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Liturgy of Saint James a "Trojan horse"?

liturgy of saint james liturgics modernization liturgy

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#1 Sbdn. Peter Simko

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 02:00 PM

Friends,

 

Some time ago, I read some words by Fr. Vasilios Spiliopoulos that questioned the use of the Liturgy of Saint James, specifically in Greece.  He put forth a number of arguments culminating in an assertion that this Liturgy has served as a back way for liturgical reform in line with modern western degenerate liturgy to sneak into the Church of Christ.  See part one at the link below on the Mystagogy Resource Center site.  I can understand a number of his points, but I wonder if you have any thoughts based on what we know about how our Church practices liturgics across time and space and even, more specifically, how the Liturgy of Saint James is used uniquely in modern practice.  Thank you.

 

http://www.johnsanid...ojan-horse.html



#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 15 October 2016 - 09:43 PM

Some brief comments on each part of Fr. Vasilios Spiliopoulos's post.

 

Part 1:

There seems to be two points of contention here for Fr. Vasilios, firstly that the Church has rejected the liturgies of St James and St Mark, second that the sole reason for serving the Liturgy of St James is a subtle way to introduce liturgical reform motivated by perceived of 'archaicness' in the Liturgy. In regards to the first point he states that the Liturgy of St James had fallen into disuse by the time of St Basil the Great: this quite untrue the Liturgy is attested to in the writings of St Cyril of Jerusalem who post-deceased St Basil by a decade and under whom it appears to have undergone development. It is also contained largely in late forth and fifth century manuscripts, indeed given the Divine Liturgy was far more local and orally transmitted up unto the 4th century it could not have been in use up unto the time of St Basil before then falling into disuse as this was the very time its use was growing.

 

In regards to the Liturgy of St Mark he concedes that the Liturgy was in use until the 12th century and instead argues from the decision of Balsamon, the idea that the official Liturgy of the Alexandrian Patriarchate revised by St Cyril of Alexandria should be dismissed by an order of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is quite frankly nonsense that smacks of Papism. It is indeed the case due to the Muslim yoke Alexandria whose Patriarch tended to reside in Constantinople had already started to 'Byzantinize' the Liturgy before abandoning it due to the aforementioned arrogant pressure put upon by Constantinople. This does not mean that the Liturgy of St Mark is in someway defective and not fit for use but rather demonstrates one the many issues (centralisation around Constantinople) facing the Church following the Muslim conquest. Ultimately disuse does not equate to rejection by the Church.  

 

In regards to his second point there are many Orthodox churches who celebrate the Liturgy of St James on his feastday (we shall do so next Sunday) taking as precedent the celebration of the Liturgy of St Basil the Great on his feast-day, most of these churches have no motivation at all for liturgical reform and the idea they are doing so via the Liturgy of Saint James (served at most twice a year) seems a little far fetched. Now when it does comes to any changes to the services of the church (quite apart to the Liturgy of St James which is quite a separate manner, rather such changes as those to the beginning of the liturgy in Constantinople practice) it must be remembered that the services of the church are not static, they continue to evolve over time according to the mind of the Church (otherwise we would not be celebrating the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for one) at times the move is towards the more ornate at other times the more simple according to the needs of the Church at that time.

 

Reuse of older liturgical practises can form part of this process, indeed the canons of Matins are an example of a deliberate attempt to move from the Kontakia to the Biblical based canticles of the Old Testament which makes use of the old in forming  what was in this case an entirely new liturgical practice. This must be separated from both the Catholic/Protestant idea that former practices can be dismissed entirely for the sake of keeping 'modern' (Vatican 2) and the idea of (Protestant based) revisionism wherein there lies the believe that later liturgical practices have been corrupted and must return to more pure earlier roots, it seems Fr Vasilios is unfairly equating the two with genuine liturgical development which has always been part of the liturgical life of the Church. 

 

I'll post on the other posts when I get time.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,


Edited by Olga, 16 October 2016 - 07:14 AM.
Added paragraph spaces for ease of reading


#3 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 08:15 PM

Part 2:

 

Fr Vasilios's main concern seems to be that the liturgy should be served on the holy altar and not on a temporary altar before the icon screen he is quite correct in this - personally I have never come across such an odd practice. The only point I would make is that the icon screen is likely not as early as he suggests and the entry into the altar being at the great entrance is a little more complicated as it varied by location.

 

I'll try to post on part 3 tomorrow.

 

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#4 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 09:58 PM

Part 3:

 

This criticism seems directed more to the reading of the priest's prayers aloud in general than to the Liturgy of St James with the only link seemingly the statement, 'Even clergy who read the secret prayers silently during the regular Divine Liturgy, when they perform the Liturgy of Saint James, they become lured by the novelty of it and recite the praeyrs out loud '. In regards to the prayers of the priest some have always been read silently (i.e. in a low voice) others aloud and yet others have varied over history and location as to their audibility . 

 

Part 4a: 

 

I don't really see the relevance of this to the Liturgy of Saint James which requires no more lay participation then the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, indeed if Jerusalem practice is followed then it is infact less.

 

Part4b:

I agree with Fr Vasilios's points here, though the practice of receiving Holy Communion in such a manner is the more ancient it became almost universal practice in the East to receive in the contemporary manner during the 5th century (including in Jerusalem), there is no reason to return to the ancient practice for the Liturgy of St James although this is sometimes done. A few practical notes based on when communion is received in this manner at our parish during the Liturgy of Saint James (which is not always): The practice first has to be explained beforehand,  it requires at least a priest and a deacon, it cannot be done with young children, most people simply receive communion then continue without making sure to wipe the hand with the cloth and prosphora.  

 

[Dear Moderators feel free to merge this post with the last one if you deem it preferable to having three posts in a row]

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#5 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 04:47 PM

Part 5:

This shall be my final post as part 6&7 appears to be appendices. 

 

Priestly Vestments:

Here again Father Vasilios seems to be overly concerned that differences in the Liturgy of Saint James are a subtly way of introducing innovations into the Liturgy when this is not the case. The use of the phelonion for the bishop is indeed for the reason he stated (i.e. this is the traditional vestment of a bishop) now though personally I do not see the need for this as the change to the Sakkos has become the universal (though technically perhaps un-canonical) practice those who argue for the phelonion do so in regards to the Liturgy of Saint James not under ulterior motives. 

 

Old Testament readings:

In the case of the Old Testament Readings these were and are appointed for the Liturgy of Saint James (likewise originally in Saint Mark) as this is what is given in the rubrics of the Liturgy. The use of readings from the Old Testament in the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is quite a different issue which in this case would indicate a massive liturgical reform. It is increasingly acknowledged by modern scholarship that it was never Constantinople's practice to have Old Testament readings, they had formerly been supposed to have existed due to their being found in most other rites (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome) but this looks increasingly unlikely. I would also agree with Father Vasilios in regards to the need to restore much of the Old Testament elements to Vespers and Matins, though I would note that the Typika is not part of the Liturgy it was mistakenly attached there due to monastic practices. Likewise the use of O Virgin Pure is uncanonical and should not be sung during the Liturgy. However, to do any of this would be a form of Liturgical reform, which Father Vasilios seems to reject. 

 

Overall, I would say that  Father Vasilios is right to have some concerns regarding Liturgical Reform movements especially when these are connected to  ecumenicalism and that some of his criticisms of certain practices at the Liturgy of Saint James are valid. Nonetheless, his outright rejection of the Liturgy of Saint James and constant connecting the serving of it to a conspiracy to reform the Liturgy is quite unfair to those serving the Liturgy most of whom do so out of love for the services of the Church. The appendices indicate that his concerns have some grounding at least in the U.S.A. where churches are focusing too much on the idea of 'ancientness' and promoting the Liturgy of Saint James in quite an odd way, but this should not be extend to an outright condemnation of the serving of the Liturgy of Saint James. Those serving the Liturgy of Saint James are doing so on his feastday in the same manner as we also serve the Liturgy of Saint Basil and with the approval of their bishop. 

 

In Christ.

Daniel,







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