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From the old calendar to the new calendar


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#21 Owen

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 06:32 PM

Ever since Man first decided to try making calendars (look back to Stonehenge as an example of one way of doing this), the attempt has been to reconcile the inherently incommensurate cycles of the natural (God-made) order with the reality of a whole number of days. There is nothing "God-made" about having the Vernal Equinox fixed on a given day in March; it would be far better if said given day in March were made to fall on the Vernal Equinox. Thus, the ecclesiastical calendar-makers, whether Old or New, have got it all upside-down and backwards. We cannot rectify--let alone sanctify--time without relying on the God-given, incommensurate cycles of the heavens as first principles in the design of a calendar.

#22 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 08:29 PM

With all respect, Father Raphael, I don't think that is the argument of those who favour the new calendar. I don't recall anyone in favour of the new calendar saying that there is no basic requirement to keep the paschal cycle and the daily cycle connected in a harmonical way. Instead, new calendarists claim there also has to be a connection between the calendar (man made thing) and the actual celestial movements (God made thing).


Note though that I said "with this previous connection". I mean with the connection between the two cycles as it now exists on the OC.

I'm not trying to say what I believe. I'm trying to convey what defenders would likely say in support of each.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#23 Dimitris

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:58 PM

Dear Father Raphael,

you mean for example the connection between Easter, which leads to All Saints Day, and the apostle fast, don't you? (I am sorry if I am misunderstanding you, English is not a native language to me). But that is something which also new calendarists would admit has to be connected in a proper way. The difference now is, the old calendarists would just remain on the old calender also in regard of the daily cycle, thus remaining on the original connection between Easter and daily cycle, but taking into account the slow, yet constant shift of the church year in regard to the actual year. The new calendarists would prefer to make a re-consideration of the paschal date, based on actual astronomic conditions, and thus see themselves in the mentality of the First Ecumenical Council, which came to the conclusion that the Paschal date until then was calculated in a wrong way and required everyone to calculate it according to the up-to-date methods at that time.

Again, maybe I am completely misunderstanding you and we are talking about the same thing. ;-)

#24 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 10:27 PM

Note though that I said "with this previous connection". I mean with the connection between the two cycles as it now exists on the OC.

I'm not trying to say what I believe. I'm trying to convey what defenders would likely say in support of each.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


With all respect, THIS particular New Calendar defendin' Pooh certainly never said such a thing. What needs to happen is that the manner of determining Pascha needs to be fixed, plain and simple. It needs to be brought into accord with the Ecumenical Canons it now violates, and instead of being tied to an artificial Vernal Equinox based on an outdated calendar, we ought to simply use the real Vernal Equinox, which anchors the calendar. If everyone used the New Calendar, all the problems tied to using the outdated calendar take care of themselves.

But even though we conflate them on a regular basis, they really are two different things, as I believe I have already laid out at length in several other threads on the subject. Do I need to summarize again here?

Herman the Pooh

#25 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 02:18 PM

Dear Father Raphael,

you mean for example the connection between Easter, which leads to All Saints Day, and the apostle fast, don't you? (I am sorry if I am misunderstanding you, English is not a native language to me). But that is something which also new calendarists would admit has to be connected in a proper way. The difference now is, the old calendarists would just remain on the old calender also in regard of the daily cycle, thus remaining on the original connection between Easter and daily cycle, but taking into account the slow, yet constant shift of the church year in regard to the actual year. The new calendarists would prefer to make a re-consideration of the paschal date, based on actual astronomic conditions, and thus see themselves in the mentality of the First Ecumenical Council, which came to the conclusion that the Paschal date until then was calculated in a wrong way and required everyone to calculate it according to the up-to-date methods at that time.

Again, maybe I am completely misunderstanding you and we are talking about the same thing. ;-)


No- I'm not sure that we're saying different things.

To be clear- I'm not saying here what I believe to be proper. I'm just saying that one thing that comes into play is that those who defend the OC & the NC see the relationship of mechanical, measurable time to the Calendar in different ways.

Of course though as one of those hot button issues we need to be careful in discussing such things here at the Forum. Our guidelines are not to engage in arguments that achieve little or nothing; nor is it to push matters into a resolution that only our hierarchs can properly take up.

Rather it is to put forward what we believe to be the Patristic and Orthodox/ascetic understanding of the Calendar. We can also listen to what others are saying and try to understand their underlying point.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#26 S. David

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:15 AM

I read somewhere that the holy fathers in the first Ecumenical Council were aware of the shift in the calender from the corresponding natural phenomena, specially the vernal equinox, where it was ocurred in March 23 when the Julian calender existed, I think on year 50 B.C, and March 21 in the time of the first Ecumenical Council, but the holy fathers ingored this shift. Is this right? and how can we interpret this ignorance in that case?

In Christ

#27 Michael Stickles

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:09 PM

I'm not aware of anything like that (which doesn't necessarily mean anything). I do know that Schaff's The Seven Ecumenical Councils, in the Excursus on the Subsequent History of the Easter Question, notes that the Romans and Alexandrians used two different dates for the Equinox (Rome used March 18; Alexandria, March 21), which caused problems in harmonizing the celebration of Pascha - perhaps that could be what you read, or something like it?

In Christ,
Michael

#28 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 05:24 PM

I read somewhere that the holy fathers in the first Ecumenical Council were aware of the shift in the calender from the corresponding natural phenomena, specially the vernal equinox, where it was ocurred in March 23 when the Julian calender existed, I think on year 50 B.C, and March 21 in the time of the first Ecumenical Council, but the holy fathers ingored this shift. Is this right? and how can we interpret this ignorance in that case?

In Christ


I am pretty sure it was not "ignored". The Patriarch of Alexandria carries the title "Judge of the Universe" as part of his office. This is because Alexandria was looked to by the Empire to set the calendar every year in accordance with the understanding of astronomy of the day, and the anchor of the year IS the vernal equinox. Once the Byzantine Empire collapsed, this was no longer an option, so it is no wonder that Pope Gregory looked to his own devices to provide as best a solution as he could at the time.

#29 Dimitris

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:23 PM

Recently I came across Psalm 8 which in my opinion perfectly fits into this topic. It says: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (...) Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." (verses 3-4, 6-8)

So we confess God as the one, who created all celestial objects including their motion, on the other hand it is said, that man has dominion over those works. So there is no need to worry about observing God's creation and putting this observations into a good order, it is perfectly legitimated by this Psalm.

#30 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:48 PM

Instead, new calendarists claim there also has to be a connection between the calendar (man made thing) and the actual celestial movements (God made thing).


The Old Calendar was codified by the Church and used by all Orthodox until XX century,
I believe that it could not take place without inspiration of Holy Spirit as the
holidays are real events taking place also in spiritual dimension.

The reform led to many scandals and divisions, and to change of perception - the Church
calendar became less sacred and more utilitarian.

The New Calendar is not more accurate astronomically for a simple reason - the seasons
move in relations to the stars because the Earth axis is wobbling. So the season year
shifts in the relation to the astronomical year defined as by the movement of our planet
around the Sun.

In addition one cannot adjust holidays to the seasons because they happen in
opposite times in northern and southern hemispheres.

Personally I would be happy to see the restoration of Orthodox liturgical unity
by return to what was before.

#31 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 12:26 AM

The Old Calendar was codified by the Church and used by all Orthodox until XX century, I believe that it could not take place without inspiration of Holy Spirit as the holidays are real events taking place also in spiritual dimension.


People don't like change, no Holy Spirit required. Great Britain and the American Colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752.

The reform led to many scandals and divisions, and to change of perception - the Church calendar became less sacred and more utilitarian.


Sacred. A calendar established by a pagan empire is more sacred than the calendar used by the People of God for over 6000 years? Not sure I get that one.

The New Calendar is not more accurate astronomically for a simple reason - the seasons move in relations to the stars because the Earth axis is wobbling. So the season year shifts in the relation to the astronomical year defined as by the movement of our planet around the Sun.

In addition one cannot adjust holidays to the seasons because they happen in opposite times in northern and southern hemispheres.


Well the New Calendar IS more accurate, even if it is not exact and still needs occasional adjustments. The Vernal Equinox, which anchors the Paschal Cycle also anchors the Earth's orbit around the Sun. It is quite easy to determine, it is when there is 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night, regardless. Just be glad we still don't use the Jewish calendar, the adjustments IT makes to keep the seasons in place are very involved, including adding months and jubilees and all that.

It really does not matter about hemispheres. Christ acted in the world in a specific place, Jerusalem, and was crucified in a specific season. There are theological principles that can be derived from that. It happened in the Spring because it happened in Jerusalem. Even if it is not Spring in Australia, even Australians can figure out that it was Spring in Jerusalem (sorry Olga, just being facetious). So, while it is not important that it be Spring in Sidney, it is still important that it be Spring in Jerusalem. Got it?

Personally I would be happy to see the restoration of Orthodox liturgical unity by return to what was before.


And I would be happy to see the restoration of Orthodox liturgical unity by the Church doing what it did before. Instead of mindlessly following what was before (the Jewish calendar was the calendar that chronicled Christ's life), the Church courageously chose to use the most accurate and useful calendar of its day, which happened to have been established by pagans, but it was the civil calendar of the "world".

I would be happy to see the restoration of Orthodox liturgical unity by the Church no longer violating the canons of the Church in calculating the date of Pascha as it does now. But I fear the Church today simply no longer has the courage and fortitude of the Church of the Martyrs, the Church of the Ecumenical Councils, which was able to make decisions as ONE CHURCH, even if it got a bit raucous at times. We just avoid decisions these days.

Herman the at times raucous Pooh

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 29 January 2012 - 02:07 AM.


#32 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 10:16 AM

Christians are no less People of God than Old Testament Jews. And yes, both the Jewish calendar and Church calendar are sacred. Someone called the later "Icon of Time", the time was made sacred by it like wood and paint of a holy icon.

A calendar established by a pagan empire is more sacred than the calendar used by the People of God for over 6000 years? I fear the Church today simply no longer has the courage and fortitude of the Church of the Martyrs, the Church of the Ecumenical Councils ...


Those who successfully resisted calendar reform in Russia gave quite a few of martyrs while the architect of the Calendar reform gave the support to the other side (renovationist Living Church of Russia).

Edited by Michael Stickles, 29 January 2012 - 12:55 PM.
Fixed formatting


#33 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 01:13 PM

Christians are no less People of God than Old Testament Jews.


Well of course they are, Christians are the CONTINUING People of God, but they chose not to use the calendar that the previous People of God used even though it was "sacred".

And yes, both the Jewish calendar and Church calendar are sacred. Someone called the later "Icon of Time", the time was made sacred by it like wood and paint of a holy icon.


Why can't the Gregorian (or Revised Julian as it is sometimes called) be sacred too? What makes a calendar originally and forcibly imposed by an originally pagan Roman Empire more deserving of sacredness than the "New Calendar"? It is the liturgical cycle that is sacred, the Menaion and the Paschalion and the Pentacostarion, not how the dates are calculated. However, if the Jewish calendar is of any indication, maintaining a continuity with the seasons WAS important. That is why they added months on certain years and had jubilees and all that. That is why the Imperial Church designated the Patriarch of Alexandria as the "Judge of the Universe", a title he carries to this very day, because Alexandria was in charge of keeping the calendar accurate for the Empire. But when the empire fell, the accuracy of the calendar suffered. And now the Vernal Equinox does NOT happen when the night and day are equal, but 13 days LATER. The accuracy that tied the liturgical cycle to the celestial dance is no more, and now the link between how the Heavens proclaim God's handiwork and how we worship Him is broken. Instead of proclaiming the glory of God, now the old calendar proclaims "we don't care about Your creation, we are going to do what we want to do regardless of how You ordered the Universe". We may want to rethink that "icon".

Those who successfully resisted calendar reform in Russia gave quite a few of martyrs while the architect of the Calendar reform gave the support to the other side (renovationist Living Church of Russia).


There have been saints from the Churches under the New Calendar as well. Russia does not comprise the entirety of Orthodoxy despite what some people seem to think. People resist things because they don't like change. The Old Believers resisted the liturgical changes rather forcefully put in place by Patriarch Nikon and produced quite a few martyrs as well. Doesn't make them right. Should we all return to being Old Believers as well? They would say exactly the same thing, don't you think?

Herman the curious Pooh

#34 Olga

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 01:25 PM

May I make the point that the use of differing calendars might be an anomaly and an irregularity, but is in no way a heresy. If the use of the new calendar was indeed heretical (a violation or distortion of doctrine), then the intercommunion between the canonical Churches which use the Julian calendar and those which use the new calendar would not be possible or permissible. For the newer members here, I mention this from the perspective of someone who has had long experience of both calendar "camps".

As Herman rightly mentioned, the Paschalion and all that flows from it are identical in all Orthodox churches, irrespective of which calendar is used for their fixed feasts. Might I also mention that there are instances of feasts of specific saints which are celebrated on different days on the calendar within different churches, for reasons which have nothing at all to do with which calendar that church uses. The one which immediately comes to mind is that of Great-martyr St Catherine. The Greeks and the Slavs celebrate her memory on different days.

Olga who has a foot in both calendar camps.

Edited by Olga, 29 January 2012 - 01:34 PM.
Added additional material


#35 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 01:57 PM

Just this past Thursday, the Serbs marked the leave taking of Theophany while the Russian church marked this on Friday. The Serbs do this so that they can mark the celebration of St Sava (their national saint) in a more full way.

I also have had my foot in 'both camps'. I personally have come to see the beauty & force of the OC but agree entirely that the NC is not a matter of being a heresy.

A last point about this, that I only realized through the discussions here- that in fact the separation between the civil and Church calendars, which those who defend the OC often point to in its favour (or even as being inherent to the OC), only occurred in modern times as the result of governments adopting the civil calendar.

Before this for over a thousand years Church and civil holidays always coincided. So in fact if we who hold to the OC are honest, we will see that this is in fact one of the positive, not negative, points of the NC. Perhaps it's even more canonical than what we defend with the current separation of the OC from the civil. Maybe what we do on the OC is even an innovation!

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#36 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 02:04 PM

there are instances of feasts of specific saints which are celebrated on different days on the calendar within different churches, for reasons which have nothing at all to do with which calendar that church uses. The one which immediately comes to mind is that of Great-martyr St Catherine. The Greeks and the Slavs celebrate her memory on different days.


There is a big difference about celebrating a memory of a saint like St Catherine, that even could be observed more than once during the year or privately and a major holiday like Christmas that is also preceded by a long fast and is linked intricately to other holidays.

#37 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 02:16 PM

Before this for over a thousand years Church and civil holidays always coincided. So in fact if we who hold to the OC are honest, we will see that this is in fact one of the positive, not negative, points of the NC. Perhaps it's even more canonical than what we defend with the current separation of the OC from the civil. Maybe what we do on the OC is even an innovation!


Coincided in Christian countries. Countries with different religions might have different calendars. Would it be good to adopt theirs, depending on the locality? In addition secular government might make a calendar completely incompatible with church services as it was attempted during French or Bolshevik Revolutions.

#38 Father David Moser

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 03:09 PM

Why can't the Gregorian (or Revised Julian as it is sometimes called) be sacred too?


First off: a red herring - the "Gregorian" calendar and the "Revised Julian" calendar are not the same - so which do you want to use.

Second and more to the point - the Gregorian calendar can indeed be sacred. The problem is not whether one uses the Julian or the Gregorian calendar. The problem is when you try to use both together. Pick one or the other and stick with it. And it would be nice if the whole Church decided to pick the same one.

Fr David Moser

#39 Kosta

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:47 PM

Just this past Thursday, the Serbs marked the leave taking of Theophany while the Russian church marked this on Friday. The Serbs do this so that they can mark the celebration of St Sava (their national saint) in a more full way.

I also have had my foot in 'both camps'. I personally have come to see the beauty & force of the OC but agree entirely that the NC is not a matter of being a heresy.

A last point about this, that I only realized through the discussions here- that in fact the separation between the civil and Church calendars, which those who defend the OC often point to in its favour (or even as being inherent to the OC), only occurred in modern times as the result of governments adopting the civil calendar.

Before this for over a thousand years Church and civil holidays always coincided. So in fact if we who hold to the OC are honest, we will see that this is in fact one of the positive, not negative, points of the NC. Perhaps it's even more canonical than what we defend with the current separation of the OC from the civil. Maybe what we do on the OC is even an innovation!

In Christ
-Fr Raphael


I've always said that seperation of church and state is an innovation, adopted by Orthodox people out of ignorance for being immersed in westernism.. One of the reasons the greek church adopted the NC is because the Annunciation would no longer coincide with Greek Independance Day. It was the state that recommended that the two holidays not be seperated. Personally i believe the state should have left the celebration of greek independance day on the old calendar. But if civil and church holidays always coincided does it really matter anymore since the Church's future is no longer in the west but in places where holidays are heterodox and christians are a minority ?

#40 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 07:43 PM

First off: a red herring - the "Gregorian" calendar and the "Revised Julian" calendar are not the same - so which do you want to use.


Whichever my bishop tells me to use is fine with me actually. The Gregorian and Revised Julian don't diverge in the year 2800. We can make another adjustment at that time, it should really be no big deal, if Christ has not returned by then. Or we can BOTH compromise and just use the Gregorian calendar since we both "give up something". I see no problems with that.

Second and more to the point - the Gregorian calendar can indeed be sacred. The problem is not whether one uses the Julian or the Gregorian calendar. The problem is when you try to use both together. Pick one or the other and stick with it. And it would be nice if the whole Church decided to pick the same one.

Fr David Moser


Whichever one we can agree to that does not violate the canons of the Church is fine by me, which means we need to "fix" the calculation of Pascha which is probably the most important thing. If we use the actual Vernal Equinox as the Holy Council intended, that is, rather than an arbitrary date that happens 13 days later, then 14, then 15, as Pascha drifts away from the anchor of the real Vernal Equinox.




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