Divine Liturgy in Constantinople

I am right now watching the end of the Divine Liturgy of the Ecumenical Patriarch as Pope Benedict attends. The liturgy has ended and the Patriach is giving an address. My (spoken) Greek is a little rusty. But so far the Patriarch has spoken about the Divine Liturgy and made reference to the Latin adage Lex orandi lex credendi. He is also talking about the relics of St. John Chysostom and St. Gregory Nazianzen which Pope John Paul II gave back to the Patriarch (in part). Benedict is sure to speak about these relics.

I have a couple impressions.

First, looking at the way they celebrate their liturgy, and the way this fellow Bartholomew is tricked out, I suspect that he is not going to rush to say that Benedict is his boss.

Second, I will repeat what I have said for a long time now. If the Latin Church doesn’t fix its liturgy and reclaim the solemnity we onc e had, I have a hard time imagining how much farther we can go in real ecumenical dialogue. The Solemn High Mass of the so-called "Tridentine" use is certainly at the same level of grandeur as the Divine Liturgy, but with the cleaner and more concise style of the Latin use.

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12 Responses to Divine Liturgy in Constantinople

  1. Brian says:

    Father,

    As usual, you are on the mark. I wonder how often Cardinal Kasper has brought up the liturgical elements in our ecumenical endeavors with the East?

    Here is an expanded article on this topic for those who may be interested.

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/060629

  2. Demerzel says:

    Well Divine Liturgy almost makes a Classical Roman Rite Pontifical High Mass look like a walk in the park. Very interesting, the Easterns are teaching the Latins what liturgy actually is. In the face of the Divine Liturgy, the Missal of Paul VI just seems very alien. Is it just me, or should the Holy Father have brought along every single Bishop opposed to the expansion of the Tridentine Indult?

  3. Demerzel: I don’t agree. The classical Pontifical Mass of the Latin Church compares very favorably with the Eastern Divine Liturgy in its highest forms. The Pontifical Mass, which is sung, expresses the genius of the Latin Church, expressed with greater concision and with cleaner lines, as it were. I think we must also admit that the Novus Ordo really hasn’t been implemented properly either, so we don’t know what can be done with it yet, except in a few places.

  4. Demerzel says:

    Sorry Fr, I think I should clarify what I wrote. In terms of beauty and depth both the Divine Liturgy and the Mass in the Classical Roman Rite are comparable. The both very clearly express the lex orandi and lex credendi of both lungs of the Church. I was however thinking of the prevailing idea that the need to simplify the liturgy and bring it down to the lowest common denominator and that the Classical Roman Rite should be consigned to the history books because it is too complicated, too long-winded, too difficult to understand, too difficult to participate in etc. Watching the Divine Liturgy, the a Classical Roman Rite Mass in comparison is ‘militaristically ‘ short and sharp. And when comparing the Novus Ordo in Latin with Gregorian Chant celebrated ad orientum with the Divine Liturgy, it just seems too short.

  5. Fr Peter says:

    Although I have not seen the liturgy yet, I have been reading the comments on the various blogs. In usual Greek style some of the liturgy was cut out. The Greeks tend to shorten the liturgy by removing some of the litanies and other such items. One blogger refered to today’s liturgy as the orthodox novus ordo. This has been my expereince. The Liturgy of Chrysostom as well as Basil is a beautiful liturgy if done completely. I agree with you father about the way Bartholomew is tricked out. Try wearing all of that stuff in July and a non air conditioned church. I loose about five pounds during each liturgy in the summer.

  6. RBrown says:


    Second, I will repeat what I have said for a long time now. If the Latin Church doesn’t fix its liturgy and reclaim the solemnity we onc e had, I have a hard time imagining how much farther we can go in real ecumenical dialogue. The Solemn High Mass of the so-called “Tridentine” use is certainly at the same level of grandeur as the Divine Liturgy, but with the cleaner and more concise style of the Latin use.

    The liturgical changes under Paul VI encouraged ecumenism with the Protestants but have undermined ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Churches.

    Let’s face it, the Anglicans/Episcopalians who became Catholics were influenced more by the Anglican/Episcopalian move toward clergy who were women or homosexuals than they were by the ARCIC documents.

  7. ignorant redneck says:

    If I ever leave the Church of Rome, it will be because the liturgies I find, as celebrated as opposed to written about, will have become so horizontal that I canot be certain they are valid.

    This isn’t saying the current Mass is invalid–far from it. But I can’t help but wonder if, when the “presider” obviously rejects Transubstanciation, he has the intent of confecting the sacrament in accordance with Christs intentions. Further, it seems to me that many liturgies are so far divirced from the norms and intent of the Church as to be defacto Schizmatic.

    If the Orthodox are the other lung of the Church, then perhaps it would be better to breath with it than a lung afflicted with pneumonia!

    In fact, if I lived in LA I would only attend Mass in an Eastern Rite Parish, or an orthodox Church!

  8. Father, Brilliant insight on the great need to fix liturgical practice. I enjoy the ancient eastern liturgy, but I prefer the nobility of the Traditional Mass.

  9. Ben D. says:

    But I can’t help but wonder if, when the “presider” obviously rejects Transubstanciation, he has the intent of confecting the sacrament in accordance with Christs intentions.

    ignorant redneck,

    If I read St. Thomas Aquinas rightly, he doesn’t think the priest’s views on transubstantiation matter as long as he uses the form given by the Church. See particularly the reply to objection 2 of article 8, and even more so, the reply to objection 1 of article 9 (just scroll down for article 9).

    Summa Theologiae, Third Part, article 8 of question 64

    Or in Latin for the brave and learned:

    STh III q.64 a.8

    Interestingly enough, the objection he’s arguing against in article 8 holds that the intention of the minister can’t matter, because there’s no way of knowing another man’s interior mental state — so then we would never know whether some sacraments were valid. He seems to say “yes, you’re partly right, but let’s understand what’s meant by intention before we get carried away”.

    And in article 9 he explicitly addresses the question of whether the minister’s faith is defective. In the reply to obj. 1 he goes further and looks into the case where the minister does not even believe in the very sacrament that he is administering:

    Unde, non obstante infidelitate, potest intendere facere id quod facit Ecclesia, licet existimet id nihil esse.

    Whence, his infidelity notwithstanding, he can intend to do that which the Church does, although he esteem it to be nothing.

  10. Ben D. says:

    I think the fundamental principles here are that the sacraments depend on God’s power, not man’s, and that they are dispensed not by individuals, but by the Church through individuals.

  11. RBrown says:

    Minimal intention is that the minister intend to do what the Church does.

  12. citizentim says:

    “Lex orandi, lex crecendi”

    Let’s nail that the front door of every Catholic Church in the world. The Roman Church desperately needs to relearn this maxim. I pray that the Traditional Mass will soon be restored to its rightful place as a legitimate, living liturgy of the Church. Ss. Pio V et X, ora pro nobis!