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The enthusiasts of a "common Easter date" are quite welcome to join in celebrating Pascha on 6/19 April this year.

Fr. Serge

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Originally Posted by Serge Keleher
The enthusiasts of a "common Easter date" are quite welcome to join in celebrating Pascha on 6/19 April this year.

Fr. Serge

Not quite that easy. Unless you are in Finland.

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Originally Posted by Azarius
Here is a quote from Constantine the Great and Christianity [books.google.co.uk]
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The great Arian controversy seemed to him "intrinsically trifling and of little moment" involving "not any of the leading doctrines or precepts of the Divine law” but concerning "small and very insignificant questions."
Upon the proper day for observing Easter, however, vital issues depended: "A discordant judgment in a case of such importance and respecting such a religious festival, is wrong," "discrepancy of opinion on so sacred a question is unbecoming."
Sometimes an outsider can see things more clearly than those embroiled in a controversy. Having this kind of insight is especially useful in understanding a case like this that involves the witness we give as Christians to a non-Christian world.

Both sides seem to be saying, "if only you would change and see things our way, we could have a common date, but if you want to persist in your foolishness we have nothing to discuss."

Part of the problem is that Western mind seeks to approach a matter like this as scientifically as possible, and sees this approach as completely objective and unbiased.

The Eastern mind, however, does not hasten to jump when the name of science is invoked, and does not see a scientific approach as either objective or unbiased.

I once heard a story about Gen. Robert E. Lee, who found two young officers arguing about which one ought to salute the other first. The general gave them this admonition: "Let the one who is the better soldier salute first." I think this is the kind of attitude we need to have.


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Originally Posted by Stephanos I
AMM I dont really think it is an issue of ligitimate differences. Sure we could continue to celebrate Easter at different dates. It is rather an issue of a united witness to the world. It is irrelavant when the West celebrates, sure we could easily concede to our brothers of the Orthodox Church. After all it is by the same reckoning that we date the day, except that our calendars are different and I believe the West did not lay much weight on when the Jews celebrated Passover.
However when a calendar is off by many days and is inaccurate is that a wise thing to do to keep following it?
Stephanos I

Fr. Stephanos, I tend to doubt the rest of the world really cares or would notice. I'm not a zealout or that concerned about all of this. We use the Julian Calendar. I'm fine with it. I'm fine with other people using the Gregorian. It's not a big deal to me.

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But then, we owe an apology to our forefather regarding the Quartodeciman way of keeping Pascha.

Why don't we revive it? If it was good enough for St. John, why not for us?

Perhaps the Council itself was a mistake, trying to impose uniformity in diversity.

But then, even if we have an "Ecumenical Council" right now and right here to settle the calendar, I wonder if some people will create their own churches and saying that "this council is an abomination, we will not submit to this council canons since it is not valid!"

Last edited by Alfonsus; 02/27/09 05:11 AM.
AMM #313783 02/27/09 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by AMM
We use the Julian Calendar. I'm fine with it. I'm fine with other people using the Gregorian. It's not a big deal to me.
The Testimonials in behalf of the Julian Calendar, as expressed in the several forums on the subject, are one thing, and I accept them as such. Incorrect and false assertions about that calendar and the dating of Easter/Pascha are a different matter.

Nicaea-I left us no extant canons on the dating and celebrations of Pascha, but the consensus is that the reported result of the substance of those so-called canons is known and is generally acknowledged. This is how they have been stated and posted in a previous thread by Priest Andrew Phillips, an advocate of the Julian Calendar/Paschalion, link :
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One of the tasks of the First Oecumenical Council in 325 was to fix a universal calendar for all Christians. The importance of this task lay in the fact that at that time Christians were celebrating Easter on different dates. Therefore it was essential to establish Paschalia - tables for the dating of Easter - in order to strengthen the unity of the Church and put an end once and for all to disputes and schisms about the calendar. The Fathers decided that there was only one way of doing this - to base the calendar on Christ, and most notably on the most important event in His Life and in the whole history of Creation - the Resurrection. Thus the Fathers looked at the events which in chronological order preceded the Resurrection and determined its date. They are as follows:

1) The spring equinox i.e. the moment when on the 21 March the day is as long as the night.

2) The first full moon after this equinox (the full moon being the moment when the night sky is illuminated by a maximum of light).

3) The first Sunday after this first full moon. Sunday is the third day after the Crucifixion and the first day of the week (Matt. 28, 1). It is the day of the Resurrection, the Lord's Day.

According to him then, two mandates are given, (A) unity of the Church and (B) a method or rule -- a sequence of events, his items 1), 2), 3) -- to determine the date.

Concerning (B) he is at least correct in acknowledging the inaccuracies in the Julian calendar, but he claims that this was actually intentional. So the Fathers gave a rule but also and more so a calendar that would intentionally deviate from it. I don't think so.

However, which way is it, Julian calendar/Paschalion advocates? I don't see how one can claim fidelity to (B), as given in the above quote, on the basis of the present reckonings of the Julian calendar/Paschalion. And consider too that adherence to (B) is readily achievable.

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I would like to see unity in the Orthodox Church on the Julian calendar for the calculation of all feasts. That concerns me much more.

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Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by Azarius
But I doubt that Leo the Great would have accepted a recommendation from a group like the WCC that arose from outside the Church ...
Leo would have needed to understand two things to put WCC-Aleppo into perspective and make an informed decision.

1. From the WCC website, note the affiliations and participants.

I have found another relevant letter by Pope St Leo the Great. This is Letter 88 [newadvent.org] to Bishop Paschasinus (who was to be Leo's legate at Calcedon) dated Jun 24, 451.
The main business of the letter is the condemnation of the Monophysite (and Nestorian) heresies. The secondary point is getting a common date for Easter (for 455).

If someone had told Leo that he should defer to a "World Council of Churches" to set a common date for Easter he might have asked the following question:
Have all the churches in this "Council" accepted the Tome [newadvent.org] (requiring belief in the two natures of Christ) as per Calcedon?
The answer would of course be no. Since the WCC contains what they describe as "anti- or pre-Chalcedonian, Monophysite" "Orthodox" churches (Oriental) [oikoumene.org] .
Leo may have thus viewed this "Council" as a resumption of the Latrocinium.
Not surprisingly the WCC seems to avoid mentioning Pope Leo's name.

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Originally Posted by Azarius
I have found another relevant letter by Pope St Leo the Great. This is Letter 88 [newadvent.org] to Bishop Paschasinus (who was to be Leo's legate at Calcedon) dated Jun 24, 451.
The main business of the letter is the condemnation of the Monophysite (and Nestorian) heresies. The secondary point is getting a common date for Easter (for 455).
Thanks for the reference; this is what the letter actually says about the dating of Easter:
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This also we think necessary to enjoin upon your care that you should diligently inquire in those quarters where you are sure of information concerning that point in the reckoning of Easter, which we have found in the table of Theophilus, and which greatly exercises us, and that you should discuss with those who are learned in such calculations, as to the date, when the day of the Lord's resurrection should be held four years hence. For, whereas the next Easter is to be held by God's goodness on March 23rd, the year after on April 12th, the year after that on April 4th, Theophilus of holy memory has fixed April 24th to be observed in 455, which we find to be quite contrary to the rule of the Church; but in our Easter cycles as you know very well, Easter that year is set down to be kept on April 17th. And therefore, that all our doubts may be removed, we beg you carefully to discuss this point with the best authorities, that for the future we may avoid this kind of mistake. Dated June 24th in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).



Originally Posted by Azarius
If someone had told Leo that he should defer to a "World Council of Churches" to set a common date for Easter he might have asked the following question:
Have all the churches in this "Council" accepted the Tome [newadvent.org] (requiring belief in the two natures of Christ) as per Calcedon?
The answer would of course be no. Since the WCC contains what they describe as "anti- or pre-Chalcedonian, Monophysite" "Orthodox" churches (Oriental) [oikoumene.org] .
Leo may have thus viewed this "Council" as a resumption of the Latrocinium.
Not surprisingly the WCC seems to avoid mentioning Pope Leo's name.
Based on the quote of Pope St. Leo's letter above, if I were writing the historical fiction, my interpretation would be quite different. The WCC doesn't mention Leo; who else has? There is no agenda to simply defer to the WCC; it has made a study and presents the findings for all to consider, accept of reject. It, as did Leo, I presume, refers back to Nicaea (a time before Nestorians and mon/mia-physites). Leo did request that "you should discuss with those who are learned in such calculations." Also "Theophilus of holy memory has fixed April 24th to be observed in 455, which we find to be quite contrary to the rule of the Church; but in our Easter cycles as you know very well, Easter that year is set down to be kept on April 17th. And therefore, that all our doubts may be removed, we beg you carefully to discuss this point with the best authorities."

To "discuss with those who are learned in such calculations" and "carefully to discuss this point with the best authorities," as Leo desires is what the WCC study, and others of that type, have done. I think Leo would be pleased and interested.

And since Leo raises this as an important question, what is the answer, the resolution of the differing dates (I presume based on the rule given by Nicaea)?


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Re
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And since Leo raises this as an important question, what is the answer, the resolution of the differing dates (I presume based on the rule given by Nicaea)?
Surely the answer is for all churches in communion with Rome to defer to the method that Rome decides should be used (currently the Gregorian calendar). This is in accordance with the documentation we actually have from Nicea.
From the Synodal Letter [papalencyclicals.net] "To the Church of Alexandria"
The following is not found in the latin text, but is found in the greek text :
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We also send you the good news of the settlement concerning the holy pasch, namely that in answer to your prayers this question also has been resolved. All the brethren in the East who have hitherto followed the Jewish practice will henceforth observe the custom of the Romans and of yourselves and of all of us who from ancient times have kept Easter together with you.
This letter assumes that Rome and Alexandria were following exactly the same method (not true in the details). But the precedence goes to Rome. At the time of Pope Leo the Alexandrians may well have had a better computus [en.wikipedia.org], but the principle of Rome deciding how differences should be resolved was still understood. When the Pope deferred to the Emperor (or his experts) to decide, he was deferring to those who were in communion with him.
Looking at Constantine's Letter [fordham.edu] on Pascha he says
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and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast.
Constantine's letter was unlikely to make any Jewish converts, but it would not make sense for the civil ruler to put into his civil calendar a Church holiday which was dependent on Talmud experts who had no intention of joining the Church (and had their own disagreements).
Constantine also puts the custom of the Roman Church first (rather than defining an exact method):
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the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, ... is the most acceptable, it has appeared good to all; and I have been guarantee for your consent, that you would accept it with joy, as it is followed at Rome...
.

So the principle is that the practice of Rome should be followed even if there are some people outside the Church who propose a more astronomically accurate method for dating Easter.
It is likely that Jews were already developing a more accurate calendar (regarding leap years) than the Julian method at the time of Nicea. That in itself would mean that the Jewish Passover would sometimes fall on a different date to when Christians (using the less accurate Julian leap years) thought it should, simply due to different dating of the Vernal Equinox.
Here's some comments from the Jewish Encyclopedia [jewishencyclopedia.com] on their calendar around the time of Nicea
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Mar Samuel reckoned the solar year at 365 days and 6 hours [as per Julian calendar], and Rab Adda at 365 days, 5 hours, 55 minutes, and 25 25/57 seconds [more accurate].
...
Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah III. (300-330) the testimony of the witnesses with regard to the appearance of the new moon was received as a mere formality, the settlement of the day depending entirely on calculation. This innovation seems to have been viewed with disfavor by some members of the Sanhedrin, particularly Rabbi Jose, who wrote to both the Babylonian and the Alexandrian communities, advising them to follow the customs of their fathers and continue to celebrate two days, an advice which was followed, and is still followed, by the majority of Jews living outside of Palestine.

But going back to Pope Leo. You have only quoted the end of letter 88, but anyone who reads the whole thing can see that Easter is not the main consideration of the letter.
Here is the start of the main section
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Although I doubt not all the sources of scandal are fully known to you, brother, which have arisen in the churches of the East about the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet, lest anything might have chanced to escape your care, I have despatched for your attentive perusal and study our letter [the Tome [newadvent.org]], which deals with this matter in the fullest way, which we sent to Flavian of holy memory, and which the universal Church has accepted;
Here is the end of the main section
Quote
You must also understand that I have recently received the bishop of Constantinople's letter, which states that the bishop of Antioch has sent instructions to all the bishops throughout his provinces, and gained their assent to my epistle [the Tome], and their condemnation of Nestorius and Eutyches in like manner.
Then follows your quote about a common Easter date.
Note that Leo wanted a common Easter date for those in communion with him. Letter 138 about a common Easter date is to "all our dearly beloved brothers the Catholic bishops...". But Pope Leo was not in communion with Monophysites (they had anathematised him). So it is a fact that he did not consider those who did not accept the dogma of his Tome or Calcedon orthodox. Yet among the members of the WCC are those anathematised by the Fourth Ecumenical Council. Here are some extracts from Calcedon [papalencyclicals.net]:
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Therefore this sacred and great and universal synod
...
has suitably added, against false believers and for the establishment of orthodox doctrines the letter [the Tome] of the primate of greatest and older Rome, the most blessed and most saintly Archbishop Leo, written to the sainted Archbishop Flavian to put down Eutyches's evil-mindedness, because it is in agreement with great Peter's confession and represents a support we have in common.
...
it anathematises those who concoct two natures of the Lord before the union but imagine a single one after the union.
But Calcedon did not make a resolution to remove the discrepancies about the date of Easter (even though one discrepancy was just 4 years ahead).

It seems that both Leo and Calcedon believed that unity on the faith is more important than unity on the date of Easter.

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I actually had someone in my Sunday School class (Jr. High Age) mention they wish we weren't on a different calendar.

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Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by Azarius
If someone had told Leo that he should defer to a "World Council of Churches" to set a common date for Easter ...
There is no agenda to simply defer to the WCC; it has made a study and presents the findings for all to consider, accept or reject.
AJ,

Thank you, this is an important point. I think there's some confusion here as to what it means to defer to another's judgment. Clearly the WCC isn't expecting anyone to bow to their authority on this issue, only to evaluate the facts as presented, without prejudice.

The letter quoted from Pope St. Leo I makes it quite clear that he is foreseeing a problem four years in the future, and while he is willing to defer to the judgment of someone with greater learning in these matters, he is otherwise adamant that April 17th is the correct date for Pascha in 455.

It is quite clear from this that his concern is both to have the most astronomically accurate date possible and to have all Christians be in agreement in their choice of a date. In this, he appears to reflect the mind of the Fathers of I Nicaea.

As the previously quoted letter shows, however, he eventually gave in to the emperor on this matter for the sake of Church unity, which is also a fact worth noting.


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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It would seem that the issue of the calandar is one that has been going on for a very long time. My only practical observation is the the current Latin means of determining the date of Pascha occasionally makes it fall BEFORE the passover! I think this is equally as humiliating as Pope St. Leo's mentioning our former reliance upon the Jews to set the date. In the Orthodox church, Pascha NEVER falls before Passover. Why doesn't the Pope, out of pastoral concern for universal agreement amongst christians on the date, use the same method as the Orthodox? Seems like pride is the only reason not to but as the Pontificus Maximus, he should be a servant of the servants and thus humbly do what is best for "catholic/universal" christianity.

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Originally Posted by Athanasius
...the current Latin means of determining the date of Pascha occasionally makes it fall BEFORE the passover! I think this is equally as humiliating ... In the Orthodox church, Pascha NEVER falls before Passover. Why doesn't the Pope...pastoral concern ...universal agreement amongst christians on the date, use the same method as the Orthodox? Seems like pride is the only reason ... he should be a servant of the servants and thus humbly do what is best for "catholic/universal" christianity.

Are we objectively discussing the determination of the dating of Easter or, once again and again and yet again, raising the same, incorrect, thoughtlessly repeated, suppositions on the method of determining Pascha, that it must be after Passover etc.? Are we fairly discussing issues on the dating of Easter, as rational and reasonable people, or using the topic as a convenient pretext to vent on presumed character flaws of "the Pope" and the Latins? Why should anyone who is using a calendar that conforms to the rule attributed to Nicaea for determining Pascha be the one to switch to a calendar that does not? Is not acceptance of the truth -- the TRUTH -- that which we should factually be seeking, since that 'is best for "catholic/universal" christianity.'?

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Originally Posted by Azarius
Surely the answer is for all churches in communion with Rome to defer to the method that Rome decides should be used (currently the Gregorian calendar). This is in accordance with the documentation we actually have from Nicea.
...
So the principle is that the practice of Rome should be followed even if there are some people outside the Church who propose a more astronomically accurate method for dating Easter.
I have said that the Gregorian calendar/Paschalion is a viable solution and method. It is a good calendar, adhering to "Nicaea." There are other solutions, depending on legitimate choices of parameters; these, in that they do not directly pertain to faith, should not be discounted if they otherwise have merit.

I've tried to build a consensus by seeking agreement on certain accepted facts and their objective conclusions and ramifications, since appealing to the authority of Rome is sometimes not considered sufficient by some on this forum and elsewhere.



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