It is so important to acknowledge that Byzantine Catholics are different from the Orthodox and that Latin ways do indeed influence (and profoundly so)the Byzantine Catholic church. It makes perfect sense that it would be given it's creation,and there's nothing wrong with that as long as we're honest about it. So many like to pretend that this isn't so.
Before you nail this flag to the mast, try reading Father Taft's essay Liturgy in the Life of the Church
, which, O! Look! I just happen to have transcribed quite a while back for moments such as this. Read the entire essay, and pay particular attention to the parts I have highlighted in red.
[quote]Liturgy in the Life of the Churcb
Robert F. Taft, SJ
Eastern Churches Journal, Vol.7 No.2, Summer 2000
© Eastern Christian Publications 2000What is Liturgy?
Liturgy, in the mystery theology of the Fathers of the Church, is nothing less than the ongoing saving work of God’s only-begotten Son. That is why the Pope Leo the Great could dare to say: “Quod itaque Redemptoris nostri conspicuum guit, in sacramenta transivit”—What was visible to our Redeemer has passed into the Sacraments. What Jesus did in historical form during his earthly life, He continues to do sacramentally through the liturgical mysteries He celebrates in and with his Church.
The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy—Sacrosanctum concilium (Sec.2) say the same thing in different words: “. . . it is the liturgy through which 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”. This is why liturgy has always been considered the very heart of every Church’s life: it is the language in which a Church says what it is. Indeed, in a very real sense, liturgy is not only at the heart of the Church’s life, it is the Church’s life.Liturgy and Life
The mystery that is Christ is the center of Christian life, and it is this mystery that the Church renews in the liturgy so that we might be drawn into it. Liturgy, then , is much more than an individual expression of faith and devotion. It is first and foremost an activity of God in Christ. Far from being extrinsic to our liturgy, Christ is its chief protagonist. This is what renders possible the extraordinary claims the Church has made about the nature of Christian worship. Our prayers are worthless, but in the liturgy, Christ himself prays in us. For the liturgy is the efficacious sign of Christ’s saving presence in his Church. His saving offering is eternally active and present before the throne of the Father. By our celebration of the divine mysteries, we are drawn into the saving action of Christ and our personal self-offering is transformed into an act of the Body of Christ through the worship of the Body with its Head.
The Scriptures reveal that God sent His only-begotten Son to reconcile us to Himself and one another in Him. Since Christian liturgy is a principal means of entering and celebrating this movement of salvation, any theology of Christian liturgical prayer must be rooted in the developing tradition evolving out of Christian reflection on that divine message. A fundamental principle of this kerygma is that everything in sacred history—every sacred event, object, place, theophany, cult—has been recapitulated and “personalized” and assumed into the person of the Incarnate Christ. He is God’s eternal Word, his new creation, the new Adam, and the Messianic Age that is to come. All that went before is fulfilled in him, St. Paul tells us, including cultic realities. For Jesus is also the new Pasch and its Lamb, the new covenant, the new circumcision, the new heavenly manna, the new temple not made with hands, the new sacrifice and its priest, and the new Sabbath rest of the final age. The Old Testament temple and altar with their rituals and sacrifices are replaced not by a new set of rituals and shrines, but by the self-giving of the very Son of God. Henceforth, true worship pleasing to the Father is nothing more nor less than the saving life, death and resurrection of Christ.
But since through baptism we too are Christ, our worship is this same sacrificial existence in us. To live in Christ, Paul tells us in Phil 1:21, and to be saved, is to be conformed to Christ by dying to self and rising to new life in Him. So the New testament presents Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and his cult of the Father as our cult, too: just as we have died and risen with Christ, Paul tells us, we too have become a new creation, a new circumcision, a new temple, a new sacrifice and a new priesthood. This is why we meditate on the pattern of Christ’s life, proclaim it, preach it, celebrate it: to make it ever more deeply our own.
It is towards this communion of reconciled life that Christian worship is always directed. We see this in Mt 5:23-24, where only offerings from those reconciled with their brethren are deemed acceptable to the Lord. We see it in the Didache 14:1-2: “And on the Lord’s day of the Lord, after you have gathered, break bread and offer the Eucharist. . .But let no one who has a quarrel with his neighbor join you until he is reconciled, lest your sacrifice be defiled. In short, the touchstone of our liturgy is whether or not it is being lived out in the communion of our lives. Does the symbolic moment symbolize what we really are? Is our shared celebration of life a sign that we truly live this way? In 1 Cor 11, Paul tells the Corinthian community that the Eucharist is no true Eucharist at all, for in their lack of charity, they fail to attend to the needs of the body—i.e., the community as the Body of Christ: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement unto himself” (1 Cor 11:29). Lituryg, therefore is also a prophetic voice of judgement on the quality of our Christian lives, and we can celebrate liturgy not only unto salvation, but also unto condemnation.Good Liturgy
So there can be bad liturgy as well as good liturgy. But who determines what is good liturgy? The Church, of course. What does the Catholic Church consider good liturgy today, in light of the most recent documents of the supreme conciliar and papal magisterium concerning the liturgy and its renewal? According to the Vatican II Liturgy Constitution, good liturgy is, first of all, liturgy that glorifies God and sanctifies those glorifying Him. Theologically, this is not two things, but one, since our glorification of God is his gift to us, not ours to Him, and God is glorified only insofar as we accept the free gift of sanctification He gives us at all times, but in a special way in the liturgy.
But if this has always been true of the liturgy, reformed or unreformed, by the time the Church had entered the 20th century, it was widely felt that this glorification and sanctification, which the liturgy has always done, could be done better. And that would happen with greater surety (SC Sec.21) only if the faithful could drink more fully from the saving waters offered to them in the liturgy by a participation that would not only be more active, but more conscious, more communal. The Vatican II Liturgy Constitution and the decrees and documents that flowed from it repeat time and again that the people participate in the liturgy not just as passive communicants.
So Christian liturgy is no “spectator sport”, but one in which everyone is a player on the first team. In paragraph after paragraph, the Council teaches that liturgy should actively engage everyone (Sec. 14), both externally and internally (190, and not just individually but as a community (21, 26-27), via a participation made more fully active (14, 21, 30), more aware (11), more conscious (14), more actively engaged (11, 14, 19). Every single one of these terms are from the Liturgy Constitution itself, in Sections 11, 14, 19, 21, 26, 27, and 30: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full conscious and active participation in liturgical celebration which is demanded by the very nature of liturgy, and to which the Christian people. . .have a right and an obligation by reason of their baptism” (14). This key affirmation, reiterated and paraphrased time and again in the paragraphs of the Constitution (especially 14-30), is not just a question of aesthetics: the Council boldly asserts that full lay participation in the worship of the Church is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy and of the assembly of the baptized that is the Church.
With this magisterial teaching in mind, let us return to our question: “What does the Catholic Church consider “good liturgy”? First of all, Catholic liturgy can be considered “good” only when it is celebrated validly according to the approved rites and disciplines of each particular Church, whereby God is ex opere operatio glorified and his people given his saving grace. The Council explicitly states, however, that this is by no means enough (11). Ut lex orandi legem statuas credendi is the age-old adage expressing the fact that the official liturgy of the Church also exerts magisterial authority, reflecting and embodying and proclaiming and celebrating what the Church believes and wishes to proclaim about itself today. Consequently, to be qualified as “good”, a liturgical celebration must also be a true reflection, a living icon for itself and others of what the Church is and believes itself to be. This demands a liturgy that is communitarian, and actively participated in by all, not only externally, but interiorly, through a union of minds and hearts, that shows all of us to be what we claim to be.
Furthermore, this also demands a liturgy that is externally, ritually good, according to the norms of the Church. The command of Inter Ecumenici, the September 26, 1964 Instruction on the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is preemptory: “Liturgical ceremonies should be celebrated with the utmost perfection” (13). Later documents on sacred music, and on church art and architecture, and the liturgical disposition of the Church, show that these issues are not mere questions of aesthetics, important as that can be. The issue is the very iconic nature of liturgy, which is one holistic, epiphanic revelation of what the Church is and does.
From these same qualities of the liturgy flows another dimension place din relief by the Council and consequent documents. Good liturgy must be ecumenical. The call of the Decree on Ecumenism—Unitatis Redintegratio (November 21, 1964) that reform begins at home, applies equally to the liturgy: how can the liturgy be said to show to others the true nature of Christ’s Church if its texts contain expressions that could be construed as anti-semitic, if its sanctoral calendar gives the impression that the Church’s sanctifying grace never got north of the Mediterranean basin, if its secondary symbols arise only from the Semitic and Greco-Roman worlds, or if—in the case of the Eastern Catholic rites—it is the direct contradiction of everything the supreme magisterium has proclaimed for over a century about the Catholic Church’s reverence for the Eastern heritage, and her intention to preserve it intact as part of the heritage not just of the East, but of the whole universal Church?
In short, the magisterium commands us to preserve our Eastern heritage inteact, and to restore it where it has eroded, because like our lives, it belongs to God and his people, and is not ours to do with as we please.
This last point remains the historical problem of our Eastern Catholic liturgical life, a problem that the Holy See has expended tremendous energy in resolving since the end of the 19th century, beginning with the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) and the 1893 Eucharistic Congress of Jerusalem. Leo XIII would soon become known as “the pope of the Christian East”, and his pontificate marked the beginnings of the emancipation of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The story has been told and retold many times and does not need repeating here.
The problem I am talking about is of course what usually goes under the name “latinization”. Eastern Catholicism is often criticized for its “westernization”, an accusation that every honest person must admit contains some truth. The westernization has brought with it obvious disadvantages, specifically a certain erosion of the Eastern heritage. This does not mean that a does of the West has not been good medicine for the East. [Footnote: every coin has two sides, and contact with the “West” has also had decided advantages. It is “western” Christianity that taught us good clergy education and canonical discipline and frequentation of the sacraments and effective preaching, pastoral care, and religious education. And it is “western” culture that invented “modernity” with its traditional values of pluralism, civility, respect for individuals and their rights, and an intellectual, artistic and cultural life that strives to be free of outside restraint or manipulation, and seeks to be objective, even-handed, and fair. These ideals of intellectual honesty, coherence, consistency, self-criticism, objectivity, fairness, dialogue, moderation, and courtesy of tone and language even when in disagreement; and a reciprocity which, eschewing all “double standard” criticism, applies the same criteria and standards of judgment to one’s interlocutor’s thoughts and actions that one applies to one’s own, lead to cultural openness and a desire to know the other]. The problem is to make sure one is taking the right medicine, and that has not always been the case. For although we can and must always learn from one another, we cannot abandon our very identity for anyone else’s and expect the integrity of our culture and heritage to remain intact.
A Distinct Liturgy Expresses a Distinct and Integral Identity
For even if the basic religious belief is the same for all Catholic Christians, that common faith receives specific coloration from the particular lived experience of that faith within distinct historico-cultural settings. Liturgy is the most perfect and “official” expression of the soul that animates each tradition. It is by no means the only component of a particular tradition, however. For a cultural expression is meaningless unless prior to it there is something cultural to express! And so the Church’s Eastern and Western rites also include all the other elements we would expect to find in a Catholic culture: schools of theology with their own Fathers and Doctors, canonical discipline, schools of spirituality, devotions, monasticism, art, architecture, hymns, music and—and this must be stressed—the peculiar spirit that created this tradition, that in turn is fed by this tradition and that is essential to the identity of this tradition. [Footnote: In his April 9, 1944 Encyclical Orinetalis Ecclesiae (25-26), Pius XII indicated clearly that our Eastern Catholic traditions include much more than liturgy: “It is . . . important to hold in due esteem all that constitutes for the Oriental peoples their own special patrimony, as it were, handed down to them by their forefathers, and this wehter it regards the sacred liturgy and the hierarchical orders, or the other essentials of Christian live, provided only that all is in full conformity with genuine religious faith and with the right rules of moral conduct. For a lawful freedom must be allowed to each and every people of Oriental rite in all their own particular genius and temperment, so long as they are not in contrast with the true and integral doctrine of Jesus Christ”.]The Expression of an Ecclesial Identity is Integral and Indivisible
This reality, a particular Church’s “rite” or liturgical tradition, comprises the essential expression of that Church’s identity, and as such must be preserved in its integrity. Any liturgical tradition, like a language, comprises an integral whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. It is the totality, the complete synthesis that is the reality, in the face of which comparison with what is done or not done, what is the custom or is not the custom in another tradition, has no more validity than it does in spoken and written languages.
To try to imagine the Byzantine rite without Basil the Great’s theology of the Holy Spirit and the definitions of the First Council of Constantinople , without the victory over iconoclasm, without Theodore Studites; to think of the Armenian rite without Neses Shnorhali or the Chaldean rite without the poetry of Ephrem; is like trying to understand Italian without Dante, or English without Shakespeare, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. As with language, so with liturgy—individuals do not create them: peoples and their cultures do. One can no more “invent” a living liturgy than one can invent one’s mother tongue: one learns it as an essential part of one’s cultural heritage, which exists prior to and independent of our will or desires, whether we like it or not.
Why should this identity remain intact? Because that is the nature of things. For the English language to be English, it must remain English, and for the Byzantine liturgy to be the Byzantine liturgy, it has to remain just that. Not all languages have articles, but English does; it has a definite and an indefinite article. And one cannot speak and write literate English without using them. The fact that Russian and Latin do not have articles cannot be used to argue that English can do without them, too!
The same is true of liturgy. One cannot just introduce into a particular liturgy whatever one sees in another tradition that looks good without taking into account the integral structure and genius of each rite. And vice-versa, the fact that one rite does not have this or that ritual or devotion or prayer or vestment or piece of furniture does not mean another rite can drop it, any more than modern Bulgarian can drop its enclitic definite article just because Russian doesn’t have one! Of course, one cannot maintain the integrity of one’s cultural heritage unless one knows and understands the nature of one’s ecclesial traditions, and this is the real problem: ignorance, which of course is why the Holy See and the Oriental Congregation’s 1995 Instruction on liturgy insist so much on proper liturgical formation.Maintaining the Integral Tradition: Some Example
Permit me to give a few examples of what I mean by the integrity of a tradition, and how it must be respected. I will take my examples from a completely neutral area, the Church Year. It is well known that the Latin Church has developed a devotion to Mary during the Month of May, considered the month of Mary par excellence. And so, inevitably, some Eastern Catholic Churches have imitated this practice, as if they did not have their own and far more liturgically suitable “month of Mary”, thereby manifesting complete ignorance of the dynamics of the liturgical year as celebrated in their own tradition. Because of Mary’s inseparable link with the mystery of the Incarnation, in the most ancient theological and liturgical traditions of the East, the cult of the Mother of God is an integral part of the Nativity-Epiphany cycle. The roots of Advent in the oldest festive celebration in preparaton for Christmas was a commemoration of the Annunciation, originally just before Christmas. Still today, in the Syrian traditions, “Subbara”—Annunciation, is the name for Advent.
This forms the backdrop for the latest new Catholic liturgical dispositions regarding the liturgical cult of Mary in the Roman rite. The January 1 feast of the “Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God” (Sollemnitas sanctae Dei Genetricis Mariae) was re-instituted in the new “General Roman Calendar” by the reform decree Anni liturgici ordinatione of march 21, 1969. This reform not only restored ancient Roman rite useage, but also brought Western liturgy into line with the most ancient theological and liturgical traditions of the East, where the cult of the Mother of God is an integral part of the Nativity-Epiphany cycle. The restoration of this most ancient of Marian mysteries, the divine maternity, can only be welcomed as a recovery of a traditional and organic liturgical sensibility common to East and West.
Does this mean that we should “orientalize” the Latin rite? Let me answer by a second example. The Roman rite January 6 Feast of the Epiphany, centered on the visit of the Magi recounted in Mt 2:1-12, is a feast infinitely poorer in theology and symbolism than the extraordinarily rich Theophany feast of the East. So why not just “juice up” western Epiphany by orientalizing it, as one occasionally hears suggested? Because that would be an attack on the liturgical identity of the Latin Church, and would be the same mistake as the latinization of the Eastern rites. Such a suggestion shows a complete ignorance not only of both traditions, but also of the very nature and purpose of liturgical feasts.
Contrary to what is always said, liturgical feasts are not celebrations of events in salvation history. They are celebrations of the mysteries of salvation revealed to us in the biblical narrative of those events. In the East, the original feast of the Nativity cycle was January 6. In the West, it was December 25. What both feasts celebrated was not the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, nor his baptism in the Jordan, but the mystery of the manifestation, originally known as “epiphania” (manifestation) or “theophania” (divine manifestation); i.e., the appearance of God’s salvation in the Incarnation of his only-begotten Son. So, originally, each feast included all of the scenarios at the beginning of the Gospels that concern Jesus’ first manifesting this salvation, in some cases including even the Marriage Feast in Cana in Jn 2:1-11. Only later did the several biblical scenarios get redistributed between the two days, as a result of an exchange of feasts between East and West. This, then, is why the same richness of Scripture readings found in the East on January 6 are found in the West on December 25.
So, if both traditions wish to preserve their identity, the answer is not for them to imitate each other blindly, but for each to return to the roots of its own heritage. In this case, the West needs to stop thinking that Christmas is centered on a medieval Italian invention, Baby Jesus in the presepio. For there is no Baby Jesus; there is only the Risen Glorified Lord seated at the right hand of the Father, and He and his saving mysteries is what Christmas and Easter and everything is about. The Western January 6 feast is not a feast of the Magi, but of the manifestation of salvation to the Gentiles, a thematic which the East celebrates on February 2, the feast the West calls the “Presentation of Jesus in the Temple” as recounted in Lk 2:22-38—but which in Greek is called the Hypophante or “Encounter”, the meeting of the Savior with those He has come to save.The Recovery of Authenticity
These are not personal opinions I am expressing. That our liturgical traditions must be preserved in their integrity and restored when that integrity has been diminished or diluted or lost, has been repeated time and again in the authoritative magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church by all the popes over the last century and a half, by the new Roman editions of the Eastern Catholic liturgical books and the accompanying Ordo Celebrationis Vesparum, Mantini et Divinae Liturgiae Iuxta Recensionem Ruthenorum
(1944), by Vatican II (Orientalitum Ecclesiarum
, Sacrosanctum Concilium
, Lumen Gentium
, Unitatis Redintegratio
), by the new Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches
(Canons 28, 29, 350, 621, etc.), by the latest pronouncements of our present Holy Father John Paul II (the Discourse on the Marian Year
, Orientale Lumen
, etc.; and by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches’ Instruction for the Application of the Liturgical Norms of the CCEO
The Vatican II Decree on the Oriental Churche
s reaffirms this unambiguously:
6. All members of the Eastern Churches should be firmly convinced that they can and ought always preserve their own legitimate liturgical rites and way of life, and that changes are to be introduced only to forward their own organic development. They themselves are to carry out all these prescriptions with the greatest fidelity. They are to aim always at a more perfect knowledge and practice of their rites, and if they have fallen away due to circumstances of time or of persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions.
12. The holy ecumenical council confirms and approves the ancient discipline concerning the sacraments that exist in the Eastern Churches, and also the ritual observed in their celebration and administration, and wishes this to be restored where such a case arises.
Let us be perfectly clear: the only reason for the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches as “Ecclesiae particulares” is their distinct ecclesial patrimony—i.e., their “rite” in the full sense of that term. Our rite is not just an essential part of our identity; it is our identity. And without it there is no reason for us to exist apart from the Latin rite. If the only thing that distinguishes our rite from that of our Orthodox Sister Churches is our communion with and obedience to the Holy See of Rome, then one can legitimately ask what kind of Eastern Catholic ecclesiology could ignore such clear and repeated instructions of the Holy See in this regard. The answer, of course, is perfectly clear to anyone capable of thought.Opposition to Renewal
Ironically, however, the Eastern Catholic liturgical renewal so strenuously fostered by the Holy See since Pope Leo XIII has been opposed every step of the way by those who should have welcomed it on bended knee as a great grace from God; I mean, of course, the Eastern Catholic hierarchy with a few notable exceptions like Andrij Sheptytsky
(1865-1944), Archbishop of Lviv, Metropolitan of Halych, and primate of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church.
Various reasons have been given for this opposition, but as usual in such matters, the real roots go much deeper. The real issue is not ritual practice at all. Many of the rubrical niceties that divide the clergy—the size and shape of the veil or diskos, the cut of a vestment, the amplitude of one’s sleeves, where to put the antimension—are of little or no significance in themselves. But these divergent ritual uses have become symbols of religious identity, much as the Ritualist Movement in late 19th century Anglicanism. At issue were not mere differences of rubric, but symbolic affirmations of the conviction that Anglicanism was not “Protestant” but “Catholic”.
At bottom, then, what we face is two different interpretations of a community’s past, two different historical visions. This is possible because history, of course, is not just a shared past, but one’s view of that past seen through the lens of present concerns. This vision is not a passive view of the past as an objective reality, but a pattern formed through a process of selection determined by one’s present outlook.
Some Eastern Catholic clergy see their history as a progress from schism and spiritual stagnation into a life of discipline, renewal and restored religious practice in the Catholic communion. For this group, the adoption of certain Latin—they would say “Catholic”—devotions and liturgical uses is a sign of this new identity. Such attitudes reflect an interior erosion of the Eastern Christian consciousness, a “latinization of the heart” resulting from a formation insensitive to the true nature of the variety of traditions within the Catholic Church.Others, while not denying their commitment to the Catholic communion nor underestimating the obvious spiritual benefits it has brought to their Churches, see themselves as Orthodox in communion with Rome, distinguished from their Orthodox Sister Churches in nothing but the fact of that communion and its doctrinal and ecclesial consequences. They see the Latinisms that have crept into their tradition as a loss of identity, an erosion of their heritage in favor of foreign customs with which they can in no way identify themselves. For some, latinization is a sign of their identity, for others its negation, and both are right, because they perceive themselves differently.Underlying these issues, of course, is the more serious question of Rome’s credibility: is the Holy See to be believed in what it says about restoring the Eastern Catholic heritage? The morale of some of the younger Eastern Catholic clergy has of late been deeply affected by this cul-de-sac: they feel mandated to do one thing by the Holy See, and then are criticized or even disciplined by their bishop if they try to obey.The problem, as usual, is one of leadership, without which the hesitant or reluctant have no one to follow. What is needed is not just discipline and obedience, but also clergy education loyal to the clear policy of the Church on this question, and prudent pastoral preparation. This is the only way out of the vicious cycle that has been created: the proposed reforms are resisted because the clergy and the people are not prepared to accept them—yet some Church leaders do little or nothing to prepare the people for a renewal that the leaders themselves do not understand or accept.
Although I cannot pretend to read minds, I think there are two main reasons behind this deep-rooted reluctance to welcome the clear and unambiguous policy of Rome in its program of liturgical restoration of the Eastern traditions: 1) the restoration seems a pointless archaism; 2) its opponents are convinced in their hearts that some of the practices proposed are not “Catholic”, and hence, not “right”. That this directly contradicts the teaching of the Holy See is an irony that does not seem to dawn on them.
The first objection is easily dispensed with. The orientation of Catholic liturgical renewal is never towards the past but toward present pastoral needs. Of course, the liturgical scholar studies the past, but the purpose of such historical research is not to discover the past—much less to imitate it—but to recover the integrity of the pristine tradition which the past may well have obscured. The aim is not to restore the past, but to overcome it. For history is not the past, but a genetic vision of the present, a present seen in continuity with its roots. It is precisely those who do not know their past who are incapable of true, organic change. They remain victims of the latest cliché, prisoners of present useage because they have no objective standard against which to measure it.The proposed restoration, then, is not a blind imitation of a dead past, but an attempt, precisely, to free Eastern Catholics from a past in which, severed from the roots of their own tradition, they were deprived of any organic development and could conceive of growth only as sterile servility to their Latin confreres. Can one seriously propose this as a program to be preserved in our day?
Hence the irony of those critics of the Eastern Catholic liturgical restoration who accuse its promoters of fostering a return to the Middle Ages. As we shall see in the next section, it is precisely in the Middle Ages that the practices like infant communion in the Latin rite are first called into question for typically medieval motives that no one with any sense would heed today. So it is not the proponents of restoration but its opponents that are behind the times, stuck in a medieval rut out of which the major Catholic scholarly voices in this field have been leading the Church in this century.
A short list of issues where renewal of the Eastern heritage has met most resistance would include dropping the Filioque from the Creed, the consecratory Epiclesis after the Words of Institution, the unmixed Chalice in the Armenian tradition, the Byzantine zeon or teplota rite in which boiling water is added to the chalice just before communion, infant communion, and, in the Syro-Malabar tradition, proleptic language, eucharist facing East, and the restoration of the bema and the so-called Anaphoras of Nestorius and Theodore. On each of these points, the Holy See’s efforts at restoration have met with massive resistance, either active or passive, from within some circles.
Let me review a couple of these issues in light of recent developments.The Epiclesis Question
First, the Epiclesis question. The Eastern anaphoras follow the Words of Institution (“this is my body, this is my blood”) with an explicitly consecratory petition to the Holy Spirit. As early as the 3rd/4th centuries, the Holy Spirit epiclesis, in its most explicitly consecratory sense as a petition to change the gifts, had evolved peacefully in the Eucharistic theology of the Christian East in the classic patristic period, long before any East-West dispute over the question. [Footnote: The earliest 3rd/4th century witness to the explicitly consecratory Spirit epiclesis are Cyril/John II of Jerusalem, Catechesis 5.7; Theodore of Mopsuetia, Homily 16: the Apostolic Constitutions VIII, and the oldest Eastern anaphoras still in use today.]
What do these texts mean? They mean what they say. It is axiomatic in contemporary liturgical theology to distinguish between theologia prima and theologia secunda. Theologia prima, first-level theology, is the faith in the life of the Church antecedent to speculative questioning of its theoretical implications, prior to its systematization in the dogmatic propositions of theologia secunda or systematic reflection on the lived mystery of the Church. Liturgical language, the language of theologia prima, is typological, metaphorical, more redolent of Bible and prayer than of school and thesis, more patristic than scholastic, more impressionistic than systematic, more suggestive than probative. In a word, it is symbolic and evocative, not philosophical and ontological. Now, although it is perfectly obvious, indeed necessary, that doctrine will acquire theological refinements, especially in the heat of dogmatic controversy, it should be equally obvious that such refinements cannot be read back into texts composed long before the problems arose that led to those precisions. And since one must reject any attempt to press the texts beyond what they can bear, the most one can say is that of themselves, the anaphoral texts surrounding the institution and epiclesis in the Eastern anaphoras or in the Roman Canon neither confirm nor exclude any particular theological thesis about when or by what particular part of the anaphoral prayer the consecration is effected.
If we look to Orthodox theologia secunda on the Eucharistic consecration as reflected in the most representative of the Eastern Father and theologians, we see what one would expect: a theology, which in unbroken continuity from the fourth century, is perfectly consistent with the obvious meaning of the Eastern Eucharistic prayers. From Chrysostom onward, saints venerated in the East and West have held the doctrine most clearly formulated in the 8th century by St. John Damascene, “last of the Greek Fathers” (ca. 675-753-54), in his De fide orthodoxa: “God said, ‘This is My Body’ and ‘This is My Blood’, and ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’. And by his all-powerful command it is done until He comes. For that is what He said, until He should come, and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit becomes, through the invocation [i.e., the epiclesis], the rain of this new tillage”.
This is the classic Orthodox teaching: the power of the consecration comes from the words of Christ, the divine mandate which guarantees the Eucharistic conversion for all time. But the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit is the decisive liturgical moment, for the Damacene commentary continues, “. . .the bread of the prothesis, the wine and the water, are converted supernaturally into the body of Christ and the blood, through the invocation of the Holy Spirit”.
The pristine Latin theologia prima as expressed in the ancient Roman Canon Missae has a different but not totally dissimilar movement. The Roman Canon does not first recite the Institution Narrative then formulate its meaning in an epiclesis. Rather, it imbeds the Verba Domini in a series of discrete prayersfor the sanctification and acceptance of the oblation (which, theologically, are of course the same thing). Now some of these prayers even before the Words of Institution speak of the bread and wine in terms that can only refer to the Body and Blood of Christ; and conversely, after the Words of Institution refer to them in a way that could seem to imply the gifts are not yet consecrated.
Only the wooden-headed literalist totally innocent of the proleptic and reflexive nature of liturgical discourse could find anything surprising about this. Such seeming contradictions—and similar appearing contradictions can be found in the Fathers of the Church who comment on the Eucharistic prayer—result from the fact that before the Middle Ages, nobody tried to identify a “moment of consecration” apart from the anaphoral prayer over the gifts in its entirety. No less an authority on the Roman Eucharist than Joseph-Andreass Jungmann, SJ, sums up the original common tradition of the undivided Church as follows: “In general,, Christian antiquity, even until way into the Middle Ages, manifested no particular interest regarding the determination of the precise moment of the consecration. Often reference was made to the entire Eucharistic prayer”.
This is the true ancient tradition of the Latin Fathers and theologians. In his De officiis eccelesiae, I, 15, Isidore of Seville (ca. 560-636), says that the consecration occurs in the Canon by the power of the Holy Spirit. Isidore is commonly considered the “last of the Latin Fathers”, so right through to the end of the patristic period, the view was current in Latin as well Greek theology, 1) that the Eucharistic consecration was the work of the Holy Spirit, and 2) that the prayer which affected it was the canon or anaphora, without further specifying one of its component parts as the “form” of the sacrament or the “moment of consecration”. Fulgentius of Ruspe (533) and numerous other early Latin authors teach the same doctrine. Nor is this view different from that of medieval Latin commentators, as we see in Peter Lombard (ca. 1095-1160), John Teutonicus (after 1215), and the Glossa ordinaria ad Decretum Gratiani, which includes the latter text in its anthology, showing how commonly accepted this teaching was.
Note, please, that all these authoritative medival Latin commentators explain the Supplices prayer, which is said after the Words of Institution in the Roman Canon, as a petition to consecrate. In modern times a Catholic classic on the Eucharist, Maurice de la Taille’s Mysterium fidei, also recognizes the Supplices prayer as “a Roman epiclesis that corresponds both in the place it occupies and in its meaning—though not in its external form—to the Eastern epiclesis. This is precisely what the classic 14th century Orthodox Eucharistic commentator Nicholas Kabasilas himself recognized in Chapter 30 of his Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, when he cites the Supplices prayer following the Institution in the Roman Canon as saying basically the same thing as the Byzantine epiclesis.
The later Western narrowing of perspective, ultimately doctrinalized in the scholastic hylomorphic matter-and-form (matria/forma) theory of Eucharistic consecration, contrasts sharply with the theologia prima of the Roman Canon and its earlier Latin interpreters, which views, in turn, were fully cosonant with traditional Orthodox doctrine.
Can the two traditions be reconciled? Much has been made of the fact that, long before the dispute began, John Chrysostom attributes consecratory efficacy both to the Words of Institution and to the Epiclesis. Chrysostom states in at least seven different homilies that what happens in the Eucharist happens by the power of the Holy Spirit, a teaching common to both the Latin and Greek Churches. In at least one instance it is clear that Chrysostom is talking of the epiclesis. But in his Homily on the Betrayal of Judas (De proditione Judae hom), he attributes the consecration to Christ in the Words of Institution.
Nicholas Kabasilas (ca. 1350) and numerous orthodox theologians after him have argued, rightly, that Chrysostom assigns consecratory power not to the priest’s liturgical repetition of Jesus’ words, but to the historical institution itself, i.e., to the original utterance of Jesus whose force extends to all subsequent Eucharistic celebrations. But this is no different from the position of the Latins, who obviously attribute the efficacy of Jesus’ words not to the prayer of the priest, as Kabasilas accuses them, but to the indefectible effectiveness of the Word of God, as is made perfectly clear in Ambrose, De sacramentis, IV:
13. to produce the venerable sacrament, the priest does not use his own words, but the words of Christ, so it is the word of Christ which produces this sacrament. 15. Which word of Christ? The one by which all things were made. The Lord commanded and the heavens were made, the Lord commanded and the earth was made, the Lord commanded and the seas were made, the Lord commanded and all creatures were brought into being. You see, then, how effective the word of Christ is. If then, there is such power in the word of the Lord Jesus that things which were not began to be, how much more effective must they be in changing that which already exists into something else!. . . 17. Hear, then, how the word of Christ is accustomed to change all creatures, and to change, when it will, the laws of nature. . .
This is exactly what Chrysostom says: the same Jesus accomplishes the same Eucharist, the same marvels, in the liturgy as in the Last Supper.
So the classic Eastern Orthodox theology of consecration does not attribute the sanctification of the gifts to the Holy Spirit epiclesis alone; i.e., sensu negante, in deliberate exclusion of Jesus and his words. For Nicholas Kabasilas, as for Saints John Chrysostom and John Damascene, therefore, neither epiclesis nor Institution Narrative stands alone: they are interdependent in the context of the anaphora, as we would say today.
Catholic theologians with a modicum of historical knowledge and common sense have long since adopted the same balanced, non-polemical, ironical view. As early as the 17th century, the famous Bossuet (1627-1704) raised his voice in favor of sanity. He says, “without inquiring about precise moments” in this issue,
The intent of liturgies, and in general, of consecratory prayers, is not to focus our attention on precise moments, but to have us attend to the action in its entirety, and to its complete effect. . . It is to render more vivid what is being done that the Church speaks at each moment as though it were accomplishing the entire action then and there, without asking whether the action as been accomplished, or perhaps is still to be accomplished.
Dom Charles Chardon, OSB, in his Histoire des sacraments (Paris, 1745), expressed a similarly balanced view of the situation:
Despite this diversity [over the form or moment of the consecration] there was formerly no dispute over this subject. The Greeks and the Latins were convinced that the species [of bread and wine] were changed into the body and blood of our Savior in virtue of the words of the Canon of the Mass, without examining the precise moment at which this change occurred, nor just which of the words [of the anaphora] effected it as over against other [words]. One side said the change was effected by the prayer and invocation of the priest; the others that it was the words of our Lord when he instituted this august sacrament. And they in no way believed that these different ways of expressing themselves were opposed to each other (and indeed they were not, as would be easy to show). But we shall leave that to theologians to treat. . .
Since that time, a steady stream of Catholic theologians have moved toward the view that the formula of eucharistic consecration comprises the prayer over the gifts in its entirety. I do not have the space to list these theologians here—those interested can find their teaching in Vincentian Father John McKenna’s thorough review of the question [Eucharist and the Holy Spirit]. The most recent study by Dom Burkhard Neunheuser, OSB, monk of Maria Lasch, and professor emeritus of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, furnishes not only the most explicit and emphatic justification of the return to the original tradition of the undivided Church, but also does so with full respect for the traditional Catholic teaching on the centrality of the Words of Institution within the anaphoral context.
As Neunheuser is careful to point out, this renewal is already found reflected in official Catholic magisterial texts in the aftermath of Vatican II. Paragraph 54 of the November 18, 1969 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, the reformed Roman Missal, says of the Eucharistic Prayer, “Now begins the summit and center of the whole celebration, namely the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. . .” “Sanctification”, of course, means in this context “eucharistic consecration”. The May 25, 1967 Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium reflects the same return to tradition. And Pope Paul VI in his June 18, 1968 Apostolic Constitution Pontificalis Romanni recognitio, does so, too, when he affirms that the “form” of the sacrament is the entire ordination prayer and not some isolated formula within it: “The form. . . consists in the words of the very prayer of consecration”.
This renewal found ecumenical agreement in Part I, Section 6 of the July 1982 Munich Statement of the Orthodox-Catholic Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue: “. . .the Eucharistic mystery is accomplished in the prayer which joins together the words by which the Word made flesh instituted the sacrament and the epiclesis in which the Church, moved by faith, entreats the Father, through the Son, to send the Spirit. . . “ This is reflected most recently in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (Sec. 1352), which refers to the entire anaphora or eucharistic prayer as “. . . the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration (. . .prex nempe actionis gratiae et consecrationis)”, and says that the consecration is effected “by the force of the words and actions of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (vis verborum et actionis Christi, et Spiritus Sancti potentia)”.
So the whole undivided Church of East and West held that the Eucharistic gifts were consecrated in the Eucharistic Prayer, even if the theologia prima in the Eucharistic prayers of the East and West expressed this differently as early as the 4th century. The theologia secunda or theological reflection of these prayers in the East and West was also different. The West stressed the Verba Domini, the East stressed the epiclesis while not denying the necessity of the Words of Institution. Problems arose only in the Late Middle Ages when the Latin West unilaterally shifted the perspective by dogmatizing its hylomorphic theology. These points are not theory but demonstrable historical facts. It is now recognized that this Western innovation narrows the early teaching of the undivided Church, and Catholic teaching has for over a century been moving towards recovery of the view that what an earlier theology was pleased to call the “form” of a sacrament is the central prayer of the ritual, and not some single isolated formula. This prayer can be understood and interpreted only within its liturgical context. The Words of Institution are not some magical formula but part of a prayer of the Church operative only within its worship context. In the East and the West, this context was and is and will remain diverse within the parameters of our common faith that Jesus, through the ministers of his Church, nourishes us with the mystery of his Body and Blood.The Zeon (Teplota)
Another usage, typically Byzantine, which has caused endless discomfort to the latinizers, is the custom of adding boiling water to the Precious Blood just before communion. This problem, too, has its history. When the presence of the Italo-Greeks in southern Italy gave rise to debates among Catholics concerning the legitimacy of this usage, Nikolaos-Nectarios, Abbot (1219-1235) of the Monastery of St. Nicola di Casole near Otranto, strongly defended it in his short but trenchant Epistula vel Apologia pro illo Graecorum ritu quo utuntur in sacra missa adhibentes aquam calidam in sacro calice post commixtionem Dominici corporis et sanguinis. At a much later date, the scruples from scholastic quantitative sacramental materialism will lead the Ruthenian Catholic Synod of Zamosc in 1720 to suppress the Zeon rite, despite the fact that as early as March 6, 1254, Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254) had approved the use of thermon in the Eucharist for the Greeks of Cyprus, at that time under Latin domination.
Porro in appositione aquae sive frigidae sive calidae vel tepidae in altaris sacrificio, suam se velint consuetudinem Graeci secquantur, dummodo credant et asserant, quod, servanta canonis forma conficiatur pariter de utraque.
Further, regarding the putting of water, either cold or hot or warm in the sacrifice of the altar, let the Greeks follow their own custom, as long as they believe and assert that if the form of the canon is observed, the Eucharist is equally consecrated from both.
Though these papal approvals have been repeated time and again, most notably by Pope Benedict XIV in Etsi Pastoralis (1742) and Allatae Sunt (1755), and incorporated into the official Roman editions of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, some Greek Catholics, more Catholic than the pope, will still appeal to the outdated suppression of the Zeon at Zamosc. The author himself has experienced personally the scruples of latinized Eastern Catholic priests, fearful that if too much zeon is added to the consecrated Wine, it will apparently induce the Lord to take his leave! The general theory among Catholic adherents of this “quantitative” rather than symbolic sacramental theology is that the chalice mixture must contain at least two-thirds wine for “validity”. As the evidence adduced by Hanssens shows, however, one would be hard put to maintain that there was only one-third water in the cups the early Christians consecrated. And the first authoritative insistance on adding to the chalice only a small amount of water is found in Canon 814 of the pre-Vatican II Latin rite Codex iuris canonici, a disciplinary decree that does not concern Eastern usage.Infant Communion
A final example is the question of giving Holy Communion to infants who have not yet reached the “age of reason”. Here again, it is a question of the constantly reiterated will of the Holy See, resumed in the Vatican II Decree On the Eastern Churches, Sections 6 and 12, that the Eastern Catholics 1) avoid latinization, 2) preserve their own tradition in its purity, and 3) return to their tradition where they have departed from it.
In harmony with this unambiguous will of the Church, the commission preparing the new Code of Eastern Canon Law prepared new legislation restoring the ancient discipline of infant Communion:
The traditional discipline of the Eastern Churches prescribes the communion of newly baptized infants as the completion of initiation. . . The commission has not ignored a problem so important as the communion of neophytes, for which reason it was obliged to reestablish the ancient common discipline by composing a new canon in the following terms: “Sacramental initiation into the Mystery of Salvation is perfected through the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. Therefore let it be administered as soon as possible after baptism and chrismation with the Sacred Myron, according to the discipline proper to each Church”
This decree has become Canon 697 of the new Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
. This has warmed the hearts of Western Catholic experts on Christian Initiation, who for some time now have been arguing for the restoration of the integrity of the threefold rite of initiation in the Roman rite. Unfortunately, it has met with less than enthusiastic acceptance in some Eastern Catholic communities that long ago abandoned in favor of the Latin discipline the ancient common tradition of infant Communion immediately after baptism and chrismation.
Now, in the case of Christian Initiation, modern historical research and historical reflection have shown that the universal primitive tradition of both East and West viewed the liturgical completion of Christian Initiation as one integral rite comprising three moments of baptism, chrismation and Eucharist, and without all three the process is incomplete. In Christian antiquity, to celebrate initiation without Eucharist would have made about as much sense as celebrating half a wedding would today. For this reason, contemporary Western Catholic experts on the liturgy and theology of Christian Initiation have insisted on the necessity of restoring the integrity of this process which broke down in the Middle Ages.
I expect that some of the Eastern Catholic clergy, educated in Latin seminaries or at least in Latin categories of a previous epoch, are convinced that the practice of infant communion is not “Catholic”—or at least not as Catholic as the Latin practice of delaying first Communion until children have attained the use of reason. Why they might think this is no mystery. The prevailing Latin thesis was that the use of reason was necessary to receive the Eucharist fruitfully. But if this is so, what could be the point of infant Communion?
This problem, too, can be dissipated by a knowledge of the facts. From the beginning of the primitive Church in East and West, the process of Christian Initiation for both children and adults was one inseparable sequence comprising catechumenate, baptism, chrismation (confirmation) and Eucharist. History is unmistakably clear in this matter: every candidate, child or adult, was baptized, confirmed, and given Communion as part of a single initiation rite. This is the universal ancient Catholic Tradition. Anything else is less ancient and has no claim to universality.
For centuries, this was also the tradition of the Church of Rome. In 417, Pope Innocent I in a doctrinal letter to the Fathers of the Synod of Milevis, teaches that infant initiation necessarily includes Communioon:
To preach that infants can be given the rewards of eternal life without the grace of baptism is completely idiotic. For unless theu eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, they will not have life in them. [Note: From the text, it is obvious that Innocent I is teaching principally that without baptism infants cannot be saved. But the argument he uses from John 6:53, which refers to the necessity of eucharist for salvation, shows he simply took for granted that communion was an integral part of Christian Initiation for infants].
That this was the actual liturgical practice of Rome can be seen, for example, in the 7th century Ordo romanus XI, and in the 12th century Roman pontifical, which repeats almost verbatim the same rule (I cite from the later text):
Concerning infants, care should be taken that they receive no food or be nursed (except in case of urgent need) before receiving the sacrament of Christ’s Body. And afterwards, during the whole of Easter Week, let them come to Mass, and receive Communion every day.
Until the 12th century this was the sacramental practice of the Roman Church and the doctrinal teaching of Latin theologians. Christ Himself said in John 6:53 that it was necessary for eternal life to receive his Body and Blood—“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you”—and the medieval Latin theologians applied this to everyone without exception, infants included.
The practice began to be called into question in the 12th century not because of any argument about the need to have attained the “age of reason” (aetus discretionis) to communicate. Rather, the fear of profanation of the Host if the child could not swallow it led to giving the Precious Blood only. And then the forbidding of the chalice to the laity in the West led automatically to the disappearance of infant Communion, too. This was not the result of any pastoral or theological reasoning. When the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) ordered yearly confession and Communion for those who have reached the “age of reason” (annos discretionis), it was not affirming this age as a requirement for reception of the Eucharist. Even the 1910 decree Quam singulari
issued under Pius X mentions the age of reason not as required before Communion, but as the age when the obligation of satisfying the precept begins.
Nevertheless, the notion eventually took hold that Communion could not be received until the age of reason, even though infant Communion in the Latin rite continued in some parts of the West until the 16th century. Though the Fathers of Trent (Session XXI,4) denied the necessity of infant Communion, they refused to agree with those who said it was useless and inefficacious—realizing undoubtedly that the exact same arguments used against infant Communion could also be used against infant baptism, because for over ten centuries in the West, the same theology was used to justify both! For the Byzantine rite, on December 23, 1534, Paul III explicitly confirmed the Italo-Albanian custom of administering Communion to infants.
So the plain facts of history show that for 1200 years the universal practice of the entire Church of East and West was to communicate infants. Hence, to advance doctrinal arguments against infant Communion is to assert that the sacramental teaching and practice of the Roman Church was in error for 1200 years. Infant Communion was not only permitted in the Roman Church, at one time the supreme magisterium taught that it was necessary for salvation. In the Latin Church the practice was not suppressed by any doctrinal or pastoral decision, but simply died out. Only later, in the 13th century, was the ‘age of reason’ theory advanced to support the innovation of baptizing infants without also giving them Communion. So the “age of reason” requirement for Communion is a medieval Western pastoral innovation, not a doctrinal argument. And the true ancient tradition of the whole Catholic Church is to give Communion to infants. Present Latin usage is a medieval innovation.
The real issue, of course, is not infant Communion, but the universal tradition of the integrity of Christian Initiation, which the West abandoned only in the 12th century. The traditional order of initiation (baptism, chrismation, communion) was maintained until Quam singulari in 1910, when in some countries first Communion began to be given before confirmation. But the Holy See has in the official praenotando of the new Roman Rite of Christian Initiation promulgated May 15, 1969, reaffirmed the traditional order and interrelationship of these rites:
1. Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, men and women are freed from the power of darkness. With Christ, they die, are buried and rise again. They receive the Spirit of adoption which makes them God’s sons and daughters and with the entire people of God, they celebrate the memorial of the Lord’s death and reurrection.
2. Through baptism, men and women are incorporated into Christ. They are formed into God’s people, and they obtain forgiveness for all their sins. They are raised from their natural human condition to the dignity of adopted children. They become a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence they are called, and are indeed the children of God.
Signed with the gift of the Spirit in confirmation, Christians more perfectly become the image of their Lord and are filled with the Holy Spirit. They bear witness to him before all the world, and work eagerly for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Finally, they come to the table of the Eucharist, to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, so that they may have eternal life and shoew forth the unity of God’s people. By offering themselves with Christ, they share in his universal sacrifice: the entire community of the redeemed is offered to God by their high priest. They pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of God’s family.
Thus the three sacraments of Christian Initiation clearly combine to bring the faithful to full stature of Christ and to enable them to carry out the mission of the entire people of God I the Church and in the world.
Thus the Catholic Church has reaffirmed the normative value of the ancient tradition preserved from time immemorial in the East—a renewal received with enthusiasm by all the experts in the field. So both universal early tradition and the present teaching of even the Latin Church show Eastern practice to be not a strange exception that should be abandoned, but the traditional ideal that should be preserved or restored.Conclusion
Of course, no one can expect every Eastern Catholic Church leader to know all this history. What one can expect of them, however, is that they trust the leadership of the supreme universal magisterium of the Catholic Church in its indications for this renewal and to do what they are told. The supreme magisterium’s policies for our liturgical renewal may not always meet with understanding and agreement, but they should at least meet with obedience. Otherwise, what can we possibly mean when we say Eastern Catholic? But unless the liturgical restoration is accompanied by an interior renewal of the Eastern Christian ethos and spirit, it will remain little more than ritualism.
As the late Archbishop Joseph Tawil wrote in his Christmas message of 1970, we must have “the courage to be ourselves”. Appendix
Liturgical Problems in North America
All of the above are of course purely clerical problems, despite routine clerical pretense that one cannot do this or that “because of the people”. That is true only when the clergy have