Byzantinization in the Eastern Church?

OK, I just made up a word. Basically, I’m thinking of the way Eastern Catholic Churches in the early days lost some of their individuality by becoming more and more like the Latin Church (Latinization), but in an Eastern context.

All of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and all the Catholic communions that were once EO, seem to use the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Was this always the case? Did they have more variation in the past?

Even in the West, there used to be a lot more liturgical variation, such as the Sarum Rite, Mozzarabic Rite, Dominican Rite, etc. but this was slowly eradicated through the reforms of the Council of Trent.

It seems that in the Orthodox Church today, from St Petersburg to Lebanon, every Church has basically the same liturgical rite, with only minor local variation. Was this always the case? If not, when did this homogenisation happen and why?

Certainly the Oriental Orthodox Churches, as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox, have very distinct rites and liturgies. The Coptic Church uses the Coptic Rite, the Ethiopian Church the Ethiopic Rite (which is sometimes considered a subset of the Coptic), the Syriac Church the Syriac Rite, the Armenian Church the Armenian Rite…etc.

What is distinct in these Rites?

Clothing, order of prayers in the Liturgy, languages, etc…

The Melchites followed the liturgy of St. James until the 11th or 12th century. They basically assumed Greek Christianity at that point.

Certainly the Oriental Orthodox Churches, as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox, have very distinct rites and liturgies. The Coptic Church uses the Coptic Rite, the Ethiopian Church the Ethiopic Rite (which is sometimes considered a subset of the Coptic), the Syriac Church the Syriac Rite, the Armenian Church the Armenian Rite…etc.

I think he was referring mainly to the Byzantines but you are correct. The Oriental’s have mantained a diverse heritage. The Copts use the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Syrians use the liturgy of St. James. The Church of the East and the Chaldeans use the Liturgy of Adai and Mari which is interesting because it does not contain the institution narrative(the Chaldeans added it though). Maronites are very similar to the Syrian Orthodox but they also have similarities to the Church of the East. For example the Anaphora of Sharrar or III Peter of the Maronites is basically the same Anaphora as that of Adai and Mari.

I think if you begin to get down to studying the different Western rites you will find they had about as much (or as little) notable liturgical variantions as the individual national rescensions in the Eastern Churches. Folks I know who had attended parishes run by Dominicans using the Dominican rite (back in the day, pre-Paulin reforms) can attest that some folks not knowing what to look for, would not have really noticed a huge difference.

Interestingly, some of the things that were thought to be Latinizations in the Ukrainian Church were acutally found to be pre-Nikonian… traditions OLDER than the rescensions currently used by Russian Orthodox…

This is a wonderful topic you have thought to speak of.

Although I do love the byzantine liturgy and may even count it as close to my favourite, I personally am very bothered that the Melkites use a byzantine liturgy instead of the liturgy used by the Syriac Oriental Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, as this is their true tradition.

For this reason I am not certain that I can in good standing remain for the rest of my life a in the jurisdiction of the Melkite Catholic Church. However the difficulty is that there is no Eastern Catholic equivalent of the Greek Orthodox Church. If one wants the byzantine liturgy and rituals closest to the Greek Church within the Catholic Communion the Melkite Church is the closest that is possible to find in the USA.

The Italo-Albanian Catholic Church is probably the closest Eastern Catholic Church to the Greek Orthodox Church which legitimately uses the byzantine liturgy. I think this is probably the Church I would be more comfortable in. As there exists only 1 or 2 parishes in the USA it would not be prudent for me to attempt to be part of it at this time. But with effort in the future I might seriously consider being part of it.

Hmm one can wonder why the Melkite and Syriac Catholics are not united…

There is also the option of the maronites…But I think if I am interested in fighting modern latinizations perhaps I am best off to be in the western church to begin with.

Another example, more recent than the Melkite/Antiochian Orthodox change is that of the Russian Orthodox Church itself. In the 17th Century, Patriarch Nikon and his synod adopted the Greek version of the “Byzantine Rite” and violently suppressed the Russian version. This sparked the divide between the Russian Orthodox Church and the “Old Believers”.

The differences between the old Russian tradition and the Greek aren’t as obviously extreme as the changes the Melkite/Antiochian Church underwent, but they were definitely changes, and led to bloodshed and a continued schism.

ASimpleSinner: I believe that in most places the full Dominican Rite wasn’t generally used, but rather a kind of hodge-podge of the Tridentine and Dominican. Our local Dominican parish continued using the Dominican Rite up until around 2000, but it was stopped for various reasons, one of which was that it was not truly a celebration of the Dominican Rite as it is written, but a mino variation on the Tridentine.

Later this year, in honor of the centenial of the parish, there will be a full, old-school Dominican Rite Mass, which I look forward to attending. :thumbsup:

Peace and God bless!

Chris_McAvoy: It’s important to remember that the Melkite Church long ago adopted the Byzantine Rite as its own, and the Rite has thoroughly become tied with the Melkite identity. It doesn’t seem proper to me to speak of “the true tradition” as being anything other than what it is now, and has been for nearly a thousand years. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless

Originally Posted by Ghosty:

Another example, more recent than the Melkite/Antiochian Orthodox change is that of the Russian Orthodox Church itself. In the 17th Century, Patriarch Nikon and his synod adopted the Greek version of the “Byzantine Rite” and violently suppressed the Russian version. This sparked the divide between the Russian Orthodox Church and the “Old Believers”.

It was not a wholesale adoption of the “Byzantine Rite” or the switching from one version to the next. The reforms made were minor by the standards of today (e.g. Greek way of making the sign of the cross instead of traditional Russian way). However, at the time, the changes were seen by many in the Russian Church as a rejection of holy tradition. For the most part, the Russian liturgical traditions remained intact.

Yup, but it is an important and historically significant (and violent) example of the loss/suppression of local variations which is why I brought it up. :slight_smile:

Many people do have the mistaken impression that the Eastern Orthodox retained the “original” worship form of the Apostolic Church, and that the similarity we see across the Eastern Orthodox Communion is simply a matter of them retaining what has always been, rather than a gradual process of solidification and hegemony of one Rite and practice over others (just as happened in the Latin Church in the Catholic Communion).

More interesting to me is the development that the predominant “Byzantine Rite” itself has undergone over the centuries. I’ve been reading Fr. Schmemman’s work recently and I find it quite fascinating!

Some of the most notable Byzantine practices, such as the Little Entrance, were not originally what they are today at all (it was originally the actual entrance into the church with a procession of the Gospel, similar to what you’d find in the modern Latin Mass), and entire portions of the Divine Liturgy (such as the parts before the Little Entrance) were actually added over time. The study of how and why these changes occurred, and then spread to other “Byzantine” Churches is pretty fun knowledge! It’s certainly made the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom more understandable for me, in terms of why certain things are done.

Peace and God bless!

Originally Posted by Ghosty:

Many people do have the mistaken impression that the Eastern Orthodox retained the “original” worship form of the Apostolic Church, and that the similarity we see across the Eastern Orthodox Communion is simply a matter of them retaining what has always been, rather than a gradual process of solidification and hegemony of one Rite and practice over others (just as happened in the Latin Church in the Catholic Communion).

I understand where you are coming from. One thing I would add, however, is the Russian Church did not exist during (most of) the 1st millennium, and therefore, rather than developing its own Rite, used that which was used by the missionaries (Byzantine).

I honestly do not know much about the history of rites in what would become the Byzantine Empire, apart, of course, from the Copts. The northern part of the Byzantine Empire, as I understood it, was heavily influenced by Antioch. Was there once a distinct “Greek rite” that became subsumed under the Byzantine rite? I haven’t done research here.

Some of the most notable Byzantine practices, such as the Little Entrance, were not originally what they are today at all (it was originally the actual entrance into the church with a procession of the Gospel, similar to what you’d find in the modern Latin Mass), and entire portions of the Divine Liturgy (such as the parts before the Little Entrance) were actually added over time. The study of how and why these changes occurred, and then spread to other “Byzantine” Churches is pretty fun knowledge! It’s certainly made the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom more understandable for me, in terms of why certain things are done.

The same is true of the Asperges in the Tridentine Latin Mass: originally they were done before entering the church. Someone told me that antiphons in the Byzantine rite originally developed as processional hymns as the people went to the church.

The Orthodox priest at my church one day told our Orthodox Faith study class that the Church Fathers who were instrumental in developing the Liturgy would only add prayers to the Liturgy; prayers that long had been in the Liturgy were never taken away. .

I understand where you are coming from. One thing I would add, however, is the Russian Church did not exist during the 1st millennium, and therefore, rather than developing its own Rite, used that which was used by the missionaries (Byzantine).

Indeed, which makes the their situation even more peculiar and interesting. It was the suppression of old practices, which were received from the Greeks, to be replaced by newer practices coming from the Greeks.

From what I understand it was believed by the Russian Patriarch and Synod at the time that the Russian practices weren’t what had been originally received, but that they were mistakes that had “krept in” over the years and so they were attempting to “go back” to the Greek original. I also understand that they were apparently incorrect in this belief, and that the older practices did in fact reflect the original ones received from the Greek missionaries. An odd and tragic bit of history to be sure. :o

I honestly do not know much about the history of rites in what would become the Byzantine Empire, apart, of course, from the Copts. The northern part of the Byzantine Empire, as I understood it, was heavily influenced by Antioch. Was there once a distinct “Greek rite” that became subsumed under the Byzantine rite? I haven’t done research here.

That’s something we’ll likely never really know, I think. There are all kinds of accounts of divergent liturgical practices that we don’t have today. One that’s always fascinated me is that of St. Augustine and St. Monica; Although St. Augustine wrote in Latin, it seems that the Liturgical practice he grew up with (that of his mother) and of his diocese after he became a Bishop, was not the same as that of Rome (hence St. Monica asking how she should practice when visiting Rome).

I don’t know, and I don’t know if it’s known by anyone, what Liturgy and tradition they DID practice, whether a variation on the Coptic (being that they were North African), the Roman (being that their land was relatively close to Rome, and apparently had close ties with the Roman hierarchy), or something different from both which was lost during the Muslim conquests of North Africa. :shrug:

Peace and God bless!

Originally Posted by Ghosty:

From what I understand it was believed by the Russian Patriarch and Synod at the time that the Russian practices weren’t what had been originally received, but that they were mistakes that had “krept in” over the years and so they were attempting to “go back” to the Greek original. I also understand that they were apparently incorrect in this belief, and that the older practices did in fact reflect the original ones received from the Greek missionaries. An odd and tragic bit of history to be sure. :o

Yes. This is true from what I’ve read. But the question is: are they to be blamed for making these changes? they acted out of ignorance, it would seem, of the fact that the rites they were eliminating or modifying were older than the ones they were adopting.

Personally, I find the liturgical changes ushered in by or through Vatican II more tragic. There weren’t any serious physical persecutions, yet the Tridentine Latin Mass was vigorously suppressed throughout the entire world, forcing all Latin Catholics to accept *nolens volens *the drastic and sudden changes to the liturgy–some would even say the introduction of a fabrication.

I’m glad the present Pope has issued the MP, but still: 30-some years for many people in the U.S. of being absolutely denied the possibility of a TLM (if not close to an indult community or SSPX chapel)… and then the audacity of saying that the TLM really never was “suppressed.” :frowning:

Yes and no. It has more to do with the nature of organic development, and how rapidly that can proceed in a new setting. What was received was what the missioner allowed, not necessarily how the missioner was trained. So if he did come from Greece or Cyprus, for example, that does not mean he deposited that style complete and entire in each remote village he worked in.

Alongside Greek missionary priests, there were also priests from Bulgaria, who were trained in the Slavonic liturgy. The Rus were being evangelized very quickly after a very, very slow start. The formation of priests (as well as deacons and cantors) was probably rushed, the need was very great.

So along with catechesis needed by everyone (at a very elementary level at first), the development of community worship had to allow for variations. The eight tones would be an excellent example. The use of tones in the liturgy is tied to the calendar, but they are really culturally based. What might pass for a certain mood in one culture may not sound right to another, and proper instruction that we might take for granted today was probably lacking. Cantors would dip into the folk styles available to them to supplement their meager training.

Cantoring requires a lot of training to ‘get it right’ and a poorly formed cantor can really hash up a liturgy. In an older parish that would not be tolerable in the long run, but in a mission the congregation might get used to his ‘style’, having nothing to compare it to. Abbreviations likewise, certain priests take certain abbreviations (all liturgies are abbreviated) and other priests if left to their own discretion will make different ones. People get used to a priests way of doing things. In an isolated area that may be all they known and if one congregation spawns others in a remote area they might all follow the same style.

We know that both the Catholic Ruthenian Recension, and the Old Believers have perpetuated certain local variations from the earlier Rus liturgical practices. But we should remember that the variations were extremely local, not just from province to province but from parts of one province to another in some cases.

Today the Ruthenian Recension has an “official” version, published at Rome ( the latest being the Ordo Celebrationis of Cardinal Tisserant 1944, mostly a blend of the practices from Carpathian mountains to the Black Sea and to the Baltic), and even the Old Believers have homogenized their prayers and practices to some extent over time. Whoever publishes the book controls the standard.

Standardization is almost inevitable when different “groups” share resources, and in this case the modern churches have erected seminaries and other schools that accept students from far afield. We know it is a natural process as organizations become more sophisticated.

Patriarch Nikon seems to have decided that the Greek practices were inherently better and preferable, an opinion we would not generally agree with today. He interjected them from outside the culture at a much later time, so it’s more of an artificial influence than a native organic one.

I think that Patriarch Nikon’s wish to make corrections in the practice of the Russian church was a noble intention, but he definitely miscalculated the affection the local parishioners had for their own established ways. We need to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them.

As it stands there are also Catholic churches which follow the Synodal (or Nikonian) form of the liturgy today. They are witness that (as much as he takes flack for what he did, or tried to do) the Russian liturgy is definitely profoundly moving and glorious still.

Michael

As it stands there are also Catholic churches which follow the Synodal (or Nikonian) form of the liturgy today. They are witness that (as much as he takes flack for what he did, or tried to do) the Russian liturgy is definitely profoundly moving and glorious still.

Indeed, and I think that’s an important point. I worship primarily in the Melkite community, with it particular version of the “Greek Liturgy”, and even though it’s not the “original liturgy” of most of the peoples who make up the Melkite Church (which itself is actually quite diverse) it’s quite beautiful and and praiseworthy. It is also the Liturgical culture of the people now, regardless of what happened eight hundred years ago.

We must always look at the devotion of the worship and the dedication of the people, in addition to the historical roots. Just because a change occurred doesn’t make the new thing bad, or even non-Apostolic, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the “old” form should be regarded as automatically more pure or devout.

Thanks for the information on the Nikonian reforms and the origins of the Old Believer practices, BTW. It’s something I know very little about, and which falls WAY outside my experience; my personal exposure to Byzantine and other Eastern traditions almost entirely excludes the Slavic peoples and history (I’ve been to post-Soviet Russia, but unfortunately there was hardly much in the way of popular piety for me to experience :frowning: ).

Peace and God bless!

Just because a change occurred doesn’t make the new thing bad, or even non-Apostolic, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the “old” form should be regarded as automatically more pure or devout.

Does this mean that the Beneventan Liturgy can never be used again as the normal celebration of a Latin Church in the USA?

There are all kinds of accounts of divergent liturgical practices that we don’t have today. One that’s always fascinated me is that of St. Augustine and St. Monica; Although St. Augustine wrote in Latin, it seems that the Liturgical practice he grew up with (that of his mother) and of his diocese after he became a Bishop, was not the same as that of Rome (hence St. Monica asking how she should practice when visiting Rome).

The Liturgy said by the Patriarchate of Carthage “Primate of Proconsular Africa, Numidia, Tripolitania and Mauretania” would have been closest to the oldest liturgies of Italy or Spain, it’s nearest neighbors, not Egypt. I think it would be fairest to see the African liturgy as somewhere inbetween the Ambrosian and Mozarabic. Absolutely it is part of the early latin liturgical family. I do not think it has a profound Coptic connection because it’s connection to its neighbors was more by sea than by land. Either way it is geographically much further away from Egypt than it is to Iberia, Gaul or Italy. Here is a rough outline of certain parts of the Proconsular African liturgy

The Mass of the Faithful was thus composed:

Prayer of the faithful;
Reading of the Diptychs;
Offertory, with chanting of a Psalm and a prayer over the offerings, which corresponds to our Secret, or the "Oratio post nomina;"
The “anaphora” or Eucharistic prayer, which is interrupted by the "Sanctus;"
The recital of the institution, which is the center of the Mass;
"Epiclesis;"
Fraction (before the “Pater,” as at Rome until the seventh century);
Kiss of Peace;
Benediction;
Communion, with the singing of a Psalm;
Thanksgiving;
Dismissal.

maternalheart.org/cabrol/cabrol3.htm

I also understand that they were apparently incorrect in this belief, and that the older practices did in fact reflect the original ones received from the Greek missionaries. An odd and tragic bit of history to be sure.

This brings up the question: Why did the Greeks change their original practices or ways of making the cross?

mymartyrdom.com/19.jpg

The photo above is from page 19 of the book “Spiritual Teachers in Concealed Russia” based upon 168 precise sources, printed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the year 2007. This particular page illustrates for us some of the distict points of Faith that differ from Old Believers who maintain Orthodox Faith and those Nikonites who spit onto, and turned their backs away from, Orthodoxy. This is a rare book indeed, written from the strict Pomorsky position. In the photo we see an old sketch which distinguishes for us such points as architechure, with the changing of the style of the crosses on top of churches, and the difference in the shape of the arches, etc. Also we see the corruption of the bishops staff and miter, the form of the hand in the blessing and sign of the cross gestures, the prosforo seal and many other different points that are seen within the sketch.

Obviously from a very biased perspective there.

Does this mean that the Beneventan Liturgy can never be used again as the normal celebration of a Latin Church in the USA?

I don’t even know what a Beneventan Liturgy is, but I didn’t mean that any Liturgy or Rite was not to be accepted. On the contrary, my point was that Apostolic Worship is Apostolic Worship, and it should be accepted as such whether old or new.

The Liturgy said by the Patriarchate of Carthage “Primate of Proconsular Africa, Numidia, Tripolitania and Mauretania” would have been closest to the oldest liturgies of Italy or Spain, it’s nearest neighbors, not Egypt. I think it would be fairest to see the African liturgy as somewhere inbetween the Ambrosian and Mozarabic. Absolutely it is part of the early latin liturgical family. I do not think it has a profound Coptic connection because it’s connection to its neighbors was more by sea than by land. Either way it is geographically much further away from Egypt than it is to Iberia, Gaul or Italy.

You might be correct. What is the basis of your claims (the link you cite says that there is almost no remaining accounts of the North African Catholic tradition)? I don’t have a particular stake in any debate, I just really hope to know what North African Christianity was. :slight_smile:

This brings up the question: Why did the Greeks change their original practices or ways of making the cross?

Of course, because a Cross is different if nailed on the right hand first, as opposed to the left. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sometimes a Roman method of execution and torture, and a Divine method of Redemption, is just a Roman method of execution and torture, and a Divine method of Redemtion. :smiley:

Peace and God bless!

Liturgies first began to form homogeneity around the larger ecclesial centers - the Pentarchy, plus North Africa, Edessa, Damascus, Milan, Lyons, etc. Jerusalem was for a time very influential because it was a pilgrimage site. Most of the driving force toward homogeneity early on, though, was imitation. People would visit the big centers, see practices they liked/variations they wanted to copy out of deference to the influential church, and take those things home with them.

Eventually, though, once the big centers had developed spheres of influence, all those centers began to converge in practice upon the two biggest ecclesial centers of Rome and Constantinople. I couldn’t tell you the forces at play in the East. In the West, North Africa disappeared under the Muslim jackboot, and Charlemagne did a pretty good job of initiating uniformity in the rest. But Charlemagne certainly didn’t accomplish total uniformity. Lots of variation remained (and Frankish customs made their way back into Roman books), although imitation of Rome as a pilgrimage center continued a trajectory of convergence, but the first major imposition of liturgy didn’t come until the Tridentine books.

I suspect in the East we could see the hand of the emperors at work in spreading the Byzantine rite, much like Charlemagne. But that’s only conjecture.

North Africa had a distinct usage but was part of a large Latin family of liturgies that shared many structural similarities. It’s not surprising that Augustine’s liturgy was not exactly that of Rome, though, because liturgy in his day was still incredibly diverse. Augustine’s liturgy was probably closer to the Roman liturgy than either of them was to Gallican liturgy, yet another Latin sector of the Church but one that had rather distinctive structural differences. The Roman rite did not become the behemoth we know it as until the 16th century - before that, local usages ruled the day, even in areas of the West that all used what we might generically term the Roman books.

Though no liturgical documents exist of the Proconsular African liturgy, several descriptions do exist which were made by famous Saints who practiced it. It is from the descriptions that one can say it more closely follows early latin liturgies.

I think the best resources for descriptions of the latin liturgy at this time are to be found in a seminaries library rather than the internet. google book and the usual newadvent.org say a few details about it, which you should read. I share a strong interest in North African Christianity too. As it represents a section of the western church which was conceivably never out of communion with the East.

on my sorry excuse for a “blog/journal” I have some links to good books about African Christianity.

ordoromanusprimus.wordpress.com/

The African roots of Latin Christianity this article in particular I found to be amazingly enjoyable.

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