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 — May 21, 200521 mai 2005
 

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ — How those involved see it

by the Revd Dr Nicholas Sagovsky for The Tablet

Some of the liveliest debates at ARCIC meetings have been over titles. We worked together for five years on the “Mary document”, so we all have strong feelings about the progress we made and the best way to present it. “Put Mary in the title”, said one member, “and it will fly off the shelves.” “Put grace and hope in the title”, said another, “because that’s how we have approached the two Marian dogmas.” “Put Christ in the title,” we all agreed, because again and again we reminded each other that the Church is interested in Mary because she is the mother of the Lord.

ARCIC does not set its own agenda. We worked on Mary because we were asked for “a study of Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church” and because of the acknowledged differences between our two communions over Mariological teaching.

For Anglicans like myself this was a voyage of discovery. As we studied the place of Mary in the devotion of the early centuries, among the Orthodox and among Catholic Christians of the West, I began to realise that in much Anglican worship this devotion is conspicuous by its absence. Yet Mary is prominent in the New Testament and many Anglican churches have an ancient dedication to St Mary. The larger ones, especially the cathedrals, almost always have their Lady Chapel. After the recent revisions of the liturgy, a feast of Mary is widely celebrated on 15 August throughout the Anglican Communion.

Much of the additional drafting for the document, between our major meetings, was done at the Benedictine monastery of Chevetogne, which was founded by Dom Lambert Beauduin, one of the pioneers of Christian unity in the early twentieth century. The monastery has two chapels, where the liturgy is celebrated according to the Byzantine and Latin rites. Here our work on Mary was set in the context of prayer, the beauty of icons and, with the help of our consultant, Dom Emmanuel Lanne, a lively appreciation of patristic and Eastern perspectives.

We had major meetings in Paris, Dublin, Florida and Seattle: nine-day residentials in which our work progressed in a spirit of prayer and friendship. The presidency at the Eucharist alternated: thus we had a daily reminder of what it means for sisters and brothers not fully to “dwell in unity”. In the working sessions we never sat as “delegations”, and there are no “trade-offs” in the final text.

We often spoke about “the ARCIC method” of going behind entrenched positions to find again what we have in common, and it was often the insights of the East (Mary as “all-holy”; the “dormition” of Mary) which helped us approach the problems that have divided the West, with its history of Augustinianism and scholasticism and its Reformation arguments over how to read the Bible.

There was a real sense that by the time the document was written, we had come, with the help of Pauline theology, to a fresh understanding of the place of Mary in the Christian faith. Within and between our traditions there are differing emphases and diverse understandings — but not so diverse, ARCIC now suggests, as to justify our continued separation at the Eucharist.

Posted: May 21, 2005 • Permanent link: ecu.net/?p=6678
Categories: The TabletIn this article: ARCIC, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism, Mary
Transmis : 21 mai 2005 • Lien permanente : ecu.net/?p=6678
Catégorie : The TabletDans cet article : ARCIC, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism, Mary


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