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Eucharistic ecclesiology of Nicolas Afanasiev and its ecumenical significance: a new perspective.

I. Introduction

Eucharistic ecclesiology has shaped theological discussion on the nature of the church in the second half of the twentieth century. Russian Orthodox theologian Nicolas Afanasiev (1893-1966), who coined the term "eucharistic ecclesiology," was one of the first theologians who experienced and articulated the vision of the church in light of the eucharistic mystery. (1) He was the only Orthodox theologian whose work was specifically mentioned in the records of the proceedings of Vatican II. (2)

However, Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology is often criticized for an alleged one-sidedness manifested in so-called localism, or congregationalism, that is, favoring the local church over the universal church, neglecting the role of bishops in the unity of the church, and even equating parishes with the local church. There is no lack of authors who offer their corrections of Afanasiev's work. Before his teaching can be corrected, however, it needs to be understood. Close examination of Afanasiev's critics reveals that they rarely include even a brief mention of the founding principles of eucharistic ecclesiology as they were formulated by Afanasiev himself. At the same time, his critics base their statements on a small number of his essays and the works of other theologians, almost never referring to his two most important works: his book The Church of the Holy Spirit and his programmatic essay Lord's Supper (also translated as Banquet of the Lord). (3) Some of Afanasiev's core insights, such as the notion of eucharistic assembly and the development of the interrelation of the laity and the church hierarchy, have rarely been topics of a fruitful theological discussion. (4)

This situation, when Afanasiev is better known through the works of his critics than through his own works, is understandable since very few scholars actually had an opportunity to grasp Afanasiev's vision in its entirety and integrity. For many years, Afanasiev's published works were available only in Russian and French. Only recently, an effort led by Fr. Michael Plekon resulted in the publication of English translations of some--but not all--of his major works. For example, Afanasiev's major work, The Church of the Holy Spirit, which was started in the 1940's, was published only after his death, first in Russian in 1971, and then in French in 1975. (5) It appeared in English only in 2007. His major essay, Lord's Supper, which summarized the insights of The Church of the Holy Spirit, was published in Paris in 1952 in Russian, but was never published in English. As a result, of his two works that could have contextualized Afanasiev's thought, only one became available to wider theological circles, and then only in 2007. The bulk of his lectures and studies still remain unpublished. Copies of some of these materials were circulated in St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary circles for years, and now some of them are available on the Internet. (6) Beyond that, his lectures and studies have not been widely distributed.

The thesis of this essay is that the incorporation of The Church of the Holy Spirit and Lord's Supper into theological reflection radically recontextualizes Afanasiev's ecclesiological vision by grounding it in his notion of the eucharistic assembly. This not only refutes much of the criticism addressed against his work, but it also moves the attention of the theological community beyond Afanasiev's often-discussed position on the relationship of local and universal churches to a potentially fruitful use of the notion of the eucharistic assembly as a lens for viewing all aspects of the Christian life, particularly the regretful divisions inside the church.

To demonstrate this thesis, I will first give an overview of Afanasiev's work that is not centered on a concern about the relationship between local and universal churches (which, I believe, was not Afanasiev's main concern) but that instead focus on his notion of eucharistic assembly, its historical metamorphoses, and the eventual decline in the church's self-consciousness. At the same time 1 will show how this re-vision of Afanasiev's work addresses some of the most "stereotypical" criticisms of Afanasiev that can be found in English-language publications in the United States. In conclusion, I will reflect on how Afanasiev's "ecclesiology of eucharistic assembly" may provide new insight into the theory and practice of ecumenism today.

II. Afanasiev's Teaching on Eucharistic Assembly and the Unity of the Church and Some Criticisms

In his work, Afanasiev combined the insights of Slavophilism, a movement in Russian religious thought of the nineteenth century, and of the so-called Russian religious renaissance of the beginning of the twentieth century. (7) His eucharistic ecclesiology balanced the Slavophiles' emphasis on the essentially invisible mystical communion of the church, brought into being by the Holy Spirit, by reconnecting it with the empirical life of the church through its sacramental worship

Afanasiev, a canon law professor and canon law advisor to his bishops for most of his professional life, came into theology by way of studying the history of the early church, especially the juridical mechanisms at work in the church throughout its history. (8) This allowed him to develop a dynamic vision of how the Holy Spirit works in the life of the church. Afanasiev noticed that ecclesial creativity and development often borrowed forms from civil society, especially in the area of church governance. In order to evaluate the validity of such additions, Afanasiev looked into the life of the early church. He neither considered the early church or any other period as ideal, nor did he flatly condemn as negative later developments in the life of the church because the Spirit never stopped working in the church. He tried to identify the normative patterns of both teaching and liturgical practice of the early church, being careful to distinguish these patterns from concrete forms of ecclesial practice, teaching, and governance, since the latter were often borrowed from civil society.

The Church of the Holy Spirit makes it clear that Afanasiev's normative pattern and criterion for judging whether the mystical reality of the church expresses itself properly in the structures of the church is the eucharistic assembly. In Lord's Supper he also argues that the liturgical tradition that formed very early in the life of the church preserved this eucharistic self-perception of the early church. However, later changes in liturgical practices reflected a weakening in the church's self-understanding of the connection between ecclesiology and eucharistic celebration. Therefore, Afanasiev asserted that the study of the liturgy can help to retrieve its ecclesiological aspects that were forgotten in the later practice of the church. (9)

The notion of "eucharistic assembly" is a key to understanding Afanasiev's ecclesiology. According to Afanasiev, eucharistic assembly is an assembly of the priestly people gathered together through time and space by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ for the sacred service to God. In Lord's Supper he singled out three essential features of the eucharistic assembly as it was perceived by the Fathers and the early church: (1) It is an assembly of all, an assembly of the church and not of a selected few. (2) The eucharistic assembly is gathered for the service of God manifested in concelebration of all baptized with the presider. (3) The eucharistic assembly is always an assembly gathered around a bishop's altar.

Developing the first feature of the eucharistic assembly in Lord's Supper, Afanasiev stated that the key element of the early ecclesial consciousness was "epi to auto," or "gathering as one." The principle of epi to auto is so important that, in the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, unless one understands that "gathering as Church" is the first liturgical act, then "one cannot understand the rest of the celebration," and one cannot make the connection between what is accomplished in the eucharist and his or her own life. (10) In the early Church, "gathering as one" referred to the nature and purpose of the gathering, since the eucharist is the place where the service of worship of God is offered by the whole church. In the celebration of the eucharist all its participants are drawn by the power of the Holy Spirit into unity with Christ so that Christ can return them to God. Therefore, according to Afanasiev, for the early Christians eucharistic assembly was the principle of unity of the local church and at the same time it was the principle of unity of the church of God. (11)

Afanasiev showed that the literal unity of the eucharistic assembly inevitably was broken by the growing numbers of Christians and assemblies. Frequent celebrations of the eucharist on days other than Sunday by smaller groups of devout Christians also contributed to the weakening of the common eucharistic life. (12) However, the tradition of "fermentum" continued to preserve the principle of epi to auto in the consciousness of the Church and to demonstrate the centrality of the episcopal eucharist in the first centuries. Still, the breaking of the literal unity of the assembly contributed to a loss of understanding of the liturgy as an action of the entire church and to a weakening of the eucharistic unity of the church in the consciousness of Christianity. (13)

The second necessary mark of the eucharistic assembly--concelebration of all baptized with the presider during the eucharistic celebration--is rarely, if ever, mentioned in discussions of Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology. Even in such a comprehensive book on Afanasiev as Aidan Nichols's Theology in the Russian Diaspora, the author, while mentioning all three essential features of the eucharistic assembly, did not adequately represent this second feature. In his book Nichols used such terms as "co-liturgists," "co-celebration," "concelebration," and "common ministry of the faithful in the eucharist" to translate the Russian word "sosluzhenie" used by Afanasiev. (14) "Sosluzhenie" is identical to the word "concelebration" as it is used for the current practice in the Roman Catholic Church when multiple priests preside at the celebration of the eucharist with or without a bishop as a principle presider. Nichols's use of such a wide array of terms dilutes the meaning of concelebration as a mode of common participation of all baptized in the liturgy.

Afanasiev based his notion of concelebration on the fact that the life of the primitive church was founded on the ministry of all the baptized. As fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible prophecy that "it will come to pass in the last days, God says, that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17), (15) all receive the gift of royal priesthood in the sacraments of initiation. (16) The priestly ministry and charismatic giftedness of all members of the church is expressed in the eucharistic assembly, in which the fullness of the church of God is manifested because "[t]he Church is where Christ is, but Christ is always present in the fullness of the unity of his Body in the Eucharist." (17) In the early church there were no observers at the eucharist, as all concelebrated the eucharist led by the presider. This concelebration was not viewed as "some kind of dialogue between lay people and clergy during the divine service." (18) Rather, the concelebration was a true and full participation of the assembly led by the presider, while participation of the assembly and its presider differed not in degree but in their relationship to the eucharistic assembly. (19)

The common service of God by the holy people in the eucharistic assembly found its fullest "expression in that all together received the holy mysteries." (20) According to Afanasiev, from the first days after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to belong to the church meant to participate in the eucharistic assembly. That is why initiation into the church was concluded with participation in the eucharist. However, gradually there developed an idea of "worthiness" and "unworthiness" for the celebration of the eucharist. Abstinence from communion created the situation when some simply "attended" the eucharist rather than participated in its celebration. Afanasiev thinks that the idea of "unworthiness" also influenced the eventual separation of the assembly into "consecrated" and "non-consecrated" members and darkening in the church's consciousness of the idea of concelebration of an assembly and a presider. Presiders were no longer viewed as endowed with a special charism of presidency over the priestly People of God. They became a consecrated few who were endowed with special powers to conduct sacral acts on behalf of the baptized but without the necessary participation of the baptized. This shift in attitude was reflected in the liturgy of the church in the introduction of silent reading of sacramental prayers and limitation of the access to the "holy things" by moving the altar away from the assembly. In the Eastern churches, iconostasis was no longer interpreted as a bringing together of the heavenly and earthly assemblies but as a way to separate "holy things" from the assembly.

The omission of the principle of concelebration as a key component of the eucharistic assembly inevitably leads to a narrow, "reduced" understanding of liturgical celebration as existing somewhat autonomously and alongside other aspects of Christian life.

Finally, Afanasiev repeatedly stressed that in the consciousness of the early church eucharistic assembly was an assembly gathered around one bishop. In The Church of the Holy Spirit Afanasiev showed how the episcopate and presbyterate necessarily emerged from the royal priesthood of all baptized as required by the eucharistic liturgy. Referring to the words of St. Paul that "everything must be done properly and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40) because God "is not the God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor. 14:33), (21) Afanasiev refuted the opinion that the early church existed in a state of some kind of charismatic anarchy. From the very beginning there was an order in the church, the order necessitated by and originated from the needs of the eucharistic assembly. Therefore, bishops are "an ontological necessity" for the life of the church. (22)

Development of an episcopate and presbyterate, however, did not undermine "the baptismal and charismatic identity of all the members of the eucharistic assembly, laity as well as clergy." (23) Afanasiev clearly stated that the eucharistic assembly is an assembly of the royal priesthood under the presidency of one endowed with a special charismatic gift and a unique ministry of presidency--but not a different degree of priesthood. Although modern Catholic and Orthodox theologies tend to emphasize the right of the bishop to celebrate the sacrament of ordination as a basic distinction between the ministries of bishops and presbyters, Afanasiev insisted that in the early church there was no subdivision of the presider's ministry, because "the ministry of presidency was one as the eucharistic assembly was one and as the Church was one." (24)

Nevertheless, the eventual rejection of the eucharistic foundation of episcopal authority contributed to obscuring the idea of one eucharistic assembly around one bishop. Afanasiev linked a mutation of the foundation of episcopal authority with the acceptance of the municipal principle of organization (after Greek cities) as a principle of unity of the local church. He called it "the most important mutation which occurred in the life of the Church." (25) "The imperial church rejected this [eucharistic] source by affirming that to preside over the church of a small town or little village would lessen the dignity of the bishop. Having rejected the eucharistic foundation of episcopal authority, the consciousness of the church needed to borrow a juridical principle from empirical social life, since nothing else in the Church could justify this authority." (26)

The development of parishes, which Afanasiev called a deviation from the ancient practice of the church, further contributed to the distancing of the bishop from the eucharistic assembly. Ironically, Afanasiev has sometimes been criticized for equating parishes with local churches. (27) This criticism can not be supported by any textual evidence. Afanasiev wrote that the "appearance of parishes was related to the violation of the main principle of the ancient teaching of the Church about one eucharistic assembly within one episcopal church." (28) Therefore, Afanasiev was concerned that, in modern parishes, priests rather than bishops de facto fulfill the three offices of the presider of the eucharistic assembly such as priest, prophet, and king. Although during his life time Afanasiev did not develop a comprehensive theology of the parish, he considered it to be a very urgent ecclesiological task.

The notion of eucharistic assembly is a key to understanding Afanasiev's ecclesiology because, according to him, the oneness of the eucharistic assembly in time and space maintains the unity of the diverse manifestations of the One Church through the multiplicity of local churches:
 Empirically, the unity and fullness of the Church of God are
 expressed through the multiplicity of the local churches, each of
 which manifests not a part of but the fullness of the Church of
 God. For this reason, the multiplicity of the local churches, in
 empirical reality, guards the unity and fullness of the Church,
 that is, its catholicity. The unity of the local church itself is
 manifest in its one eucharistic assembly. The Church is one since
 it has one eucharistic assembly in which God's priestly people are
 gathered. Since Christ yesterday, today, and forever is one and the
 same, ... in both space and time the eucharistic assembly remains
 one and the same. (29)

His famous exposition of two different ecclesiologies--universal and eucharistic--first appeared in an essay that appeared in Russian in 1934. (30) The very name of this essay suggests that the author was studying two visions of one universal church, not the relationship between local and universal churches as two different churches. Afanasiev found evidence for these two visions of the church in the writings of two Fathers of the early church, St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258 C.E.) and St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 35-110 C.E.).

Universal ecclesiology, which eventually became dominant in both Eastern and Western churches, is rooted in the vision of Cyprian. Afanasiev held that what Paul said about the members of the community in 1Cor. 12:12-27 was imposed by Cyprian onto the communities united in the Body of Christ. According to Cyprian, each local church is like a member of the Body of Christ, but the universal church is the aggregate of the local churches. Only as parts of the universal church do local churches possess the fullness of the church. The unity of the church is guaranteed by the single episcopacy. "Just as one church is diffused into many churches, so is the single episcopate into many bishops." (31)

Afanasiev traced the foundations of eucharistic ecclesiology to the writings of Ignatius. According to Ignatius, where Christ is, there is the fullness of the church. Since Christ is present in the eucharistic celebration, then the fullness of the church is present in the eucharistic assembly. The eucharist cannot be celebrated without a bishop because, for Ignatius, a bishop is the only presider of the local church.

Following Ignatius, Afanasiev further developed eucharistic ecclesiology, noting that there are two passages from Paul that call both the eucharistic bread (1 Cor. 10:16) and the local church (1 Cor. 12:27) the "Body of Christ" in the context of the eucharistic celebration. In both cases, Paul proclaims the real presence of Christ. Therefore, each local church is the church of God in Christ because Christ is present in his body, the eucharistic assembly. In communion, all faithful become members of the whole body, not just a part of it. Similarly, each eucharistic assembly is the whole church, not just a part of it. During the eucharistic celebration, the local church experiences itself as a unified body, as the living Body of Christ.

Afanasiev is often criticized for his purported exaggeration of Ignatian and Cyprianic ecclesiologies and especially for his neglecting to notice the eucharistic elements in Cyprian's writings. In my opinion, this criticism is based on misinterpretation of Afanasiev's intentions. A careful reading of his works shows that he did not try to evaluate the whole of St. Cyprian's ecclesiology. All Afanasiev tried to do was to point out that Cyprian's thought contained a seed of universal ecclesiology, which, with the conversion of Constantine, rather quickly developed and became dominant in the church's self-reflection.

Afanasiev stressed that the principal difference between the two ecclesiologies is not in the priority of either universal or local church, but it is in the principle of unity of the local churches. Universal ecclesiology insists that the fullness and unity of the One Church is manifested in the multitude of local churches and is guaranteed by the single episcopacy that is extrinsic to the local churches themselves. Eucharistic ecclesiology insists that the fullness of the One Church is manifested in each local church, no matter how small and remote it is, and is intrinsically guaranteed by the oneness of Christ that is manifested in each eucharistic assembly. (32) The important insight of Afanasiev is that the latter was the way the early church perceived itself. Afanasiev was convinced that, though dominant through most of the history of the church, universal ecclesiology--no matter how "legitimate, correct, and perhaps inescapable in the conditions of our life" it may look--was not the only and not the most original way of perceiving the church's internal unity. (33) Eucharistic ecclesiology was the primordial way that the church understood itself as it is preserved and expressed in the eucharistic celebration of the church.

The difference between eucharistic and universal ecclesiologies is often misinterpreted as ecclesiologies favoring, respectively, the local and the universal church. For example, John Zizioulas in his Being as Communion wrote,
 Ever since Afanasiev ... it is often too easily assumed that
 eucharistic ecclesiology leads to the priority of the local Church
 over the universal, to a kind of "congregationalism."... Afanasiev
 was wrong in drawing such conclusions, because the nature of the
 eucharist points not in the direction of the priority of the local
 Church but in that of the simultaneity of both local and
 universal." (34)

However, Afanasiev never spoke about the priority of the local church over the universal church. In fact, the whole question of placing the local church against the universal church, as if they are two different churches, would have been alien to him. The only church he wrote about in all of his works is the one church of God. In both ecclesiologies, Afanasiev would say, the universal church is not something over and above, or alongside local churches, but it is the one church of Christ manifested in the local churches, and the local church is the manifestation of the universal church in its place.

Critics also often see in Afanasiev's ecclesiology an exaggerated view of self-sufficiency of the local church, resulting in "localism" or "congregationalism" of his ecclesiological views. I believe that much of this criticism is rooted in the basic misunderstanding of what Afanasiev called the "eucharistic assembly." It is crucial to remember that for Afanasiev, "The eucharistic assembly was not merely an actual gathering of the members of this one local church, but was an assembly of the Church in all its fullness as an assembly of God's people in Christ" that is actualized in this place. (35) When he wrote about "isolated churches," he did not describe any abstract normative situation of the church's life but simply a historical reality of the early church. According to historical evidence that he gathered, the local churches led by bishops indeed were autonomous and independent because they contained in themselves everything necessary for their lives. However, these churches never thought of themselves as isolated, because they were participating in "one eucharistic assembly in which God's priestly people are gathered." (36) The churches "could not live apart from the other churches" because their unity was based on the unity of the One Church. (37) In order to live as the church of God in Christ in conformity with the will of God, the local churches relied on each other's mutual witness. (38)

Orthodox criticism of Afanasiev highlights another aspect of his eucharistic ecclesiology. A good example of such criticism is presented by the remarks of Fr. John Meyendorff, a prominent Orthodox scholar and a student of Afanasiev. Meyendorff has serious reservations about Afanasiev's work because, in his own words, the "so-called 'Eucharistic ecclesiology' can succumb to the same temptation: that of identifying the Church with the sacramental presence to the point of forgetting what this presence implies." (39) To avoid this "danger" one should not conceive the eucharist "'in the void' without relation to the entire mission of the Church, without taking into account the conditions--especially faithfulness to the Truth as Tradition--which make the Eucharist possible." (40) According to Meyendorff, Afanasiev failed in that task; therefore, he has characterized Afanasiev's position as "one-sided" (41) and as "eucharistic extremism." (42)

Although Meyendorff did not refer to any particular passages from Afanasiev to illustrate his points, I think that the "conditions" that he noted in the above-quoted passage are the conditions necessary for the local eucharist to be authentic. Meyendorff here agrees with Zizioulas that Afanasiev's works lack an articulation of the role of the episcopacy in the unity of the church and as a criterion of the authenticity of the eucharistic celebration by the local church. It is true, that for Afanasiev the unity of the episcopacy was always connected with and was not prior to the unity of the eucharistic assembly. However, Afanasiev by no means dissolved the unity of the church by thinking that any particular church could simply "authenticate" itself. For Afanasiev, the internal unity of local churches excluded any possibility of "isolation and introversion" since it is the same Spirit that gives common life to all churches. (43) Since all churches share in the common life, their mutual witness, or mutual reception, authenticates the life of each particular church.

Afanasiev's concept of mutual reception as a model of relationship between different local churches that are diverse manifestations of the One Church deserves a closer look. He laid out this concept in his well-known essay "Una sancta." Here he further developed the idea of the unity of the local churches through their internal nature and reciprocal, or mutual, reception, so that "[w]hatever happened in her [one of the churches] happened in the union of all the churches. The fullness and unity of the Church was felt and experienced by each local church." (44) Nichols, in his analysis of the concept of mutual reception in Afanasiev's ecclesiology, noted that "the concept of witness has, manifestly, deep biblical roots, and soteriologically carries much fuller implications than our present-day forensic use of the term would imply." (45) However, Nichols concluded that even considering the deeper sense of the model of marturia (witnessing), it cannot carry the weight of a criterion for authenticity of church life. Nevertheless, Nichols agreed that, on the level of practical relationships between churches, this model of mutual reception is justified, for it adequately reflects "the fundamental ontological equality of the local churches," which excludes any constraint or domination. (46)

In addressing the perceived problem of Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology as containing a weak criterion for authenticity of the church, one should remember that for Afanasiev not only the word "witness" but, most importantly, the word "love" has a higher weight then commonly perceived. When he wrote about "the agreement in Love of the local churches," he did not refer to love as an elusive emotional state and general friendliness. (47) Love for him was an actual, effective binding and transformative power that forever abides in the church of God:
 If the power founded upon love is insufficient in actual life,
 which has lost the principle of love, it is on the contrary
 completely sufficient in the Church, where love is the first and
 the last principle. Juridical power is a substitute for love in
 actual social life, a substitute as perfect as possible in a very
 imperfect life. In the Church, where perfect love dwells, there is
 no need for such a substitute. (48)

Here Afanasiev denied a juridical basis of church unity in favor of a Spirit-enabled sacramental basis. However, Afanasiev's rejection of the juridical power in the church should not be understood as a denial of the existence of order in the church and neglect of the need for its visible structures. On the contrary, he objected to the depiction by some scholars of life in the early church as some sort of "blessed anarchy" devoid of any governing structure. What Afanasiev tried to make clear is that the source of the church's order is not in the law, which is a reflection of human will, but in the work of the Spirit. If the unity of the church has a juridical basis, then the unity can be broken simply by breaking the law. For Afanasiev, the unity was always there, because it was the unity of one Christ, not a juridical unity. Governing structures do not guarantee this unity, but they are necessary for the life of the church as visible changeable manifestations of that unity and external expressions of it. (49)

III. Ecumenical Dimensions of Afanasiev's Works

Afanasiev always closely integrated his historical and theological inquiry into the mystery of the church into the state of contemporary Christianity in the West and especially into the state of the relationship between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. His main ecumenical insight is that the problems of the divided church are of the same nature as the problems of the eucharistic assembly. As mentioned above, in Lord's Supper and also in The Church of the Holy Spirit, Afanasiev showed how, gradually, in a process that spanned centuries, the meaning of the eucharistic assembly became obscured in the church's self-understanding. Plekon aptly called this "slippage of the Eucharist from the central, defining action of the Church to merely one of many services performed" the "dissolution" of the eucharistic assembly. (50)

Afanasiev noticed that the dissolution of the notion of the church as a eucharistic assembly of priestly people gathered in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for service to God had serious consequences for the fate of the entire ecclesial organization. On the one hand, "The Church as established by Christ has remained integral throughout the course of history. She has not changed nor can she change." (51) On the other hand, the historical existence of the Church affected its empirical manifestations. The empirical manifestations were naturally infused with the ideas and structures borrowed from the civil society. During the long history of the church, the empirical principles gradually replaced ecclesiological ones and thus provoked distortions in the life of the church. As Plekon noted, Afanasiev recognized that one of the most serious distortions in the life of the church was caused by "the separation of the structure and organization of the Church from the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist." (52)

Afanasiev was particularly passionate about the distortions in the life of the church caused by an individualistic understanding of the church's sacramental worship. Modern day Christians are afflicted by individualism because they do not experience the One Church in their worship:
 We profess faith in "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church["]
 ... but this faith goes completely unrealized in our actual life
 .... We cannot even explain why we profess our faith in the Church.
 Each one remains a separate atom in relation to all the others whom
 we do not even know. Often, we do not know those with whom we
 approach the chalice. We enter the church building for ourselves
 alone, and not in order "to gather together as church." The
 neurological center of individualism lies in the Eucharist. The
 foundational principle of "always all and always together"
 manifests itself most fully in the Eucharistic gathering, which is
 the gathering of all for one and the same thing... Everyone
 ministers to God at the Eucharist. Neither separate groups [nor]
 separate members celebrate: it is the Church that celebrates. (53)

An individualistic perception of rites of the church as individual acts performed for the benefit of the individual obscures the very essence of eucharistic communication in which Christ saves us as individuals only because we all belong to Christ as members of Christ's Body. (54) Afanasiev held that our salvation is not so much in the church but as a church. Therefore, according to Afanasiev, the promise of the reunited church depends on the healing of the church as a eucharistic assembly.

For Afanasiev, achieving the visible unity of the church is the only way of living out the true nature of the church. His conviction translated into his tireless ecumenical efforts in search of visible unity between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. In the years prior to the Vatican II, and during the work of the Council, Afanasiev produced several essays that made a significant contribution to the understanding of the nature of the Orthodox-Catholic relationship in general, as well as some of its important aspects, such as papal primacy: "The Church Which Presides in Love" (1963), (55) "Una sancta" (1963), "Eucharist: The Principle Link between the Catholics and the Orthodox" (1965), (56) etc. In recognition of these contributions, Afanasiev was invited by Patriarch Athenagoras to be an observer at the last session of Vatican II, where he assisted in the mutual lifting of the anathemas between the Orthodox and Catholic churches.

Afanasiev dedicated his most profoundly and courageously ecumenical essay, "Una sancta," to the "memory of John XXIII, the Pope of Love." In this essay, Afanasiev applied his understanding of the ecclesiological significance of the eucharistic assembly to a concrete issue of exploring the nature of the division and possibilities of reunion between the Catholic and the Orthodox churches. According to Afanasiev, there can be no talk of reunion of the Catholic and the Orthodox churches from the perspective of universal ecclesiology, if the ecclesial nature of the local churches is based on their rooting in the universal church, then no church can exist in separation from the universal church and remain a church. So, from the perspective of universal ecclesiology, either the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church can truly be called "the Church," but not both. Any talk of the "vestiges of truth" existing outside this One Church makes no sense, since outside the organic structure of the church as mystical body of Christ everything becomes distorted and falsified. (57) Therefore, one cannot strive for the union of the church with a "non-church" without a preliminary decision as to which one of the two churches is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic." (58) Since there is no objective way to verify the statements of faith of both churches, an ecumenical dialogue based on universal ecclesiology is doomed to a standstill. (59)

However, for eucharistic ecclesiology, which is based on "the unity of the church itself and not the unity of her manifestations in actual life," there can never be a complete break in the unity of the church of God. (60) It is the unity of Christ and the eucharistic communion in Christ's one Body that can never be broken, even by the regrettable juridical divisions. Afanasiev calls these divisions "cessations of the fraternal communion" between the local churches. He points out that in the early history there were many serious disagreements between Rome and the Eastern churches that led to the breaking of fraternal communion, yet they did not cease to be churches to each other, and they did not question the validity of each other's sacraments and episcopal consecration. (61) Thus, the breaking of fraternal communion was interpreted as canonical in character. If the current state of the relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholic churches is described in similar terms, then one may propose a realistic goal of a reestablishment of this communion. This goal allows for a positive change in the relationship between the two great churches without the denial of the existing divisions.

Afanasiev's ecumenical optimism and his practical ecumenical suggestions are often criticized, especially by other Orthodox theologians. (62) Afanasiev acknowledged that his ecumenical suggestions would be unacceptable from the point of view dominant in both Catholic and Orthodox churches--universal ecclesiology. As such, he did not expect that his suggestion would be practical without a major change in the church's self-understanding. Afanasiev's critics, however, often unjustifiably evaluated the applicability of his ecumenical suggestions in the context of universal ecclesiology.

By showing the connection between what Christians perceive to be accomplished in their public worship and how they understand the church, Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology not only presents a thought-provoking theological challenge, but it also challenges all Christians as people at worship. The uniqueness of Christian worship lies in the belief that it is Christ who prays when the church prays. Therefore, Christians do not simply worship Christ, but they worship in Christ. Worship in Christ is the basis for Christian unity. This unity begins in baptism, the first act of public worship in the life of a Christian. Baptism marks the change in an individual's relationship with God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. That unity in Christ then grows and deepens in our celebrations of the eucharist. Consequently, the Christian worship itself heals us from sinful divisions by uniting us in Christ. Hence, Afanasiev's ecumenism is not about changing and improving the forms of Christian worship; rather, it is about a restoration of awareness and acceptance of our common life in Christ, which in turn will be reflected in visible forms of ecclesial unity.

What does Afanasiev's insight into the direct relationship between the problems of the divided church and the problems of the eucharistic assembly mean for modern-day Russian Orthodox-Catholic relationships? It is commonly accepted that the issue of papal primacy is the key obstacle on the road to Catholic-Orthodox unity. Metropolitan John of Pergamum (Zizioulas) recently stated that "if we find a concept of the universal primacy of the pope, which would not diminish the fullness of the nature of the local church, it would be acceptable for us." (63) Personally, I believe that if in some unlikely turn of events the hierarchies of different Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church came to some acceptable agreement on the matter of papal primacy, this agreement itself would not only fail to unite the churches, but it would bring about new divisions. My many contacts with Orthodox and Catholic faithful in my native Belarus and in Russia have convinced me that animosity and ignorance often outweigh the desire to know and appreciate each other for what we are. In Afanasiev's terms, the break between churches is not juridical in nature and cannot be fixed just on a juridical level. It is the dissolution of the notion of eucharistic assembly and its replacement with individualistic understanding of Christian worship that is a key source of divisions in the church. When Catholic and Orthodox faithful do not experience oneness in Christ revealed in their worship, ecumenism remains mostly an academic discipline and a compartmentalized area of ecclesial relationships.

The dynamics of the ecclesial relationship between Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches also reflect the dynamics of the wider cultural relationship of distrust between Russia and "the West" and their respective perceived values. (64) An attempt needs to be made to understand Russian Orthodoxy on its own terms, that is, in the context of Russian history, cultural specificity, and its traditional and emerging new identity. This new Orthodox identity of Post-Soviet Russia is reflected in a robust revival of its Orthodox Church. (65) However, this revival is marked by insufficient theological scholarship and a lack of religious consciousness in modern-day Russians. As religion was suppressed in Soviet Russia for over seventy years, Soviet scholars ignored or ridiculed the religious thinkers of pre-revolutionary Russia, while the works of emigrant theologians were available in manuscript form only to the narrowest circle of Soviet citizens. Two generations of Russian theologians were virtually unknown in Russia. Al though they have enjoyed increased attention since the end of the twentieth century (during the so-called "period of reprint"), their ideas have fallen on a difficult soil of rudimentary religious consciousness manifested in the lack of simple awareness and recognition of God's presence in the world. As one missionary once shared with me, "The hardest thing to explain to an adult raised in the Soviet Union is what God is."

The growth of the Russian Orthodox Church in the past twenty years also finds Western, especially American, theologians unprepared. Since for centuries Russian theology developed not as an abstract theological discourse but as "theology in colors"--"the liturgically centered tapestries painted on wood we call icons" (66)--there is a need for a deeper understanding of the role of iconography and liturgical tradition within Russian Orthodoxy. Also, the true-to-form philosophy and theology of the Russian religious thinkers of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth centuries should be fully integrated into Western theological discourse. This "scholarly retrieval of Russian religious thought will prove valuable for more that a contextualized understanding of the Russians ... It will also expand our understanding of 'Western' thought by including in it ... one of the few Western movements of religious philosophy since the secularization of thought that followed the Renaissance and Reformation." (67) Therefore, studies of the works of Russian Orthodox thinkers around St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris can be particularly helpful for both contemporary Russian and Western theological scholarship.

Nevertheless, scholarship alone will not overcome deep-rooted cultural distrust between Russian and Western Christians. Presently, Western and Eastern Christian are separated by distinct liturgical traditions, a millennium of independent doctrinal development in the West, hostile historical events, and even different liturgical calendars. Therefore, visible manifestations of the main principle of eucharistic assembly--epi to auto, gathering as one--between Eastern and Western Christians are practically nonexistent.

Before big ecumenical decisions can be introduced to the faithful, it is important to find a certain "common" experience for the Catholic and Orthodox faithful. For example, an effort can be made to cultivate common veneration of saints by both churches. Both Catholic and Russian Orthodox faithful have vibrant traditions of veneration of saints. However, contemporary piety is centered mostly on the saints of the "divided church," who lived in the second millennium and whose life stories and spiritual writings are better preserved. It is impossible to understand Russian Orthodoxy without knowing such saints as St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. John of Kronshtadt, etc. Similarly, to understand Roman Catholicism one must be familiar with St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and many others. I believe that familiarity and veneration by both Orthodox and Catholics of the saints of the divided church can provide a small measure of common religious experience. This small measure can be very helpful in healing the divide between two churches that lead very separate liturgical lives.

IV Conclusion

All of Afanasiev's work was aimed at restoring the experience of "gathering together as a Church," beginning with the liturgical lives of local assemblies and extending into the relationships between churches. To achieve that goal, he carefully studied the practice of the early church and discovered that the eucharistic nature of the church was born entirely in the action of the Holy Spirit. Together with Afanasiev, l am convinced that what he discovered about the life of the early church is of utmost importance to the crises of Christian life in the modern world. He showed that when the Christians forget the significance of gathering together in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for service by all--leiturgia--all other aspects of the church's life also suffer. His eucharistic ecclesiology, which rightfully can be called "an ecclesiology of the eucharistic assembly," brings forth Christian worship as a main locus of ecumenical experience. Therefore, Afanasiev's work calls us to recover an intrinsic ecumenism of our Christian communal worship. Here, l am not talking about different forms of specifically ecumenical prayer but recovery of the awareness that all forms of our communal worship are intrinsically ecumenical, since the main goal of all Christian worship is oneness with Christ.

Recovery of the deep meaning of our worship will not be an easy process. As Victor Alexandrov has noted, "[Afanasiev's] thought deprives some of us of ecclesiastical comfort, probably obtained with great pains." (68) But, by stripping us from questionable comforts and assurances and by calling us not to create the Body of Christ, but to recognize it, to recognize the gift given to us by God to share in the divine life through Christ in the Spirit, Afanasiev's vision both increases our appreciation of the gifts we receive in our sacramental worship and empowers us for fruitful and meaningful reintegration of our worship with the rest of our lives. Recovery of the core meaning of Christian worship and closing the gap between what is perceived and what is actually accomplished in our liturgical worship can restore the experience of oneness of Christians as a Body of Christ. This experience of the Lord's Supper where all communicate together every time they participate may open new possibilities in search for visible unity. (69) It can be hoped that, as Afanasiev's brilliant student Alexander Schmemann wrote, "when [Afanasiev's] message is understood and deciphered," he "will remain for future generations a genuine renovator of ecclesiology." (70)

(1) Over the years Afanasiev's name has been transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet into English in many different ways: Afanas'ev, Afanassieff; etc. Here I will use the simplest version of it, "Afanasiev." Although his first name in Russian is "Nicolai," I will use a French version of it, "Nicolas," since Afanasiev spent most of his life in Paris.

(2) Afanasiev's essay The Church which Presides in Love, published in French in 1960, was cited three times in the nota praevia to the draft De ecclesia ill connection with eucharistic ecclesiology and the role of the eucharist in the life of the church. It is often stated by different authors that the influence of Afanasiev's thought is particularly discernable in Lumen gentium, no. 26.

(3) E.g., one of Afanasiev's first critics was Greek Orthodox theologian and Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas, author of such well-received books as Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of the Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop during the First Three Centuries, tr. Elizabeth Theokritoff (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001); and Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church, Contemporary Greek Theologians 4 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1985). Already in 1965, and before Afanasiev's The Church of the Holy Spirit (see note 5, below) was published, Zizioulas harshly criticized Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology, while admitting familiarity with only five of Afanasiev's essays. Nevertheless, Zizioulas's opinion of Afanasiev's work became very authoritative in theological circles.

(4) The best comprehensive review of Afanasiev's work remains the book by Aidan Nichols, Theology in the Russian Diaspora (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Also see the dissertation by Joseph Aryankalayil, "Local Church and Church Universal: Towards a Convergence between East and West: A Study of the Theology of the Local Church according to N. Afanasiev and J. M.-R. Tillard with Special Reference to Some of the Contemporary Catholic and Orthodox Theologians" (University of Fribourg, 2004); his doctoral dissertation is available at

(5) The Church of the Holy Spirit is Afanasiev's main theological study (Nicholas Afanasiev, The Church of the Holy Spirit, tr. Vitaly Permiakov, ed. and intro. Michael Piekon [Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007 (orig.: Tserkov Dukha Sviatogo [Paris: YMCA Press, 1971])]). This book was intended as the first part of a larger work on the nature of the church. The second part of this work, titled 'The Limits of the Church," was never completed. Some of its chapters were published separately as essays. His well-known essay, "Una sancta," was written as a summary of "The Limits of the Church" (Nicolas Afanasiev, "Una sancta," in Michael Plekon, ed., Tradition Alive: On the Church and the Christian Life in Our Time--Readings from the Eastern Church, A Sheed and Ward Book [Lanham, MD, and Oxford, U.K.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003], pp. 3-30).

(6) One of the best resources of Afanasiev's nnpublished and published works is the website of Andrej Platonov:

(7) In his ecclesiological views, Afanasiev was heir to the Slavophiles who turned their attention to the nature of the church and especially to the notion of "sobornost." This word is derived from the Russian noun "sobor," which can be translated either as "cathedral" or as the equivalent of "town hall meeting" "Sobornost" can be roughly translated as "conciliarity" or even "ecclesiality." It is equivalent to the word "'catholicity" as used in the Nicene Creed. Aleksei Khomiakov (1804-60), one of the founders of Slavophilism, added an epistemologica[ dimension to the meaning of this word by stressing that "the true understanding is communal and possible only in organic fellowship" born in the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church--sobornost (Robert Slesinski, "Postmodernity and the Resources of the Christian East," in his Essays in Diakonia: Eastern Catholic Theological Reflections [New York: Peter Lang, 1998], p. 40). By enlarging personal experience to the above personal, universal level, sobornost harmonizes in itself the inner freedom of the church with its organic unity. The Slavophiles' insight into the mystical nature of the church was further developed during the so-called Russian religious renaissance at the beginning of the twentieth century. The main insight of this period was that "'the search for truth can never be sustained apart from the active worship of the Church in vibrant synergy with her Lord" (Slesinski, "Postmodernity," p. 45). As Fr. Pavel Florenski remarked in 1906, "'Only he understands the Church who understands the liturgy" (quoted in Slesinski, "Postmodernity," p. 45). In other words, Christian mystery cannot be known only through the intellect but needs to be experienced by the whole person in the sacramental worship of the church.

(8) In 1927, Afanasiev wrote a doctoral dissertation on the topic of the influence of imperial, state power in the church councils. His major essay in this area, "Tserkovnye sobory i ih proishozhdenie, 1936-1940" [Councils of the Church and Their Origin], was published only in 2003 in Russia. Afanasiev continued his historical investigation of the empirical structures of the church with a study of the nature of the church's canons in his 1937 essay, "The Church's Canons: Changeable or Unchangeable?" (in Plekon, Tradition Alive, pp. 31-45). In this work, A fanasiev explored how the church can preserve and manifest its unchangeable essence in the ever-changing historical conditions of its life.

(9) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 39. This vision of liturgy and the original order of the eucharist as a source of theology greatly influenced such well-known students of Afanasiev as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who coined the term "liturgical theology," and Fr. John Meyendorff See, e.g., Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1987), pp. 17-19.

(10) Schmemann, Eucharist, p. 9.

(11) Nicholas Afanasiev, Trapeza Gospodnia [Lord's Supper], chap. 1, 11-4; available at Quotations from this book are my own, except where otherwise noted.

(12) Ibid., chap. 3, II-6.

(13) Ibid., Preface.

(14) Aidan Nichols, Theology in the Russian Diaspora (Cambridge, UK.: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 97-98 and 117.

(15) Scriptural quotations herein are from The New American Bible (Washington, DC: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1986).

(16) Afanasiev even called the sacrament of chrismation "'lay ordination" for the service of God in the church (see Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 24). Also, as the translator of Church of the Holy Spirit, Vitaly Permiakov, explains, Afanasiev used the word "laity" only in the ordinary sense of "non-cleric." He used the term "laic" "so as to connote the 'sacred rank' which 'laie' is ... The secular connotations of the adjective 'lay' as "non-expert,' 'not initiated' into some area of knowledge, a "non-specialist,' are especially misleading here. Precisely, the laic is an initiated person. Through baptism be or she is initiated into a sacred clerical order, the royal priesthood of God in Christ. When speaking about laics, Ft. Afanasiev deliberately makes it sound as if he is speaking about a clerical rank, an ecclesiastical office" (Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, chap. 1, n. 4, pp. 277-278).

(17) Ibid., p. 4.

(18) Ibid., p. 36.

(19) For Afanasiev, concelebration of the baptized with the presider differed from the concelebration of the presbyters with the bishop. He wrote, "The mystery of body and blood is not accomplished through the priest alone but through the calling in prayer of the whole Church, the entire people of God" (ibid., p. 47). Therefore, concelebration of the baptized with the presider is essential for the celebration of the eucharist, whereas the eucharist can be celebrated with or without concelebration of presbyters with the bishop without changing the effect of the liturgy.

(20) Ibid., p. 50.

(21) See note 15, above.

(22) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 138.

(23) See "Nicolas Athnasiev: Explorer of the Eucharist, the Church, and Life in Them," in Michael Plekon, Living Icons: Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), pp. 158-159.

(24) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 158.

(25) Ibid., p. 268.

(26) Ibid.

(27) E.g., Zizioulas has claimed that Afanasiev erroneously considered "even the parish where the eucharist takes place as a complete and 'catholic' Church'" (Zizioulas, Being as Communion, p. 24).

(28) Afanasiev, Lord's Supper, chap. 2, IV-1.

(29) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 4

(30) Nicholas Afanasiev, "Dve idei vselenskoj tserkvi" [Two Ideas of the Universal Church], Put ', vol. 45 (1934), pp. 16-29; Available at

(31) Nichols, Theology in the Russian Diaspora, p. 85

(32) Afanasiev, "Una sancta," p. 14.

(33) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 5.

(34) Zizioulas, Being as Communion, p. 133; emphasis in original.

(35) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 138: emphasis added.

(36) Ibid., p 4.

(37) Nicolas Afanasiev, "The Church Which Presides in Love," in John Meyendorff, ed., The Primacy of Peter (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992), p. 112.

(38) Afanasiev's treatment of mutual witness, or mutual reception, will be addressed below.

(39) John Meyendorff, "Vatican If: A Preliminary Reaction," St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 1 (1965), p. 30.

(40) John Meyendorff, review of J. Zizioulas, "'The Unity of the Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop in the First Three Centuries," St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 4 (1966), p. 216.

(41) Ibid.

(42) Meyendorff, "Vatican II," p. 30.

(43) Afanasiev, "Una sancta," p. 15.

(44) Ibid, p. 16

(45) Nichols, Theology in the Russian Diaspora, p 183

(46) Ibid.

(47) Afanasiev, "'Una sancta," p. 17.

(48) Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, p. 274.

(49) For more on this, see chap. 8, "'The Power of Love," in Afanasiev, Church of the Holy Spirit, pp. 255-275: and one of Afanasiev's earliest essays, "'The Church's Canons" (see note 8, above).

(50) Plekon, Living Icons, pp. 157 and 170.

(51) Afanasiev, "Una sancta," p. 6.

(52) Plekon, Living Icons, p. 161.

(53) Afanasiev, Lord's Supper, pp. 119-120 (as quoted in Plekon, Living Icons, p. 171).

(54) Afanasiev, Lord's Supper, Conclusion, no. I.

(55) See note 37, above.

(56) Published in Plekon, Tradition Alive, pp.47-49.

(57) Afanasiev, " Una sancta," p. 8.

(58) Ibid., p. 9.

(59) bid., p. 10.

(60) Ibid., p. 18.

(61) Ibid., p. 20.

(62) A good example of the Orthodox analysis of Afanasiev's ecclesiology can be found in Radu Bordeianu, "'Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue: Retrieving Eucharistic Ecclesiology," J.E.S. 44 (Spring, 2009): 239-265.

(63) Quoted from to.html.

(64) The perennial issue of Russia's place in European or Western civilization is particularly urgent for contemporary Russia. An interesting position on this issue was expressed by one of the emigre thinkers, Vladimir Weidle, in his essay "Russia and the West," in Alexander Schmemann, ed and intro., Ultimate Questions: An Anthology of Modern Russian Religious Thought (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), pp. 11-27. In this essay Weidle developed the idea that "'Europe is a multinational unity that is incomplete without Russia; Russia is a European nation which is incapable of attaining the fullness of its national life outside of Europe" (Weidle, "Russia and the West," p. 21).

(65) For an incisive snapshot of this revival, see the article by Alexander Schmemann's son, Serge Schmemann, "Soul of Russia," National Geographic 215 (April, 2009): 112-137.

(66) Judith Deutsch Kornblatt and Richard F. Gustafson, eds., Russian Religious Thought (Madison, WI, and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), p. 6.

(67) Ibid., p. 4; emphasis in original.

(68) Victor Alexandrov, "'Zametki o kritike 'evharisticheskoj ekkleziologii' Nikolaja Athnasieva" [Notes on the Critique of the "Eucharistic Ecclesiology" of Nicholas Afanasiev], Vestnik RHD, no. 192 (Paris, 2007), no. 7; my translation is from; also published in Sobornost, vol. 31, no. 2 (2009), and available at

(69) Afanasiev, Lord's Supper, Conclusion, no 3.

(70) Alexander Schmemann, "'In Memoriam: Father Nicholas Afanasiev," St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 4 (1966), p. 209.

Anastacia Wooden (Roman Catholic) is a Ph.D. student at the Catholic University of America, Washington. DC, on full academic scholarship. She received a B.S. in economics from Belarussian State University, Minsk, Belarus; and an M.A. in theology from the Washington (DC) Theological Union (2005). She was the winner of the Washington Theological Consortium's ecumenical essay contest in systematic theology, and served on its student board, 2008-09. She currently serves as Adult Faith Formation Coordinator for St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood, MD, and is a student member of the North American Academy of Ecumenists. In March, 2010, she did research on Afanasiev in Paris at St. Sergius Orthodox Institute, including reviewing Russian Orthodox theologians who studied under him, such as Frs. Boris Bobrinskoy and Michael Fortounatto.
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