കുർബാനയിൽ മാറ്റങ്ങൾ വരുന്നു | FR. PAULY MANIYATTU | MAAC TV

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Holy Saturday and Easter, Syro Malabar Liturgical Prayers

സീറോ മലബാർ സഭയുടെ വിശുദ്ധവാര കർമ്മങ്ങൾ 

(മൂന്നാം ഭാഗം)

വലിയ ശനി ഉയിർപ്പ് തിരുനാൾ

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Puthenpaana, Padam 12, Arnnos Pathiri

പുത്തൻപാനയുടെ   പന്ത്രണ്ടാം പാദം 

ദൈവമാതാവിന്റെ വ്യാകുല പ്രലാപം 

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Ash Monday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Syro Malabar Liturgical Prayers

വിശുദ്ധവാര തിരുക്കർമ്മങ്ങൾ , സീറോമലബാർ ക്രമം 

വിഭൂതി, ഓശാന ഞായർ, പെസഹാവ്യാഴം 

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Commemoration of the Name of St. Joseph in the Syro-Malabar Holy Qurbana

Commemoration of the Name of St. Joseph in the Holy Qurbana

Download the Original Circular here

St Joseph

Letterhead George Cardinal Alencherry

Dear Archbishops and Bishops,
The XXU(2014) Session 1 decided to include the commemoration of St. Joseph in the invariable
part of the Onitha d’Raze with prior approval of the Apostolic See. The Apostolic See has given
the recognition for this decision as follows:
By a letter of 26 February 2014 (Prot. No.383/2014), Your Beatitude sought the
recognitio of the Holy See for the introduction of a commemoration of St. Joseph, Spouse of
the Holy Mother of God, into the pre-anafora (invariable part of the Onitha d’Razey of the
Taksa of the Qurbana of Mar Addai and Mari. This proposal corresponds to the deeply rooted
devotion to the Guardian of Our Lord that is already found among the Syro-Malabar faithful.
After due consideration, this Dicastery has no objection to the request, which seems
particularly timely in our day as evidenced by a similar step recently taken in the Latin
Church.

Name of St Joseph in Holy Qurbana

ലുത്തിനിയാ Luthiniya of Blessed Virgin Mary with Lyrics

ലുത്തിനിയാ

 
 

കര്‍ത്താവേ കനിയണമേ

മിശിഹായേ കനിയണമേ

കര്‍ത്താവേ ഞങ്ങളണയ്ക്കും

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന സദയം കേള്‍ക്കണമെ

 

സ്വര്‍ഗ്ഗപിതാവാം സകലേശാ

ദിവ്യാനുഗ്രഹമേകണമേ

നരരക്ഷകനാം മിശിഹായേ

ദിവ്യാനുഗ്രഹമേകണമേ

 

ദൈവാത്മാവാം സകലേശാ

ദിവ്യാനുഗ്രഹമേകണമേ

പരിപാവനമാം ത്രീത്വമേ

ദിവ്യാനുഗ്രഹമേകണമേ

 

കന്യാമേരി വിമലാംബേ

ദൈവകുമാരനു മാതാവേ

രക്ഷകനൂഴിയിലംബികയേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

നിതരാം നിര്‍മ്മല മാതാവേ

കറയില്ലാത്തൊരു കന്യകയേ

നേര്‍വഴികാട്ടും ദീപശിഖേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

നിത്യമഹോന്നത കന്യകയേ

വിവേകമതിയാം കന്യകയേ

വിശ്രുതയാം സുരകന്യകയേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

വിശ്വാസത്തിന്‍ നിറകുടമേ

കാരുണ്യത്തിന്‍ നിലയനമേ

നീതിവിളങ്ങും ദര്‍പ്പണമേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

വിജ്ഞാനത്തിന്‍ വേദികയേ

മാനവനുത്സവദായികയേ

ദൈവികമാം പനിനീര്‍സുമമേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

ദാവീദിന്‍ തിരുഗോപുരമേ

നിര്‍മ്മല ദന്തഗോപുരമേ

പൊന്നിന്‍ പൂമണിമന്ദിരമേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

വാഗ്ദാനത്തിന്‍ പേടകമേ

സ്വര്‍ല്ലോകത്തിന്‍ ദ്വാരകമേ

പുലര്‍കാലത്തിന്‍ താരകമേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

രോഗമിയന്നവനാരോഗ്യം

പകരും കരുണാസാഗരമേ

പാപിക്കവനിയിലാശ്രയമേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

കേഴുന്നോര്‍ക്കു നിരന്തരമായ്

സാന്ത്വനമരുളും മാതാവേ

ക്രിസ്തുജനത്തിന്‍ പാലികയേ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

വാനവനിരയുടെ രാജ്ഞി

ബാവാന്മാരുടെ രാജ്ഞി

ശ്ലീഹന്മാരുടെ രാജ്ഞി

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്.

.

കന്യകമാരുടെ രാജ്ഞി

വന്ദകനിരയുടെ രാജ്ഞി

രക്താങ്കിതരുടെ രാജ്ഞി

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്.

 

സിധ്ദന്മാരുടെ രാജ്ഞി

ഭാരത സഭയുടെ രാജ്ഞി

അമലോദ്ഭവയാം രാജ്ഞി

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്

 

ശാന്തിജഗത്തിനു നല്‍കും

നിത്യവിരാജിത രാജ്ഞി

സ്വര്‍ഗ്ഗാരോപിത രാജ്ഞി

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കായ്,

 

ലോകത്തിന്‍ പാപങ്ങള്‍ താങ്ങും

ദൈവത്തിന്‍ മേഷമേ നാഥാ,

പാപം പോറുക്കേണമേ

 

ലോകത്തിന്‍ പാപങ്ങള്‍ താങ്ങും

ദൈവത്തിന്‍ മേഷമേ നാഥാ

പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന കേള്‍ക്കേണമേ

 

ലോകത്തിന്‍ പാപങ്ങള്‍ താങ്ങും

ദൈവത്തിന്‍ മേഷമേ നാഥാ,

ഞങ്ങളില്‍ കനിയേണമേ

Nombukala Geethangal: A YouTube Collection / Holy Week Songs Malayalam

നോമ്പുകാല ഗീതങ്ങളുടെ സമാഹാരം

 

Nombukala Geethangal / Holy Week Songs, Malayalam –

Syro-Malabar Rite YouTube Collection / Playlist

 

Holy Week Songs Malayalam MP3 Collection

Clcik here to Listern or Download

 

Holy Week Songs Malayalam MP3: Syro-Malabar Rite

നോമ്പുകാല ഗാനങ്ങളുടെ സമാഹാരം

 

Holy Week Songs Malayalam MP3 Collection

Clcik here to Listern or Download

 

Nombukala Geethangal / Holy Week Songs, Malayalam –

Syro-Malabar Rite YouTube Collection / Playlist

Syro-Malabar Liturgical Prayers: Malayalam Text PDFs

Baptism – Syro-Malabar Rite Malayalam Text

Baptism text Malayalam Booklet

Christmas New Year Liturgy, Malayalam Booklet

Church Prayers Malayalam Booklet

Ctholic Prayers for Children

Evening Prayers, Ramsa, Syro-Malabar Church

Funeral, Syro-Malabar Rite

HOLY MATRIMONY – Booklet How to prpare Passover Bread, Malayalam Text

Ladeenj & Vespara – Booklet

Liturgical Year & Spirituality, Fr Joseph Panakkezham

Puthenpaana, Malayalam Text

Sacraments of Initiation, Mar Joseph Kallarangattu

ST THOMAS THE APOSTLE OF INDIA, POPE BENEDICT XVI

Syro-Malabar Catechesis

Syro-Malabar Christmas & New Year Liturgy

Syro-Malabar Holy Week Liturgy – Good Friday – Dukhavelli

Syro-Malabar Holy Week Liturgy – Valiyasani, Uyirppu – Easter Liturgy

Syro-Malabar Holy Week Liturgy – Vibhoothi, Osana, Pesaha

Syro-Malabar Qurbana, Manglish Text

Syro-Malabar Raza – Booklet

Syro-Malabar Raza, Malayalam Text

Syro-Malabar Sacraments – Dr Antony Nariculam

Syro-Malabar Wedding text Malayalam Booklet

Teachings of Jesus, Fr Mathew Vellanickal

The New Text of the Sacraments Syro Malabar Church, Fr Thomas Mannooramparambil

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony English yext with Malayalam Songs, Syro-Malabar rite

THE SYRO-MALABAR HOLY QURBANA, English with Malayalam songs

THE SYRO-MALABAR QURBANA – Booklet

THE SYRO-MALABAR QURBANA, English, Malayalam

THOMAS CHRISTIANS – Church of the East, Dr. Xavier Koodapuzha Vespara, Malayalam Text

Wedding – Vivaham Malayalam Text, Syro-Malabar rite

WEDDING ENGAGEMENT OF KNANAYA CATOHLICS

Wedding with mass in English – Booklet

Theology of Liturgy

I. What is Liturgy?

1. Etymological Meaning

The English word liturgy comes from the Latin word Liturgia which in turn has its origin from the Greek word leitourgia (from the Greek verb leitourgein).  For the Greek people leitourgia meant “public work” or “a service in the name of or on behalf of the people”.  In the Greek Churches this term was used to designate the public worship, especially the divine liturgy.  Once the term is applied to the Christian worship its original meaning as service is retained to certain extent.  This term was popularized in the nineteenth century.  Before the 20th century this term hardly occurs in the official Church documents. (The other terms in vogue in the Middle Ages: Divine Office or Ecclesiastical Office; From 16th century terms like Ecclesiastical rites or Sacred Rites were preferred.)

            In the NT the word liturgy is used to mean the celebration of Divine worship and also the proclamation of the Gospel and active charity. (Cf. Lk 1.23;  Acts 13.2; Rom15.16,27; 2 Cor 9.12; Phil 2.25,30.)  At all these occasions liturgy is a question of the service of God and neighbour.  CCC 1070.

Therefore what is the Christian liturgy?

Liturgy is not mere prayer.  It is not some devotion.  It is not something of the individual. It is a service of the public.  It is indeed the love. Liturgy =Service =Love

The Malayalam word ārādhanakramam does not convey properly the reality of liturgy.  The word kramam refers to the order to be kept in the celebration and in that sense it suits more for the text of the liturgy.  The expression Divine Worship is a substitute for liturgy.  However, the notion of service and love lacks here.  If the words worship or adoration are taken to mean also service and love, then only they can mean the true reality of liturgy. (If it is adoration that which takes place in liturgy, then it is God who adores men and men adore God only as a response.)

2. Liturgy according to Mediator Dei; Sacrosanctum Concilium, CCC

a.)  “The Sacred Liturgy is the public worship which our Redeemer as the head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its founder and through him to the heavenly Father.  In short, it is the public worship rendered by the mystical body of Christ in entirety of its head and members.” (Mediator Dei, Para 20, Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Nov. 20, 1947).

b.)  “The liturgy is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.  It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs.  In it full public worship is performed by the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium -7, Para 3: in Vatican II Documents)

            Through the liturgy Christ, our Redeemer and High Priest continues the work of redemption in, with and through his Church.

Liturgy is for the experience of salvation.  In liturgy the Church celebrates above all the paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of salvation.  CCC 1067.

“For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, “the work of our redemption is accomplished”, and it is through the liturgy especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the Church. SC 2.

“Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.” SC 10

“In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle. (Rev 21.2; Col 3.1; Heb 8.2) SC 8.

In Christian tradition liturgy means the “participation of the people of God in the Work of God” (Jn 17.4) CCC 1069.

·         Explain the concepts of Sanctification and Šawtaputha. (See class notes.)

3. Contents of Liturgy

a. Sacraments: Liturgy consists essentially of sacraments among which Eucharistic celebration is the most important one.  Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments.

b. Liturgy of Hours:  It is devised to make the whole course of the day and night holy by the praise of God.  It is truly the voice of the Bride (Church) addressed to her Bridegroom (Christ).  It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to his Father. In the liturgy of Hours Christ continues his priestly work through his Church.  CCC 1174,1175.

c. Sacramentals: Blessing of persons (eg. blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins, the rite of the religious profession, and blessing of certain ministries of the Church -minor orders-); of meals, objects and places (dedication or blessing of the church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels and vestments, bells etc.)

4. Popular Piety (Devotions)

Expressions of popular piety like adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, veneration of relics, visit to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals etc. extend the liturgical life of the Church.  They do not replace liturgy.  Expressions of piety should harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy and in some way derived from it and lead the people to it.  Liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them. SC 13, 3.  CCC 1674, 1675

  • What is the real difference between liturgy and devotions? (See class notes.)

II. Liturgy as Leitourgia of God and Man

1. Leitourgia  of the Holy Trinity (CCC 1077-1109)

a. Work of the Father

Father is the source and goal of liturgy.  He takes the initiative for the liturgy.  From the part of the believers liturgy is only a response of participation in the blessings offered by the Father.  Liturgy may be seen as the exchange of blessings between the Father and the believers.  Father bestows his blessings upon us.  From the beginning until the end of time the whole of God’s work is a blessing.  His blessings include the creation, the Word and the Gift.  Thus creation, redemption and ongoing sanctification is the blessing of the Father. Concretely the redemption and sanctification are the main work of God towards the humankind.  From the part of man liturgy means acknowledging the work of creation, redemption and sanctification.  The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and end of all the blessings of creation and salvation.

In the Eucharistic liturgy we can find this exchange of the blessings.  Father sends His Son and Holy Spirit to the believers.  In His Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, he fills us with his blessings.  Through his Word, he pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts.  The believers praise and thank the Father through the prayers (mainly the g’hanta prayers) of the Quddaša.  The historical Qurbana that the Father offered to us in Jesus Christ is sacramentally enacted in the Eucharist.

  • How does the Eucharistic celebration in the Syro-Malabar tradition become the celebration of God’s creation, mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit? (See class notes.)

b. Work of Christ

Jesus is re-enacting the work of salvation in the liturgy.  Christ makes present his paschal mystery.   His paschal mystery transcends the time and participates in the divine eternity.  In liturgy Christ makes present this eternal reality of the salvific event.

  • Liturgy is the commemoration of the raza of Christ. What are the different levels of commemoration in liturgy? Explain. (See class notes.)
  • Explain the katabatic and anabatic dimensions of Qurbana. (See class notes.)

In liturgy Christ plays a double role.  On the one hand he represents the Father and offers the salvation and sanctification in the Spirit.  On the other, he remains the head of the Church and hence turns to the Father along with the community of the faithful.  Christ offers himself to the Father.  He offers us also along with him.  He renders eucharistia to the Father on behalf of the Church.  In the commemoration of the Paschal mystery Christ is the protagonist.

c. Work of the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit prepares the Church to encounter her Lord.  He recalls and makes Christ manifest to the faith of the assembly (CCC 1092).  The grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken faith, conversion of heart and adherence to the will of the Father. (CCC 1098) He awakens the memory of the Church and inspires her to thanksgiving and praise.  Thus the Holy Spirit is the living memory of the Church.  In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his body.  The Holy Spirit effects two kinds of sanctification in the liturgy: the sanctification of the mysteries and the sanctification of the assembly.  It is through the communion of the mysteries that the Holy Spirit effects sanctification of the assembly.  Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy.

 

  • How is the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit envisaged in the epiclesis of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. (See the taksa of Syro-Malabar Qurbana).
  • How far is this function of the Spirit revealed in the Syriac name Ruha d’ Qudša?

 

2. Leitourgia of Man

 

a. Liturgy as the Work of the Church

As the work of Christ liturgy is also an action of his Church. Liturgy makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men.  Church is made present in the liturgical assembly and especially in the eucharistic assembly.  Therefore, it is said: Eucharist makes the Church.  It is through celebrating the communion (both vertical and horizontal) that the liturgical assembly is constituting the Church.

Church makes the Eucharist. Liturgy is not a private affair. It is the work of the entire mystical body.

·         Can liturgy be privatized? (See class notes.)

Leitourgia of the assembly (Vertical dimension): The eucharistia (Qudasha) and Qurbana offered to God from the part of the assembly.

Leitourgia of the assembly (Horizontal dimension): Horizontal reconciliation; Qurbana (of oneself) offered to the fellow beings; See also the explanation of the title Mass (See class notes).

III. Liturgical Space-time

1. Sacred and Profane

            In the history of religions there has always been a distinction between sacred and profane.  Man, especially the primitive man, had a feeling of terror before the sacred, before the awe-inspiring mystery (mysterium tremendum), the majesty that emanates an overwhelming superiority of power.  It is religious fear before the fascinating mystery.  R. Otto characterizes all these experiences as numinous (in Latin numen -God).  The numinous presents itself as the “wholly other”, something basically and totally different.  It is like nothing human or cosmic.  Confronted with it, man realizes his profound nothingness, feels that he is only a creature, or as Abraham said to the Lord, is “ but dust and ashes” (Gen 18.27).  The recognition of the distinction between the sacred and the profane constitutes the basis of religion.

            Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane.  M. Eliade calls this act of manifestation of the sacred as ‘hierophany’.  History of religion consists of a great number of theophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities.

2. Sacred Space-time

            To the religious man space is not homogeneous.  There are certain breaks in the continuity of space, distinguishing the sacred from the profane. He experiences interruptions and breaks in it.  A church or temple constitutes a break in the profane space of a city. Some parts of the space are qualitatively different from others. Ex 3.5: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Thus there is the holy or sacred space.  It is strong and significant.  The religious man finds it as the only real and really existing space.  All other space is “not sacred” or “profane”.  According to Mircea Eliade, ordinary or profane space is without structure or consistency, and is, therefore, amorphous. Eliade makes another distinction in the conception of space: cosmos and chaos.  Cosmos is an inhabited territory, the work of the gods.  It is ordered space.  But on the other hand the outside territory is chaos, having no order or limits.

            For the religious man, time, too, is neither homogeneous nor continuous.  There are intervals of sacred time. Just as a church or temple constitutes a break in the profane space of a city, the service celebrated inside it marks a break in the profane duration of time.

            The believing man experiences two types of sacred space-time: one is sacred in its origin itself, the other is his own creation.  He sees the cosmic phenomena such as stars, planets, solar and lunar eclipses, sunrise, air, fire, water, mountains, stones, trees, etc. as sacred. Sometimes he creates sacred space-time by consecrating ordinary space and time.  Sanctuaries, and the time of offerings, feasts, etc. are examples of such consecrated space and time.  The enclosure, wall, or circle of stones surrounding a sacred place constitute the most ancient known forms of man-made sanctuaries.  The most primitive sacred places, a landscape of stones, water and trees, constituted a microcosm.  Sacred place in its primitive form is a microcosm, because it reproduces the natural landscape; because it is a reflection of the whole.  The altar and the temple, later developments of the sacred place, are microcosms because they are the centres of the world, because they stand at the very heart of the universe and constitute an imago mundi.

 

3. The Function of Sacred Space-time: Divine-Human Communication

            Why is there sacred space-time?  As regards the sanctuaries, we get an answer from Chaldean cosmogony, which holds that the very creation of humanity was for constructing an abode for the gods. The history of religion tells us that man has always had the desire for an ordered space where communication with the divine is possible.  Consecration is cosmicization or creation of a cosmic region which is always in communication with the world of the gods.  The sacred establishes order, fixes the limits, and founds the world.  With the creation of sacred space-time, this communication with the world of gods is ensured. The most ancient sanctuaries were hypaethral or built with an aperture in the roof – the `eye of the dome’ – symbolizing the breakthrough from plane to plane, communication with the transcendent. Sacred space-time thus constitutes the entrance to non-space-time.

4. Sacred Space and Time according to the Israelites

            The Israelites accepted much of the religious symbolism of the peoples they encountered in the course of history, including Mesopotamian and Canaanite influence. The Canaanites exerted special influence on the religious views of the Israelites. Therefore, in our attempt to understand the meaning of sacred space and time according to the Israelites, we shall make occasional comparisons with the Canaanite religion.

4.1. Sacred and Profane

            The Israelites were well aware of the separation between the sacred and the profane. A clear distinction is made between profane and sacred space when Moses approached the sacred space on Horeb, the ‘mountain of God’: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Ex 3.5).  The sacred is always dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it without having gone through the preparatory ‘gestures of approach’ that every religious act demands.

            According to the Jewish understanding, sacredness or holiness was primarily an attribute of God, marking his transcendent separation from all creatures.  Secondarily, it was an attribute of those persons and things set apart for intimate contact with God (Lev 21.6-8). Thus the sacredness of space-time is a participation in God’s holiness.

            The vision of the new temple in the book of Ezekiel (Ezek 40-44) conveys the theological importance Israel attached to sacred space-time.  For the Israelites, the proper distinction between sacred and profane space-time was something essential to the ethos of the people of God.  The violation of this distinction resulted in the disappearance of God’s presence from among them, and consequently their destruction.  Throughout the book of Ezekiel the emphasis is on Israel’s cultic pollution and profanation as the cause of its destruction and exile. Ezekiel was convinced that the sins of Yahweh’s people had driven his presence (‘glory’) away from the temple (Ezek 8.6; 9.3; 10.18-19; 11.22-23).

            There are restrictions on the communication between the sacred and the profane (Ezek 42.14; 44.19; 46.20). The description of the two separate cooking areas (Ezek 46.19-24) where the sacrifices eaten by the priests and laity were prepared, makes clear how the distinction between the sacred and profane is maintained.

            There is a detailed architectural description of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision of the temple.  The reason for the careful measurement of the entire temple complex (Ezek 42.15-20) is precisely the separation of the sacred from the profane. The vision of the new temple emphasizes the reestablishment of a proper cultic sanctity of land and people.  Ezekiel sees a new temple where the distinction between the sacred and the profane is perfectly maintained.

            The walls around the temple complex, six cubits high and six cubits thick (Ezek 40.5), form a separation between the holy and the common (Ezek 42.20).  Further protection of the sanctity of the temple complex is provided by an area stretching fifty cubits beyond the walls on all sides, which is to be left open (Ezek 45.2). It is stated in Ezek 43.10 that such a description of the temple area is intended for the conversion of the people of Israel. This conversion is understood as the decision to respect the difference between sacred and profane space-time.

4.2. Sacred Mountains

            The Canaanite tradition of associating the divine abode with the mountains influenced the Israelites.  Most of the Canaanite sanctuaries were linked to mountains. The surroundings of Mount Hermon had so many temples that the whole mountain was considered a holy place.

            The OT speaks of Mount Zion as the mountain of Yahweh. “Remember Mount Zion, where thou hast dwelt” (Ps 74.2). It serves as the great mountain of divine communication.  Ezekiel’s vision of the temple (Ezek 40.2) states that the temple is upon a very high mountain, Zion, the place of the temple just above the city. The expression ‘very high mountain’ is a commonplace in the symbolism of sacred space.

4.3. Sacred Stones

            Sacred stones called ansab were used to mark sacred places.  The nomads saw certain rocks as abodes of the angels. They came to such rocks for prayer and sacrifice. The Syrians used to adore the god Adadu in the form of the stones noted for their resemblance to parts of the human body like the eyes, fingers and kidneys. The primitive altar was nothing other than a large stone on which blood was shed.  Therefore, sacred stones represent altars. The sacred stone is a habitation of the god, roughly akin to the temple and the statue. It may also be considered a type of the altar and throne.

            Jacob called the place where he had the dream of a ladder between heaven and earth ‘Bethel’, meaning house of God (Gen 28.10-22).  “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Gen 28.17.  Jacob set up for a pillar the stone which he had put under his head, and poured oil on top of it (Gen 28.18).  “…this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house…” (Gen 28.22).  Is 19.19 prophesies the installation of a pillar to the Lord at the border of Egypt. In Solomon’s temple there were two free standing pillars, called Jachin and Boaz.

4.4. Consecrated Space

            In the history of Israel’s sanctuaries we can distinguish the period of the patriarchs, the tabernacle, the sanctuaries after the conquest of Canaan, and the temple.

a. Patriarchal Sanctuaries

            In the period of the patriarchs, there were special spaces consecrated to God.  Abraham built an altar at Shechem (Gen 12.6-7).  Jacob built an altar at Bethel (Gen 35.1-9,14-15; 28.18-19),  taking over an already existing Canaanite shrine and dedicating it to the one true God.  As a memorial of God’s revelation at Beer-Sheba, Isaac built there an altar (Gen 26.23-25). However, according to Gen 21.33, Abraham established this shrine, planting a tamarisk tree there, and calling on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.

b. Tabernacle

            The tabernacle or tent was probably a portable sanctuary during the exodus. It indicates the presence of Yahweh among a group of nomadic people. Moses relied on it in order to consult Yahweh and learn his will (Ex 33.7,11; Num 12.8).  In the later tradition a new word miškan is preferred to the ordinary word for tent, ‘Ohel. This new term emphasizes the abiding presence of Yahweh among his people.

            Ex 26; 36.8-38 deals with the important architectural features of the tabernacle.  It was a rectangular wooden framework (45ft x 15ft x 15ft). One curtain closed off the eastern entry, another of more precious material was placed 15 ft from the western end. Thus the holy place was separated from the ‘holy of holies’.  Here the Ark of the Covenant was kept.  In the holy place were the seven-branched candlestick and the table for the Loaves of Presence.  Outside the entrance were the altar and the laver used for the ritual purification.  The tent was surrounded by a large courtyard, 150 ft x 75 ft marked off by a system of bronze posts to which were affixed silver rods, and from which hung linen drapes.

            The Ark was the locus of God’s presence in Israel (1 Sam 4.7, 22).  It is God’s footstool (1 Sam 4.4) and throne (1 Chron 28.2; Ps 99.5; 132.7; Lam 2.1; Is 66.1).  The Ark was also the depository for the tablets of the decalogue (Deut 10.1-5).  When the Ark was destroyed during the Babylonian exile, no new Ark was built because the New Jerusalem in its entirety would be Yahweh’s throne (Jer 3.16-17).  A kapporet (mercy seat) (Ex 25.17-22; 37.6-9) was installed in the Second Temple, perhaps as a substitute for the Ark when the latter was no longer in existence. In the post exilic period God’s mysterious presence was focused on the kapporet.

c. The Temple

            For the Israelites, the temple was the sacred space par excellence.  While referring to the temple area Ezek 43.12 says: “…the whole territory round about upon the top of the mountain shall be most holy.” “…Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel for ever” (Ezek 43.7). There are explicit references to the temple as the abode of Yahweh, which he himself consecrated: “…I have consecrated this house which you have built, and put my name there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time” (1 Kings 9.3).

            The temple had three parts: a porch or vestibule (‘ulam); the sanctuary (hêkal) with lampstands, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense; and the ‘holy of holies’ (dbîr) that held the ark of the covenant. The general structure of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6) was similar to Phoenician and Canaanite models: a tripartite building facing east, comprising an outer porch (‘ulam), a sanctuary or holy place (hêkal) and an innermost holy place or ‘holy of holies’ (dbîr). The Canaanite temple of Hazor at Galilea provides a close parallel to the ground plan of Solomon’s temple.

            The Jews built their temple with due respect for cosmic symbolism.  The court of the temple represented the sea (that is, the lower regions), the holy place represented earth, and the Holy of Holies, heaven. The Temple of Jerusalem had a temporal symbolism also.  The twelve loaves of bread on the table signified the twelve months of the year and the candelabrum with seventy branches represented the decans (the zodiacal division of the seven planets into tens).

d. Altars

            Israel shared with other peoples the religious practice of sacrifice, and therefore had an altar similar to that of the neighbouring peoples. There were certain outdoor altars called bamâ, literally ‘high place’.  These were open air places of worship, not a temple or sanctuary.  They served as altars where sacrificial offerings could be made without the intervention of a priest. The architectural features of the altar of Ezekiel’s vision resemble that of a Babylonian temple-tower or Ziggurat, on a miniature scale. The altar, like the Ziggurat, is the place of visitation where God’s presence comes. The altar was a sign of divine presence.

            The altar is the most holy object, and therefore, whatever touches the altar becomes holy (Ex 29.37).  The altar of holocausts (Ex 29.37; 40.10) and the altar of incense (Ex 30.10) were particularly holy and could be served only by the priests (Lev 21.6; 1 Chron 23.13).  The altar of holocausts had to be consecrated before it could be used (Ex 29.36-37; Lev 8.15). The altar is also called the ‘Lord’s table’ (Mal 1.12; Ezek 44.16).

 4.5. Liturgical Time

            The symbolism of time had a decisive impact on the religious life of a Hebrew.  For him the matter of supreme importance was not time in its mathematical measurement but time in its actual content and moral quality. History, to the Hebrews, was first and foremost a pattern of covenant-times.  They celebrated those times with thankfulness and rejoicing and looked forward to the time of the new and determinative covenant when past and present would find their fulfilment in the final day of God.  Hebrews believed that God chose special times to fulfil his special purposes. They insisted on celebrating two symbolic times in their life: the annual Passover festival and the weekly Sabbath.  While these festivals were being celebrated the past became a reality of present experience in faith.  The ritual celebration leads this reality into future, providing the hope that what God had done in the past he would do again on an even wider and grander scale.

5. Space-time of Christian Liturgy: Signs and Symbols of Liturgy

Sacred space, sacred time, sacred persons, sacred objects, sacred words and music, sacred gestures and actions are all symbols which realize the celebration of the paschal mystery and the salvific encounter with Christ.  It is through these signs and symbols that Christ accomplishes the work of our redemption

The sacramental celebration is the mystery of Christ celebrated in space and time.  A sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols.  Their meaning is rooted in the work of creation and human culture, specified by the events of Old Testament and fully revealed in the person and work of Christ (CCC 1145).  As a social being man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions.  The same holds true for his relationship with God. (Signs and symbols of creation: candles, water, fire; signs and symbols of human life: washing, anointing, breaking bread; and signs and symbols of the history of salvation (rites of Passover).

The sacraments of the Church do not abolish but purify and integrate all the richness of the signs and symbols of the cosmos and of social life.  Further, they fulfil the types and figures of the Old Covenant, they signify and make present the salvation wrought by Christ, and prefigure and anticipate the glory of heaven.  In sacramental symbolism the signs effect what they signify.  The word sign is the word used in classical theology.  Modern anthropologists prefer the term symbol.

  • Christian liturgical space-time a symbolic whole

The entire liturgy is made up of the signs and symbols of space-time.  Therefore, liturgy may be considered as a symbolic whole.  The unity of symbols is much emphasized for a proper liturgical celebration.  It is more appropriate to consider the liturgical space-time as a symbolic whole rather than speaking of different symbols in the liturgy.

Liturgy is celebration or commemoration of the paschal mystery of Christ.  Participation in it would enable the participant attain salvation.  The symbols serve like windows or doors to the saving reality of the salvific event.  They make one experience the eternal reality of salvation, here and now.  Without properly recognizing the worth of the symbols one cannot practise properly the religion.

  • Liturgical space-time is the paschal mystery of Christ in space-time; Its purpose is sanctification of God and sanctification of man through space-time.

a. Liturgical Space

            Christian sacred space-time is the convergence of heavenly space and earthly space, heavenly time and earthly time, heavenly persons and earthly persons. There is the real encounter between heaven and earth.

            According to the author of Revelation, the Christian sacred space is Christ himself (Rev 21.22). He is the true altar (madbaha qusta). (HAzy 4.26) Being the space of Christ, the church building is the meeting place of heaven and earth.  The symbolism of the liturgical architecture reveals this. The haikla represents the place of the people of God who are still in the earthly Church.  The bema represents earthly Jerusalem and as such the place of the accomplishment of the salvific mystery of Jesus.  The sanctuary is the symbol of heaven, the ‘space’ of the glorified Lord.  The qesroma serves as the intermediary space between heaven and earth.  The šqaqona represents the pathway between heaven and earth.  However, the symbolic distinction is not very sharp.  The sanctuary and the altar within it have a dynamic symbolism.  They represent heavenly and earthly realities, and therefore symbolize the evident convergence of heavenly and earthly space.  The altar is Lord’s tomb, the throne of God, and the table of the Kingdom (pathura malkutha).

  • Liturgical Space of Syro-Malabar tradition (with diagram): (See class notes.)
  • What is the theological significance of central bema? How does it agree with the theology of the Liturgy of Word in the East Syrian tradition? (See class notes.)

            Liturgical space symbolizes heaven and earth, but not alone or exclusively.  It is the presence of Christ symbolized through persons, and the prayers and actions of Christ symbolized through the prayers and actions of the persons, which give to the liturgical space the power of representing heaven and earth.  The convergence of these symbolic elements in the sacred time of liturgy makes possible: not only between heavenly and earthly space, but between the heavenly and earthly space-time. Commenting on the Sanctus  of the East Syrian Qurbana, the Anonymous Author (10th/11th century ) says: “…This means, heaven and earth have been already made one Church; neither heaven is heaven nor earth is earth because the time and space composite have been dissolved; for heaven is the heaven of earth and earth is the earth of heaven.”

            For the Church, the space-time of Christ in the liturgy is the space-time of salvation.  It is the new space and time of salvation.  The Lord comes to the earthly Jerusalem, we hear his words, we experience his healing touch, our sins are forgiven, we participate in his passion, we enter with him and the Good Thief into the Paradise.

            Liturgical space-time parallels the ladder of Jacob (Gen 28.12). Indeed it is more than Jacob’s ladder, which was only a passage between heaven and earth along which only angels went up and down.  In liturgical space-time God himself comes down to humans, preaches to them, makes them worthy to enter heaven.  Finally he comes down with the heavenly food, his own body and blood.  On the one hand, God is entering our space-time; on the other, we are entering God’s space-time. The veil of the OT was rather a barrier preventing the access to the sacred. According to Heb 10.19, it is Christ who has broken this barrier.  Thus we are enabled to enter the sanctuary of God.  We are given the right of access to the space-time of God. In the vision of the author of Hebrews, Christ himself is the sacred space.  He himself is the veil that marks the boundary of sacred and profane space-time.  Being the sacred space-time itself, he is also the door to the sacred space-time.  The veil is symbol of the separation between ordinary and sacred space-time. Even though this veil appears to be a barrier, for Christians it is no longer a barrier to the space-time of God but rather the door to it.

Liturgy is celebrated in the sacred space, namely church, dedicated for that purpose.  Church building is the House of God.  It is the meeting place of heaven and earth.  “To enter into the House of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called.  The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s House toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father ‘will wipe every tear from their tears’.” CCC 1186.

            Church building is not a mere gathering place, but it makes visible the Church living in that place, the dwelling of God with men reconciled and united with Christ. CCC 1180.  Syro-Malabar church (building) is divided into three sections.: Madbaha (therein we have the altar and the beth gazzas.), qestroma (the place of choir and ministers), haikla (the place of the faithful).  In the middle of haikla there is bema, the space for the celebration of the liturgy of Word.  Madbaha is separated from the haikla by a veil. (Madbaha represents heaven, haikla-earth; bema-earthly Jerusalem.

  • Eschatological dimension of Christian liturgical space-time

Explain the theological significance of facing East in prayer. (See class notes.)

 

b. Liturgical Time

In liturgy time is symbolic.  According to the Christian understanding, liturgical time is the time of salvation, which is symbolically experienced in liturgy.  Liturgical time is the symbol of heavenly time.  According to Narsai of Nisibis (399-502) it is a life-giving time for those who believe and receive the gift of the hour.  In liturgy, especially in the eucharistic liturgy one transcends the limits of ordinary time.  In liturgy we are participating in the eternal saving act, not that of the past.  Liturgical celebration is not a celebration or repetition of a past event.  It is the eternal liturgy that unfolds in the symbols of the new space and time.

 Sunday or the Lord’s Day is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical celebration.  Sunday is the day of Lord’s resurrection; it is the day of creation; it symbolizes the eschatological day (of heavenly life.)  The liturgical seasons enable the celebration of the entire mystery of Christ in the course of one year (liturgical year).  In the course of the year, Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord. (SC 102)  The whole year is divided into different liturgical seasons based on the main feasts of the mystery of salvation.  Each concentrates on a particular aspect of the mystery, without however, neglecting the totality of the mystery.

Liturgy is celebrated in sacred time, which is not limited by past, present and future.  Liturgical time is the time of God; it is the time of salvation.

Liturgical Year

The liturgical year of the Christian East is a rather detailed and intense plan of sanctifying the whole year, rendering the various moments of the history of salvation present.  The liturgical year permeates the entire spiritual life of the faithful. (Instruction 36)  The Eastern faithful prepare for the important feast days through fast and abstinence established by the their respective ecclesial tradition. The feasts of the saints are celebrated in intimate connection with the celebration of the mystery of the salvation.  Thus the calendar of the Eastern Christians differ from that of the Christian West especially in the case of the sanctoral.

 

Origin and Development of the Liturgical Calendar

0. Introduction

            The present shape of the Christian liturgical calendar is the result of the liturgical and theological evolution through many centuries.  We may find at the origin of the liturgical calendar the concern of the Church to commemorate the paschal mystery of Christ in the course of one year.  The weekly celebration of the salvific mystery on Sunday paved the way for the origin of the celebration of the various aspects of the paschal mystery in the span of an year.  The feasts like Easter, Pentecost, Christmas and Epiphany had a decisive role in the formation of the liturgical year. In the course of the year the Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the ascension, to pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord (SC 102).

            The primitive liturgical cycle was of extreme simplicity reflecting the primitive eschatological understanding of liturgy.[1] For the most ancient calendar of the Church the historical commemoration was of little significance. The primitive liturgical calendar consisted originally everywhere of two elements, the observance of two annual feasts, namely Pascha and Pentecost, and of the Lord’s Day on Sunday. At the time of Hippolytus of Rome and Tertullian in Africa, around A.D. 215 and Origen in Egypt around the year A.D. 235, these feasts of the paschal mystery served as the main content of the liturgical calendar.[2]  The Nativity-Epiphany cycle of feasts also had a place in the liturgical calendar of various Churches as early as the second century.

The present paper is an attempt to inquire into the origin and development of the liturgical calendar, analysing the liturgical and theological reasons for the evolution of the calendar.  We may begin our inquiry with the study of Sunday and then study the most important feasts of the liturgical year, namely the feasts of the Easter cycle and the feasts of the Christmas cycle.  We may also examine the development of the cult of saints and its impact on the liturgical calendar of the Church.

1. Sunday

Sunday is the foundation and kernel of the Christian liturgical year (SC 106). Sunday is the innovation of Christians; it was not inherited from the Hebrew cult.  The Christian shaping of the week, giving primary place to Sunday as Lord’s Day, was adopted in all parts of the Church by the end of the first century.[3]  In spite of the absence of any completely indisputable evidence for the Christian observance of Sunday prior to the middle of second century, most scholars believe that it was adopted as early as the first generation of believers.[4] The earliest reason given for celebrating Sunday is that it is the day of the resurrection (Ep.of Barnabas 15.9)[5] The early Christians paid special attention to Sunday mainly because it was the day of the resurrection of the Lord.  (Acts 20.1; 1 Cor 16.2).  It was the day for specially commemorating the Lord and his paschal mystery.  On that day they came together to celebrate the ‘breaking of bread’. To say that Sunday is a weekly celebration of the resurrection is inadequate.  Sunday is the celebration of the entire Pascha.[6]According to Egeria, of the fourth century on every Sunday both the passion and resurrection accounts were read.  The idea of a weekly celebration of the resurrection developed after the fourth century.

Mk 16.2 and parallels assert that it was on the first day of the week, according to the Jewish Calendar, that our Lord rose from the dead. 1 Cor 16.2, and Acts 20.7 speak of Sunday as the first day of the week, and state that there was the gathering of believers on that day. It was the usual expression for Sunday in Syriac-speaking circles.[7] The New Testament texts speak of Sunday as the day of resurrection (Mt 28.1; Mk 16.2; Lk 24.1; Jn 20.1) All these texts refer to Sunday as the first day of the week. Almost all post resurrection appearances fall on Sunday (Mt 28.6-10; Mk 16.9-14; Lk 24:13-15; Jn 20.11-18; Jn 20.19; Jn 20.26-29). Only Jn 21.1ff does not specify that it was on a Sunday. The Greek-speaking communities preferred the term Lord’s Day.[8]  Latin West had its equivalent term Dominica.[9] As early as Tertullian and Cyprian Dominica is the ordinary name for Sunday.[10]  Justin the Martyr speaks of this day as the ‘day of the sun’.[11] While making the Christian day of worship a civil day of rest, Emperor Constantine referred to it as ‘Dies solis’.[12]

There were other reasons for celebrating Sunday.  The gentile Christians took up the Jewish understanding of the first day of the week as the day of creation. “We assemble on the day of the sun because it is the first day, that on which God transformed the darkness and matter to create the world, and also because Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day.”[13]  From ancient times onwards Sunday is considered as the eighth day, being the image of the eschatological day.[14] It is the day on which God inaugurated a new World.[15] It is the image of the age to come.[16]  Later writers speak about more historical events commemorated on Sunday.  Theodulf in his capitular to the clergy about 800 writes: “On it God established light; on it he rained manna in the wilderness; on it the Redeemer of the human race voluntarily rose from the dead for our salvation; on it he poured out the Holy Spirit upon his disciples…”.[17] Sunday being the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit, it is also called the day of the Spirit.

            It seems likely that Sunday was from its first beginnings a Christian observance independent of the sabbath,[18] though its weekly observance was probably suggested by the existence of sabbath. We find the Church continuing the Jewish prohibition of fasting on Sabbath, which suggests a sense of the continuity with Sabbath rather than a repudiation of it.[19] It is probable that the Jewish Christian Churches insisted on the additional observance of the Jewish sabbath as well as the Christian Sunday.[20] Some Christians of Jewish background continued a measure of Sabbath observance as well.[21] Many modern scholars believe that the first Christians chose Sunday as their Sabbath day in order to differentiate themselves from other Jews, and furthermore that during the first century the Christian eucharist was usually celebrated on Saturday[22] evening, after the sabbath was over and as Sunday began according to the Jewish reckoning of the day.[23] The Epistle of Barnabas presents God rebuking the Jewish observance of sabbath. “It is not your present sabbaths that are acceptable unto Me, but the sabbath which I have made, in which when I have set all things at rest, I will make the beginning with the eighth day, which is the beginning  of another world. Wherefore we (Christians) also keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens”.[24] According to S. Bacchiochi, Sunday originates as a result of an anti-Hebrew polemics, an effort to get away from  Sabbath and its tradition.[25] According to Willy Rordorf, a Swiss protestant, Sunday from the beginning has been associated with the Eucharist. Sunday brings together the resurrection, the post-resurrection appearances, the messianic meal and hence the arrival of the Kingdom.[26]  In 1962 Rordorf suggested that the Christian celebration of Sunday probably arose out of the post resurrection meal appearances of Jesus, many of which seem to have taken place on the first day of the week.  He also argued that the weekly eucharistic assemblies were held at first on Sunday evening rather than Saturday evening, and only later transferred to Sunday morning.[27] Rordorf’s explanation was not accorded a general approbation.  However, later in 1982 a collection of essays by a group of conservative scholars agreed that Christians first began to observe Sunday not as a substitute for the Sabbath but as their day for the corporate worship.[28] In New Testament there is a reinterpretation of the Sabbath. It is reinterpreted in terms of Jesus Christ and our life.  The first Christians were interested in the Sabbath’s symbolic meaning and not in its strict observance.[29]According to the New Testament the only Christian day of celebration is Sunday. Sunday was in the primitive Christian view only the prescribed day for corporate worship.  The early Christians celebrated Sunday not as a day of rest, but as a festival.  It is eschatological in its significance, as representing the inauguration of the ‘world to come’.  It is only secondarily a memorial of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus.[30] Later Sunday was considered a day of rest, abstaining from worldly affairs for the sake of prayer. It became a day of rest after 321 when Constantine closed the law-courts and stopped the crafts working on it.[31] The Fathers developed the idea of Sunday rest into a prohibition of all work on Sunday. But this is essentially a Jewish idea.[32]

Sunday was the day of the gathering and breaking of bread. Acts 20.7-12; 1 Cor 16.1-2. In Didache Sunday is the normal day of the Christian assembly.  From as early as Rev 1.10, the Christian day for the eucharistic assembly was known as “the day of Lord” (kyriakê hêmera).[33]

There are three central themes regarding Sunday found from the beginning: resurrection, meals, First Day, and Eighth Day.  Justin the Martyr expresses three themes of resurrection, meals and First Day. He speaks of Sunday as the day of sun.[34]

Attendance at the weekly assembly was regarded as obligatory even in times of persecution.  “We have to celebrate the Lord’s Day, it is our rule.”[35]  “We could not live without celebrating the Lord’s Day. It is our rule. This is the witness of the martyrs of Abitinia.[36]   According to John Chrysostom, “to abstain from this meal is to separate oneself from the Lord.  The Sunday meal is that which we take in common with the Lord and the brethren.[37] The Church was very much conscious of the necessity of the Sunday celebration.  The Syrian Didascalia of the Apostles (Middle of third century) presents Sunday as something essential to the Christian existence. “ …on the Lord’s Day leave every thing and run eagerly to your Church; for she is your glory. Otherwise what excuse have they before God who do not assemble on the Lord’s day to hear the word of life and be nourished by the divine food which abides for ever.”[38]

Because of Sunday’s unique importance, there developed a vigil office (Cf. Acts 20.7-10). This is attested in the East by Egeria in the fourth century (24.8-11) and in the West by various Frankish Councils from 6th cent. It became a day of baptism (other than the Easter vigil and Pentecost vigil).[39] No one was allowed to fast on Sunday or to kneel.[40]

From ninth century the saints’ days were allowed to take precedence over Sunday in the West. The East has maintained the privileged position of Sunday more consistently: only a few feasts, and those connected with the mysteries of Christ, are celebrated on a Sunday.[41]

Sunday was seen as the day for the manifestation or epiphany, of the Church.  During the rest of the week the Church was dispersed and hidden, as its individual members went about their life and work in different places.  But on Sunday the Church came together and revealed itself in the celebration of the eucharist.[42]

2. Pascha

Pascha[43] is the centre of liturgical year. For the first three centuries all celebrations in the Church were based on the Pascha.  The Church celebrates the memory of the Lord’s resurrection once every year, together with his blessed passion, at Easter, the most solemn of all feasts.[44] The entire mystery of Christ, namely his incarnation, passion, death, Resurrection, glorification and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church, is celebrated during the Pascha.[45]

The Pascha was celebrated once every week as Sunday, and once every year as Easter.[46] Easter is the only feast of Christian year that can plausibly claim to go back to apostolic times. There are two reasons for such an assumption: It must derive from a time when Jewish influence was effective, i.e., during the first century AD, because it depends on the lunar calendar (every other feast depends on the solar calendar); the second reason: for three centuries the Church tolerated its celebration on different days in Asia on 14 Nisan, elsewhere on the Sunday after 14 Nisan because it was acknowledged that there was apostolic authority for both.[47]

In the second century the Pascha was celebrated as a distinct Christian feast.  It was preceded by lent.[48]  The earliest textual evidence to the Christian observance of Pascha comes from the second century document, Epistula Apostolorum, a text written most probably somewhere in Asia Minor, in the second half of the second century.[49] It combined the commemoration of both the death and resurrection of Christ and the celebration of both baptism and the eucharist.[50] Pascha and Pentecost seem to have come down from the Apostolic times like the observance of Sunday. “They are both obviously derived from Jewish feasts, Passover and Pentecost, to which they are related rather more closely in meaning than Sunday is to the sabbath.”[51] Passover refers to the whole complex of spring festival, both the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread.  Passover was a spring sacrifice by nomadic shepherds, and Unleavened Bread was a Canaanite agricultural festival adopted by the Hebrews only after their settlement in the land.[52] The feast of Unleavened Bread was a public cultic phenomenon celebrated by the Hebrews with the feast of Weeks and that of the Tabernacles.  However, the feast of Passover seems to have had rather a domestic character. It was a domestic meal, although still of some sacrificial character.[53] Josiah (7th cent. B.C.) united Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread into a single festival kept at the full on in spring.[54]

The primitive Church celebrated Pascha in the form of a nocturnal festival.  A vigil was held from the evening of Saturday to dawn on Sunday.  In second century it is a unitive commemoration of the death and resurrection of our Lord, a nocturnal celebration of a single night, constituting the Christian Passover.[55] There were the rites like the blessing of the lamp or lamps by the deacon; a series of lections interspersed with chants; sermon by the bishop; solemn baptism and confirmation of the neophytes.[56]

The precise relationship between the Christian Pascha and the Passover of the Law is riddled with questions. In the New Testament itself it is uncertain whether the last supper was a Passover meal.[57] The preparation for the festival in the Synoptics (Mk 14.14; Mt 26.18; Lk 22.8) is surely 14 Nisan and the supper eaten in the night is the Passover feast.  According to this chronology Jesus is crucified on 15 Nisan. The fourth Gospel suggests (Jn 19.32-36) that the Crucifixion took place on 14 Nisan, at the time of the slaying of the lambs for the feast.[58]  This could be more a theologically motivated chronology.  The identification of Jesus as the Passover lamb of the New Covenant is reflected already in 1 Cor 5.7.[59] According to John the crucifixion is at the time of the slaying of lambs for the feast.  According to Paul “ Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us ( I Cor 5:7).  A.D. 29 was considered to be the year of Jesus’ death. 14 Nisan of that year was March 25. March 25 is found as the fixed date for the paschal observance.  April 6 was also considered the date of Jesus’ death.[60]

According to Gregory Dix, the primitive Pascha has the character of a liturgy of ‘Redemption’ rather than a commemoration of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus, such as Easter has with us. Like the Jewish Passover it commemorated a deliverance from bondage, in the case of Christians not from Egypt but from the bondage of sin and time and mortality into ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8.21) and the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1. 11).[61] Pascha being the feast of the redemption was considered the most suitable occasion for the conferring of the sacraments by which redemption is appropriated to the individual -baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, and confirmation by which the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead is imparted to dwell in the members of His Body.[62]

Pascha is not a historical event.  The feast we celebrate is the result of resurrection.  We are celebrating not an event, not a past/present/future but a person who is present.  Sunday and Pascha is celebration of ‘God with us’ permanently.[63]

2.1. Paschal Controversy

The date of the annual celebration of the Pascha was a point of controversy in the second century.  At the time of the Apostles there was the tradition of celebrating the Pascha on the Sunday following 14 Nisan.  The Sunday Pascha was established in Palestine and at Alexandria well before the paschal controversy.  However, the Church in Ephesus insisted on the celebration of Pascha on 14 Nisan itself.  Pascha was observed in Asia with a fast and vigil on 14 Nisan, and was concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist at cockcrow on the fifteenth.[64] Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna and Anicetus the bishop of Rome had disputes over this issue.  They could not convince each other of the validity of their different practices.  Eusebius (+339) gives us a testimony of Polycrates (second century), the bishop of Ephesus, defending the quartodeciman practice. In his letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, Polycrates cites the examples of the Apostles Philip, John, Polycarp of Smyrana and others who stood for the quartodeciman practice.[65]  According to T.J. Talley, there is no such detailed pedigree for the apostolicity that, since the fourth century, has been claimed for the Sunday Pascha.[66]

2.2. Paschal Fast

            The Paschal fast has its inspiration from the Mishnah precept to fast from all food from the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice that preceded the sacrifice of lambs for the Passover.  This fast was not broken until nightfall, and then only with the eating of the Passover.[67]  The Christians observed a similar fast before the Pascha, but it was a fast which was extended through the hours of the rejoicing accompanying the Passover.  Epistula Apostolorum and other texts show that the vigil and presumably the fast, was extended to cockcrow.  For the quartodecimans the fast was extended through the day of 14 Nisan to cockcrow of 15 Nisan.[68]  At the time Irenaeus (+202) there was the paschal fast during the last days of the Holy Week  At the time of Tertullian and Hippolytus the Latin West fasted on Good Friday and Holy Saturday as the fast of the wedding guests when the bridegroom is taken away (Mk 2.19-20).  However, the Apostolic Tradition  makes provision for the infirm (any one who is pregnant or ill) to observe only one day, that is on Saturday.[69] According to Didascalia Apostolorum and the Alexandrian festal letters of Dionysius, the paschal fast was extended to six days of the Holy Week, in the third century. The six week fast might be considered an extension of the paschal fast of six days. But Apostolic Constitutions V.13 calls for a complete separation of the Lenten fast of forty days from the paschal fast by an interval two festal days, Saturday and Sunday.[70]  The six days fast might have originated in imitation of the Jewish practice of eating unleavened bread for seven days in view of celebrating the paschal feast. Christians fasted six days except Sunday.  Towards the end of 4th century Sozomen testifies to 3,6, or 7 weeks fast depending on the place.  Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom speak of 6 week fast.  These weeks are called “Quadragesima”, that is forty consecutive days preceding the paschal Triduum (6×7-2=40) imitating the 40 days fast of Jesus.[71] Basil speaks of a seven week lent in Cappadocia and Egeria speaks of eight week lent in Jerusalem.

After the Council of Nicea fast of forty days before paschal baptism became common. At Rome these forty days ran from the sixth Sunday before Easter (Quadragesima) to Thursday before Easter (on which day the penitents were reconciled), and the two day paschal fast of Friday and Saturday followed. At Antioch and Constantinople the forty days were reckoned from Monday of the seventh week before Easter to Friday of the week preceding Great Week. At Constantinople, as in early Alexandrian tradition, the Sunday following the close of the forty days was the feast of Palms. In 7th century there was a general tendency to extend the paschal fast so that the total number of fast days would total forty. In Rome the Sundays were not fast days.  Hence of six weeks there were only 36 actual fast days.  Four more days were added from the preceding week.[72]

In fact, the theme of Jesus’ fast as the motivating factor for the paschal fast was only a later introduction. According to Gregory Dix, the association with our Lord’s fast in the wilderness was an idea attached to the season of Lent only after it had come into existence in connection with the preparation of candidates for baptism. “The catechumens who were to receive baptism at the Pascha had to undergo preparatory fasts and daily exorcisms for a fortnight or more before the feast, to purify them for their initiation. As the culminating point in the Christian year, the Pascha was recognized to require some personal preparation from all, but there was as yet nothing corresponding to Lent and Holy Week.  At the end of the second century all Christians fasted before the Pascha, some for a day, some for forty hours continuously, some for a week, according to their devotion.”[73]

The Eastern Churches begin the Lent on the Monday before the Ash Wednesday of the Western tradition.  For the Easterners the Lent consists of 40 days, excluding the Sunday of the first week, Lazarus Saturday, and the Holy Week.[74] In the Latin tradition on Wednesday there was the enrolment of penitents.  In Gaul and Germany there was the ceremony of sprinkling the penitents with ashes.

The advancing of the Lenten fast was found in Rome, in the East and in various regions of the West. Thus we have the septuagesima season with the quinquagesima, sexageisma and septuagesima Sundays making their appearance in succession. [75]

3. Days of Fast

Days of fast have been significant in the formation of the Christian Calendar. The preparation for feasts like Christmas and Easter included fast. From the first century onwards the Church had the proper discipline of fast. Didache 8.1 directed Christians not to fast on Mondays and Thursdays (the regular Jewish fast days) but on Wednesdays and Fridays, and this custom continued to be widely observed in the later centuries, with regular services of the Word also taking place at the ninth hour (about 3 p.m.) on these days.[76]  “The substitution of the ninth hour instead of the morning for the service of the word, as on the Jewish fast-days, appears to have been made in order to commemorate the death of Jesus at that hour (Mt 27.46-50; Mk 15.34-7; Lk 23.44-6).[77]

In the second century there arose the custom in the East of keeping all Wednesdays and Fridays outside the ‘great fifty days’ as fasts.[78] According to Schmemann, they were days commemorating the days of Christ’s betrayal and his death.[79] The West was reluctant to adopt these eastern fasts.  Later these fasts were known in the West as stations. However, the Roman Church introduced its own system of corporate fasts.  These were the seasonal fasts of the Ember Days[80], on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the weeks which marked the chief agricultural operations of the year in Italy. These seasonal fasts were assigned to the first, fourth, seventh and tenth months.  The observance consisted in a solemnization of the regular weekly fasts on Wednesday and Friday, an extension of the Friday fast through Saturday, and a vigil through the night from Saturday to Sunday, concluding with the eucharist early Sunday morning.[81]   Though the Eastern station days were at one time widely adopted in the West, the Western fasts were never adopted at all in the East.[82] According to Schmemann, fasting was the ‘station’ of the Church herself, the people of God standing in readiness, awaiting the parousia of the Lord.[83] When there was eucharist on such days in the evening, the communion would terminate fast or vigil”.[84]

Besides the forty days fast before the Easter there were other fasts of forty days, e.g. before Christmas beginning on November 11, referred to as St. Michael’s Lent.[85].

 

4. Origin of New Feasts

For the first three centuries there was no particular Christian calendar.  Pascha was the only feast, that is Sundays and once per year an anniversary of Christ’s crucifixion. The early Christians had no interest in the events like nativity. It never occurred to any one to celebrate Christ’s nativity or his crucifixion, etc  per se.[86]

The multiplication of feasts went hand in hand with the great theological controversies and was in a way a reflection of the results attained in these controversies.[87]

Feasts like Nativity and Epiphany were introduced to conserve the actuality of the paschal mystery against the threats of various heresies. Every feast is a manifestation of Christ and salvation in him, not a commemoration of a particular event.  Thus Nativity or Epiphany is the feast of divine manifestation, not the birth of Jesus, per se. Christmas is simultaneously the feast of the triumph over the darkness of paganism (the manifestation of the ‘sun of truth’) and of the triumph of Nicaea over Arianism (the affirmation of the divine nature of Christ).[88]

The first Christians had no interest in the individual events of the history of salvation.  The emphasis was not in places and things, candles and incense, but worshiping the Father in Spirit and truth.[89]

4.1. Feasts of Ideas

            Between 700-1200 AD we find the origin and development of many feasts of ideas.  The feasts of ideas developed since the middle ages.  These feasts do not focus on the particular events of salvation but have as their object truths of faith, special aspects of Christian teaching and piety, or various titles of the Lord, his mother or a saint.   The idea-feasts are also called “devotion feasts” or dogmatic, thematic, and static feasts.[90] Feast of Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Christ the King, the Precious Blood, the Holy name, the Holy Family, and many feasts of Mary are examples for the idea feasts. They are rooted in concepts more than in a specific event.[91]

The multiplication of festivals, a characteristic feature of fourth century was due to Church’s need to replace the pagan festivals.[92]  Holidays were set apart not only as commemorations of individual events in Christ’s life but also as the expression and affirmation of separate elements in Church’s doctrine. Schmemann observes: “The real and in a way paradoxical result of this development of Feast Days was the gradual weakening of the idea of the Church year as a liturgical whole.” “It would not be hard to show that our present Church year has no real, organic wholeness.  It is divided into a series of festal cycles frequently interwoven with one another, yet inwardly dis-unified and out of harmony.”[93] According to Adolf Adam,many of these feasts are unnecessary duplications[94].

5. Pentecost

            The Old Testament Pentecost was an agricultural festival at the close of the grain harvest which began at Passover, but in the later Jewish idea Pentecost commemorated the giving of Law at Sinai and the constitution of the mixed multitude of Egyptian refugees into the People of God.  The Church taking up the Pentecost commemorated the events recorded in Acts 2 and also her own character as the People of the New Covenant, and the fact that ‘the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made her members free from the ‘law of sin and death (Rom 8.2)’. Pentecost was considered another ordinary occasion for the celebration of baptism and confirmation.[95]

Pascha was celebrated, as was Passover, for a total of eight days.  In England this final Sunday of the Paschal season was called Whitsunday (deriving from the Frenc huit or  huitiême Dimanche) the eighth Sunday of Easter. The paschal season from the six days of the paschal fast to the final day of Pentecost, can be understood to be in more or less direct continuity with the Old Testament festivals of Passover-Unleavened Bread, and Shabbuoth (weeks).[96] The feast of weeks celebrated on a single day, seems to conclude an extension of the week of unleavened bread to a week of weeks.[97]The festival was on the 50th day called Pentecost (fiftieth) in the Septuagint and the NT.

Feast of Weeks (Pentecost):  It was a feast of thanksgiving after the heavy labour of the harvest. It was a joyous feast, celebrated with various sacrifices in the temple (Lev 23.15-21).  Later it was associated with the recall of the covenant at Sinai and giving of the ten commandments; thus the feast commemorating the history of Israel’s salvation.[98]

In the first century it was not just the fiftieth day that was considered sacred, but the very period between that fiftieth day and the day from which it was counted, a day related in one way or another to the Passover. However, in the first century itself there are clear signs that the fiftieth day was being regarded as a festival with its own proper content, not just the conclusion of a festal season.[99]

Already in the 2nd century the celebration of the resurrection was continued for fifty days.  This period was one of unbroken rejoicing.[100]  In the course of the fourth century the Christian Pentecost celebrated Christ’s ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit on the Church.  In the last two decades of the 4th century we find the separation of the dual theme, and the celebration of the ascension on the fortieth day. In the last decade of 4th century in Northern Italy the tradition of unbroken rejoicing had been dismantled by a fast before the feast of ascension. In the 5th century the three days before Ascension were marked in Gaul by rogations (with processional litanies) (supplication for the state of crops).  These days are known as Rogation days.  These fast days had great popularity in the middle ages.  They were adopted in Rome, and were known as “lesser litanies” (by contrast to the major litany, a seventh century Christian adaptation of the pre-Christian Robigalia on the day (April 25) that would later become as well the feast of St. Mark.[101]

Ascension was not a separate feast, it was included in the celebration of the Pascha. For the Jews, the fifty days of harvest between the Passover and Pentecost symbolised the joyful act of their possession of the Promised Land. For the Christian these fifty days symbolised the fact that ‘in Christ’ he had already entered into the Kingdom of God.  The fifty days manifested the world to come.[102]

6. Holy Week

From Egeria we have the first account of Holy Week celebration.  Egeria’s account of the celebration of the Holy Week at Jerusalem may be summarised as follows. The first four days of the Great Week, while exhibiting their own peculiarities, are nonetheless very much like other days in Lent at least up to noon. The specific celebration of the day was in the afternoon, usually at the ninth hour, with a service of readings that extends to and most often connects with the evening office, Lucernare, which was not celebrated until around seven in the evening.[103]

Originally the Pascha was a unitive celebration.  But the Holy Week celebration made the Pascha the feast of resurrection.  The unitive Pascha has come, as late as the fifth century, to give way to reduction of the content of the feast to the resurrection alone. First testimony of Good Friday comes from Jerusalem at the end of the 4th century. The last of the first four days of the Great Week, is distinct from the previous days. The afternoon synaxix included eucharist.  The service began an hour earlier.  There was a second celebration of the eucharist in the Church of Golgotha, that is the chapel behind the Cross.  Thereafter there was a third eucharist celebrated in the ‘Upper Room’.  This celebration forged a connection between the afternoon service and a vigil stretching through the entire night.  In the morning of Good Friday, there was the veneration of the wood of the Cross, from eight in the morning until noon. This veneration follows the prayers that conclude the Word Liturgy, preceding the distribution of the communion.  From noon until three in the afternoon there were readings (Psalms, epistles, and each of the four passion narratives) in the courtyard before the Cross. A vigil through the night from Friday to Saturday was kept at the tomb by the clergy, and those who could do so took part in all or some of that vigil.

The earliest witnesses to the liturgy of Good Friday at Rome are the Gregorian Sacramentary and evangeliary from the middle of seventh century.[104] In the Ordo of 1970 Good Friday received back its ancient title “In Passioni Domini” (celebration of the Lord’s passion).[105] Two most striking features of the Good Friday liturgy in the West are the veneration of cross and communion from the reserved sacrament, the so called Mass of the Presanctified.[106]

            Holy Saturday is called the great Saturday in the East.  It commemorates the repose of Jesus in the tomb, also his descent into sheol and his mysterious encounter there with all those who were waiting for him to open the gate of heaven (1 Pet 3: 19-20;4.6).[107]  On the Saturday of Great Week there were the normal services at the third and the sixth hours. However, there was no usual ninth hour celebration, because it was already time for the preparation of the vigil.  The vigil began with the evening office, with the Lucernare, lighting of the lamp. By the tenth century the Lucernare acquired a much greater importance.  In the fourth and fifth centuries the bishop lighted a taper from the lamp that burned constantly in the tomb in the Anastasis, and proceeded to the Martyrium, where he lighted one or more lamps.  The clergy then began the vigil of readings. The scheme of the vigil is: Psalm 117 (118); eleven prophetic readings, each followed by a prayer; and the final reading, leading into the Song of the Three Children. During this canticle, the bishop leads the newly baptized into the church.  Upon the conclusion of the canticle, that is at midnight according to the rubrics, the prokeimenon of the eucharistic liturgy began at once. [108] The most primitive feature of Holy Saturday is the total fast kept on that day.  It was completely aliturgical day.  The eucharist was never celebrated in either East or West.[109]

There was the custom of prolonging the celebration of the Pascha for one week. The custom of observing Pascha for a week may have its ultimate roots in the Passover and the seven days of the Unleavened Bread. For Christians the testimony of the fourth gospel with its accounts of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples in the evening of the day of the resurrection and again eight days later, surely played a large role in the extension of the festival throughout the week, from Sunday through Sunday.  In the fourth century the central feature of the liturgical arrangement of this week was the explanation of the mysteries to the newly baptized.[110]

7.Nativity and Epiphany

The Jewish Passover and Pentecost had great influence on the Christian feasts like Easter and Pentecost.  Was the celebration of Nativity and Epiphany influenced by some Jewish feast? As Schmemann observes, the early Judeo-Christian Church could have been influenced by the third great messianic and eschatological feast of Judaism- the feast of the Tabernacles.[111] Talley is of the view that there is a possible, but highly hypothetical connection between the feast of Tabernacles and Epiphany.[112] Schmemann says: “Thus it may be supposed, and Danielou defends this thesis, that the earliest Judeo-Christian tradition did include a Christian ‘transposition’ of the third great messianic festival.  On the one hand the final feast day of the saviour’s earthly ministry-his entrance into Jerusalem (the end of the year) and on the other hand the theme of epiphany or baptism (the beginning of the year) were, in this theory, the main themes of this transposition.”[113]

Epiphany was the oriental festival of nativity, parallel to December 25. Both festivals celebrated the nativity of Christ. But Epiphany celebrated also the baptism of Jesus, the miracle at Cana wedding feast, the visit of the Magi, and even (in one source) the Transfiguration.[114] Later Egyptian sources supported by texts as early as the third century report the primitive celebration of Christ’s baptism there on epiphany.[115]  January 6 was known already to Clement of Alexandria at the end of the 2nd century, as the date of nativity and baptism of the Lord. In later 4th century, the Western Nativity festival spread to Constantinople, Cappadocia and Antioch.  It became popular in Alexandria in the fifth century.  Baptism of Jesus became the sole content of Epiphany. The feast of Nativity was introduced in Jerusalem only in the 6th century.  (There was monophysite resistance.) Armenians continue the resistance even now.  They celebrate both the Nativity and baptism on Epiphany.  In Gaul we find a similar content for epiphany. In 361 at the time of Emperor Julian Epiphany had the sole celebration of the Nativity. In Northern Italy after sometime epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus or sometimes the first miracle at Cana. In Gaul after the adoption of Christmas, epiphany celebrated the tria miracula the visit of the Magi, the baptism in Jordan and the first miracle at Cana.[116]

The development of the nativity cycle was connected on the one hand with the necessity to Christianize and “church” the dates of the great pagan feasts of December 25 (natale invicti solis) and January 6 (the birth of Ion or Dionysus), and on the other hand with the fight for Nicene orthodoxy, for the term omoousion.”[117]

The earliest evidence for the existence of a feast of the Nativity of Jesus on 25 December is its inclusion in what is known as the Roman Chronograph of 354, which gives a list of significant days in the year for the city of Rome probably drawn up nearly twenty years earlier, in 336.[118] As regards the origin of the feast there are two principal schools of thought. The first one is based on the attempt to calculate the exact date of Jesus’ birth.  Since some thought 25 March as the date of Jesus’ death and the very date of his conception, his birth is considered exactly nine months later, 25 December. The second one is the ‘history of religions’ hypothesis.  According to this hypothesis this date had been chosen  because it was the occasion of the winter solstice in the Julian calendar and also of a very popular pagan feast at Rome, established by the emperor Aurelian in 274 to celebrate the dies natalis solis invicti, the birthday of the invincible sun.  This feast was substituted with the birthday celebration of Christ, the true Sun of Righteousness.[119]

Whatever reasons for the selection of 25 December, it is important to note that the day was thought of as more than just a commemoration of the birthday of Jesus. What was being celebrated was not just the historical event of the nativity, but belief in the reality of the incarnation of the Son of God: hence there was a strong doctrinal or apologetic purpose shaping the festival and not merely a popular piety. [120] We may find a similar logic in the choice of 6 January.  6 April had been observed by early Christians in Asia Minor as the annual celebration of the death of Christ, and by the same method of calculation outlined in the case of 25 December, the date 6 January was chosen.[121]  Clement of Alexandria knew the tradition at the end of second century that 6 January had been the date of the birth of Christ. But everywhere this feast did not commemorate the mystery of nativity.  “While the nativity (including the visit of Magi, Mt 2.1-12) certainly seems to have been its theme in the church of Jerusalem, this was not the case for Christians in Egypt, where 6 January celebrated instead the baptism of Jesus.  Elsewhere, there are some indications that the miracle at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2.1-11) may have been the primary focus.[122]

Epiphany was already a major feast in Gaul by 361.  Epiphany must have been almost contemporary in origin with the Roman Christmas. “If epiphany is to be regarded as earlier than Christmas, it cannot in any case have originated much before the council of Nicea.[123]

In all major traditions the feast of Nativity is preceded by a more or less extended season of fasting.  Filastrius, ca. 385, reported a fast before Christmas, but none preceding the Epiphany.[124] In the fifth century, bishop Perpetuus of Tours (+490) gives regulations regarding the preparation for Christmas.  There has to be a season of fasting from the feast of St. Martin (Nov.11) to Christmas. Of the 56 days Saturdays and Sundays were not actual fast days and hence a total of 40 actual fast days. Adolf Adam observes: “The real motive behind such a lent was the fact that Epiphany was a day for baptism, and there was a desire to show no less respect for this occasion by way of preparation for it than was shown  for Easter as a day of baptism.” [125]

The season of Advent makes its appearance at Rome only in the second half of the sixth century in the sacramentaries and lectionaries. Adventus was understood in the biblical and eschatological sense of parousia. “It (Advent) fostered a joyful expectation of the feast of the Nativity but with a view to diverting the thoughts of Christians above all to the glorious return of the Lord at the end of time.”[126] In the Syrian rites the weeks before Christmas are weeks of annunciation.  In West Syrian there are five and in the East Syrian there are four annunciations.

8. Other Feasts of our Lord

In 6th century Justinian promulgated the feast of Annunciation on March 25.

The presentation of the Lord (February 2) and the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25) are the two Christmas feasts outside the Christmas cycle.[127]

Transfiguration: It commemorates the dedication of the basilicas on Mount Tabor. This feast was received by the East Syrian Church at the end of the 5th century or the beginning of the 6th century and by the West Syrian Church in the 7th century.[128]

Triumph of the Cross: In the 6th century in Rome May 3 was the feast of the discovery of the cross.  Only in the middle of the 7th century the feast of the cross was celebrated on 14 September.  The wood of the cross was given public veneration in the Vatican basilica.[129]

Holy Trinity: The Apostolic See (Pope Alexander II +1073; Pope Alexander III + 1181) was not in favour of setting apart a particular feast for Trinity saying that it is honoured daily in the Psalmody by the saying of “Glory be to the Father..” Still this feast gained ground especially in the monasteries.  It was celebrated at Cluny in 1030 and Citeaux in 1271.  Some Churches celebrated it on the octave of Pentecost, others on the Sunday before Advent.  Pope John XXII made the celebration obligatory for the entire West and assigned it to the Sunday after Pentecost.  Eastern Churches do not have a feast of the Holy Trinity.[130]

The feast of Sacred Heart was first kept on August 30 as very local celebration by John Eudes in the 17th century.  Later it became very popular due to the visionary experience of Margaret Mary Alacoque.  In 1856 Pius IX made it universal for the Latin rite, and set it on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.

In 1925 Pius established the feast of Christ the King.[131]

9. Cult of Saints

            The Church has included in the annual cycle memorial days of the martyrs and other saints (SC 104). By celebrating their anniversaries the Church proclaims achievement of the paschal mystery in the saints who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ (SC 104).

The cult of saints is much more ancient than the feast of Nativity, for example.  The witnessing of martyrs is a sign of continued reality of Christ’s Pascha.  This is why churches were built over the tombs of martyrs.[132] The veneration of martyrs is at least as old as the middle of the second century.  Our earliest reference to this custom comes from a contemporary account of the martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna at this period.[133] It is important to notice that this early practice was intensely local.  The celebration was not held in the house or other building where the local church normally met, but in the very place where the remains of the martyr were interred.[134] It was only later, in the second half of the fourth century, that the practice began of often moving the mortal remains of martyrs from the original place of burial to a more suitable location in existing church, especially when the tomb had been a considerable distance away from the city itself.[135]

Each Church has a calendar which tells which saints are to be honoured in it and on what day.  It is a series of festivals of fixed dates on which are commemorated the lives of martyrs and other saints. The commemoration of saints is assigned most commonly to the date of their death, and this is spoken of as their dies natalis, their birth day into the Kingdom of heaven.[136] There are two such calendars from the fourth century which serve in fact as the basis for the Roman sanctoral or calendar of saints’ feasts. They are seen in the manuscript Almanac of 354.

  1. Depositiones episcoporum: burial of bishops: It is a list of non-martyr popes, from Lucius 9+254) to Sylvetser (+335).
  2. Depositiones martyrum: It gives the first the natale (anniversary of birth) of Christ on December 25, and then a list of the martyrs celebrated at Rome, each with a date and place of burial. [137]

(Important feasts according to this list: Sebastian Jan.20; Agnes Feb.21; Peter and Paul June 29).

Another calendar compiled ca 363 is the Calendar of Nicomedia.  It gives the names of our lords the martyrs and victors, together with the days on which they received their crowns.  We have only a Syriac abridgement dating 411, of the Greek text.  To the names of the Western martyrs, that is, those belonging to the Mediterranean basin, it joins those of the Eastern martyrs from Armenia and Mesopotamia.[138]

(Important feasts: Stephen Dec, 26; John and James Dec. 27; Peter and Paul Dec.28; Epiphany Jan 6; Polycarp Feb.23; Commemoration of all Confessors (Friday after Easter).

The Almanac of 354 was specifically a Roman calendar, but the Calendar of Nicomedia was already an embryonic martyrology, since its purpose was to provide a first complte listing of the martyrs of the East and West.[139]

There was the commemoration of all the martyrs at Nisibis on the Friday after Easter. According to a tradition from John Chrysostom in Antioch all martyrs are commemorated on the Sunday after Pentecost. On May 13, 609 Boniface IV dedicated the old Pantheon to Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs.  It remained the feast of all martyrs, till Gregory IV introduced in 835 A.D. the feast of all saints on November 1. A Carthaginian list of the 6th century gives the nativity of John Baptist on June 24. The Jerusalem lectionaries of the 5th century reveal a feast of Theotokos on August 15.  It is the oldest feast of Blessed Virgin known to us.[140] After council of Ephesus (431) Marian feasts like Presentation, Annunciation, Dormition/Assumption, Nativity were introduced.  Most of these fests had their origin in the East.[141]

After the Peace of Constantine the cult of the martyrs gained in external solemnity.  Basilicas were built near or above earlier simple tombs, splendid processions were held. SL 477.  By the end of the fourth century, virtually all the types of feast that are now found in the sanctoral had become established.[142]The number of saints’ days in the 1570 Missal of Pius V was reduced to about 130.  Within three centuries it had more than doubled.[143]

10.Marian Feasts

Liturgical cult of Mary originated in Jerusalem with the feast of August 15 as its foundation. The feast of Mary Theotokos later became the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. At the end of the sixth century, emperor Maurice ruled that this feast was to be celebrated throughout the empire. In the sixth century the commemoration of Mary’s birth was linked to the church built near the Sheep gate, north of the temple, over some ponds identified as the Bethzatha where Jesus had cured a sick man (Jn 5:1-19).  This was perhaps the origin of the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8. In the sixth century itself the feast of the presentation of Mary in the Temple (November 21) developed.  All Churches of the East welcomed the feast of the Dormition of Mary.  In Ethiopia the death of the Mother of God was commemorated on January 16, and the Assumption on August 15.  All the Churches except the Syro-Nestorian Church, celebrated the Nativity of Mary and her Entrance in the Temple. East Syrians celebrate the Feast of the Congratulations of the Mother of God on December 26. The Annunciation on March 25 and the Meeting of the Lord with aged Simeon on February 2. Ethiopia has over 30 feasts of Mary.[144]

Western Marian Feasts

Anniversary of St. Mary (Natale S. Mariae) January 1 at Rome. Later overshadowed by other feasts. ; Annunciation, Dormition, Nativity, meeting of the Lord; Feast of Mary in Gaul: Depositio sanctae Mariae on January 18. Church of Alexandria celebrated Dormition of Mary on January 16.[145]

Feasts of Mary in Spain and at Milan

There was a feast in the mid December to honour Mary.  The council of Toledo (646) assigned the feast to December 18 for all the Churches of Spain.  The mystery of Annunciation was celebrated .  The Church of Milan celebrated it on the last Sunday of Advent.

Visitation of Mary (Mary’s visit to Elizabeth). Byzantine: July 2 (In the Ambrosian Rite the visitation is celebrated as a feast of the Lord).

Conception of Mary: Ever since the 8th century the Byzantine Church has celebrated a feast of the conception of St. Anne.

Our Lady of Snow: (August 5) The local feast of the dedication of St. Mary Major.  In 1568 St. Pius VI placed it in the universal calendar.

Sorrows of Mary: Devotion to the sorrows of Mary begins from the 12th century.  A provincial council of Mainz in 1423 established a feast of the sorrows of Mary.  Benedict XIII included it in the Roman calendar in 1727 and assigned it to the Friday before Palm Sunday.[146]

Modern Feasts

17th century: Holy name of Mary: (Sunday after Nativity of Mary)

                        Our Lady of Mercy (Sept.24)

18th century: Rosary of Virgin Mary (First Sunday of October)

                        Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16)

19th century: Seven Sorrows of Blessed Virgin (Third Sunday of September)

20th century: Apparition of Immaculate Virgin Mary at Lourdes Feb 11

Motherhood of Mary Oct.11

Immaculate Heart of Mary: Aug. 22

Queenship of Mary May 31

Votive masses: masses for particular occasions (missae votivae), e.g., at the time of famine.  Their celebration is variously regulated by the liturgical calendar.  In the Gelasian sacramentary (Liber sacramentorum Romanae Aecclesiae Ordinis Anni Circuli) Liber I is devoted to seasonal cycle, Liber II to sanctoral cycle and Liber III to votive masses.

The Byzantine typicon divides liturgical observances distinguishing only between festivals of fixed dates and those of moveable dates.[147]

The system of votive masses that remained in effect from 1570 Missal of Pius V to the 1970 Missal of Paul VI:

Monday: Trinity; Tuesday: Angels (including guardian angels); Wednesday: Apostles; from 1920 on, also St. Joseph and Saints Peter and Paul; Thursday: Holy Spirit; from 1604 on, also the Eucharist; from 1935 on, also the high priesthood of Christ; Friday: Cross; from 1604 on, also the passion of Christ; Saturday: Mary.[148]

11.Different Calendars in the Church

11.1. Latin Calendar: The proprium de tempore now moves from the first Sunday of Advent to the Feast of Christ the King on the final Sunday after Pentecost.[149]

            The liturgical year today consists of the seasonal cycle (Proprium de tempore) and the sanctoral cycle (Proprium de sanctis).  The cycle of feasts and seasons is predicated upon the life of Christ and organized about two major poles: The first major pole is the Feast of Nativity of Christ observed on 25 December and the other major pole is Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Christ.  We may study the origin and development of the liturgical calendar, examining the various factors that contributed to the development of the seasonal cycle and the sanctoral cycle.

In the Latin tradition the thirty-three or thirty-four weeks between them, during which the “mystery of Christ in all its fullness is celebrated” are called “ordinary time”.  The two cycles of feasts, ordinary time and the other solemnities and feasts celebrating the mystery of redemption, are known as the “temporal cycle” or “Proper of the Time”. The calendar of saints’ feasts is called the “sanctoral”. [150]

From the tenth/eleventh century on the texts for the first Sunday of Advent were placed at the beginning of the sacramentaries and thus developed the idea that the liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent.

The Easter cycle begins on Ash Wednesday and ends, thirteen and a half weeks later, on Pentecost.  The annual commemoration Christ’s birth begins with the first Sunday of advent and ends on the Sunday after epiphany, which is the feast of Christ’s baptism.[151]

11.2. East Syrian Liturgical Year

11.3. West Syrian Liturgical Year

11.4. Coptic Liturgical Year

11.5.Byzantine Liturgical Year

In a pastoral letter issued at the close of the Second Vatican Council (1965), Major Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Slipyj, defined the Liturgical Year as: “A liturgical cycle of the Universal or some particular Church, that consists of Sundays, weekdays, the feasts of our Lord, the Mother of God, the saints and the periods of fasting and forbidden times.”

In the Byzantine Church the Church Year differs from the civil calendar in that it does not begin the New Year with the first of January as does the civil year, but begins it with the first day of September, which is called the Beginning of the Indiction. This means that the whole cycle of our Church Year begins with the first of September and ends with the thirty first of the following August.

The Byzantine Church year did not coincide with the astronomical year which, since the reform of Julius Caesar in the year 46 to the coming of Christ, began with the first day of January. The first day of the indiction was originally the twenty-third of September because that was the day on which Caesar Augustus was born, but under Constantine the Great (306-337) it was the first day of September.

The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea in the year 325 adopted the first of September as the opening of the New Church Year and this day has been observed in the Eastern Church to the present time. The Latin Church opens its Liturgical Year on the first day of Advent, i.e., the beginning of the preparation for Christmas.

The indiction of which we are speaking – for there were other indictions – is called the Byzantine (or Constantinopolitan or also the Constantinian) indiction which, except for Egypt, became mandatory throughout the Roman Empire. Justinian I (527-565) made dating by indiction compulsory for all legal documents. The Roman Church during the reign of Pope Pelagius II (579-590) adopted the indiction for establishing the dates of documents, and this practice was not abandoned until the year 1097.

Later, when the first day of September was designated as the beginning of the Church Year, or as it was called in the Church Calendar, the beginning of the “New Year”, it assumed a religious character and became a feast of the Church, i.e., a day which had its own special liturgical service. On this day our Church commemorates the day on which Christ entered the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scrolls the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given me, for He anointed me…to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.” (Luke 4, 18-19) No reliable evidence exists to indicate when the beginning of the Indiction became a feast of the Church; we do know, however that it already existed in the eight century.[152]

Speaking of the meaning of Sunday in the Liturgical Year, the Second Vatican Council in the decree on the “Constitution on the Liturgy” says: “Hence the Lord’s Day is the original feast day, and it should be proposed to the piety of the faithful and taught to them so that it may become in fact a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations, unless they be truly of greatest importance, shall not have precedence over the Sunday which is the foundation and kernel of the whole Liturgical Year.” (106)

The apostles and the first Christians at first observed the Jewish feasts. But gradually these were supplanted by the feasts of the New Testament, the first of which, besides Sunday, was the glorious festival of the Pasch (or the Resurrection or Easter). This feast, the first in the cycle of the Liturgical Year, became the core of all the feasts and Sundays connected with the paschal season. The Feast of the Pentecost or the descent of the Holy Spirit is closely linked with the feast of the Pasch. In the third century, the feast of the Theophany became a universal celebration. Later on other feasts of the Lord came into being – the Nativity, Circumcision and Presentation (4c), Ascension (5c), Transfiguration (6c), and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (7c). In the eleventh century, the sum of our Lord’s feasts reached the symbolic number of twelve. It is interesting to note that at first the feasts of the Mother of God were not included among the twelve great feasts.

Truly noteworthy is the fact that the principal ancient Marian feasts originated in the eastern Church. The very first Marian feasts which appeared after the Council of Ephesus were the feasts of the Dormition or Assumption and the Annunciation. In the centuries immediately following, appeared the feasts of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the Conception of Anna, the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, the Patronage, and other minor feasts.

The other important element crowning the tree of the Liturgical Year is the cult of the saints. The veneration of saints began in the first centuries with the veneration of the tombs and relics of the holy martyrs. Their names began more and more to fill the days of the Church Calendar. Along with the cult of the Martyrs, the cult of the Apostles developed, and later still the cult of the Bishops, Patriarchs, Old Testament Saints, Ascetics, that is, holy Monks and Nuns, and the Angels. Between the fourth and fifth centuries, the veneration of the Saints became a general practice in the Church. Between the sixth and eighth centuries our Ecclesiastical Year assumed its present form. Since then all that was left to do was to add other new saints to the Church Calendar.[153]

Pre-eminent among all feasts is Easter, the feast of feasts, which stands in a class by itself. Next in importance come the Twelve Great Feasts.

The Nativity of the Mother of God (8 Sept)

The Exaltation (Raising up) of  the honoured and lifegiving Cross (14 Sept)

The entry of the Mother of God into the Temple (21 November)

The Nativity of Christ (25 Dec)

The Baptism of Christ in Jordan (Theophany or Epiphany: 6 Jan)

The Meeting of our Lord (The presentation of Christ in the Temple: 2 Feb)

The Annunciation of the Mother of God (25 March)

The Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday: One Week before Easter)

The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (40 days after Easter)

Pentecost (Known in the East as Trinity Sunday) (50 days after easter)

The transfiguration of Christ (6 Aug)

The Falling asleep of the Mother of God. (Dormition) (15 Aug)

Timothy Ware 298-299.

Four main periods of Fasting

  1. The great fast: Begins seven weeks before Easter
  2. The fast of the Apostles: Starts on the Monday eight days after Pentecost, and ends on 28 June, the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  In length varies between one and six weeks.
  3. The dormition Fast: Lasts two weeks, fro 1 to 14 August.
  4. The Christmas Fast: Lasts forty days, from 15 November to 24 december.

Timothy Ware 300.

11.6. The Armenian Liturgical Year

The Armenian Church divides the year into seasons based upon the great or tabernacle feasts. The five seasons of the liturgical year are:

Advent(50 days starting on the Sunday nearest the 25th of November through the Saturday following January 6)

Eastertide (9 weeks before Easter Day and 15 weeks after Easter)

Transfigurationtide (between Eastertide and Assumptiontide)

Assumptiontide from the Assumption of the Virgin Mary through the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachverats) (4 weeks)

Exaltationtide (from the Exaltation of the Cross through beginning of Advent)

 

11.7. Maronite Liturgical Year

The season of epiphany commences on the 6th of January – the Feast of the Epiphany, which is a celebration of the Baptism of the Lord and reveals the identity and mission of Jesus from which we gain our own identity and mission. His Sonship to the Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit within Him is revealed. The Season focuses on Jesus as “the Light of the World”. It is through the gift of Baptism that we receive Christ’s Spirit and it is this Spirit which empowers us to bring the Light of Christ’s love and healing to others. The season ends with the Sunday of the Dead, which is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. The color Blue symbolises the epiphany Season.

 The season of lent: This season commences on Ash Monday and extends to the beginning of Holy Week when we contemplate Christ’s unending love for us. The observance of Lent is not an end in itself, but should be seen as a time of preparation that will climax in the Resurrection of Jesus our Saviour at the great feast of Easter. Lent is a time when we should become more aware of our sinfulness and our need for reconciliation. We look for a change of heart; we seek God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with our fellow brothers and sisters. The violet colour symbolises the lent season in the Maronite Catholic Church.

 The season of Easter: This season extends from Easter Sunday to the day before Pentecost Sunday. The season focuses on the cornerstone of our Christian faith – the Resurrection of Jesus. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have two faces; one crucified here, and one glorious beyond. The presence of the Resurrection also means the presence of the cross; for we cannot rise with Christ unless we also die with Him. We need to view everything in our lives – our illnesses, our sinfulness, our hardships and difficulties, our sorrow and grief, as a sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of our final resurrection, the source of all our hope.

 The season of Pentecost: Commencing on Pentecost Sunday and extending to the day before the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the Season of Pentecost focuses our attention on the role and the power of the Spirit in our lives and in the life of the Church as a whole. The Spirit guides us, makes us holy and transforms our lives. The Spirit works through us to bring Christ’s love to others. At Baptism, we are anointed and gifted by the Spirit and through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Spirit strengthens us. The Spirit of the Lord heals division and brings light to all hearts. The power of the Spirit helps us as individuals and the Church community to reveal the mystery of Christ to the world.

 The season of Cross: Commencing with the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross-on the 14th of September, this is the final season of the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. It reminds us that our life on this earth is a journey to God’s Heavenly Kingdom. As we journey together, each of us has an obligation to assist and support one another especially during times of disappointment and failure. Our mission is to lead a life of love and service of others. Jesus showed us the way when He gave His life on the cross in order to gain our salvation. Furthermore, we are reminded that we must embrace the crosses in our lives, as the cross is the sure sign of risen glory. The only way we can do this is by placing our faith, trust and hope in God. We are urged to be faithful to our mission as Christians, a mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to others. If we do this we will be ready to receive God’s Kingdom which may come at a time when we least expect it.

The season of Christmas:  the first in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, follows after the Sundays of the Church and extends to the day before the Feast of the Epiphany. It is a time to pause, remember and reflect on the ongoing promise of God coming to fulfillment in our lives. The season commences with a time of preparation and comes to a climax with the celebration of the birth of Jesus. During this season, we reassess our response to Christ, the Redeemer and His message. It is a time for renewing our personal commitment. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we recall the qualities of life required from us, in expectation of the second and final coming of Jesus.

Conclusion

            The present liturgical calendars observed by various Churches are the result of a long evolution.  Historical and theological reasons have contributed to the formation of these calendars.  From the primitive shape of Sundays and the Pascha celebration, the liturgical calendar has grown much.  Today we find the paschal mystery of Christ commemorated in its various aspects at various feasts and seasons.  The believer is provided with all sorts of possibilities to enter into the manifold aspects of the mystery of salvation.  The liturgical year through different occasions prepares the believer to experience the mystery of Christ in a profound way.  Mediator Dei, the encyclical of Pope Pius XII in 1947, accentuates the theological significance of the liturgical year:

Liturgical year devotedly fostered and accompanied by the Church is not a cold and lifeless representation of the events of the past, or a simple and bare record of a former age.  It is rather Christ himself who is ever living in his Church.  Here he continues that journey of immense mercy which he lovingly began in his mortal life, going about doing good, with the design of bringing men to know His mysteries and in a way lived by them.[154]

As we have seen, the history witnessed the drastic changes occurred to the Church year.  Not all changes were theologically justified. Whenever the feasts and the seasons deviated from the original spirit of the calendar, it resulted in the theological change and an aberration from the real purpose of the liturgical year.

The Easter cycle and nativity cycle of feasts being the supporting pillars of the liturgical year, these feasts and the seasons are to be given due importance. Passion and resurrection constitute the heart of the liturgical year.[155]  However, greater concentration of the sanctoral commemoration in the western tradition, resulted in an aberration from the true mystery of the liturgical year.[156]

Celebration of the paschal mystery on different occasions help to concentrate on the particular aspects of the paschal mystery.  However, it causes damage to the vision of the integral celebration of the mystery of salvation.  Vatican Council II has admonished to go back to the ancient custom of giving more importance to the proper of the time.  The proper of seasons is to be given preference over feasts of saints (SC 108). Sacrosanctum Concilium no.111 says that the feasts of saints should not take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the mysteries of salvation.

One of the most unfortunate developments in the liturgical calendar is the diminishing of the reverence rendered to Sunday.   Now the relevance and uniqueness of Sunday are questioned.  Any other day is considered equally good.  The teaching of the Council is this: “Other celebrations, unless they be truly of the greatest importance, shall not have precedence over Sunday, which is the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical year.” (SC 106).

The central concerns of the Christian liturgical calendar were vitiated in the course of history.  For example, the preparatory fast before ascension goes against the paschal rejoicing during the Pentecostal season.  The privatization of the liturgical celebration had its bad effect on the liturgical calendar. Council teaches that the penitential observance of Lent should be not just individual, but social and external. (SC 110.).

There are conflicts between the observances competing for available time in Calendar.  It required a system of rankings and rules of precedence.  Since many of the feasts of the saints have very little to do with the commemoration of the paschal mystery of Christ, such festal celebrations need not be fostered .

 There has been substantial change with regard to the understanding of the feast of a martyr. The second century word for a martyr’s feast was always, as in the martyrdom of Polycarp, his birthday.  But by the fourth century we find a change: Gregory Dix observes: “In the Roman calendar of A.D. 354 the entries of the martyrs’ feasts are no longer designated their ‘birthdays’ but their burials (depositiones).  The earthly, not the heavenly, event is now the object of the liturgical celebration, time and earthly history, not eternity, have become the primary interest of the calendar.”[157]

            Another major issue is a universal date for the Easter.  The Christian have to reach an agreement with regard to the date of Pascha.  In 1969 the Ecumenical Patriarch proposed a universal determination of the date of Easter.  He proposed the second Sunday of April.  This suggestion was welcomed.[158] If all Churches agree on the date of Easter it would be a decisive step in the ecumenical endeavour.


East Syrian Liturgical Year

Nine seasons (each ideally of 7 weeks).

1. Annunciation-Nativity (Subara): 6 weeks

2. Epiphany (Denha): 7 weeks: Commemoration of saints on Fridays.

3. Great Lent (Sauma ramba): 50 days before Easter

4. Resurrection (Qyamta): 7 weeks

5. Apostles (Sliha): 7 weeks

6. Summer (Qayta): 7 weeks

7. Elija-Cross (Elia-Sliwa): 5 to 7 weeks

8. Moses (Moshe): 2 to 7 weeks

9. Dedication of Church (Quddash-etta): 4 weeks

West Syrian Liturgical Year

Starts with the Sunday of Qudosh etto (Dedication of the Church) (Oct. 30 or 31 if a Sunday. Otherwise the first Sunday of November)

There are 7 seasons

1. Annunciation (Suboro)

2. Nativity-Epiphany (Yaldo-Denho)

3. Lent: 50 days

4. Resurrection (Qyamto)

5. Pentecost (Shliha)

6. Transfiguration: Aug. 6-Sept.13

7. Cross (Sliba): Sept.14-Qudosh-etto

c. Liturgical Persons

It is the whole liturgical community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates liturgy (CCC 1140).   Thus liturgy is an action of the Whole Christ (Christus totus) CCC 1136.

There are specific roles for the members of the liturgical assembly which cannot be replaced or substituted.  “In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy. (SC 28, CCC 1144).

  • Perfection of Liturgical space-time: Is it leading to rubricism? (See class notes.)
  • Repetition of prayers, gestures and actions: hallmark of liturgical space-time. (See class notes.)

IV.  Liturgy: Source of Theology and Spirituality

  1. 1.      Theology of Liturgy and Liturgical Theology

            What is theology of liturgy?  Is it a scientific understanding of liturgy, dealing with the theological principles governing liturgy? Does it aim at providing liturgy with a theological basis?  There has been the tendency to consider liturgy as devoid of theological content, and hence a theology of liturgy would be striving to discover some theological basis for liturgy. Is it the theology which emerges from liturgy, like a babe detaching itself from the womb? Theology of liturgy is neither that which serves as a theological treatment of liturgy nor that which is born from liturgy.  It is the theology that is found in the very action of liturgy.  Therefore, it is liturgical theology or worshipping theology.

            Liturgical theology does not come from liturgy:  It arises in and as liturgy. Theology which is liturgical arises in the liturgical structures and does not detach from liturgical rite. Liturgy is theology in action, it is not merely a rubrical resource for the allegedly real theologians to rummage through.  (Fagerberg pp.14-15). Liturgical action is theological act.  It is in this sense that Aidan Kavanagh calls liturgical theology as theologia prima and theological reflections on liturgy as theologia secunda. (Kavanagh 74-75).

The liturgical rite is the ontological condition for what is itself a genuine theology. (Fagerberg p.14).  Encounter with God precedes reflection upon that encounter. Liturgical theology originates and resides in the communal rite.  This theology, the one that is liturgical, does not originate and reside in individual minds but is by definition found in the structure of the rite.  The only starting point for uncovering liturgical theology is to investigate concrete liturgical rites.

  • Lex orandi, lex credendi

            This axiom Lex orandi, lex credendi means that law of prayer is law of belief. The law of prayer (lex orandi) establishes the law of belief (lex credendi). Liturgy is the source of the faith.  Liturgy is the celebration of the faith.  The faith is formally declared and celebrated in liturgy. The Eastern Churches especially look to the liturgy for the proper formulation of faith.  Changes of the formulae in liturgy can change the faith itself.

  • Christian spirituality is liturgical spirituality.

            Spirituality is living the faith which is celebrated in liturgy.  It is a life according to the celebration. It is living the experience of vertical communion in life.  Life becomes a ‘new liturgical space-time’ in which quddaša of God (eucharistia) and quddaša of man (communion with God and fellow beings) are celebrated through the signs and symbols of life.  Life becomes the new altar on which the anabatic and katabatic Qurbana are celebrated. Spirituality is a life of horizontal leitourgia.  It is one of continuous horizontal ‘eucharistia’, quddaša and Qurbana.  In fact the spirituality of the Christian is centered on the Eucharist. (SC10; LG 11).  Hence it may be called a eucharistic spirituality.

V. Liturgical Diversity

1. The Origin and Development of Different Liturgical Traditions

One and the same Paschal mystery is celebrated in diverse forms in different Churches. However, the emphasis on a particular aspect of the mystery differs in different liturgical traditions.  For example, even though the eucharistic liturgy is commemoration of the entire Paschal mystery of Christ, that is, the passion, death and resurrection, the East Syrian anaphoras seem to emphasise the resurrection whereas the Roman anaphoras emphasise the passion and death. The plurality of liturgy is a characteristic feature of the Christian Orient.  However, the Christian West was well acquainted with the liturgical diversity. Besides the Roman liturgy there were the Ambrosian, Gallican, Celtic, Mozarabic and African liturgies.  We may still hear of the Bragan (of the diocese Braga in Portugal) and Lyonsian (of the diocese of Lyons) liturgies.  Of these only the Ambrosian (in Milan) and the Mozarabic (Toledo Cathedral) survive today.

            In order to understand the significance of the liturgical diversity, we have to examine the historical development of the Christian liturgy.  The first two centuries constituted a period of the basic formulation of Christian liturgy.  In this period we do not find any systematic tradition specific to any Church either in the East or in the West.  The basic Christian liturgy was uniform everywhere.  But gradually there developed certain specific elements in different Churches.  The liturgical expressions used in an important Church or by a well-known bishop were borrowed by others.  Thus the Patriarchal Churches developed certain stereotyped liturgies, which their daughter Churches adopted.  The third and fourth centuries witnessed tendencies of growth in considerable variety in both structure and content of the un co-ordinated local traditions of prayer. Fourth century was important for the mutual borrowing and adaptation in all Rites of the great Sees.  The mutual borrowings between the great liturgical traditions contributed to the process of ritual unification.

            The ultimate ground for the liturgical diversity is Church’s mission itself.  The Apostolic preaching was characterised by the Christ-experience that each of the Apostles had.  This different Christ-experience was proclaimed in different cultures.  Thus the diversity of the Christ-experience of the preaching and the cultural background of the people who took the Gospel message accounted for different Churches and different modes of the celebration of faith.  Churches of the same geographical and cultural area came to celebrate the mystery of Christ through particular expressions characterised by the culture. (CCC 1202). According to Anton Baumstark, the proponent of the study of comparative liturgy, differences of race and language and the peculiar genius of each people (all of them things created and willed by God) are, for the liturgical forms, the factors which necessarily govern their variations. (Baumstark, Comparative Liturgy, 1) To account for the differences it is necessary to consider the ethnic, cultural and linguistic character of the regions where the liturgy developed.

It took centuries before each liturgy acquired its own individuality or genuine characteristic shape.  The end of the Patristic age may be regarded as the final stage in this development.  In determining the final shape of the different liturgies, the Fathers of the Church played a decisive role.  Each liturgy may be seen as a Patristic synthesis on the basis of the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition.

 

2. Rite and Liturgy

            The word ‘rite’ in common parlance means a ceremony.  It is the mode of performing something. In this sense the mode of performing a liturgical act is called liturgical rite of that function.  (e.g. rite of fraction and consignation, rite of Communion.).  The complex of the modes of performing all the liturgical items or functions is often called rite.  In this sense liturgy and Rite may be seen as synonymous.  Sometimes, a liturgical tradition as a whole is called a Rite.  In the canonical sense ‘Rite’, sometimes, denotes a particular Church.  In Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2 we find the expression Particular Church or Rite. Here the word Rite includes the liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline and spiritual patrimony of particular Churches.  According to Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches (CCEO) “Rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui juris.” (can. 28 § 1).

 

3. Families of Eastern Liturgies

 

I. Antiochene

  1. a.      West Syrian: Used by the Catholic Syrians and Jacobites in the Middle East and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Arabic.
  2. b.     Malankara: Used by the Malankara Catholic Church, Orthodox Syrian and Syrian Orthodox Churches in India and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Malayalam.
  3. c.      Maronite: Used by the Maronites in Lebanon and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Arabic.

II. East Syrian (Mesopotamian or Persian)

  1. a.      Assyrian: Used by the Assyrian Church of the East (non-Catholic) in the Middle East, India (Trichur) and elsewhere. Language: East Syriac, Surath (dialect of Syriac), and Arabic.
  2. b.     Chaldean: Used by the Chaldean Church (Catholic) in the Middle East and elsewhere. Language: East Syriac, Surath (dialect of Syriac), and Arabic.
  3. c.      Syro-Malabar: Used by the Syro-Malabar Church in India and elsewhere. Language: Malayalam.

III. Alexandrian Liturgies

  1. a.      Coptic: Used by the Catholic and non-Catholic Copts in Egypt and elsewhere. Language: Old Coptic and Arabic.
  2. b.     Ethiopian:  Used by Catholic and non-Catholic Ethiopians in Ethiopia, Asmara, and elsewhere. Language: Ge’ez.

IV. Byzantine (Constantinopolitan)

                        The places where the different liturgies of Byzantine tradition are used, and the languages in which they are used, are evident from the very names of the liturgies.

  1. a.      Albanian
  2. b.     Bulgarian
  3. c.      Greek Orthodox
  4. d.     Hungarian
  5. e.      Italo-Albanian
  6. f.      Melkite (Used in the Middle East and elsewhere)
  7. g.     Romanian
  8. h.     Russian
  9. i.       Ruthenian
  10. j.       Slovak
  11. k.     Ukrainian
  12. l.       Yugosalvian
  13. m.   Byelorussian

V. Armenian

                        Used by the Catholic and non-Catholic Armenians in Armenia, Lebanon and elsewhere.

4. Necessity of Fostering the Liturgical Identity: Postmodern Theological Perspective

            All the liturgical rites are of equal right and dignity.  The Church wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. (SC 4).

            The rich diversity in the lex orandi contributes to a better and comprehensive understanding of the lex credendi.   Liturgy is celebration of the mystery of faith, however, various liturgical traditions are different forms of celebrating one and the same mystery of faith.  Thus the various and rich aspects of the mystery of Christ find expression in the liturgies of various Churches. A single and uniform celebration would not be able to bring out all the important aspects of the mystery of faith.  From the postmodern theological perspective which emphasises the significance of a variety of theological explanations of the one and the same mystery of faith the diversity of liturgical celebration is necessary and contributes to a better liturgical theology.   Only through the diverse celebrations of the different liturgical traditions that the mystery of faith may be perfectly presented in the Church.  Therefore, the preservation and promotion of the different liturgical traditions is a grave requirement for the preservation and promotion of  true Christian faith.


[1] G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, London 1986, 335.

[2]Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 335.

[3] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, in P.E. Funk, ed., New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, 154.

[4]P. Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice, London 1996, 75.

[5]C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, London-New York 1993,457.

[6]R. Taft, Lecture Notes, PIO, Rome, 1993, 21.

[7] C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, 456.

[8] Rev 1.10; Ignatius, ad Magnes, 9.I; Did, 14.I.

[9] Tertullian, De Cor 3.4.

[10] J.A. Jungmann, Early Liturgy, 21.

[11] I Apology 67.

[12] Eusebius, Vita Const. 4.18. C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, 456-457.

[13] I Apology 67.

[14] P. Jounel, “The Year”, in A.G. Martimort et al., ed., The Church at Prayer, Vol. IV: The Liturgy and Time, trans., M. J. O’Connell, Collegeville, Minnesota 1985, p.18; Jungmann, Early Liturgy, 21.

[15] Ep. of Barnabas, 15.8.

[16] Basil, De spirit sanct. 27.

[17] Capit. 24; PL 105.198. The Study of Liturgy,  457

[18] The Sabbath plays a very important role in the Jewish festal year.  It is the end and crown of the seven-day week and may be called the primordial feast day of the Jewish people. The Jewish Sabbath was not only a day of rest from work, on which the people sought to imitate “the repose of God”, but also a day for “holy convocation” and an “appointed feast of the Lord.” (Lev 23.3 and 2). A. Adam, The Liturgical Year: Its History and its Meaning after the Reform of the Liturgy, New York 1981, pp.7-8.

[19] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 153.

[20] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

[21] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[22] In the East, at the end of the third century, the eucharist was celebrated not only on the day of resurrection but also on Saturday. Schmemann, Intr. Lit Th., pp.154-155.  Probably the development of Saturday simply continued the Judeo-Christian tradition in the Eastern Churches. Schmemann, Intr155.“It can hardly be doubted that the Judeo-Christian communities continuedto clebrate Saturday as a holiday above all as a commemoration of the creation.”Schmemann, Intr 155.

[23] P.F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, Oxford University Press 1992,  192.

[24] Ep.Barna., XV.9. Dix, Shape of Liturgy,336.

[25] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[26] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[27] Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, 193.

[28] D.A. Carson, ed., from Sabbath to Lord’s Day, Grand Rapids 1982; Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, 193.

[29] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[30] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 336-337.

[31] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[32] Taft, Lecture Notes, 21.

[33] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 153.

[34] Apology I, 65,67.

[35] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[36] Bibliographica hagiographica latina, n.7492. The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[37] In Epist. I Ad Cor. Hom 27; PG 61.227. The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[38] R.H. Connolly, trans., The Syrian Didascalia, Oxford 1929, p.124.

[39] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[40] Tertullian, de Cor. 3; Cassian, Institutes 2.18; Tertullian, de Orat. 23; Canon 20 of the Council of Nicaea.

[41] The Study of Liturgy,  458.

[42] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 78.

[43] The word pascha is the Greek form of the Hebrew Pesach = Passover.

[44] SC 102.

[45] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[46] According to Venerable Bede (+735), the name Easter is from the name of the Anglo-Saxon Spring goddess, Eostre. Another view is that it is from the middle high German word Urständ (resurrection). Still another view is that it is a derivation from East. Honorius of Autun says: “Just as the sun, sfter setting in the West, rises again in the East, so did Christ, the sun of justice, rise again in the East after his descent into death”.  The modern scholars propose the view that it is from the Christian phrase hebdomada in albis (week in the white vestments).  The people misunderstood the in albis as a plural of alba (dawn), and translated it as eostarun (Old High German).  In this explanation too, the idea of Christ as the sun that rises in the East is in the background. Adam, Liturgical Year,  63.

[47] Cf. The Study of Liturgy,   459-460.

[48] Taft, Lecture Notes,21.

[49] T.J. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Collegeville, Minnesota 1991,p5.

[50] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[51] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

[52] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 1.

[53] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 1.

[54] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[55] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[56] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

[57] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,1.

[58] It is the Johannine tradition of Christ’s death on 14 Nisan that has been most significant in shaping the liturgical year.

[59] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,3.

[60] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[61] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

[62] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 339.

[63] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[64] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 232.

[65] Eusebius, HE V. 24.1-7. (NPNF II.I, p.242.

[66] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 19.

[67] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 27.

[68] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 27.

[69] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  30.

[70] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 31.

[71] Later Egyptian sources testify that epiphany was followed at once by a fast of forty days, commemorating the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.  This was concluded in the sixth and final week with the conferral of baptism prior to Palm Sunday.

[72] Talley, Liturgical Calendar”, 158.

[73] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

[74] For the Thomas Christians and Chaldeans Sundays and Saturdays, except Holy Saturday, are not considered fasting days.  Hence they add four days (Monday through Thursday) from the Holy Week to make 40 days of Lent. (7×5+1=36;  36+4=40).

[75] P. Jounel, “The Year”, 69.

[76] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 78-79.

[77] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 79.

[78] Cf. Didache 8; Didascalia Apostolrum 5.

[79] A. Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, New York 1996, 157.

[80] The phrase ember days comes from the German contraction of the Latin “quattuor tempora” to quatember. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”,151. Cf. Jounel, “The Year”, 29.

[81] From the time of Gelasius I at the end of the 5th century, they were among the days designated as especially appropriate for the ordination of deacons and presbyters. In the time of Leo I (440-461) the seasonal fasts fell in the first week of Lent, the week following Pentecost, in September and in December. Gregory VII assigned precise times for them: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the first week of lent, of the octave of Pentecost, and following September 14 and December 13. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 151.

[82] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 342-343.

[83] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 157.

[84] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 158.

[85] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 158.

[86] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[87] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[88] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[89] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[90] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[91] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[92] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 174.

[93] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 177.

[94] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[95] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 341.

[96] Talley, “Liturgical calendar”, 155.

[97] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  154.

[98] Adam, Liturgical Year, 11.

[99] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  59.

[100] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 17.

[101] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 155.

[102] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

[103] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  42-43.

[104] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 49.

[105] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 55.

[106] Study of Liturgy, 461.

[107] Jounel, “The Year”, pp.50-51.

[108] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 44-48.

[109] Study of Liturgy, 462.

[110] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 54-55.

[111] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 159.

[112] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 155-156.

[113] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 160-161.

[114] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 156.

[115] Talley, “Liturgical Year”, 158.

[116] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 157.

[117] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[118] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 86. This manuscript known as the Almanac of 354 was compiled by the Greek artist Furius Dionysius Filocalus for the use of a rich Christian.  It contains two lists of anniversaries. Jounel, “The Year”, 78.

[119] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 86. Cf. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 156.

[120] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 87.

[121] This calculation is based on the computation hypothesis of Mgr. Louis Duchesne at the end of the 19th century. Talley, “Liturgical Year”, 156.

[122] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 88.

[123] Jounel, “The Year”, 79.

[124] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 147.

[125] Adam, Liturgical Year, 130.

[126] Jounel, “The Year”, 93.  Cf. Study of Liturgy, 468.

[127] Adam, Liturgical Year, 149-154.

[128] Jounel, “The Year”, 97.

[129] Jounel, “The Year”, 99.

[130] Jounel, “The Year”, 102-103.

[131] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 160.

[132] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[133] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[134] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[135] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 92.

[136] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 152.

[137] Jounel, “The Year”, 119.

[138] Jounel, “The Year”, 120.

[139] Jounel, “The Year”, 121.

[140] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 159-160.

[141] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[142] Study of Liturgy, 469.

[143] Study of Liturgy, 482.

[144] Jounel, “The Year”, 131-132.

[145] Jounel, “The Year”, 133-137.

[146] Jounel, “The Year”, 137-141.

[147] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 152.

[148] Adam, Liturgical Year, 53.

[149] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 159.

[150] Adam, Liturgical Year, 19

[151] Adam, Liturgical Year, 20-21.

[152] Katrij, OSBM, Julian, A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year, Basilian Press: Toronto, 1992, pp 11-16.

[153] Katrij, OSBM, Julian, A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year pp 24-30.

[154] J.A. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy, University of Notre Dame, 1980, p. 161.

[155] A. Adam, Liturgical Year, 19.

[156] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 162.

[157] G. Dix, Shape of the Liturgy, 369.

[158] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 163.

Bibliography

  1. 1.     Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
  2. 2.     Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, §§ 1066-1690.
  3. 3.     Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 1996.
  4. 4.     G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, London 1986.
  5. 5.     A. G. Martimort, ed., The Church at Prayer, Vol. I.: Principles of the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1987.
  6. 6.     A.J. Chupungco, ed., Handbook for Liturgical Studies, Vol.I: Introduction to the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1997.
  7. 7.     E. J. Kilmartin, Christian Liturgy.I. Theology, Kansas City 1988.
  8. 8.     J. Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, New York 1988 (Indian edition: Bombay 1996).
  9. 9.     A. Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, New York 1986.

10. A. Kavanagh, On Liturgical Theology: The Hale Memorial Lectures of Seabury Western Theological Seminary, 1981, Collegeville, Minnesota 1992.

  1. 11.   D.W. Fagerberg, What is Liturgical Theology: A Study in Methodology, Collegeville Minnesota 1992.
  2. 12.   G.M. Braso, Liturgy and Spirituality, Collegeville, Minnesota 1971.
  3. 13.   C. Vagaggini, Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1976.
  4. 14.   A. Verheul, Introduction to the Liturgy: Towards a Theology of Worship, Collegeville, Minnesota 1968.
  5. 15.   H. Wegman, Christian Worship in East and West: A Study Guide to Liturgical History, Collegeville, Minnesota 1990.
  6. 16.   R. Taft, Beyond East and West:Problems in Liturgical Understanding, Washington D.C. 1984.
  7. 17.   C. Jones & Others, ed., The Study of Liturgy, New York 1992.
  8. 18.   P. Maniyattu, Heaven on Earth: The Theology of Liturgical Space-time in the East Syrian Qurbana,  Rome 1995.
  9. 19.   P. Maniyattu, ed., East Syriac Theology: An Introduction, Satna 2007.
  10.      19.  M. Eliade, Sacred and Profane: The Nature of Religion, New York 1961.

Pauly Maniyattu

Sanathana

July 2009

Oriental Theology

Oriental Theology

Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel        

   Originally the denotation “Oriental” was a geographical description of Churches outside Roman Patriarchate. Now it is used as a technical term to describe all the Churches, which are not Latin in origin. They spread all over the world.

            Approaching from the perspective of faith or communion the Oriental Churches are divided into four communions:

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East< which is in communion with no other church.

2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which are in communion with, but completely independent of one another.

  1. The Orthodox Churches (The Eastern Orthodox Churches), which is a communion of Churches, all of which recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as a point of unity with certain rights and privileges.
  2. The Eastern (Oriental) Catholic Churches, which recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church.

Besides there are a few Orthodox Churches of irregular status. They are of orthodox origin, but their present status is at least uncanonical, if not fully schismatic.

            Some of these churches (non-catholic) are called autocephalous, because they do not subject to any outside jurisdiction. There are also a few Autonomous Churches, which though self-sufficient, are still under the limited authority of a Patriarch or Hierarch outside itself.

            The Eastern Catholic Churches hold in communion with Latin Church all the elements of Christian faith. They recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church and accept the Roman primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility the Pope. But the other Oriental Churches, which are not in communion with Rome, do not believe in a visible single head of the Church. They recognize the primacy of honor of the Bishop of Rome, but do not his primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility.

            There are certain elements of Christian faith, which these churches hold in communion with Catholic Church. They are the following:

-Holy Trinity

-Fall of Adam and original sin.

-Sanctifying grace was given to Adam. Adam lost it and Christ restored it.

-Incarnation, passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ

-The divinity of Christ. Christ has two natures against Monophysistism Christ has one person- against Nostorianism

-Perpetual virginity of Bl.Virgin Mary

Real presence of Christ in Bl. Sacrament

The Church is the universal and common ark of salvation

-Seven Sacraments

-Absolute need of Divine Grace

-Resurrection of body, eternal life, heaven, hell.

-The Eucharistic sacrifice

Veneration of Mary and Saints

Membership of the Church is necessary for salvation.

Obligation of Moral law  and  Infallibility of the Church

The Characteristics of Oriental Theology

  1. Liturgical: For the Orientals Sacred Liturgy is not only a source of piety, but also a teacher of dogma. They believe that the apostolic tradition has been handed down in a mystery and is preserved in Church’s worship. “Lex orandi lex credendi” man’s faith is expressed in their prayers. The dogma is contained in the prayers and hymns used at liturgical services; Not only the words but the various gestures and actions have a special meaning and they express symbolically the truths of faith.
  2. Faithfulness to the Fathers of the Church. Fidelity to the sacred tradition does not signify fidelity to the past, but it consists rather in the living with the full Christian experience. For Orientals the age of Fathers did not come to an end in the 7th of the 8th centuries. Many later Fathers are considered as Fathers of the Church, e.g. St. Maximus, Gregory Palamas etc.
  3. Dynamic: The Oriental theology admits organic evolution of the dogma. While speaking of the evolution of the dogma, they make a distinction between substance or nucleus of dogma and the forma or appearance of dogma. They say that evolution of dogma is only in the forma. It is described as progress, evolution and explanation. There were discussions about theological subjects, e.g. the procession of the Holy Spirit, nature and person of Christ, icons.
  4. Free from legalism: The Orientals believe in the divinely instituted hierarchy and its authority in the Church, but they are against the abuses of authority and law – law becomes the principle of unity in the church. For them unity is to be found in the common life of Christ’s Mystical Body, confessing the same faith, sharing the same sacraments.
  5. Speculative. Orientals also apply philosophical reasons to the sacred theology.
  6. Not Scholastic. They deny the scholastic method, that is, much concerned with precise definitions and deductions etc.
  7. Mystical and contemplative. In the eastern thought and traditions there is no sharp distinction between mysticism and theology, between experience of divine mysteries and the dogma
  8. Biblical. Their theology is biblically founded.
  9. Social. This is an external characteristic. There is a lay participation in the theological evolution. There are many distinguished lay theologians, e.g. Solovgen (1853-1900) Khomyakov (1804-1860) theology was not the monopoly of the professionals.

The Sources of Oriental Theology

            There are two sources, Bible and Tradition. According to the Orthodox Church the Bible also included in Tradition. Therefore the source of the faith is Holy tradition. Tradition means: the books of Bible, the Creed, the Decrees of ecumenical councils, writings of the Fathers, the Canons, the Service books, the Holy Icons etc.

1. The Bible

 According to the Eastern thought the Church is a scriptural Church. The Bible is the supreme expression of God’s revelation to men. The Christians therefore, must always be “people of the Book” and the Bible is the “Book of the People”. This book should be lived and understood within the Church. Only the Church has the authority to interpret the Bible. The Bible is used widely at Oriental Liturgical services and is venerated in a special way.

With regard to the text of the Bible

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East  uses Pesita version – a Syriac translation, date is not clear, the oldest manuscript is of 446.
  2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches also use the Pesita version.]
  3. The Orthodox Churches use LXX Septuagint.

With regard to the canon of Book

  1. The Assyrian Church of the East though admits all the books of Vulgate canonical, some of their theologians cancelled certain books from the canon, e.g. Theodore of Mopsuetia cancelled Proverb, Ecclessiasticus and Job.
  2. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, though they admit all books canonical there are some defections on account of excess, e.g. The Coptic Church included III Maccabees in OT and two epistles of Clement and 8th book of Apostolic Constitution in NT.
  3. The Orthodox Churches agree to the Catholic church about the canons of the books.
  4. The Niceao- Constantinopolitan creed formulated in the council of Niceae I in 325. All the Oriental accept it, but without the addition of Filioque.
  5. Symbolum Athanasianum or Quicumque. It was considered as rule of faith both in East and West. The authorship is disputed. Some attribute to St. Ambrose
  6. Symbol of Apostles. Some accept it as a symbol of faith; some others consider it as a private profession of faith.

2.  The Creed and Symbols of Faith

 3.. Ecumenical Councils

            The Orientals accept only those councils which were convoked before their separation.

            The Assyrian church of the East – Nicea I (325) Constantinople. 1 381.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches – plus Ephesus (481).

The Orthodox Churches- plus Chalcedon (451), Costantinople. II (553), Constantinople  III. ( 680-81), Nicea II  (787)..

All these Churches ascribe supreme and infallible authority to the ecumenical councils.

The Canonical collection of the Orthodox Church is called Nomocanon in 14 titles. It contains:

-The apostolic canons  -a collection of 85 disciplinary rules served in the first half of 4thc.

–         The canons of seven ecumenical   councils .

–         The canons of local councils

–         The canons of Holy Fathers.

The most important collection of canons of the Orthodox Church was of council of Trullo (692).

Eastern Catholic Theology

Cf. Robert F. Taft S. J., Eastern Catholic Theology, Slow rebirth After A Long Difficult Gestation,  in Eastern Church Journel,Vol.8, No.2, Summer2001, pp51-80.

It is not possible to define in any definitive form what eastern catholic theology is or might be except to say what it is not.

1. It is not Eastern/Oriental Orthodox theology. This does not mean that it stands in opposition to Orthodox theology. On the contrary both claim to derive from the patristic and liturgical sources of a common tradition. Besides Eastern Catholics have been strongly influenced by modern orthodox writers.

2. It is not western catholic theology, though it has obviously undergone strong  western catholic influence.

Is Eastern Catholic theology any theology done by theologians who happen to be Eastern Catholics? No. There are eastern catholic writers who just parrot Latin manual theology of the pre-World War II – this is not eastern catholic theology. Eastern catholic theology means a style of catholic theological thinking in which ‘Eastern’ is not an ecclesial or ethnic attribute of those doing this theology, but an epithet specifying the nature and quality of theology itself.

It is difficult to define Eastern catholic theology. It has similarities with eastern catholic theology and with orthodox theology from both of which far older, fuller and richer theological traditions it obviously derives so much. Yet eastern catholic theology does exist despite problems in defining its distinctiveness.

It is the theology of catholic practitioners with a knowledge and love for the traditions of the Christians of East, a catholic theology that seeks to breathe with both lungs, nourishing a sometimes anemic catholic thought with oxygen from both sides of the East- West Christian division.

History

I Vatican – least ‘Eastern’ of all ecumenical councils.

                = Its lack of understanding or respect for the distinctiveness of catholic East, its traditions, dignity of hierarchs

                = Their patriarchs were assimilated to the titular Latin patriarchs and ranked with them.

–         Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and bishops protested. Patriarch .Joseph Audo insisted  that the particular discipline of the Christian East be respected.

–         Patriarch. Gregory II Youssef Sayyous (Melkite) defended the patriarchal system of government traditional in the Christian East..

–         There were Eastern Catholic Churches which wanted to recover their heritage and others that are so Latinized they do not understand the nature of the problems.

Pope Leo XIII and the Eucharistic Congress of Jerusalem.

            Leo XIII is called the Pope of the Christian East. His pontificate marked the beginning of the emancipation of the Eastern Catholic .Churches. Report of Card. Vanutelli, Apostolic.Delegate at Constantinople, on 11 April 1883, outlined Latin failures in dealing adequately with the East, and insisted on the teaching in Catholic. Seminaries of special courses in Oriental Theology, Liturgy and History.

            Cardinal.Langenieux, archbishop.of Rheims,Pope Leo’s delegate for the Eucharistic. Congress of Jerusalem reported on 2 July 1893 about the problems caused by the Latin assault on the East, and of the need for a radically new policy. Pope Leo took swift and decisive step On 20 June 1894 he published the encyclical “Pareclara Gratulationis”. The Catholic Oriental Patriarchs were invited to express their opinion freely.

            On 30 Nov. 1984 the pope published “Orientalium Dignitas” on St. Nicholas Day. It is the Magna Carta of Eastern Catholicism.

Further intellectual and institutional developments.

–         Foundation of Review “Oriens Christianus”.

–         Celebration of the 15th C. of the death of St. John Chrysostom in 1907 and a commemorative volume.was published.

–         Foundation of S. Congregation for Oriental Churches on 1 May 1917 and  of Pontifical Oriental Institute on 15 Oct. 1917.

Characteristics of Catholic Oriental Theology

 1. Eastern Catholic theology is not just Byzantine Catholic theology. There has been a remarkable renewal in the non-Byzantine Catholic Eastern Traditions. By and large today, the only Orthodox Theology worth the name is Byzantine Orthodox Theology. The other churches have been reduced by persecution and by Islamic, Russian and Soviet domination. They have their age-old traditional theology rooted in their liturgy, their synods, their Fathers, their monasticism and their spirituality. In the case of Syrians and Armenians this theology is rich, but they struggle for physical survival.

 2. It is a theology in reaction.

      Karl Bath says: ‘the theologian must have the Bible in one hand and the daily         newspaper in the other’. It means that any true existential theology exists at the intersection of God’s eternal revelation and the evolving day to day realities of human history. So like any other theology Eastern Catholic theology is a theology in reaction to the world-situation in which it finds itself. Traditionally, that situation has been one of enemies right and left on one side the praestantia ritus Latini of Benedict XIV’s constitution Etsi Pastoralis of 26 May 1742, on the other side the Orthodox rejection and systematic calumniation of Uniatism. Crusades and Uniatism have rendered impossible for the Orthodox any objective history of their relation to the West.

 3. It is not made but in the making. It is a theology in via, in the process of recuperating and repossessing. It is largely without pretence. It keeps one eye over its shoulder and the other over the Orthodox.

 4. It is self-conscious. Like Orthodox Theology, it is self-conscious in ways the west, complacent in its size and strength, never needs to be. But it is not xenophobic (fear of foreigners & strangers) or paranoid (mental dilution), unlike much in modern orthodox theology. On the contrary it is open to the modern West and embraces its objectivity and fairness.

 5.  It is open and unashamedly eclectic (choosing best out of things). It may be an abomination to the most orthodox writers – subjection to Western influence – the popular Russian catholic spiritual writer Catherine de Hueck Doherty is a representative of this spirit. This is often dangerous and also had some positive effects.

 6. It rejects the pseudo-antithesis between Eastern and Western thought and the false polarization consequent to it. The Imitation of Christ of St. Thomas a Kempis, a typically western spirituality inimical to the spirit of the Christian East, has fifteen editions in Russia. How is it, asks Louis Bouyer. The Eastern spiritual classic “The unseen warfare of Nikodemus the Hagiorite (1748-1809), also author of Philkalia and Pedalion was published in 1796 in Venice.

 7.  It is a theology rooted in the Fathers of the Church and especially in the lived experience of the Church’s liturgy and spirituality that flows from it. This distinguishes it sharply from typically western theology.

 8. It forms an integrated whole. It is an integrated world in which liturgy, spirituality, art and architecture comprise an integrated harmonious whole in a way unthinkable in the West, with its clash of competing methodologies and philosophies.

      There is a  difference between a Gothic cathedral and a small fully decorated                   Byzantine church. Eastern catholic theology is an enclosed world.

As a result of this integral nature, Eastern catholic theology has not just a different liturgy and liturgical iconography and monasticism. It also has a different pneumatology, a different liturgical and spiritual theology, a different theological anthropology, a different Mariology and a different feminism.

Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches

On 21 November 1964 Vatican II approved the decree and it became a law on 22 January 1965. Like other decrees this also underwent several transformations before its final approval. In the middle of 1959 the commission under cardinal Tardini sent an invitation to all bishops asking them to submit proposals and resolutions for the council. In the light of this pope John XXIII nominated an Oriental commission in I960 to work out the following points: 1.Changes in the rite, 2.Communicatio in sacris 3. Reconciliation with the Orthodox Orientals, and 4. The most important disciplinary questions. The work was divided into seven sections and was accomplished in 1960-61 in 56 plenary sessions. The result was the schema -De Ecclesiae unitate (52 articles) and 14 short schemata.

The council started on 11 October 1962. Now the task was entrusted to the newly formed Council Commission. It prepared a schema and sent it to all council Fathers in May 1963. In the light of the suggestions a third schema was prepared on 27 April 1964. Pope Paul VI sanctioned it for the submission to the fathers. At the final voting 2110 Fathers approved the decree and 39 voted against it.

The title of the Decree

Originally the title was “Decree on the Eastern Churches”. The word catholic was added because this decree is not directly intended to the Eastern Churches that are not in communion with Rome. The Catholic Church cannot oblige the non-Catholics to follow the rules and prescriptions of the Catholic Church. According to Patriarch Maximos such a decree is necessary because first the, Eastern Catholic Churches are confronted today with special problems which are not urgent for the Latin Church to the same degree. Secondly the decree can under the authority of the council, repeal certain inopportune and incompatible enactments. He says that the decree arouses hope that a post conciliar commission will carry on the work on its lines.

Introduction

The first sentence is a disturbing one. There is a contrast between Eastern and Catholic. Here “catholic” is more or less as synonymous with Latin. Patriarch Maximos asks: How the Latins would react if a decree on the Latin church were to say that the catholic church holds in high esteem the institutions of the Latin Church.

Individual Churches or Rites  (art.2-4)

The word ‘rite’ in a narrow sense means liturgical rite, but in a wider sense it means constitution, law, discipline, spirituality, theology, liturgy etc. In the decree it is mostly used in the wider sense.

Art. 2 portrays the historic and theologically founded structure of the Church – a structure made up of individual Churches. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and there is only one baptism, one faith and one government. All baptized are united in the Holy Spirit. The faithful are formed into particular Churches under the bishop. These individual churches are related. Each church developed its own liturgy, discipline and spirituality adopting the customs and traditions of the place. So the»e is a diversity in the Church. Each individual church is bound to safeguard its traditions and spiritual heritage and should grow through adaptation.

Art. 3 emphasizes the fundamental equality of the individual churches in dignity, rights and obligations.

1. The Pope as the visible head of the Church is the head of the universal Church.

2. All these Churches are equally entrusted to pastoral guidance and have the right to preach gospel and to engage in missionary activity.

Art. 4 In order to safeguard the equality of the individual churches and to preserve their growth various provisions have been made.

1. Special parishes, even special hierarchies should be organized for each rite. This was objected on the ground that if the combination of several jurisdictions in the same territory may cause many difficulties.

2. In order to solve the problem there should be a large measure of broad-mindedness and willingness to make adaptations and cooperation in all spheres of ecclesiastical administration at interdiocesan and supra-diocesan levels.

3. Every form of rivalry and attempts to win over members of other individual churches should be avoided.

4. Baptized converts received into the Catholic Church are to be bound to their rite not only within, but also outside the area of their rite.

5. Knowledge of the rite: Priests and seminarians should study about the liturgical rites and inter-ritual questions.  They should instruct the laity.

6. Change of rite is not permitted. Only Rome has the power to give permission to change rite. Now permission to administer the sacraments is given

.

The Preservation of the Spiritual Heritage of the Eastern Churches (Art.5,6)

1. The eastern Churches are very particular to preserve the spiritual heritage and tradition of the early Church, Their liturgy is ‘centered on Christ. Both Bible and Tradition are precious.  The teachings of the fathers of the Church had great influence on their liturgy. Their spirituality is centered on the Sacraments. Their calendar is Christ-centered. So the Council warns the Eastern Churches not to lose their heritage. The Council praises the heritage of these Churches.

2. The administration of the Church: It is different from that of the Western Church. The head of the Eastern Church is Patriarch who has special powers. So there is diversity in the government. They enjoy the right to rule themselves according to its proper and individual procedure and customs,

3.. The Orientals should preserve their rites and their established way of life. For this they have to study the customs and traditions of the Eastern Churches.

4.. The growth of the rite should be organic. In this growth the identity of each church should be preserved. The mere imitation of other rites is not recommended,

5. The Eastern Churches which were subjected to alterations and which went astray from the observance of their traditions have to restore them.

6. Those who are engaged in missionary work among the Orientals or in Oriental region should study the history, liturgy, discipline and the special characteristics of the Oriental churches.

7. Latin Congregations working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful should establish special provinces and houses for the Orientals. In those houses oriental liturgy should be practiced.

Eastern Patriarchs  ( Art.7-11)

According to Patriarch Maximos IV this chapter on the Patriarchs is weakest of the entire Decree because of the rejection of the suggestion to treat the question in the light of the first councils. Actually this question is the central problem of the Eastern churches and indeed generally of the whole structure of the Church. Therefore according to many it should not have been treated as a special problem of the Eastern churches, but as a problem pertaining to the structure of the universal Church.

In the original schema this article had an introduction which was prone rather to weaken than to revalorize the position of the patriarchs both in relation to the Pope and the bishops. Here the rights of the patriarchs were considered as papal concessions. This introduction was replaced by the simple statement that patriarchal structure is an institution of the universal Church which goes back to the earliest epochs of the Church and was already found and recognised (not instituted) as such by the first general Councils.

So the Council says:

1. Patriarchates existed m the early Church and was recognized by the first ecumenical Councils.

2. The patriarch is a bishop who has jurisdiction over all bishops (including metropolitans), clergy and people (of God) of his own territory or rite, in accordance with the norms of the law and without prejudice to the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

The last paragraph “whenever an ordinary of any rite is appointed outside the territorial bounds of its patriarchate, he remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with the norm of law” was not in the original text. It was inserted in order to pave the way for a corresponding regulation for the new situation created by large emigration.

3. A bishop of any rite appointed outside the territory of the patriarch, remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with the norm of the law. It follows that the patriarchs are not entitled to nominate bishops for the faithful of their rite established in America or Canada without the approval of the Holy See,

Art. 8 says:

All patriarchs are equal in dignity. Some o£ them are of later origin.  With regard to precedence the decision of the ecumenical councils is to be considered.

The order of the ancient Patriarchates:

Rome                Rome

Antioch           Constantinople

Alexandria        Antioch

Alexandria

Jerusalem

Precedence of the present Catholic Patriarchates:

Rome

Alexandria (Coptic)

Maronite

Melkite

Syrian

Armenian

Chaldean

Ukranian (Major Archbishop)

Syro-Malabar (Major Archbishop)

Syro-Malankara (Major  Archbishop)

Romanian Catholic Church (Major Archbishop)

.

 The authority of the Patriarchs  (Art.9)

1. Patriarch is the father and the head of the rite.

2. The rights and privileges of the Patriarch should be reestablished in accord with the ancient traditions of each Church and the decrees of the ecumenical councils.

3. These rights and privileges are those existed in the united church before the division.

  1. The patriarchs and patriarchal synod is the high authority in the patriarchal church. It has the power to establish new dioceses and nominate bishops in their territory.
  2. This kind of administration in a particular church is not against the universal jurisdiction of the Pope, who has the right to intervene in the administration of a particular church whenever it is necessary

.

The  Major Archbishops  (Art.10)

Besides the patriarchal churches there are a number of other individual catholic churches which have no patriarch as their head, but a major archbishop who has the same rights, but not the same privileges. They can be raised to the status of patriarchal church. The preparatory commission had already expressly proposed this for Syro-Malabar, Ukranian and Etheopean churches. Because of certain difficulties only a general recommendation was made. The establishment of Patriarchate is reserved to an ecumenical synod or Pope.

Though the council recommended the institution of patriarchates in certain churches some regarded the patriarchal structure as outdated and antiquated and hence called for its complete abolition. To others it even appeared incompatible with the rediscovered collegiality of bishops.

Questions: Is it wise to create Patriarchate for the small churches?  What would have happened if the patriarchs had not been created?

A rejection of Patriarchal structure of the church on principle would not only mean abandonment of the Uniate churches but also a definitive and irrevocable identification of the Catholic Church with the Latin Church, thus crushing for ever all hopes of a reunion of with the Orthodox Churches. As regards the collegiality, it may be observed that it was in fact in the patriarchally constituted churches that it had been maintained and it is in them that it is still practiced in an exemplary manner

.

Rules concerning the Sacraments (Art.12-18)

The points considered here are almost exclusively interritual questions for which synods of the various individual churches were not competent at all.

Art. l2: A general statement about the discipline of the sacraments in the Oriental churches, which is very ancient and the council recognizes them and the traditional way of their celebration. The council also wishes that these churches restore them in accordance with the traditions of each church.

There exists .difference with regard to the administration of the sacraments. For eg. In the Latin Church the bishop is the ordinary minister of the sacrament of confirmation, but in the Oriental churches the priest administers it. The Latins use unleavened bread and the Orientals use leavened bread

Art 13.On Confirmation

Confirmation should be administered in accordance with the Oriental traditions. It can be administered only through the chrism blessed by the patriarch or bishop. In Malabar church synod of Diamper changed the practice, in Oriental churches except the Maronites confirmation has been administered by the ordinary priest.

:Art.14. The priest can in future administer it even apart from baptism which had so far not been the customs in some of eastern churches.

It is no longer confined to the rite. In future Eastern priest can administer it validly not only to all Easterners but also to the Latins, which had so far at least not been permissible under Latin ecclesiastical law. Latin priests can also do the same.  In this, the discipline of the each church should be considered.

Art.15 The Eucharist

The decree expressly stresses the competence of the various individual churches with regard to the liturgy. It deals with the obligation of the faithful to participate in the Holy  Mass on Sundays and feast days.

In the Eastern churches Holy Mass was celebrated solemnly and with active participation from the part of the faithful. It was preceded by divine office. There was only one Mass in a church. The liturgical day begins with the Vaspers of the preceding day. Therefore the evening mass is included in the Sunday obligation.  In the Eastern churches Sunday obligation is not under mortal sin.  For the Latins it is the moral sin (Lateran IV 1215).

Confession

Art. 16: The faculty for hearing confession to a priest of any rite by his-proper bishop is applicable to the entire territory of the grantor.  The extension of jurisdiction for confession to the priests is dealt here. The eastern priest can in future grant absolution in the region for which he has received the faculty for hearing confessions from his bishop and not only to the faithful of his rite. The hierarchs of other rites have been left with certain possibilities of imposing restrictions.  Here it concerns about the interiritual extension in the territory and this is of considerable pastoral significance because of the widespread mixture of the rites. A bishop can revoke the faculty from a priest with reasons.                                         ;

Diaconate and subdiconate:

Art. I7 – In many of the Eastern churches the diaconate has remained in existence till today as an independent rank in holy orders. The decree calls for its restoration even in places where it had as such ceased to be in practice. Deacons are normally married before their ordination.

Subdiaconate though a minor order is identified with the higher orders in its obligations (Divine office, distinguishing marriage obstacle) it has been left to the discretion of the individual churches to return to the ancient practice.

Mixed Marriages

Art. 18 – The extension of the Latin canonical form to the Eastern churches made invalid all the marriages contracted between Catholics and the non-Catholics. The norm was this: “All marriages not contracted before the competent catholic pastor had been declared invalid (Crebrae allatae c.85 1949).

The motu proprio of Pope Paul VI of 31 March 1970: A marriage between two baptised of whom one is a catholic, the other a non-catholic, may not licitly be contracted without the previous dispensation of the local ordinary, since such marriage is by its very nature an obstacle to full spiritual communion of the married parties.

Since 1949 such marriages resulted in excommunication. Among the Orientals there were many mixed marriages especially where Catholics are minority. Therefore the obligation with regard to the canonical form of marriage was lifted in the sense that it was no longer to be considered as a condition for the validity of a mixed marriage, but only for its lawfulness.

The council says: When Eastern Catholics marry baptized Eastern non-Catholics, the canonical form for the celebration of such marriages obliges only for the lawfulness, for their validity the presence of a sacred minister suffices, as long as the other requirements of the law are observed,

It should be registered as soon as possible. The priests of non-Catholics are requested to cooperate to register in the books of the catholic party (1967 Feb. 22).

The catholic party has the duty to preserve his/her faith, children be baptized, brought up in the same faith.

Marriage between two catholic .orientals – catholic canonical form is necessary.

Marriage between catholic .oriental and Latin – catholic canonical form is necessary

Divine Worship (Art.19-23)

            Art.19. It will be the exclusive right of an ecumenical synod or Apostolic See to establish, transfer or suppress feast days common to all the Eastern churches. The only novelty in it is that in future the patriarch can with his synod, institute or abolish feasts for his church – only in individual cases,

Art. 20 – There is no unanimous agreement among the Easterners on the date of Easter. It is therefore recommended to celebrate Easter on the same day.

Art. 21: The Easterners who live outside their dioceses – ritual diaspora – have been permitted to follow the given local customs with regard to the sacred seasons (feasts , days of fasting etc.). Faithful of different rites in a same family or in a hostel fellow one rite.

Art. 22 – Divine office

Regarding the obligation of divine office it pertains to the community, not to the individual. It should be recited according to the discipline and traditions of each church. The faithful are exhorted to participate in it.

Art. 23 – Use of liturgical language.

Regarding the use of language in sacred liturgy the patriarch with his synod has the power to regulate the use of the language with the approval of the texts by the Holy See. Here the permission is given only for translation which should be faithful to the original text.

Art 24. Relations with the Brethren of the separated churches.

Catholics should show that unity of churches can be achieved without  losing their individual characteristics.

To promote the unity  the council suggests the following:

– Prayer

-Exemplary life

-Religious fidelity to ancient eastern traditions

– Mutual knowledge

-Collaboration

– Brotherly regard for objects (icon etc) and attitudes (feeling)

Art.25 – about individual conversion

1. Only a simple profession of catholic faith is demanded.

2. Clerics united are permitted to exercise the orders they possess.

Catholic faith: authority of pope, infallibility, assumption and Immaculate Conception of Bl.Virgin Mary.

They are not bound to follow all the private devotions in the Catholic Church.

Art. 26 common worship

Any common worship (communicatio in sacris) which would damage the unity of the church or involve formal acceptance of falsehood or danger of deviation in the faith, of scandal or of indifferentism, is forbidden by divine law.  Considering the pastoral experience and circumstances the council lays the following with regard the common worship.

Separated Eastern Christians in good faith may be granted the sacrament of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick if they ask of their own accord and have right disposition.  The Catholics may also ask them from the non-Catholics who possess valid sacraments.  This should be in the case of necessity and when it is impossible to have access to catholic priest. Common worship is not possible when there is no Eucharistic unity.

Participation in the extra-sacramental worship

Art.28. participation in marriage, burials and similar functions is permitted.

Art. 29 – Common worship should be under the watchful care of the bishop, because it has not only its positive side but also its undeniable dangers. Bishops are asked to show due consideration for each other on this point, so that different practices in the same region or even in the same place might not cause confusion among the faithful.

Conclusion

She council expresses its joy in the fruitful and zealous collaboration between the Eastern and Western catholic churches. All Christians are asked to pray for unity to God the Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and Blessed Virgin Mary

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Trinity according to the Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church considers the doctrine of trinity as something that has a living, practical importance for every christian. Man is made in the image of God, and to christians God means the Trinity: thus it is only in the light of the dogma of the Trinity that man can understand who he is and what God intends him to be. The basic elements in the doctrine of Trinity are the following:

1. God is absolutely transcendent. The absolute trascendence of God is safeguarded by the use of the way of negation of apophatic theology, which speaks of God in negative terms. God cannot be properly apprehended by man’s mind, human language when applied to Him, is always inexact. It is therefore less misleading to use negative language about God rather than positive to say what He is not.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (+394) says: “the true knowledge and vision of God consist in this – in seeing that He is invisible, because what we seek lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkness of incomprehensibility. St. john of Damscus (675- 749) says: “God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is His infinity and incomprehensibility…God does not belong to the class of existing things, not that He has no existence, but that He is above all existing things, nay even above existence itself”.

The emphasis on God’s transcendence would seem at first sight to exclude any direct experience of God. But in fact many who made use of negative theology like Gregory of Nyssa, Dionisius, Maximus, also believed in the possibility of a true mystical union with God. They combined the way of negation with the way of union, with the tradition of the mystics or hesychasts. Hesychast comes from the Greek word Hesychia which means quiet. Hesychast is the one who in silence devotes himself to inner recollection and private prayer.

For the Orthodox the positive or Cataphatic theology or the way of affirmation must always be balanced and corrected by the employment of negative language

2.God, although absolutely transcendent, is not cut off from the world, which He has made.God is above and outside His creation, yet He also exists within it. “Thou art everywhere and fillest all things”(a prayer). The Orthodox makes a distinction between God’s essence and energies. His Essence remains unapproachable but His Energies come down to us. We experience them in the form of deifying grace and divine light. Our God is a God who hides himself yet He is also a God who acts -God of history- intervening directly in concrete situations.

3.God is personal, that is to say Trinitarian.  When man participates in the divine energies he is brought face to face with a person. God is a trinity of three persons, each of whom dwells in the other two, by virtue of a perpetual movement of love.

4. God is an Incarnate God. God has come down in His own person. The second person of Trinity became man. This shows the closer union between God and His creation.

Question of Filioque.

The Holy Trinity is a mystery of unity in diversity, and of diversity in unity. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are one in essence (homoousios) yet each is distinguished from the other two by personal characteristics. St. Gregory of Nazianz says, “The Divine is indivisible in its divisions” for the persons are united yet no confused, distinct yet not divided (John of Damascus), both the distinction and union alike are paradoxical (Gregory of Nazianz).

If each of the persons is distinct, what holds the Holy Trinity together? There is one God because there is one Father. Father is the source of Godhead, the principle of unity among the three, born of none and proceeding from none. Son is born of the Father from all eternity; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father from all eternity. This is the doctrine of the Orthodox Church.

According to Western (Latin) theology the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. For them the principle of unity in the Trinity is the Divine Essence, which all the three share. The synod Toledo (589) for the first time officially inserted “filioque” in the Nicean Creed. Then it spread throughout the whole Latin Church, Frankfert (794) Rome (1014). The west retained their formula “a patre filioque” and later this insertion of filioque caused the division between the East and the West.

The Orthodox Church makes a distinction between the eternal procession of Spirit from the father and a temporal mission from the Son- sending of the Holy Spirit to the world. The one concerns the relation existing from all eternity within the Godhead; the other concerns the relation God to creation. As the son has two births, an eternal birth from the Father and a birth at particular point of time, so the Holy Spirit has an eternal procession from the Father and a temporal mission from the Son. The Orthodox Church claims that their teaching is based on Jn. 15,26. “I will send the Spirit to you from the Father”. The 13th and 14th centuries the. theologians speak of an eternal manifestation of the Holy Spirit by the Son, e.g. Gregory Palamas.

The orthodox theologians say that filioque leads either to ditheism or to semisabellianism- Father, Son and Hoy Spirit are three modes or ways of action. Ditheism is a belief in two gods. If Father and Son are two principles then there are two Gods. Lyons and Florence declared that Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one principle (tamquam ex uno principio). Therefore, according to the Orthodox Church filioque is dangerous and heretical. It confuses the persons and destroys the proper balance between unity and diversity in the Godhead. Besides the Holy Spirit has become subordinated to the Son.

 

 

Creation of Man

Creation of the man is act of all the three persons of the Trinity. Gen. 1,26 says: “Let us make man according to our image and likeness”. Here image and likeness is Trinitarian.

Image and likeness do not mean exactly the same thing. John of Damascus says: Image indicates rationality and freedom. Likeness indicates assimilation to God through virtues. The image signifies man’s free will, his reason, his sense of moral responsibility in everything, in short, the distinguishing mark of man from the animal and makes him a person. It also means that we are God’s offspring, His kin. It means that between God and us there is a point of contact, an essential similarity. For because we are in God’s image we can know God and have communion with him. And if a man makes use of this faculty for communion with God, then he will become like God, he will acquire the divine likeness and he will be assimilated to God through virtues.. (John Damascus)

Grace and free will

Because man is the image of God, he is the son, he possesses a free will. To describe the relation between the grace of God and free will of man, Orthodoxy uses the term cooperation or synergy  (synergeia). St.Paul says: “we are fellow workers (synergoi) with God (1.Cor.3, 9). To achieve full fellowship with God, man as well as God must make his contribution to the common work. Of course God’s work has immeasurably greater importance. So God’s grace and human free will are equally important. The supreme example of synergy is the Mother of God.

The West accused the Orthodox Church of giving more importance to man’s free will. But the Orthodox Church claims that their church’s teaching is very straightforward. They quote, Rev.3, 20: “Behold, I stand at the door,and knock; If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in”. God knocks but waits for men to open the door. He does not break the door. The grace of the God invites all but compels none. St.John Chrysostom says: “God never draws anyone to himself by force or violence. He wishes all men to be saved, but forces no one”. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386) says: “It is for God to grant his grace, your task is to accept that grace and to guard it”. God’s gifts are free gifts, man cannot claim for it, but he must work for it, since faith without good works is dead (James. 2,17).

Fall and Original Sin

Adam was given free will- the power to choose between good and evil. It rested with him either to accept the vocation set before him or to refuse it. Adam refused it. His fall consisted essentially in his disobedience of the will of God; he set his own will against the divine will and so by his own act he separated himself from God. As a result a new form of existence appeared on earth- that of disease and death. By turning away from God who is immortality and life, man put himself in a state that was contrary to nature, and his unnatural condition led to an inevitable disintegration of his being and eventually to physical death. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience extended to all his descendants. We are members one of another (St. Paul) and if one member suffers, the whole body suffers. In virtue of this mysterious unity of human race, not only Adam, but also all mankind became subject to mortality. Cut off from God, Adam and his descendants passed under the domination of sin and of the devil. Man’s will is weakened and enfeebled. The Greeks call it desire; the Latins call it concupiscence.

The Orthodoxy holds a less exalted idea of man’s state before the fall, and also less severe than the west in its view of the consequences of the fall. Adam’s fall is not from a great height of knowledge and perfection but from a state of undeveloped simplicity. Hence he is not to be judged too harshly for his error. His mind became darkened, his will power was impaired, so he could not hope to attain to the likeness of God. But he was not deprived entirely of God’s grace. The image of God is distorted, but never destroyed.

Most orthodox theologians reject the idea of original guilt, man automatically inherit Adam’s corruption and mortality but not his guilt. They are only guilty in so far as by their own free choice they imitate Adam. The orthodoxy never held that unbaptized babies are consigned to hell. Greek Fathers were not much interested in the doctrine of original sin

Incarnation

Incarnation is an act of God’s philanthropia of his loving kindness towards mankind. Many Eastern writers argue that if man had never fallen, God in His love for humanity would still have become man. Incarnation must be seen as part of the eternal purpose of God and not simply as an answer to the fall. Because of the fall of man, incarnation is not only an act of love but an act of salvation (cf. Maximus the Confessor +662; Issac the Syrian 7thc). Christ united man and God in his person, opened man the path to union with God. Christ showed the true likeness of God.

Christ is true God and true man, one person in two natures without separation and without confusion, a single person endowed with two wills and two energies.

A striking feature of the orthodox approach to the Incarnate Christ is the overwhelming sense of his divine glory behind the veil of Christ’s flesh, Christians behold the Triune God. The two moments in Christ’s life when his divine glory was made manifest are Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the Resurrection. Both are great feasts. The Orthodox do not overlook humanity of Christ. Veneration of the cross, reverence to the Holy Land etc. show this.

God knows different possible worlds:

  1. A world without sin
  2. A world without sin and with Christ as its head.

3. A world with sin but without Christ.

           4 A world with sin but also with Christ as its redeemer in whom God’s merciful love and goodness is best revealed and in whom the world is redeemed and in whom the whole world is sanctified and perfected. Among these possible worlds God by an absolute decree elected the present  world

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Holy Sprit.

The works of Christ and the Holy Sprit are complementary and reciprocal. Christ’s work of redemption cannot be considered apart from the Holy Sprit’s work of sanctification. St. Athanacius says: “The Word took flesh, that we might receive the Sprit”. So the aim of incarnation is the sending of Holy Sprit at Pentecost.

Deification

Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. So it can be defined in terms of deification. The final goal of every christian is to become God, to attain theosis /deification/divinization. For the Orthodox Church man’s salvation and redemption means his deification.

Behind the doctrine of deification there is the idea of image and likeness. Man is made in the image of Trinity and is called to dwell in the Trinitarian God. Christ prayed that we might share in the life of God the Trinity. Cf. Jo. 17, 2. God dwelling in us and we in Him.

The idea of deification must always be understood in the light of the distinction between God’s energies and His essence. Union with God means union with the divine energies.

The mystical union between God and man is a true union, yet in this union creator and creature do not become fused into a single being. Man retains his full personal integrity, when deified, remains distinct from God. The saints do not lose their free will but voluntarily and in love conform their will to the will of God, nor cease to be human. “We remain creatures while becoming God by grace as Christ remained God when becoming man by the Incarnation. Man does not become God by nature, but by grace (St. Basil).

Man’s body is also deified. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” I Cor. 6,19. The full deification of the body must wait, however, until the last day, for in this present life the glory of the saints is as a rule an inward splendour, a splenndour of the soul alone, then it will be outwardly manifest like Christ’s body on Mount Tabor.

The Orthodox Church has an immense reverence for the relics of the saints because they are convinced that the body is sanctified and transfigured toget6her with the soul. They believe God’s grace is present in them and God uses them as a channel of divine power and an instrument of healing.

The Orthodox Church holds that the whole of material creation will eventually be transfigured (Cosmic redemption). Teilhard de Chardin also speaks of comic redemption. Jesus died on the cross to raise up the world, to move it upward and forward, closer to God and closer to its final point of maturation. Christ descends sacramentally not only into the host (bread) but into the whole universe itself which gradually being transformed by the Incarnation. The world evolves towards the Parousia and the final fullness of all things in Christ will be accomplished at the Parousia.

Conclusion

1. Deification is for all, the full deification is only at the last day, but the process of divinization must be started here and now in this present life.

2. Deification doesn’t mean that one ceases to be conscious of sin. It always presupposes a continued act of repentance.

3. Deification demands observance of the commandments.

4. Deification is a social process. Love of God and of neighbor as himself is important. So there is nothing selfish about deification. St. Antony of Egypt says: “From our neighbor is life and from our neighbor is death. If we win our neighbor we win God, but if we cause our neighbor to stumble we sin against God”.

5. Love of God and love of neighbor must be practical.

6. Deification presupposes life in the Church, life in the sacraments, common life within the fellowship of the Church.

                                                    Ecclesiology

The Church of God: The community aspect of the church is very much stressed in the Oriental Churches. “One falls alone, but no one is saved alone”. The Orthodox Church insists on and agrees with the Catholic Church, the hierarchical structure of the church, the apostolic succession, the episcopacy, priesthood, intercession of the saints, prayer for the dead. But it disagrees about the supremacy and the universal jurisdiction of the pope and papal infallibility. The Orthodox Church treats the church in relation to God. So the idea of the church is spiritual. Three phrases are used to describe the relation of the church with God:

  1. The church is the image of the holy trinity. The church reproduces on the earth the mystery of unity in diversity. She is an icon of God the Trinity. In the trinity the three are one God, yet each is fully personal, in the church a multitude of persons are united in one, yet each preserves his personal diversity unimpaired.

The conception of the church as an icon of trinity has many further applications. Just as each person of the trinity is autonomous, so the church is made up of several autocephalous and autonomous churches, and just as in the Trinity the three persons are equal, so in the church no one bishop can claim to wield an absolute power over all the rest.

 The council is also an expression of the Trinitarian nature of the church. Many bishops assembled in the council freely reach a common mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The church is the Body of Christ. We, who are many, are one body in Christ (Rom.12: 5). Between Christ and the church there is the closest possible bond. St.Ignatius says: “where Christ is, there is the catholic church”. The church is the extension of Incarnation. The Church is the Christ with us.
  2. The church is a continued Pentecost. The role of the Holy Spirit is important in the Church. St.Ireneus says:”Where the church is there is the Holy Spirit and where is the Spirit is there is the church”.

The unity and infallibility of the Church.

The unity of the church follows of necessarily from the unity of God. The church is one as God is one. There is only one Christ and so there can be only one Body of Christ.

There is visible unity in the Church. For the Catholic Church, the unifying principle in the church is the Pope, who has universal jurisdiction. For the Orthodox Church the act of communion is in the sacraments. Each local church is constituted by the congregation of the faithful (St.Ignatius), gathered around their bishop and celebrating the Eucharist. The church universal is constituted by the communion of the heads of the local churches, the bishops, with one another. Unity is not maintained from without by the authority of a supreme pontiff, but created from within by the celebration of the Eucharist. The church is not monarchical in structure, centered around a single hierarch. It is a collegial formed by the communion of many hierarchs with one another, and of each hierarch with members of his folk. The act of communion forms the criterion for membership of the church. One ceases to be a member of the church if he severs the communion with his fellow bishops.

The Orthodox Church believes that their church is the true church by the grace of God, because they have received a precious and unique gift from God. The orthodox theologians reject the branch theory, i.e. the church is divided into several branches, mainly three – the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church.

The Orthodox Church also teaches that outside the church there is no salvation. This follows from the close relation between God and His Church. St.Cyprian says: “A man cannot have God as his Father, if he does not have the church as his mother”. Outside the church  there is no salvation because salvation is the church. This does not mean that everyone who is visibly within the church is necessarily saved and not visibly within the church is necessarily damned. St.Augustine says: “How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within”. There may be members whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must be saved in some sense be a member of the church, in what sense, we cannot always say.

The church is infallible.

This also follows from the relation between God and the church. The church is Christ’s Body and a continued Pentecost, so it is infallible. It is the pillar and the ground of truth (1Tim.3: 15). Christ promised His continued assistance and Holy Spirit.

The great Orthodox theologian, Staniloe said to Cardinal Thomas Spidlik: “I cannot understand the infallibility of the pope”. Card. Spidlik replied: “You and I are also infallible. When I say during the Mass ‘this is my body…this is my blood’ or when ‘I absolve you of your sins’ these are infallible words and this is pope’s infallibility, nothing else. Staniloe said, “If infallibility is understood in this way, then it is easier to comprehend. The priests are infallible in the sacraments and the pope is also infallible when he speaks in the name of the great sacrament, of the whole church.

Bishops and Councils.

The Orthodox Church is a hierarchical church. It believes in the apostolic succession of the bishops. The dignity of the bishop is necessarily in the church, that without him neither the church nor the name christian could exist or even be spoken of at all. He is the living image of God upon the earth and a fountain of all sacraments through which we obtain salvation (Dositheus). “If any one is not with the bishop, he is not in the church”(St.Cyprian). At the election and the consecration a bishop is endowed with the threefold power of ruling, teaching and celebrating the sacraments.

The authority of the bishop is fundamentally the authority of the church. The bishop is not someone set up over the church, but holder of an office in the church. The bishop and the people are joined in an organic unity and neither can be properly thought of apart from the other. Without bishop, there cannot be orthodox people, and without orthodox people, there can be no true bishop. “ The church is the people united to the bishop, the flock clinging to its shepherd. The bishop in the church and the church in the bishop.” (St.Cyprian).

The relation between the bishop and his flock is a mutual one. The bishop is the divinely appointed teacher and the guardian of the faith. It is the bishop’s particular office to proclaim the truth. The Orthodox Church considers the first seven councils as ecumenical. It is not so clear precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical. For them a council cannot be considered as ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole church

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                             Christology according to the Eastern Church

 

In the Eastern thought, the role of Christ is described in different ways.

1. Christ as the saviour of the world

Jesus asks his disciples a question about their belief concerning his personal identity “who do you say that I am”. Peter answered declaring that Jesus was “the Messiah”, the Son of the living God”(Mt. 16,16). The whole life and activities of Jesus depend on his identity.

In the East there were debates on the identity of Christ. St. Athanatious and St.Cyril were two eminent champions of orthodoxy in these debates. Athanasius was the champion in the council of Nicea I during the Arian controversy. Nicea firmly proclaimed the divinity of Christ. The Nicean victory was not only doctrinal, but also spiritual. The message of Athanasius was that only God Himself could properly be seen and adored as saviour. Thus the divine identity of Jesus, equal to the Father, was not a matter of abstract or purely theological truth, but it indicated the misery of the fallen, mortal humanity- which could neither save itself nor be saved by another creature. It also indicated the true nature of God, who being love, performed Himself the salvation of the world rather than act indirectly through created intermediaries or through an all – powerful but mechanic fiat. It indicates that man cannot be saved by himself or by any other creatures, but only by God.

2. Christ as Immanuel

The central inspiration of Sts.. Athanasius and Cyril was this: only God can save us. St. Cyril says: it is not an elder, nor an angel but the Lord Himself who saved us, not by an alien death, or by the mediation of an ordinary man, but by His very own blood”.

The reconciliation of God as the agent of salvation is shown also in the repeated use of the title Emmanuel – God with us for Christ (letter of Cyril to Nestorius). Both Athanasius and Cyril could not conceive of the divine love manifested in the Incarnation to be really perfect unless it was an act of self giving of God – God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (Jn. 3, 16). This implied the personal presence of God in the human reality of Jesus of Nazareth.

Cyril’s argument against Nestorius was centered on two most human moments in the gospel story of Jesus:

His birth from Mary and   His death on the cross

 Cyril recognized that these moments belong to the divine economy in the flesh – that is, the eternal God by nature could neither be born in history nor die. But he considered that the salvation of the world would not have occurred unless it was perfectly the Son of God who was  born of the virgin and also personally suffered on the cross according to the flesh.

The whole spiritual experiences reflected in Cyril’s Christology implies two central intuitions:

1. God, in search for fallen humanity (lost sheep), does not stop half way, but goes where fallen humanity is – in death itself.

2 It is not an ideal, perfect humanity that the Son of God assumes, but that humanity which bears all the consequences of sin, particularly mortality and corruptibility. Except for sin itself he assumed all the limitations of falleness including suffering and death.

The Christology of Cyril was challenged from two sides:

1. School of Theodore of Mopsuetia (Antiochean). How could the eternal Son be born? How could the passionless God suffer and die?

2. Appollinarian school – Appollinarius, bishop of Laodicea, saw Jesus as God with a human body but without a human soul. Why there need in Jesus for another spiritual center besides the divine Logos? But then was He truly a man? This means that Jesus had a sinless humanity, which could not be affected by corruptibility and mortality – consequently his humanity is perfect, incorruptible not like ours, and therefore his death was not like our death.

There was ambiguous terminology in Cyril – one nature incarnate of God the word, but his rejection of Nestorianism was motivated by the conviction that human destiny lies in communion with God. According to the Antiochean school the human nature of Christ kept not only its identity but also its autonomy. Christ’s birth and death were human only; Mary was mother of Jesus not of God. Jesus the son of man died not the Son of God. It was this duality, which Cyril rejected.

Against Appollinarism, Cyril says that Christ accepted complete humanity – in a fallen state from which it needed to be saved – that the divine Logos had to assume suffering and death. In order to lead the humanity to incorruptibility through resurrection. He first came down where fallen humanity truly was – in the depth of the pit (Ps. 88,6) and then cried before dying “my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mt. 27,46).

It was the moment of the death of God – the assumption by God Himself in an ultimate act of love, of humanity in its state of separation from its natural communion with God. Christ’s humanity was, therefore, neither diminished nor limited. It was humanity in its very concrete falleness.

The council of Chalcedon affirmed the doctrine of two natures of Christ in their distinctiveness and the doctrine of hypostatic union. The Orthodox Church at the fourth council (553) reaffirmed it.

According to Cyrillian Christology, the humanity of Christ was deified through the cross and resurrection. Christ was the new Adam in whom humanity and divinity were reunited again.

The Christological definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon, Constantinople II and Constantinople III entered the common tradition of the Eastern and Western Christendom. But the West remained somewhat reluctant in the face of doctrine of deification. For them, redemption –salvation tended to be understood as reconciliation with God rather than a restoration of communion with God. eg.: the Anselmian theory of redemption as satisfaction.

3. Christ as perfect God and perfect Man

St. Athanasius defended the divinity of Christ. St Cyril defended the unity of His being. But their messages remained controversial after their deaths.

In Nicea, ‘Homoousios’ was used to affirm the common divine essence or substance of the Father and the Son. Sabellians or modelists used the same term. For them, Father and the Son are of one essence meant that God was not three persons, but a unique essence with only three aspects or modes of manifestation. Therefore it needed further elaboration. The Cappadocean fathers elaborated it with their doctrine of three hypostasis or really distinct persons.

In Alexandria, after Cyril, Eutychus interpreted the unity of divinity and humanity of Christ to mean the humanity was so totally deified that it ceased to be our humanity. Christ was certainly consubstantial with the father but not with us. His humanity was absorbed by God.

The Chalcedonian definition of Christ tried to satisfy the different existing terminological traditions of Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. It kept the Cyrillian terminology stressing the unity of Christ (repeating the same word  and excluding the duality) and also insisted on the integrity of each nature, each keeping its respective properties within the union by favoring the Antiochean and Latin side. So it can be called a committee document or a catholic, charitable and ecumenical document. Chalcedon solved certain problems but created new ones.  A large Eastern Christian community opposed Chalcedon.

4. Church: the Body of Christ

Christ, the eternal Logos and the new Adam restored the unity of the whole humanity with himself. This restoration could not be automatic or magical; it required free human response to the spirit and the cooperation (synergia) of each human person and a “gathering” of free believers within the assembly of the church. So the restoration requires: –

i. A free human response to the Spirit.

ii. Cooperation of each person

iii. Gathering of free believers in the assembly of the church

The whole Christ (St.Augustine) was manifested where two or three were gathered in His name (Mt. 18,20) where the Pauline image of body could be concretely present. And that body is the church realized most fully in the Eucharist. Participation in the Eucharist in Christological terms was a participation in the resurrected and glorified humanity assumed in the hypostasis of the Son of God and in virtue of the “communication of idioms” between the two natures – penetrated with divine life or energies or grace (John of Damascus).

When we partake in the Body of Christ- being in Christ – we are not identified with the Logos, because person is always unique. It involves a sharing through the power of the spirit, in its glorified humanity- a humanity that remains fully human even after its glorification. The Iconoclasts claimed that Christ, deified in his resurrection, had become indescribable and therefore denounced the possibility of making images of Him.

            Iconoclasts, especially, Emperor Constantine V affirmed the Eucharist to be the only legitimate and biblically established image of God. But the orthodox say that Eucharist was a true and real identification of the faithful with the risen lord – not simply a vision of his image (Theodore of Studites). For them, the Eucharist was never the object of a vision: only the icons were to be seen. It is this general conception that justified the development of Iconostasis. It is the system of icons covering the screen, which separates the sanctuary from the nave of a Byzantine church. The Eucharistic mystery performed behind it is not an object of visual contemplation but a meal eventually distributed to the faithful who otherwise communicate with God by contemplating and venerating icons.

Christ and Bl. Virgin Mary

In Ephesus (431) Mary was designated as bearer of God (Theotokos ) or Mother of God (meter Theou). It affirmed the personal identity of Christ as the preexisting and eternal Son of God assuming the human nature. This decision added a decisive new emphasis to the christian spirituality- a renewed veneration of fMary – She made possible the union of divinity and humanity.

Theotokos was the first doctrinal decision of the church concerning Mary. In NT she was extolled –all generations will call me blessed (Lk. 1, 48.)

Ireneus and Justin called her as the New Eve. Many others glorified her as the earth unsown, burning bush, bridge leading to heaven, ladder which Jacob saw etc.

The Marian piety expresses a spiritual discovery of the human side of the Incarnation mystery. The role of that simple women who conceived the new life, was a reminder of the humanity of Jesus Himself and it gave in a new form the message that free fellowship and communion with God were true expression of authentic human nature.

This shows that the veneration of Mary was never separated from its christological context. This was the only doctrinal definition about Mary. Her exaltation. after Ephesus, did not mean that her belonging to fallen humanity was forgotten. Commenting Mt. 12,46-49-“who is mother, who are my brothers,” John Chrysostom frankly recognized Mary’s human failings and imperfections. The mother of Jesus was seen within the mystery of salvation, as the representative of humanity in need of salvation. But within the mankind, she was the closest to the Saviour and the worthiest receptacle of the new life.

St. Augustine says of Mary’s Immaculate Conception as the object of special grace of God that made her in advance worthy of divine motherhood.

In the West original sin was understood as inherited guilt. And it made it inevitable that Mary be approached in terms of an ‘Immaculate Conception’, as the object of a special grace of God that made her in advance worthy of divine motherhood. The East did not follow that trend, because the consequences of the sin of Adam were seen as inherited mortality rater than as guilt, so that there was no need to see Mary in isolation from the common lot of the fallen humanity

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            Sacramental Theology according to the Eastern Churches

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            Being in Christ, participating in divine life, is essentially manifested in the sacraments. So sacraments are the acts in which God shares divine life with humanity.

1.Sacraments according to the Assyrian Church of the East.

            According to Abdisho (963-968) the sacraments are the means of divine life in us and as in the natural life there is birth, growth etc. so in the divine life in us. He gives a list of the sacraments:

1. The priesthood which is the ministry of all other sacraments.

2. .Holy Baptism.

3..The  oil of Unction.

4. Oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ.

5..Absolution.

6..The Holy Leaven.

7..The sign of Life-giving cross.

He also speaks of marriage as a sacred rite.

            About Baptism he says: “In order for a man to be, and to exist in the world, he must be born of a carnal mother through a carnal father….In like manner, in order to belong to the world of immortality it is necessary to be born of the spiritual womb of baptism. (cf.Abdisho of Soba or Nisibis, The Book of the Jewel, tr.G.P. Badger, The Nestorians and their rituals 1-11, London, 1852, pp.404-405.

Baptism as a sharing of Christ’s life and death, is given at the night of resurrection or Easter.

            By anointing with the sacred oil one participates Christ’s ministry and becomes temple of God. St.Ephrem says:

“In it a symbol of your bodies, by chrism they are sealed as holy and becomes temples  of God,where He shall  be served by your  sacrifices”.

Cf.St..Ephrem, Hymn of Epiphany, tr. Edward Johnson.

Rite of absolution fundamentally is a reconciliation with God and the Church. Marriage is not merely a marital relationship between husband and wife, but a realization of the link, spousal and everlasting, between Christ and the Church. It is not that Christ and the Church are the symbol of the Christian marriage, but on the contrary, marriage between Christians is an image of that of Christ and the Church (P.Yousif). According to St.Eprem Virginity is receiving Christ. She reserves herself to Christ as her spouse and carries Him in  her being also her child. Mary is the image. Holy Leaven and Sign of the cross. The former is used for the Eucharist and the latter keeps christains and realized the sacraments. Abdisho says: “The holy leaven is used as the spiritual food of the body of Christ. The sign of the Cross is that by which christains are ever kept, and by it the other sacraments are sealed and perfected.

The sacred orders. The consecration in the sacred orders is a spiritual habilitation to exercise a service. There is a variety of consecrations because of the variety of services.

And they are performed in the Church and for the Church.

The following are the different services and consecrations

Lectors-servants of the word

Subdeacons-servants of the house of God.

Deacons-sevants of the sacraments in the Church of God.

Priests-dispensers of the mysteries of sacraments

Bishops-pastor, father, guide

Patriarch-head of the shepherds.

From this it is clear that priestly ministry is constituted for three services which are correlated: altar, gospel, the people. The ministry in the church is for the benefit  of the members of the church. An ecclesiastical service has no meaning outside the communion of the church.

The basis of the ministry is the respective consecration or ordination. Jurisdiction is a consequence of  sacramental ordination and in some cases it may be revoked. No honorary or titular bishop exist.

Patriarch Timoty II (1318-1360) gave as seven sacraments:

i.Holy orders

ii.The consecration of a Church and Altar.

iii.Baptism and Holy oil (confirmation)

iv.The blessing of monks.

v.The office for the dead.

vi.The holy sacrament of the Body and Blood. Of Christ

vii.Marriage.

Then he adds a supplenment: Indulgence or penance and the forgiving of sins. Mr.Badger says that they now generally allow 1.Orders 2.Baptism 3.The oil of unction, 4.the Oblation of the body and blood of Christ, 5.Absolution, 6.the Holy Leaven and 7.the sign of the cross. Putting these two lists together they have all seven sacraments.

The modern Nestorian does not confess his sins, because the clergy can not keep the seal. Eucharistic liturgy is celebrated only on Sundays and feast days and in the evening before Christmas Epiphany and Easter.

            The Nestorians emphasize the continuity of the Eucharist by the unity of bread used. Each time it is baked, it is leavened not only with some dough from the last baking but with a small portion of the holy leaven which has been handed on form age to age in each church. The baseless legend is that our Lord at the last supper gave an extra consecrated loaf to St.John who later mixed it with water that had fallen from Christ’s body at his baptism, and blood and water that flowed from his side at the crucifixion, The resulting dough was divided among the apostles and has been handed on by a process of leavening ever since. This leaven is renewed in every church by the addition of dough, salt and olive oil by a priest and deacon on every Holy Thursday. No liturgy may be celebrated without it and it is sometimes numbered among the sacraments. An embroidery of the legend is that the West anathematized  Nestorius because when fled from Constantionple he took all the holy leaven with him and left the rest of the world without it.

The Holy Apostles anaphora of the Nestorians misses the words of institution. It is said the omission in the manuscripts was made out of  respect for the holy words.

Nestorians receive Holy communion (only rarely) in both kinds separately, the celebrant ministering the Host, the deacon the chalice. As the Bl. Sacrament is not reserved  there is no provision for communion of the sick outside the liturgy.

            Confirmation was first confused with the baptismal rite followed immediately, and was then dropped altogether. Penance has gone out of use, except in the reconciliation of an apostate. Anointing of the sick does not exist. They have penitential seasons .In addition to seven weeks of lent there are other long and severe

 fasts

Sacraments according to the Orthodox Church

Sacraments are sacred rites through which the grace of God is imparted in a hidden way. Here the mysterious character is emphasized. No ecumenical Council has determined the number of the sacraments. St. John the Demascus (675-749) recognized two sacraments only, Baptism with confirmation and the Eucharist.

Theodore of Studies (9-thc.) gives the list of six sacraments,

  1. The Holy Illumination
  2. The synaxis (Eucharist)
  3. The holy Chrism
  4. Ordination.
  5. Monastic tonsure.
  6. Service of Burial.

 The number seven appears for the first time in the profession of faith by emperor Michael Paleologus in 1267. It was prepared by the Latin theologians.

 After the Second Council of Lyons (1274) at which Orthodox  renewed its acquiantence with the West , the western usage of seven sacraments was normally adopted.

The Monk  Job  (13th c.) includes the tonsure of the monk, but combines penance and anointing of the sick.

Symeon of Thessalonica (5th c) also admits tonsure of the monk and classifies it together with penance. He considers anointing as a separate sacrament.

Josphat of Ephesus (5th c.) says: I believe that the sacraments of the church are not seven , but more , He gives a list of ten including the consecration of the church, the funeral service and monastic tonsure.

Obviously the Byzentine Church never committed itself formally to any specific list. Many authors accept the list of seven, while others give a longer list , still others emphasize only two, Baptism and Eucharist. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) proclaims that  “in these two our whole salvation is rooted, since the entire economy of true God –Man is recapitulated in them.

Baptism and Confirmation – are normally administerd  together.. Immediately the Eucharist is given.

Symeon of Thesselonica says  ‘If one does not receive the chrism he is not  perfectly baptised’.

Nicholas Cabsilas says ‘Baptism is nothing else but to be born according to Christ and to receive our very being and nature ‘. The salutary day of baptism becomes a name day to christians, because then they are formed and shaped and our shapeless and undefined life receives shape and definition’. Births, new birth , refashioning and seal, as well as baptism cloth and anointing gift enlightening and washing –all signify this one thing that the rite is the beginning of existence for those who are and live in accordance with God.

  1. Baptism is a gift of God. It is not depending on the human choice, consent or even consciousness. “Just as in the case of physical birth, we do not even contribute willingness to all the blessings Derived from baptism”. So they do not have any doubt about the legitimacy of  infant baptism.
  2. Through bapism one becomes  theocentric. One recovers the original destiny which is eschatological and mysterious because it partakes the very mystery of God .
  3. Baptism is a beginning and a promise of a new life. It implies a free self- determination and growth. It does not suppress human freedom, but restores it to its original and natural form. In the case of infant baptism this restoraton is potential, but the sacrament always implies a call to freedom.
  4. Baptism is a liberation from the bonds of satan. It is signified by the exorcism before baptism.

There are numerous rites in Baptism.

1 Exorcism. The priest breathes thrice on the candidate and signs him with the sign of the cross. The devil is exorcized , partly through direct evocations;“satan, the Lord exorcizes thee get out hence ” and  partly through prayers that God  would drive out the evil spirit.

2 Renunciation. The candidate turns to the west, thrice exclaims: “I renounce thee ” and spits in token of his  aversion to the devil. Turning to the east , he  confesses Christ and ejaculates three times  “I surrender myself to Christ”.

3. The recitation of the Nicean Creed. In the case of an infant one of the godparents makes it.

4. The consecration of the baptismal water. The water is consecrated by the prayers of the priest who touches it  with the flat of his hand, and breathes upon it.

5. The anointing of the candidate with sacred oil.

  1. The baptism by three Immersions/sprinkling

                            Ways of prayer and contemplation in the East

 

.          Russian bishop Theophan of Recluse (1815-1864) says: “The principal thing is to stand before God with the intellect in the heart, and go on standing before him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life”. This reflects the understanding of prayer in Greek and Syrian writers of the first eleven centuries . It indicates three things:

  1. To pray is to stand before God. It is a meeting to face to face and one enters into a personal relationship with God. Here one needs not ask anything or speak in words, but silence is enough.
  2. To stand with the intellect in the heart. It means that the two faculties are to be united. Heart is the center where the created humanity is directly open to uncreated love.
  3. The attitude or relationship of standing before God is to be continued, i.e. unceasingly day and night until the end of life. St. Paul says: “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5,17). Prayer is not merely one activity among others, but the activity of our entire existence, a dimension present in everything else that we undertake.

Prayer is a direct encounter between living persons- God and man. So it cannot be restricted within precise rules, it should be free, spontaneous and unpredictable.  The Eastern writers do not offer any abstract theories or definitions about prayer and contemplation.

The two basic stages on the spiritual journey are the active life (praxis, praktike) and the contemplative life (theoria). Martha is treated as the symbol of active and Mary of the contemplative life (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Origen). In the Western thought the active life normally denotes members of religious orders engaged in teaching, preaching or social work, whereas the contemplative life refers to religious who live in enclosure. But in the East the terms apply to inner development, not to external situation: the active life means ascetic effort to acquire virtue and to master the passions, whereas the contemplative life signifies the vision of God. Thus according to this most hermits and enclosed religious are still struggling at the active stage, whereas a doctor or social worker may yet at the same time be pursuing the contemplative life, if he is practicing inner prayer and has attained silence of heart.

The contemplative life may be subdivided into contemplative life of mature and that of God. Thus there are three stages on the spiritual journey:

  1. The active life –parktike
  2. Contemplation of nature or natural contemplation (physike)
  3. Contemplation of God or vision of God (theoria, theologia –theology or gnosis –spiritual knowledge).

Origen speaks of these as ethics, physics and enoptics or mystical theology and he associates each stage with a particular book of Bible:

Ethics with Proverbs

Physics with Ecclesastes

Mystical theology with Song of Songs.

Evagrius of Pontus (346-399) gives an explanation of these three stages. The active life praktike begins with repentance which is understood not merely as sorrow for sin but as a change of mind (metanoia), a radical conversion, the re-centering of our entire  life upon God. With the help of God we should strive to overcome the deep-rooted passions. For Evagrius passion (pathos) signifies a disordered impulse, such as jealousy, lust, uncontrolled anger etc. that violently dominates the soul. So passions are seen as unnatural, intrinsically evil, a “disease” and thus it is not true part of our human personhood. But Theodret of Cyrus (393-466) regarded passion including sexual instinct, as impulses originally placed in humanity by God, essential to our survival and capable of being turned to good purposes. It is not passion as such, but its misuse that is sinful. Gregory of Palamas (1296-1359) adapted a similar view. He insisted that our aim is redirection of the passions and not their suppression or mortification, He even speaks of “divine and blessed passions”.

Evagrius gives the list of eight evil thoughts: gluttony, lust, avarice, dejection, anger, despondency (listlessness), vainglory, and pride. The christian is called to struggle not only against the passions but also against these thoughts (logismoi). Keeping watch over his heart and growing in self-awareness, one acquires nepsis (sobriety or watchfulness) and diakrisis (discernment or discrimination – the power to distinguish between good and evil thoughts). These qualities should be accompanied by penthos (inward “grief”), and katanyxis (compunction) together with the gift of tears. But tears are not only penitential. What begins as “bitter” tears of sorrow are gradually changed into “sweet” tears of gratitude and love. John Climacus (7th c.) speaks of this as “joy – creating sorrow”.

            For Evagrius  the final aim of the active life is to achieve apatheia (dispassion, freedom from passion). It is a state of reintegration and spiritual freedom. In the West it is rendered as puritas cordis – purity of  heart  (John Cassian)

The second stage is Physike, natural contemplation. It is to see God in all things and all things in God. It is to treat each thing as a sacrament, to view the whole of nature as God’s book: St. Antony’s words: ‘My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and it is ready at hand whenever I wish to read the words of God”. (Evagrius).

Evagrius divides physike into 1.first natural contemplation which is directed toward things non-material, toward the angelic realm of spiritual reality. An important aspect of physike is meditation on the inner meaning of Holy Scripture. 2. Second natural contemplation, its object is the physical world perceived by the bodily senses.

The third stage is “theoria” – contemplation of God. Here man no longer approaches the creator through the works of creation, but meets God directly, face to face, in an unmediated union of love. Since the deity is a mystery beyond words and understanding, it follows that in such contemplation the human mind has to rise above concepts, words and images- above the level of discursive thinking – so as to apprehend God intuitively through simple gazing or touching. The mind is to become “naked” passing beyond multiplicity to unity. Its goal is “pure prayer” prayer that is not only morally pure and  free from sinful thoughts but also intellectually pure and free from all thoughts.

 “Whenever you are praying, do not shape within yourself any image of the            Deity, and do not let your mind be stamped with the impress of any form: but approach the immaterial in an immaterial manner …Prayer means the shedding of thoughts … Blessed is the intellect that has acquired complete freedom from sensations during  prayer.  (Evagrius).

At the higher levels of contemplation, then awareness of the subject –object differentiation recedes, and in its place there is only a sense of all-embracing unity. “A monk’s prayer is not perfect if in the course of it he is aware of himself or of the fact that he is praying (words of St. Antony of Egypt in Conferences 9,31 by Cassian). “You are the music while the music lasts”(T.S. Eliot).

In this way the apophatic attitude is to be applied not only to theology but also to prayer. In the realm of prayer it means that the mind is to be stripped of all images and concepts, so as that our abstract concepts about God are replaced by the sense of God’s immediate presence. Accordingly St. Gregory of Nyssa gave a symbolical interpretation of the first commandment. He says that not only images of stone but also conceptual images that must be shattered. “Every concept grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle in their quest to those who search. Our aim is to attain, beyond all words and concepts, a certain sense of presence. The Bridegroom is present, but he is not seen”. This kind of presence of God is designated in Greek sources by the term hesychia, meaning tranquility and inner stillness (hence hesychasm and hesychast). Hesychia means   silence, not negatively in the sense of absence of speech, a pause between words, but positively in the sense of an  attitude of listening. It signifies plenitude, not emptiness; presence, not a void.

The Eastern writers do not exclude the imaginative meditation and many writers also recommended a detailed imaginative meditation upon the life of Christ and more especially, on the passion. E.g. Mark the Monk, Nicolas Cabasilas(14th c.) Peter of Damascus (11-12 c.). So imageless prayer and imaginative meditation are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

With regard to the faculty of the human person that apprehends God in contemplative prayer the Eastern writers are divided. Evagrius defined prayer “as the highest intellection of the intellect”. So the faculty for him is nous or intellect which is not the discursive reason but the direct understanding of spiritual truth through  intuition or inner sight. Other Greek Fathers regarded prayer as a function not so much of the nous as of the kardia or heart. Thus there two are schools: “intellectualists and affective”.

The Veneration of Mary in the Oriental Church

In the Oriental Church Mary is venerated in a very special way. The people  love her icons. In Russia before the revolution the liturgical calendar listed about 1000 Marian icons that were venerated under  diverse  titles, such as: “Our Consolation and Providence (Jan. 21), The Weeping (Feb. 1), Softening of hard hearts (Feb.2), Spiritual banner (Mar.3), Tenderness (Mar. 19), Fertile Mountain (Mar.24), Portress (June 23), Econom (July 5) New Heaven (Sept. 9) Giver of God (Oct .11) etc.

      Marian devotion was cultivated especially in monasteries among monks and woman religious, because they see in the most Pure the full realization of what is sought in monastic life. When we study Mariology of the Orient we have to consider three aspects which the monastic literature of the Orient has strongly emphasized : The ideal of the divinisation of the Christian , “ontological” sanctity, and liturgical piety .

1.The divinization of the Christian

    The Orientals concentrate their attention on the exemplarism by meditating on the signified in facts and things, for example they concentrate their attention not only on the fact that man was created, but rather on what follows in the biblical text: “in His image; in the divine image He created him (Gen. 1: 26- 27 ). The Occidentals look for the cause of events. They begin with the fundamental affirmation that man was created by God and from this they draw consequences . (Spiritual exercise of St. Ignatius Loyola).

     Origen and others (Oriental Tradition) distinguish the two terms: image and likeness. The image is nothing less than an initial divinization: the scope is to become as like to God as possible. This ascent from image to likeness will be completed in the glory of the resurrected bodies (Jn. 3:2) and in conformity with the prayer of Christ (Jn. 17:21), in unity.

Mariology in the Orient is based on this patristic teaching: Image and Likeness.  Demetrio de Rostov, Ukranian Bishop, venerated as a saint, (1651-1709), in his treaties Sull’imagine di Dio e sulla somiglianza con l’ uomo says: “image and likeness do not exist in the body but in the soul and this admits degrees just as perfection does”. In the Slavic language a monk considered as a saint was called very similar to God; and the mother of God was venerated as the most similar. Three degrees, therefore, may be established: the christian is like God (podoben), the monk is more like (prepodebnyj) and Mary is most like to God (prepodebnejsaja). According to this, teaching of Orientals on Mary is not an independent dogma but it remains inherent in the same entire christian teaching as an anthropological leitmotiv (V.Lossky). Therefore Mary is venerated based on the doctrine of divinization. Mary is glorified because God divinizes her. The divinization of man corresponds to the interior logic of the humanization of God. It is a mysterious exchange in which “ each made his own the properties of the other”. The Russian icons teach this doctrine. The red color is the symbol of divine and blue, the human. As a consequence Christ is clothed in red and with a blue mantle. The inner dress of Mary is blue but covered with a red mantle. God became man in order that man might become divine. The mantle almost covers Mary in as much as she is entirely divinized, full of Grace.

2. Mary an Example of Ontological Sanctity

One of the important characteristics of Oriental spirituality is ontological sanctity. It is the consequence of the first aspect, of divinization. Man is adjudged spiritual not only according to his moral actions, since these are only exterior manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christian life is a transformation of the soul and of the body, their introduction into the sphere of the spirit, in other words this spiritualization of the soul and of the body (Teofane il Recluso, Russian author, (+1894).

In Mary- full of Grace- the ontological presence and the effects of the Spirit manifest themselves in a very particular manner. This Spirit is the sanctifier. “Mary, the All- Holy has summed up the sanctity of the Church, all the sanctity possible for a creature” ( V. Lossky ).

Between the spiritual man and the Holy Spirit there must be a most intimate union so that they form a “mixture”. St. Basil calls the Spirit our “form”. According to Teofane il Recluse the Spirit is the “ soul of our soul”. The Orientals do not speak of “sanctifying grace” but of the Holy Spirit in person. How then can the two persons, even though on such a different level the one a divine person, the other human , become “only one thing”? (Jn.17: 21). This is the reply: the three Divine Persons are united in one “nature”. Nature is the principle of operation. Men “made to participate in the divine nature” (2Pet.1:4 ) , unite with the Holy Spirit in one common operation : Synergeia

The best example of synergeia with the Holy Spirit is the divine maternity. Evdokimov says:To be born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin signifies for the Fathers the mystery of the second birth of every one of the faithful ex fide et Spiritu Sancto. The faith of the each of the faithful is rooted in the act of the Virgin, which has universal value, in her fiat. The annunciation, defined as the “feast of the root’’(St. John Crysostom) inaugurates a new age: the economy of salvation traces back to its Mariological roots and Mariology appears as an organic part of Christology. To the fiat of the Creator corresponds the fiat of the creature.

Ontologically the divine-human synergy is certain with the certitude of faith. Holy Spirit is the enlightener. Mary. Full of the Spirit. must therefore, have an entirely special enlightenment. In the West, Mary is presented as an example of external works whereas in the orient she is the sublime example of contemplation.

Contemplation is essentially the search of the mystery hidden either in the scriptures or in the created world, to discover Christ in the text of the Law and of the prophets and in the visible flesh of His humanity. This aspect is applied to Mary (Origen). The theme of contemplation recurs frequently in the texts for the Marian feasts celebrated in the monasteries with great splendor. Eg. Feast of the presentation of Mary in the temple. According to a legend, Mary dedicated herself in the temple to the weaving of the tabernacle veil. This texture recalls the “veil of the humanity of Christ” which reveals and conceals the Logos, symbol used already by Origen. The temple dwelling of God, refers to mystical steps to arrive at the “place of God” in the highest contemplation. There is a difference between Latin and Oriental spirituality. The adorations of holy hour propose to console the suffering Christ. The iconographical motive is different in the Orient: here we see Christ directing to his mother the words of consolation: “do not weep for me, Mother”. He helps her to overcome the temptation to see pain with purely human eyes and to ascend to the height of contemplation and enlightenment; to see the divine significance of the Cross.

In contemplation, on one aspect man contemplates God. But there is another aspect: man is created also to make God resplendent, so that God may be contemplated in him, in the likeness of the Son Who is both Contemplator and Revealer. In this sense Mary, the one most similar to God is most resplendent and the ideal of beauty. The Syrian poet James Sarug (+521) says: Love moves me to speak of her, who is beautiful / the sublimity of the discourse about her is greater than I, what shall I do? Only love when it speaks, does not fail, because lovable is her excellence/ and to me who listens she grants riches.

According to the Fathers man contemplates God according to the degree of his own purity. From ancient times Mary is called “the most pure”. In fact the Holy Spirit gives man perfect purity. This is realized in Mary Lossky says She represents the peak of sanctity She is without sin under the universal dominion of sin … sin could never have existed in Her”.

The activity of the Holy Spirit is vivifying, who gives life. It follows that participation in eternal life corresponds to the degree of participation in the Holy Spirit. The Mariological conclusion in this sense is twofold: 1. The Mother of God receives eternal life in fullness, the final perfection of creation, therefore assumed into heaven, 2. She receives fertility that she too might be a giver of life, mother of all the christians, of the Church. Mary receives the Holy Spirit together with the apostles gathered together in the cenacle the day of Pentecost at the foundation of the Church. From that moment her maternity becomes perfect, developed in the ecclesiastical dimension, as spiritual maternity, which in the Assumption becomes heavenly alongside the celestial paternity of the Father of all goodness.

3. Mary in the Oriental Liturgical cult.

In Orient liturgy is a solemn common prayer. Teofane ill Recluso says: ‘The church celebrates the rites, and when we assist, we unite ourselves with the church and participate in her grace. Whoever stays away from the exterior ceremonies stays away from the prayer of the church, deprives himself of the great promise of the Saviour,: where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst (Mt. 18,20)

The Oriental liturgy reviews mysteriously the work of salvation. The center of the mystery of salvation is the encounter of the Son of the eternal God with humanity. On the feast of Christmas the Byzantine liturgy affirms: He comes forth from the Father and the Immaculate Virgin offers Him humanity as a new paradise for a new Adam. “What shall we offer You, O Christ, since You are born on earth as a man? Every creature, which is Your work, in fact testifies its gratitude: the angels their song, the heavens the stars, the magi their gifts, the shepherds their admiration, the earth the grotto, the deserted place the crib, but we men, we offer You a Virgin Mother. This shows that the Marian aspect is contained in the feasts, which commemorate the life of Jesus, especially the feast of Christmas. But from the 4th century certain specifically Marian feasts began to appear. The Nestorians celebrated three days in her honor The Syrian monophysites venerate Mother of God on the fifteenth, the Copts on the twenty-first day of each month. In the Ethiopian church the Aganoma Miriam (the harp of Mary )is a panegyric of the Mother of God for every day of the week in the form of scriptural paraphrases. There are beatitudes: “blessed is he who at dawn turns toward you and knocks at the door of your palace. Blessed is he who is touched by your power of your love and always sings the praises of your glory. Blessed is he who always has on his tongue the mention of your name and never ceases to celebrate your majesty.

In the Byzantine liturgy there is a famous hymn, Akathistos which is sung standing because out of reverence (no title, no author of 4th 5th Century) It consists of 24 strophes, one for each letter of the Greek alphabet. The uneven strophes are to praise Virgin Mother and even strophes are like pauses for contemplation of the mystery of Incarnation.

Hail, O Tabernacle of the word of God,

Hail, greater than the Holy of Holies,

Hail, beloved ark of the spirit,

Hail, inexhaustible treasure of Life,

Hail, precious diadem of the holy sovereigns,

Hail, Thou noble bost of devout priests,

Hail, Thou art for the Church a powerful tower,

Hail, Thou art for the Empire a fortress wall”. In the central apse of the Byzantine church there is the icon of Theotokos (Mother of God) either as praying or as an indestructible wall. She is the earthly church which guides all men to unite them in the body of Christ.

Oriental Lumen

Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II on 2 May 1995 on the occasion of the centenary of Orientalium Dignitas of Leo XII. The pope says that the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ’s Churches. The Eastern Christians should aware of their tradition. The Latin’s should have a passionate longing for them. All should know that catholicity of the Church is not expressed in a single tradition.

Jerusalem was the center from which Gospel was preached to all nations. Saints Cyril and Methodius are the apostles of the unity of the East and West.

Pope says that now there is a cry for unity of the churches. We cannot come before Christ as divided. The divisions must give way to rapproachement and harmony: the wounds on the path of Christian unity must be healed.

Knowing the Christian East , experience of faith.

The East and the West used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things. It is possible that one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of mystery of revelation than the other or has expressed them better. So they are complementary than conflicting.

The Christian East has a unique and privileged role as the original setting where the church was born. The Christian tradition of the East implies a way of accepting, understanding and living faith in Jesus. In this sense it is extremely close to the Christian tradition of the West, which is born of and nourished by the same faith. Yet it is legitimately and admirably distinguished from the latter, since Eastern Churches have their own way of perceiving and understanding and thus an original way of living their relationship with the Saviour.

From the beginning the Christian East assumed the characteristics and features of each particular community. So there is a variety of traditions and features of the spiritual and theological traditions. These features describe the Eastern outlook of the Christian. His/her goal is the participation in the divine nature through communion with the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Eastern Eucharistic Theology

 

The Eucharist is the means by which one affirmed his membership in the Church and experienced it For, the experience of the liturgy is precisely the experience of Christianity and then it becomes the very possibility and source for the knowledge of God and participation in divine life itself. This is the meaning of Easter concept of theosis or divinization and liturgy was perceived as its most perfect expression and realization. This is also why theology Himself y and liturgy remain so closely linked in the East, for one is not considered possible without the other.

            The process of divinization fulfils itself in the Eucharist which is a real participation in the glorified body of Christ. The Fathers of the Church see the Eucharistic elements in very realistic terms. Communion is the source of both immortality and unity and it is essential for christian life.

            St. Basil exhorts to partake of the body and blood of Christ. He communicated four times a week Lord’s Day, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and on other days if there was Mass.

            In the course of time there came change in the Eucharistic theology and practice. The preachers stressed the elements of fear and awe with regard to the Eucharist. The faithful then responded by abandoning communion.  The community was split into a communicating elite and the majority of others. Thus the reception of communion became an act of personal devotion.  The traditional notion of Eucharist as a meal, as fellowship, was replaced by a different understanding without active participation.

            New approaches to the Eucharist were taken due to the social changes and theological debates. The Orthodox gave a new emphasis on the preexisting divinity of Christ against Arianism. They also leveled the doxological formula (to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit), and stressed the two natures formula against Subordinationism and Adoptionism. The Alexandrian and Anthiochean schools had different approaches. The Alexandrian school stressed the analogical or spiritual sense of the scripture. The Antiochean School stressed the literal and historical sense. For the Antiocheans, Eucharist is an imitation (mimesis) or memorial (anamnesis) of the saving acts of Christ’s life and the anticipation of the heavenly liturgy. ( Cf. Theodore of Mopusuetia, Catechetical Homily, 15,20.)

            On this point (Eucharist piety) there is a contrast between East and West. The Latin practice of the veneration of the Host is an expression, on the level of spirituality, of the doctrine of transubstantiation. In the East Eucharistic mystery was not considered in isolation from the Christological facts. The transfiguration of the body of Christ, the change which occurred in it after the resurrection, and which,, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is also at work in the entire body of the baptized faithful that is the total Christ.

            To designate Eucharist the theologians used these terms:

  1. metabole =change
  2. metastoicheiosis = transelementation
  3. metarrythmesis = change of order
  4. metamorphosis= transfiguration

These reflect salvation in Christ of the entire people of God.

            The Eucharistic prayers or canons of the East and the West have several common features and show the ecclesial and Christological dimension.

  1. They are prayers of the community formulated in the first person plural. It shows that communion with Christ is not a matter of individual piety, but of joining together within his single body.
  2. They are addressed to the Father, by an assembly of the baptized persons, who, in virtue of their baptism are already “in Christ”. The catechumens, excommunicated penitents are excluded. Prayers are answered because Christ offers to the Father through and in the assembly and the community as “royal priesthood” and adopted children in Christ participate. Christ is the one who offers and is offered, who receives and is received (Liturgy .of Basil and Chrysostom) but they are inseparable from Him. (cf.Gal.3.27;4.6).
  3. In the Eastern Eucharistic canons, the invocation of the Spirit  (epiclesis) is not an invocation on the bread and wine only, but also on the assembly and the elements. Because bread and wine are not the elements to be transformed independently of the gathered community.

In Christological terms the Eucharistic action implies that (i) the Son of God brings the assumed human nature to His Father in a sacrifice offered once for all.

(ii) Those who have received the same glorified nature by adoption (thesei) or by grace (chariti) are jointing that one High Priest through the power of the Spirit who anointed him as Christ. The same Spirit anoints all the faithful within the communion of the Body of Christ.

Different views on the sacrifice of Eucharist

  1. West- Atonement. The sacrifice on the cross, because He was God, was sufficient before God to atone for the sins of all. In this view, God and creation remain naturally external to one another and the work of Christ is seen as a satisfaction of an abstract notion of divine justice.
  2. East- Restoration.  as an act of divine forgiveness. Redemption was conceived not as an exchange but as a reconciliation and an act of divine forgiveness (Nicholas of Methone). God did not receive something form us … we did not go to him (to make an offering ) but he condescended toward us and assumed our nature, no as a condition of reconciliation, but in order to meet us openly in the flesh.

Golgotha is not simply the price, but only the ultimate point of God’s identification with the fallen humanity, which is followed by the resurrection and is part of entire economy or plan of salvation. The Byzantine Synodikon of Orthodoxy (a solemn annual doctrinal declaration ) affirms that Christ reconciled us to Himself by means of the whole mystery of the economy and by Himself and in Himself reconciled us to His  Father and to the most Holy and life giving Spirit. Christ’s  sacrifice is unique because it is not an isolated action but the culminating point of an economy that includes the OT preparation, the incarnation, the death, resurrection and presence of the Holy Christ in the Church.

            The new life brought by Christ is offered freely, but it must be freely received through personal conversion and appropriated through personal ascetical effort. Eastern monasticism insisted on this personal dimension of christian experience. In this sense we have to understand the doctrine of deification.

 Eastern Liturgical Theology

 

In 988 when the ambassadors of Prince Vladimir of Kiev attended the liturgy at Hagia Sophia, said that they did not know whether they were “still on earth or in heaven”. This is an apt illustration of the influence of liturgy in the Eastern Churches.  For the experience of the liturgy was precisely the experience of the Christianity and thus it became the very possibility and source for the knowledge of God and for participation in divine life itself. This is the meaning of Eastern concept of theosis, or divinization, and liturgy was perceived as its most perfect expression and realization. This is also why liturgy and theology remain so closely linked in the East, for one is not considered possible without the other. Baptism and Eucharist are the source and summit of the Christian life. Baptism is the  means by which one is made a member of the Church. The Eucharist is the means by which one affirms  this membership and experiences it.

Baptism

In the East the unitive aspect of the sacrament is stressed. The rites of initiation comprising Baptism, Chrismation (confirmation) and Eucharist are seen as one continuous action. Initiation marks the entrance of the Body of Christ and its culmination is the sharing of Eucharistic banquet which is open to all the baptized including the infants. In the East these actions remain inseparable.

During the first centuries East and West followed divergent practices in the rite itself. The Early Western practice consisted of water baptism, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. In the East, the order was reversed and anointing often preceded baptism: (cf. Acts of Judas Thomas – 3c, Didaschalia – 3c The Syriac acts of John – early 4c.) There is reference to the prebaptismal anointing in the  Acts of the Apostles, 10,44-48; 9, 17-18.

So there was divergence in practice, but it did not create any difficulty, for as long as the unity of the rite was maintained it mattered little how the various elements were distributed through the actual rites.

In the East before 4th c. baptism was seen primarily as a reenactment of Christ’s baptism in Jordan. The font is called the womb out of which a new  person emerges, the son of God. (cf. Didaschalia Apostolorum p.352). “Through the bishop the Lord gives the Holy spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we know God and are sealed and  becomes sons of light. Through baptism and by imposition of hand of the bishop the Lord says; Thou art my son, this day I have begotten you”.Baptism bringers forth of the new man and establisher of the new man in the Trinity {Acts of Thomas}.Theodore of Mopsuetia speaks of baptismal font the womb which introduces the Christian in the new life.

After the victory of the church (313) there was a massive influx of new members into the church and there were several theological disputes. These exercised significant influence both on the rites and especially on the theology behind them. The church had to adapt to these new conditions, to provide her new members with proper teaching and to develop adequate rites and explanations.

The process of the historicization of the Liturgy was felt most strongly in Jerusalem. Churches were built in Holy places. And they became centres of the pilgrimage. The liturgies especially of the Holy Week became largely a reenactment of the Gospel events with colorful procession. This type of stational liturgy had a powerful effect on witnesses and the liturgies of Rome and Constantinople soon patterned after it. The calendar, particularly the cycle of fixed feasts, owes much of its development to this phenomenon of historicization. This also marks a shift from a primarily eschatological emphasis in feasts to a more historical one.

The historicizing trend strongly influenced the understanding of baptism. The baptismal rite with its procession to the font, triple immersion and emersion, began to be interpreted as the reenactment of the death and resurrection of Christ basing on  Rom, 6. St.Cyril of Jerusalem applied this theology to the liturgical ceremony in Jerusalem:

          Movement to the font – Procession bearing the body of Christ to the tomb.

           Triple immersion – three days sojourn in then grave.

           The emerging from the pool –sign of resurrection.

Thus our baptism is an imitation (mimesis) of Christ’s suffering in figure. This historicizing trend is also seen in Ambrose, Chrysostom and  Theodore of Mopsuetia.

This was also part of the response by the Church to the massive influx of new members, to whom the mystery of Christ had to be explained in an attractive and  dramatic fashion. It was also to stress the historical basis of Christianity. This approach was pastoral rather than systematic accordjing to the need of the people

               . These factors led in the 4th century to the development of a new type of literature – catechetical literature. This was made necessary by the large number of converts who had to go through a period of preparation. The final stage of this period   (catechumanate ) took place during Lent. This consisted of fasting, exorcisms, reading of scripture and instruction. At the Easter vigil baptism took place. Then neophytes participated the Eucharist at the Constantine – Bascilica. During the Octave of Easter they had to assemble everyday to hear the explanations of the mysteries.

Several conclusions  can be drawn from this:

  1. the message of Christianity was revealed in a liturgical context – a characteristic of  Eastern Churches also today.
  2. scripture was read and explained in a liturgical context.
  3. the experience of liturgy, of baptism, of Eucharist, preceded any explanation of them. The liturgical rites existed before their explanations. They are secondary, and can be changed to accommodate the pastoral and polemical needs of each age.

The great catechists applied the method of scriptural exegesis to the liturgy especially to the visible actions of the rite. From the time of Origen the two types/senses of Scripture were referred  to : 1.literal or historical

                                            2.spiritual, mystical or allegorical

Later spiritual sense was subdivided into three aspects :

                                            1. allegorical – dogmatic aspect

                                            2. tropological – moral and spiritual aspect.

                                            3. anagogical – eschatological aspect.

From 4th century this became the traditional method in the East. In Cyril’s description of the stripping of candidate before baptism we can see how this method is applied to the baptismal rite – putting off of the old man with his deeds – it provides the tropological or moral level. Nakedness of Christ on the cross – allegorical or dogmatic sense.

This method was useful and attractive but also has dangers particularly when the individual elements of a rite begin to be seen in isolation from the rites as a whole, which does happen later.

After 4th C. we find little literature on Baptism because of child baptism. Hence the need for baptismal catechism declined and the catechumanate disappeared. The result, in both East and West, was that baptism began to be taken for granted and thus began to use its prominent position in the theology of the church. In this period there began the difference in approach to the rites of initiation between East and West.

Under St. Augustine’s influence the West began to understand baptism chiefly as the remission of sins. Thus the theology of baptism became primarily negative. The child was considered guilty and need palliative baptism. When confirmation was reserved to the bishop, the rite of initiation was split into distant elements. This, in turn, led to the withholding of the Eucharist from children until after t hey completed the process of initiation.

The East saw the consequences of original sin not as guilt but as mortality. Guilt is only acquired through the personal exercise of a free will through personal sin. So for the East baptism is not a remission from the guilt, but liberation from mortality and incorporation into the life of the Church. This is eminently positive theology. St John. Chrysostom  ( Baptismal catechesis 3,5-6.) says: “The baptized is free person, citizen of the church; saint, just, son, heir, brother of Christ, and coheir of Christ, member, temple, and instrument of the Holy Spirit”. The baptized person is called to theosis – deification – participation in the divine life itself.

The Apostolic Constitution (380) makes no mention of original sin, but places strong emphasis on good christian education and formation. Baptism is a free gift, a promise of a new life, and does not depend on human choice. So the baptismal formula in the East is in deprecatory form  – the servant of God…. This indicates that baptism comes from divine initiative to which the christian is in turn called to respond.

The East sees baptism as a Trinitarian act. It is the gift of the Son, by the Father, made effective by the Holy Spirit. .eg. Trinitarian formula. The prayers for consecration of water and chrism are strongly epicletic – asking Father to send down the Holy Spirit. The baptized like Christ in the Jordan, are anointed by and with the Holy Spirit. Joined to Christ and filled with the Spirit, the christian begins the process of human divinization.