This year, Eastern and Western liturgical calendars were about as far apart as they can be, the Western Easter was in March and won’t be that early calendrically for over a hundred years, while the Eastern Pascha was in May. Next week … the East celebrates the ending of its Paschal season (and to be honest with the feast of the Ascencion just past much of the Paschal liturgical changes have been removed). Pentecost begins “ordinary time”, marking the days between Pentecost and the Nativity fast (although at least 2 “minor” fasts exist between Pentecost and Easter).

Liturgical time is a reflection of the non-secular nature of Church. Secular, coming from the Latin, saeculum has to do with marking time. Liturgical markings of time, the liturgical season strikes a “fork” into our daily time-bound lives grounding us periodic reminders and connections to the timeless. The secular “holidays” that come closest to this like the major sports finals seasons, right now we have the NBA playoffs and coming up the Summer Olympic games, NHL, MLB and NFL as well as many other sports all have their “holidays”. These games are in one way notably unlike liturgical holy days (holi-days) in that typically our “games” are numbered but specifically and purposefully, liturgical holidays are not. There is good reason why Pascha this year is not the 1975th Paschal/Easter celebration. Pascha/Easter is a connection, via liturgy, a forging of a connection to the original Eucharist and the historical resurrection of our Lord, as well as to the eschatological Pascha out of or beyond time. It is a communing with God and our Theosis outside of time.

I’m curious, some Protestant churches have abandoned essentially all but Easter and the Nativity from their set liturgical calendar. The Protestant Reformation was a rejection of many practices in the Roman church that deemed to haveĀ  mislayed the essence of the Christian faith and were drawing the laity away from their calling and a distraction. I’m curious. If you belong to a church which does not follow a full liturgical calendar, marking Nativity, Epiphany, Lent, Annunciation, Pascha, Ascension and Pentecost in your season as well as the myriad of lesser feasts (for example coming up “next” in the Orthodox calendar at the end of June is the St. Peter and St. Paul fast and feast). Why? What was the reason for that move, a move arguably toward a secularization of Church?

Filed under: ChristianityMark O.OrthodoxProtestantismReligion

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