A kind friend has sent me a copy of the weekly newsletter of an American Melkite parish which observes the Gregorian Calendar and, today, the Second Sunday in Lent, is commemorating both S Gregory Palamas and the Holy Relics.
I regard S Gregory as one of the Church's greatest Doctors of Theosis, the vocation of every Christian to live out his share by adoptive filiation in the Divinity of the God-Man Himself. He was also one of the most forthright preachers I know of the Doctrine that the Most Holy Mother of God is the Mediatrix of all Graces. How can she not be?
He was not in canonical communion with the See of Rome!
His Commemoration was put onto this Sunday by a Patriarch of Constantinople a few years after his death and canonisation. Neither that Patriarch, nor the Synod which had canonised S Gregory, was canonically in communion with the See of Rome.
The lawful line of the Patriarchs of Antioch, successors of S Peter and of S Ignatius, happily came back into full communion with the other Petrine See in the 1700s; it is a jolly coincidence that, only a few days ago, we celebrated the old Roman festival of the Pontifical Chair of S Peter at Antioch. But, in the years that followed, S Gregory was an embarrassment. Latin theologians often deemed it their duty to call him a heretic. So, in the 1800s, Patriarch Maximos Mazloum, a great pontiff who had secured from the Ottomans legal recognition of his Melkite people, placed the Commemoration of the Relics on this Sunday, displacing the remembrance of S Gregory Palamas.
I find it a matter of great joy that the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch (etc.) now keeps both of these observances. Thus the commemoration of S Gregory has re-acquired full Petrine authority. Envious Latins may also observe that Byzantine liturgical instincts do not share the superstition that gripped the Vatican's monomaniac 'liturgical reformers' of the 1960s, the idea that any day may have only one strong liturgical theme.
Some silly games are currently being played by PF and others with increasingly liberal strands of Lutheranism. In reaction, some traditionalists have, perhaps naturally, taken refuge in rigorist attitudes towards shared Sacramental Communion with any Christians not in full and canonical communion with the See of Rome. But these attitudes cannot, without considerable violence to history, be made to apply to Sister Churches (that is to say, dioceses) with valid ministries and Sacraments, which are true (though wounded) Particular Churches. This fact, consistently asserted in the Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI (Communionis notio, Dominus Iesus), simply reflects what had been the realities of ecclesial life under the Magisterium of successive Roman Pontiffs throughout the previous five centuries, down to and including Blessed Pius IX and S Pius X.
I shall return to this later today.