An essential comparison between Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – from Fr. Dumitru Staniloae (+1993), the greatest Romanian Orthodox theologian: “This is Orthodoxy: the presence of Christ.”
This is a recording from 1992.
Pictures from Mount Athos, Vatopedi Monastery © asceticexperience.com
Disclaimer: This video is not intended to be disrespectful to any Christian community in the West. It is a reminder for everyone of us on the importance of Mystery in the Christian faith.

Fr. Dumitru Staniloae:
Here in Orthodoxy we have this subtlety: God is present, but we are not confounded with Him. He doesn’t confound Himself with us. We are not pantheists. We do not get lost in the divine essence. But we are not separated from Him either.

You see, for the Catholics, Holy Mysteries are linked to a so-called ‘created grace’. God creates a grace and helps us with it. But He is far away. The Pope manipulates this created grace, the bishops as well… and he imparts to us the merits that Christ has earned for us… a religion of merits… a religion that leaves us separated…
And then the Protestants came and said, ‘Why do we need Mysteries then? If they don’t give us Christ Himself through His uncreated energy… God Himself…’ And the protestant denominations came and completely destroyed the Mystery… ‘We don’t need mysteries anymore!’ And everything that remained was a distant Christ, a Christ of speeches… We know about Him, we praise Him, we sing to Him, but we do not have Him in us…

While here [in Orthodoxy] everything is sanctified through His presence. We sanctify the bread by His presence, we sanctify food by His presence, we sanctify all our acts by His presence… and He is present with His works…
This is Orthodoxy: the presence of Christ.
The Western world is a world of separation from God or of confusion between God and world.
From the West came to us all these philosophies that confuse the world with God and say that the world is the ultimate reality… or they keep God distant (in the case of sects)… And we want to take them as a model… We don’t realize what we already have! It’s us who should give them! And in fact, many Westerners are starting to realize this and they seek to become Orthodox, to translate our books, to read the Holy Fathers, where this conception of the value of the person was developed…

They had an adolescent mind… came out of barbarism… an intellect that separates… “This is something, that is something else…” separated… “This is God, this is where the world begins…” This rationalism has brought certain things to the West, it has brought an organization of life, technique… but they don’t see the Mystery of existence… They are very poor in this respect…

But we have this feeling of Mystery. Even in the world, in the beauty of the world, we see the presence of God. In us there is no separation between reasoning and the feeling of Mystery. The more we know the harmonious richness of the world, the more we see life, the Mystery of God, the more we live this Mystery of God. The faith is much more complex, much more refined, in the way we live it, the faith of the Gospel, which came after all philosophies, surpassing all philosophies.

In the Holy Fathers we have the highest thought: a union between reason and Mystery. This reason, the more it sees the wealth and harmony of the world, the more it sees its mystery…

This is the difference between us and the West when it comes to faith.

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