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Author Topic: Corpus Christi Feast?  (Read 8006 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timos
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« on: September 24, 2005, 01:12:38 PM »

Hey everyone, I was wondering...do we have an Orthodox equivalent to the Western feast of Corpus Christi?? I've seen processions where the priest carries the Host in a big monstrance with his hands covered by a cloth and all these altar boys and deacons carrying lamps and incense.

I've never seen anything like this in our Eastern churches but what about the Western Rite churches? Are they allowed to celebrate Corpus Christi?
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Michael
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2005, 01:25:57 PM »

It isn't merely a queation of whether they are allowed to celebrate it: it is a part of their calendar and a major feast - they would have to come up with a rather good excuse not to celebrate it.  Quite right too, IMO - it is a wonderful Feast and the liturgical celebrations are amazing!

I was involved last year with a reconstruction of the celebration of Corpus Christi according to the Use of York (which was very similar to Sarum), arranged by the Gild of Clerks.  Unfortunately, it wasn't totally accurate, as, in mediaeval times, the procession would have gone from All Saints', North Street to York Minster, but there was a big service going on at York Minster that day, so we did it as it would have been done in smallr parish churches: we began indoors, the Sacrament was placed in the ciborium, and we processed around the outside of the church building.

What a wonderful witness to the community these outdoor processions are in a time when religions is very unpopular in society!  Especially when they are firmly grounded in the Sacramental life of the Church.  I pray for the restoration of the Western Rite to this green and pleasant land.
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2005, 02:13:08 PM »

If I recall correctly Corpus Christi was established after the schism, hence Thomas Aquinas was the author of many of texts for the feast.  Now they are quite beautiful, but I'm not so sure they should be used by the Orthodox. 
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Michael
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2005, 02:26:22 PM »

I have come across similar sentiments expressed before, but never really with an explanation of why.

That view would only be correct if it were the case that, at the Schism, the west rejected every single aspect of Orthodox theology and spirituality and replaced it with something completely different.  This is obviously not true.  There are many, many strains of Orthodoxy that remained in the West.  Admittedly, some essentials were lost and some strange ideas were added, but there is nothing about the Feast of Corpus Christi that is at odds with the Orthodox Faith.  There is no reason why it shouldn't be adopted by the Orthodox of the Western Rite.
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Friar Tuck
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2005, 06:38:05 PM »

No, This is a truly western devotion. Some "western" Orthodox may, but the canonical Orthodox Church of the Byzantine ritual do not.

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Timos
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2005, 07:01:53 PM »

Didn't this lady see a vision in which the sun had black spots in it and Christ made it known to her that this round blemish was part of the church calendar which was left empty and so they started celebrating that feast.

If I recall correctly, it is celebrated on Holy/Maundy Thursday of Holy Week right?

On Holy thursday, we (orthodox) have the reading of the 12 gospels and the procession inside the darkened church while "Simeron Krematai...Today Is Hung". My priest told me that we do things weird because during the Turkish occupation, the cycle of services for Holy Week got shifted a day back so we celebrate Christ's Passion more so on the thursday whereas we celebrate His Death and layin in the tomb on Friday....but no sign of celebrating the Body and Blood of Christ other than the morning liturgy of course.
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2005, 12:06:58 AM »

Corpus Christi, isn't that a town in Texas?  I know it is...
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2005, 01:06:13 AM »

Y'know, when you dissect the "logic" behind post-schism Roman Catholic "Eucharistic Devotions", it is hard to immediately find any fault with them.  After all, Orthodoxy teaches that the bread and wine presented at the altar truly and really become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ - and after the consecration, we certainly do hold a supremely worshipful and careful posture toward them, far beyond any iconography, relics, etc.

At the same time, something in my "gut" tells me that there is something at least a little problematic about the practice.  This mighty just be prejudice on my part, but I can't shake that feeling.  And while antiquity is not always a good argument against a newer practice (for example, in the most ancient times, there would have been few if any Icons where the Eucharist was celebrated, and the Holy Gifts would have been put into the hands of the faithful, not administered in a spoon), it seems to be significant to me that in the pre-schism west and in the rest of Orthodox Christendom there is not tradition of using things like "monstrances" or the other "eucharistic devotions" we see now in Catholicism.

I suspect the significance is not that we lack faith in the true nature of the Holy Gifts - but rather that such devotions can have the paradoxical effect of circumscribing the presence of God, in particular the glorified God-Man Jesus Christ Who our Icons show as "Christ Pantokrator" - Christ Almighty, and not simply as God, but as God-Man, ruling over all and immediately present to all.  While this cannot help but sound profane, my concern is that such devotions create the mentality of "God in a box", where as the Orthodox approach toward the Holy Gifts recognizes they have a purposeful utility - to be consumed and assimilated into our physical bodies.  IOW Christ did not establish the Holy Oblation on the eve of His betrayal because He would somehow be absent from us otherwise, but with the specific end of assimilating our physicality into His own.

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2005, 06:21:33 AM »

Quote
I have come across similar sentiments expressed before, but never really with an explanation of why.

It gets to the whole root of the east vs. west thing, IMO. This is a gross oversimplification, but essentially, the west says "why not?" and the east says "why should I?"ÂÂ  In the west, if it's good enough for Rome it's good enough for everyone. In the East, it's every local Church deciding what customs and whatnot to use. Generally there is agreement, but just because one group has something, that doesn't mean that they feel that every other Church on the face of the earth is obligated to take up the same practice.

Do the Orthodox badger Catholics about the Jesus Prayer or similar, generally Eastern practices? Have there been posts on theology fora demanding that Catholics go out and buy the liberal schlock put out by Trappists like Basil Pennington and start developing their interior prayer life and incorporating Eastern Spirituality into their lives? The only time I see this suggested is when someone actually wants to become Orthodox, or is interested in Orthodoxy. The west has practices (and have from the beginning) all their own, as have the east. No big deal.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2005, 06:30:29 AM by Asteriktos » Logged

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Michael
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2005, 11:35:12 AM »

Timos, yes.  There is the story of the vision of the black spot on the sun.  The Feast of Corpus Christi is not Maundy Thursday: it is celebrated on the Thursday after the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

Username, the town is named after the Feast, as is one of the well-known colleges at Cambridge universty.

Augustine, thank you for a very thoughtful post.  There was a numver of ways in which the Blessed Sacrament was processed.  One way is in a monstrance, but this was by no means the only way.  I believe that this may even have been a mediaeval innovation but I cannot be certain.  One of the other, more ancient ways is to just leave it in the ciborium, which is the vessel in which it is reserved.  This has always been the more common practice as not all parishes could afford a monstrance.  They were always rare in England at least, and, following the English tradition, I'm sure the ROCOR Western Rite monasteries and parishes attached to them use the ciborium, which is pre-schism.  The Antiochian Western Rite tends to use more of the traditions from the continent, where the monstrance was far more common.

I think you present a valid point about the danger of the "god-in-a-box" mentality, but this could really only happen with poor catechesis or if the extra-liturgical devotions superseded the Liturgy, which would be a great abuse and I doubt would happen.  I think that such devotions can be a helpful devotional reminder of the Sacramental reality to many people.  It is often too easy to move in the other direction and lose reverence for the Sacraments and I think that a good balance in order, avoiding going too far in either direction.

Quote
It gets to the whole root of the east vs. west thing, IMO. This is a gross oversimplification, but essentially, the west says "why not?" and the east says "why should I?"  In the west, if it's good enough for Rome it's good enough for everyone. In the East, it's every local Church deciding what customs and whatnot to use. Generally there is agreement, but just because one group has something, that doesn't mean that they feel that every other Church on the face of the earth is obligated to take up the same practice.

I'm not sure I agree, Asteriktos.

However, I do agree with you that East is East and West is West, at least liturgically.  Each rite has its riches but to start blending them would compromise the integrity of both.  I don't think anybody is suggesting that Eastern Rite Orthodox should celebrate Corpus Christi, but there is no reason why they should try to prevent Western Rite Orthodox from celebrating it.

Friar Tuck, I'm not quite sure what you're saying.  Please would you clarify why you put "western" in inverted commas and contrasted it with "Canonical Orthodox Church of the Byzantine ritual" as though Western Rite Orthodox are not canonical?  And if you do genuinely want to condemn genuine, faithful Orthodox Christians as uncanonical just because they don't use the same Rite as you, maybe you'd like to add your comments to one of the numerous threads on the Western Rite.  Just a thought.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2005, 12:42:36 PM »

If I had it to do over again, I would have used different language. Obviously groups like the Byzantine Catholics have kept many of their customs, so it's not a "all must follow Rome" rule. I guess maybe what I was thinking of is how the Catholics have their entire litugical customs standardized/legalized in book form and everyone's supposed to stay within those bounds, how for a long time the Liturgy was done in Latin and anything else (excepting Greek and Hebrew) was considered much too vulgar to do the Liturgy in, how RC trads make such a big deal about modern Catholics receiving in the hand, etc. As an Orthodox I just don't understand all the big fuss about the issues, but that's only because in the East there weren't large (or at least lasting) arguments over them, and each bishop did as he wanted.  The Catholic Church is not the template on which the Western rite Orthodox are based, as some seem to indicate. It's not "well the Catholics do it, and they're western, thus we should do it if we're western as well". These issues should be decided by the Eastern Orthodox bishop over them (who is possibly not "eastern" at all, ethnically or geographically, and may very well be from Sandusky or Omaha). And his word should be liturgical law, because it's his flock.
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Michael
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2005, 01:25:51 PM »

Many thanks for clarifying, Asteriktos. Smiley Yes, I do see what you mean.

I, too, was uneasy about this idea of compulsory western uniformity as an Anglican.  I saw many Anglo-Catholic parishes using the current Roman Rite, following Roman ceremonial and celebrating Feasts according to the Roman Calendar.  They did this based on the bizarre idea that, in order to be Catholic, they had to follow Rome to the letter, because this is the RC position for its own churches.

This was not always so in the west.  The uniformity was brought in at the Council of Trent when (almost) all RC churches were required to use the (then new) Tridentine Mass.  This was a reaction against the protestant reformation, and Rome tried to prevent further breakaway groups by ceasing permission to the local variations in practice that had happened until that time.  Some rites still remained.  I know that Carthusians still use a rite of their own and I believe that some other monastic communities do as well.  Prior to the Council of Trent, there were many, many local and regional variations on the Western Rite, usually authorised by the bishop at the diocesan level and spreading to the surrounding areas.  In Britain alone, there were the Sarum Rite (in the diocese of Salisbury), Hereford, Exeter, Bangor, York and others.  Westminster Abbey had its own version of the Western Rite.  Eventually, the Sarum Rite spread to mosty of the English south, Wales, Scotland and parts of Ireland and became the predominant use.

The main differences were ceremonial acts, the manner of observing certain feasts, the liturgical colour sequence varied considerably and there were some musical differences as well.  I can only imagine that, on the continent, the variation was much more pronounced.  These local, indigenous variations were all suppressed at the Council of Trent as a result of Rome trying to keep a tighter rein in light of the reformation, and this state of uniformity largely remains to this day.

I think that Orthodoxy, even in the West, can be free from this, for I believe it to be nonsense.  Each bishop should be free to authorise variations of rites that are fully in accordance with the holy Orthodox Faith.  This already seems to be the case in the WRite, where we have the Liturgy of St Gregory, the Liturgy of St Tikhon, the Sarum Liturgy and the English Liturgy.  The latter two are based on the rites of Britain that I mentioned above, but corrected to bring them back in line with Orthodoxy (very little had to be changed).

So it isn't just about copying Rome,  but rather bringing into Orthodoxy the rites and feasts and celebrations such as Corpus Christi, which have nourished the spirituality of people in the West for centuries and which are fully in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.  Blessed be God!
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Timos
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2005, 03:16:17 PM »

Whats the difference between The revised Western Rite Liturgies like St. Tikhons and the regular Roman Rite Mass?? I looked over the text and it seemed pretty standard Tridentine to me with the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Asperges etc.
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Michael
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2005, 05:12:44 PM »

Whats the difference between The revised Western Rite Liturgies like St. Tikhons and the regular Roman Rite Mass?? I looked over the text and it seemed pretty standard Tridentine to me with the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Asperges etc.

It is indeed very similar.

The Liturgy of St Tikhon is based primarily mon the American 1928 Anglican Book of Common Prayer (The English version of the same year never got past Parliament) and The Anglican Missal, so while the structure of the Mass is very much Anglican Missal, there are peculiarities that are very characteristic of the BCP such as the introduction to confession, the prayers for the state of Christ's church over the oblations, and other characteristics.  Also, all of the propers are from the Anglican Missal and not from the BCP or Tridentine Rite.  The Canon (anaphora) is a blend of the traditional 1662 version but has additions from the Roman Canon and an emphasised epiclesis to bring it in line with Orthodox theology (Cranmer's prayer was very deficient).

I'm a Sarum man myself.

(Things are a little on the difficult side for me right now, please pray.  Many thanks).
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2005, 11:59:17 AM »

An internet search reveals that RCC Feast of Corpus Christi was begun n 1247 after a heresy that denied the real presence, plus the fact that very few people communed. To draw attention to Holy Communion it was decided to venerate the Eucharist.  For Orthodox Christians, this is  a curious practice and totally alien to our relationship to the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is central to our faith and any extensions or extras simply don't have any meaning or relevance.  Also this is an example of the RCC's concern with theological development - again a practice that is alien to our understanding.
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2005, 12:57:49 PM »

Quote
An internet search reveals that RCC Feast of Corpus Christi was begun n 1247 after a heresy that denied the real presence, plus the fact that very few people communed. To draw attention to Holy Communion it was decided to venerate the Eucharist.  For Orthodox Christians, this is  a curious practice and totally alien to our relationship to the Eucharist.

That's because the East never had an equivalent heresy denying the Real Presence. However, in an equivalent situation, the East had the iconoclastic pesecutions, which resulted in the Sunday of Orthodoxy processions with icons. The West has nothing like that, because it never suffered under that particular heresy; likewise, the East has nothing like the Western veneration of the Eucharist, because it never suffered under the Eucharistic heresies.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2005, 06:01:04 PM »

Fwiw, I think the Bogomils, who caused some major problems for the Orthodox, denied the orthodox catholic beliefs about the Eucharist. But that aside, I think yBeayf does make an interesting point to be considered.
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2005, 04:22:04 AM »


 but this could really only happen with poor catechesis


I'm sure most of us have had the pleasure of meeting with many fine examples of poor catechesis.
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Michael
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2005, 05:24:04 AM »

Then surely the solution is to improve the catechesis and not omit feasts from the Kalendar in case they get misunderstood.
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Silouan
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2005, 06:24:49 AM »

Quote
Kalendar

Uh-oh, not only do we have ikons, we now have kalendars!
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Michael
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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2005, 06:41:21 AM »

Yes, it's a common spelling in western missals, breviaries and other liturgical books.  I believe that it's use, while somewhat antiquarian, was only ever applied to liturgical c/kalendars.
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2005, 08:00:37 AM »

Yes, it's a common spelling in western missals, breviaries and other liturgical books.  I believe that it's use, while somewhat antiquarian, was only ever applied to liturgical c/kalendars.

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« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2005, 04:28:00 PM »

This is only an observation, but it seems that the reason Orthodox and Byz Catholics do not have a feast of Corpus Christi (or the Sacred Heart or Jesus, Trinity Sunday, etc.) is that we commemorate real, historical events and people and not theological concepts.  I may be wrong; can anyone think of a commemoration on the Orthodox calendar that does not come from a concrete historical person or event? 

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a feast of Corpus Christi, but it seems that the west has instituted these things to enshrine doctrinal positions as feast days (in this case, the Real Presence and Transsubstantiation) which the east typically does not do. 

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