Time Was …
For this months Carnival of Christian Reconciliation, the topic Mr Platypus suggests is:
All of this prompts me to propose “Reconciliation and Liturgical Time” as the special topic for this Carnival. How are divergent or competing understandings of the liturgical year an obstacle to reconciliation? Conversely, how does the idea of liturgical time open up possibilities for greater unity? In any event, how do we live out our Christian discipleship among fellow believers who approach liturgical time differently?
As I write this most of the readers of this entry will likely be entering their Holy week celebrations. Many will be looking forward to finally breaking their fast, to celebrating, “getting their alleluia’s back”, and in general filling their own traditional ways of celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and our God.
In A Secular Age philosopher Charles Taylor begins by noting the secular comes from the Latin: saeculum which relates to an “age” a specified length of time. Secular consequently is bound up in time. The Sacred is not. And this is true of our worship. Sunday worship “connects” and is “closer” to other Sunday’s and specifically that first Easter Sunday, than it is to Monday even though “in time” it is not. Our liturgical calendar pierces our secular time lines as the tines of a fork pinning us to the Eternal. The Orthodox teaching is that there is no time in liturgy. That in the divine liturgy we participate in the eschaton, in the timelessness of God.
But it is true there is division and unity in our liturgical calendars. Having the same calendar does aid ecumenical union. Last week, on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, while traveling on business I visited and had a wonderful experience at a very small rural ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) parish in Northern Georgia (web site here). Orthodoxy does not precisely share the same calendar … but for Lent/Pascha/Pentacost we do. Orthodoxy is split between the Julian and Gregorian calendar for the rest of the year. But because we share the same calendar in this season, I heard the same readings, and the homily was preached on the same subject. There were some differences, no parade of Icons and a little over half of the service was in old Slavonic … which was something of a challenge to sing. But … enough about me (or alternatively … I digress). The point is ecumenical connections between myself as a new OCA (Orthodox Church of America) member were eased by our liturgical similarities including our calendar. I would have felt out of place, having just finished my first week of Lenten fasting in joining a Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, or other Protestant church which was celebrating Palm Sunday … not “the Triumph of Orthodoxy” and the victory over iconoclasm.
But while, the non-shared liturgical calendar hurts the ecumenical meeting of Orthodox an non-Orthodox does it help for instance the meeting of main line Protestant churches and Catholic? And here, I must confess my ignorance of what praxis and calendars are followed by the non-liturgical Protestants. But it seems to me likely, in for the traveller or the visitor, the non-sharing of secular (set in time) of the Sacred events is a hindrance to the mixing of our sectarian splits.
And that is perhaps a most important point. For noting our ignorance we have an opportunity to fill that void. As we are widely ignorant of the “Others” calendar … we can try to share. So in the interests of informing the y’all, I’ll point to this program, a free download, provided by (yet another) Atlanta (this time OCA) church. It provides the hymns (troparia and kontakia) assigned for the day, the Scripture readings, and the Saints as well as the official record of those Saint’s life for each day.
If you could, leave as comments here, links or references to your liturgical year … so we can all share and by our differences find what we have in common.
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