Tag: Christ

Fr Antony (Jomy) Varavumkal MCBS: Priestly Ordination

Fr Antony Varavumkal MCBS


Email: jomivara@gmail.com

Mob. 09495372706

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Fr Antony (Jomy) Varavumkal MCBS

Fr Cheriyan (Jino) Kollamaparambil MCBS: Priestly Ordination

Fr Cheriyan (Jino) Kollamaparambil MCBS


Email: jinokollan@gmail.com

Mob. 09747177060

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Fr Cheriyan Kollamaparambil MCBS

Fr Jins Pulingappally MCBS: Priestly Ordination

Fr Jins Pulingappally MCBS


Email: georgepmcbs@gmail.com

Mob. 09567554539

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Fr Geo Thakidiyil MCBS: Priestly Orination

Fr Geo Thakidiel MCBS 1


Email: geothak@gmail.com

Mob. 09562830505

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Fr John Paul Thekkumcherikunnel MCBS: Priestly Ordination

Fr John Paul Thekkumcherikkunnel MCBS


Email: jomonpa@gmail.com
Mobile: 09447102890

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Fr John Paul Thekkumcherikunnel MCBS

Priestly Ordinations of Rev Fr Soji Chackalackal & Fr Tony Kattampallil: MCBS



Contact Fr Soji Chackalackal
sojimcbs@gmail.com, 08606401185

Contact Fr Tony Kattampallil
tonymcbs@gmail.com, 09544772396

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Fr Soji MCBS, Fr Tony MCBS

Fr Augustine (Jojo) Kannappilly MCBS: Priestly Ordination



Email: kannappillymcbs@gmail.com

Mobile: 08943111367

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Oh Parama Divya Kaarunyame: Song & Track

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Christian Devotional Song

Singer: Kester

Lyrics: Fr Thomas Edayal MCBS

Album: Athmavin Bhojanam

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Track – Christian Devotional Song

Assisi Retreat Center, Bharananganam

Assisi Renewal Center

Contact Assisi Retreat Center







04822 236386, 04822 238335

Email: arc@assisijeevan.com

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Reminiscing about Rev. Fr. Armond OFM Cap.

The Charismatic Renewal Movement that started in the early 1970s enjoyed a great revival in the Church of Kerala. Rev. Fr. Armond OFM Cap. of happy memory has contributed much towards this great renewal. He attended the 1st charismatic retreat convened by the Mumbai team at Christ hall, Kozhikode in 1976 and the 2nd charismatic retreat held at MOC in Kottayam. During this retreat, Fr. Armond was blessed specially by the anointment of the Holy Spirit which wont be gained through any other retreats. To materialize his dream of conducting this retreat in Malayalam, he organized a team with Rev. Fr. Gratian OFM Cap. and Rev. Fr. K. K. John MSFS and started the 1st Malayalam charismatic retreat at Assisi in 1976. Thus originated the Assisi Retreat Centre, Bharananganam. (This was the beginning of the Assisi Retreat Centre, Bharananganam.)

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About Guardian Angels

Guardian angel

ANGELS: The Angels, a homily, by Karl Rahner

It is a truth of faith that God’s infinite power of creation has created besides us other persons of a spiritual nature.  This is a startling idea: here, this earth of the unending cosmos with all its stars, their uncountable courses; here this earth with natural evolution and natural catastrophes, with its humankind and its history replete with greatness and averageness, victories and defeats, laughter and crying, pleasure and suffering — and in the midst of all this, faith speaks: all this, the stars, the earth, and humankind in its entirety is only a small part of that creation which God’s almighty word has called into existence, so that it might reveal his eternal power and wisdom.Angel Guardian

Besides this there is an unsurveyable world of spirits with a life, in comparison with which, all earthly events are like a shadow; spirits with a life filled with thunderous victories and unlimited happiness, but also with a life leading into the destroying judgment of the wrath of the infinitely holy one.  And from all these luminous worlds of roaring life and blinding light not a glimmer penetrates down into the depths of our material poverty; only faith informs us, only God’s word impinges on our ears so that we know that the spirit, the moral deed, our relationship with God, is the ultimate and most important reality; that every care for body and life, for bread and earthly welfare, is finally only provisional, so much so that God could create his entire world of spirits where all these things are lacking that so easily seem to make up life for us, and where only issue is at stake: God and his honor.Guardian Angels

We are related to these remote spirits by reason of our spiritual, personal souls that are immediate to God; we are related in this essential and decisive factor: just as they, so we are also created to know God, to serve him, and so to bring about our salvation.  And their affinity to us has increased by the fact that God’s wisdom has willed that the content of their life also extends into our earthly days in prayer and help, that they are our guardian angels and so are, as it were, caught into the everydayness of our pilgrimage in the dust of this earth.  And for this reason, they are also a model for us, given to us for imitation.  Two passages in the scriptures tell us how they are supposed to be examples for us.

The first passage is the statement of Jesus: “Their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  Certainly, this is a statement that announces the victory after the battle or the reward for persevering, and not the battle itself.  The good angels are with God; they have entered into the land of the eternal peace, of eternal rest and security.  Their life is exultant now with the eternal surge of the divine life in an eternal today.  Their spirits are immersed in the infinity of God, their hearts are filled with the unspeakable jubilation of those who have discovered their eternal goal.GuardianAngel

But we are still distant, pilgrims still on the way of the cross of this earth, far from the Lord.  However, this still means that for us our journey is in heaven, and if we are commanded to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect, then the command to be as perfect as his angels is not an exaggeration anymore.  And so it is also true of us that we are supposed always to look upon the face of the Father.  We do this when our journey is before his face, when we, joined with him by grace, temples of the triune God, are his children in whose hearts the Spirit of God dwells and prays.  We look upon his face when we accomplish all things for his honor, if we eat or drink or do anything else, if we live or die, if all we do is done in grace as an expression of our love for him; if we take upon ourselves our entire daily labor with its pettiness and cares and sufferings as the will of God, as his disposing, and as proof that we seek only him in all things.

When a person makes his way through life in this way, then two are always moving along the same street: the guardian angel and the human person, and both look on their own toward God, toward the one who is the content of eternal life for both.  And soon enough, there comes then for human beings too the hour when their looking toward the face of the Father is no longer struggle and perseverance, but victory and eternal reward.

Yet another statement do we read in the scriptures about the angels: “They are ministering spirits, sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.”  They are servants for human beings, messengers of whom it is said that they bear the prayers of the just as in golden vessels before the throne of God, join their prayer to ours, and protect us on our way.  In this way every person should be a guardian angel for the other.  We are all one mysterious body of Christ, members of one another, who have joys and sorrows to share.  If one member becomes better, it is a blessing for all, and each evil deed is also an injustice to each member.

How much more then every person has the office of guardian angel to those whom God has specially entrusted to them, to those who go together with us along the path of life.  Their service, to which we are sent forth, is a service unto eternal salvation.  Because we are not just supposed to help others in regard to earthly welfare, but for the inheritance of eternal salvation, then everything we do for our neighbor has a special responsibility and a particular consecratedness and dignity.

And this can be anything direct or indirect done in a good attitude and genuine love of neighbor, whether it be only a drink of water or a friendly word.  Everything like this can become guardian angel service.  But if it is guardian angel service, then it is service of God; then, when seen and done from a this-worldly viewpoint, even the most external activity becomes divine service or worship.  The more even our external activity is penetrated by these thoughts, the more the often painfully perceived tension between the multiplicity and the fragmented character of external obligations and the quest for God alone is overcome.  The more we become like the angels who are always in the service of those for whose sake they should inherit salvation, and who, even so, never stop looking upon the face of the Father in heaven.

Feast of The Holy Guardian Angels!

Oct. 2, The Holy Guardian Angels.  The mission of the Guardian Angels is, as Saint Paul tells us, to serve the future heirs of salvation.  Every kingdom, country, diocese, church and religious order has its protecting Guardian Angel.  So has every person.  Each bishop of the Catholic Church has two Guardian Angels.  Our Guardian Angel is given us at the moment of birth, stays with us all through life, comforts us in Purgatory, and escorts us, if we are saved, into Heaven.  There is a special angel in each church to record all distractions and irreverences that occur there. The greatest joy any of us can give our Guardian Angel is to receive Holy Communion and make our breast a tabernacle of the Eternal God before Whom this angel can adore.  Many of the saints saw their Guardian Angels.  Saint Rose of Lime did, and so did Saint Gemma Galgani.  And so did Saint Frances of Rome, Saint Margaret of Cortona and Saint Gridget of Sweden.  A great Pope, Saint Gregory the Great, was tenderly devoted to his Guardian Angel.  Saint Catherine of Siena saw her Guardian Angel.  Saint Francis de Sales had, as one of his special devotions, reverence for the Holy Angels who have charge of the care of the tabernacle in every Catholic Church.

There are nine choirs of angels, and three hierarchies.  These choirs and hierarchies are:  first hierarchy, Angels, Archangels and Principalities;  second hierarchy, Powers, Virtues and Dominions;  third hierarchy, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim.  This is in the order of ascent.  It is from the first hierarchy, Angels, Archangels and Principalities; that guardians are chosen by God for man.  Angels are for individuals.  Archangels are for parishes, churches and religious communities.  And Principalities are for provinces, countries and nations.  Saint Augustine says, “Go where we will, our angels are always with us.”  Saint Jerome says, “So sublime is the dignity of the human soul that from its birth there is appointed to each one a Guardian Angel.”  And Saint Bernard says, “Make the holy angels your friends.  No matter how weak we may be, or lowly our condition, or how great the dangers which surround us, we have nothing to fear under the protection of these guardians.”  In every difficulty, danger and temptation, Saint Bernard urges us to invoke our Guardian Angel

Your Guardian Angel

Psalm 91:11 ESV / 237 helpful votes

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

Matthew 18:10 ESV / 98 helpful votes

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Psalm 34:7 ESV / 77 helpful votes

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Hebrews 13:2 ESV / 75 helpful votes

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 1:14 ESV / 68 helpful votes

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Matthew 4:11 ESV / 38 helpful votes

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Zechariah 1:10 ESV / 30 helpful votes

So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’

Luke 1:11-20 ESV / 24 helpful votesguardian-angel

And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. …

Revelation 5:11 ESV / 20 helpful votes

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

2 Thessalonians 1:7 ESV / 18 helpful votes

And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels

Daniel 6:22 ESV / 16 helpful votes

My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV / 14 helpful votes

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Matthew 18:1-35 ESV / 14 helpful votes

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, …

Hebrews 1:6 ESV / 13 helpful votes

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Luke 16:22 ESV / 13 helpful votes

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,

Daniel 12:1 ESV / 13 helpful votes

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.

2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV / 12 helpful votes

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Matthew 28:1-20 ESV / 12 helpful votes

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. …

Job 38:7 ESV / 12 helpful votes

When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Nehemiah 9:6 ESV / 12 helpful votes

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Revelation 12:7-9 ESV / 11 helpful votes

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV / 10 helpful votes

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Hebrews 1:7 ESV / 10 helpful votes

Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

Genesis 3:24 ESV / 10 helpful votes

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Revelation 14:6 ESV / 9 helpful votes

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Colossians 2:18 ESV / 9 helpful votes

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

Psalm 99:1 ESV / 9 helpful votes

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

Hebrews 12:22 ESV / 8 helpful votes

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

Hebrews 4:12 ESV / 8 helpful votes

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

1 John 2:28 ESV / 7 helpful votes

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

Romans 8:28 ESV / 7 helpful votes

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

John 10:9 ESV / 7 helpful votes

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

Matthew 5:5 ESV / 7 helpful votes

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Jude 1:9 ESV / 6 helpful votes

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Jude 1:6 ESV / 6 helpful votes

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Romans 16:20 ESV / 6 helpful votes

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Luke 1:26 ESV / 6 helpful votes

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

Matthew 21:22 ESV / 6 helpful votes

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Genesis 3:1-24 ESV / 6 helpful votes

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” …

Acts 1:8 ESV / 5 helpful votes

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

John 3:16-17 ESV / 5 helpful votes

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:1-36 ESV / 5 helpful votes

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. …

Matthew 13:1-58 ESV / 5 helpful votes

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, …

Daniel 7:10 ESV / 5 helpful votes

A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

Psalm 107:20 ESV / 5 helpful votes

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

2 Kings 6:15 ESV / 5 helpful votes

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”

Colossians 1:16 ESV / 4 helpful votes

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

2 Corinthians 12:4 ESV / 4 helpful votes

And he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

1 Corinthians 2:6-12 ESV / 4 helpful votes

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. …

Luke 2:1-52 ESV / 4 helpful votes

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. …

Genesis 3:7-9 ESV / 4 helpful votes

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Revelation 12:3-4 ESV / 3 helpful votes

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.

Matthew 21:21 ESV / 3 helpful votes

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.

Psalm 91:1-16 ESV / 3 helpful votes

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, …

Revelation 21:8 ESV / 1 helpful vote

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Feast of Corpus Christi

Feast of the Body of Christ

This feast is celebrated in the Latin Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Of Maundy Thursday, which commemorates this great event, mention is made as Natalis Calicis (Birth of the Chalice) in the Calendar of Polemius (448) for the 24th of March, the 25th of March being in some places considered as the day of the death of Christ. This day, however, was in Holy Week, a season of sadness, during which the minds of the faithful are expected to be occupied with thoughts of the Lord’s Passion. Moreover, so many other functions took place on this day that the principal event was almost lost sight of. This is mentioned as the chief reason for the introduction of the new feast, in the Bull “Transiturus.”

The instrument in the hand of Divine Providence was St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, in Belgium. She was born in 1193 at Retines near Liège. Orphaned at an early age, she was educated by the Augustinian nuns of Mont Cornillon. Here she in time made her religious profession and later became superioress. Intrigues of various kinds several times drove her from her convent. She died 5 April, 1258, at the House of the Cistercian nuns at Fosses, and was buried at Villiers.

Juliana, from her early youth, had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honour. This desire is said to have been increased by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. She made known her ideas to Robert de Thorete, then Bishop of Liège, to the learned Dominican Hugh, later cardinal legate in the Netherlands, and to Jacques Pantaléon, at that time Archdeacon of Liège, afterwards Bishop of Verdun, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and finally Pope Urban IV. Bishop Robert was favourably impressed, and, since bishops as yet had the right of ordering feasts for their dioceses, he called a synod in 1246 and ordered the celebration to be held in the following year, also, that a monk named John should write the Office for the occasion. The decree is preserved in Binterim (Denkwürdigkeiten, V, 1, 276), together with parts of the Office.

Bishop Robert did not live to see the execution of his order, for he died 16 October, 1246; but the feast was celebrated for the first time by the canons of St. Martin at Liège. Jacques Pantaléon became pope 29 August, 1261. The recluse Eve, with whom Juliana had spent some time, and who was also a fervent adorer of the Holy Eucharist, now urged Henry of Guelders, Bishop of Liège, to request the pope to extend the celebration to the entire world. Urban IV, always an admirer of the feast, published the Bull “Transiturus” (8 September, 1264), in which, after having extolled the love of Our Saviour as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, he ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi in the Thursday next after Trinity Sunday, at the same time granting many indulgences to the faithful for the attendance at Mass and at the Office. This Office, composed at the request of the pope by the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most beautiful in the Roman Breviary and has been admired even by Protestants.

The death of Pope Urban IV (2 October, 1264), shortly after the publication of the decree, somewhat impeded the spread of the festival. Clement V again took the matter in hand and, at the General Council of Vienne (1311), once more ordered the adoption of the feast. He published a new decree which embodied that of Urban IV. John XXII, successor of Clement V, urged its observance.

Neither decree speaks of the theophoric procession as a feature of the celebration. This procession, already held in some places, was endowed with indulgences by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.

The feast had been accepted in 1306 at Cologne; Worms adopted it in 1315; Strasburg in 1316. In England it was introduced from Belgium between 1320 and 1325. In the United States and some other countries the solemnity is held on the Sunday after Trinity.

In the Greek Church the feast of Corpus Christi is known in the calendars of the Syrians, Armenians, Copts, Melchites, and the Ruthenians of Galicia, Calabria, and Sicily.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Corpus Christi procession. Oil on canvas by Carl Emil Doepler.

Corpus Domini redirects here. For other uses see Corpus Domini (disambiguation)

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.

In the present Roman Missal, the feast is designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.[1] It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran, and Old Catholic Churches that hold similar beliefs regarding the Real Presence.

The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”.[1] At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and makes its way to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.



Corpus Christi procession in Łowicz, Poland, 2007

Corpus Christi procession in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 2007

The institution of Corpus Christi as a feast in the Christian calendar resulted from approximately forty years of work on the part of Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century religious woman from an unrecognized religious order. Orphaned and placed in a convent at an early age, Juliana developed a special veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a feast day outside of Lent in its honour. Her vita reports that this desire was enhanced by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity.[2][3] In 1208, she reported her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop.[4]

Juliana also petitioned the learned Dominican Hugh of St-Cher, Jacques Pantaléon (Archdeacon of Liège who later became Pope Urban IV) and Robert de Thorete, Bishop of Liège. At that time bishops could order feasts in their dioceses, so in 1246 Bishop Robert convened a synod and ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held each year thereafter.[5]

The celebration of Corpus Christi became widespread only after both St. Juliana and Bishop Robert de Thorete had died. In 1264 Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite.[6] The legend that this act was inspired by a procession to Orvieto after a village priest in Bolsena and his congregation witnessed a Eucharistic miracle of a bleeding consecrated host at Bolsena has been called into question by scholars who note problems in the dating of the alleged miracle, whose tradition begins in the 14th century, and the interests of Urban IV, which was initiated while he served as Archdeacon in Liege in the 1240s. This was the first papally imposed universal feast for the Latin Rite.[7]

While the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy (Maundy) Thursday, the liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s New Commandment (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34

), the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For this reason, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist.

Three versions of the office for the feast of Corpus Christi in extant manuscripts provide evidence for the Liege origins and “voice” of Juliana in an “original office”, which was followed by two later versions of the office. A highly sophisticated and polished version can be found in BNF 1143, a musical manuscript devoted entirely to the feast, upon which there is wide scholarly agreement: The version in BNF 1143 is a revision of an earlier version found in Prague, Abbey of Strahov MS D.E.I. 7 and represents the work of St. Thomas Aquinas following or during his residency at Orvieto from 1259 to 1265. This liturgy may be used as a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament on weekdays in ordinary time.[8] The hymn Aquinas composed for Vespers of Corpus Christi, Pange Lingua or another eucharistic hymn, is also used on Holy (Maundy) Thursday during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose.[9] The last two verses of Pange Lingua are also used as a separate hymn, Tantum Ergo, which is sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. O Salutaris Hostia, another hymn sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, comprises the last two verses of Verbum Supernum Prodiens, Aquinas’ hymn for Lauds of Corpus Christi. Aquinas also composed the propers for the Mass of Corpus Christi, including the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem. The epistle reading for the Mass was taken from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:23-29

), and the Gospel reading was taken from the Gospel of John (John 6:56-59).

When Pope Pius V revised the General Roman Calendar (see Tridentine Calendar), Corpus Christi was one of only two “feasts of devotion” that he kept, the other being Trinity Sunday.[10]

The feast had an octave until 1955, when Pope Pius XII suppressed all octaves, even in local calendars, except those of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost (see General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII).

From 1849 until 1969 a separate Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ was assigned originally to the first Sunday in July, later to the first day of the month. This feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, “because the Most Precious Blood of Christ the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, of Corpus Christi and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the feast of the Exaltaton of the Holy Cross. But the Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is placed among the votive Masses”.[11]

Silver-gilt Corpus Christi monstrance of Toledo, Spain


Corpus Christi is primarily celebrated by the Catholic Church, but it is also included in the calendar of a few Anglican churches, most notably the Church of England. The feast is also celebrated by some Anglo-Catholic parishes even in provinces of the Anglican Communion that do not officially include it in their calendars. McCausland’s Order of Divine Service, the most commonly used ordo in the Anglican Church of Canada, provides lections for the day. As stated above, in the Roman Catholic Church the celebration is designated The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). In the Church of England it is known as The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi) and has the status of a Festival. Although its observance is optional, where kept, it is typically celebrated as a major holy day. It is also celebrated by the Old Catholic Church, the Liberal Catholic Church and by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians, and is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of the more Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches. The feast was retained in the calendars of the Lutheran Church up until about 1600,[12] but continues to be celebrated by some Lutheran congregations.

In medieval times in many parts of Europe Corpus Christi was a time for the performance of mystery plays. In Catalonia it is celebrated with the tradition of the Dancing egg, with evidence from the 16th century.

In the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos, the celebration includes the practice of El Colacho (baby jumping).


Corpus Christi procession in Poznań, Poland, 2004

Corpus Christi procession by ships on the Rhine called “Mülheimer Gottestracht” in Cologne, Germany, 2005

The Feast of Corpus Christi, which is a moveable feast, is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, in countries where it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, on the Sunday after Holy Trinity.

The earliest possible Thursday celebration falls on 21 May (as in 1818 and 2285), the latest on 24 June (as in 1943 and 2038). The Sunday celebrations occur three days later.

The Thursday dates until 2022 are:

  • 30 May 2013
  • 19 June 2014
  • 4 June 2015
  • 26 May 2016
  • 15 June 2017
  • 31 May 2018
  • 20 June 2019
  • 11 June 2020
  • 3 June 2021
  • 16 June 2022

Corpus Christi is a public holiday in some countries with a predominantly Catholic population including, amongst others, Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, East Timor, parts of Germany, Liechtenstein, Panama, Peru, Poland, San Marino, parts of Spain and Switzerland, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Corpus Christi celebrations in Antigua Guatemala, 1979


  1. ^ a b Sanctissimi Corpus et Sanguis Christi. Roman Missal, 2011 Latin to English translation
  2. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  3. ^ “Vie de Sainte Julienne de Cornillon” by J.P. Delville, Published by the Institute of Medieval Studies at the Catholic University at Louvain pp. 120-123
  4. ^ Phyllis Jestice, Holy people of the world Published by ABC-CLIO, 2004 ISBN 1-57607-355-6 page 457
  5. ^ The decree is preserved in Anton Joseph Binterim, Vorzüglichsten Denkwürdigkeiten der Christkatholischen Kirche (Mainz, 1825-41), together with parts of the first liturgy written for the occasion.
  6. ^ The Feast of Corpus Christi By Barbara R. Walters, Published by Penn State Press, 2007 ISBN 0-271-02924-2 page 12
  7. ^ Oxford History of Christian Worship By Geoffrey Wainwright, Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-513886-4, page 248
  8. ^ General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 375
  9. ^ Roman Missal, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 38
  10. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 66
  11. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 128]
  12. ^ Frank Senn: Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical, Fortress Press, 1997. p. 344. ISBN 0-8006-2726-1

External links


Pope Benedict XVI: Farewell discourse to College of Cardinals (full text)

Pope: Farewell discourse to College of Cardinals (full text)

(From Vatican Radio) “The Church is in the world but not of the world and it is a living body,” therefore it is not an institution designed and conceived according to pre-set plans, but of God. Wednesday’s audience is proof of this, it has shown the “awakening of the Church in souls”.

Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s words to the College of Cardinals Thursday morning:

Dear beloved brothers,

I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.

And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord.

As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter’s Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry.

In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky.

We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry.

We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path.

Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord.

I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini’s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .

Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.”

This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square.

We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world.

She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday.

This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: “The Church is awakening in souls.”

The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today.

Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.

Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope.

May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing.


Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the farewell discourse by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals to Pope Benedict XVI.


With great trepidation the cardinals present in Rome gather around you today, once again to show their deep affection and express their heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and of all humanity.

Last Saturday, at the end of the Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican, you thanked your collaborators from the Roman Curia, with these moving words: My friends, I would like to thank all of you not only for this week but for the past eight years, during which you have carried with me, with great skill, affection, love and loyalty, the weight of the Petrine ministry.

Beloved and revered Successor of Peter, it is we who must thank you for the example you have given us in the past eight years of Pontificate.

On 19 April 2005 you joined the long line of successors of the Apostle Peter, and today, 28 February 2013, you are about to leave us, as we wait for the helm of the Barque of Peter to pass into other hands.

Thus the apostolic succession continues, which the Lord promised His Holy Church, until the voice of the Angel of the Apocalypse is heard proclaim on earth : “Tempus non erit amplius … consummabitur mysterium Dei” (Ap 10, 6-7) “there is no longer time: the mystery of God is finished.”

So ends the history of the Church, together with the history of the world, with the advent of a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way?” (Luke 24:32).

Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts burned too as we walked with you in the past eight years. Today we want to once again express our gratitude.

Together we repeat a typical expression of your dear native land “Vergelt’s Gott” — God reward you!

World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day) – Eucharistic Celebration

2nd February

World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day)

Click here for World Day of Consecrated Life – Eucharistic Celebration

On 6 Jan,1997, The late Holy Father John Paul II decided that the nd World day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on the 2 Feb, on the feast which commemorates the Presentation which Mary & Joseph made of Jesus in the temple to present Jesus to the Lord.(Lk.2:22).The presentation of Jesus in the temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the church & in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels “ the characteristic features of Jesus- the chaste, poor & obedient one” (VC1).

The reason for the world Day for Consecrated Life:

The purpose of such a day is threefold. In the FIRST PLACE, It answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly & to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life which enriches & gladdens the Christian community by the multiplicity of its charisms & by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the kingdom. In the SECOND PLACE, this day is intended to promote knowledge of & esteem for the consecrated life by the entire people of God. The THIRD REASON regards consecrated persons directly. They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illuminated faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the spirit in their way of life, & to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the church.

Following the instruction of late Pope it is a challenge for every religious person to re-read, re-discover & re-state her/his vocation & find new meaning in her/his life as a prophet. They have to be Just as prophets have always arisen in times of crisis to proclaim the will of God to the people of Israel, so in the history of the church religious Orders have always had a prophetic vocation. They have offered a response, in the church and in society, to the longings of the people. They have put their finger on the wound when the church has been too turned in on itself. The first monk responded in this way to the worldwide spread of the church. Benedict, at a time of migration, set up places of community which brought stability to their surroundings. Confronted by the feudal structure of the church and of society, Francis reawakened sensitivity to poverty. Dominic made his own the desire of the Cathars for a pure and clear faith. Ignatius wanted to responded to the Reformation and direct life again only towards the figure of Christ. And many religious Orders in th the 19 century responded to the needs of their times. It is always a question of a prophetic response, a response which comes from God, an attempt to put the will of God into practice in a particular time.

The task of the prophet is not to predict the future but to proclaim the will of God for the present and the situation of today. The prophet claims the “today of God” for people. This” today of God” is often in contrast with the world. Honesty is necessary in announcing the word of God.

Consecrate life has always had a prophetic dimension in the history of the church. How can we live this prophetic dimension today?

– Placing God at the centre

– Making a critical reflection of the society and the church

– Offering a realistic hope and making the people aware that everything is transitory.

– Becoming a blessing for people and leave a legacy.

– Prophetic mission is always a mission for people.

Jesus has shown how to recognize our prophetic mission. Heinvites us to enter by the narrow gate and to journey by the hard road (Mth713-14).The narrow gate is hard and unique which God has planned for us. A certain effort is necessary to find that gate. The wide road is not bad road, but the road which everyone takes. Jesus believes that each one of us is capable of finding the unique way in which our life can become a blessing for people. Animated by the Spirit of God, may every consecrated live up to her/his commitment.

Eucharist Jesus, Bread & Wine


Avenge or Forgive?

If someone hurts me should I forgive or take revenge?  Some might say it depends on the nature of hurt.  I strongly feel I must not even think of revenge let alone do something to that effect whatever the nature of the hurt.  There are cases that need corrective measures or punishment – not revenge. Even in such cases the punishment must not be carried out by me. It must be decided and carried out by the judiciary.  All I must do is file a suit. Even that must be done without any thought of vengeance but out of consideration for the good of the individual and of the society.

 A better alternative than approaching the judiciary in most cases will be to forgive the offender from my heart and pray for him that he may change and become a better person. This can have a great effect on the offender causing conversion.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus

“Am I not conquering my enemies when I make them my friends?” Lincoln

Holy Childhood Circular form KCBC / Thirubalasakhyam

KCBC Circular – Thirubalasakyam 2013

This is the Circular from KCBC on Holy Childhood Sunday 2013 by the KCBC Vocation Commission Chairman, His Grace Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam. This year Church celebrates the Holy Childhood Sunday on 10 February 2013. Holy Childhood association with the motto “children helping children”, promotes them to pray and to offer financial help, so that children in the missions today may know Christ and experience His love and care.

Theology of Liturgy

I. What is Liturgy?

1. Etymological Meaning

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

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

Therefore what is the Christian liturgy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Contents of Liturgy

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

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

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

4. Popular Piety (Devotions)

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

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

II. Liturgy as Leitourgia of God and Man

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

a. Work of the Father

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

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

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

b. Work of Christ

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

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

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

c. Work of the Holy Spirit

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


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


2. Leitourgia of Man


a. Liturgy as the Work of the Church

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

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

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

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

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

III. Liturgical Space-time

1. Sacred and Profane

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

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

2. Sacred Space-time

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

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

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


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

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

4. Sacred Space and Time according to the Israelites

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

4.1. Sacred and Profane

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.2. Sacred Mountains

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

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

4.3. Sacred Stones

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

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

4.4. Consecrated Space

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

a. Patriarchal Sanctuaries

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

b. Tabernacle

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

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

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

c. The Temple

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

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

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

d. Altars

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

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

 4.5. Liturgical Time

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

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

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

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

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

  • Christian liturgical space-time a symbolic whole

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

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

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

a. Liturgical Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Eschatological dimension of Christian liturgical space-time

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


b. Liturgical Time

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

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

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

Liturgical Year

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


Origin and Development of the Liturgical Calendar

0. Introduction

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

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

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

1. Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pascha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.1. Paschal Controversy

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

2.2. Paschal Fast

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

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

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

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

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

3. Days of Fast

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

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

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


4. Origin of New Feasts

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

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

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

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

4.1. Feasts of Ideas

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

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

5. Pentecost

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Holy Week

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

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

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

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

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

7.Nativity and Epiphany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Other Feasts of our Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Cult of Saints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.Marian Feasts

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

Western Marian Feasts

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

Feasts of Mary in Spain and at Milan

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

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

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

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

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

Modern Feasts

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

                        Our Lady of Mercy (Sept.24)

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

                        Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16)

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

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

Motherhood of Mary Oct.11

Immaculate Heart of Mary: Aug. 22

Queenship of Mary May 31

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

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

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

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

11.Different Calendars in the Church

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

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

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

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

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

11.2. East Syrian Liturgical Year

11.3. West Syrian Liturgical Year

11.4. Coptic Liturgical Year

11.5.Byzantine Liturgical Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nativity of the Mother of God (8 Sept)

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

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

The Nativity of Christ (25 Dec)

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

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

The Annunciation of the Mother of God (25 March)

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

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

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

The transfiguration of Christ (6 Aug)

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

Timothy Ware 298-299.

Four main periods of Fasting

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

Timothy Ware 300.

11.6. The Armenian Liturgical Year

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

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

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

Transfigurationtide (between Eastertide and Assumptiontide)

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

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


11.7. Maronite Liturgical Year

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Syrian Liturgical Year

Nine seasons (each ideally of 7 weeks).

1. Annunciation-Nativity (Subara): 6 weeks

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

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

4. Resurrection (Qyamta): 7 weeks

5. Apostles (Sliha): 7 weeks

6. Summer (Qayta): 7 weeks

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

8. Moses (Moshe): 2 to 7 weeks

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

West Syrian Liturgical Year

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

There are 7 seasons

1. Annunciation (Suboro)

2. Nativity-Epiphany (Yaldo-Denho)

3. Lent: 50 days

4. Resurrection (Qyamto)

5. Pentecost (Shliha)

6. Transfiguration: Aug. 6-Sept.13

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

c. Liturgical Persons

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

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

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

IV.  Liturgy: Source of Theology and Spirituality

  1. 1.      Theology of Liturgy and Liturgical Theology

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

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

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

  • Lex orandi, lex credendi

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

  • Christian spirituality is liturgical spirituality.

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

V. Liturgical Diversity

1. The Origin and Development of Different Liturgical Traditions

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

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

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

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


2. Rite and Liturgy

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


3. Families of Eastern Liturgies


I. Antiochene

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

II. East Syrian (Mesopotamian or Persian)

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

III. Alexandrian Liturgies

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

IV. Byzantine (Constantinopolitan)

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

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

V. Armenian

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

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

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

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

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

[2]Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 335.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] Tertullian, De Cor 3.4.

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

[11] I Apology 67.

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

[13] I Apology 67.

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

[15] Ep. of Barnabas, 15.8.

[16] Basil, De spirit sanct. 27.

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

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

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

[20] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

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

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

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

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

[25] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[26] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

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

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

[29] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

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

[31] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[32] Taft, Lecture Notes, 21.

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

[34] Apology I, 65,67.

[35] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

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

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

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

[39] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

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

[41] The Study of Liturgy,  458.

[42] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 78.

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

[44] SC 102.

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

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

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

[48] Taft, Lecture Notes,21.

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

[50] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[51] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

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

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

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

[55] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[56] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

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

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

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

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

[61] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

[62] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 339.

[63] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[72] Talley, Liturgical Calendar”, 158.

[73] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

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

[75] P. Jounel, “The Year”, 69.

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

[77] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 79.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[86] Taft, Lecture Notes.

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

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

[89] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[90] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[91] Taft, Lecture Notes.

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

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

[94] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[95] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 341.

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

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

[98] Adam, Liturgical Year, 11.

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

[100] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 17.

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

[102] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

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

[104] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 49.

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

[106] Study of Liturgy, 461.

[107] Jounel, “The Year”, pp.50-51.

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

[109] Study of Liturgy, 462.

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

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

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

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

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

[115] Talley, “Liturgical Year”, 158.

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

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

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

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

[120] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 87.

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

[122] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 88.

[123] Jounel, “The Year”, 79.

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

[125] Adam, Liturgical Year, 130.

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

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

[128] Jounel, “The Year”, 97.

[129] Jounel, “The Year”, 99.

[130] Jounel, “The Year”, 102-103.

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

[132] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[133] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[134] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[135] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 92.

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

[137] Jounel, “The Year”, 119.

[138] Jounel, “The Year”, 120.

[139] Jounel, “The Year”, 121.

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

[141] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[142] Study of Liturgy, 469.

[143] Study of Liturgy, 482.

[144] Jounel, “The Year”, 131-132.

[145] Jounel, “The Year”, 133-137.

[146] Jounel, “The Year”, 137-141.

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

[148] Adam, Liturgical Year, 53.

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

[150] Adam, Liturgical Year, 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Pauly Maniyattu


July 2009