- Created on 09 March 2011
In the early Church, it was thought that the solemnity with which the Church celebrated the Holy Forty Days Fast did not mesh so well with the incredibly joyful and triumphant nature of the Eucharistic Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy. So at the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364) the celebration of the full Divine Liturgy was restricted to the Saturdays and Sundays of the Great Fast. To enable the faithful to communicate the Divine Eucharist on weekdays the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts developed. Customarily, the faithful would fast from all food during the daylight hours and then, near the end of the day, join together to pray Vespers. Following Vespers the Eucharist – which had been consecrated the previous Sunday – was distributed. In some places the Presanctified Eucharist was distributed daily, but over time the custom arose of celebrating the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts only on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent (plus a few other special days).
- Created on 25 February 2011
The current Byzantine Liturgy and the Roman usus antiquior have a point of unity in their respective observances of Pre-Lent.
In Constantinople, in either the sixth or seventh century, a week of Pre-Lent developed gradually, and was commonly called “The Week without Meat”. It is likely that this is in imitation of the Church in Palestine, which calculated Lent in forty days, Monday through Friday, over eight weeks. Byzantines did not need the extra days, since they counted the forty days continuously. So the compromise to the eight weeks of Palestine was to add a week of gradual fasting prior to the Great Fast. Now commonly known as “Cheese-Fare Week”, during this week Byzantines begin fasting from meat but continue to eat cheese and other dairy products right up until “Pure Monday”, the first day of the Fast (two days before the Roman “Ash Wednesday”).
- Created on 23 September 2010
Ready to do some counting (think in months, not days)? According to the Byzantine Liturgical Calendar, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conception of the Honorable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, on September 23rd. We celebrate John's nativity on June 24th. We celebrate the Feast of the Conception of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God by the Righteous Anna on December 9th. We celebrate Mary's nativity on September 8th. On March 25th we celebrate the Annunciation of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (the conception of our Lord). We celebrate his nativity on December 25th. Elizabeth carries John in her womb for 9 months + 1 day. Anna carries Mary, the Mother of God in her womb for 9 months - 1 day. Mary, the Mother of God, carries our Lord in her womb for exactly 9 months. Only Christ is perfect.
Do you remember Martin Avedeitch? He was the cobbler who lived in a room in a basement in a small town in Russia. He lived and worked in Russia in a small basement room that had only one window that looked up onto the street, from which he saw the feet of people walking by. Martin had always been a good man, and as he grew older he thought more about his soul and drew nearer to God. One night, in studying the Gospel of Luke, he read about turning the other cheek, the centurion, the widow's son. And then he came to the part about the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, and washed them with her tears as the Pharisee sat and condemned her with his thoughts. Martin condemned himself as the Pharisee who really cared nothing about his guest. He then fell asleep, and was startled awake hearing a voice: "Martin, Martin! Look out into the street tomorrow, for I shall come!" Was this the Lord speaking?
From ancient times we have been taught that when Mary, the Mother God, fell asleep the whole company of the Apostles - except Thomas - was miraculously brought together in Jerusalem. Amid divine and heavenly praises they commended her soul into the hands of God and placed her body in a little tomb in Gethsemane. For three days a choir of Angels continued to sing above her tomb. And on the third day Thomas arrived. So that he could venerate the body that had given birth to Christ God, the Apostles opened the tomb. They found not the body of the Mother of God but the winding sheet and the most beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers. Mary's body had been taken up into the heavens by her Son. Flowers were blessed from the earliest times in both East and West. Over time seeds and herbs used for medicinal purposes were also blessed, in commemoration of the many healings and blessings that were bestowed upon the pilgrims at Mary's tomb. The Book of Needs (Trebnyk or Euchologian) contains several possible prayers to bless seed, herbs and flowers, one of which is below: