|Nativity Fast Week 1|
Friday, November 25, 2022
Friday, November 18, 2022
Hello all! Happy...Advent? It's super interesting living between two different traditions with regards to liturgical seasons, let me tell you. 😂 Advent is a Western Church tradition (both Roman Catholic and Western rite Orthodox) but the East has the Nativity Fast, which begins 40 days prior to Christmas, meaning that it lands on November 15th every single year. So in our Western perspective on things, we refer to this as the Eastern Advent, as it were.
We attended Divine Liturgy this past weekend like usual, and there was no mention of the upcoming change in liturgical season, although it is noted on the monthly bulletin. I'll be looking forward to seeing what changes, if any, are present in the sanctury this coming weekend, the first Sunday of the Fast. I'm going to be honest and admit that I'm not yet brave enough to research and implement the recommended dietary restrictions. Baby steps for this Latin rite gal. 😂
Although the Byzantine rite does not have Advent in the way that we are used to, there is an acknowledgement of the popularity of the Western style devotions in this regard. I purchased the wreath you see above from Legacy Icons, an Orthodox company that I love. It came with this adorable daily devotional:
I'm quite excited for this coming Sunday! The Christmas Bazaar is also scheduled for this weekend, but we're getting a bit of a snowstorm in this area over the course of the entire weekend, so I'm not entirely sure what will happen with events such as this. I'll keep you posted!
The Orthodox/Byzantine rite has no liturgical season exactly corresponding to Advent in the West. That does not mean that there is no preparation in the Eastern tradition for Christ's Nativity. In the East, the Nativity Fast begins on November 15th, forty days before December 25th. While there is no weekly "theme" on pre-Nativity Sundays, the season is marked for the penitential singing of "Alleluia" at Matins (Morning Prayer) and other features. As time goes on, more and more Nativity-related hymnody is added to the services. The second Sunday before the Nativity is dedicated to the Ancestors of Christ, and the Sunday before the Nativity is dedicated to the Forefeast, which begins in earnest on December 20th. The Advent season was originally tied to the Epiphany (in the East, the feast of Theophany, on January 6th), with the Birth of Christ being a lesser feast. In the Orthodox West, Advent was first established in 380 as a three-week preparation for Epiphany. Inspired by the development of Lent, by 581 Christians in Western Europe began the Advent fast on Matinmas (November 11th). In other places a period of five or six Sundays was established. After the schism, this was reduced and standardized throughout the West to four Sundays.
The Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the sixteenth century. Over time, it became a staple of Advent devotion throughout Western Christiantity, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. While the Advent wreath devotion has no connection to Orthodox/Byzantine rite Christianity, it is deeply ingrained in Western culture. The Eastern forty day Advent season can fall over the course of five or six Sundays, so the focus is on daily rather than weekly devotions (scripture readings, prayers and feast days). It's a private devotion devised to count down to the Nativity. The candles are colored according to the traditional colors of the liturgical season: red for the Nativity Fast, and one blue candle for the Entry of the Theotokos (one of the 12 Great Feasts, and that actually is coming up quite soon!).
Friday, November 11, 2022
Thursday, November 3, 2022
This past Sunday was our final week of Divine Liturgy for October, and it was a beautiful day. This week I finally encountered something I had been wondering about: as the congregation was reciting the Nicene Creed, someone said the filioque clause aloud:
"...and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who has spoken through the prophets..."Now, in our Byzantine rite parish this part of the Creed in our little missal books looks like this:
"...and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who has spoken through the prophets..."
It's a subtle difference in terms of the actual text, but a MAJOR one in terms of theology, and it is also something about which I do not have a lot of theological background knowledge. I have to admit, I'm quite curious now and intend to do some reading up on this. It is, after all, part of the reason for the continued division between Eastern and Western Christendom, sadly.
When we started attending the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite, I knew about this issue, and noted right away that [and the Son] was in those brackets. So I correctly assumed that the congregation would not say those words aloud, and in fact they did not. This is how it is every week during Divine Liturgy, but this week we had a visitor in the congregation who is almost certainly a Roman Catholic. I hope he didn't feel bad, it's an easy thing to do when you're so used to saying the words, and nobody batted an eye. Plenty of Roman Catholics attend the Byzantine rite Divine Liturgy. In fact, my first thought was:
"One of my peeps is here!" 😁
But it drew my attention to this very important issue. Research upcoming!
And speaking of Catholic nerdiness, I have been absolutely *reveling* in Hallowtide content this week! So by this, we're referring the ancient Church traditions surrounding All Hallows Eve, the feast of All Saints, and the feast of All Souls. To be sure, this is Latin rite me coming to the surface again, because in the Byzantine rite the feast of All Saints is the Sunday after Pentecost.
I don't know that I can mentally make this shift. 😂 I so very much associate November with All Saints and All Souls! My sister Shauna'h put together a free Hallowtide retreat which I went through, and I diligently prayed my Liturgy of the Hours each day. LOVE. I mean, truly LOVE. Our Church is so rich in her traditions!
On the feast of All Saints I attended Mass at Anne's school parish, and I treasured praying the Office of the Dead on the feast of All Souls. The pastor at Anne's school had the 4th graders (who were charged with organizing the masses in November) each say their patron saint and the congregation sang a litany of the saints based on those saints.
So many hearts!
Do you have any special traditions surrounding the feasts of All Saints and all Souls that you participate in each year? Feel free to leave a comment!