June 26, 2016
Catholicity and Health
Just as one does not attain all of the Truth on his or her own, one cannot heal or save one’s own self. We will all be saved together as brothers and sisters through our humility, self-denial and our willingness to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will bring us into the Church. There, we will come to know the Truth: our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Father. The Church’s ability to cure is expressed and accomplished within the gathering of its faithful and its synodical make-up in which its catholicity is experienced.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem stresses that the Church is called Catholic “because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely (catholically and unceasingly) all the dogmas that humans need to know, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned to true worship; lastly, because it catholically (completely) treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is expressed both in deeds, words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts” (Catechism 18:23).
But true catholicity is inner catholicity which is expressed in and through external catholicity (Fr. George Florovsky). The structural unity of the Church, each local community and each member, is obliged to be structurally “catholicized”; in other words, to be newly embodied in heart and soul and inwardly united with the love and philanthropy of the Triadic God.
There is no doubt that the catholicity of the Church is a given. Even if a person or a community or a nation separates itself from the universal Church, the catholicity of the Church will remain intact and incorruptible (Philoret Metropolitan of Moscow, 1886). Every alienation of persons must be overcome and every spiritual distinction between what is “mine” and “yours” must be abandoned in Christ (St. John Chrysostom).
If we question the catholicity of the Church, that would means that we question if the Resurrected Christ has not been glorified, if the Comforter is absent from the life of the Church and if there is no absolute salvation for each of us.
Even though we struggle to safeguard the “the unity of faith in the bond of peace” (Eph.4:3), the Body of Christ continues to be wounded and crucified from the lack of love and the disunity that exists amongst us. Therefore, the catholicity of the Church is a problem that every local Church and every faithful person has to solve (Fr. George Florovsky). This solution will not be finalized until “the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels” (Math. 16:27).
Thus, our hope for the treatment and healing of our sicknesses and our sins and for the salvation of Mankind depends on our efforts toward and our prayers for the unity of all, the stability and catholicity of the Church that will be perfected in the life of the future age.