[quote=JimG]Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I have heard that in the Eastern church, married priests must abstain from sexual relations the evening before celebrating Mass. That is why daily Mass is more common in the West.
I know that this seems amusing to some people, but you are essentially correct, at least in the Byzantine tradition.
The altar must be abstaining as well as the priest. This means only one liturgy per day for the altar, and no conjugal relations for the priest.
Celibates are primarily monastics, it is there one might find a daily liturgy, but not at the parish, if one follows the tradition strictly.
It should be no wonder then, that Divine Praises (Liturgy of the Hours) loom large in the Byzantine parish tradition. It is the parish where most of the married priests are assigned.
The Byzantine tradition parishes in the USA were once immediately subject to the Latin rite bishops, these insisted on celibate priests (in short supply always) and daily “Mass”, as well as multiple liturgies on Sunday. The bishops also suppressed the Divine Praises and promoted Rosary before “Mass”. Most Byzantine parishes I am familiar with still have celibate priests and daily Divine Liturgy (including Rosary before), but as we reintroduce a married clergy the daily Divine Liturgy should become a thing of the past, with the Rosary being replaced by the Divine Praises.
One other interesting point, it is my understanding that the priest does not celebrate a liturgy without the congregation. There is no private Mass in the Byzantine tradition, the liturgy is fully participatory and requires a congregation. An old friend of mine was a retired Latin Rite priest, I helped him with his altar at home and with the accoutrements. He would say a Mass every day and I used to join him occasionally, from my understanding this would not be the case in the Byzantine tradition.
PS Contrary to what some people will say, celibacy was not normative in the infant church. That is a myth being promoted by some Western writers to reinforce the tradition of mandatory clerical celibacy in the church. The Byzantine churches have always had optional celibacy (with those committed to a celibate life generally residing in the monasteries), and the Western church had optional celibacy in the first few centuries.