Papist Orthodoxy

November 3, 2009

THE DOMESTIC CHURCH (PART 2): THE UNIVERSAL CALL TO RELIGIOUS LIFE

Filed under: domestic church, Liturgy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:56 am

According to Christians of the East, both Catholic and Orthodox, the Domestic Church is the Christian family comprising the smallest unit of the Christian community based upon the dictates of Our Lord as found in St. Matthew’s Gospel (18:20): “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Based on this, logic clearly shows that essentially the Christian home is the gathering of two or more people because of and in the name of Christ. As the smallest extant example of the Church, it has in its microcosm the same general duties of, let’s say, a parish church: worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy.

It is here that the notion of the “universal call to religious life” is to be understood. Too often Christians misinterpret this “universal call” as a universal call to some version of monasticism or priestly (ministerial) life, as if this is all that comprises what is “religious” or what is Christian. The laity, by this mindset, are relegated to something that has to be tolerated — as a group that should show up and shut up — “pay, pray, and obey” — for the laity are “weak” since they did not follow the “universal call” but instead accepted the barely tolerable state of the lay, family life. This attitude is regularly conveyed if not outright spoken. This attitude, my friends, is nothing short of CLERICALISM and is condemned by the Church. In spite of the efforts of various Popes going back to Bl. Pius IX to curtail this error, it seems that many Catholics embrace this attitude and dub it as “traditional”. “Traditional” because of what –it’s antiquity? Heresy is ancient too.

Further, some of my friends and I have been told that we must have a vocation to the ministerial priesthood because we pray, read the Bible, and go the Divine Liturgy/Mass regularly. The normal has become mistaken for the extraordinary (and folks, I’ll be the first to admit that I could afford to spend more time praying — so in this I do not feel I even meet what should be the “norm”), and the universal call of the Christian is mistaken for the special call to the ordained life. Fulfilling the basic norms of the Christian, whatever his state, is not a sign of a special calling to the priesthood or monastic life.

The universal call to the religious life is nothing more than what is fulfilled in a loving and devout Christian home, the Domestic Church: worship, Christian fellowship, charity, education in the faith, growth in virtue, evangelism, hospitality and works of mercy. St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism, even says that the Christian home, too, is to be “a school for the Lord’s service”. We are ALL called to the religious life; however, NOT ALL  are called to be monks and nuns. Yes, shocking as it may be to some…marriage is a VOCATION and a SACRAMENT.

The universal call to the religious life is best exemplified in prayer; and in the Domestic Church, it is the prayer of the family. What prayer? Which prayers? Well, any really; but if you want to “bring the Church home”, as it were, then bring the prayer of the Church home as best epitomized in the liturgies. The most ancient practice of this, both East and West, was the praying of the psalter as a family around the house shrine, the icon corner, the home altar.  St. Hippolytus as far back as the second century makes reference to its common practice among the laity. The psalter, the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours as it is more commonly referred to today, is the official liturgical prayer of the Church, second ONLY to the Divine Liturgy/Mass due to its sacred origins. The Psalms are divine poetry composed by God through human instrumentality and directed back to God. Who better to praise God than God? Who better to instruct in Wisdom and show us the prophecies than God? So, instead of the smorgasborg of personal, private devotions for one’s morning and night prayers, why not pray Prime or Lauds for morning prayer and Vespers or Compline for night prayer? Why not pray it as a family? This is the Devotio Antiqua. If you do this, then those artificial distinctions between “lay spiritualities” and “monastic spiritualities” and “clerical spiritualities” disappear, for the spirituality simply becomes a scriptural and liturgical spirtuality — the spirituality of the Apostolic Fathers, the Desert Fathers, and the Fathers of the Church.

Yes, be a religious, for we are all called to pray and perform works of mercy. Some of us are even called to be monks, nuns, and priests.

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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.

October 5, 2009

The Trinitarian Work in the Sacred Liturgy

Filed under: Liturgy — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:45 pm

From the blog, New Liturgical Movement.

“Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed: DS 75; ND 16).” — Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 266


(“And the Lord appeared to him [Abraham] in the vale of Mambre as he was sitting at the door of his tent, in the very heat of the day. And when he had lifted up his eyes, there appeared to him three men standing near him: and as soon as he saw them he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and adored down to the ground. And he said: Lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant: But I will fetch a little water, and wash ye your feet, and rest ye under the tree. And I will set a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart, afterwards you shall pass on: for therefore are you come aside to your servant. And they said: Do as thou hast spoken.” — Genesis 18:1-5)

“In the Church’s liturgy the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated. The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and the end of all the blessings of creation and salvation. 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 Holy Spirit.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1082

“Christ, indeed, always associates the Church with himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the eternal Father.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1089

THE FATHER: SOURCE AND GOAL OF THE LITURGY

“1110. In the liturgy of the Church, God the Father is blessed and adored as the source of all the blessings of creation and salvation with which he has blessed us in his Son, in order to give us the Spirit of filial adoption.”

For the Rest of the article, go here.

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.

Roman Rite: Cardinal Says Communion Received Kneeling and on the Tongue is Most Reverent

Filed under: Doctrine, Liturgy — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:52 pm

From CNA.

Lima, Peru, Sep 22, 2009 / 01:31 pm (CNA).- In a homily Sunday at the Cathedral of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani said, “The most respectful manner of receiving the Eucharist is kneeling and on the tongue.  We must recover the respect and reverence that the Eucharist deserves, because the love of Jesus is the center of our Christian life.  The soul is at stake.”

Find rest of the article here.

Will “Third Rome” Reunite with “First Rome”?

Filed under: Doctrine, Papacy & Patriarchy — Tags: , , , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:43 pm

Might be a bit over-zealous. Nonetheless, there is reason to hope.  — Antiochian-Thomist

From Zenit.org.

Recent Meeting Could Mark Turning Point

By Robert Moynihan

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org)- Sometimes there are no fireworks. Turning points can pass in silence, almost unobserved.

It may be that way with the “Great Schism,” the most serious division in the history of the Church. The end of the schism may come more quickly and more unexpectedly than most imagine.

On Sept. 18, inside Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer palace about 30 miles outside Rome, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop named Hilarion Alfeyev, 43 (a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy, composer and lover of music), met with Benedict XVI, 82 (also a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy and lover of music), for almost two hours, according to informed sources. (There are as yet no “official” sources about this meeting — the Holy See has still not released an official communiqué about the meeting.)

The silence suggests that what transpired was important — perhaps so important that the Holy See thinks it isn’t yet prudent to reveal publicly what was discussed.

But there are numerous “signs” that the meeting was remarkably harmonious.

If so, this Sept. 18 meeting may have marked a turning point in relations between the “Third Rome” (Moscow) and the “First Rome” (Rome) — divided since 1054.

Archbishop Hilarion was in Rome for five days last week as the representative of the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

One key person Archbishop Hilarion met with was Cardinal Walter Kasper. On Sept. 17, the cardinal told Vatican Radio that he and Archbishop Hilarion had a “very calm conversation.”

Cardinal Kasper also revealed something astonishing: that he had suggested to the archbishop that the Orthodox Churches form some kind of “bishops’ conference at the European level” that would constitute a “direct partner of cooperation” in future meetings.

This would be a revolutionary step in the organization of the Orthodox Churches.

Papal-Patriarch encounter?

Cardinal Kasper said a Pope-Patriarch meeting was not on the immediate agenda, and would probably not take place in Moscow or Rome, but in some “neutral” place (Hungary, Austria and Belarus are possibilities).

Archbishop Hilarion himself revealed much about how his Rome visit was proceeding when he met on the evening of Sept. 17 (before his meeting with the Pope) with the Community of Sant’Egidio, an Italian Catholic group known for its work with the poor in Rome.

“We live in a de-Christianized world, in a time that some define — mistakenly — as post-Christian,” Archbishop Hilarion said. “Contemporary society, with its practical materialism and moral relativism, is a challenge to us all. The future of humanity depends on our response… More than ever before, we Christians must stand together.”

A report from Interfax, the news service of the Moscow Patriarchate, on Sept. 18 revealed that Archbishop Hilarion spoke to the Pope about “cooperation between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in the area of moral values and of culture” — in particular during the “Days of Russian Spiritual Culture,” a type of exhibit with lectures scheduled for spring 2010 in Rome. (One might imagine that the Pope himself could attend such an exhibition).

In memory of the visit, Archbishop Hilarion gave the Pope a pectoral cross, made in workshops of Russian Orthodox Church, the report said, Interfax reported.

Today, an Interfax report supplied details of Hilarion’s remarks this morning in the catacombs of St. Callixtus.

“Denied by the world, far from human eyes, deep under ground in caves, the first Roman Christians performed the feat of prayer,” Hilarion said. “Their life brought the fruit of holiness and martyr heroism. The Holy Church was built on their blood shed for Christ.”

Then the Church came out of the catacombs, but Christian unity was lost, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Hilarion said that human sin is the cause of all divisions, while Christian unity can be restored only in the way of sanctity.

“Each of us, conscientiously fulfilling a task the Church has given him or her, is called to personally contribute to the treasury of Christian sanctity and work to achieve God-commanded Christian unity,” the archbishop said.

A second Interfax report today added further information about the meeting with the Pope.

Growing influence

“During a talk with Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk pointed out the status of Orthodox believers in Western Ukraine where three Orthodox dioceses had been almost eliminated as a result of coercive actions of Greek Catholics in late 1980s and early 1990s,” Interfax reported.

Archbishop Hilarion “stated the need to take practical steps to improve the situation in Western Ukraine,” within the territories of Lvov, Ternopol and Invano-Frankovsk Dioceses, the report said.

Meanwhile, in Russia itself, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Kirill, seems to be growing, though not without opposition.

The rise in Russia of Kirill and his increasing influence in legislative matters seems to be arousing opposition from the “siloviki,” forces connected with the old KGB.

In an article in the current issue of Argumenty Nedeli, Andrey Uglanov says that Kirill’s extraordinary activity has attracted attention from some who do not like to have their positions questioned, let alone challenged. And that has become Kirill’s “big problem.”

These “siloviki,” Uglanov says, have been offended by Kirill’s “anti-Stalinist and anti-Bolshevik actions,” including his appearance at the Solovetsky stone in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square on the very Day of the Memory of the Victims of Political Repression.

In this context, Hilarion’s visit to Rome takes on even more importance.

The Russian Orthodox Church is a power in Russia, but it faces opposition and needs allies.

What is occurring in Hilarion’s visit to Rome, then, may have ramifications not only for the overcoming of the “Great Schism,” but also for the cultural, religious and political future of Russia, and of Europe as a whole.

It is especially significant, in this context, that Hilarion, Kirill’s “Foreign Minister,” has some of the same deep interests as Benedict XVI: the liturgy, and music.

“As a 15-year-old boy I first entered the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of Holies of the Orthodox Church,” Hilarion once wrote about the Orthodox liturgy. “But it was only after my entrance into the altar that the ‘theourgia,’ the mystery, and ‘feast of faith’ began, which continues to this very day.

“After my ordination, I saw my destiny and main calling in serving the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, everything else, such as sermons, pastoral care and theological scholarship were centered around the main focal point of my life — the liturgy.”

Liturgy

These words seem to echo the feelings and experiences of Benedict XVI, who has written that the liturgies of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in Bavaria when he was a child were formative for his entire being, and that his writing on the liturgy (one of his books is entitled “Feast of Faith”) is the most important to him of all his scholarly endeavors.

“Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard,” Hilarion has written. “I have had the opportunity to be present at both Protestant and Catholic services, which were, with rare exceptions, quite disappointing… Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, services in some Catholic churches have become little different from Protestant ones.”

Again, these words of Hilarion seem to echo Benedict XVI’s own concerns. The Pope has made it clear that he wishes to reform the Catholic Church’s liturgy, and preserve what was contained in the old liturgy and now risks being lost.

Hilarion has cited the Orthodox St. John of Kronstadt approvingly. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: “The Church and its divine services are an embodiment and realization of everything in Christianity… It is the divine wisdom, accessible to simple, loving hearts.”

These words echo words written by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, who often said that the liturgy is a “school” for the simple Christian, imparting the deep truths of the faith even to the unlearned through its prayers, gestures and hymns.

Hilarion in recent years has become known for his musical compositions, especially for Christmas and for Good Friday, celebrating the birth and the Passion of Jesus Christ. These works have been performed in Moscow and in the West, in Rome in March 2007 and in Washington DC in December 2007.

Closer relations between Rome and Moscow, then, could have profound implications also for the cultural and liturgical life of the Church in the West. There could be a renewal of Christian art and culture, as well as of faith.

All of this was at stake in the quiet meeting between Archbishop Hilarion and Benedict XVI on Friday afternoon, in the castle overlooking Lake Albano.

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 20, 2009

Roman Rite: No “State of Necessity”

Filed under: Doctrine, Liturgy, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 3:30 pm

In the Roman Rite, there exist several groups who hold traditional liturgical and doctrinal beliefs (thank God). However, there are divisions among them in regard to visible fidelity to the Holy Father. As a result, some of these groups operate outside canonical regularity and are thus not recognized by Rome as licit, most notable among them is the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) who argue that there is a crisis in the Church that causes a “state of necessity” which allows them to operate outside the visible bounds of Church law. In recent history, Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio, “Summorum pontificum”, liberating the traditional Roman form of the liturgy and sacraments, thus raising the question whether a “state of necessity”, that the SSPX asserts still exists, is a viable claim.

One religious group, the Transalpine Redemptorists who are now formally known as the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, have recently been canonically regularized with the Holy See. The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer are well trained in the dogmatic and moral theology of St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus. Their reunification after the issuance of the motu proprio is based primarily upon the assertion that the “state of necessity” no longer exists. Recently, they posted a brief argument for their claim against a publicized announcement from the SSPX. Part of it follows below.

— Antiochian-Thomist

No “State of Necessity”

In the September 2009 Newsletter of the SSPX in the UK Fr. Paul Morgan says that there is a state of necessity in the Church and he then uses the Editorial to announce to his readers that “the latest position of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer” is that we now claim that “the Society’s Confessions and Marriages are invalid!!”

Let us first state that there is no state of ‘necessity’ in the canonical sense of the word. This idea of necessity is an untraditional use of a canonical term that, like charity it is hoped, will cover a multitude of sins. But will it?

The present situation in the Church may be called a crisis but there is no justification since 14 September, 2007, for breaking Canon Law by exercising illegitimate and possibly even invalid ministry: adding thereby disorder to disorder.

The rest of the article can be found here.

The Holy Eucharist: Part 2, A Roman Orthodox & Catholic Presentation

Filed under: Doctrine, Liturgy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:58 am

From the “Original Catholic Encyclopedia”.

Name given to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar under its twofold aspect of sacrament and Sacrifice of the Mass

Eucharist (Gr. eucharistia, thanksgiving), the name given to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar under its twofold aspect of sacrament and Sacrifice of the Mass, and in which, whether as sacrament or sacrifice, Jesus Christ is truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. Other titles are used, such as the “Lord’s Supper” (Coena Domini), “Table of the Lord” (Mensa Domini), the “Lord’s Body” (Corpus Domini), and the “Holy of Holies” (Sanctissimum), to which may be added the following expressions, now obsolete and somewhat altered from their primitive meaning: “Agape” (Love-Feast), “Eulogia” (Blessing), “Breaking of Bread”, “Synaxis” (Assembly), etc.; but the ancient title “Eucharistia”, appearing in writers as early as Ignatius, Justin, and Irenaeus, has taken precedence in the technical terminology of the Church and her theologians. The expression “Blessed Sacrament of the Altar”, introduced by Augustine, is at the present day almost entirely restricted to catechetical and popular treatises. This extensive nomenclature, describing the great mystery from such different points of view, is in itself sufficient proof of the central position the Eucharist has occupied from the earliest ages, both in the Divine worship and services of the Church and in the life of faith and devotion which animates her members.

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September 19, 2009

History of Eucharistic Bread: Part 1

Filed under: Doctrine, Liturgy — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 11:22 pm

From the “Original Catholic Encyclopedia”.

Liturgical Use of Bread

In the Christian liturgy bread is used principally as one of the elements of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Bread, LITURGICAL USE OF.—In the Christian liturgy bread is used principally as one of the elements of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Our Divine Lord consecrated bread and wine at the Last Supper, and commanded His disciples to do the same in commemoration of Him, and thus ever since bread made of wheaten flour has been offered at the altar for the officiating priest to consecrate into the Body of the Lord. It is a debated question whether Christ used leavened or unleavened bread at the institution of the Holy Eucharist, since different conclusions may be drawn, on the one hand, from the Gospel of St. John and from the synoptic Gospels on the other. History does not establish conclusively what the practice of the Apostles and their early successors was, but it may be asserted with some probability that they made use of whatever bread was at hand, whether azymous or fermented. Different customs gradually began to grow up in different localities, and then became traditional and fixed. The Eastern Churches for the most part made use of leavened bread, as they still do, while the Western Churches declared their preference for unleavened bread. At the time of the schism this difference of practice gave rise to much discussion of the value of their respective claims in following the example of Christ, and fomented bitter controversy even in recent years. Either kind of bread is, of course, valid matter for the sacrifice, so the difference of usage should be of little dogmatic importance. (See Azymes).

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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