Middle_Small

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS ECONOMIA?

Christ is Risen!  - Indeed He is Risen!

 

Since the union of ROCOR under Metropolitan Laurus with the Moscow Patriarchate, many ROCOR faithful have sought refuge in various Greek and other jurisdictions, mainly because of their desire to attend a true Orthodox Church near where they live. To their dismay, some have been told that they need to be rebaptized (correctly) &/or be re-chrismated because their jurisdiction does not accept economia as it has been practiced by ROCOR all these years.

 What is economia, exactly? It is MERCY, HUMILITY, and COMPASSION.  It is begging God for mercy and begging Him to forgive our weaknesses.  When an individual is received through confession, a true pastor (namely, the hierarch) joins with the person begging for forgiveness. From the prayers of contrition in the Old Testament to the current Prayer for Forgiveness on the day of the murder of Royal Family (July 4/17), the prayers are worded: "Forgive us for we have all sinned and gone astray." We include ourselves, even though we played 'no part' in their murder. What could be worse than turning away from God and turning to worship the golden calf??  Yet when God threatened to destroy all of the Israelites, Moses replied: "If Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of thy book which Thou hast written." (Exodus 32:32) {...then strike my name also from your Book of Life} Now THAT is intercession!

When it comes to economia, the proper mentality is: How many times has God overlooked our own lack of attention, our carelessness, our unworthiness, and yet still sends His Holy Spirit, consecrating the Holy Mysteries??  Should we not then also beg God to overlook the transgressions of the Faith of others? In economia, we beseech our Lord to ACCEPT our
unworthiness!  At every Eucharist, every servant, from the ‘lowly’ hieromonk to the patriarch beseeches our Lord to overlook his sins and not take away His Holy Spirit from us.  This is even more pointedly expressed in the ‘Secret Prayers’ in the Liturgy of St Basil: “May Ye not, because of my sins, block Thy Holy Spirit from these Gifts placed before Thee.” We find similar words of repentance in the ‘Secret Prayers’ of the priest preceding a baptism, yet when a layman, out of urgency, baptizes someone, no such prayers are said. Neither is the water blessed for the baptism!? Yet it has always been the practice to accept such a baptism, as long as this sacrament was properly done as commanded by Christ; in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and fulfill it with a Chrismation.
In the Eucharist, as with all other sacraments, we humbly beseech our Lord to fulfill with His all-capable Holy Spirit all that is lacking. Lest we forget, a Sacrament is an Act (Action) of the Holy Spirit. It does not come about through the fulfillment of the ritual itself. Those who rebaptize those who were ‘not properly baptized’ recognize without mercy, only the strict ritual – forgetting with Whom they are “dealing with” – our All-Capable God Whose love and mercy is without measure.
I personally know of an “improper baptism” in which a future high-ranking bishop was baptized as a five-year-old boy in the 1920’s by his grandmother. Fearing the parents of her grandson during this time of vicious persecution of the faithful in Russia as well as her own frail health, she baptized him in a tub in the barn. Catechumen prayers were not read, the water was not ‘properly’ blessed. There was not enough water in the tub to submerge the boy. Yet he was received into the Church Abroad through Chrismation.
We are all, regardless of how “righteous” we are, always – and I stress this; in all cases, at all times - totally dependant on God’s mercy and condescension. To deny the practice of economia is to deny that “Grace divine, which always healeth that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting, elevateth through the laying-on of the hands, N…”(Prayer of the sacrament of Ordination.)  Note the above word “always”….

 How can these people be absolutely sure that everyone who ordained the hierarchs that ordained the hierarchs who ordained them were properly baptized??  Do they not realize the magnitude of the confusion and uncertainty of the faithful who bore children in the years following the revolution of 1917? Many people have no idea of the conditions in the soviet union Christians had to suffer under, and what people had to do to survive both physically and spiritually under a regime designed to eliminate all religious belief.

Adamant sticking to the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law (of love and mercy and compassion) shows a lack of concern for the thousands of Russians and Americans who are now floundering. True Orthodox Christians are isolated enough as it is, having very few parishes where they can commune; these kinds of things only make True Orthodox more isolated. Mind you: This is not at the cost of dismissing Church Law and Dogma. Neither, through economia, do we acknowledge the validity of the sacraments of the Moscow Patriarchate* - nor is economia a modern day invention. St. Basil the Great attests to this, as well as our latest saint, St. Metropolitan Philaret of New York. Below is an excerpt from his letter on this subject.

If "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Luke, 3:8), would He not show economia and accept into His Kingdom (His Church) those on whose behalf we beseech His mercy? To say that this is not possible is to deny God's boundless mercy, to attempt to bind God by the Laws given to us to observe. "( I ) will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." (Exodus 33:19)

 

+Bishop Stefan, of Trenton & North America

Bright Week, 2010

 

 

*On the question of validity of the sacraments of the Moscow Patriarchate, it is sufficient
to quote Metropolitan Anastassy  (СБОРНИК ИЗБРАННЫХ СОЧИНЕНИЙ
МИТРОПОЛИТА АНАСТАСИЯ. Джорданвилль  1948г.  стр.219)

 

“One of two things: Either the Church – the unblemished Bride of Christ – is indeed the kingdom of Truth, then the Truth is the air, without which we can not breathe, or it is as the entire world that wallows in evil, lives by lies and through falsehoods. Then everything is a lie. Every word is false, every prayer, every sacrament.”

Excerpt from a letter on the question of Economy:

I want to also note the following: the Catacomb Church in Russia relates to the Church Abroad with love and complete trust.  However, for the catacomb people it is incomprehensible, why our Church, knowing without a doubt, that the soviet hierarchy has betrayed Christ and is no longer a bearer of grace, nonetheless receives clergy from the soviet church in their existing rank, not reordaining them, as though they have grace.  For the clergy and flock receive grace from the hierarchy – so if the latter betrayed the Truth and deprived itself of grace, then how could the clergy have received grace?  This is what the catacomb people ask.

The answer to this is simple.  The Church has the power in known cases to employ the principle of so-called economy – leniency.  In his day, St. Basil the Great used to say that at times, in order not to repel many from the Church, leniency must be permitted and Church rules should not be employed in full strictness.  When our Church received catholic clergy “in existing rank”, not ordaining them, it was acting according to this principle.  And Met. Anthony, in clarifying this question, indicated that the external form – successive laying on of the hands from apostolic times is something the Catholics have, while the grace which the catholic church has forfeited is received by those who join the Orthodox Church, from the fullness of grace, inherent to the Orthodox Church.  “Form is completed by content”, says Vladika Anthony.

In exactly the same way, when we receive the soviet clergy, we apply the principle of economy.  And we receive the clergy of Moscow not as ones who possess grace, but as ones who receive it during the joining itself.  But to recognize the church of the evil-doers as a bearer and guardian of grace, of course we can not.  For outside of Orthodoxy there is NO grace, and the soviet church has deprived itself of grace.

 

(Letter to Fr. V.P. from Metropolitan Philaret. New York. July 9, 1980.)

 

 

 

Middle_Small