Wednesday, October 4, 2017


I like the New Liturgical Movement's commentary on the Eastern Rite below this photo:

It is currently, for some odd reason, fashionable to admire the colorful extravagance of the Byzantine liturgy while contemptuously dismissing anything in the Latin tradition suggestive of the same. We admire gigantic gold vessels and rich vestments in the East while settling for unsightly cups and drab drapes in the West; we catch our breaths at an impressive iconostasis, while shaking our heads at altar rails and other signs of separation between the nave and the sanctuary; we extol the marvelous poetry of the kontakion or troparion sung to a haunting traditional melody, while leaving our own incomparable Gregorian repertoire out in the cold. I doubt NLM readers are afflicted with this peculiar double standard or hypocrisy, but its ubiquitous presence in the halls of academia and power suggests that we are dealing with a psychological disorder, a kind of self-loathing that compels some people to strip themselves of the treasures of "the other" and to force themselves into a plainness that is almost a punishment or an echo chamber of one's own emptiness. We can point to the beauty elsewhere, like a tourist passing through Versailles, as long as we deprive ourselves of it here and now, and suffer our democratic fate.


Anonymous said...

There is an interest and a fascination but is there a conversion? I don't think so.

ByzRC said...

It is odd that many in the Latin Church admire the royal splendor of the heavenly kingdom as portrayed in a Byzantine Church then, return to that which is not far removed from sackcloth, cup chalices (glass is still being used in places!) and abstract art. Equally curious is the practice of placing iconography in a Roman Church along side gothic moldings, windows and other fixtures made in this style. Ad Orientem could, actually, be achieved without significant rebuilding by simply following the Byzantine approach to the holy table - a flat table, perhaps with adornments on the sides, tabernacle on top flanked by candlesticks. Simple and, when properly adorned, beautiful.

Separately, photographed here is the (and I'll quote from an Orthodox English/Slavonic (transliterated) prayer book that I own):

Jerej: Tvoja ot Tvojich, Tebi prinosim o vsich i za vsja.
Priest: Thine own, of Thine own, we offer unto Thee through all and for all.

I'm fairly certain that the large chalice, being unique to the Russian Church, originates from a very literal interpretation of the following:

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
In the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom an epiclesis is present (explicit); the priest says:

Priest: Again we offer to Thee this spiritual and bloodless worship; and we beg Thee, we ask Thee, we pray Thee: Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts set forth.[5]
(Deacon [pointing with his orarion to the diskos]: Bless, Master, the Holy Bread.)[6]
Priest: Make this bread the Precious Body of Thy Christ,
(Deacon [pointing to the chalice]: Amen. Bless, Master, the Holy Cup.)
Priest: And that which is in this Cup, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ,
(Deacon [pointing to both]: Amen. Bless them both, Master.)
Priest: Changing by Thy Holy Spirit.
(Deacon: Amen, Amen, Amen.)

The reference is to a single cup, not cups plural. Also, unlike the Roman Church where the spirit is called down at the epiclesis followed by the words of institution, in the Byzantine Churches, the words of institution are chanted first then followed by the epiclesis using the formula noted above. Transubstantiation occurs at the conclusion of the above.

For communion and using a plated ladle, the precious blood is transferred to smaller chalices. This is done carefully and I've read that the level of care provided here is great to the point of basically eliminating any risk of profanation.

John Nolan said...

The thing that keeps me away from the pedestrian OF parish Mass with its trite and inappropriate music is not that it contains liturgical abuses (although these are not unknown). It is that I am acutely aware that with a minimum amount of effort it could be so much better.

The Roman Rite, and even the Novus Ordo when celebrated decently, can more than hold its own against Eastern Rites. In nine out of ten cases, sadly, what passes for liturgy in parishes is an embarrassment.