Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Catholicity of the Church according to Fr. Florovsky

“The Church was catholic even when Christian communities were but solitary rare islands in a sea of unbelief and paganism. And the Church will remain catholic even unto the end of time when the mystery of the “falling away” will be revealed, when the Church once more will dwindle to a “small flock”. “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” The Metropolitan Philaret expressed himself very adequately on this point: “If a city or a country falls away from the universal Church, the latter will still remain an integral, imperishable body”. Philaret uses here the word “universal” in the sense of catholicity. 

The conception of catholicity cannot be measured by its wide-world expansion; universality does not express it exactly. Καθολική from Καθόλου means, first of all, the inner wholeness and integrity of the Church’s life. We are speaking here of wholeness, not only of communion, and in any case not of a simple empirical communion…If catholicity also means universality, it certainly is not an empirical universality, but an ideal one; the communion of ideas, not of facts, is what it has in view. ..”[1] 

[1] Florovsky, George, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, (USA, Nordland Publishing Company, 1972), p. 40

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