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Looking for some Byzantine perspective here.

All across the vast reaches and depths of the internet, there seems to be what I would consider a false controversy surrounding the idea of Holy Days of Obligation. I may be incredibly wrong, but the “debate” seems to be more about semantics than anything.

For context, I’ve seen many Latin Catholics ask about days of obligation in the Byzantine Rite (a very honest, understandable, and sincere question), and be met with a terrible attitude and a lot of “snark” but never a genuine answer or attempt to edify.

The question still remains: What are the Holy Days of Obligation in the Byzantine Rite?

To clarify, I understand and agree that we attend liturgy to honor and praise God and it should not be something we feel is a “chore”. That said, there are days where one cannot or would find it difficult to attend a liturgical service of any type but (in the Latin Church) are obliged to do so under penalty of sin. What are those days on the Byzantine calendar?

Please keep in mind, this is an honest/sincere question. All differences in theological perspective aside, I feel like it is answerable in a charitable and non-demeaning or sanctimonious/condescending way. Any such straightforward answer would be appreciated.

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Below are the canons in question. To wit, there are two classes of days of obligation-Obligation (specified within the CCEO) and Precept (specified by the Church sui juris or eparchy). The days with obligation are: Sundays, December 25, January 6, June 29, August 15 and Ascension. Days of precept are dicatated by Church. In the Byzantine rite, traditionally there were around two dozen such days. The Romanians and Ukrainians follow the traditional list wrt obligation for laity. For the Ruthenian church in the USA, those days are days the services are required to be celebrated by the priest, but the laity don't have the same obligation to attend.

Also, obligation can be satisfied by attending any of the Divine Praises, not just the Divine Liturgy. Finally, liturgical celebrations are tied to fasting practices. Proper full celebration of a feast thus includes fasting and attendence to all the major services of the day (Vespers, Orthros, Divine Liturgy).

The other days (than listed above) are September 8, 14, 26; October 1 (Slav) or 23 (Greek); November 8, 21; December 6, 25; January 6, 30, February 2; March 25; GHThursday, Ascension; April 23; May 8; June 24, 29, July 20; August 6, 15, all Sundays, Temple Feast. There is local variation, of course.

Canon 880 - Ї1. Only the supreme authority of the Church can establish, transfer or suppress feast days and days of penance which are common to all of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for Ї3.
Ї2. The authority of a Church sui iuris which is competent to establish particular law can constitute, transfer or suppress feast days and days of penance for that Church sui iuris, however having sought the opinions of the other Churches sui iuris and with due regard for can. 40, Ї1.
Ї3. Holy days of obligation common to all the Eastern Churches, beyond Sundays, are the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Dormition of the Holy Mary Mother of God and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul except for the particular law of a Church sui iuris approved by the Apostolic See which suppresses a holy days of obligation or transfers them to a Sunday.

Canon 881 - Ї1. The Christian faithful are bound by the obligation to participate on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy, or according to the prescriptions or legitimate customs of their own Church sui iuris, in the celebration of the divine praises.
Ї2. In order for the Christian faithful to fulfill this obligation more easily, the available time runs from the evening of the vigil until the end of the Sunday or feast day.
Ї3. The Christian faithful are strongly recommended to receive the Divine Eucharist on these days and indeed more frequently, even daily.
Ї4. The Christian faithful should abstain from those labors or business matters which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's day, or to the proper relaxation of mind and body.

Canon 882 - On the days of penance the Christian faithful are obliged to observe fast or abstinence in the manner established by the particular law of their Church sui iuris.

Canon 883 - Ї1. The Christian faithful who are outside the territorial boundaries of their own Church sui iuris can adopt fully for themselves the feast days and days of penance which are in force where they are staying.
Ї2. In families in which the parents are enrolled in different Churches sui iuris, it is permitted to observe the norms of one or the other Church, in regard to feast days and days of penance.

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From an earlier post in this forum on the same subject

https://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/234999/holy_days_orthodox_obligation

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I just spoke with an Orthodox priest concerning their Ascension services and I was wondering if they consider it a Holy Day of Obligation like the West does. He told me that they do not have this same concept and that attendance is something everybody should do who is able, but it is notmandatory or sinful to miss for some reason.

I found this interesting since on my other post people were criticizing the western church for movingthe day to sunday to make it easier for people to attend. I understand the criticism, but then what of the fact that we actually require all people to go to Holy Days of Obligation and in the Orthodox Church it is not considered sinful to miss one?

It does not bother me that the Orthodox believe differently, and I am not trying to disrespect them, I am just curious as to how their view of attending Holy Days and Sundays compares with the West, and if I got accurate information from the priest.

This is my understanding also.

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Saint Basil gives the canon that one is excommunicated if he or she misses three Sundays in a row without reason. I think this is still the case technically but not really enforced these days. It boils down to talk to your priest. As for Eastern Catholics, we have not been under our traditional canon law since the 1930s or 1950s (I cannot remember precisely we were put under the 1917 code), so what the Orthodox do is one thing and what Eastern Catholics do is another, for good or for ill.

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Firstly, just want to thank you all for the well thought out and thorough replies. Secondly, thank you for positive attitudes and the education! These are the best answers to this question I have found in many hours of searching across the internet.

God bless you all.

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Christ is in our midst!!

I find this whole idea of forcing someone to go to the Divine Liturgy--or Mass, for Latin Catholics--by making it an "obligation" as completely missing the point.

We meet Christ, our Creator, when we participate in the Divine Liturgy/Mass. We meet the One Who we should love above all other people and all other things. Consider, if someone begins a new relationship, does one count deepening, developing, and nurturing that relationship as an "obligation"--something that is a drudgery, something one does as if needing a gun held to one's head?

I bracket my life with the Liturgy. I no sooner leave one and am looking forward to the next time I will encounter the Lord and be nourished in my relationship by Him. At liturgy, I will be taught in the Scripture readings. And each time I hear a familiar one, the Holy Spirit reveals some new way of understanding it. At liturgy I will be nourished with what the preparation prayers call "unearthly bread that feeds my mind." When I hold my Lord in my hand and gaze it Him, I realize that this is the only reality that there is. This life changes constantly and passes away. But He is the same yesterday, today, and always. I reflect on how I treat Him as He lies in my hand and remember that the reverence, the respect, the love that I show Him in that moment before consuming Him is the way He will treat me when I am called into eternity and am held in His Hands.

We are in a love affair. We enter into that love affair concretely in the Divine Liturgy. No one calls a love affair an obligation, but sees it as something to be cherished and nurtured. It should be like the feeling a newly-wed feels during the work day--I counted the hours and minutes until I returned to my beloved. I count the hours and minutes until I am back at Liturgy.

As a professional, I am often gifted to be able to attend the Liturgy during the course of my work. I count that as a bonus. I never count the hours or minutes I have to be there.

On the one hand, it is a sad thing to leave Liturgy because it is over. But since we carry Our Lord with us after we have received Him and He is absorbed into every fiber of our being, it is not really sad.

Christ did not approach His mission, including the Cross, the Nails, and the Tomb as an obligation. He did not see the Last Supper in that way either. He embraced His Passion eagerly because He intended it to be the way through which He would reach us over time and distance until He comes again. He joyfully established the Liturgy as the way we would connect with Him through the years to follow. I believe we should treat our being at Liturgy the same way.

My 2 cents this afternoon.

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Agree with all the above. Conversely, sometimes we do not feel like going to Divine Liturgy/Mass' yet we go out of love, reverence and honor to God. So it's a combination of love and duty.

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I agree that it shouldn't be an obligation, but it actually kind of is and we shouldn't be afraid to call it that way. As a recent revert to Orthodoxy I was not troubled in having to see it as an obligation because the Divine Liturgy is also called a Sacrifice (like prayer) and it made perfect sense. What confused me was people (even priests) talking in confusing ways like it isn't an obligation but it has to be done freely however don't be late, be careful how you dress, don't talk etc.
Since the Bride of Christ, the Church, our Mother, is not in a love affair but in a blessed marriage with Christ I think of it in terms of a perfect love - marriage. How does it feel for God? He isn't always pleased with us, sometimes we anger Him, sometimes we abandon Him and we hurt ourselves even deeper. Does He abandon us? Are we living what we deserve for our sins? Even when it's hard for us, not even close. We live in His eternal love for us as He lifts the sins of the World.
Being perfect for Him is never an obligation to do Sacrifice for love.
Being flawed it sometimes feels like an obligation to us to do our small sacrifice for love.
Early Church Fathers spoke more directly about rules, about how to pray, about doing an effort that is real just for God. I found that easy to swallow and then hard to digest still getting harder. Church Fathers bleed us dry of tears but they are always soothing. .
And after I read Saint John Chrysosthom, Saint John Climacus and even Christ's words in the New Testament I got very bitter that the non-confrontational almost zen-like behavior of Modern Orthodoxy is leading away people from the Church probably even faster than how the "Catholic Cafeteria" or "the woke Pope" is alienating many Catholics.
Not everyone has purified feelings, not everyone has been practicing the faith for that long.
St John Climacus said it takes fearing God to obtain His love.
To be perfect first and then Sacrifice this was God's place. Most of us just struggle with the obligation, burn our head to concentrate on the prayers, be nice yet quiet in church, and hope He makes you deserve His body before the Eucharist because just after Confession and before Communion, in that small amount of time you happened to get mad in your heart at someone, or at the news and you are immediately in a state of sin and need all those prayers before Communion and His help, so you can receive Him.
Please forgive me if I sounded bitter at the high feelings expressed above.


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