Monday, September 9, 2013

Time in the Church

“In the life and existence of the Church time is mysteriously overcome and mastered, time, so to speak, stands still. It stands still not only because of the power of historical memory, or of imagination, which can “fly over the double barrier of time and space”; it stands still, because of the power of grace, which gathers together in catholic unity of life that which had become separated by walls built in the course of time. Unity in the Spirit embraces in a mysterious, time-conquering fashion, the faithful of all generations. This time-conquering unity is manifested and revealed in the experience of the Church, especially in its Eucharistic experience. The Church is the living image of eternity within time. The experience and life of the Church are not interrupted or broken up by time. This, too, is not only because of continuity in the super=personal outpouring of grace, but also because of the catholic inclusion of all that was, into the mysterious fullness of the present.

Therefore the history of the Church gives us not only successive changes, but also identity. In this sense communion with the saints is a communion sactorum. The Church knows that it is a unity of all times, and as such it builds up its life. Therefore the Church thinks of the past not as of something that is no ore, but as of something that has been accomplished, as something existing in the catholic fullness of the one Body of Christ. Tradition reflects this victory over time. To learn from tradition, or, still better, in tradition, is to learn from the fullness of this time-conquering experience of the Church, an experience which every member of the Church may learn to know and possess according to the measure of his spiritual manhood; according to the measure of his catholic development. It means that we can learn from history as we can from revelation”[1].    

[1] Florovsky, George, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, (Belmont, Nordland Publishing Company, 1972), p. 45-46

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