Tuesday, 14 September 2021

International Eucharistic Congress: President Janos and Patriarch Bartholomew I

 The website of the Budapest International Eucharistic Congress now carries reports of some of the events during the Congress. Two of these events have caught my eye.

The first is the testimony of the President of the Hungarian Republic, given on Friday 10th September, which is reported under the title: A coincidence or the will of the Lord? It is significant that a person who is the representative figure of the Hungarian state should be willing to offer a testimony at a Eucharistic Congress. President Janos testimony referred to three different situations where he believes he has experienced a "coincidence" that was rather a sign of God's presence. Do read the whole of the report to gain a full flavour of President Janos testimony.

The testimony of the President of the Republic of Hungary was closed with the conclusion that searching for and accepting God needs real activity, it cannot be a passive action. “We all receive our signs, and it is up to us whether we take them as a simple story or a parable. It is up to us to see it as a ‘coincidence’ or God’s action.” Áder János is of the belief that “if we well apply the talents we have been entrusted with, if we are looking for God in our hearts, souls, and actions, then we will surely find Him.”

It is also interesting to place this testimony alongside President Janos speech before the Hungarian National Assembly after his election as President in May 2012. A written text of that speech can be found here; a video recording with English subtitles is here. It is worth persevering through to the end, again to gain a sense of the full context. I have not yet had time to read President Janos' other speeches which are linked from those pages.

The second event is the speech of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. This was given before the celebration of Mass on the Saturday of the Congress, and the Eucharistic procession which followed the Mass. It is interesting that Patriarch Bartholomew I's speech was so closely linked to the Eucharistic celebration and procession, and there is a clear ecumenical significance in his being present.

Patriarch Bartholomew also spoke at length about the need of the reconciliation the Eastern and Western Churches. He declared: The eucharistic realization of the Church in the common chalice and in the shared Christian witness in the world is the vision and the dream of all of us”. Regarding the schism he cited Father Georges Florovsky who said that according to the plan of God should not have taken place”, since Christians belong to the very same spiritual space, East and West organically belong together in the unity of Christendom” – quoted again Father Florovsky according to whom we can call the two denominations cultural sisters” or even Siamese twins”. The Patriarch of Constantinople invited the pilgrims to pray to the merciful God to strengthen and bless our endeavors to advance on the path to unity”.

Patriarch Bartholomew also used a neat phrase to describe how the presence and actions of those who have celebrated the Eucharist should be lived as a kind of "liturgy after the Liturgy". The report of Patriarch Bartholomew's speech ends by referring to the recognition in the year 2000 of St Stephen of Hungary as a saint to be honoured by the Orthodox churches:

In 2000 in front of the Basilic of Saint Stephen’s Basilica His Holiness Bartholomew I Patriarch in a Holy Mass issued the bull about the honoring as saint of our first king Saint Stephen also in the orthodox church. The orthodox church leader’s gesture was extraordinary because since the schism on behalf of the the orthodox church there has been no example of recognition as own one of the Roman Catholic Church’s saint. The person of Saint Stephen, Hungarian king is a bridge between Eastern and Western Churches. 

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