At the start of the third millennium we Byzantine Catholics have entrusted
to us the mission of being the Orientale Lumen within the Church. Fittingly,
this mission is three-part. This mission is to serve those who are Byzantine
Catholic and who need and have the right to worship in their authentic tradition.
This mission is also to serve those who are Roman Catholic and who need our
fraternal example of distinctively Byzantine worship, a worship which, in many
ways, expresses more fully the doctrines of theosis/divinization and respect
for women than is the case in current American practice of the Roman rite. And
this mission is to serve the Orthodox: As we approach the sad millennium of
the Schism, we are to honor and worship in the liturgy we share with the Orthodox,
so that we may be an incarnate invitation for renewed unity in the Church. Our
Metropolia has been active in this movement toward unity, for instance, through
exchanges between the Orthodox and our seminary, through active participation
in the annual Orientale Lumen conferences, and so forth.
In this context, the recent and proposed changes in the liturgy can be best understood.
Summary of Contents
I. A great joy is the recent restoration of several authentic elements of Byzantine practice. These restorations are wise implementations of our mission as Byzantine Catholics.
II. Admirably, our hierarchs intend to show more fully and with greater immediacy that women are integral to the Church. New catechesis and preaching are needed, articulating the true Catholic tradition of respect for the spiritual equality of women. However, problematic changes in diction in the liturgy are counter-productive.
III. The goal of attaining more uniform worship throughout the Metropolia is laudable. Principles for translation and revision are clear from the Church=s instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (2001), from St. Jerome, and from our own Rite.
IV. Analysis of the changes of March 25, 2005: The diction of ATheotokos@ is a splendid restoration. Generally, however, the new materials are deficient theologically, musically, and poetically.
As a Byzantine Catholic who is a scholar, I offer these comments that they may be of use to the Council of Hierarchs. The Byzantine rite has always been part of my scholarly research, with Greek hagiography playing a role in my dissertation. Right after completing my Ph.D. in 1983, I worked as managing editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Increasingly through the years my research and scholarly publications have treated our Byzantine rite, and in particular its hymnody and preaching. My essay on the role of liturgical song in theosis is especially germane to this subject. Also, pertinent is my scholarship on biblical translations and the use of biblical language in hymnody and preaching.
The past decade has brought to the faithful of our Metropolia the joys of returning
in specific ways to important aspects of our authentic Byzantine Catholic tradition,
aspects which had been set aside for a time. Eastern Catholics in the United
States had for more than a century accommodated their traditions to those of
the Roman Rite, and this was done largely out of a laudable desire for unity
among all the Catholic faithful. Recently our Holy Pope John Paul II of blessed
memory gave sublimely pastoral direction that the Eastern Catholics were to
implement again their authentic traditions, most notably the communication of
newly baptized infants. We owe gratitude to our hierarchs for their pastoral
and prudent carrying out of such restorations.
Our Metropolia and Eparchy of Van Nuys have also brought about certain restorations in practice of what has always been Byzantine tradition. The return to the Nicene Creed=s original sense, without the Filioque, is a case in point. (It was a surprise to see the A[and the Son]@ back in the Profession of faith on March 25. ) The return to the Byzantine posture of standing or sitting, not kneeling, during Pascha has also been most welcome, and it gives a physical expression to the contrast between the Great Fast with its suppliant and contrite prostrations and Pascha with its return to standing upright in the presence of the Lord, a posture which is emblematic of the sanctification of the individual, a sanctification which is to be in process.
One recent and laudable change is a new development rather than a restoration. Once Pope John Paul II had, in 1999, declared December 12 a Liturgical holy day for the whole of North America, our church needed new hymnody for this feast. The most fitting Troparion and Kontakion of Our Lady of Guadelupe, provided to the parishes on Sunday, December 12, 2001, are a wonderful addition to the hymnody of the Byzantine rite, an addition for which we are indebted to Bishop Andrew Pataki and Fr. David Petras. Moreover, it is profoundly pastoral that Hispanic people have the joy of the whole church singing praises of the Theotokos= appearance in the New World and her acheiropoeta icon. Including in the Troparion Juan Diego=s name and the proper term for the miraculously affected garment, his tilma, is perfect, as is clarifying its nature in the phrase Acactus cloth@ in the Kontakion. The eloquence of these verses is, moreover, characteristically Byzantine, with meaningful use of word play on Asun@ and ASon@ and with clear, unemotionalized reference to blood, expressed in graceful English: ANo longer shall the New World lie wounded in useless blood sacrifice, for she who is clothed with the sun has revealed the Son to us.@ The prayerful analogy of the next two lines is likewise quite Byzantine in tone, for it prompts reverence and contemplation of mystery: AO Mother of the Americas, imprint his name upon our hearts, just as you wove your image upon the cactus cloth.@ The conclusion of the Kontakion rightly builds to the people=s directly addressing God: ATeach your children to cry out: >O Christ our God, our hope, glory to you.@ Finally, these proper hymns were clearly set to our chant tones (Tones 4 and 7) and therefore these hymns were immediately singable, which means, for Byzantines, immediately available to the faithful as their prayer.
Another wisely chosen, pastoral restoration of liturgical practice is of a different nature: It concerns pruning an elaboration that had developed within the Byzantine rite. Over time the congregation=s singing of ATo You, O Lord,@ at the end of the Anaphora had become elaborated and in fact covered the celebrant=s prayer. The return recently to a shorter musical setting for that phrase allows the faithful to hear the celebrant=s words in the prayer. For this change, slight as it may seem, our hierarchs deserve the praise of the faithful, because the change recognizes the active participation of the faithful as we prayerfully, silently affirm what the celebrant alone is voicing.
On March 25, 2005, the splendid restoration of the use of the term ATheotokos@ in the liturgies occurred. This is another wonderful recovery of theologically and culturally rich worship. How beautifully our hierarchs timed its restoration to occur on the Feast of the Annunciation, the commemoration of the historical moment when Mary became the Theotokos. We have always rejoiced that the term had remained in use in sermons, catechesis, and some hymns, and now we are blessed to sing it again in the liturgy proper.
II. Women in the Church.
A. The status quo.
The authentic Catholic doctrinal and liturgical heritage regarding women is rich and positive, and our Byzantine traditions include many exemplary teachings which highlight the importance of women. The full humanity and moral competence of women and their spiritual equality with men are implicit in the Old Testament and given fresh emphasis by Jesus Christ. The early Church Fathers explicitly taught the spiritual equality of women and also demonstrated it through a balanced offering of male and female examples in their preaching. Our Eastern Fathers are notable for this. The balance of the sexes is evident in our Byzantine iconographic programs and hymns, even in the calendar. Holy evangelizing women have been recognized as Aequal to the apostles@ from the start. The unique and necessary role of our holy Theotokos in the Incarnation has always been acknowledged with reverence and wonder by the faithful, notably by the Evangelist Luke and the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus in 431, who defined the doctrine that she is in truth the Mother of God. She is a model for everyone, male and female, of the human potential for holiness.
However, the contemporary culture holds disinformation about Catholicism and women. Thus there is a great need now to articulate the true tradition effectively. Indeed, it is now necessary to articulate it more effectively than has been done for centuries; in some ways, it must be articulated better than has ever been done before. It is pastoral, just, and prudent for the Council of Hierarchs now to seek to respond to the historical fact that today strong social pressures push toward egalitarian roles for men and women in every aspect of life. Specifically, many people today have been inculturated in a secular attitude toward the Church; that is, they mistakenly hold that Judaism and Christianity, particularly Catholicism, suppress and denigrate women and have always done so. The revised liturgy of March 25, 2005, indicates that the Hierarchy of the Byzantine Catholic Church desires to manifest respect for women through textual changes to politically approved language, notably Ahumanity@ and Aus all@ instead of Aman@ and Amankind.@
Arduous as instituting such changes would be, causing much work throughout the Metropolia for priests and for laity, these changes would nevertheless fail to address the problem adequately. Only catechesis and preaching can teach the authentic Catholic doctrines concerning women and human nature. In order to reach all of the faithful, this is likely to require both a specific addition to the formation of seminarians and also a parallel program of practical assistance to already ordained priests, so that in the parishes they can provide and direct new elements in preaching and in catechesis.
Without the informed catechesis and preaching described below, the verbal changes from Aman@ and Amankind@ to Ahumanity@ will fail to have the desired effect. Unfortunately, however, these changes will certainly have two unintended and unwanted effects: Those of the faithful, both men and women, who already understand that Amankind@ and Aman@ have a generic and inclusive meaning, will to varying degrees be alienated. Others of the faithful, who already have a politicized notion of their human identity and of the Church, may be satisfied briefly by the verbal change but will soon press for additional changes. After all, once the liturgy has been changed by politics, then surely ecclesiastical practices regarding ordination and the sacraments can also be Areformed@ by such means.
B. Priestly formation.
Seminarians need to be instructed in aspects of our Byzantine Catholic tradition which bear directly on the issue of women in the Church. To do this effectively, seminary education can incorporate the findings and presentations of recent research. The spiritual equality of the sexes is an important doctrine, and seminarians need to learn the history of it in the Old Testament, the New, and in Christianity from the beginning. Doctrines and practices that tend to be taken for granted need to be acknowledged and taught as affirming the full humanity of every human person, male and female. Quite importantly, the equal access of both sexes to the sacraments of life (baptism, chrismation, eucharist, anointing) demonstrates the real spiritual equality of both male and female. The Church has always understood as profoundly serious the universal vocation to holiness, a vocation of which men and women partake equally. Christianity brought a deepened respect for the spiritual equality of the sexes, and this respect led to social improvement of the status of women in the Early Church. It also led to the pastoral practice of giving a balanced representation of the sexes in sermons, hymnody, iconography, the lectionary, and the calendar.
The following pages give an ordered account of the doctrine of the spiritual equality of the sexes and its expression, historically, in pastoral practice. This is information that the Church needs to have our seminarians learn as part of their priestly formation.
1. The Spiritual Equality of the Sexes.
The spiritual equality of the sexes is inherent in revelation and history, and Jesus gave this doctrine new emphasis. Given his lead, we may also see that the revelation of Jesus as Lord was, by divine providence, hailed at every stage by both men and women.
The revelation in Genesis of One Creator God was a radical advance historically, far in advance of the understanding of other peoples on the earth. Only several centuries later did Greek philosophers reason from the orderliness of the universe to a single creator God. Also stunningly innovative was the Genesis recognition of women as being equal to men in being made in the image of God. No one else on the planet had that insight, and the spiritual equality of the sexes was so important that God included it in the earliest revelation to mankind.
Moreover, Genesis shows us that women, equally with men, are morally competent. That is, both sexes are equally capable of discerning what is true and good and also both sexes are equally capable of choosing to act rightly or wrongly. Both Adam and Eve were morally capable. Therefore, when they sinned, both Adam and Eve were punished. Their punishments are significant: Both of them had the identical punishment of death and expulsion from paradise, because both of them are human. The authority of Genesis for the doctrine of the spiritual equality of the sexes is reaffirmed in the New Catechism: AIn creating men >male and female,= God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.@ Again: AMan is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.@ And: AMan and woman are both with one and the same dignity >in the image of God.=@
The equal capacity of male and female to know, love and serve God, even at the risk of death, is shown elsewhere in the Old Testament. Notably, the Book of Daniel has three accounts of the faithful risking death: Susanna risks stoning on a false condemnation for adultery, the three youths risk burning for refusing to worship an idol, and Daniel risks being devoured by lions for praying to the Lord. Indeed, Scripture gives us a microcosm of human possibilities in these saints: Susanna is female and the others male; she and Daniel are adults and the three boys are youths of school age; Susanna is married with children, and Daniel is celibate for religious reasons. The woman Susanna is essential to this completeness. Indeed, in the original Hebrew (now lost), Susanna=s account heads the Book of Daniel, and our Eastern tradition is thus closer to the origins of the book by placing the history of this holy woman first.
In the New Testament, even before Jesus= ministry begins, a new emphasis on the spiritual equality of the sexes is seen in the responses to him while he was yet in his mother=s womb and then again when as an infant he was presented in the Temple. Historically, the first persons to acknowledge him as Lord are Elizabeth and her son John, who was in his second trimester of gestation. This is not trivial: Elizabeth is the first person to acknowledge Jesus as ALord@ when she addresses Mary as Athe mother of my Lord.@ That is, the privilege of seeing, by the insight of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is Lord was providentially given to a pregnant woman. This historical fact conveys great respect for women and for life at every stage. Later when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple, both Simeon and Anna are inspired to recognize the Lord. Simeon=s words were recorded by Luke and are famous as AThe Song of Simeon.@ Luke identifies Anna as Aprophetess@ and records the fact that she, in effect, evangelized for the Messiah immediately, in the Temple. Again, the Holy Spirit had brought it about that both sexes acknowledged Jesus when he was first brought to the Temple. Further, the Spirit of God moved Luke to include these events in his Gospel, so that the Church would know of them.
The adult Jesus with loving care and thoroughness demonstrated the spiritual equality of men and women. In his preaching as recorded in the Gospels, he repeatedly provided male and female examples in parables and prophecy. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man plants, like leaven that a woman mixes in the dough. The five wise and five foolish virgins represent all the faithful, male and female; and so do the male servants to whom the talents are entrusted. Clearly Jesus intended that everyone who heard him, male or female, was to see the personal application of each parable, regardless of whether the example involved men or women or both. In this way, Jesus emphasized our common humanity and the fitness of our taking each other as example. Jesus gave both male and female examples in his prophecies as well. For instance, he asserted that when the Son of Man comes again, of two women grinding, only one will be taken; of two men in the field, only one will be taken. The Lord=s balanced examples serve two pastoral ends: 1) he provides everyone with same-sex examples, and 2) he demonstrates to everyone that truly the sexes are spiritually equal.
In his ministry of teaching and healing Jesus interacted with men and with women. For centuries, the Church has taken this for granted. In the present social situation, however, it is useful to be quite clear that both men and women spoke face to face with Christ, that the man Jairus could intercede for his daughter and likewise the women Mary and Martha could intercede for their brother. Blind men and the woman with the flux of blood could and did go directly to Jesus for healing, and were healed. Jesus forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and also of the woman taken in adultery, although neither had asked for forgiveness. Also, both men and women are capable of belief and of articulating and professing their faith: Peter and Martha did.
Peter and Martha each professed their faith in Jesus face to face with the Lord. Each did so in stressful circumstances that test faith, and Jesus responded to each profession with acts of great historical importance, yet quite different acts. Peter and the other disciples had heard the astounding declaration by Jesus that they were to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6.48-52), horrific statements to Jews who religiously avoid consuming any creature=s blood (Lev. 7.26). Many followers departed, and Jesus asked the twelve if they, too, would go. John=s account presents Peter replying on behalf of the disciples, in the plural, with a double predicateBAWe know and we have learned that you are the Holy One of God.@ Following Peter=s affirmation of faith, Jesus declared him the Rock on which Jesus will build his church.
Martha=s profession of faith came later than Peter=s, but it was fuller. Several of the Church Fathers discussed it. Eustathios of Antioch (d. before 337) asserted that Martha=s profession surpassed Peter=s and then Bishop Eustathios proceeded to discuss hers. Martha professed Jesus while grieving at the very threshold of her brother=s tomb. First she affirmed her faith in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus then asserted to her, AI am the resurrection and the life.@ As Jesus had done with Peter, so now with Martha Jesus elicited a profession of faith: He asked if she believed. She might have simply answered, AYes.@ Instead she uttered the Gospels= most complete statement affirming faith in Jesus, a statement made face to face with the Lord. Martha said: AYes, Lord, I know that you are the Christ, the Son of God who has come into the world.@ Immediately after her affirmation of faith, Jesus performed his most dramatic miracle, the miracle that is typologically the most powerful, for the raising of Lazarus is a type of Jesus= own Resurrection a week later, and it is also a type of the hope of all the faithful to be raised by our merciful Lord on the Last Day.
Jesus elicited from a woman the fullest statement of faith that the Gospels record any human being to have made face-to-face with the Lord. Martha=s capacity to receive and to articulate this faith epitomizes women=s equality with men spiritually: Both sexes are fully capable of the understanding and virtue needed for holiness. At the same time, there is a striking difference here as well. Peter professed the Lord and was made head of the Church; Martha professed the Lord more fully and received a great miracle, the most important resuscitation miracle in Scripture, yet she is not even one of the twelve. Evidently we see in these differences a dynamic presentation of what our Holy Father Pope John Paul of blessed memory astutely called the Aontological complementarity@ of the sexes. Peter is emblematic of the entire priesthood here, and Martha prefigures the Church, which was originally indicated by a feminine noun: Gr. ¦???????, Lat. ecclesia, Syr. idta. As will be seen, Martha=s words became part of our Byzantine Communion Prayer. It is also likely that they may also have been formative in the wording of the Nicene Creed. That is, the woman Martha articulated not only her faith in Jesus, but she did so in words that the Church has found perfect for the ongoing expression of the faith of the entire Church.
Most importantly, the equal access of both sexes to the sacraments of life (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Anointing) demonstrates the real spiritual equality of both male and female. Again, Christians tend to take this equal access for granted, but surely that is only because the Church did such an inspired job at the beginning in giving this access. After all, the Passion of Christ brought together in a unique and completely unexpected way the Passover lamb (which everyone consumed) and the Temple sacrifice (which no one consumed). And only the twelve disciples, all men, were present with the Lord at the Last Supper. It would have been so easy for the disciples to have thought, mistakenly, that the Eucharist was only for men, indeed only for priests. Yet from the start the Eucharist and Baptism have been for every believer.
That is, the Church has always understood as profoundly serious the universal vocation to holiness. The sacraments give the cleansing and strengthening and nourishing essential for the faithful to grow in holiness. Theosis has always been recognized as the vocation of each person, male and female.
Two other important subjects pertain to the spiritual equality of the sexes, and they also have strong historical traditions. At present, there is a need for theological and historical scholarship to advance the articulation of these traditions, and when this has happened, these can also supplement the preaching of the Church.
The first of these two subjects is the holy, created difference between the sexes. Pope John Paul II of blessed memory identified this as the Aontological complementarity@ of the sexes. He further recognized that womanhood and manhood are each Aiconic,@ a word rich in resonance for Byzantine Catholics:
There is present in the >womanhood= of a woman who believes, and especially in a woman who is >consecrated,= a kind of inherent >prophecy,= a powerfully evocative symbolism, a highly significant >iconic character,= which finds its full realization in Mary and which also aptly expresses the very essence of the Church as a community consecrated with the integrity of a >virgin= heart to become the >bride= of Christ and >mother= of believers. ... When we consider the >iconic= complementarity of male and female roles, two of the Church=s essential dimensions are seen in a clearer light: the >Marian= principle and the Apostolic-Petrine principle.
The second subject is relatively unknown today, except in a few Orthodox churches where it is still preached, and a few Roman Catholic parishes where it has just begun to be preached again: women as types of Christ. Christians introduced an innovation in exegetical typology in the first century: Previously only Jewish men such as Moses had been interpreted as prefiguring the Messiah. When Jesus made himself a model for everyone to imitate, he also extended typology, so that types of Christ also became types of the human vocation to holiness. This meant that it became fitting, even necessary to interpret Gentiles, such as Melchisedek, and women, such as Susanna, as prefiguring Christ. Put another way: The Christian belief that everyone, male and female, is called to be holy led to recognizing several biblical women as prefiguring Jesus Christ. For instance, a clear Eastern tradition interprets the only-begotten, beloved daughter of Jephthah as a type of the only-begotten, beloved Son of God. This tradition is initiated by Methodius, bishop of Olympos, and sustained by several others, including Dionysius bar Salibi, bishop of Amida (12th c.). Jephthah=s daughter and Isaac are both depicted as types of Christ at the Monastery of St. Catherine=s at Mount Sinai, and also at the Church of St. Anthony at the Red Sea. This tradition also spread to the West. Interpreting women as types of Christ is a powerful way of demonstrating the Christian doctrine that everyone is called to be holy.
2. Social improvement for women. Christian respect for the spiritual equality of the sexes meant that social improvements for women immediately followed the advent of Christianity. In Greco-Roman law, women were required to marry and their fathers had the authority to designate the man a daughter would marry. In contrast, Christianity brought respect for a woman=s ability, indeed her responsibility, to discern her own vocation. If she discerned a calling to marry only a Christian or to be celibate and maintain the religious life, then neither custom, nor law, not a woman=s father nor the emperor himself could rightly require otherwise of her. Within marriage, the Church taught that spouses had equal responsibility and rights. For instance, neither spouse could unilaterally decide to set aside marital vows to become celibate. Also, although imperial law executed an adulteress but did not punish an adulterer, St. Augustine preached clearly that both spouses have an equal and serious responsibility to fidelity.
Attitudes toward sexual sins also were corrected by Christianity. St. Nicholas of Myra famously provided dowries for three sisters so that their parents could avoid selling them into prostitution. It was also preached during liturgy that it was good and honorable for men to marry women who had been prostitutes, but who had changed their lives and become Christians. This was a radical social innovation, based on taking seriously the reality of conversion. The strongest instance of such transformation, into full theosis, is perhaps St. Mary of Egypt. She had not merely been a prostitute: She described herself as essentially addicted to sexual promiscuity. Her sojourn in the desert is described as two-staged: First, as many years as she had lived in sin, just so many years did she live in penance. Then, she continued to live in severe asceticism for as many years as Our Lord lived on earth, and when at last the monk Zosimos encountered her in the desert, he recognized her as a living icon.
Of equal importance is the Church=s teaching on rape. Christians affirmed that the basis for honor and shame is moral, not circumstantial. In pagan Greek and Roman culture and also in ancient Chinese culture it was acceptable or even socially required for a woman who had been raped to kill herself. St. Augustine countered this eloquently. When writing of women in Rome who had been raped by barbarians, he affirmed that these women were innocent, that the sin committed was entirely that of their assailants. Augustine was well aware that some of the Roman women who had suffered the atrocity of rape had committed suicide after their ordeal, and his pastoral concern was to encourage and to defend those women who had not destroyed themselves. He praises them because they rightly
... declined to avenge upon themselves the guilt of others, and so add crimes of their own to those crimes in which they had no share. For this they would have done, had their shame driven them to homicide... Within their own souls, in the witness of their own conscience, they enjoy the glory of chastity. In the sight of God, too, they are esteemed pure, and this contents them.
This affirmation of spiritual reality is decidedly supportive of women.
The advent of Christianity brought other social improvements for women. Women gained greater social mobility as they undertook regular works of practical charity. That is, female participation in ministry brought women outside their households to visit the sick, etc.
Women also engaged in what we may call Aevangelical preaching,@ just as men did. This is well documented in hagiographic sources and in the traditions of the Church. For instance, St. Juliana of Nicomedia and numerous other martyrs, male and female, are recounted to have preached on their way to execution, and by their words, encouraged the faithful and also drawn unbelievers to the faith. Such preaching began during the life of Jesus, as seen in the activity of the prophetess Anna and the Samaritan woman. The title AEqual to the Apostles@ is perhaps best known in the Byzantine Rite as a designation for SS. Cyril and Methodius. Centuries before them, Mary Magdalene and the other myrrh-bearing women were surely the first to be called Equal to the Apostles for their role, commissioned by the angel, in recounting the Lord=s Resurrection to the disciples. The Samaritan woman, known traditionally as Photina (lit. AEnlightened Woman@), is recorded in the Gospel of John to have evangelized her community. Traditionally she is also held to have evangelized in Carthage before crossing the Mediterranean and spreading the faith in Europe. Mariamne, sister of the Apostle Philip, and Thecla, disciple of Paul, are also designated AEqual to the Apostles,@ as is another first-century Christian woman, Junia. In later centuries other women who helped to evangelize entire peoples also gained the title AEqual to the Apostles@: Helena, Nina of Georgia, Olga of Russia. Such respect for holy women grows naturally from the abiding Christian doctrine of the spiritual equality of the sexes.
3. The Balance of the sexes. The basic belief in the spiritual equality of
the sexes also led to the pastoral practice of giving a balanced representation
of the sexes in sermons and church decoration. That is, often both men and women
are named together in specific texts, and both sexes are depicted with equal
prominence in important works of art in the church. The icons of the Anastasis
are a ready example of this, for generally Christ is shown raising both Adam
and Eve. The balance of the sexes is seen pervasively in the Church. It is useful
here to call attention to some instances of this balance in the New Testament,
sermons, hymnody, icons and church decoration, liturgical prayer, and the calendar.
a. New Testament. This respect for the sexes equally is seen in the actions of the disciples and in the writings of the New Testament. The Evangelists faithfully recorded Our Lord=s interactions with women as well as with men, and it is through their written accounts that we know of the parables and prophecies which use both men and women as examples. That is, the evangelists recognized the importance of women as well as men in salvation history and in the Church. This fact itself deserves to be acknowledged. We know of Jesus= respect for women because the Evangelists recorded his actions which showed it.
Moreover, Jesus= disciples learned from him to have a deepened respect for the spiritual equality of the sexes. Peter healed the man Enneas and then resuscitated the woman Dorcas, replicating the same balance of the sexes in miraculous healings that Jesus had demonstrated. In the Epistles also are seen instances of the balanced representation of the sexes. St. James offers a sexually balanced pair of exemplars of faith, Abraham and Rahab. Certainly St. Paul in his letters shows the same balanced treatment of the sexes as does Jesus, and also the same care to provide male and female examples. In his famous advice regarding marriage, for instance, Paul treats of the reciprocal responsibilities in love of both spouses. St. Peter even gives a balance of the sexes in a proverbial example involving animals: He augments the proverb of the (male) dog returning to its vomit with a female example from the natural world, a washed sow returning to the mire.
b. Sermons. With such a well-established basis, no wonder the spiritual equality of the sexes was likewise preached by the early Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria (d. 215), John Chrysostom (340-407), Irenaeus, and Augustine. Clement, for instance, preaches a sermon affirming that AWomen Are Equally Capable with Men of Obtaining Perfection,@ and Chrysostom explicitly teaches the spiritual equality of men and women, asserting in his fourth homily on Hosea: AYou see everywhere vice and virtue, not differentiated by nature [i.e., sex], but by character.@ In this sermon, Chrysostom also got specific, adducing Potiphar=s wife and the Elders as examples of vice, with Susanna and Joseph as examples of virtue.
From the start, the preaching of the Church provided the faithful with holy models of both sexes and of every stage of life. This was practical assistance to the faithful in giving them a sense of how they, too, might be holy throughout their whole lives. Also, whatever sex or age a particular worshiper might be, a demographically similar model was being offered. Sometimes a smaller set of examples was offered, as when Athanasius praised Joseph and Susanna as fulfilling the Lord=s words. Didymus the Blind used a selection of four saints, both male and female. It became a commonplace to cite Mary, Susanna, and Anna as models for female Christians of various stages of life and vocation -- virgins, wives, and widows. Indeed, Augustine uses these three examples when praising the three states of life for both men and women. Isidore, bishop of Seville (d. 636), includes these three in a catalogue of virtuous models: AEach sex and every age [from young to old] has example in the integrity and morals of the saints. Therefore let the old man imitate the morals of Tobias... Let the adolescent imitate holy Joseph... Let virgins imitate ... Mary. Let widows imitate ... Anna. Let spouses imitate chaste Susanna.@
Sermons and catechesis also emphasized that both men and women are able, and ought, to live a full sacramental life. As Sebastian Brock has recently reminded us, Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-73), a deacon and catechist, was praised by Jacob of Serug for teaching the spiritual equality of the sexes. For both men and women, Ephrem pointed out, put on garments of praise at baptism, both receive new life from the single chalice, both experience a single salvation and both are freed by Christ to utter praise.
c. Hymnody. The spiritual equality of the sexes is also evident in the sexual balance found in the Church=s hymnody. This is true both in the grouping of certain texts on important feasts and also within certain hymns, notably in hymns used throughout the year.
Christianity inherited from Judaism the use of two important biblical canticles at Passover, canticles the Church uses on Great and Holy Saturday, the prelude to the New Passover. These canticles are the hymns of Miriam and of the Three Young Men. Miriam=s song after the crossing of the Red Sea is ASing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.@ Clement of Alexandria praises Miriam as the leader of the Hebrew women, who were afire with wisdom (?o???v). Ephrem the Syrian and Jacob of Seruq praise Miriam for her inspired singing. Her words are part of a vivid instance of liturgical typology enacted in Vespers on Great and Holy Saturday. The account of the Crossing of the Red Sea is read, as it has been from earliest known times, and at once the congregation responds by singing the Song of Miriam. That is, the congregation sings as refrain the verses specifically ascribed to Miriam in Exodus 15: ASing praise to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant.@ Then the account of the three youths in the Fiery Furnace is read, and the congregation responds by singing the praises of the Three Young Men: ASing praise to the Lord and exalt Him above all forever.@ The same melody is used for the Song of Miriam and the Canticle of the Three Youths, and thus music reinforces the experience of these two songs as related. The congregation by their song demonstrates their lived similarity to the Israelites and to the Three Hebrews. For, as the righteous Jews were delivered through water and through fire, so the Christians are delivered through Baptism, typologically prefigured in the Red Sea. By singing the praises of the women of the Exodus and then the praises of the three boys in the furnace, the Christian community affirms that the one God who delivered those in the past is also their deliverer now. The liturgy thus encourages the faithful to experience the communion of saints. Notably, the two focal songs of praise were originally sung by women (beside the Red Sea) and by boys (in the furnace). In short, the two canticles prominent on Holy Saturday show a balanced inclusiveness of the sexes.
Various individual Byzantine hymns also feature a balance of the sexes. For instance, some cite both Adam and Eve, and give Eve emphasis. The widow=s son and Jairus= daughter are recalled together in a resurrection hymn by Romanos the Melode, and so on.
Most important among the hymns are, of course, the Resurrectional troparia and kontakia sung throughout the year, a pair in each of the eight tones. All of these sets of proper hymns refer inclusively to men and women. Most do so explicitly. Three name both Adam and Eve, and it is Eve who is credited with the spoken praise of God, praise which the congregation echoes when they recall:
Adam sings in exultation, O Lord;
Eve, freed from bondage, cries joyfully:
AO Christ, it is You who give resurrection to all.@
Two sets of resurrection hymns refer to both the myrrhbearing women and the
Apostles. Three sets name just one person, the Virgin or Adam, and include a
generic noun (Awe all,@ Aall mankind,@ and Athe dead.@).
d. Liturgical prayer. From the start, the Church has shown a balanced inclusiveness of the sexes in prayers at critical moments in the life of the individual believer, such as baptism, marriage, illness, and death. We of the Byzantine Rite as it developed in Eastern Europe are privileged to have a beautiful example of the balance of the sexes in our communion prayer (AO Lord, I believe@).
In the first centuries of the Church, Christians adapted a Jewish prayer into the a prayer for the dying and dead, called the Commendatio Animae. Significantly, Christians augmented the Old Testament examples with a New Testament example that was male, Paul, and a post-biblical example that was female, Thekla. In the prayers for catechumens, dating back to the fifth century, the priest offered a prayer for the men, citing Abraham, and another for the women, citing Susanna. At weddings, again there is a prayers for the groom citing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and another for the bride, citing Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel.
The balance of the sexes is also evident when the prayer and hymnody of the church combine the words of men and women, without distinction of sex, into a unified expression of faith. In the West, this is common in Gregorian chant. In the East, a vivid example is found in our Communion Prayer, which begins essentially with the words of St. Martha of Bethany, merged with statements by St. Peter and St. Paul.
e. Icons and Church decoration. The main icons of the iconostasis, i.e., the Proskynetaria of the Theotokos and of Christos Pantocrator, present most effectively the capacity of both sexes to become holy. A major teaching of this pair of icons, of course, is the reality of the two natures of Christ, with His human nature recalled in the icon showing him as an infant in His mother=s arms, and with His divine nature recalled in the icon showing him pre-eminently as ruler and creator. At the same time, however, this pair of icons provides a pair of holy images, male and female, the New Adam and the New Eve, facing the congregation throughout their worship.
In other ways women have been focal in church decoration. Often, as in medieval Cyprus, the sanctified penitent Mary of Egypt is depicted on one half of the wall outside the iconostasis, approaching Zosimos, who is depicted on the other half, offering her the Eucharist. Also, it is common for women to be prominent in Church art:
In the earliest known decoration of Christian churches, in the Baptistery at Dura Europos (built ca. 240), and generally, one finds the Holy Women at the Tomb prominent in wall frescoes near the sanctuary and elsewhere, for instance, on the Crusader façade of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is also a staple of the illustration of Byzantine, Syriac, and Ethiopian Gospel manuscripts as well as pilgrimage art.
Early Christian art notably features both men and women in significant ways.
Both Adam and Eve fall, both Susanna and Daniel risk death to serve the Lord,
both the blind man and the woman with the flux of blood are healed, both a man
and a woman are shown being raised to eternal life, and so on. Vividly the ivory
reliquary known as the Brescia Casket depicts this balance of the sexes on every
surface: Christ is shown healing both the hemorrhissa and the blind man. He
is depicted resuscitating both Jairus= daughter and Lazarus. Susanna and Daniel
each appear three times as types of Christ. And, showing that both sexes are
also equal in the capacity for sin, both Ananias and Sapphira are depicted caught
in their deceit and dying.
f. The Calendar. Inevitably and properly, the annual calendar of religious commemorations includes both men and women. This is true both in feasts commemorating events in the Incarnation and life of Christ, and in other feasts as well.
The Annunciation is heralded by both the preborn John the Baptist, who leaps in his mother=s womb at Mary=s greeting, and also by Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit to hail Mary as Athe mother of my Lord.@ The feast of the Holy Ancestors commemorates both the Holy Forefathers of Christ, and also his female ancestors. An icon used on the cover of a Sunday leaflet recently aptly shows this, by presenting the ancestors in orderly ranks, half male and half female. Indeed a Greek hymn at Matins that day praises the holy persons of the Old Testament and includes a long list of women. The Encounter of the Lord with Simeon and Anna and also the Synaxis of that feast bring to mind the holy, elderly pair who recognized the infant Jesus as the Lord.
Specific women are also commemorated on specific Sundays within the calendar: The Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast is the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt, the Third Sunday of Pascha is the Sunday of the Myrrhophoroi, the Fourth Sunday of Pascha is the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. The calendar itself commemorates pairs of male and female saints successively: During the Great Fast, John Climacus and Mary of Egypt are commemorated on the Fourth and Fifth Sundays, and during Pascha St. Thomas and the Myrrh-bearing Women are commemorated on the Second and Third Sundays and then the Samaritan Woman and the Man Born Blind on the Fourth and Fifth Sundays.
Daily, holy men and women are commemorated and can be recalled in prayer at the end of the Divine Liturgy.
In sum, from her very beginnings B that is, from the life of Christ and the recording of it in the Gospels B the Church has clearly included women equally with men in the sacramental life which is our common vocation to holiness. With impressive detail, the liturgy, the hymnody, the preaching, the art of the Church commemorate the accomplishments of women as well as those of men and serve the needs of men as well as women. In the world today, perhaps more than ever before, it is necessary to go beyond letting the tradition speak for itself. The Church needs to call attention to the doctrines and traditions which particularly concern women. Scholars must do their part by documenting those traditions and also by articulating in new ways what has been sometimes only implicit. The Church also needs the hierarchy to prepare seminarians and priests to foreground the tradition more effectively.
C. Foregrounding the tradition.
Everything described so far is traditional in the Byzantine Catholic Church. Indeed, even to call particular attention to women=s contributions and to their spiritual equality with men is traditional, as seen in the work of Clement of Alexandria, Ephrem the Syrian, and so many others. Today, when the secular culture assumes that women have been disadvantaged in Christian tradition, there is a great pastoral need again for such deliberate statements by our clergy, in catechesis and in sermons, in order to call attention to Christianity=s esteem for women.
1. Presenting the true tradition. Seminarians and priests need to be prepared to foreground the true teachings about women. Deliberate affirmations of spiritual equality are needed. Preaching should at times call attention to holy women and to the balance of the sexes. Specific occasions in the calendar invite remarks that call attention to the fact that everyone, male and female, child and adult, is called to holiness. Catechizing must include this also.
Generally, the information included above can serve as a resource for preaching and catechesis. To give one example, the remarks on the women who are Aequal to the apostles@ can usefully be included in sermons on the feastdays of those women, and in sermons on SS. Cyril and Methodius as well. That is, one can remark that they are designated Aequal to the apostles@ because they evangelized an entire people, and that other saints who had this mission also have this title. Then other saints honored as Aequal to the apostles,@ both women and men could be named.
How fine it would be if, on Lazarus Saturday, it would be preached that St. Martha of Bethany had on the very first Lazarus Saturday professed her faith face to face with Jesus, and that then the Lord raised Lazarus to life again. And to preach further that Martha=s words of faith are the heart of what we pray at each Divine Liturgy in the Communion prayer. Would this not be a strong way of demonstrating the living tradition of the Church=s respect for and need for women?
Deliberately seeking out and using resources which honor women is also fitting. The icon of the AHandmaidens of the Lord,@ commissioned by His Grace Demetri, for instance, depicts fourteen holy women from different walks of life. Included is St. Anna the prophetess, holding a scroll emblematic of her evangelizing in the Temple after her Encounter with the Lord. St. Helena gestures to the Cross.
Beyond making use of the historical information included above, there is a special category of historical information regarding women which needs to be drawn on in preaching and catechesis.
2. Generic language. English and Slavonic both employ a generic use of grammatically masculine nouns, such as Aman.@ In this these languages are like Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as well as many vernacular languages. However, generic language is particularly targeted as if it were bad by those who would make liturgical language politically correct. To teach and to demonstrate that generic language is in truth meant generically, some specific pastoral techniques are needed. These include: a) explaining that generic terms are in truth meant generically, b) supplementing the sometimes generic language of the liturgy with remarks in preaching which specify male and female, and c) demonstrating through preaching and catechesis that generic terms are used with a truly inclusive meaning.
a. Explaining that generic language is inclusive. It is useful to draw on the Church=s own instructions on language in the liturgy, the document called Liturgiam Authenticam (2001), for it addresses directly the issue of generic language:
In many languages there exist nouns and pronouns denoting both genders, masculine and feminine, together in a single term. The insistence that such usage should be changed is not necessarily to be regarded as the effect or the manifestation of an authentic development in the language as such. Even if it may be necessary by means of catechesis to ensure that such words continue to be understood in the >inclusive= sense just described, it may not be possible to employ different words in the translations themselves without detriment to the precise intended meaning of the text, the correlation of its various words or expressions, or its aesthetic qualities. When the original text, for example, employs a single term in expressing the interplay between the individual and the universality and unity of the human family or community (such as the Hebrew word >adam, the Greek anthropos, or the Latin homo), this property of the language of the original text should be maintained in the translation. Just as has occurred at other times in history, the Church herself must freely decide upon the system of language that will serve her doctrinal mission most effectively, and should not be subject to externally imposed linguistic norms that are detrimental to that mission.
In particular: to be avoided is the systematic resort to imprudent solutions such as a mechanical substitution of words, the transition from the singular to the plural, the splitting of a unitary collective into masculine and feminine parts, or the introduction of impersonal or abstract words, all of which may impede the communication of the true and integral sense of a word or an expression in the original text. Such measures introduce theological and anthropological problems into the translation.
To these concerns, two more may be added. The generic terms cited in the paragraphs
just quoted carry two possible senses, and a given text can, through the providence
of God, intend both meanings. That is, some references to Aman@ (>adam, anthropos,
homo) may refer both 1) to a human person and also, in mystery, 2) to Christ,
the Son of God. In fact, there is no linguistic substitute for Aman@ because
terms such as Aone@ and Aperson@ and Ahuman being@ are exclusively generic and,
if they are selected for use because they are obviously and rigorously generic,
they cannot convey any possibly intended reference to Christ. A reviser, moved
by politically correct concerns and presuming to know the depth and height and
breadth of meaning of scripture, can unwittingly render a text two-dimensional.
Further, the term Amankind@ is more than sexually inclusive: It is chronologically inclusive, it refers to all human beings throughout history as well as those yet to be conceived. Use of the word Amankind@ evokes the whole communion of saints. This is a point that needs to be voiced from the ambo and in the classroom, to help enliven people=s sense of being in the communion of saints. Often substitutions for Aman@ and Amankind@ intended to make it explicit that both male and female are included, wind up suggesting that only the persons in this room are included. Ironically, such Ainclusive@ language isolates.
b. Explicit references to male and female. While the language of the Bible, of the liturgy, and of everyday speech continues to use the masculine generic, and should do so, it is useful in today=s secularized society, at times to spell out that generic language is inclusive. That is, it is useful on occasion in preaching and catechesis to supplement a generic term such as Aman@ or Amankind@ with explicitly male and female references, that is, to say overtly Amen and women@ or Aboys and girls.@ Likewise, sermons and catechesis sometimes need to give emphasis to the real inclusiveness of Catholic doctrine. Stating that AEvery human person is made in the image of God,@ is a useful contemporary complement to the affirmations of the liturgical texts. Another example of such useful statements is that AEvery human person is beloved of GodBeveryone: male and female, infant in the womb, baby, child, teenager, adult, the middle-aged, those who are old and those who are agedB everyone.@ And our universal human vocation to holiness needs the same clarity. Every human person is called to become holy. Every human person is created capable of holiness and is given by God the grace to become holy.
Such explicit clarifications ought not to replace the use of the masculine generic, but to be used pastorally and judiciously to clarify that in fact the generic is inclusive of both sexes.
A joint commemoration of male and female saints can be effective in acknowledging the spiritual equality of the sexes. At Gonzaga University, the Catholic student group designates itself the ANewman-Stein Fellowship.@ In Oxford, the building for the combined worship of the Russian and Greek Orthodox is St. Gregory and St. Macrina House.
c. Historical evidence of inclusiveness. Happily, it is easy to demonstrate from the Judeo-Christian tradition that the masculine generic was experienced generically. As recently documented, important texts in Scripture that are written using masculine generic were clearly understood as generic, by the writers of Scripture and by Christians through the ages. For instance, the Mosaic Law regarding sins against one=s Aneighbor@ are expressed in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and other languages, using the masculine generic for Aneighbor.@ Similarly, several Psalms, notably Psalm 111, describe the ABlessed man@ using a masculine noun for Aman.@ Significantly, in the Book of Daniel, in the history of Susanna, we see both of these Amasculine@ references understood generically and applied to Susanna. Specifically, the account (v. 35) describes her in the language of Psalm 111, showing that the author had no difficulty in recognizing a woman as exemplifying the virtues described in the psalm. Later in the account (v. 61), the Law for the punishment of perjury against one=s Aneighbor@ is quoted to show the basis for the punishment of the Elders who had committed perjury against Susanna. In Theodotion=s Greek, the masculine term for Aneighbor@ is used, showing that it was understood generically and applied to both men and women. In the Septuagint account of Susanna, the feminine form of the word neighbor is used.
Psalm 111 is also quoted in the liturgy for St. Mary of Egypt, again showing that ABlessed man@ was understood and should still be understood generically.
Obvious evidence that European women understood masculine terms generically exists in a German painting of 1543 in a Franciscan women=s monastery. The artwork depicts Christ and three nuns, each laboring to carry an inscribed cross, the nuns following Christ. At far right is a novice, in the middle a fully professed nun, and, closest to Christ and, like him, needing both hands to hold the cross whose weight bends her down, is an elderly nun. Centered at the top of the painting is a scroll inscribed, in Middle High German, AThis is the Way of the Cross, and our vows.@ Along the bottom of the painting are inscribed words of Christ from the Gospels, again in Middle High German. Both quotations from Christ use the generic masculine. In each case, the nuns clearly understood the grammatical masculine to be generic:
If any man [Wer, from Latin vir] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. And he that taketh not up his cross and followeth me not, is not worthy of me.
The generic masculine is used throughout the Bible and in Church tradition.
The Beatitudes, so beloved and eloquent to those who are Byzantine, are recorded
in the Greek New Testament entirely in the masculine generic. Of course the
meaning is universal, and not specific to men.
The Beatitudes are therefore an excellent example to offer to the faithful of how the inclusive masculine generic has functioned, and still does function, in the Church.
III. Principles for liturgical translation and revision
The commendable goal of giving to the faithful greater unity in the language and music of the liturgy throughout the Metropolia obviously involves changes. It appears, from the liturgical material provided for March 25, 2005, that not merely a few changes and restorations are being contemplated, but that a major revision of the entire Byzantine liturgy in every aspect is being considered, keeping only a very small portion of the materials in use before that date. It is helpful to consider the changes individually and cumulatively. Considered in each of these ways, the changes have implications that are theological, pastoral, ecclesiological, poetic, and musical.
A. Our Context. The context for our rite is itself complex. Our rite itself has its own history, and Byzantine Catholics are Catholics who are in special relation to the Orthodox because of our shared liturgical and theologial and cultural traditions. Slavonic hymnody itself is a venerable tradition. Our Slavonic translations of the Greek hymns and the original Slavonic chant tones are roughly nine hundred years old. Considered more broadly, Byzantine Catholics are part of the whole of Christendom, and we also have important affiliations in faith and practice with Jews, whose worship and sacrifices God transformed into his Church.
In the remarks below, reference is made at times to the history of our rite, to its theology, and also to its Greek, Slavonic, and the English versions in use from at least the 1970s. The new materials of March 25, 2005, are also compared to those in use by certain other Eastern Catholic, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and other Christian groups. Both general observations and specific examples are offered in the following discussion. The examples are only from one of the three services involved, i.e., Vespers and Divine Liturgy on March 25, 2005. Even so, only some of the myriad changes are treated below.
B. The Nature of the Byzantine Liturgy.
The Catholic liturgies are the worship of the Church. As such, they also evangelize and catechize and are the medium of contemplation for the faithful. Archbishop Joseph Raya writes with clarity of this: AThe liturgy is both a source of theological learning and a form of vital action, for the worship of the Church is centered upon the self-revelation of God to man through the Incarnation of the Son extended in time through sacramental prayer.@ With a fitting coincidence of dates, the second edition of the Byzantine Book of Prayer from which Archbishop Raya is here quoted received the imprimatur on March 25, 1995, just a decade before this year=s new version of the Annunciation liturgy. Archbishop Raya also explains, AThe liturgy is also designed and performed for the people.@ The Amusical, radiant, and penetrating@ setting of each liturgy allows the people=s experience of worship to Aactualize@ spiritual realities for them. The Eastern tradition has always recognized that our human nature includes a contemplative capacity and even appetite. Thus, as Archbishop Raya puts it, AThe Byzantine liturgy offers to each one the seeds of contemplation he needs.@
Further, the liturgies of Byzantine Catholic worship throughout the year are coherent. There are patterns of seasons, of course, the Fasts and the Feasts, notably the Great Fast and Pascha. Other patterns of coherence permeate the life of a Byzantine Catholic, and may go unobserved for years, and then when they dawn on one, the love of God is shown afresh. For instance, the moving hymn APreterp=ivyj@ sung throughout the Great Fast is sung to the same music as is the funeral hymn for blessing on the departed, AVi naja pamjat=.@ By this, the Church shows that the death of the faithful occurs within the context of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. It is because God Asuffered the Passion for us@ that the faithful enjoy Ablessed repose and eternal memory.@ We beseech Him in APreterp=ivyj@ to have mercy, and He does, and therefore the faithful enjoy Ablessed repose and eternal memory.@ Few people may ever notice that the music is identical for these two songs. Noticing is not essential: The music itself is coherent, and that musical coherence is part of Byzantine worship. It is part of why Byzantine worship is experienced as Heaven on earth. The people need the hierarchy to safeguard this coherence and to protect it from being dismantled, as it has already been dismantled in the contemporary Roman Rite in America.
On the Feastday of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Pope John Paul II of blessed memory wrote in affirmation of the Orientale Lumen (May 2, 1995), deliberately reiterating the affirmations of Pope Leo XIII in 1895, in Orientalium Dignitas, and with reference to the documents of Vatican II, especially Orientalium Ecclesiorum. Pope John Paul the Great wrote to Asafeguard the significance of the Eastern traditions for the whole Church.@ He addressed Eastern Catholics as Aliving bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.@ Significantly, he found in the Eastern traditions a freedom from the Avoiding of the Cross@ entering into some worship. In contrast to the erosions of some worship, the Eastern liturgy continued to aspire to presenting Aheaven on earth,@ Pope John Paul II wrote, and thereby showed a Agreat aptitude@ for involving the entire human person. With the consecration of Pope Benedict XVI, we have another pope profoundly aware of the integrity of Byzantine worship. We of the East have preserved authentic traditions of the entire Church when the Roman Rite of recent decades has set aside these traditions, such as praying the Creed in the first person singular, AI believe,@ as it was written, with respect for the autonomy of the individual person.
Similarly, our priests still face East at the altar, leading the whole community, and this coherent liturgical orientation we share with two millennia of Christians of the past. At the start of this millennium, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger observed that Byzantine churches maintained continuity in the orientation of the altar. A bright ray of our Orientale Lumen is that we symbolically face the rising sun, emblem of the Orient from on high.
Significantly, the doctine of theosis is conveyed through the Divine Liturgy. The Byzantine Rite has done a faithful job of preserving its distinctive liturgical expression of the purpose of the incarnation, namely the sanctification of the faithful. This is specifically addressed in Orientale Lumen, which praises St. Irenaeus and the Cappadocian Fathers for their perceptive theology of divinization. The Byzantine Rite has done this more clearly and more effectively than the contemporary Roman Rite in America has conveyed the idea of divinization, and it is necessary that we continue to preserve this affirmation of theosis, not only for the sake of the members of the Byzantine Rite but also for the Church as a whole, for whom we are to be the Orientale Lumen. From the beginnings our liturgy, and from as early as the fifth century our hymnody, have been imbued with invitations to seek sanctification.
It is valuable to recall our context within the whole of the Church and to affirm the distinctive nature of our Byzantine Catholic Rite, as a prelude to considering the changes evident in the liturgical materials of March 25, 2005. Some of these changes appear to constitute a new wave of accommodations with the Roman Rite as it is generally practiced in the United States at present. Clearly, changes that tend to Romanize or secularize the Divine Liturgy would only compromise its nature as Byzantine and Catholic.
C. Principles for change.
Principles for biblical and liturgical translation are evident both in the history of such translation, notably in the work of St. Jerome on the Bible, and in the translators of our Slavonic hymnody into the English in use at least since the 1970s. Moreover, the Church since Vatican II has set forth clear instructions for such translation and for liturgical renewal and preservation. Before turning in detail to the Vatican instructions, augmented by reference to St. Jerome and to our Byzantine translations, it is useful to set forth a sort-of Asumming up@ principle: The new must be better than the old.
The New must be better than the Old. Major change requires major work to implement it. Far more importantly, major changes in liturgical and biblical texts and musical settings means that the faithful will lose what they have memorized. They must learn something quite different before they can pray it as they have been able to pray the old. If the changes are wide-sweeping, as it appears the changes could be in the Metropolia, then many of the elderly will not live long enough to memorize the new. We must be very sure that the new is worth the personal sacrifice asked of the faithful. The new cannot simply be Aas good as@ the old. It must be better, or it is merely change for change=s sake. AChange@ in the abstract is morally neutral. AGrowth@ and Arestoration@ and Aauthentic development@ are good if they are holy. The new liturgical and biblical texts and music must, individually and together, be better than the old, and they must be better theologically, poetically, and musically.
The example of St. Jerome comes to mind. When in the fourth century he was correcting the Latin translation of the Gospels (the start of his work on the whole Bible), he wrote to Pope Damasus that unless there was a compelling reason to change a word, or even the order of words, he did not change them. If the meaning required a change, he would make it. But otherwise, he respected the fact that the faithful loved the very words in which they had been praying, perhaps for all of their lives. Put simply, although he changed what he had to, he didn=t tinker.
Liturgiam Authenticam. Happily, the Church has provided a clear instruction on the renewal and preservation of Liturgiam Authenticam, the authentic worship of the Church. This Vatican document issued four years ago treats the Roman Liturgy primarily, yet also concerns the Eastern rites and cites the authority of the Septuagint. Specifically, this document echoes the Second Vatican Council in asking that the traditions of each of the Eastern rite Churches Abe preserved whole and intact. For this reason, the Council set forth the principle that only those changes were to be introduced which would foster their specific organic development.@ Importantly, it affirms principles of translation and revision that clearly pertain to every rite and that are most apt for the present situation in the Byzantine Catholic Church in this country. Moreover, these principles are themselves traditional, for they are evident in the work of that famous biblical translator, St. Jerome, and they are again evident in the translations of our Byzantine liturgy currently in use. This agreement of Liturgiam Authenticam with both a Doctor of the Church and with Byzantine tradition is an instance of the unifying guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Strikingly, Liturgiam Authenticam returns again and again to the importance of the faithful, maintaining that, for the sake of the faithful, the liturgy ought to be free of unneeded changes. Great respect is shown for the active faith and intelligence of the laity. For instance, it is recognized that the faithful pay attention to the words of the liturgy, reflect on them, memorize them, and pray with them. Thus does the liturgy supply what Archbishop Raya termed Athe seeds of contemplation.@
Respect for the laity motivates Liturgiam Authenticam to affirm that it is of Agreatest importance@ that the biblical translations ought to be uniform and stable, AIn order that the faithful may be able to commit to memory at least the more important texts of the Sacred Scriptures and be formed by them even in their private prayer.@ The liturgical translations ought to be characterized by Aa certain stability@ whenever possible. AThe parts that are to be committed to memory by the people, especially if they are sung, are to be changed only for a just and considerable reason.@ It is notable that the Eucharistic prayers, which are of course neither sung nor spoken by the people, are specifically addressed. The Congregation for Divine Worship, and Pope John Paul II, who authorized the promulgation of Liturgiam Authenticam, recognized the Eucharistic prayers as so important to the faithful, that a paragraph is devoted to these prayers: AWithout real necessity, successive revisions of translations should not notably change the previously approved vernacular texts of the Eucharistic Prayers which the faithful will have committed gradually to memory@; and the document refers to the same principles it gives regarding the people=s sung portions of the liturgy. Our Byzantine Council of Hierarchs has shown the same respect for the prayerful participation of the laity in the Divine Liturgy when the Council restored the singing of ATo You, O Lord@ to its shorter version so that the faithful could hear the words of the celebrant=s prayer.
The Church, in Liturgiam Authenticam, advises its pastors not to rush to simplify biblical and liturgical texts into what they Areally mean,@ as if mode of expression and metaphor are extraneous. Repeatedly the need for both accessibility and integrity is affirmed. For instance: AWhile it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner.@ Again,
So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts= dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision. By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God=s majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself.
To this we Byzantines may add that the Apostles of our rite, SS. Cyril and
Methodius, named the new faithful ASlavs,@ from slava >glory.@ The beauty
of the Byzantine liturgy is imbued with glory and is not mundane.
Returning to Liturgiam Authenticam, it clarifies that Asacred style@ is distinct from ordinary speech, and liturgical texts are to be Afree of an overly servile adherence to prevailing modes of expression.@ This instruction continues with another affirmation of the importance to the faithful of having a liturgy that can be committed to memory:
If indeed, in the liturgical texts, words or expressions are sometimes employed which differ somewhat from usual and everyday speech, it is often enough by virtue of this very fact that the texts become truly memorable and capable of expressing heavenly realities. Indeed, it will be seen that the observance of the principles set forth in this Instruction will contribute to the gradual development, in each vernacular, of a sacred style that will come to be recognized as proper to liturgical language.@
I strongly urge that the faithful do in fact recognize this style in the English
version of the Byzantine Catholic Liturgy in use since at least the 1970s. What
is stated next in the Instruction describes what has in fact already happened
in our Byzantine rite:
Thus it may happen that a certain manner of speech which has come to be considered somewhat obsolete in daily usage may continue to be maintained in the liturgical context. In translating biblical passages where seemingly inelegant words or expressions are used, a hasty tendency to sanitize this characteristic is likewise to be avoided. These principles, in fact, should free the Liturgy from the necessity of frequent revisions when modes of expression may have passed out of popular usage.
Indeed, respecting the value of sacred style in the liturgy is essential not
only for authentic worship: Sacred style is also needed so that the faithful
may have a mode of prayerful expression which in turn is available to them in
their daily lives, and in their proper influence upon culture. As the Instruction
observes, Aliturgical prayer not only is formed by the genius of a culture,
but itself contributes to the development of that culture.@ A woman of our parish
expressed the same insight: AThe culture flows from the liturgy to the people,
not the other way.@
Vocabulary and syntax are each treated at length in Liturgiam Authenticam. Many liturgical texts must be Asuitable for being set to music.@ ABy their very nature,@ the instruction observes, liturgical texts are intended Ato be proclaimed orally and to be heard in the liturgical celebration@ and thus Athey are characterized by a certain manner of expression that differs from that found in ordinary speech.@ This manner often features Arecurring and regular patterns of syntax and style, a solemn or exalted tone, alliteration and assonance, concrete and vivid images, repetition, parallelism and contrast, a certain rhythm, and at time, the lyric of poetic compositions.@ Sometimes it is not possible, of course, to replicate in a translation all the features of the original. This has always been true: In the fourth century St. Jerome observed that the Hebrew acrostics in Lamentations 1-4 could not be identically reproduced in Latin, so he used Latin metrics to convey the poetic nature of the passage. He proceeded, we know from his letters and commentaries, in exactly the manner the Church prescribes in the 2001 Instruction:
The translator should seek to ascertain the intended effect of such elements in the mind of the hearer as regards thematic content, the expression of contrast between elements, emphasis and so forth. Then he should employ the full possibilities of the vernacular language skillfully in order to achieve as integrally as possible the same effect as regards not only the conceptual content itself, but the other aspects as well. In poetic texts, greater flexibility will be needed in translation in order to provide for the role played by the literary form itself in expressing the content of the texts. Even so, expressions that have a particular doctrinal or spiritual importance or those that are more widely known are, insofar as possible to be translated literally.
These principles are universal, and they have in fact been followed by those
in the past who, like St. Jerome, have approached liturgical and biblical translation
with skill and acumen both theological and literary. A related point can be
made. As Dr. Christine Mohrmann showed, Christians created new words in Greek,
and then later in Latin, to express new Christian experiences. Christians also
retained certain Hebrew words as venerable and rich in holy associatins, e.g.,
Alleluia, Amen, Hosanna, as well as Pesach, which in Greek and Slavonic became
Pascha. Use of these terms allows the faithful through the ages to honor God
and his mysteries with the same words of worship used virtually as far back
as history records.
A Byzantine example of such fine translation work is useful to consider. Although I have chosen AToday the sacred Pasch is revealed to us@ (one of the Paschal stichera) from our Easter liturgy, its qualities as translation exemplify what seems to be generally true of the liturgy in use since at least the 1970s. Although Greek and Slavonic are highly inflected languages, modern English is not. As a result, Slavonic and Greek can express complex ideas more concisely than English. Also, modern English translations of Greek and Slavonic liturgical and hymn-texts must at times alter the word order of the inflected original to make intelligible English. In Slavonic, and presumably in the Greek original, AToday the sacred Pasch@ consists of ten statements, each one beginning with the word APasch.@ This word is the same in Greek and in Slavonic, and is simply the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew pesach >Passover.= Some of the statements in the Slavonic omit the form of Ato be@ in order to be more emphatic. The important theological term in the final sentence points to the whole purpose of the Incarnation, the sanctification of the faithful. Indeed, this paschal sticheron builds to joyous adoration of Athe Pasch which sanctifies all the faithful.@ The key term of theosis, Asanctifies,@ is here given its traditional, direct Slavonic equivalent, linguistically analogous to the Greek, for the word Aholy@ (svyat) is its root: osvaja aju aja. In English this term is aptly and clearly rendered Asanctifies.@ The Slavic for Asanctification@ is also found in, e.g., the Litany of Thanksgiving, AFor you are our sanctification (osvaja enije).@
The translator into Slavonic respected both APascha@ and the word for theosis as expressions having Aa particular doctrinal or spiritual importance@ and therefore prudently translated them literally. Also, the translator did well to use normal English syntax for this hymn, although as a result no statement in the English begins with the word APasch.@ The translation, however, effectively conveys the richly concentrated celebration of the mystery of what the Pasch is. Also, it was a pastorally sound decision to vary the word APasch@ with APassover@ as a way of showing that the words are synonyms. In sum, the translation of that hymn is pastoral, intelligent, effective, and a coherent part of worship. The translator, relying on prayer, theology, and common sense, fully met the criteria of the 2001 Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam decades before it was written, just as St. Jerome had done earlier.
One last principle for translation applies. As Jerome was well aware, sometimes a translator has before him a text that is itself a translation of an earlier one, as the Old Latin and Greek versions of the Old Testament he used for comparison were themselves translations from the Hebrew Bible. Jerome worked directly from the Hebrew, but used the other versions as comparanda. Regarding the pre-1976 English translations of Slavonic liturgical texts, we must take into account the likelihood that they were made by persons who to some extent also knew the Greek texts which were the basis of the Slavonic. It is entirely possible, for instance, that the English translators may have understood techniques of Byzantine hymnody and therefore sought to use those techniques in the English translations, even in cases where the Slavonic itself could only represent those techniques in part. That is, it seems reasonable that our third-millennial review of English translations of Slavonic liturgical texts should look at both the Slavonic and also at the original Greek.
IV. Analysis of the liturgical materials of March 25, 2005.
Certainly the materials of March 25, 2005 are changed. Changes are introduced on virtually every page and often in every line. The texts of the Divine Liturgy and of Matins and of Vespers are changed, the texts of the proper hymnody is changed, the texts of the biblical translations, which are staples of the people=s prayed song, are changed. Such radical revision is profoundly distracting to the faithful. If the new materials were better than the ones already in use, such change would be worthwhile. But the new materials are less good in quality. Often they are poor. Where they are good, it is by virtue of having retained enough of the prior version to be so.
Most seriously, the changes repeatedly alter the ecclesiology and theology. Happily, it seems likely that these theological changes were inadvertent, rather than a decision to minimize certain doctrines, such as theosis. However, it is disturbing that such changes appear therefore to have been made accidentally. Except for the restoration of the word ATheotokos@ and the improved layout, the prior liturgy was superior theologically, poetically, and musically.
Although surely it is unintentional, the music of March 25, 2005, introduced several changes which show disregard of the faithful and their role in the liturgy. The liturgy is worship performed by the entire community, with celebrant, deacon, servers, cantor, and the faithful acting harmoniously, with distinct, well-integrated roles and specific liturgical actions. Regrettably, in the musical materials of March 25, 2005, it is as if the role of the faithful has been deemed of little importance. For instance, where the cantors are to set the musical line so that the faithful can then sing a proper hymn in that tone readily, instead the cantor lines are now different from what the faithful sing. In the Dismissal, when the faithful pray and then at once address the celebrant B two actions which have always been musically distinguished B now these actions are musically homogenized. This sameness hides the fact that what the celebrant does next is in response to the faithful=s direction, AGive the blessing.@
It is useful to look in detail at the changes.
Layout. The layout of materials is beautifully successful. It certainly deserves
praise. The layout and visual clarity of the materials are very good indeed.
Presumably a software for producing musical scores was used. The results are
most readable. The font, its size, and the clarity and size of the musical notes
were all well selected. Also, both in the continued use of already familiar
layout and in the introduction of slight changes, the material was presented
very well. Continuing the practice of enclosing alternate musical settings in
boxes made it easy both to distinguish between the options and also to identify
swiftly the next portion of the liturgy.
Particularly well thought and well done was the addition of the simple indicators ACantor@ and AAll.@ This discreet change was clear and entirely effective, an excellent enhancement to the layout in our existing Great and Holy Week music booklets. The presentation of the antiphonal psalms, with italics marking the syllable on which to change notes, was also clear. Again, that slight change, using italics as cue, was completely effective
Rubrics. Generally, of course, most of the italicized comments and directions were taken from earlier liturgical materials. However, some of the rubrics were new. Notably, the new rubrics are all problematic. Specifically, unnecessary remarks were inserted within texts, thus tending to distract the prayer. Also, one rubric shows a surprising ignorance of Byzantine liturgy.
The texts of the liturgy, its psalms and prayers, are to be presented to the clergy and the faithful as they exist now. It is pedantic and intrusive to interrupt psalms or prayers with obscure comments marking (I surmise) the ancient sub-parts of the texts. It is distracting to inject AAnd again@ before the conclusion of a psalm as it is sung today. Quite poor in this regard are the injected remarks and odd layout for the Communion Prayer, Pisteuo, Kyrie (AO Lord, I believe@). As Archimandrite Robert Taft has shown, this prayer has been in use since at least the ninth century; and the Slavic use of it for the entire congregation, clergy and laity, goes back to the tenth century. There seems no merit to interrupting it now with so many blank lines. At the very least, the two Trinitarian series of petitions beginning ARemember me@ and AO God@ could have been presented with no blank lines between. The new rubrics (AAlso: ... Also: ... Also: ...@) suggest that the words are being laid out for textual analysis, not for prayer.
It would be just as inappropriate to interrupt the petition for travelers Aby sea, [Also: air,] and land.@ The historical fact that the original New Testament petition underlying this part of our liturgy referred only to sea and land, and that the word Aair@ was added after the invention of aviation, does not justify interrupting the flow of worship. To the contrary, respect for the prayer experience of the faithful should preclude inventing such rubrics.
One new rubric is for the clergy: ANote that the celebrant only says all blessings.@ Several rubrics, i.e., italicized instructions, have been edited, but this comment may be the solitary addition of its sort to this liturgy, and it is disconcerting that this simple comment is flawed, both grammatically and liturgically. Grammatically this rubric means that the celebrant Aonly says@ blessings. Presumably, however, the intention was to state that Aonly the celebrant@ gives blessings. Liturgically, the word Asays@ is incorrect. The verb Asays@ is not synonymous with Agives.@ As the congregation asks during the dismissal, AGive the blessing.@ The celebrant=s liturgical blessings involve him facing the people, moving his hand in the proper gesture, and singing the words of blessing. None of this action is properly designated by the verb Asay.@ It is even hard to imagine how an Eastern Catholic could have written the remark Acelebrants only say all blessings.@
B Biblical translations. All the kinds of translation errors in the contemporary Roman Rite, errors which Liturgiam Authenticam seeks to correct, are introduced into the Byzantine Rite on March 25, 2005. The poor English translation of the Psalms in use in the liturgies of on that date is a reduction of psalmody into grade-school prose. Within Psalm 103, verse 4 is particularly curious, because the translation of just this verse seems to have been imported into a different translation of the Psalm as a whole. The verse on March 25, 2005, reads: AYou make your spirits angels and your ministers a flaming fire.@ The first half is obscure and the second half sounds risky for the clergy. However, the root meaning of Aangel@ as Amessenger@ seems meant here, as it has been understood to be meant for ages. And Aspirit@ famously has many meanings, including breath or, as here, Awind.@ One has to reorder each pair of terms to make the meaning clear in English, because English is not nearly as inflected as Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or Slavonic: AYou make the winds your messengers and flaming fires your attendants.@ That is clear, true, and poetic. That is the translation that has already been in use, for decades.
The Roman Rite in the past fifty years has been plagued by bad translations. Some of them Adumb down@ the Bible and the liturgy, some ignore the traditional language of the Bible and the Fathers, and many obscure or down-play the Church=s true theology. The ruling principle has been that the mass and the Bible should be easy to understand. Sadly the results are often banal and fall far short of the reality and mystery of God and of the sacraments. The severity and pervasiveness of the problems made necessary the document described above, ALiturgiam authenticam. The Eastern rites have been largely free of the problems of the Roman rite in this regard. Please: This is no time to introduce them into the Eastern rite.
B Liturgical and hymn-text translations. The translations of liturgical texts are likewise surprisingly oversimplified in the materials of March 25, 2005. This is true of both the texts of the Divine Liturgy and also the texts of the hymnody. The prose style of the new translations favors simple statements. Subordination of clauses is avoided. Sentences are kept short. That is, the style has been dumbed down.
But, insofar as the Liturgy constitutes catechesis, it is catechesis for a lifetime, not just for eight-year-olds. Years ago, when my husband was a child, worshiping with his Baba and Gigi in Thunder Bay, Ontario, he called the feast of the Thee Holy Hierarchs the feast of the AThree Holy Head Guys.@ That helped him to hold an initial idea of these saints, but it would have been woefully wrong if the Church had institutionalized a child=s nomenclature. And, please note, it would have been a disservice to the child himself, because it would have falsely taught him that what he understands at first is All There Is. Moreover, in truth it is disrespectful to the child to make a child=s way of talking the liturgical norm: Children can experience mystery before they can articulate their experience. Downplaying mystery so that a child can understand all the words at a basic level at once, deprives the child of growing up in the presence of mystery.
Theosis is an important Byzantine Catholic doctrine. In the past five centuries, the East has retained this teaching more effectively than the West. That is, through the liturgy, through its hymnody, through its prayers, the faithful are invited to seek the transforming, life-giving grace of God and to become holy. It is a matter of grave concern that the liturgy of 2005 vitiates much of this invitation, by abandoning diction, by changing prayers, by muddying the structure and wording of hymns which for 10-15 centuries have served to draw the faithful into holy imitation (mimesis, in Cyril of Jerusalem).
Some traditional theological language has removed in the 2005 translation. To chose one of several possible examples, Apure@ has been replaced by the word Aclean.@ This example is apt, for it involves a term resonant in Byzantine tradition, in every liturgy, in the calendar (Pure Monday), as well as in the hymnody of March 25, 2005. I gather that the official reason for using Aclean@ instead of Apure@ is to make the texts understandable to children. This, at any rate, was the rationale offered earlier for revising AThe Encounter@ to AThe Meeting.@ The word Apure@ is not a synonym for Aclean.@ In Greek and in Slavonic, the words for pure resonate throughout. In our paschal katabasia Mary is Apure@ ( istaja), in the hymns of Joseph of Arimathea the linen used to wrap Christ=s body is Apure@ ( istoju), and in every Divine Liturgy we thank God for having received the Amost pure (pre istych) ... mysteries of Christ.@ This language has to do with acknowledging the holiness of God, of the saints, and of the sacraments. Further, the diction Apure@ acknowledges that we are called to holiness. The language is a reminder of theosis. AClean@ rather suggests aspiring only to AI=m O.K., you=re O.K.@
Of course, some passages in fact use the biblical imagery of clean and unclean, which goes back to the Torah. Such is the Irmos of the Annunciation, ALet no unclean hand..,@ discussed below.
Paradox. Our Christian mysteries contain paradoxes and ironies. That God became
Man, that the Giver of Life died, and that by his death he conquered death,
these are paradoxes to comtemplate. The Incarnation and the Virgin birth are
likewise mysterious. A hallmark of Byzantine sermons on, and meditations about,
these doctrines is a direct statement of the paradox and often a thorough consideration
of it, as, for instance, in several of the Holy Week hymns. In Greek and in
Slavonic, these hymns often use word echo to emphasize the paradox and to honor
the mystery. And the music has often drawn attention to these repeated words.
Sadly, the new translations of 2005 and also the musical settings of them fail
to convey these characteristic liturgical techniques which are so distinctively
Byzantine. Examples are in Acreated ... creation@ in the first hymn of vespers,
discussed below; Aconfined ... is confined@ (Slavonic zatvorjajetsja ... zatvorivyj);
and Acreature ... Creator@ (sozdanija . . . Sozdatel=).
Prayers before the Lamp-Lighting Psalms. The changes in the prayers before the lamp-lighting psalms are on the whole disappointing. Some changes alter the ecclesiology, others obscure the theology. The exception is the fine and reasonable change of Apriesthood@ to Apresbyterate.@ This change distinguishes the office itself from the holders of the office and is parallel with Adiaconate.@
Two other changes, however, alter Eastern ecclesiology, and seem therefore entirely inappropriate. These changes are in the prayers for the pope and for the bishop. Hitherto the liturgy has had the faithful pray for Aour ecumenical pontiff, N, the Pope of Rome.@ In the March 25, 2005, liturgy this is replaced by Aour holy father, N, the pope of Rome.@ The term Aecumenical@ is used of patriarchs, and thus the prior wording recognizes the pope as having the status of a patriarch. In fact, according to Eastern Catholic belief, he does have this status, and the phrase is distinctively Eastern. Because we are Eastern as well as Catholic, we ought to retain the previous wording.
Regarding the phrase naming the bishop, AGod-loving@ is obviously not the same as Awhom God loves.@ Describing the bishop as AGod-loving@ is an affirmation that we, the faithful and the celebrant leading us, trust the bishop to be our pastor, because he loves God. God loves everyone, so there is no special reason to say that He loves the bishop. Frankly, the change rather suggests that the Church is not going to commit itself to asserting that any given bishop loves God; that has to mean that the orthodoxy of any given bishop may be suspect. But that kind of hedging of bets does not belong in the liturgy. We do not, after all sing AMaybe we praise you, maybe we bless you@ or ASome of us praise you, some of us bless you.@ Liturgy is to transform the faithful through time into saints, and theosis is for bishops as well.
The final prayer of this revised ectany opens awkwardly and is devoid of the evocative and venerable language of falling and lifting up, now replaced by references to turning.
One passage in this ectany warrants special comments. The prayer which formerly began ARemembering our most holy...@ contains in the 2005 version two word-changes that damage its theology. ARemembering@ and Acommemorating@ are not synonyms, and neither are Acommit@ and Acommend.@ Perhaps the changes were made to Asimplify@ the language, but in fact they seriously change the meaning. This petition is the culmination of the ectany: This final petition is far from being a different action, i.e., an act of personal commitment; rather it is another way of calling on the Lord to have mercy. That is why we are Aremembering@ our Lady, and imitating her, which leads us to Acommend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.@ ACommend@ here retains its ancient meaning, important to Christians from the moment Jesus spoke it on the Cross. AFather, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.@ Likewise, Paul and Barnabas Acommended to the Lord@ the faithful in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. The same verb is focal in the very Early Christian prayer the Commendatio of the Soul, still in the Roman Rite of Anointing. That prayer is the commendation to God of someone who is ill, perhaps dying. The word Acommend@ was not casually chosen: Commending oneself to God is to act in imitation of Jesus.
Moreover, one can Acommend@ another person. But one cannot Amake a commitment@ for another person. The Eastern Rite has carefully preserved this distinction, which is crucial in the making of vows and affirmations of faith. The individual person has spiritual autonomy: Only the individual can say AI believe@ or AI promise@ (in the sense of a solemn vow), or, in the pre-baptismal scrutinies, AI commit myself to Christ.@ Two or more people can make such a profession at the same time and in unison, but each person says AI.@ Thus it is proper and loving for the celebrant to ask the people to Acommend . . . one another@ to Christ. However, it is incorrect to ask the faithful to Acommit . . . one another@ to Christ, as the liturgy of March 25, 2005, had us do. The changes in this admonition to the people void the sense.
O Joyful Light. This contemplative hymn is far better poetically and musically
in the earlier version. The verbal changes introduced in the 2005 version are
pedantic and literal. The musical changes seem motivated entirely by a desire
to make the song different. None of the changes are necessary or even well-thought.
In the first line of this hymn, the earlier translation repeats the word Alight@ for the sake of the poetry, both the sound and meaning of the word. Also, the second Alight@ receives the musical emphasis of the second musical phrase. In the new version, that emphasis is given to the word Aof@ and the word that is repeated in the first sentence is not Alight@ but, again Aof.@ In the Byzantine Rite, indeed in Catholicism, fullness of meaning is supposed to trump literalism.
Musically, the changes are as petty and ineffective. Consider the altered notes for the phrase Ameasured melody to You.@ A frequent trait of the new settings is seen here, namely, a rather mechanical musical movement. The change introduced here makes the passage mechanical, where it was graceful before. In both the prior and the 2005 versions, Ameasured melody to You@ concludes the third of a set of sentences, each having the same general melodic line. In the prior version, the first two sentences end with a phrase consisting of a quarter note (F) leading to a tranquil set of descending half notes (G, F, E) with the words Aevening light@ and ASpi-i-rit.@ Then, in pleasing variation, the third line, the final one of the series, slightly changes the timing: after the quarter note (F) follow dotted half, quarter, dotted half (G, F, E). This musical change fitly prepares for the direct address to the Son of God which concludes the hymn. The 2005 version is different. In it, each of the three sentences ends with two beats on G, two on F, and two on E, so nothing marks the third sentence as the final one leading to the address to God.
The last line of the 2005 hymn lacks the wondrous resolution of the earlier version. The new music follows the new, odd words. The word ABehold!@ is an ancient and liturgically sound way of calling attention to a wondrous sight, and the entire hymn is about Light. The hymn is to Jesus Christ, Joyful light of the Father. The sun has set, and the Aevening light@ is visible, and again we sing to God. The hymn culminates with our singing to the Light Himself, ABehold! the universe sings your glory.@ This is a heavenly hymn. The theology, the poetry are heavenly, and the music should be too. Inanely, the word ATherefore@ has been substituted for ABehold.@ The rhythm of the prior musical version had built effectively to the final words, Ayour glory.@ In the 2005 version the word Auniverse@ has more emphasis.
First hymn of vespers, Great and Holy Friday. The prior version had theologically
inspired word echo on Acreation ... created@: AAll creation suffered with the
One Who created all things.@ Moreover, the musical setting placed emphasis on
the echoed words: the accented syllable of Acreation@ and of Acreated@ is in
each case a dotted half note on a B. Musically, attention was put where the
text puts attention. AThings@ is the repeated word in the 2005 version of this
hymn: AAll things suffered along with you, who made all things.@ (Adding Aalong@
is another poor change.) The final sentence is also far less effective than
the 1976 version, in both text and music. Indeed, the 2005 version seems to
be mechanically getting quickly through the material, as if it would be a waste
of time to glorify God.
In Byzantine chant, as also in Gregorian chant, often the musical line echoes the meaning of the words. This is true in the next stichera for Great and Holy Friday. In the 1976 version, the music rose with the words Araised upon the cross.@ Unfortunately, in the 2005 words, the music descends with the words Alifted up on the wood.@
One addition in the 2005 version is unintelligible. In the original poem, Jesus is presented as reviewing his good deeds in imagined address to his condemners. The 1976 version begins: AO, how could the lawless council condemn to death the King of Creation without being ashamed at the thought of His good works which He recounted to them saying...@ The 2005 text obscurely states: AThey felt no shame when he recalled his good deeds which he had foreshadowed when he said to them...@
The prokimenon of Great and Holy Friday was presented in a poor translation. The old translation had a strong text, and the old music aptly emphasized the words Apit@ and Adeath.@ The new translation seems, oddly, to avoid the word Adeath@ and repeats three times Adepths ... depths ... depths.@ (Please say the word Adepths@ aloud and consider the awkwardness of singing it three times. Now try the words Apit@ and Adeath.@) The prior translation was better, and by far more singable.
Literalism. Some changes come from intermittent literalism. These include
the new omission of Abe@ from certain acclamations, substituting Awood@ for
To Abe@ or not to Abe.@ Dropping Abe@ from AGlory be to you, O God,@ is a case in point. True, forms of Ato be@ can be omitted in statements in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and many other languages, and in fact some liturgical phrases literally do not have a form of Ato be@ in the original language. But for a translation to include the word Abe@ is not incorrect. Indeed, it makes better English than the omission. Moreover, there are already familiar patterns in use, some using Abe@ and others not, such as AThanks be to God@ and AGlory be to You, O Lord,@ but AGlory to God in the highest.@ It would be artificial to try to make these uniform. If the Slavonic were being translated into English for the first time, it might be a sound decision to mark the liturgical nature of the language by omitting Abe.@ However, dropping Abe@ now introduces a repeatedly distracting, minor, inessential change in long accustomed practice, and it forces changing the way a great many passages in the liturgy are sung.
It is, of course, fashionable among some contemporary Roman Catholics to jostle liturgical language in this way. But surely American fashions in the Roman Rite are not normative for the Byzantine Catholic Church. Moreover, one must set in context the recent removal of forms of the verb Ato be@ in the Roman Rite, as in the proclamation, AThe Word of the Lord,@ after the Gospel is read. For a few decades, the American English version of the Roman Rite has used language so mundane that the mass can be difficult to recognize as a liturgy. Arguably, the banality of the contemporary liturgy then prompted another set of changes in language, such as taking out Ato be,@ in an attempt to regain some sense of difference between liturgical language and ordinary speech. Blessedly, the Byzantine Rite has not been so impoverished and therefore there is no need artificially to remove forms of Ato be@ to show that it is liturgy.
Wood/Cross. In the first hymn of Vespers, while the word Across@ is not in the Slavonic, it was a reasonable way to handle the English translation. Although it is literally correct to use the word Awood, it is not clear that being literal here is useful. Many patristic and Byzantine texts use the word Awood@ in context where modern custom uses ACross.@ Sometimes a typological comparison is being made, for instance, between the wood of Isaac=s sacrifice and the wood of Christ=s Cross, or the wood of Noah=s ark and the wood of the Cross. Otherwise the word ACross@ is more readily understood.
Lover of Mankind. The words Aman@ and Amankind@ are used in religious texts
to mean the entire human race, past, present and future. Identifying God as
the ALover of Mankind@ reminds the faithful of being part of the communion of
saints. One must be prayerfully careful when seeking to alter such expressions.
ALover of us all@ is ambiguous, and it can mean simply ALover of us persons
in this room right now.@ Given that the whole tenor of the revised liturgical
texts seems to aim at reducing texts to what can be understood at first hearing,
the phrase Alover of us all@ will be taken in its simplest way.
Traditionally, in both theological and poetic language B and in the Byzantine liturgy the language is often both theological and poeticB AGod@ is paired with AMan@ or Amankind,@ while Adivinity@ is paired with Ahumanity.@ The new version awkwardly pairs AGod@ with Ahumanity.@
Moreover, as a New Feminist, one whose scholarship recovers the authentic Christian tradition of respect for women, I strongly advise against making such changes. I strongly advise strengthening the presentation of the authentic tradition of teaching that everyone, male and female, is called to holiness, and that both male and female saints are models for us all. Please do not abandon venerable, generic references to Mankind in favor of ALover of humanity,@ do not change the clear, powerful monosyllables of AGod with man@ into AGod with humanity.@ As an Orthodox scholar has put it, such modern revisions ultimately privilege ideology over the Incarnation.
Word substitutions. Several words are absent from the liturgical materials of March 25, 2005, and the overall vocabulary used is smaller because variety has been reduced. For instance, Aadore@ is gone from the opening. The same overall simplification and homogenization has already occurred, of course, in English versions of the Roman Rite, with dreary results, and therefore Liturgiam Authenticam instructs that Aa variety of vocabulary in the original text should give rise, insofar as possible, to a corresponding variety in the translations.@
Beseech. In the liturgical materials of March 25, 2005, although the word Aask@ was already in the ectanies, the same word Aask@ was also substituted for Abeseech.@ This is unfortunately, partly because the word Abeseech@ fittingly helps mark the difference between asking something from a fellow man and beseeching something from God. The verb Acall out@ has also been replaced by Aask.@ Again Liturgiam Authenticam has a pertinent remark: Aa deficiency in translating ... the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed@ in the original liturgical text.
Substituting ABecause@ for AFor@ is also unnecessary. Those of the faithful who do not know that Afor@ can be a conjunction can learn that from the context. AFor@ is preferable for the rhythm.
Often simple, mundane words are substituted for beautiful and poetic language, in some cases the change is not to current idiom. AAlas ... ! Alas ... !@ is hardly contemporary, so it is unclear why it is preferable to the earlier expressions of Agreat sorrow.@ AWoe is me@ is the new substitution for AGreat is my sorrow,@ a phrase of more dignity. ALifted@ is more poetic than Atook.@ ALong for@ is just not the same as Acount on.@ (Several more changes of this sort are mentioned in the discussion below of music.) It is likely that idioms using Amake@ and Atake@ have greatly increased in the new liturgical materials, thus further reducing the variety of the original texts, and rendering them Aweakened@ or Atrite,@ to quote Liturgiam Authenticam.
A pure virgin. The Annunciation hymn used this year recounts that the Archangel was sent to Aa pure virgin.@ That is a true statement. And it is true that Greek and Slavonic are not so obligingly clear with articles as is English, so one could translate the hymn Aa pure virgin.@ On the other hand, there is no compelling reason to change from the traditional Athe pure virgin@ to Aa pure virgin.@ To the contrary, the pre-eminently pure virgin is the Theotokos, and she is unique, and may rightly be identified as Athe pure virgin.@ And the phrase Aa pure virgin@ can be ambiguous, meaning Aone of many pure virgins.@ It is Byzantine Catholic doctrine that Anne=s conception of Mary was unique historically. Changing Athe pure virgin@ to Aa pure virgin@ does not seem well thought.
An important Christian belief is that Christ fully willed his Passion. In the Divine Liturgy this is famously expressed in the Anaphora when the celebrant recalls when Christ Awas betrayed, or rather, when he handed himself over...@ In English this must be expressed with different verbs, but in the original Greek the same verb, in the active voice, means betrayed, but when it is reflexive and middle-voice it means handed himself over. In the proper hymns of Great and Holy Friday, the hymnode has used verbs in the same way. The old translation had the clause Awhen You placed Yourself for all mankind in a new tomb.@ The new version has removed this reference to Christ=s activity, even in his burial, by substituting Ayou were placed in a tomb.@
Inconsistency. Overall, there seem no definite principles informing the new
translations. If simplicity is the guide, then why replace Apriesthood@ with
Apresbyterate@? And why retain the word Acondescension@? Indeed, that word is
not only retained, it is given new emphasis by being shifted into final position,
not just in the sentence, but in the entire hymn: AO Lover of humanity, glory
to your condescension.@ It sounds quite Anglican.
It was sad to see no Slavonic included, even as an option. The solitary exception is that the correct Slavonic musical terms (Samohlasen, etc.) are included in the 2005 materials. Retaining these traditional designations is most welcome. But it does rather suggest the mistaken idea that music is more important, or at any rate more sophisticated, than anything else in the liturgy.
Music. The musical changes warrant special attention. Over and over again changes seem to have been introduced in the music for the sake of making the music different. This itself is not an authentic Byzantine approach to the music. Where the music is good in the services of March 25, 2005, it is what has been used before. Where there are changes from the way the music has been scored before, the new version is less musical, less recognizable as the tone intended, less effective in suiting the text. In sum, it is less Byzantine. Musical lines which were evidently meant to be elaborated for the feast are often only busy.
In the prior setting of Alet Israel long for the Lord@ the music was apt, arching
up to the line=s highest pitch for word Along@ and then descending gracefully
into musical resolution. In the new setting, the words are dumbed down to Acount
on@ and in the word emphasized by the high pitch is Athe.@
Psalm 140. The musical changes here seem to be tinkering. Moreover, the results are unfortunate. Before, eloquently, the musical line for the words ALet my prayer be directed like incense to You@ had risen to A for Aprayer@ and stayed up through the first syllable of the word Aincense,@ then descending peacefully for the rest of the clause. Then, for Athe lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice,@ the line had enacted a strong Alifting@ by starting on F (Aand the@) and at once rising up a fourth to B for the entire phrase Alifting up of my hands.@ Again followed a graceful descent on Aas an evening sacrifice.@ What a beautiful consonance of music with meaning. In the new setting, however, the word Aincense@ heavily descends in three half-notes (G, F, E) and then only the syllables Alift@ and Aup@ attain a high pitch (B), with Aof my hands@ descending at once, as if the hands are heavy and must be lowered. Musically, this is disappointing.
Often the beginnings and ends of the new musical settings are far less effective than the prior versions. Note that now the melodic highpoint of AThe world he made firm, not to be moved@ is Ato.@
Musically, it sounds as if Gregorian chant melismas have entered the Byzantine liturgy. The runs of notes for the second Adepths@ in the Prokimenon, the extra flourishes in the Alleluia, the conclusion of the Irmos, and the see-saw run of notes in the final singing of AHear me, O Lord@ in Psalm 140, sound like Amini-melismas@ of a Gregorian sort. Such melismas are of course a feature of later Gregorian chant. Byzantine chant, like the Greek chant of Constantinople, had its own melismatic settings and book of melismatic choral chants called asmatikon. But these seem rather different from the patterns introduced in the liturgy of March 25, 2005. Moreover, in every case-- Gregorian, Greek, and Slavonic chantB it was professional singers, not parish cantors, who sang the melismatic chants and so those elaborated chants had only a limited, specialized use. Byzantine chant tends to maintain a clear melodic line distinctive to the Tone being sung. It seems contrary to the tradition of Byzantine chant to obscure these melodic lines.
Byzantine melismas can be seen in some of the chants of AAlleluia@ elaborated for important feast days. For instance, our parish has used in the past a more elaborate setting of the Tone 1 Alleluia for Mid-Pentecost Wednesday. Importantly, that elaborate setting is still clearly the Tone 1 Alleluia. Also it is more musical that the AAlleluia@ of March 25, 2005. Likewise, the Tone 6 Alleluia for the Liturgy for the Deceased is more elaborate, yet clearly Byzantine. Repeatedly, the musical elaborations added to the Liturgy of March 25, 2005, are inadequate, and in two ways: 1) They are busy and awkward rather than effective, and 2) they obscure the melodic line of the tone they are intended to adorn.
Musically, another concern has to be the Ahomogenized rhythm@ in the 2005 Great Friday /Annunciation service. This steady rhythm also appears to be used generally in music coming from the Cantor Institute. Dotted quarters and sixteenth notes and triplets are gone. Rarely is a note used that a child playing piano in the first year might not yet know. To be blunt, this is a sort of musical dumbing down. Consistently the previous musical settings had more rhythmic variety. Such variety is in the printed materials from the Byzantine Seminary Press, in the musical leaflets from John Vernoski, and in the older pewbooks of our parish.
Complex rhythms certainly seem to be native to our Slavonic chant tradition, as they are in the earliest Slavonic musical manuscripts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. And they are still in use, and not merely in the English and Slavonic our parish has been singing from its founding: The Ukrainian Seminary in Rome sang the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic at St. Peter=s Basilica on November 13, 1997, with the same music that I knew from worship at SS. Cyril and Methodius in Spokane. In 1999, at the historically ecumenical celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Amissos participated. Afterwards, Metropolitan Nicholas observed:
It was wonderful to note that the Prostopinije B Plain ChantB has not been replaced with any other liturgical musical expression. It was sung just as it is sung in our own Diocesan Church to this very day, and just as it is sung in the largest of cities and the tiniest of villages in our homeland!
Only for grave and serious cause ought we to sacrifice this unity among ethnic
groups and of Eastern Catholic and Orthodox.
Moreover, even if it could be shown that there was another old custom of chant that used a steady rhythm B rarely using sixteenth notes or dotted notes or triplets, for instance B I suggest that the rhythmically richer way already familiar to the faithful is a fitting, better way of matching English cadences to the Slavonic tones. Compared to the graceful setting of ALord, have mercy@ (e.g., a dotted quarter and a sixteenth note for ALord@), the proposed settings are boring. The prior version is much more effective.
Irmos. The irmos for the Annunciation is much changed, and some of the changes are perfect. It is not clear, however, that other changes are fitting. In the translation found in the Byzantine Book of Prayer (imprimatur: March 25, 1995) and in the Divine Liturgy (1978) the words are:
Let no unclean hand touch the living Tabernacle of God; but let the lips of the faithful sing endlessly with joy to the Mother of God the greeting of the Angel: Hail, O Woman full of grace, the Lord is with you!
This is, of course, the same text in use in the John Vernoski settings of the irmos used regularly by our parish and presumably by many, if not most or all of the parishes of the Metropolia. The new translation provided in the leaflets for the Annunciation in 2005 is as follows:
Let no uninitiated hand touch the living Ark of God; but let the faithful lips, singing without ceasing the words of the angel to the Theotokos, cry aloud in great joy: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!
It is wonderful and valuable to restore the Byzantine designation ATheotokos@
(Bohorodic=i). That is absolutely a good change. As for Tabernacle/Ark, the
Slavonic has the word kivotos which is, indeed, the transliterated form of the
Hebrew word for Ark. (The word ATabernacle@ was perhaps used in the prior translation
for the sake of the cadence in English.) Also, while AHail@ allowed clear affinities
with our Roman Catholic neighbors, ARejoice@ is a customary English translation
of the Slavonic Radostiju. Aside from these few word changes, however, it is
not clear that the other changes are necessary.
$ unclean. The language of Aclean@ and Aunclean@ goes back to the Torah, and has always been part of Christian worship. With regard to the sacrosanct Ark, no human hand, even one ritually clean, could be clean enough to touch it. For the perfection of the Ark of the Covenant, even a ritually clean human hand was, in a sense, unclean. So, the prior English version of the irmos makes sense when it refers to an Aunclean hand.@ In contrast, the language of Auninitiated@ seems to ignore the Jewish origins of the image of the Ark. How is one to understand Auninitiated hand@ in relation to the Ark of the Covenant? Also the term Auninitiated@ lacks Catholic resonance. It suggests instead a reduction of the Church into a merely social group. In many contemporary Roman parishes, baptism of adults is prepared for, not primarily as a sacrament, but as an initiation into a group.
$ Theosis and the angel. Regarding where precisely in the irmos the angel is mentioned, the prior English version seems more authentically Byzantine. Here reference not only to the Slavonic but to the traditions of Byzantine hymnody seems pertinent. Byzantine hymnody has definite characteristics, developed in order to facilitate the worship of the faithful and their theosis. Often a hymn builds toward a final line which is a quotation from a saint or angel, and just before the quotation the hymn identifies the original speaker. This pattern puts the faithful in the position of voicing again holy words spoken at an important moment in salvation history. The earlier English translation of this irmos follows this pattern, and indeed it does so better than the Slavonic. Thus we proclaim that we sing the Agreeting of the Angel: Hail, O Woman full of grace, the Lord is with you!@ and in proclaiming this, we recreate it in ritual. The purpose for this recreation is like all the other recreations of the liturgy, to help the faithful seek to be sanctified.
$ Acknowledging the Woman. Regarding the angel=s address to Mary, retaining the use of the noun Awoman@ makes better sense than dropping it.
Yes, it is quite true that the Greek (and Slavonic) word for Afull@ is an adjective and that no noun Awoman@ is present in the text. And there is at least one other English translation of a hymn with these words that omits the word Awoman.@ However, the text of March 25, 2005, is the irmos of the Feast of the Annunciation, and as such there is a greater significance to how it is rendered into English, for it should be particularly close to the biblical text of Luke. This is not merely a historical nicety: The faithful are reenacting the Angel=s words, and it is proper to provide those words as closely as reasonable to the original. Besides, although Luke=s Greek adjective (also the Slavonic adjective) indicates feminine gender, Modern English nouns do not indicate grammatical gender. To translate literally, one would have to say ARejoice, [O Entity-designated-by-a-noun-of-feminine-gender] full of Grace.@ One reasonable translation is to supply the word Athou,@ as is done in this Irmos in at least one Russian Orthodox Church: ARejoice, thou who art full of grace.@ A different solution has been to supply the word Amaiden@: ARejoice, Maiden full of grace.@ Considering just this evidence, Awoman@ is certainly a reasonable translation to use in this Irmos.
Moreover, when the moment of salvation history is attentively noted, the reasons for retaining the word Awoman@ are seen to be much greater. The Angel=s salutation comes moments before Mary voices her obedience to God=s will and then, by the Holy Spirit, conceives the effable Word of God. Because the Angel addresses her, not by name, but in language calling attention to her womanhood, his words highlight the fact that it was in fact a woman who was the means of the Incarnation.
Within the full scope of salvation history, the importance of Mary=s being a woman is greater. The Angel=s address to Mary without naming her, but identifying her as female, evokes, as the Fathers noted, the fact that the opening chapters of Genesis refer to Eve simply as Awoman@ until after the Fall. Patristic and Byzantine discussions contrast Eve and Mary, often referring to each as Awoman,@ in a manner which, I suggest, directs attention to what Pope John Paul II of blessed memory called the Aiconic@ nature of the female sex. The Fourth Sticheron for Great Compline before the Feast of the Nativity is a meditation based on these contrasts of the two women. Mary as the New Eve continues to be recognized as important in the Church, most notably in Municentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII. Given this rich theological tradition of identifying Mary as Awoman@ at the Annunciation, then, it is best to include AWoman@ in the words of the Angel in the irmos of the Annunciation.
Finally, at the start of the third millennium, when understanding and respecting women=s capacities and contributions has a new urgency, it is important to honor the Theotokos as a woman. She is a model for every human being, male and female, in faith and obedience to the will of God. At the same time, as a woman, she is a particular inspiration to women. The words of the Angel are a text that the Church ought not to make artificially generic.
Indeed, it is ironic that the materials of March 25, 2005, which seek to show respect for women by using Ahumanity@ instead of Aman,@ also remove the word AWoman@ from the irmos of the Annunciation.
The Apostichera of Joseph of Arimathea also hold many verbal changes. The vivid Atorn asunder@ is replaced by Atorn in two.@ ABehold@ and Abeseech@ are avoided like dirty words. Surprisingly, the simple words Adeath@ and Abody@ are less frequent in the new translation: Christians adore the incarnate Christ, and when is it more fitting to mention his death and his lifeless body than on Great and Holy Friday? The old version had used a sustained high note for Abody@ where the new version lacks the word. AGrace@ and Agracious@ are words that belong to the faithful through the ages, and it is wrong to expunge them from our authentic worship. Is Acompassionate@ really a better translation than Agracious@? Musically, the conclusion of the full set of Apostichera is so much better in the prior version.
The procession with the shroud is accompanied by Troparion. AThe noble Joseph...@ was superior in the prior version. That version had a more regular rhythm, suitable for processing. It also musically emphasizes the body of Christ (and in this it follows the Slavonic better than the 2005 version). For logical order, the 1976 version is better: one anoints a body BEFORE covering it in cloth. In the 2005 version of this song, as in so much else, the changes of text and music seem unneeded and pointlessly distracting.
The final troparion=s doxology in the 2005 version (p. 59) conforms to the melodic ending used throughout the processional kontakion. In itself that is lovely, but it does mean that every line in the troparion and kontakion ends identically. I suspect the simpler setting (1976 version, p. 38) was more effective in giving a clear end to the procession, by being musically different.
It is silly to avoid the word Areveal@ (1976 version, p. 38) and substitute Ashow@ (2005, p. 59).
Dismissal. Up until now, the congregation=s response during the Dismissal B
the doxology and, immediately, the people=s call for the final blessingB has
been a coherent musical line that still respected the fact that two different
actions are occurring. That is, the Doxology has been sung on a sustained A,
a sustained G, back to sustained A, and then a new pitch, B, is used for the
request to the celebrant, with this request resolving to A. Everyone at every
liturgy for years and years has sung this. Yet even this simple line has been
tinkered with in the 2005 version, and ineptly. The change disregards the fact
that liturgically the doxology is DIFFERENT from the address to the celebrant.
In the 2005 version (p. 61) the whole passage alternates between A and G.
This musical resetting of the dismissal is not a minor change: It would be difficult to effect, because it is would be like requiring people to pronounce AAmen@ differently. The faithful know such things by heart. It good that they know them by heart.
More importantly, the change in the dismissal on March 25, 2005, is like the numerous changes introduced into the Roman Rite in America in recent decades: These changes minimize the reality of blessing. This is not a minor point. In every liturgy of every rite, the celebrant and the faithful exchange blessings. These blessings are real bestowals of grace. Our sung Divine Liturgy shows the reality of these blessings better than the spoken, pruned verbal versions in the Roman Rite today. It is significant that in many Roman parishes, even the priest has forgotten that the exchange of blessing is real and important, so that after the initial exchange of blessings the celebrant often interjects AGood morning!@ and the people are expected to reply AGood morning!@ On March 25, 2005, the musical setting of the dismissal showed just such a failure to recognize the reality of blessing, and the importance of the role of the faithful in the liturgy.
In the entire liturgy of March 25, 2005, not one page, indeed scarcely one line of music or text is free of change. If revision of the entire worship of the faithful, every service, year-round, were to be changed so relentlessly, the faithful would bear the burden of implementing enormous changes. The time of transition would be long indeed. Please consider whether there are any valid grounds for this. Theologically, musically, poetically, the materials that are superior are the ones already in the parishes, already familiar, already known by heart by many and inspiring to visitors.
The determining musical principle of the new version seems to be, Make it Different. Unfortunately, the version of March 25, 2005, is not different, good music, but different, poor music.
Completed April 28, 2005
Feast of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, M.D. (I 1962)
And of SS. Jason and Sosipator, apostles,
disciples of S. Paul (I 69)
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