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Truth and Communion


The Truth is also

The Eucharistic perspective

The triadologic perspective

Negative perspective

The Christological perspective

The perspective of the "image" (icon)

Truth and Salvation -
the existential importance of the synthesis of the Greek Fathers

Truth and person

Truth and the

Truth and the Church - Ecclesiastical consequences
emerging from the synthesis of the Greek Fathers

The Eucharist as a place of the

2. The Eucharist as a place of the truth 

How does the Eucharist reveal the Christ as the truth? What does the allegation, that the Christ is the truth, concerning the life and the structure of the Church under the light of its Eucharistic experience? Here is where we will make the following observations:

a) The Eucharist reveals the Christ-Truth as a "visit" and "residence" (John 1,19) of God in the history and the creation, so that God will be able to be met in the glory of His truth and that one can take part in the communion of His life. For this reason the Church has no other reality or experience of the truth as experience of the truth as communion as perfect as the Eucharist. In the Eucharistic gathering the word of God meets man and the creation not superficially, as it happened in the Old Testament, but as "flesh", that is, the most internal part of our existence, as part of creation. In this way, the word of God does not inhabit in the human mind as reasonable knowledge or in the human soul as internal mystical experience, but as communion in the internal of a community. We must emphasize categorically, that in it the understanding of Christ as truth, Christ reveals Himself as the truth not in a community but as a community. Thus the truth is not an expression or a meaning, it is not a truth either, which should be confirmed or proven, but as an ontological truth it is something, which exists: the community itself becomes truth.

Christ as the truth is not only revealing but also realized in our existence as communion to a community and so the truth is not forced upon but distinguished among us. Therefore, the truth is not an authority in the sense of "auctoritas", but is much more grace and love, which surrounds us in the same way it is included in us existentially. At the same time this truth is not the effect of a sociological experience or a tem experience; it comes clearly from another world and as such is not produced by us.

b) This kind of truth does not come to us as a result of a historical transition. At this point the problem becomes too delicate and demands a diligent examination.

It is certain, that Christianity is based on a historical fact and the Fathers of the Church were the Christians of their time, who certainly thought about the dimension of history, if we compare them to the heretics, who they were fighting against (to the Fathers heresy is "innovation"). Besides, history, understood under the light of the Eucharistic experience, is not the same with history, as we usually understand it. Here it is probably presented limited through the memorial and summoning character of the Eucharist, which transforms time from its alienation and fall into communion and life. Thus history is no longer a succession of facts, which expands linearly from the past to the future; it rather receives a future and vertical dimension. History thus is transferred into charismatic facts, into facts of the Pentecost. In a history understood in such a way, truth does not come to us just through the mission (Christ-the Apostles-the Bishops, in a linear evolution). It comes as a fact of Pentecost. Through this, linear history receives a charismatic present. The ordination of a bishop takes place exactly for this reason in the Eastern Church, exclusively during the Eucharist (and in the Liturgy of the Eastern Church the holiday (as holy-day) of the Pentecost is celebrated in each ordination of a bishop).

These enlighten our understanding on the "unerring" of the Church and the way, with which this unerring is expressed through particular principles. Eirinaeus already links the office of the bishop to a particular "charisma veritatis" and the ancient Church developed the idea of an apostolic succession of the bishops as well as the application of the Holy Synod, also for the bishops. But why did this correlation of the bishops with the "veritas" result from the very beginning? In the opinion we presented, this cannot concern a mission of the truth in particular carriers of offices. Each bishop receives the "charisma veritatis" in the Eucharistic community only and as a fact of the Pentecost and this shows that the apostolic succession is transferred necessarily from communion to the community. The bishop is in is duty an heir of the Apostles for as long as he is the image of Christ in his community. These two sides (Christ, Apostles) the ancient Church could not have imagined them separately[i]. In the same way the synods was the expression of the truth, precisely because the bishops were the leaders of their community and for this reason they could take part in the synods only the bishops with an episcopate. Unity in the identity of the communities is the base for the synodical infallible.

c) Similar observations can be made on the matter of the formulation of the truth in the Church. The dogmatic terms can be understood in two different ways: 1. As systematic interpretations of the truth, so as to lead to a better knowledge of God, or 2. As marks and sign posts towards Christ as the truth, through historical and cultural forms in each peculiarity of place and time. If we preserve the basic principle, that the truth cannot be "understood", then we must reject the first way of understanding the dogmatic terms. If we accept the second one, then the whole problem of doctrines finds its place in the perspective of truth and communion along with all the other ontological sequences of the truth, as they have been presented so far in relation to the synthesis of the Greek Fathers. If the truth as communion is not to be separated from the ontology of life, then the doctrines are mainly confessions concerning salvation; their purpose lies in releasing the original image of Christ as truth, from the perversions of certain heresies, in order to help the community of the Church in preserving the right understanding of Christ as truth and in living in it and through this presence of the truth in history. All intends, in the end, to lead to the communion of the life of God and in acting in such a way, so that the truth can be communion and life. For this reason the ancient Synods did not finish their stipulations with excommunications, so that it will be obvious, that the basic purpose of a Synod is not created so much by the stipulations, as much by the anathema. The excommunication had a pastoral basis, which is to protect the community from perversions of the image of truth, so as not to be put in danger the content of the truth leading to salvation. If after a certain stipulation and an anathema communion was taken away, then this happened because of the fact, that the Eucharist demands a common viewing of Christ. The purpose of the Synod was the Eucharistic communion and when one formulated and accepted faith confessions, it did not want with this to provide them with material on theological thought but give to the Eucharistic communities the right orientation. Thus can one say, that the symbolic terms do not hold upon them the relation with the truth, but only during the realization of the glorifying mention by the liturgical community.

These "terms" possess at the same time a particular characteristic reality. What is the relationship with the truth that these formulations bring to the light of the Eucharistic viewing of the truth? This is where we can investigate another delicate problem.

In the course of this essay we have shown, that the truth cannot be understood and in this way not be made objective and defined. But how can one understand the doctrines, when these are not viewed as "formulations" or "terms" of the truth in order to preserve it under the various historical and cultural?

If we start our syllogism from a historical understanding of the truth, that is, from the doctrines in their belief and salvation character, mentioned previously, then these doctrines present a kind of acceptance, consecration and at the same time excess of history and civilization. It looks like the Eucharist, which receives elements from the creation and everyday life of the people and transforms them into communion. In a similar way in the synodical and charismatic procedure of the doctrinaire formulation become certain historical and cultural elements (language, meaning, and others) carriers and marks of communion. They enter into the way of thinking of different communities, from which they are used in the Eucharistic communion and thus become these historical and cultural elements structural elements of the communion and acquire in this way a sacred character and permanence in the life of the Church. History and civilization become acceptable but at the same time are put under the eschatological expectation so as not the truth to be subordinated into the historical and cultural incarnation. As an example to this could prove to be useful certain terms and senses, which the Church adopted on its dogmatic formulations from the Greek civilization, as for example the terms catholic or person or hypostasis. Concerning the historical and cultural heritage, these are Greek words. But would Aristotle have understood their meaning if he was given the symbol of Nice-Constantinople to read it? If these words are connected to history and civilization alone, he should understand them. But if, as we can estimate, he wouldn't be able to understand them then something very important must have happened with these historical and cultural elements through the fact, that they were connected to the thought and the life of the Church. In this direction we would like to understand the faith in doctrines. Their sense does not lie in the fact that they present certain truths or the Truth reasonably, but that they have become the expression and marks of communion inside the Christian community. Because communion describes a relationship, it falls inevitably into the order of incarnation and in this way it realizes the truth «hic et nunc», by incorporating history and civilization. At the same time lies in the truth as communion a prophetic and critical element. This appears in the acceptance and not in the rejection of the historical forms. Christ as the truth is the judge of the world because he embraced the world in himself.

This means, that each breaching of the link between dogma and community, owes its existence to the breaching of the link between truth and communion. The dogmas, like the office, cannot survive as truth outside the fact of the created from the Holy Spirit communion. A sense of formulation cannot incorporate the truth in itself, because then one would end up once again to the Greek viewing concerning the truth. The academic theology can of course take up teaching, but only the communion of the Church contributes to making theology be the truth[ii]. In such an understanding of the dogmas the defense of the Greek Fathers is held against a theoretical conceivement of the idea of truth without withdrawing the historicity of the truth.

d) In the Eucharist seems, that the truth does not concern the human existence alone, but that it has deep cosmical dimensions. In the Eucharist Christ reveals Himself as life and the summary of whole creation. One of the basic difficulties in the Greek understanding of the truth lies in the fact that the truth cannot be understood and presented with human word alone. Of course, in the entire creation, man is the only one endowed with reason and this reason of his sets him, according again to the understanding of the Greek fathers, master of creation. The Eucharistic experience reveals in this way, that this reason of man should be understood as an element, which unites the creation in order to connect it with God through the hands of man, so that God -and not man- can be "everything in everyone". This Eucharistic or priestly function of man connects the created nature with the continuous existence and thus releases it from the enslavement of necessity by allowing it to develop its abilities to the extent. If, according to the basic principle of this essay, communion id the only way, in which the truth as life can exist, then nature, which does not include person or communion, should "grieve and worry" with the expectation of man's redemption, who can place it in the fact of communion created by God. It is man's duty to let a Eucharistic reality be distinguished, meaning to make the very nature capable of communion. If man can do that, then the truth receives meaning for the entire world. Christ becomes a cosmic Christ and the world in its sum becomes a residence of truth, which is nothing other than the communion with its Creator. Thus truth becomes the life of being.

With these thoughts we are led much further from the theological truth, with the narrow and common sense of the word theological, and in this way meet the truth in the space of natural sciences. For a great period of time natural sciences and theology were presented as having in research different viewpoints on the truth, like the truth was not only one in the sum of existence. This was the result of the fact, that the truth was subordinated in the dissection of a supreme and existing in the fact that, in a final analysis, the theological and the scientific viewing of the truth have been estranged from the understanding of communion. They viewed it from the viewpoint of the relationship of subject-object alone in the confines of the analytical method of research. The radical upset that Einstein caused to science, led to a complete reorientation of scientific research in the understanding of the truth[iii]. The results that were extracted should be studied in their entire extension; but what seemed clearly, is that the Greek understanding of the being was influenced decisively on this, on which the Greek Fathers remained on a philosophical level[iv] and in this way the ability to talk of a unique truth in the world is given, which one can approach both scientifically and theologically. If one uses creatively in theology the synthesis of truth and communion of the Greek Fathers and courageously applies it inside the Church, then the dissection between Church and science would be able to be overridden. A scientist, who is a member of the Church, would be able to realize, that he is executing a very important para-eucharistic work and this could lead to the liberation of nature from the slavery in the hands of modern day technological man. The Eucharistic viewing about the truth can in this way release man from his despotism on nature and make him realize, that Christ as truth us here for the life of the entire world and that the divination, coming only through Christ as communion to the divine life (Peter 2nd, 1,4), is not only referring to man, but to the «whole of nature»[v].

e) Finally, the Eucharistic understanding of the truth makes clear, that the truth becomes freedom (John 8,32). As it has already been mentioned concerning the question on the fallen existence, freedom lies in this reference in the change between different abilities: between the denial and the affirmation, between good and evil. This ability of choice is based on the individualizations and the dissections of the being, and from these comes as a result, that man mentions intensely his whole being to his very self. The excess of these dissections are exactly that which we characterize as "catholicity" (authenticity) of the existence of Christ in His body, in the Catholic Church. This concerns this kind of authenticity in the existence, as presented by the Eucharistic community in its very structure[vi]. Freedom, which gives to the creation Christ as truth, is this liberation precisely from the division and the individualization and in this way the ability of discernment is created in the communion.

But if the truth as freedom has its basis in the Church, then a new viewing concerning the truth emerges, which cannot be defined form the freedom of choice, but from the movement of permanent affirmation, the continuous "amen". The congregated in the Eucharist people of God realizes this freedom in the form of this affirmation alone: it is not the "yes" and the "no" together, that God offers to Christ, but "yes" alone, which correlates to the eucharistic "amen" (Corinthians 2nd, 1, 19-20)[vii]. It is therefore clear, that the Eucharist include an understanding of the truth, which is not of this world and which appears perhaps as unreal and unsuitable in relation to life. But as we have already shown concerning our thoughts on Christology, the ontological content of the truth is not emptied, when none links it to another action other that the fallen. The individualization of being through the fall makes us look for security in different among them things, but the truth of communion does not offer to us such a kind of security. Much more it liberates us from the slavery of the objective «things» by placing all these things and us in the fact of communion. For this reason the Holy Spirit is both freedom and communion (Corinthians 2nd, 3,17; 13,13).

It is in communion alone that man is liberated. If the Church wants to be the place of freedom, then it much place all "objects" it possesses -whatever they might be (Scripture, Mysteries, offices, and others)- in the fact of communion so as to make them "real" and liberate its members against such objects, even though in these and through these become channels of communion. Christians must know, that they should not rely on "objective truths", guarantees on the truth, but that they should live in a summoning way, meaning to rely on the fact of communion, into which the structure of the Church imports them. The Truth liberates by placing the beings into communion.

[i] This is particularly clear in Ippolytos, Αποστ. Παραδ. 3 (prayer of the bishop's ordination).

[ii] This is how the fact that the ancient Church expressed its faith officially through the Synods of the bishops, meaning the leaders of the eucharistic communities and not the theologians.

[iii] See T. F. Torrance, Space, Time and Incarnation, London, New York, Oxford 1969.

[iv] As above.

[v] See Athanassius, Προς Σερ. I,23.

[vi] With more details on this point see J. D. Zizioulas, La communaute eucharistique et la catholicite de l'Eglise, in: Istina 14, 1969, pp. 67-88.

[vii] In the thought of the Greek Fathers, as we tried to show in this essay, the truth s placed over what we characterize as moral truth. The ability of choice, which the moral truth defines, originates from the individualization, as it is connected to the fall (see further above, III,1). At this point lies a true confinement of the truth, because choice refers to granted and consequently compulsory abilities. If God is placed over will (Athanassius) or beyond affirmation and denial (Maximus) (see further up, II,3 and 4), the Greek Fathers wanted at the same time to place freedom over the confinement of choice and granted: God is truly free, for He has nothing, which would be «granted» for Him and in this way exists beyond affirmation and denial. But this should not be just a negative statement. God is completely free with a much more positive sense and whatsmore, in His eternality, that is, cannot be compared to anything else, that, as any other being, has a beginning. He defines positively His existence through a fact of communion: He is the Father, for He has eternally a Son, through which he is self-defined as the Father (see further up, footnote 77). In this way the existence of God is presented truly free against something «granted» with a discernment, which is not enslaved to individualization. A freedom of this sort is offered to man in Christ as the eschatological glory of the children of God. The Holy Spirit is giving already a foretaste for as long as it is directing the community of the Church throughout history. In this sense the Eucharistic communion, as the completely special eschatological fact of the Church, is an affirmation (confirmation), an «amen». It reveals a situation of existence without denial, being itself free of every denial of the being and life, meaning death. Freedom, which lies in the affirmation through communion, is a freedom from individualization and death, an affirmation of being. Of course this is not some moral, but the ontological freedom, which originates from the identification of being and the truth through communion.


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