Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Saint Ephrem: Christianity not Uniquely European, says Pope



Todays Audience -

In this week’s catechesis we turn to Saint Ephrem, the greatest of the Syriac Fathers and the most renowned poet of the patristic age. Saint Ephrem’s theology, deeply grounded in the Scriptures and profoundly orthodox in content, was expressed in poetic language marked by striking paradoxes and vivid imagery. Through his mastery of poetic symbolism, Ephrem sought to communicate, especially in his Hymns, the mystery of the trinitarian God, the incarnation of the eternal Son born of the Virgin Mary, and the spiritual treasures contained in the Eucharist. His poetry and hymns not only enriched the liturgy; they also proved an important means of catechesis for the Christian community in the fourth century. Particularly significant is Ephrem’s teaching on our redemption by Christ: his poetic descriptions of the interplay of the divine and human aspects of this great mystery foreshadowed the theology and, to some extent, even the language of the great christological definitions of the Councils of the next century. In his life-long service to the Church as a deacon, Saint Ephrem was an example of fidelity to the liturgy, meditation on the mystery of Christ and charitable service to his brothers and sisters.

In the preamble he had said:
Christianity is not and never has been a uniquely European phenomenon, and Christians of the West can learn much from the cultural expressions of Eastern Christians, especially those of the early church, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Today it is a common opinion that Christianity is a European religion that exported European culture to other countries, but the reality is much more complicated and complex."

"It is not only that the roots of the Christian religion are found in Jerusalem, in the Old Testament, in the Semitic world and Christianity is constantly nourished by these Old Testament roots," he said, "but the expansion of Christianity in the first centuries" went simultaneously West and East.

In Europe, but also throughout the Middle East and over to India, "Christianity with a different culture was formed," he said. Christians in the East lived the faith "with their own expressions and cultural identities," demonstrating "the cultural plurality of the one faith from the beginning."

With fewer than 8,000 people present, the weekly gathering was held inside the Vatican audience hall, offering greater protection from the cold and wind for the pope, whose voice was hoarse.

2 comments:

On the side of the angels said...

Think you should see this Father:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ukcorrespondents/holysmoke/november07/write-to-rome.htm#comments

Ottaviani said...

I think it is timely that the Holy Father has said this, especially one of the criticisms of the motu proprio is that the old rites are "too medieval European" and would not blend well with "African or Asian culture".

Christ came for all. It is fitting that we worship Him in unity - and our worship be in one hallowed tongue (Latin).