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Calendars, pros and cons


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#41 Ryan

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:26 AM

You could also see it the other way round: The continued use of the old calendar could have caused all these troubles.


Such a view would only make sense, in my opinion, if one ignores the fact that the New Calendar was introduced unilaterally, at the initiative of a Freemason intent on effecting a union between the Church and heterodox elements. It was also the New Calendarists who allowed the state to coerce and repress dissenters. So it seems to me that to say that "the continued use of the old calendar caused all these troubles" is to blame the victim. Many respected elders (eg Elder Philotheos Zervakos) issued stern warnings about the possible ramifications of introducing the new calendar- the responsibility for a breach of tradition lies in the ones who introduce it, not the ones who resist it.

I don't feel at all comfortable with that personifications of the calendars. "The good old calendar" and "the evil new calendar". It sometimes even seems to me like idolizing a tool that was invented by man to measure time.


It's not a question of idolizing, but simply respecting all the traditions of the church. I can think of some sound reasons for considering a revision of the Old Calendar, but these were not primary motives behind the New Calendar. For the record, I attend a New Calendar church.

#42 Ryan

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:30 AM

IF this debate was about dogmatical issues such as "Is God a Holy Trinity", the "Ever-Virginity" of the Holy "Theotokos" etc then agreed, the point of view you hold with regards to those issues affects your salvation ... the calendar DOES NOT affect your salvation.


Is the way a priest dresses at liturgy a dogmatic issue? Is it really essential to salvation? Probably not... nevertheless, I think it would be perfectly legitimate to express outrage if a given diocese forced its priests to wear business suits.

I don't think anyone here is saying that one cannot be saved in a new calendar church (I attend one myself) but that does not mean that the introduction of the new calendar wasn't an error.

#43 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:44 AM

Dear friends,

The matter of the calendar is a complex one. Try as people on both 'sides' of the issue may, it cannot be reduced to any utterly simple, quenches-all-arguments statement. My own personal conviction is that one position is 'simpler' (without really caring to enter into the discussion terribly, I cannot myself see any significant justification for the adoption of the new calendar); but this can in no way suggest a presumed answer. These tend to be born out of a desire, above all, not to address the question.

But as to one specific point: everything undertaken in the Christian life affects one's salvation. It is part of the heresy of modern reductionism, to presume that only a few things 'matter theologically', matter dogmatically, and everything else is essentially relative. However one wishes to speak on the question of the calendar, let us not fall into this trap. If the way one dresses, one moves, etc., affect our life in Christ, how much more the very means by which we give order to the entire scope of our liturgical engagement with the whole of human-divine reality!

If discussion on this topic is to be fruitful, rather than (as it so often is) simply a back-and-forth of our own views and thoughts, let us begin above all by hubmling ourselves, seeking to explore, understand, and conform our understandings to the mind of the fathers.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#44 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:09 AM

Especially when so miracles are worked through the Orthodox Churches that are following the New Calendar ... myrrh streaming icons, miraculous visitations, healing and visitations of the saints ...


This raises an interesting point but I would like to know exactly what miracles are known to have occurred on the new calendar (I can only think of the appearance of the snakes in Kefalonia on the feast of the Dormition) and if there any saints who followed the new calendar exclusively. Annual events such as the Holy Light in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem at Pacha and the reversal of the flow of the River Jordan at Theophany occur according to the old calendar. (I know almost all Orthodox Churches observe Pascha on the old calendar.)

#45 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:18 AM

Dear Andreas, you wrote:

I know almost all Orthodox Churches observe Pascha on the old calendar.


Simply as a matter of clarification, it is worth noting that the keeping of the Paschal cycle is not itself related directly to the question of the 'old' versus 'new' calendars, since the Paschal cycle is determined by the cycles of the moon fairly independently of the calendar date -- whatever this may be. There is a separate issue of 'old' versus 'new' Paschalion; but the Church has, with the exception only of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's autonomous Church in Finland, rejected any movements towards the latter.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#46 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:13 PM

Simply as a matter of clarification, it is worth noting that the keeping of the Paschal cycle is not itself related directly to the question of the 'old' versus 'new' calendars, since the Paschal cycle is determined by the cycles of the moon fairly independently of the calendar date -- whatever this may be.


That could be said in a technical manner, but the fixed calendar and the Paschal Cycle are closely intertwined and interdependent. The dates used for cycles of the moon in the Paschal cycle are determined by a table prepared by the fathers of the Church which uses the Julian calendar dates for its computation. By using a process dependent upon Julian dates for Pascha and Gregorian dates for the fixed feasts, a number odd conflicts are produced. One of the canonical requirements is that Pascha does not fall during the month of May - and when one uses the new calendar, Pascha does occasionally fall during the month of May. The problems with the feast of St George which presumes that Pascha has recently passed (because it could never fall prior to Pascha on the old calendar) is another example. I believe (but am not certain) that KyrioPascha (when Annunciation falls on Pascha) is not possible on the new calendar and yet that particular confluence of feasts is considered to be of great importance. And then there is the more frequently encountered issue of the Apostles fast (or as happens on the new calendar that the fast ends before it begins).

So, while you might be able to say that the use of the Julian/Gregorian calendar for the fixed feasts is not an identical issue with the Paschal Cycle, I do believe that the two issues are intimately and directly related since the Paschal calendar is by design dependent upon the fixed calendar and the fixed calendar is by design dependent on the Paschal Cycle.

Many of the conflicts between old and new calendar could be eliminated if, instead of using the old calendar computations for Pascha and the new calendar dates for the menaion, we would use either new calendar Pascha and new calendar menaion or old calendar Pascha and old calendar menaion. The problem is not with the "calendar" itself, but with the fact that using two separate calendars messes up the intricate connection between the Paschal cycle and the fixed cycle.

Fr David Moser

#47 Eric Peterson

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:18 PM

Of course there are New Calendar saints. Elder Cleopa of Romania, Elder Iakovos of Evia, Fr. Dimitri Gagastathis, to name but a few. It would be ridiculous to assert that the use of the New Calendar is a hindrance to holiness.

#48 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:58 PM

So far as I can see it there are two major factors to consider with regard to the new calendar.

1. Its major clunkishness between its fixed and movable parts as noted by Fr. David.

2. The manner in which it was implemented.

Given the testimony of miracles and Saints we cannot say that the new calender for all its flaws is heretical. Ugly in places yes, heretical no, even if its initiating forces were pushing in that direction. Nor can we say that the desire to have better syncronization between the natural year and the liturgical calendar is a bad thing.

But the way it was implemented was far out of keeping with all Orthodox tradition and mindset. It senselessly invited schism. That aspect of it can be roundly and soundly condemned by all without fear of contradiction. But be that as it may, for the time being it is a situation that has been on the ground too long and we are stuck with it for a bit longer.

What is needed is a pan Orthodox council to settle the matter...to move us back as a body to the Old Calendar, or to fix the gross irregularities of the new one and to find willing concensus on the matter with other Orthodox bodies. Until that day we should be patient with the situation and prayerful for our bishops and priests who must administer the liturgical life of the Church.

#49 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:17 PM

What is needed is a pan Orthodox council to settle the matter...to move us back as a body to the Old Calendar, or to fix the gross irregularities of the new one and to find willing concensus on the matter with other Orthodox bodies. Until that day we should be patient with the situation and prayerful for our bishops and priests who must administer the liturgical life of the Church.


I think it is worth noting all that is necessary to fix the "gross irregularities" is to make a relatively minor adjustment to the calculation of Pascha. There is a committee in existance now with Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox participation to look at the matter. The Catholics and Protestants seem open to the idea of changing how Easter is calculated and I think that the present Orthodox method could be modified without damaging the Faith since it is rather artificial to begin with, using an artificial date for the Spring Equinox. The only real obstacle are those who insist on using the Julian Calendar and see any hint of "change" to be a threat to the entire Faith. I personally think that God is bigger than any man-made calendar, and especially not beholden to a calendar originally formulated by pagans. Julius Caesar was not a Christian and who do you think the Julian Calendar is named for?

But I am only a bear of very little brain, and find some of the reasonings for defending the Julian Calendar far beyond my ability to comprehend.

Herman the new calendar Pooh

#50 Eric Peterson

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:25 PM

I hardly think it's necessary to "fix" anything with the Paschalion now. It's not like a June Pascha is on the horizon like an asteroid about to crash into earth.

#51 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:39 PM

It would be ridiculous to assert that the use of the New Calendar is a hindrance to holiness.


Being a spiritual 'grandson' of Elder Sophrony, I wouldn't disagree.

Of course there are New Calendar saints. Elder Cleopa of Romania, Elder Iakovos of Evia, Fr. Dimitri Gagastathis, to name but a few.


Have any of these actually been canonised?

The fixing of the date of Pascha has to take into account the canons which forbid Pascha to be on or before the Jewish Passover. The Julian calendar properly avoids this. The new calendar does not, which is why the Finnish Church (EP) behaves uncanonically which is to be deplored, and is why western Easter is wrongly calculated. Such is the reason for maintaining the Julian calendar, notwithstanding he after whom it was named.

#52 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:49 PM

Dear Andreas:

You wrote:

The fixing of the date of Pascha has to take into account the canons which forbid Pascha to be on or before the Jewish Passover. The Julian calendar properly avoids this. The new calendar does not, which is why the Finnish Church (EP) behaves uncanonically which is to be deplored, and is why western Easter is wrongly calculated. Such is the reason for maintaining the Julian calendar, notwithstanding he after whom it was named.


What Fr Dn Matthew wrote above is correct: on the New Calendar the Paschal cycle is still according to the way in which it is kept by those who follow the Old Calendar. That is why for all of us in Orthodoxy (except for the church of Finland) Pascha is on the same day.

This is also why in some Orthodox jurisdictions the New Calendar is sometimes called the Revised Julian Calendar. It has revised the Menaion cycle to accord with what in the west is the civil calendar; but for the Paschal cycle it follows the same lunar based computations as the Julian does.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#53 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:04 PM

Thank you, Father, for that clarification.

#54 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:09 PM

he fixing of the date of Pascha has to take into account the canons which forbid Pascha to be on or before the Jewish Passover. The Julian calendar properly avoids this. The new calendar does not, which is why the Finnish Church (EP) behaves uncanonically which is to be deplored, and is why western Easter is wrongly calculated. Such is the reason for maintaining the Julian calendar, notwithstanding he after whom it was named.


Actually that is not what the canon says. Canon 7 declares: "If a bishop, a priest, or a deacon celebrates the holy day of Pascha before the vernal equinox. with the Jews. let him be deposed." Adjustments to "western" Easter could be made to ensure this doesn't happen, after all it is not a "fixed" date to begin with.

You might find out more than you want to be aware of here.

Knowledge can be a scary thing at times.

Herman the Pooh

#55 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:50 PM

This is also why in some Orthodox jurisdictions the New Calendar is sometimes called the Revised Julian Calendar. It has revised the Menaion cycle to accord with what in the west is the civil calendar;


Yes, and I think this is because there are canons specifically stating that to use the Gregorian calendar (for observing the Menaion cycle) is uncanonical; is that right?

In any case, because the new calendar is simply the Julian Calendar "corrected" so that it is the same as the Gregorian means that it retains the inaccuracies that caused the (Old) Julian Calendar to be 13 days behind the Gregorian today. Sure, it will take a few hundred years before the New Calendar slips behind the Gregorian calendar again, but by Orthodox standards that's still a short term fix.

#56 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:25 AM

In any case, because the new calendar is simply the Julian Calendar "corrected" so that it is the same as the Gregorian means that it retains the inaccuracies that caused the (Old) Julian Calendar to be 13 days behind the Gregorian today. Sure, it will take a few hundred years before the New Calendar slips behind the Gregorian calendar again, but by Orthodox standards that's still a short term fix.


Specifically in the year 2800, unless He comes back before then. Either way, it won't be your or my problem, and perhaps a better solution will be found by then, but it will diverge much more slowly, since it does not retain ALL the inaccuracies that the Julian calendar does.

I have been trying to stay out of this one, but I have to say that I don't understand how a calendar designed by a pagan empire can be considered "holy". A calendar is nothing more than man's attempt to mark the metre of God's celestial dance. The Julian calendar is out of synchronization. the Gregorian calendar is not perfect because we are trying to reconcile three totally independent cycles, the Earth's rotation upon its own axis, its rotation around the Sun, and the Moon's rotation around the Earth, periodic adjustments will always be necessary. But it seems reasonable to this bear of little brain that being in harmony and keeping the beat with God's dance has theological significance. BWDIK.

Herman the Pooh

#57 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 01:50 AM

I hardly think it's necessary to "fix" anything with the Paschalion now. It's not like a June Pascha is on the horizon like an asteroid about to crash into earth.


Of course it doesn't need to be "fixed", it is a moveable feast! And changing how Pascha is determined would not affect the Paschalion per se. Lent would be as long, Pentecost would still be 7 weeks later, the Sunday of the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee will still be 10 weeks before and Palm Sunday will always be just before. What in the Paschalion would change?

Herman the wondering Pooh

#58 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 01:57 AM

I have been trying to stay out of this one, but I have to say that I don't understand how a calendar designed by a pagan empire can be considered "holy".


Usually quotation marks are used to quote someone, although it doesn't seem to be the case this time. No one has specifically called the Julian calendar "holy", though the point has been made that the Church herself does reclaim time and marks it in a different way from the world. Those who follow both calendars do this though, if they use their respective calendars to mark the feasts of the Church and her Saints rather than just to "mark time".

That last point is probably quite important. It would be better for all of us to follow the Gregorian calendar if all we needed it for was to mark time. And of course, most of us do use the Gregorian calendar for everyday use. But it doesn't follow that the Church calendar needs to be changed so that the "marking of time" is more accurate. Most of the legitimate concerns over the implementation of the new calendar revolve around this issue: whether there was any justification in implementing it in the first place.

I think the comments on this thread by those who canonically follow the old calendar have been rather restrained. I'm not sure the worth in keep mentioning that the calendar is named after a pagan emporer. The new calendar is named after the same pagan emporer and is corrected so that it matches with a calendar named after a schismatic pope. Of course, you haven't said that the new calendar is "holy"; but then no one on this thread has said that about the old calendar either.

What some people have mentioned is that certain miracles (the reversal of flow of the River Jordan and the Holy Paschal Fire) occur according to the Julian calendar, even today, many years after the implementation of the new calendar. That's just a matter of fact.

#59 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 03:58 AM

(Galatians 4:10-11) 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

At least do you all agree that the following (typical) statement represents a basis where you all DO agree?:

"The Orthodox Church is internally divided over the issue of the Church calendar. Some, beginning in 1923, have decided to follow the so called "New" (Gregorian) Calendar, which is the same calendar -- excepting the period of Great Lent and Pascha --adopted by the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Other Orthodox churches adhere to the traditional Julian calendar (although their adherence to this calendar does not necessarily mean they oppose ecumenism or are "traditionalists")."



#60 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 04:13 AM

Many "dogmatic" Old Calendarists (henceforth OCs for short) identify the New Calendar that the Church of Greece and New Calendarists in general (henceforth NCs for short) follow with the Gregorian/Papic/Frankish Calendar, whereas the Old (Julian) Calendar they themselves follow they consider it to be the traditional genuine Ecclesiastical Calendar.

But that is not the case. The New Calendar which we follow is not Gregorian, Papic or Frankish, as they call it, but Julian. And here is the proof:

Firstly: If we open any high-school textbook on cosmography we will see on the subject of calendars the difference between the Gregorian and Julian Calendars from a purely calendarist point of view.

In other words, we know that one year is made up from precisely 365.242217 solar days. The length of the civil year based on the Julian Calendar is 365 days and 1/4 of a day, because every 4 years one day is added, namely the 29th of February. Therefore the Julian Calendar exceeds the true year, i.e. is greater than the true year, by 365.25 - 365.242217 = 0.007783 solar days. This difference within a period of 400 years comes to 3.1132 days. Therefore the true date falls short by 3.1132 days every 400 years. In order to correct this error, Pope Gregory XIII, with the aid of the astronomer Lillio, ordered the day after the 4th of October 1582 to be called 15th of October and not 5th of October. In order that this error would not be repeated in future, he also ordered that in a period of 400 years they should not take 100 leap years, as is done by the Julian Calendar, but only 100 -3 = 97. Thus, according to the Gregorian Calendar, in a period of 400 years the date falls short now only by 0.1132 days.
4,000 years must pass before the date falls short by 1.132 days.

In order to correct the Julian Calendar, Pope Gregory ordered that the years of the centuries (i.e. 1600, 1700, 1800) are not leap years unless the number of hundreds is divisible by 4. Thus, the year 1600 was a leap year according to the Gregorian Calendar, because the number of hundreds 16 is divisible by 4; according to the Julian Calendar it is still a leap year because the whole number 1600 is divisible by 4. However, the years 1700, 1800, 1900 are leap years according to the Julian Calendar, because these numbers, 1700, 1800, 1900, are divisible by 4, whereas they are not leap years for the Gregorian Calendar, because the numbers of the hundreds, namely 17, 18 and 19, are not divisible by 4.
Thus, after 1600 years that have passed approximately since the First Oecumenical Synod, we the NCs, since we follow the Julian Calendar and will have as leap years those years that are divisible by 4, we will have a new difference of 13 days, whereas the Gregorian Calendar will not have such a difference, because every 400 years it will have 97 leap years and not 100.

Here is the difference between the New Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar, from a calendarist point of view. They will have 97 leap years every 400 years, we will have 100.

However, Pope Gregory did not stop at this calendarist modification. He also adjusted his Easter upon his calendar, not taking into account the Passover of the Jews and the decision of the First Oecumenical Synod regarding the Christian Pascha and the Jewish Pascha.

Page 9 of "the Rudder" of our Church, there are four things that must be satisfied for the celebration of Pascha:

a) Vernal equinox
b) First full moon after this equinox
c) After the Nomicon Pascha
d) the first Sunday after a) - c).

The Gregorian or Papic Calendar takes into consideration only a), b) and d). It totally ignores c), the legal pascha of the Jews. Thus Papics can happen to celebrate their Easter together with that of the Jews or before the Jewish Pascha despite the 7th canon of the Apostles and despite the historical fact that Christ resurrected after the Pascha of the Jews. However, we NCs take into consideration all 4 points on the Christian Pascha, namely a) - d), and thus differ from the Gregorian or Papic Calendar not only from a calendarist but also from an ecclesiastical point of view. In other words, we celebrate our Pascha after the Jewish Pascha, in accordance with the decisions of the First Oecumenical Synod.
Therefore we conclude that from a Calendarist and an Ecclesiastical point of view both we the NCs and the OCs differ from the Gregorian Calendar.

Both NCs and OCs follow the Julian Calendar from a Calendarist and from an Ecclesiastical point of view!

Why then do some OCs identify the New Calendar, the one we follow, with the Papic Gregorian, since there is such a great difference from a calendarist and an ecclesiastical point of view between the two calendars?

We guess their objection: "Why promote the moving forward of the 13 days?"

To which we answer: This promotion by itself does not violate the Julian Calendar, but only the calendar almanac of this Calendar. Our Calendar was and has remained Julian. The OCs have Julian. So do we. Only that our Julian Calendar is corrected, adjusted; this is why it is commonly referred to as revised Julian.

Why though alter the calendar almanac of the Julian Calendar?

We know from the Rudder of our Church that the Fathers of the First Oecumenical Synod that established the Paschal celebration based on the vernal equinox had vernal equinox then on the 21st of March. This we know from the Rudder (see p. 9). After the passing of approximately 1600 years however from then till today, we deviated from that date with the result of having vernal equinox on the 8th of March. This is also mentioned in the Rudder (p. 9). With a "leap" of 13 days thus, we, the so-called "New Calendarists", have as vernal equinox the one the Holy Fathers of the First Oecumenical Synod had. This way we have the old date of the vernal equinox, the 21st of March, whereas the OCs have the new date of this equinox, namely the 8th of March. Therefore, rather ironically the NCs follow the old date, whereas the OCs the new date. We follow the old calendar almanac, the OCs follow the new calendar almanac. We are based upon the old Julian Calendar of the First Oecumenical Synod, the OCs are based upon the new Julian Calendar.

As a consequence, the so-called NCs are in reality old calendarists and the so-called OCs are in reality new calendarists!




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