Papist Orthodoxy

October 29, 2009

ICON CORNER: A Beginning

Filed under: Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:41 pm

Below are some images of the beginning of our new “icon corner” or “icon wall”. These icons were blessed and heard the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Solitude Cloister & Retreat, a Melkite monastic foundation in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. These new “portals to heaven” are replicas of classic Greek icons.

Most of those who read this blog (all 6 of you) are Latin Rite Catholics and might be unfamiliar with the whole notion of the “icon corner” or the “icon wall”. They might even be unfamiliar with the theology of the icon. As a preface I have excerpted some articles on icons, iconography, and the icon wall.

The New Icon Corner

With an Italian iconographic crucifix, Christ the Life-Giver, and the All-Holy Theotokos.

From Orthodox Wiki via Agios Icons.

Iconography (from Greek: εικωνογραφία) refers to the making and liturgical use of icons, pictorial representations of Biblical scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the saints. Icons are usually two-dimensional images and may be made of paint, mosaic, embroidery, weaving, carving, engraving, or other methods. A person who practices the art of iconography is called an iconographer.

Images have always been a vital part of the Church, but their place was the subject of the Iconoclast Controversy in the 8th and 9th centuries, especially in the East. The Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent) every year celebrates the reestablishment of the Orthodox veneration of icons. The use of iconography is considered one of the most distinctive elements of the Byzantine Rite.

History

From the first centuries of Christianity, icons have been used for prayer. Orthodox Tradition tells us, for example, of the existence of an icon of the Christ during his lifetime, the Icon-Not-Made-With-Hands, and of the icons of the Theotokos immediately after him written by the All-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke.

Egyptian death masks

Historically, the icon is thought to be a descendant of the Egyptian death masks that were painted on mummies wrapped in strips of glue and powered gypsum soaked linen. This led to the traditional icon painting technique of gluing linen on a board, gessoing it, and painting on it. The Christian icon also inherited the cultic task of the ritual mask and exalted this task. The task that revealed the deified spirit of the deceased resting in eternity. The spiritual essence of the old Cult was transfigured into a new cultural image manifesting itself more perfectly than the old.

Unlike the mask, the Christian icon is not part of a mummy or sarcophagus, it does not need to connect to a saint’s body. No matter where on earth the saint’s remains are, and no matter the physical condition, his resurrected and deified body lives in eternity, and the icon that shows him forth does not merely depict the holy witness but is the very witness. It is not the icon, as art, that tells us anything, it is the saint, through the icon that is teaching. This window, to the resurrected, breaks when the icon itself is separated by the observer, from the saint it depicts. At that moment the icon just becomes another thing of this world. The vital connection between haven and earth disintegrates.

“Written” or “painted”?

The most literal translation of the word Greek: εικονογραφία (eikonographia) is “image writing,” leading many English-speaking Orthodox Christians to insist that icons are not “painted” but rather “written.” From there, further explanations are given that icons are to be understood in a manner similar to Holy Scripture—that is, they are not simply artistic compositions but rather are witnesses to the truth the way Scripture is. Far from being imaginative creations of the iconographer, they are more like scribal copies of the Bible.

While the explanation of the purpose and nature of icons is certainly true and consistent with the Church’s Holy Tradition, there is a linguistic problem with the insistence on the word written rather than painted. In Greek, a painted portrait of anyone is also a γραφή (graphi), and the art of painting itself is called ζωγραφική (zographiki) while any drawing or painting can be referred to as ζωγραφιά (zographia). Ancient Greek literally uses the same root word to refer to the making of portraits and the making of icons, but distinguishes whether it is “painting from life” (ζωγραφιά) or “painting icons” (εικονογραφία). Thus, from a linguistic point of view, either all paintings—whether icons or simple portraits—are “written” or (more likely) “painted” is a perfectly usable English translation, simply making a distinction between the painting appropriate for icons and that appropriate for other kinds of painting, just as Greek does.

Some have suggested that icon writing be used because of the fact that for many centuries, (whether the early Church, the persecutions against the Christians by the pagan authorities, or more recently around the Orthodox World when the faithful have been subjected to non-Orthodox authority), icons were the books of the illiterate and through the depiction of an often simple image refer to and confirm the fundamental belief of the Church; the Incarnation. God’s becoming human, his undertaking and sanctifying of human nature and matter in general means that He can be depicted using matter.

The New Icon Corner

A close view of the icons with a traditional lantern.

And now an article on the “icon corner”. This also comes to us from Wikipedia via Agios Icons.

The Icon Corner (Greek: εικονοστάσι) is a small worship space prepared in the homes of Eastern Orthodox or Greek-Catholic Christians.

The Book of Acts and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul record that in the early Church, Christians used to meet in the homes of the faithful. (Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7-12, I_Corinthians 16:19, etc.) This tradition of the “House Church” continues to this day in Eastern Christianity. The home is considered to be a microcosm of the Church. The parents (both the husband and the wife) are the “clergy” of the house church, and the children are the “laity.” The wedding ceremony (“crowning”) is analogous to Ordination, and the house is blessed with a rite that is based upon the Consecration of a Church. Once a year, the priest will come to bless the house with Theophany Water.

An Orthodox Christian is expected to pray constantly. According to Bishop Kallistos Ware, “[I]n Orthodox spirituality, [there is] no separation between liturgy and private devotion.”[1] Thus the house, just like the Temple (church building), is considered to be a consecrated place, and the center of worship in the house is the Icon Corner.

An Icon Corner is normally oriented to face east. It is often located in a corner to eliminate worldly distractions and allow prayer to be more concentrated. Here is where the icons that the family owns should be located, normally including at least icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the Patron Saint(s) of the family. An oil lamp normally hangs in front of the icons. The careful trimming of the lamp to keep it burning at all times is interpreted as symbolic of the attentive daily care faithful Christians should take over their souls. Relics of saints (if the family possesses any) and a Gospel Book and a blessing cross would be kept there, as well as incense, holy water, palms and pussywillow from Palm Sunday, candles from Pascha (Easter), and other sacred items, as well as a personal Commemoration Book (containing the names of family and loved ones, both living and departed, to be remembered in prayer).

Ideally, the Icon Corner is located so that it is visible when one first enters the house from the main entrance. Traditionally, when first entering the house, an Orthodox Christian would venerate the icons before greeting the members of the house.

A traditional Orthodox family will gather together every day for morning and evening prayers. Sometimes, at the end of the prayers, the head of the household will take the hand censer and cense the icons and all of the members of the household.

Often, in addition to the Icon Corner, a family will hang a small “Portal Icon” (usually of the Virgin and Christ Child) by the door, which is venerated by family and guests whenever going in or out of the house.

Notes

1.^ Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Penguin Books, London, 1964, ISBN 0-14-020592-6), p. 310.

With the lit lantern and the smoke of the incense rising with our prayers.

With lantern lit and the smoke of the incense rising with our prayers.

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Art & Architecture: A New Blog

I have found a new blog dedicated to beauty and order in the architectural arts. He (the owner of the blog) is a talented architect of enthusiasm and passion. I am happy to be able to call him “friend”. His name is Mr. Erik Bootsma, and I encourage all to look at his blog (beatusest.blogspot.com) which shows some samples of his fine work.

You can find the link to his site in the “blogroll” in the sidebar of this blog, or click on the image below to go to his blog. Enjoy.

October 13, 2009

Sacred Places: The Significance of the Church Building

Filed under: Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:00 pm

By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, currently reigning as His Holiness, Benedict XVI, the Pope of the Catholic Church.

From the Institute for Sacred Architecture.

Even the staunchest opponents of sacred things, of sacred space in this case, accept the Christian community needs a place to meet, and on that basis they define the purpose of a church building in a non-sacral, strictly functional sense. Church buildings, they say, make it possible for people to get together for the liturgy. This is without question an essential function of church buildings and distinguishes them from the classical form of the temple in most religions. In the Old Covenant, the high priest performed the rite of atonement in the Holy of Holies. None but he was allowed to enter, and even he could do so only once a year. Similarly, the temples of all the other religions are usually not meeting places for worshippers, but cultic spaces reserved to the deity. The Christian church soon acquired the name domus ecclesiae (the house of the Church, the assembly of the People of God), and then, as an abbreviation the word ecclesia (“assembly,” “church”) came to be used, not just of the living community but also of the building that housed it. This development is accompanied by another idea: Christ himself offers worship as he stands before the Father. He becomes his members’ worship as they come together with him and around him. This essential difference between the Christian place of worship and the temples of other religions must not, of course, be exaggerated into a false opposition. We must not suggest a break in the inner continuity of mankind’s religious history, a continuity that, for all the differences, the Old and New Testaments never abolish. In his eighteenth catechesis (23-25), St. Cyril of Jerusalem makes an interesting point about the word convocatio (synagoge-ekklesia, the assembly of the people called together and made his own by God). He rightly points out that in the Pentateuch, when the word first makes its appearance with the appointment of Aaron, it is ordered towards worship. Cyril shows that this applies to all the later passages in the Torah, and, even in the transition to the New Testament, this ordering is not forgotten. The calling together, the assembly, has a purpose, and that purpose is worship. The call comes from worship and leads back to worship. It is worship that unites the people called together and gives their being together its meaning and worth: they are united in that “peace” which the world cannot give. This also becomes clear in relation to that great Old and New Testament archetype of the ekklesia, the community on Sinai. They come together to hear God’s Word and to seal everything with sacrifice. That is how a “covenant” is established between God and man.

But instead of continuing with these theoretical considerations, let us look more closely at the process by which church buildings took concrete form. Using the research of E.L. Sukenik, Louis Bouyer has shown how the Christian house of God comes into being in continuity with the synagogue and thus acquires a specifically Christian newness, without any dramatic break, through communion with Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. This close connection with the synagogue, with its architectural structure and liturgical form, does not in any way contradict what we said about the Christian liturgy not just continuing the synagogue but also incorporating the Temple. For the Jews saw the synagogue in relation to the Temple. The synagogue was never just a place for instruction, a kind of religious classroom, as Bouyer puts it. No, its orientation was always towards the presence of God. Now, for the Jews, this presence of God was (and is) indissolubly connected with the Temple. Consequently, the synagogue was characterized by two focal points. The first is the “seat of Moses,” of which the Lord speaks in the Gospel (cf. Mt 23:2). The rabbi does not speak from his own resources. He is not a professor, analyzing and reflecting on the Word of God in an intellectual way. No, he makes present the Word that God addressed and addresses to Israel. God speaks through Moses today. What the seat of Moses stands for is this: Sinai is not just a thing of the past. It is not mere human speech that is happening here. God is speaking.

The seat of Moses, then, does not stand for itself and by itself, nor is it simply turned towards the people. No, the rabbi looks—as does everyone else in the synagogue—toward the Ark of the Covenant, or rather the shrine of Torah, which represents the lost Ark. Up to the Exile, the Ark of the Covenant, was the only “object” allowed inside the Holy of Holies. That is what gave the Holy of Holies its special dignity. The Ark was seen as an empty throne, upon which the Shekinah—the cloud of God’s presence—came down. The cherubim—representing as it were, the elements of the world—served as “assistants at the throne.” They were not self-subsistent deities, but an expression of the created powers that worship the only God. God is addressed as “thou who art enthroned between the cherubim.” The heavens cannot contain him, but he has chosen the Ark as the “footstool” of his presence. In this sense, the Ark embodies something like the real presence of God among his own. At the same time it is an impressive sign of the absence of images from the liturgy of the Old Testament, which maintains God in his sovereignty and holds out to him, so to speak, only the footstool of his throne. During the Exile, the Ark of the Covenant was lost, and from then on the Holy of Holies was empty. That is what Pompeius found when he strode through the Temple and pulled back the curtain. He entered the Holy of Holies full of curiosity and there, in the very emptiness of the place, discovered what is special about biblical religion. The empty Holy of Holies had now become an act of expectation, of hope, that God himself would someday restore his throne.

The synagogue, in its shrine of the Torah, contains a kind of Ark of the Covenant, which means it is the place of a kind of “real presence.” Here are kept the scrolls of the Torah, the living Word of God, through which he sits on his throne in Israel among his own people. The shrine is surrounded, therefore, with signs of reverence befitting the mysterious presence of God. It is protected by a curtain, before which burn the seven lights of the menorah, the seven-branch candlestick. Now the furnishing of the synagogue with an “Ark of the Covenant” does not in any way signify the local community has become, so to speak, independent, self-sufficient. No, it is the place where the local community reaches out beyond itself to the Temple, to the commonality of the one People of God as defined by the one God. The Torah is in all places one and the same. And so the Ark points beyond itself, to the one place of its presence that God chose for himself—the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. This Holy of Holies, as Bouyer puts it, remained the “ultimate focus of the synagogal worship” (p. 15). “Thus have all the synagogues, at the time of the Lord and since that time, have been oriented” (p. 15). The rabbi and the people gaze at the “Ark of the Covenant,” and in so doing, they orient themselves toward Jerusalem, turn themselves toward the Holy of Holies in the Temple as the place of God’s presence for his people. This remained the case even after the destruction of the Temple. The empty Holy of Holies had already been an expression of hope, and so, too, now is the destroyed Temple, which waits for the return of the Shekinah, for its restoration by the Messiah when he comes.

The orientation towards the Temple, and thus the connection of the synagogue’s liturgy of the Word with the sacrificial liturgy of the Temple, can be seen in its form of prayer. The prayers said at the unrolling and reading of the scrolls of Scripture developed out of the ritual prayers originally linked to sacrificial actions in the Temple and now regarded, in accord with the tradition of the time without the Temple, as an equivalent of sacrifice. The first of the two great prayers of the synagogue rite comes to a climax in the common recitation of the Kiddush, of which the hymn of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6 and the hymn of the cherubim in Ezekiel chapter 3 are a part. Bouyer makes this comment: “But the truth must be that the association of men with these heavenly canticles, in the worship of the Temple, had probably been a central figure of the offering of the sacrifice of incense morning and evening of every day” (p. 22). Who would not be reminded of the Trisagion of the Christian liturgy, the “thrice holy” hymn at the beginning of the Canon? Here the congregation does not offer its own thoughts or sharing in the cosmic song of praise of the cherubim and seraphim. The other great prayer of the synagogue culminates in “the recitation of the Abodah which, according to the rabbis, was formerly the consecration prayer of the daily burnt offering in the Temple” (p. 22). The petition added to it about the coming of the Messiah and the final restoration of Israel may be seen “as the expression of the essence of the sacrificial worship” (p. 22). Let us remind ourselves here of that transition from animal sacrifices to “worship in harmony with the logos” which characterizes the path from the Old Testament into the New. Finally, we must mention the fact that no special architectural form was created for the synagogue. The “typical Greek building for public meetings: the basilica,” was used (p. 17). Its aisles, divided off by rows of columns, enabled people entering the building to circulate around it.

I have lingered over this description of the synagogue because it exhibits already the essential and constant features of Christian places of worship. Once again we see clearly the essential unity of the two Testaments. Not surprisingly, in Semitic, non-Greek Christianity, the original form of church buildings generally retains the close connection of church with synagogue, a pattern of religious continuity and innovation. (I am thinking here of the Monophysite and Nestorian Churches of the Near East, which broke away from the Church of the Byzantine Empire during the Christological debates of the fifth century.) Christian faith produced three innovations in the form of the synagogue as we have just sketched it. These give Christian liturgy its new and proper profile. First of all, the worshipper no longer looks towards Jerusalem. The destroyed Temple is no longer regarded as the place of God’s earthly presence. The Temple built of stone has ceased to express the hope of Christians; its curtain is torn forever. Christians look toward the east, the rising sun. This is not a case of Christians worshipping the sun but of the cosmos speaking of Christ. The song of the sun in Psalm 19(18) is interpreted as a song about Christ when it says, “[The sun] is coming forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. …Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them” (vv. 5f.). This psalm proceeds directly from applauding creation to praising the law. Christians interpret it in terms of Christ, who is the living word, the eternal Logos, and thus the true light of history, who came forth in Bethlehem from the bridal chamber of the Virgin Mother and now pours out his light on all the world. The east supersedes the Jerusalem Temple as a symbol. Christ, represented by the sun, is the place of the Shekinah, the true throne of the living God. In the Incarnation, human nature truly becomes the throne and seat of God, who is thus forever bound to the earth and accessible to our prayers. In the early Church, prayer towards the east was regarded as an apostolic tradition. We cannot date exactly when this turn to the east, the diverting of the gaze from the Temple, took place, but it is certain that it goes back to the earliest times and was always regarded as an essential characteristic of Christian liturgy (and indeed of private prayer). This “orientation”1 of Christian prayer has several different meanings. Orientation is, first and foremost, a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. It expresses the basic Christological form of our prayer.

The fact that we find in Christ the symbol of the rising sun is the indication of a Christology defined eschatologically. Praying towards the east means going to meet the coming Christ. The liturgy, turned towards the east, effects entry, so to speak, into the procession of history we encounter in Christ. It is a prayer of hope, the prayer of the pilgrim as he walks in the direction shown by the life, Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Thus very early on, in parts of Christendom, the eastward direction for prayer was given added emphasis by a reference to the Cross. This may have come from linking Revelation 1:7 with Matthew 24:30. In the first of these, the Revelation of St. John, it says: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Here the seer of the Apocalypse depends on John 19:37, where, at the end of the account of the Crucifixion, the mysterious text of the prophet Zechariah (12:10) is quoted, a text that suddenly acquired a wholly new meaning: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” Finally, in Matthew 24:30 we are given these words of the Lord: “[T]hen [on the Last Day] will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn [cf. Zech 12:10], and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven [cf. Dan 7:13] with power and great glory.” The sign of the Son of Man, of the Pierced One, is the Cross, which has now become the sign of victory of the Risen One. Thus the symbolism of the Cross merges with that of the east. Both are an expression of one and the same faith, in which the remembrance of the Pasch and of Jesus makes it present and gives dynamism to the hope that goes out to meet the One who is to come. But finally, this turning toward the east also signifies that cosmos and saving history belong together. The cosmos is praying with us. It, too, is waiting for redemption. It is precisely this cosmic dimension that is essential to Christian liturgy. It is never performed solely in the self-made world of man. It is always a cosmic liturgy. The theme of creation is embedded in Christian prayer. It loses its grandeur when it forgets this connection. That is why, wherever possible, we should definitely take up again the apostolic tradition of facing the east, both in the building of churches and in the celebration of the liturgy. We shall come back to this later, when we say something about the ordering of liturgical prayer.

The second innovation in regard to the synagogue is as follows. A new element has appeared that could not exist in the synagogue. At the east wall, or in the apse, there now stands an altar on which the Eucharistic Sacrifice is celebrated. As we saw, the Eucharist is an entry into the liturgy of heaven; by it we become contemporaries with Jesus Christ’s own act of worship, into which, through his Body, he takes up worldly time and straightaway leads it beyond itself, snatching it out of its own sphere and enfolding it into the communion of eternal life. Thus the altar signifies the entry of him who is the Orient into the assembled community and the going out of the community from the prison of this world through the curtain now torn open, a participation in the Pasch, the “passing over” from the world to God, which Christ has opened up. It is clear that the altar in the apse both looks towards the Oriens and forms part of it. In the synagogue the worshippers looked beyond the “Ark of the Covenant,” the shrine of the Word, towards Jerusalem. Now, with the Christian altar, comes a new focal point. Let us say again: on the altar, where the Temple had in the past foreshadowed, is now present in a new way. Yes, it enables us to become the contemporaries of the Sacrifice of the Logos. Thus it brings heaven into the community assembled on earth, or rather it takes that community beyond itself into the communion of saints of all times and places. We might put it this way: the altar is the place where heaven is opened up. It does not close off the church, but opens it up—and leads into the eternal liturgy. We shall have more to say about the practical consequences of the Christian altar, because the question of the correct position for the altar is at the center of postconciliar debate.

But first we must finish what we were saying about the different ways in which Christian faith transformed the synagogue. The third point to be noted is that the shrine of the Word remained, even with regard to its position in the church building. However, there is a fundamental innovation here. The Torah is replaced by the Gospels, which alone can open up the meaning of the Torah. “Moses,” says Christ, “wrote of me” (Jn 5:46). The shrine of the Word, the “Ark of the Covenant,” now becomes the throne of the Gospel. The Gospel does not, of course, abolish the “Scriptures,” nor push them to one side, but rather interprets them, so that henceforth and forever they form the Scriptures of Christians, without which the Gospel would have no foundation. The practice in the synagogue of covering the shrine with a curtain, in order to express the sacredness of the Word, is retained. Quite spontaneously, the new, second holy place, the altar, is surrounded by a curtain, from which, in the Eastern Church, the Iconostasis develops. The fact that there are two holy places had significance for the celebration of the liturgy. During the Liturgy of the Word, the congregation gathered around the shrine of the Sacred Books, or around the seat associated with it, which evolved quite spontaneously from the seat of Moses to the bishop’s throne. Just as the rabbi did not speak by his own authority, so the bishop expounds the Bible in the name, and by the mandate, of Christ. Thus, from being a written word from the past, it again becomes what it is: God’s addressing us here and now. At the end of the Liturgy of the Word, during which the faithful stand around the bishop’s seat, everyone walks together with the bishop to the altar, and now the cry resounds: “Conversi ad Dominum,” Turn towards the Lord! In other words, look towards the east with the bishop in the sense of the words from the epistle to the Hebrews: “[Look] … to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). The Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated as we look up to Jesus. It is our looking up to Jesus. Thus, in early church buildings, the liturgy has two places. First the Liturgy of the Word takes place at the center of the building. The faithful are grouped around the bema, the elevated area where the throne of the Gospel, the seat of the bishop and the lectern are placed. The Eucharistic celebration takes place in the apse, at the altar, where the faithful “stand around.” Everyone joins with the celebrant in facing east, towards the Lord who is to come.

Finally, we must mention one last difference between the synagogue and the earliest church buildings. In Israel, only the presence of men was deemed to be necessary for divine worship. The common priesthood described in Exodus chapter 19 was ascribed to them alone. Consequently, in the synagogue, women were only allowed into the tribunes or galleries. As far as the apostles were concerned, as far as Jesus himself is concerned, there was no such discrimination in the Church of Christ. Even though the public Liturgy of the Word was not entrusted to women, they were included in the liturgy in the same way as men. And so now they had a place—albeit in separation from men—in the sacred space itself, around both the bema and the altar.

Finis.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, regarded as one of the world’s foremost theologians, has written numerous books and articles on theology and spirituality. He currently reigns as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

This article can be found as Part II, Chapter 2 of Pope Benedict XVI’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy, available from Ignatius Press.

1. The word “orientation” comes from oriens, “the East.” “Orientation” means “east-ing,” turning towards the east.

September 22, 2009

“Twelve Differences”

This comes to us from Vivificat! via Orrologion via Eirenikon. — Antiochian-Thomist

Fr. Alvin Kimel publishes on the blog, Pontifications.

Fr. Alvin Kimel on the “Twelve Differences”

Originally posted by Irenaeus.

Orrologion has posted the original text of the “Twelve Differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches” by Teófilo de Jesús along with excellent responses to each of the twelve points from Fr Alvin Kimel, of Pontifications* fame, who in his extended period of discernment after leaving the Episcopal Church studied the claims of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in great depth.

Some excerpts:

On Primacy. Is it true that the Orthodox Church rejects totally any understanding of ecclesial headship? What about the bishop of a diocese? Does he not wield and embody a divine authority given to him by Christ Jesus? Is he not the head of his community, which precisely is the Church? And when Catholics speak of the Pope as the earthly head of the Church, are they in any way denying that Christ alone is properly head of the Church? When Catholics speak of the primacy of the Pope, are they exalting the Pope above the Episcopate, as if their power and authority derived from him? And are Orthodox theologians incapable of entertaining an authentic primacy within the episcopal college for the bishop of Rome? …

On Conciliarity. The Catholic Church understands the Church precisely as a communion of particular Churches and local dioceses; moreover, the Church as the universal Church is not to be understood as simply the sum or collection of all particular Churches: each diocese is itself a truly catholic body … Catholic ecclesiology is so much more complex and diverse than is sometimes appreciated …

On Original Sin. I’m sure there are differences between Catholic construals of anthropology and Orthodox construals of anthropology (please note the plural); but I do not believe that this is because the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches a forensic imputation of original sin and the Orthodox Church does not. Why do I say this? Because it is not at all clear to me that the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches the *forensic* imputation of Adam’s guilt to humanity. I know that some (many?) Catholic theologians have sometimes taught something like this over the centuries, but the Catholic Church has strained over recent decades to clarify the meaning of Original Sin not as the forensic transfer of Adam’s guilt but as the inheritance of the Adamic condition of real alienation from God–i.e., the absence of sanctifying grace … Important differences on the nature of original exist between St Augustine and magisterial Catholic teaching …

You can follow the rest of this article at Eirenikon or Orrologion.

September 21, 2009

The Antiochene Rite

Filed under: Liturgy, Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 1:29 am

From CatholiCity.com.

Antiochene Liturgy

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

The family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch begins with that of the Apostolic Constitutions; then follow that of St. James in Greek, the Syrian Liturgy of St. James, and the other Syrian Anaphorus. The line may be further continued to the Byzantine Rite (the older Liturgy of St. Basil and the later and shorter one of St. John Chrysostom), and through it to the Armenian use. But these no longer concern the Church of Antioch.

I. THE LITURGY OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS

The oldest known form that can be described as a complete liturgy is that of the Apostolic Constitutions. It is also the first member of the line of Antiochene uses. The Apostolic Constitutions consist of eight books purporting to have been written by St. Clement of Rome (died c. 104). The first six books are an interpolated edition of the Didascalia (“Teaching of the Apostles and Disciples”, written in the first half of the third century and since edited in a Syriac version by de Lagarde, 1854); the seventh book is an equally modified version of the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, probably written in the first century, and found by Philotheos Bryennios in 1883) with a collection of prayers. The eighth book contains a complete liturgy and the eighty-five “Apostolic Canons”. There is also part of a liturgy modified from the Didascalia in the second book. It has been suggested that the compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions may be the same person as the author of the six spurious letters of St. Ignatius (Pseudo-Ignatius). In any case he was a Syrian Christian, probably an Apollinarist, living in or near Antioch either at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. And the liturgy that he describes in his eighth book is that used in his time by the Church of Antioch, with certain modifications of his own. That the writer was an Antiochene Syrian and that he describes the liturgical use of his own country is shown by various details, such as the precedence given to Antioch (VII, xlvi, VIII, x, etc.); his mention of Christmas (VIII, xxxiii), which was kept at Antioch since about 375, nowhere else in the East till about 430 (Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien, 248); the fact that Holy Week and Lent together make up seven weeks (V, xiii) as at Antioch, whereas in Palestine and Egypt, as throughout the West, Holy Week was the sixth week of Lent; that the chief source of his “Apostolic Canons” is the Synod of Antioch in encœniis (341); and especially by the fact that his liturgy is obviously built up on the same lines as all the Syrian ones. There are, however, modifications of his own in the prayers, Creed, and Gloria, where the style and the idioms are obviously those of the interpolator of the Didascalia (see the examples in Brightman, “Liturgies”, I, xxxiii-xxxiv), and are often very like those of Pseudo-Ignatius also (ib., xxxv). The rubrics are added by the compiler, apparently from his own observations.

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September 13, 2009

On Ancient Sacred Music: The Antiochian/Syriac Tradition

Filed under: Liturgy, Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:10 pm

The original article is from SyriacMusic.com.

History of Syriac Church Music

Music of the Syriac Orthodox Church is enriched and has a sterling history running from the beginning of our times derived from the ancient Sumerian and Acadian musical period.

Excavations proved that music in Mesopotamia began with the Sumerians in 4500 BC and that there were schools of music in that area since that time. Music used in many fields of life especially in the religious ceremonies where it played an imported role.

The Acadian octave (from one note to its equivalent in a higher register) was divided into 24-quartertones. Every eight keys formed a scale. These scales did not get over the entire octave; while they were built on the first four tones only (tetra chord). These tetra chords were combined thereafter with each other until they made up to 3000 different complete scales. A lot of them did not give musical satisfaction and were reduced to almost 200. Today about 10 are in use.

The early Christians sang different type of songs and especially from the Psaltery. It was decided in the early Church to pray and sing in Aramaic the “international” language at that time. Already though, with the establishing of Church, the Acadian seven-tones´ scale was used, the tones which came to Palestine probably with the returning Jews who were liberated by Cyrus about 539 BC. These scales have been used in Jerusalem from 444 BC.

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AC, the early believers moved to Antioch together with Peter the founder of Christian church of Antioch. At that time Antioch was an important bridge between east and west and the point of meeting for other cultures. After the entry of Christianity into the Middle East in the second-third Century, the Christian mass service in Antioch standardized by using the Acadian main tones but in a particular order.

Scales from Acadia took form of eight different tones, a new one for each Sunday, beginning from the Church Consecration’s Sunday (first Sunday in November). These eight scales became the basis of the oriental music which is used until today in all the Middle East, Iran, Greece, Turkey and North Africa.

Bar Dayson (154 – 222 AC) composed 150 hymns. His hymns were so popular that they were sung generations after him. He fell into conflict with the Syrian Orthodox Church management. St. Ephraim (303-373 AC) was the successor of Bar Dayson in introducing new form of music into Church and to eliminate Bar Dayson’s teachings. He wrote nearly thirty thousand hymns and established the women choir.

St. Ignatios I Nurono “the Illuminator” (68-107 AC) founded the two alternating choirs. The holy Chamoun Ibn Sabaghin from Babel entered thereafter this form to the Eastern Church in 341. He called choirs for “Chorous”. St. Ephram was followed by many famous church leaders like Rabula (360-435 AC), Shamoun Quqoyo (485-536 AC) and others. St. Jacob d’Orhoy (of Edessa) (+708) gathered all kinds of musical forms in the Syriac Orthodox Church and released them the current musical structure form .

All these hymns are protected today in the Beth Gazo (The Treasury of Chants) which contains up to 2500 different compositions, out of which about 700 or so survive. In the 1992 the Syriac Musician Nuri Iskandar released a notated Beth Gazo.

By: Dr. Abrohom Lahdo and Elias Zazi