As Lent approaches for many Western Christians, I am concerned about the wide gulf between Easter dates in the Eastern and Western churches. Over a month separates the two dates this year, March 23 and April 27. While we are not in communion with each other, it seems ridiculous that we can’t celebrate the resurrection of Christ on the same date. We both agree it happened, we both build our faiths around this central event. So why the hell can’t we celebrate it on the same date? The date of Easter is not a theological issue; rather, it is an issue of what date system is being used.
So to my Orthodox Brothers and Sisters, I say we need to get over ourselves. We need to compromise for the sake of our own souls. We aren’t giving in to the heterodox who sacked Constantinople, we aren’t selling out to those who excommunicated us. We are allowing ourselves to change, and change for the better of all Christians everywhere. The Orthodox generally have accepted the standard Western practice of Christmas on December 25 … is this really that much more difficult?
There are many things that need to be done in order to return to being one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. This is one area the Orthodox can easily step up in in good faith and say, we are willing to do this for the unity of the body. There are some things we will probably never accept, such as the universal authority of the bishop of Rome or the Western version of the Nicene Creed. We will have to make some concessions, such as possibly allowing the Pope to have authority over what could be deemed “Western” churches, but places him on the same level as the Ecumenical Patriarch or any of the other bishops of Orthodoxy, who will be allowed to run their individual flocks as they see fit. We will have to sort out a way to look at the filioque, such as changing the wording to “through the Son” instead of “and the Son,” as this comes closer to the Orthodox and historial understanding of the procession of the Spirit, while still maintaining that the Son has a hand in the process. The Orthodox are going to be FAR less willing to accomodate changes such as these. The West will need to take the smallest concessions as a victory, while at the same time being willing to make changes themselves.
So to my Western friends, have a blessed Lent, and pray for the unity of all.