Byzantine Rite

Last updated
An iconostasis separates the sanctuary from the nave in Byzantine Rite churches. Here is shown part of a six-row iconostasis at Uglich Cathedral. North Deacon's Door (left) and Holy Doors (right). Cathedral Uglich inside 01.jpg
An iconostasis separates the sanctuary from the nave in Byzantine Rite churches. Here is shown part of a six-row iconostasis at Uglich Cathedral. North Deacon's Door (left) and Holy Doors (right).

The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or Constantinopolitan Rite, is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Greek/Byzantine Catholic churches, and in a modified form, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism. [1] [2] Its development began during the fourth century in Constantinople and it is now the second most-used ecclesiastical rite in Christendom after the Roman Rite.

Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Byzantine Rite Lutheranism

Byzantine Rite Lutheranism refers to Lutheran Churches, such as those of Ukraine and Slovenia, that use a form of the Byzantine Rite as their liturgy. It is unique in that it is based on the Eastern Christian rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, while incorporating theology from the Divine Service contained in the Formula Missae, the base texts for Lutheran liturgics in the West.

The Byzantine Rite was originally developed and used in Greek language and later, with introduction of Eastern Orthodoxy to other ethnic groups it was translated into local languages and continued further development. Historically, most important non-Greek variants of Byzantine Rite are: Byzantine-Slavonic and Byzantine-Georgian. The rite consists of the divine liturgies, canonical hours, forms for the administration of sacred mysteries (sacraments) and the numerous prayers, blessings and exorcisms developed by the Church of Constantinople.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Orthodoxy adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion

Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means "conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church." The first seven ecumenical councils were held between the years of 325 and 787 with the aim of formalizing accepted doctrines.

Church Slavonic language Liturgical language of the Orthodox Church in Slavic countries

Church Slavonic, also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative Slavic sacred language used by the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. The language appears also in the services of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and occasionally in the services of the Orthodox Church in America. It was also used by the Orthodox Churches in Romanian lands until the late 17th and early 18th centuries as well as by Roman Catholic Croats in the Early Middle Ages. It is also co-used by Greek Catholic Churches, which are under Roman communion, in Slavic countries, for example the Croatian, Slovak and Ruthenian Greek Catholics, as well as by the Roman Catholic Church.

Also involved are the specifics of church architecture, icons, liturgical music, vestments and traditions which have evolved over the centuries in the Eastern Orthodox Church and which are associated with this rite. Traditionally, the congregation stands throughout the whole service, and an iconostasis separates the sanctuary from the nave of the church. The faithful are very active in their worship, making frequent bows and prostrations, and feeling free to move about the temple (church) during the services. Also, traditionally, the major clergy and monks neither shave nor cut their hair or beards.

Church architecture branch of architecture focused on church buildings

Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant objects of transformation for Christian architecture and design were the great churches of Byzantium, the Romanesque abbey churches, Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance basilicas with its emphasis on harmony. These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood. However, far more numerous were the parish churches in Christendom, the focus of Christian devotion in every town and village. While a few are counted as sublime works of architecture to equal the great cathedrals and churches, the majority developed along simpler lines, showing great regional diversity and often demonstrating local vernacular technology and decoration.

Icon religious work of art, generally a panel painting, in Eastern Christianity

An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes. Icons can represent various scenes in the Bible.

Liturgical music music genre

Liturgical music originated as a part of religious ceremony, and includes a number of traditions, both ancient and modern. Liturgical music is well known as a part of Catholic Mass, the Anglican Holy Communion service and Evensong, the Lutheran Divine Service, the Orthodox liturgy and other Christian services including the Divine Office. Such ceremonial music in the Judeo-Christian tradition can be traced back to both the Temple in Jerusalem and synagogue worship of the Hebrews.

Scripture plays a large role in Byzantine worship, with not only daily readings but also many quotes from the Bible throughout the services. The entire psalter is read each week, and twice weekly during Great Lent. Fasting is stricter than in the Roman Rite. On fast days, the faithful give up not only meat, but also dairy products, and on many fast days they also give up fish, wine and the use of oil in cooking. The rite observes four fasting seasons: Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast and Dormition Fast. In addition, most Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year are fast days and many monasteries also observe Monday as a fast day.

Psalter Volume containing the Book of Psalms and often other devotional material

A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar and litany of the Saints. Until the later medieval emergence of the book of hours, psalters were the books most widely owned by wealthy lay persons and were commonly used for learning to read. Many Psalters were richly illuminated and they include some of the most spectacular surviving examples of medieval book art.

Great Lent observance in Eastern Christianity

Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Byzantine Rite Lutheran Churches and the Eastern Catholic Churches, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha (Easter).

Nativity Fast Period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches

The Nativity Fast is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. The corresponding Western season of preparation for Christmas, which also has been called the Nativity Fast and St. Martin's Lent, has taken the name of Advent. The Eastern fast runs for 40 days instead of four or six weeks and thematically focuses on proclamation and glorification of the Incarnation of God, whereas the Western Advent focuses on the two comings of Jesus Christ: his birth and his Second Coming or Parousia.

History

There are two ancient liturgical traditions from which all of the Eastern Rites (plus the Gallican Rite in the West) developed: the Alexandrian Rite in Egypt and the Antiochene Rite in Syria. These two Rites developed directly from practices of the Early Church. Of these two traditions, the Rite of Constantinople developed from the Antiochene Rite. Prior to the see of Constantinople's elevation to the dignity of patriarch by the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, the primary jurisdiction in Asia Minor was the Patriarchate of Antioch. With the council's elevation of Constantinople to primacy in the East, with the words "The Bishop of Constantinople ... shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome", [3] the Constantinopolitan Rite gradually came to be the standard usage in every place under its jurisdiction.

The Gallican Rite is a historical version of Christian liturgy and other ritual practices in Western Christianity. It is not a single rite but a family of rites within the Latin Church, which comprised the majority use of most of Western Christianity for the greater part of the 1st millennium AD. The rites first developed in the early centuries as the Syriac-Greek rites of Jerusalem and Antioch and were first translated into Latin in various parts of the Western Roman Empire Praetorian prefecture of Gaul. By the 5th century, it was well established in the Roman civil diocese of Gaul, an early center of Christianity. Ireland too is known to have had a form of this Gallican Liturgy mixed with Celtic customs.

Alexandrian Rite liturgical rite used by the Coptic Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church

The Alexandrian Rite is the liturgical rite used by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, as well as by the three corresponding Eastern Catholic Churches.

Antiochene Rite family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch

Antiochene Rite or Antiochian Rite designates the family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Because the Rite of Constantinople evolved as a synthesis of two distinct rites cathedral rite of Constantinople called the "asmatiki akolouthia" ("sung services") and the monastic typicon of the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified near Jerusalem its offices are highly developed and quite complex.

Mar Saba monastery

The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba, is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley at a point halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, within the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. The monks of Mar Saba and those of subsidiary houses are known as Sabaites. Mar Saba is occasionally referred to as the Convent or Monastery of Santa Sabba.

Jerusalem City in the Middle East

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

Further developments continued to occur, centered mostly around Constantinople and Mount Athos. Monasticism played an important role in the development of the rituals. In Constantinople, the work of the monastery of the Studion greatly enriched the liturgical traditions, especially with regard to the Lenten observance. Iconography continued to develop and a canon of traditional patterns evolved which still influences Eastern religious art to this day.

Historical events have also influenced the development of the liturgy. The great Christological and Trinitarian controversies of Late Antiquity are reflected in the glorifications of the Trinity heard in the numerous ekphonies encountered during the services. In response to Nestorius' attack on giving the title of Theotokos to the Virgin Mary, the Byzantines increased the use of the term in the liturgy, and now almost every string of hymns ends with one in her honour, called a theotokion.

All liturgical rites change and develop over time. As new saints are canonized, new hymns are composed; as new needs arise, new prayers are written. The rite also profits from the fact that the Christian East is not so centralized in ecclesiastical polity as the West. This allows for greater diversity, and as members of one church visit another, a natural cross-pollination occurs with resultant enrichment on all sides. In spite of its great emphasis on tradition, the Byzantine Rite comprises a constantly growing and expanding ritual, with room for local practice.

Divine liturgies

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name. Meister der Sophien-Kathedrale von Ohrid 001.jpg
Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name.

The tradition of the Church of Constantinople ascribes the older of its two main Divine Liturgies to St. Basil the Great (d. 379), Metropolitan of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. This tradition is confirmed by the witness of several ancient authors, some of whom were contemporaries. [4] [5] [6] It is certain that St. Basil made a reformation of the Liturgy of his Church, and that the Byzantine service called after him represents his reformed Liturgy in its chief parts, although it has undergone further modification since his time. [7] St. Basil himself speaks on several occasions of the changes he made in the services of Cæsarea. [8] [9] and other contemporary witnesses attest his arrangement of the services. Basil had as his goal the streamlining of the services to make them more cohesive and attractive to the faithful. He also worked to reform the clergy and improve the moral life of Christians. He shortened the services and wrote a number of new prayers. The most important work attributed to him is the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. He took as his basis the Liturgy of St. James as it was celebrated at his time in the region of Cappadocia, as well as some liturgical elements recorded in the Apostolic Constitutions. [7]

Over time, the Liturgy of Saint Basil gained wide usage in Asia Minor and Syria. Peter the Deacon mentions that Basil's Liturgy was "used by nearly the whole East". [7] However, the Alexandrian rite uses another Liturgy which is also attributed to Saint Basil, [10] so Peter the Deacon's reference may not be to the Liturgy of St. Basil used in the Byzantine Rite.

Saint Basil's liturgical work was continued by John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (died c. 407) who wrote new (and shorter) prayers for the Divine Liturgy, as well as other prayers. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the most common form of the liturgy used in the rite today.

Divine liturgy

This tradition has several forms of the Divine Liturgy (celebration of the Eucharist), three of which are in use everywhere that the Byzantine Rite is used: the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

The divine liturgy is normally not celebrated daily except in cathedrals and larger monasteries. However, most parishes and smaller monasteries serve the Liturgy on Saturdays, Sundays, and major feast days throughout the year.

When a bishop officiates, the divine liturgy has an expanded form with particular solemnity; though other services are also affected by being officiated by a bishop, none is more so than the liturgy.

Daily office

Monks and seminarians on cliros. Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York Monks and Seminarians on Cliros in Jordanville.jpg
Monks and seminarians on cliros. Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York
Priest reciting the Prayer of Saint Ephrem in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis Priest reciting Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian.jpg
Priest reciting the Prayer of Saint Ephrem in front of the royal doors of the iconostasis

The daily cycle begins with vespers [note 1] and proceeds throughout the night and day according to the following table:

Name of service in GreekName of service in EnglishHistorical Time of serviceTheme [note 2]
Esperinos (Ἑσπερινός) Vespers At sunsetGlorification of God, the Creator of the world and its Providence
Apodipnon (Ἀπόδειπνον) Compline At bedtimeSleep as the image of death, illumined by Christ’s Harrowing of Hell after His death
Mesonyktikon (Μεσονυκτικόν) Midnight Office At midnightChrist’s midnight prayer in Gethsemane; a reminder to be ready for the Bridegroom coming at midnight and the Last Judgment
Orthros (Ὄρθρος) Matins or OrthrosMorning watches, ending at dawnThe Lord having given us not only daylight but spiritual light, Christ the Savior
Proti Ora (Πρώτη Ὥρα) First Hour (Prime)At ≈7 AMChrist's being brought before Pilate.
Triti Ora (Τρίτη Ὥρα) Third Hour (Terce)At ≈9 AMPilate's judgement of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which happened at this hour.
Ekti Ora (Ἕκτη Ὥρα) Sixth Hour (Sext)At noonChrist's crucifixion, which happened at this hour
Enati Ora (Ἐνάτη Ὥρα) Ninth Hour (None)At ≈3 PMChrist's death which happened at this hour.
Typica (τυπικά) or Pro-Liturgy [note 3] Typica follows sixth or ninth hour.

The typica is used whenever the divine liturgy is not celebrated at its usual time, i.e., when there is a vesperal liturgy or no liturgy at all. On days when the liturgy may be celebrated at its usual hour, the typica follows the sixth hour (or matins, where the custom is to serve the Liturgy then) and the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day are read therein; [note 4] otherwise, on aliturgical days or when the Liturgy is served at vespers, the Typica has a much shorter form and is served between the ninth hour and vespers. [note 5]

Also, there are Inter-Hours for the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours. These are services of a similar structure to, but briefer than, the hours. their usage varies with local custom, but generally they are used only during the Nativity Fast, Apostles Fast, and Dormition Fast on days when the lenten alleluia replaces "God is the Lord" at matins, which may be done at the discretion of the ecclesiarch when the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated.

In addition to these public prayers, there are also private prayers prescribed for both monastics and laypersons; in some monasteries, however, these are read in church. These include Morning and Evening Prayers and prayers (and, in Russia, canons) to be prayed in preparation for receiving the Eucharist.

The full cycle of services are usually served only in monasteries, cathedrals, and other Katholika (sobors). In monasteries and parishes of the Russian tradition, the Third and Sixth Hours are read during the Prothesis ( Liturgy of Preparation); otherwise, the Prothesis is served during matins, the final portion of which is omitted, the Liturgy of the Catechumens commencing straightway after the troparion following the Great Doxology.

The Midnight Office is seldom served in parishes churches except at the Paschal Vigil as the essential office wherein the burial shroud is removed from the tomb and carried to the altar.

Aggregates

The sundry Canonical Hours are, in practice, grouped together into aggregates [note 6] so that there are three major times of prayer a day: Evening, Morning and Midday. [note 7] The most common groupings are as follows:

Ordinary days

Weekdays during lent

  • Evening Great Compline
  • Morning Watches Midnight Office, Matins, First Hour
  • Morning Third Hour, Sixth Hour, Ninth Hour, Typica, Vespers (sometimes with the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts or, on the Annunciation, the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)

When there is an all-night vigil

On the eves before Great Feasts and, in some traditions, on all Sundays, this grouping is used. However, the All-night vigil is usually abridged so as to not last literally "all-night" and may be as short as two hours; on the other hand, on Athos and in the very traditional monastic institutions, that service followed by the hours and Liturgy may last as long as 18 hours.

  • Afternoon Ninth Hour, Little Vespers, [note 11] Compline (where it is not read at the commencement of the Vigil)
  • Early night Compline (where it is not the custom for it to follow small vespers), Great Vespers, [note 12] a reading, Matins, First Hour

When the royal hours are read

  • Evening Ninth Hour, Vespers, Compline
  • Morning Watches Midnight Office, Matins
  • Morning First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours and the Typica

On the eves of Christmas, Theophany, and Annunciation

When the feast is a weekday (or, in the Russian tradition, on any day for Christmas, Theophany), Vespers (with the Liturgy in most instances) is served earlier in the day and so Great Compline functions much as Great vespers does on the vigils of other feast days.

  • Evening Great Compline (in some traditions) and, if there be an All-Night Vigil, the reading, matins, first hour.
  • Morning Watches (unless there be an all-night vigil) midnight office, matins, first hour.

Sacraments and other services performed as needed

The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments)

Baptism

A baptism Russian-baptism.JPG
A baptism

Baptism transforms the old and sinful person into a new and pure one; the old life, the sins, any mistakes made are gone and a clean slate is given. Through Baptism a person is united to the Body of Christ by becoming a member of the Orthodox Church. During the service, water is blessed. The catechumen is fully immersed in the water three times, once in the name of each of the persons of the Holy Trinity. This is considered to be a death of the "old man" by participation in the crucifixion and burial of Christ, and a rebirth into new life in Christ by participation in his resurrection. [11] Properly a new name is given, which becomes the person's name.

Children of Orthodox families are normally baptized shortly after birth. Converts to Orthodoxy are usually formally baptized into the Orthodox Church, though exceptions are sometimes made. Those who have left Orthodoxy and adopted a new religion, if they return to their Orthodox roots, are usually received back into the church through the mystery of Chrismation.

Properly, the mystery of Baptism is administered by bishops and priests; however, in emergencies any Orthodox Christian can baptize. [12] In such cases, should the person survive the emergency, it is likely that the person will be properly baptized by a priest at some later date. This is not considered to be a second baptism, nor is it imagined that the person is not already Orthodox, but rather it is a fulfillment of the proper form.

The service of Baptism used in Orthodox churches has remained largely unchanged for over 1500 years. This fact is witnessed to by St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386), who, in his Discourse on the Sacrament of Baptism, describes the service in much the same way as is currently in use.

Chrismation

A chrismation Baptism at a Georgian church.jpg
A chrismation

Chrismation grants the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with Holy Chrism. [13] It is normally given immediately after baptism as part of the same service, but is also used to receive again lapsed members of the Orthodox Church. [14] As baptism is a person's participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, so Chrismation is a person's participation in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. [15]

A baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christian is a full member of the Church and may receive the Eucharist regardless of age. [15]

The sanctification of chrism may, in theory, be performed by any bishop at any time, but in longstanding practice is performed no more than once a year; by hierarchs most autocephalous while certain others obtain their chrism from another church. Anointing with it substitutes for the laying-on of hands described in the New Testament, the apostles having made the initial chrism, according to the prayer of consecration of chrism, laying their hands on it, to substitute for laying on of hands for sundry practices where only the apostles could perform said laying on of hands. [16]

Holy Communion (Eucharist)

Eucharistic elements prepared for the Divine Liturgy Liturgy St James 1.jpg
Eucharistic elements prepared for the Divine Liturgy
An icon of Holy Communion: "Receive the Body of Christ; taste the Fountain of Immortality." Koinonikon tou Paskha - <<Soma Khristou metalabete>>.JPG
An icon of Holy Communion: "Receive the Body of Christ; taste the Fountain of Immortality."

The Eucharist is at the center of Orthodox Christianity. In practice, it is the partaking of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the midst of the Divine Liturgy with the rest of the church. The bread and wine are believed to become the genuine Body and Blood of the Christ Jesus through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

Communion is given only to baptized Orthodox Christians who have prepared by fasting, prayer and confession and is administered with a spoon directly into the recipient's mouth from the chalice. [17] From baptism young infants and children are carried to the chalice to receive holy communion. [15]

Because of the Orthodox understanding of mankind's fallen nature in general those who wish to commune prepare themselves in a way that reflects mankind in paradise. First, they prepare by having their confession heard and the prayer of repentance read over them by a priest. They are encouraged to increase their prayer rule, adding the prescribed prayers in preparation for communing. Finally, they will fast completely from food, drink, and sexual activity from the evening, interpreted in sundry locations as from arising from sleep, or midnight, or from sunset the previous evening.

Confession

When one who has committed sins repents of them, wishing to reconcile themselves to God and renew the purity of their original baptisms, confess their sins to God before a spiritual guide who offers advice and direction to assist the individual in overcoming their sin, parish priests commonly function as spiritual guides, but such guides can be any person, male or female, who has been given a blessing to hear confessions. Spiritual guides are chosen very carefully as this is a mandate that once chosen must be obeyed. Having confessed, the priest lays his hands on the penitent's head while reciting the prayer of absolution.

Sin is a mistake made by the individual with the opportunity for spiritual growth and development. An act of Penance (epitemia), if the spiritual guide requires it, is never formulaic, but rather is directed toward the individual and their particular problem, as a means of establishing a deeper understanding of the mistake made, and how to effect its cure. Because full participatory membership is granted to infants, it is not unusual for even small children to confess; though the scope of their culpability is far less than an older child, still their opportunity for spiritual growth remains the same.

Marriage

The wedding of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna by Laurits Tuxen (1895, Hermitage).jpg
The wedding of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

From the Orthodox perspective, marriage is one of the holy mysteries or sacraments. As well as in many other Christian traditions, for example in the Roman Catholic Church, it serves to unite a woman and a man in eternal union and love before God, with the purpose of following Christ and His Gospel and raising up a faithful, holy family through their holy union. [18] [19] The church understands marriage to be the union of one man and one woman, and certain Orthodox leaders have spoken out strongly in opposition to the civil institution of same-sex marriage. [20] [21]

Jesus said that "when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mk 12:25). For the Orthodox Christian this passage should not be understood to imply that Christian marriage will not remain a reality in the Kingdom, but points to the fact that relations will not be "fleshy", but "spiritual". [19] Love between wife and husband, as an icon of relationship between Christ and Church, is eternal. [19]

The Church does recognize that there are rare occasions when it is better that couples do separate, but there is no official recognition of civil divorces. For the Orthodox, to say that marriage is indissoluble means that it should not be broken, the violation of such a union, perceived as holy, being an offense resulting from either adultery or the prolonged absence of one of the partners. Thus, permitting remarriage is an act of compassion of the Church towards sinful man. [22] Ecclesiastically divorced Orthodox (not civilly divorced only).

Widowed people, as well as divorcées, may remarry, but a different, penitential service is used, and there is usually imposed on them a fairly severe penance by their bishop and the services for a second marriage in this case are more penitential than joyful.

Deacons and priests, however, may not remarry or, if he does, he is liaised.

Should a married deacon or priest die, it is common for his wife to retire to a monastery once their children are out of the house. Widowed priests are not allowed to remarry (no priest may be married after his ordination) and also frequently end up in monasteries.

The service of a first Marriage in the Orthodox Church has two distinct parts: the Betrothal and the Crowning. There is no exchange of vows. There is a set expectation of the obligations incumbent on a married couple, and whatever promises they may have privately to each other are their responsibility to keep.

The service of a remarriage is penitential.

Holy Orders

Ordination of a priest. Cheirotonia Presbyter 2.jpeg
Ordination of a priest.

Since its founding, the Church spread to different places and its leaders in each region came to be known as episkopoi (overseers, plural of episkopos, overseer—Gr. ἐπίσκοπος), which became "bishop" in English. The other ordained roles are presbyter (Gr. πρεσβύτερος, elder), which became "prester" and then "priest" in English, and diakonos (Gr. διάκονος, servant), which became "deacon" in English (see also subdeacon). There are numerous administrative positions among the clergy that carry additional titles.

Bishops are always monks. Although someone who is not a monk may be elected to be a bishop, which frequently happens with widowed priests, he must receive a monastic tonsure before consecration to the episcopate. Deacons and priests, however, are typically married, and it is customary that only monks or married men be ordained. It is considered preferable for parish priests to be married as they often act as counsel to married couples and thus can draw on their own experience. Unmarried priests usually are monks and live in monasteries, though when there is of a shortage of married priests, a monk-priest may be assigned to a parish.

A deacon or priest would have to abandon his orders, i.e., be liaised, to marry after ordination; it is common for widowed clergy to enter a monastery. Also, widowed wives of clergy, who are discouraged from remarrying, often become nuns when their children are grown.

Only men can take holy orders, although deaconesses had both liturgical and pastoral functions within the church. [23] This has fallen out of practice, the last deaconess having been ordained in the 19th century; however, in 2017, Patriarch Theodoros II and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria decided to reinstate the order of deaconesses in the Greek Orthodox Church. In February, he appointed six nuns to be subdeacons within the church. (Catherine Clark (2017). "National Catholic Reporter." March–April 6, 2017. p. 7 )

Unction

Anointing with oil, often called "unction", is one of the mysteries administered by the Orthodox Church and it is not reserved only for the dying or terminally ill, but for all in need of spiritual or bodily healing, and with reception of this sacrament comes forgiveness of sins. In Greece, during the Ottoman occupation, when parish priests were not allowed to hear confessions, it became the custom to administer this mystery annually on Great Wednesday to all believers so that all could commune the following days through Pascha. In recent decades, this custom has spread to many other locations.

Other services performed as needed

Local variations

Two main strata exist in the rite, those places that have inherited the traditions of the Russian Church which had been given only the monastic Sabbaite typicon which she uses to this day [note 13] in parishes and cathedrals as well as in monasteries, and everywhere else where some remnant of the cathedral rite remained in use; therefore, the rite as practiced in monasteries everywhere resembles the Russian recension, while non-Russian non-monastic customs differs significantly. For example, in the Russian tradition, the "all-night vigil" is served in every church on Saturday nights and the eves of feast days (although it may be abridged to be as short as two hours) while elsewhere, it is usual to have matins on the morning of the feast; however, in the latter instance, vespers and matins are rather less abridged but the Divine Liturgy commences at the end of matins and the hours are not read, as was the case in the extinct cathedral rite of Constantinople.

Also, as the rite evolved in sundry places, different customs arose; an essay on some of these has been written by Archbishop Basil Krivoshein and is posted on the web. [24]

Liturgical books

Horologion (Ὡρολόγιον; Church Slavonic: Chasoslov, Часocлoвъ), or Book of Hours, provides the fixed portions of the Daily Cycle of services (Greek : ἀκολουθίαι, translit.  akolouthiai) as used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.

Into this fixed framework, numerous moveable parts of the service are inserted. These are taken from a variety of liturgical books:

Also some books for special occasions, such as the book for the great week- He Megale Ebdomas, the Dekapentaugoustarion for the 15. August, or the Eklogadion including certain excerpts. The Apostolike Diakonia of the Church of Greece and some Greek-orthodox bishops have also published certain old liturgies. Such as the Liturgy of St. James and other.

Calendar

The fixed portion of the liturgical year begins on September 1. There is also a moveable Paschal cycle which is fixed according to the date of Pascha (Easter), by far the most important day of the entire year. The interplay of these two cycles, plus other lesser cycles influences the manner in which the services are celebrated on a day to day level throughout the entire year.

Traditionally, the Julian Calendar has been used to calculate feast days. Beginning in 1924, several autocephalous churches adopted, for fixed dates, the Revised Julian Calendar which is aligned with the Gregorian calendar; the Paschal cycle, however, continued to be calculated according to the Julian Calendar. Today, some churches and portions of some other churches continue to follow the Julian Calendar while others follow the Revised Julian (Eastern Orthodox) or Gregorian (usually the more Latinized Byzantine Catholic) Calendar. Among Eastern Orthodox, only the Orthodox Church of Finland has adopted the Western calculation of the date of Pascha (see computus); all other Orthodox Churches, and a number of Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, celebrate Pascha according to the ancient rules. [26]

Liturgical cycles

Various cycles of the liturgical year influence the manner in which the materials from the liturgical books (above) are inserted into the daily services:

Weekly cycle

Each day of the week has its own commemoration:

Most of the texts come from the Octoechos, which has a large collections of hymns for each weekday for each of the eight tones; during great lent and, to a lesser degree, the pre-lenten season, the Lenten Triodion supplements this with hymns for each day of the week for each week of that season, as does the Pentecostarion during the pascal season. Also, there are fixed texts for each day of the week are in the Horologion and Priest's Service Book (e.g., dismissals) and the Kathismata (selections from the Psalter) are governed by the weekly cycle in conjunction with the season.

Fixed cycle

Commemorations on the Fixed Cycle depend upon the day of the calendar year, and also, occasionally, specific days of the week that fall near specific calendar dates, e.g., the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross. The texts for this cycle are found in the Menaion.

Paschal cycle

The commemorations on the Paschal Cycle (Moveable Cycle) depend upon the date of Pascha (Easter). The texts for this cycle are found in the Lenten Triodion, the Pentecostarion, the Octoechos and also, because the daily Epistle and Gospel readings are determined by this cycle, the Gospel Book and Apostle Book. The cycle of the Octoechos continues through the following great lent, so the variable parts of the lenten services are determined by both the preceding year's and the current year's dates of Easter.

8 Week cycle of the octoechos

The cycle of the eight Tones is found in the Octoechos and is dependent on the date of Easter and commences with the Sunday after (eighth day of) Easter, that week using the first tone, the next week using the second tone, and so, repeating through the week preceding the subsequent Palm Sunday. [note 22]

11 Week cycle of the matins gospels

The portions of each of the Gospels from the narration of the Resurrection through the end are divided into eleven readings which are read on successive Sundays at matins; there are hymns sung at Matins that correspond with that day's Matins Gospel.

List of Churches of Byzantine liturgical tradition

Eastern Orthodox Churches

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Chicago Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church 071215.jpg
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Chicago
Only autocephalous (self-governed) churches are listed; autonomous churches are considered under their mother churches. Those churches which continue to follow the old Julian Calendar are marked with an asterisk (*), while those that follow the Revised Julian Calendar are unmarked.

Greek-Catholic Churches

These Particular Churches are considered sui iuris churches (autonomous) in full communion with the Holy See

Note: Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics are not recognized as a particular Church (cf. canon 27 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches).

Byzantine Rite Lutheranism

The Church of the Cross of the Lord is located in Kremenets and is part of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, which uses the Byzantine Rite. Ukrlckremenec.jpg
The Church of the Cross of the Lord is located in Kremenets and is part of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, which uses the Byzantine Rite.

Society for Eastern Rite Anglicanism

It has also been employed, although less frequently, in the Anglican Communion, e.g., its being utilized by the Society for Eastern Rite Anglicanism. [30]

Notes

  1. In accordance with Old Testament practice, the day is considered to begin in the evening (Genesis 1:5).
  2. Sokolof, pp 36-38
  3. Sokolof, p 93
  4. The typica has a certain correspondence to the Missa Sicca of the Mediaeval West.
  5. Sokolof, p 93
  6. Sokolof, p 36
  7. This is to conform with Psalm 55:17, "Evening, morning, and noonday will I tell of it and will declare it, and He will hear my voice."
  8. In monasteries, when there is an evening meal, compline is often separated from vespers and read after the meal; in Greek (απόδειπνον/apodeipnon) and Slavonic (Повечерiе/Pov'echeriye), the name for Compline literally means, "After-supper."
  9. Midnight Office is often omitted in parish churches.
  10. Though the Liturgy (and Typica are not, strictly speaking, a part of the daily cycle of services, their placement is fixed by the Typicon in relation to the daily cycle.
  11. This is an abbreviated, redundant Vespers
  12. On great feast days proceeded by a strict fast (Christmas, Epiphany, and Annunciation on a weekday), the Vigil commences with Great Compline rather than Vespers
  13. Тvпико́нъ сіесть уста́въ (the Typicon which is the Order), p 1
  14. There is also a Psalm 151 which is often included in the Psalter, though it is not actually chanted during the Divine Services.
  15. excepting in the Russian tradition where they are used weekly on weekdays of Great Lent.
  16. On non-leap years, the service for 29 Feb. (St. John Cassian) is sung at compline on 28 Feb..
  17. 1 2 The liturgical year begins in September, so the volumes are numbered from 1 for September to 12 for August.
  18. Originally, the deacon's book and the priest's books were distinct, but upon the invention of printing, it was found more practical to combine them.
  19. 1 2 In Greek editions the Evangélion or better Ευαγγελιστάριον is laid out in order of the cycle of readings as they occur in the ecclesiastical year, with a section in the back providing the Gospel readings for Matins, Feasts and special occasions. In the Slavic usage, the Evangélion contains the four gospels in canonical order (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) with annotations in the margin to indicate the beginning and ending of each reading (and an index in the back).
    The Apostól is likewise edited, the Slavonic Apostól having all of the books of the New Testament (excluding the Gospels and Apocalypse) in their entirety, though not in the same order they are found in most English Bibles (Acts is placed first, followed by the Catholic Epistles, etc.).
  20. For instance, the Festal Menaion contains only those portions of the Menaion that have to do with the Great Feasts; and the General Menaion, et cetera.
  21. Including, especially, the Theotokos and the Patron Saint of the local church or monastery.
  22. Each day of Bright Week (Easter Week) uses propers in a different tone, Sunday: Tone One, Monday: Tone Two, skipping the grave tone (Tone Seven)

See also

Other Eastern liturgical rites:

Related Research Articles

Canonical hours Christian concept of periods of prayer throughout the day

In the practice of Christianity, canonical hours mark the divisions of the day in terms of periods of fixed prayer at regular intervals. A book of hours normally contains a version of, or selection from, such prayers.

Matins is a canonical hour of Christian liturgy.

Feast of the Cross type of feast that commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus

In the Christian liturgical calendar, there are several different Feasts of the Cross, all of which commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. While Good Friday is dedicated to the Passion of Christ and the Crucifixion, these days celebrate the cross itself, as the instrument of salvation. The most common day of commemoration is September 14 in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis. Although the term liturgy is used to mean public worship in general, the Byzantine Rite uses the term "Divine Liturgy" to denote the Eucharistic service.

In the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches, Orthros (Greek or Oútrenya is the last of the four night offices, which also include vespers, compline, and midnight office. In traditional monasteries it is held daily so as to end at sunrise. In many parishes it is held only on Sundays and feast days. It is often called matins after the office it most nearly corresponds to in Western Christian churches.

Apolytikion

The Apolytikion or Dismissal Hymn is a troparion (hymn) said or sung at Orthodox Christian worship services. The apolytikion summarizes the feast being celebrated that day. It is chanted at Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy; and it is read at each of the Little Hours. The name derives from the fact that it is chanted for the first time before the dismissal of Vespers. In the Orthodox Church, the liturgical day begins at sunset, so Vespers is the first service of the day. The term apolytikion is used in Greek tradition. In Slavic tradition the term troparion is specifically used to stand for Apolytikion, whilst troparion is of more generic usage in Greek tradition.

Troparion

A troparion in Byzantine music and in the religious music of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a short hymn of one stanza, or organised in more complex forms as series of stanzas.

The Little Hours or minor hours are the canonical hours other than the three major hours.

Acolouthia in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, signifies the arrangement of the Divine Services, perhaps because the parts are closely connected and follow in order. In a more restricted sense, the term "acolouth" refers to the fixed portion of the Office. The portions of the Office that are variable are called the Sequences. While the structure and history of the various forms of the Divine Office in the numerous ancient Christian rites is exceedingly rich, the following article will restrict itself to the practice as it evolved in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Horologion

The Horologion or Book of hours provides the fixed portions of the Divine Service or the daily cycle of services as used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. Into this fixed framework of the services, are inserted numerous parts changing daily.

Bright Week

Bright Week, Pascha Week or Renewal Week is the name used by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches for the period of seven days beginning on Easter and continuing up to the following Sunday, which is known as Thomas Sunday. Latin Rite and other Christian groups such as Anglicans refer to this period as Easter Week, not to be confused with the Octave of Easter, which includes the following Sunday.

Euchologion Liturgical works of Eastern Christian Churches

The Euchologion is one of the chief liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, containing the portions of the services which are said by the bishop, priest, or deacon. There are several different volumes of the book in use.

Typikon

Typikon is a liturgical book which contains instructions about the order of the Byzantine Rite office and variable hymns of the Divine Liturgy.

Eastern Orthodox worship

Eastern Orthodox worship in this article is distinguished from Eastern Orthodox prayer in that 'worship' refers to the activity of the Christian Church as a body offering up prayers to God while 'prayer' refers to the individual devotional traditions of the Orthodox.

Matins Gospel readings from the Gospels at Matins in the Eastern Churches

The Matins Gospel is the solemn chanting of a lection from one of the Four Gospels during Matins in the Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.

Lity in the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Lity or Litiyá is a festive religious procession, followed by intercessions, which augments great vespers in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches on important feast days. Following a lity is another liturgical action, an artoklasia, and either of these terms may be used to describe both liturgical actions collectively.

Liturgical book Christian prayer book

A liturgical book, or service book, is a book published by the authority of a church body that contains the text and directions for the liturgy of its official religious services.

Holy Ascension Monastery is a male monastic community located in Bearsville, New York under the auspices of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of America (GOC). It is under the omophorion of Metropolitan Demetrius of America.

References

  1. McNamara, Edward (21 July 2009). "Eastern Rites and Orthodox". EWTN . Retrieved 21 September 2018. One key difference with the Orthodox: The Eastern-rite Catholics mention the Pope in the anaphora, or Eucharistic Prayer.
  2. Hämmerli, Maria; Mayer, Jean-François (23 May 2016). Orthodox Identities in Western Europe: Migration, Settlement and Innovation. Routledge. p. 13. ISBN   9781317084914.
  3. First Council of Constantinople, Canon III
  4. Gregory of Nazianzus, "euchon diataxis -- Oration XX", in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graecae, XXXV, 761, Paris: Imprimerie Catholique
  5. Gregory of Nyssa, "Hierourgia, In laudem fr. Bas.", in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graecae, XLVI, 808, Paris: Imprimerie Catholique
  6. Proclus of Constantinople, "De traditione divinæ Missæ", in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graecae, XLV, 849, Paris: Imprimerie Catholique
  7. 1 2 3 Fortescue, Adrian (1908), "The Rite of Constantinople", The Catholic Encyclopedia, IV, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2007-12-15
  8. Basil of Caesarea, "Epistle CVII", in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graecae, XXXII, 763, Paris: Imprimerie Catholique
  9. Basil of Caesarea, "Oration XX", in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graecae, XXXV, 761, Paris: Imprimerie Catholique
  10. "The Coptic Liturgy (of Saint Basil)", Retrieved 2011-07-08
  11. Ware 1993, pp. 277-278.
  12. Ware 1993, p. 278.
  13. Ware 1993, pp. 278-9.
  14. Harakas 1987, pp. 56–7.
  15. 1 2 3 Ware 1993 , p. 279
  16. Harakas 1987, p. 57.
  17. Ware 1993, p. 287.
  18. Letter to Families by Pope John Paul II Archived April 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  19. 1 2 3 John Meyendorff (1975). Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 18. ISBN   978-0-913836-05-7 . Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  20. "Statement of Orthodox Christian Bishops" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2010.
  21. "OCA Reaffirms SCOBA Statement in Wake of Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Ruling" . Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  22. Mgr. Athenagoras Peckstadt, Bishop of Sinope (18 May 2005). "Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Orthodox Church: Economia and Pastoral Guidance". The Orthodox research Institute. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  23. Karras, Valerie A. (June 2004). "Female Deacons in the Byzantine Church". Church History. 73 (2): 272–316. doi:10.1017/S000964070010928X. ISSN   0009-6407.
  24. "Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance by Basil Krivoshein, Archbishop of Brussels and Belgium", retrieved 2012-01-01]
  25. The separation of this books can usually be found in anthologies ascribed to Panagiotes the New Chrysaphes (GB-Lbl Harley 1613, Harley 5544), but there is also a manuscript with composition of Petros Peloponnesios and his student Petros Byzantios organised as an Anastasimatarion and Doxastarion which preceded the printed editions (GB-Lbl Add. 17718).
  26. 1 2 Moroz, Vladimir (10 May 2016). "Лютерани східного обряду: такі є лише в Україні" (in Ukrainian). РІСУ - Релігійно-інформаційна служба України. Retrieved 19 September 2018. Щодо календаря, то окрім звичних для більшості християн дванадесятих свят в УЛЦ є й особливі. Так, тут знаходимо День народної радості (День Соборності України) – 22 січня; св. Костянтина Острозького – 13 лютого; св. Мартіна Лютера, доктора і сповідника – 18 лютого; св. Лукаса Кранаха і Альбрехта Дюрера, художників – 6 квітня; св. Аскольда, християнського правителя – 4 липня; св. Яна Гуса, пастиря і мученика. 28 липня українські лютерани відзначають спільно празник Св. Володимира Великого, просвітителя Русі-України, християнського правителя, а також Св. Йогана Себастьяна Баха, кантора. Є у календарі УЛЦ і багато святих, яких зазвичай ототожнюють із Католицькою чи Православною Церквою. Це, зокрема, св. Іван Золотоустий, Боніфацій Майнцький, Бернард із Клерво, св. Климент Римський, св. Амвросій Медіоланський, св. Нестор Літописець та багато інших.
  27. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, a communion of 20 Lutheran churches.
  28. Information about the Ukrainian Lutheran Church
  29. "The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, used by the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, and its missing elements: OMHKSEA". www.omhksea.org. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  30. "Society for Eastern Rite Anglicanism (SERA)". www.easternanglicanism.org. Retrieved 2016-03-18.

Books