Monday, February 27, 2012

A SHOCKING Byzantine Secret!

Sometimes it seems as if the division between East and West is insurmountable. We say 'Alleluia' during Lent; the West does not. The West trembles at a few days with no meat during Lent while those in the East are 'liberal' if they partake on Sundays and then are in danger of falling into pride if they are successful with the fast. The West prays the stations of the cross while the East prays the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

One might think that this 'communion service' would be a quick devotion, but like most things in the East, there is nothing quick about it. The more I am able to participate in this service, the more I learn. It is a great opportunity for Eucharistic adoration during the Lenten season. 

One reason why this Byzantine (and Orthodox) liturgy is so special is that it actually a sign of the unity in liturgical Christianity. The Presanctified Liturgy is attributed to St Gregory. Which St. Gregory, you ask? St Gregory  Nazianzen, also known as the Theologian and friend of St Basil the Great? St Gregory of Nyssa, brother to the same? No- it was St Gregory the Dialogue- better known as St Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome. A bishop of Rome wrote a liturgy that we in the East pray with great devotion. This should be an open door for unity.

"St. Gregory's family had large land holdings in Italy, which St. Gregory sold to help the poor following his father's death. After turning his home into a monastery named for St. Andrew, Pope Pelagius II appointed him as an ambassador to Constantinople; however, Gregory disliked the worldly atmosphere of the court and never learned Greek. After his consecration as Bishop of Rome on September 3, 590, he negotiated a peace with the Lombards, who besieged Rome, and he dispatched St. Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize Britain.

He is known in the East as Gregory the Dialogist for his four-volume Dialogues, in which he wrote of the lives and miracles of the saints of Italy and of the afterlife. It is the primary source of the lives of St. Benedict of Nursia and his sister Scholastica. He was a patron of ancient Western chant, often called "Gregorian chant" for his patronage. In the East, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts celebrated during Lent commemorates St. Gregory as its author. St. Gregory reposed on March 12, 604. " (excerpted from orthodoxwiki)


  1. Since I've become Orthodox, I've always wanted to see the Presanctified in the Roman rite (on Holy Friday) but as you point out below, it's hard to squeeze in someone else's liturgy in addition to our own :)

  2. Nice post on St. Gregory! Maybe if you didnt post or talk about it when your not faithful to the wouldnt be labeled a liberal or considered proud. Just do your best to be faithful and keep mum about how well or not so well you do.

  3. anonymous- here is where we must disagree. If I didn't write about this, I would have very little to write about, and the world would be short one blog! ;)

    I disagree that I am not being faithful to the traditions, however. This is where I will (I pray) fast 'better' with each passing year- but the fasting traditions (which for MOST Eastern churches have gotten more reasonable)are man-made- made for monks- made for people with no food issues- made for a time when it made very practical sense to vastly limit animal products at this time because by late Spring there were very little animals products left from the cellar!
    It is a sorrow for me that a Godly action like fasting is a point of separation. We Byzantines fast much more than what is officially required by the Roman-rite (but I suppose they are also breaking tradition because they aren't fasting officially like the earlier times)but we- as churches in union with Rome- do not fast officially as much as the Orthodox churches. of course, there is always that attitude of "this is the official fasting guideline, but this over there is the traditional way- we are obligated to do at least the official way.

    Here is a link to a parish with their lent guidelines- these are the traditional 'rules' but here's the 'modern' rules for the Ruthenians REGULATIONS FOR THE SEASON OF THE GREAT FAST

    The fasts of the liturgical year are to be kept in accordance with the Norms of Particular Law of the Byzantine Metropolitan Church sui iuris of Pittsburgh.


    • The law of simple abstinence forbids the use of meat, permitting the use of eggs and dairy products.

    • All the faithful of the Archeparchy who receive the Eucharist are bound to abstain.

    • Abstinence is obligatory on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast.


    • The law of strict abstinence (fast) forbids the use of meat, eggs and dairy products. While they are permitted, facsimiles, substitutes, and synthetic derivatives violate the intention and spirit of the law of strict abstinence.

    • All the faithful of the Archeparchy who receive the Eucharist are bound to observe strict abstinence.

    • Strict abstinence (fast) is to be observed on Pure Monday, (the first day of the Great Fast) and on Great and Holy Friday.

    In any case- I'll keep 'plugging along'- it is good for my pride to not 'fit in' anywhere!

    Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephreim
    O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust of power and idle chatter.
    Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience and love.
    Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may be aware of my sins and not judge my brother. Blessed are You to the ages of ages. Amen

  4. One of the best pieces of advice I have heard in regards to fasting is to keep your eyes on your own plate. When we discuss what we eat it is in my opinion just the same as holding out my plate to be examined........causing both of us to sin (the sin of pride- and the sin of judging). Just a thought.

    As far as the guidlines go........thats all they are......guidlines........our own fasting must be what we are able in consultation with our spiritual director.

    In my opinion the Ruthenian Catholic church (the church to which I belong) has completly thrown fasting out the window. I dont know if the idea was to just ape the Latin church or if the bishops really feel that fasting is that unimportant.

  5. Priest's Wife, if you were a Latin blogger of the more traditional stripe, you'd be considered liberal (or worse yet, Modernist) for not keeping the strict 1917 fasting guidelines. So, fasting (1 full meal, 2 smaller snacks) every day during Lent except for Sundays, the Ember Days, the Vigils of Pentecost, All Saints', and Immaculate Conception. Abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays, and Holy Saturday. Partial abstinence on the Ember Days and some vigils. (I tried Lent this way once and it landed me in the hospital.) Personally I appreciate reading about your attempts to balance tradition and the needs of a 21st century American family and I am sorry to see that the fasting judgment is found in "both lungs."

  6. Priest's wife, I remember in college you hung the Litany of Humility on your closet door... these anonymous comments will certainly help you on your personal quest for sanctity!
    -little sis F

  7. Little sis F (see everybody- I'm not anonymous to my family- it keeps me honest)I should repost that one- oh to be back in Gaming...not a perfect place, I know, but SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY to pray

    Alice- just to say... I LOVE your name...Little Sis F, put it on your short list for the new baby...maybe it is too close to your other girls' names? I still love it

  8. I'm a Western Catholic. Since hanging out with Eastern Catholics I no longer complain about the mild fasting prescribed in the West... ;-)

  9. Thank you, Priest's Wife. My real name is actually the Spanish form, but I use the English form when commenting on blog for reasons that escape me now. St. Alice (also called Adelaide) is an awesome saint. She's one of those saints that actually got married and had children. Perhaps this is why she is the patroness of large families. Oh, and she was a princess, queen, and even empress. What's not to love? :)


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