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Pascha on the Feast of the Nativity?


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#1 Joshua K.

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 12:55 AM

I have question about the Church Calendar. My wife and I were discussing the calendar issue and it came up in our discussion that she heard from someone we know had asked our parish priest
about his views on the old calendar. And he said that the old calendar was wrong, he also said that eventually Pascha and the Nativiy would be on the same day. Is this true?

Anthony

#2 Kosta

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 01:43 AM

Only on the revised julian calendar(new calendar) will pascha and christmas eventually coincide. Not to worry it will take thousands of years.

#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 02:53 AM

And he said that the old calendar was wrong,


How could the old calendar be wrong - we all use it to celebrate Pascha because the date of Pascha is always computed using the old calendar reckoning, never the new. That's why old and new calendar parishes always have Pascha in common.

Only on the revised julian calendar(new calendar) will pascha and christmas eventually coincide. Not to worry it will take thousands of years.


In about 350 centuries, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 35,000 years (if my off the top of my head calculations are correct) there is a possibility that Pascha will coincide with new calendar Christmas (because Pascha will shift with the old calendar).

Actually most of us alive today will not live to see the gap between old and new calendar grow to 14 days (which should occur in the year 2100) so its not really something to worry about.

Fr David Moser

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 12:38 PM

Saying that the Julian calendar is "wrong" is perhaps a bit strong, but the fact of the matter is that it is less accurate and does not properly reconcile the rotations of the earth on its axis to the length of time that it takes to circumnavigate the Sun. No calendar is "perfect" since the two cycles it tries to reconcile are independent and a "mechanical" adjustment has to be made from time to time. The Julian calendar tries to do this with its figuring of leap years but as time goes on, we have found that its adjustment was not quite enough, so another adjustment was necessary, which became the Gregorian calendar. Because the adjustment is not quite enough, over time the discrepancy it is supposed to fix will get bigger and bigger.

At some point we will probably find that some sort of new adjustment will need to be made to the Gregorian calendar as well, but for some reason, people have a much more difficult time adjusting than calendars do. Go figure. No really, go figure, do the math and you will see what I mean.

The real solution is to properly fix the figuring of Pascha so that it once again obeys the spirit of the Ecumenical Councils and all this discussion over genealogies and chronologies would simply be unnecessary.

God set the universe in motion. A calendar is simply our attempt to mark the metre of the celestial dance.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the chronological Pooh

#5 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 01:31 PM

I think that there are two sides to this. There is something called a Church calendar. It is not just a secular calendar which is then used by the Church. I do not think that the Church ever did this, first because there was no concept within society of a purely secular calendar, meant only to measure mechanical time, until the last couple of centuries. Previous to this all calendars were sacred markers of time.

In other words time was understood as a passage from day to day, season to season. In this sense it had a rational aspect to it. But the calendar placed this passage of time within a sacred and political/moral context. Calendars still do the latter for example with the various national holidays that we celebrate on various days.

It is true also however that the computation of days within the Roman calendar has varied widely over the centuries and by place. St Augustine for example refers to a calendar still marked by months with very irregular days. This is in the 5thc well after the time claimed as representing the adoption of a universal Julian Church calendar as we understand this at the 1st Ec Co. I don't have time to study this right now, but I would think that it wouldn't be too hard to find widely varying calendars (except for the day of celebrating Pascha) used by Christians in pre-modern times. In other words it is likely that the standardization of days in relation to the lunar calendar, in the way that we know this now, is fairly recent. And possibly this is itself a result of modern phenomenon, like standardization itself, which arose from modern communication & the social cohesion given only by modern times.

It could be then that the way in which we think of the menaion having to correlate so closely to the Paschal calendar is a relatively recent development allowable only due to printed menaia, service books and calendars. It could be that previous to this what was actually being defended when for example the west changed to the Gregorian calendar was the understanding of sacred or Church time, rather than an absolute method for conveying it.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 12:48 PM

Fr. Raphael brings up an exceedingly important point. Calendars have indeed historically kept "sacred time" in all the civilizations that created them. There certainly was no division between sacred and secular time. So why do so many insist on artificially separating them now?

#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:32 PM

To be fair though (probably as a good Canadian :) ) I am trying to see both sides of this issue. What is a possible & genuine Church position in each. Along with this thinking however is the thought that one day we will have to resolve this issue possibly along the lines already seen when churches go through the process of reconciliation. Basically, both sides have to humble themselves to see what is actually a Church position in what the other is saying; to allow that not everything is black & white. Interestingly though, this very process is what often instills more of a Churchly way of seeing the issue from their own side, than perhaps was previously there. Not for the first or last time, the possible temptations from the right & the left, are corrected by working for unity with those who hold another side of the issue.

In any case, along with my two basic points- that the Church calendar is a true Church calendar, and that it providers a liturgical & sacred context for the Church to live in; but that the method for conveying this is context is probably not meant to be taken as absolute- I now see that even the secular calendar isn't just a measurement of mechanical time and nothing more. Rather, following from its very ancient origins, our calendars mark time to give it significance, which is why no one feels it strange to commemorate national/civic holidays (note the ancient origin of this word- holy-day) as part & parcel of our calendar.

Anyway- just a few things to think about.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#8 Father David Moser

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:45 PM

Before this discussion really gets rolling I would like to point out that there are already at least three discussion threads dealing with the old/new calendar issues. They are "From the old calendar to the new calendar", "Calendars: interaction of old a new" and "Calendars, pros and cons". There may be more, but I didn't look all that hard to find these. Rather than restate what is already out there, I would recommend looking through those old threads for information on the old/new calendar situation.

Fr David Moser

#9 Joshua K.

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:44 PM

I wasn't trying to start a whole new super long discussion, because there are plenty of other threads already on the calendars. I just never heard of such a thing of two feast falling on the same day. Bu I had one more question that I forgot to put in my post. Is it true that the current old calendar is not the original Julian calendar? My priest said that the old calendarists are not following the real Julian calendar and if they want to be honest they need to go back to the original.

Anthony

#10 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 03:53 PM

As vehement a defender of the revision of the Church calendar as I happen to be, I would say to that particular priest that such ad hominem comments are really not helpful.

#11 Kosta

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 08:57 PM

I wasn't trying to start a whole new super long discussion, because there are plenty of other threads already on the calendars. I just never heard of such a thing of two feast falling on the same day. Bu I had one more question that I forgot to put in my post. Is it true that the current old calendar is not the original Julian calendar? My priest said that the old calendarists are not following the real Julian calendar and if they want to be honest they need to go back to the original.

Anthony


This priest is wrong, he must be a graduate of st vlad's or holy cross. Only on the revised julian calendar will the fast-free bright week which follows Pascha will eventually coincide with the fast of the dormition (thats one example), but even thats like 5000 years away. It is us who follow the new calendar that are wrong. It is an anomaly which makes no sense.

#12 Michael Stickles

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 03:58 PM

I just never heard of such a thing of two feast falling on the same day.


There's at least one instance of that which is specifically covered in the rubrics - Kyriopascha, which is when Pascha and the Annunciation fall on the same day. Currently, this is only possible under the old calendar. Under the new calendar, the two feasts will never again be as close as they were this year (OK, OK, not never - the new calendar will see a Kyriopascha in the year 43232 if there are no calendar changes between now and then).

The current problem is that dates on the Julian calendar drift through the natural cycle of the seasons at a much faster rate than dates on the Gregorian or Revised Julian calendars do. Since, under the new calendar, fixed feasts are determined using the Revised Julian calendar but movable (i.e., Paschal cycle) feasts are determined using the Julian calendar, they slowly get out of sync with each other. On the old calendar, fixed and movable feasts stay in sync with each other, but move slowly out of sync with the natural cycle of the seasons.

When the Revised Julian calendar was adopted, a proposal was made to revise the dating of Pascha as well. Had that proposal been adopted, most all of the problems the new calendar is accused of causing would have disappeared (of course, we'd almost certainly have had a schism over it, which would have been worse).

#13 Michael Stickles

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 04:10 PM

Only on the revised julian calendar will the fast-free bright week which follows Pascha will eventually coincide with the fast of the dormition (thats one example), but even thats like 5000 years away.


Double that, actually. The first overlap would come in 12281, when Bright Friday falls on the first day of the Dormition Fast. Pascha itself would not fall within the Dormition Fast until 13155 (by which point those on the old calendar would be starting the fast in mid-December). However, the fast-free week after Pentecost will have its first overlap with the Dormition Fast in 5802. Maybe we'll get our chronological acts together before that, though.

#14 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 04:18 AM

Is it true that the current old calendar is not the original Julian calendar? My priest said that the old calendarists are not following the real Julian calendar and if they want to be honest they need to go back to the original.

The Julian solar calendar used by the OCs is the same, in its structure, as that proposed originally by Julius Caesar. It is true, however, that for a while the intercalations ("leap years") were botched. February was given 29 days every three years at first instead of every four. So the bissextile days ("leap days") had to be suppressed for a while after that (in Augustus's time) in order to restore the intended relationship between the months and the seasons. Certainly since around A.D. 5 the Julian solar calendar has the same as now in its structure (though not in its relationship to the seasons.)

The Julian lunar calendar, which is used to compute the date of Easter, is not quite the same as the Alexandrine paschalion that was worked out in the later 3rd century. A few of the mathematical parameters seem to have been adjusted in the course of the 4th century. The last adjustment was to move the paschal full moon for the first year of the 19-year cycle from April 6th Julian to April 5th Julian, currently equivalent to April 18th Gregorian. The Armenian church never accepted this last adjustment, and Armenian old-calendar Easter to this day differs from Greek old-calendar Easter in 4 years out of every 532.

If your priest meant these lunar discrepancies, then he has a point in the sense that it is historically wrong to suppose that the Julian paschalion has never been changed since A.D. 300. My own view, however, is that these small adjustments are a minor matter in comparison to the main point: The Julian lunar calendar was intended to be just that: a lunar calendar that approximates the lunar phases reasonably closely. It no longer does this. Instead it is 3-to-5 days behind the observable lunar phases. For example, the Julian lunar calendar teaches that the moon will be full this Friday, October 5th 2012. A single glance at the sky showed that the moon was already well past full on the morning of October 3rd, 2012.

#15 Eric Peterson

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:44 AM

Double that, actually. The first overlap would come in 12281, when Bright Friday falls on the first day of the Dormition Fast. Pascha itself would not fall within the Dormition Fast until 13155 (by which point those on the old calendar would be starting the fast in mid-December). However, the fast-free week after Pentecost will have its first overlap with the Dormition Fast in 5802. Maybe we'll get our chronological acts together before that, though.


I sure hope so. But I'm sure I'll have many a sleepless night pondering the liturgical and praxilogical implications. And when I think of how many errors are in the liturgical guide already without all these issues...




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