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Western Rite Orthodox "Gregorian masses"?


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#1 Christophoros

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 11:04 PM

Does anyone know if any of the jurisdictions with Western Rite parishes permit the celebration of "Gregorian masses" for the dead? The practice of 30 masses celebrated in 30 days in honor of the deceased goes back to St. Gregory Dialogos, but since the Great Schism the Latin Church tacked on additional myths (like a guarantee of deliverance from purgatory) that aren't part of the traditional observance. I'm curious if the practice has been revived within Orthodoxy with the growth of Antiochian and ROCOR Western Rite communities. Thanks.

 

In Christ,

Chris



#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 01:42 PM

I don't know about Western Rite, however, to serve daily liturgies during the 40 days is a common practice in the Eastern Rite.  The only place that this is practical is where there are daily liturgies already being offered (cathedrals and monasteries) because of in a small parish it is almost physically impossible for one priest and one reader (minimum staff compliment) to serve the whole cycle of services including liturgy every day.

 

Fr David Moser



#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 06:41 PM

I was prompted by this thread to have a look into the matter, and it seems, according to the rules of the Roman Church, that a Gregorian Mass can only be said for one person and its purpose is specifically to release the soul of the person for whom the thirty masses are said from Purgatory. It is rarely used. As one Roman priest puts it, it is 'a bold and emphatic reminder of the doctrine of Purgatory'. That being so, I don't see how Gregorian masses could be accommodated in any way by the Orthodox Church which rejects that Roman doctrine.



#4 Christophoros

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 12:30 AM

Andreas,

 

I think an important point to make is the concept of Gregorian masses predates the Latin Church's formulation of the doctrine of purgatory by several centuries. We shouldn't be confined by later Scholastic and Neo-Scholastic interpretations of the practice. As Fr. David pointed out, Orthodoxy has the similar Sarantaleitourgon which is usually done in monastic settings. It is true that the Latin Church has almost abandoned the practice, but that has more to do with a general decline in all prayers for the departed.



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 10:37 AM

Two questions then arise: first, is there a reliable text which pre-dates the Roman doctrine of Purgatory, and secondly, why would the Orthodox Church find at this point in time that it needs this?



#6 Christophoros

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 11:25 AM

I'm not positive, but I don't believe "Gregorian masses" are distinct rites; they are simply Latin Rite liturgies with Propers appropriate for the intention. Pre-schism and (I would imagine) "pre-purgatory" Propers do exist.

 

With the second one, it's fairly obvious Gregorian masses would serve the same general purpose as the 40 day liturgies served in Orthodox monasteries, but in the contest of the Western Rite.

 

I should note I'm not advocating Gregorian masses (or the Western Rite in general, which I find problematic at best), but was just curious about their use within Orthodox WR parishes or monasteries.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 01:37 PM

It appears that the Roman Church asserts that Purgatory has always been part its faith system, in which case it is hard to see how a liturgy intended to release a soul from Purgatory could ever be relevant to the Orthodox Church. In any case, how could it be known if it were effective? A Roman priest writes this:

 

Is, then the practice of the Thirty Gregorian Masses officially guaranteed by the Church to rescue the given soul from Purgatory into Heaven? As far as I know, no, they are not officially guaranteed, because although we have here a practice approved by the Church, it is not an institution in which the Church engages her official authority.



#8 Christophoros

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 07:09 PM

Of course, it should also be noted the Roman Pontiff asserts (falsely) that papal infallibility "has always been part of its faith system" as well... So how Papist theologians evaluate any practice or belief *today* that existed prior to the Great Schism should be viewed with skepticism, or at least a grain of salt, if it is contrary to Orthodoxy. No one denies the practice stems from St. Gregory the Great of Rome, the Dialogist, in the 6th century. I don't believe for a moment he professed a belief in purgatory, but he certainly held the Orthodox belief that prayers and offerings are beneficial for departed souls. It's easy to see how that was morphed centuries later by Thomistic theologians into an affirmation of purgatory, but that doesn't make it true.



#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 07:44 PM

Of course. Prayers for the dead, of which we have a sufficiency in our Orthodox Church, are not the same, and it does seem to be the case that prayers for the dead did 'morph' into the position stated by Aquinas.



#10 Kosta

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 03:10 AM

I dont even think these western rites are "roman" to begin with. Most are episcopalean heritage.

#11 Christophoros

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 11:28 PM

I came across the Orthodox origins of "Gregorian masses" last night, in the Evergetinos: 

Hypothesis XXX: Not just for the living, but also for those who have reposed, oblations provide great aid.


From St. Gregory the Dialogist:


11. Believe, then, Peter, that such things take place among the living, too, even if the same are not at all aware of the oblations offered for them. From this, it is also demonstrated before all that the souls of the dead are unimaginably benefited from oblations on their behalf, as long as they have not fallen to some unforgivable sin. A story told about a certain Justus, which is elsewhere recorded, shows the benefit which Divine oblations effect for the dead.


12. Now, this Justus was a monk in our monastery, while I was still living there and before I became a Bishop. Once Justus secretly acquired three coins, despite the rules of the monastery. This was kept secret until the time of his death. And it was on this account that he was deemed unworthy of a funeral service, even though he had repented for his fall before he died. His body, without any prayer whatsoever, was thrown in the manure pile, along with those three ill-gotten coins. And I commanded that all of thebrotherhood should condemn Justus and his coins, saying: “Thy money perish with thee” (Acts 8:20). This was declared by all of the brothers in one voice.


13. After thirty days had elapsed, I felt sorry for the man and ordered that every day, for thirty days, there be celebrated the Bloodless Sacrifice on his behalf, that he might be redeemed from among those in torment. On the thirtieth day, the dead man appeared, in his sleep, to his brother according to the flesh, Copiosus, who asked the departed man: “How are you faring in the other world?” The departed Justus replied: “Until today, I suffered greatly. However, I am now very well.”


14. The brother of the departed monk, Copiosus, went to the monastery and recounted the dream. And counting the exact number of days from Justus’s death until the day on which his brother had this vision, it was confirmed that the report of the refreshment given to the departed’s soul occurred on the day of the completion of the thirtieth Liturgy. It is abundantly clear, then, that the departed brother was delivered from his torments, thanks to the power of the oblations for deliverance; that is, the power of Divine Liturgies.


-  The Evergetinos: A Complete Text, CTOS edition, Vol. 4, pp. 354-355


Edited by Christophoros, 18 May 2015 - 11:28 PM.





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