Wed 18 June 2014 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moved into Holy Mysteries.
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Re: The Wrong Question: Mysteries, Grace, valid and licit?

Post by Jean-Serge »

It looks really catholic theology... not orthodox one. Even the term "valid" is not very orthodox... It is better to investigate the patristic teaching on the topic rather than importing foreign notions.
Priidite, poklonimsja i pripadem ko Hristu.
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Lydia
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Re: The Wrong Question: Mysteries, Grace, valid and licit?

Post by Lydia »

Jean-Serge wrote:It looks really catholic theology... not orthodox one. Even the term "valid" is not very orthodox... It is better to investigate the patristic teaching on the topic rather than importing foreign notions.
Yes, it is a Roman Catholic position. But, I was concerned about the Orthodox teaching on the subject.
Specifically, can a bad priest administer a True Mystery? If a priest is a great and unrepentant sinner and later declares that he is and always was an atheist, are the rites he performs proper?
If the form and matter of the baptism, for example, are correct, does the disposition of the individual priest make that baptism invalid?
If I understand correctly, the RCC position is that a priest essentially commands the Holy Spirit by virtue of his office, regardless of the state of his own soul. Is there a comparable position in Orthodoxy?
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Re: The Wrong Question: Mysteries, Grace, valid and licit?

Post by jgress »

According to the most recent ecclesiological statement of the GOC (Kallinikos), there is no sacramental grace outside the canonical boundaries of the Church. Differences over this doctrine have arisen with respect to reception of converts by oikonomia, i.e. by something other than baptism; some have thought that this practice implies a recognition of grace in heterodox baptism and heterodox sacraments. The scholastic term is "validity", and scholastic theologians distinguish validity from licitness, which refers to the salvific value of the sacrament. But this distinction is not used in Orthodox theology with respect to heretics and schismatics who are definitely outside the canonical boundaries of the Church.

The GOC's most recent statement resolves this issue and upholds the teaching that heterodox sacraments are devoid of grace up until the point when the convert chooses to be received into the Orthodox Church, at which point, if the heterodox baptism was formally correct (triple immersion in the name of the Trinity), then the Church can fill that form with Divine grace without needing to repeat the form. So the heterodox or schismatic baptism becomes retroactively a grace-filled Orthodox baptism, but only because of the convert's decision to join the Orthodox Church.

The only time where the valid/licit distinction is relevant in Orthodoxy is with respect to heretics or schismatics before a conciliar condemnation. While heresy automatically puts a heretical bishop outside the Church personally, it does not necessarily mean he is immediately unable to celebrate valid, grace-filled Mysteries, i.e. he may not yet be outside the Church publicly as bishop. There is usually believed to be some "grace period" lasting from his first open preaching of heresy and his final complete separation from the Church. If someone receives the Mysteries during this period from a heretical bishop, knowing that the bishop is a heretic, he may be liable to judgment for receiving the Mysteries unworthily, but once the bishop is definitely outside the Church, the Mysteries he communes no longer possess Grace and are not the true Body and Blood of Christ, so (it is believed) those who receive those "Mysteries" are not specially condemned for unworthy reception of Communion.

How long this grace period lasts has been strongly disputed, as well as what level of conciliar authority (local or ecumenical) is needed to finally declare the heretic outside the Church without a doubt. Some say that the local councils that have already condemned the Ecumenists, for example, have already spoken with the infallible voice of the Church, so that it is itself a heresy to say that the Ecumenists might have grace, even in theory. Others say that the local councils' decisions only mean the Ecumenists are highly likely already to have lost grace, but that we can only say they are definitely separated once an Ecumenical or Pan-Orthodox Synod is convened to finally expel them from the Church. In other words, it's a dispute over the authority of local councils to speak on behalf of the whole Church.
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