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A Scientific Examination of the Orthodox Church Calendar

Ch. 9: Liturgical Havoc Wreaked by the "New Julian" Calendar

by Hieromonk Cassian

For the sake of liturgical order, there must be a connection between the movable and immovable cycles of the calendar, so that the combination of the one with the other is harmoniously attained. The Church Calendar successfully integrates the Menaion cycle with the Paschal cycle by synchronizing the lunar Jewish Calendar and the solar Julian Calendar. This harmonization, however, is impracticable using the "New Julian" Calendar, which is why the New Calendarists still use the Old Style (i.e., the Church Calendar) for the Paschal cycle; it is hopelessly insuperable for them to harmonize the New Calendar with the lunar cycles in any comprehensible fashion. Prima facie, the incorrect use of the Church Calendar by the New Calendarists goes unnoticed. It is, however, a plain and simple fact. They are inconsistent in their reform of the calendar, since for the immovable cycle they use the New Calendar, while for the movable cycle they use the Old Calendar. On the one hand, we can conclude from this that the "New Julian" Calendar is flawed at an essential level, since it is unable completely to fulfill the needs of ecclesiastical chronology. On the other hand, we can also conclude that the New Calendarists have either little understanding or little respect (or, more likely, both) for the nuances of time-reckoning, since in the most unsophisticated and artificial manner they have needlessly and harmfully complicated chronological computations by mechanically forcing two entirely different calendars together in their New Style services, with no Evangelical or real scientific justification for doing so. 160 Nowhere else do we encounter such a discrepancy, viz., the simultaneous use for the same purpose of two incompatible calendars. Has anyone, for example, ever tried to combine the Sothic Calendar with the Chinese Calendar? The notion is absurd. Moreover, if modernists were to apply the New Calendar to the movable cycle of Feasts as literally as they have for the immovable one, Pascha would have to be shifted by thirteen days—in which case it would always fall on a Monday, a canonical and liturgical violation so blatant that even modernists would find the idea laughable.

The Holy Orthodox Church has ordained that in every monastery and parish, someone is to be appointed the responsibility of preserving canonical order in the Divine Services. This individual is called the "Canonarch," and his main duty is to consider all aspects of the Divine Services in relationship to the demands made by the Typicon, so that liturgical observances are correctly celebrated. This task is considered extremely important, because the proper celebration of the Divine Services is a criterion of a God-pleasing life; accordingly, errors of negligence or disobedience in the Divine Services are considered to be grave sins meriting severe epitimia. In this regard, the arbitrary and uncalled-for intervention of the New Calendar is indefensible. The Typicon makes full provision for the various coincidences of immovable and movable Feasts, as well as the Fasts determined by them, stipulating an exact liturgical order with detailed instructions. Thus, in many ways, it is the most indispensable of service books; and yet, the New Calendarists have practically destroyed the Typicon. As an example, let us consider the fact that, following the "New Julian" Calendar, the Feast of the Annunciation can never take place during Great Week or coincide with Pascha. This latter occurrence, when Pascha falls on March 25 (Old Style), the Feast of the Annunciation, the Orthodox Church has celebrated from antiquity with special liturgical joy, calling it "Kyriopascha," "the Lord's Pascha" 161 (Figure 24 ). The New Calendarists thus deprive themselves of a uniquely Grace-filled liturgical event, and the same is true concerning many other Feasts. 162

An especially egregious violation perpetrated by the introduction of the New Calendar concerns the observance of the Apostles' Fast. The conclusion of this Fast is determined by the immovable cycle of Feasts, for it always ends on June 28 (Old Style), i.e., the day before the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul; its first day, however, is dependent upon the movable cycle of Feasts, for, while it always begins on the Monday after the Feast of All Saints (the First Sunday after Pentecost), this day can fall anywhere between May 18 (Old Style) and June 21 (Old Style), inclusively. Thus, the Holy Church has established that the Apostles' Fast should last from eight to forty-two days. For the New Calendarists, this Fast is either severely curtailed or entirely abolished. (See Addendum 1, "The Late Celebration of Pascha in 1983.") Those who violate the Fast in this way would do well to heed Canon 219 of the Nomocanon: "If any monastic, save for the case of illness, should fall into pride and violate the fasts established for common observance by the Church, and providing that he is in charge of his mental faculties, let him be anathema." What kind of person would knowingly invoke an anathema upon himself?

Many New Calendarists claim that an abrogation of the Typicon is not a sin, and especially not a serious one, because it is does not constitute a deviation from, or denial of, the dogmas of the Faith. Such an argument displays a glaring ignorance of a basic concept: that Holy Tradition is the essence of Orthodox Christianity. To trample on the Typicon, as if it were merely a human work devoid of Divine inspiration, is tantamount to an assault upon the very Church Herself, for the Typicon embodies Her liturgical life. New Calendarists refuse to acknowledge the indisputable fact that it is no more possible to divorce dogmatics from liturgics, without destroying the Faith, than it is to rip a man's soul from his body without killing him. In the words of Saint John Chrysostomos, the Orthodox Church is the "House of Wisdom," and if one member falls sick in this home, the whole household suffers. 163 To those who dismiss these warnings, we direct the sobering reply of the Lord Himself: "But if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." 164

We have repeatedly compared the calendar reform to the story of the Trojan horse. Let us reflect carefully on the similarities of this story with the introduction of the New Calendar into the Orthodox Church. The Greeks who were waging war upon the city of Troy hit upon a brilliant idea. They constructed a huge wooden horse which they presented as a gift to the Trojans. Unbeknownst to the Trojans, this wooden horse was hollow inside and hid a detachment of soldiers. Imagining their fortress to be impregnable and seeing no danger in a wooden horse, the Trojans wheeled it inside the city gates. That night, under cover of darkness, the soldiers hidden within emerged, threw open the city gates to their comrades waiting outside, and together they put the entire city to the sword. Likewise, the enemies of Christ have their own wooden horse in the New Calendar, which with feverish zeal they strive to implement throughout the Orthodox Church. This calendric Trojan  horse had hidden within itself a virulently anti-Orthodox spirit which, once the "Pan-Orthodox Congress" admitted it into the citadel of the Holy Church, unleashed a surprise attack on Orthodoxy. The New Calendar threw open the defensive gates of the Holy Canons, allowing the most destructive innovations to pour into the Church. These innovations now hammer away at Orthodox Christianity, and, if permitted to continue, will utterly demolish the faith in people's souls and cause the spiritual death of the world. This a much graver situation than that faced by the inhabitants of ancient Troy, for the Savior warns us, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell." 165 Thus, learning a valuable lesson from the story of the Trojan horse, let us cast away from us, well beyond the gates of the Holy Church, that incomparably more fearsome weapon of subversion, the New Calendar, which threatens the destruction of both body and soul.

Endnotes

132. St. Matthew 5:17.

133. [In contemporary practice, the Divine Liturgy of Saint James is celebrated only by certain local Orthodox Churches, on October 23, the Feast Day of this Apostle.—Eds.]

134. St. Luke 1:26.

135. Cf. ibid., 2:21.

136. Cf. ibid., v. 22.

137. Kontakion of the Nativity of Christ.

138. Apolytikion of the Annunciation.

139. Apolytikion of the Entrance into the Temple.

140. Kontakion of the Nativity of Saint John the Forerunner.

141. The length of the Gregorian year is 365 days, five hours, forty-eight minutes, and forty-six seconds, whereas the Julian year is 365 days and six hours. In other words, the latter is longer than the former by eleven minutes and fourteen seconds.

142. [Regarding the Orthodox commemoration of this particular figure, Saint Nicholas of Ochrid and Zhicha ( 1956) recounts the following noteworthy story. Once there was an Orthodox man in Belgrade married to a Papist wife. On the Orthodox Feast of Saint Elias, July 20 (Old Style), he forbade her to work; however, because his wife followed the Latin reckoning, she impertinently replied that Saint Elias' Day had already taken place two days (sic) earlier. Defiantly, she then proceeded to knead some dough, but instead of becoming bread, the dough turned into stone in her hands. Visiting Belgrade at the time was a certain Abbot Paisios of Jerusalem, whose monastery was dedicated to the Holy Prophet Elias. Taking a piece of this stone back with him to the Holy City, he placed it in front of an Icon of the monastery's Patron Saint as a testimony to the inspired character of the Orthodox Menaion (see Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ochrid, trans. Mother Maria, Vol. iii [Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1986], p. 87).—Eds.]

143. From the fourth century to the twentieth century, the "correction" of the Gregorian Calendar in relation to the Julian Calendar increased from one to thirteen days; by analogy, in centuries preceding the fourth, it would be necessary to introduce a negative "correction," because the vernal equinox would need to be moved backwards according to the Julian Calendar. Thus, for example, the New Calendarists should not celebrate the Nativity of Christ on December 25, but on December 23, a two-day "correction" in the opposite direction, since December 25 according to the Old Calendar, during the period of the first century b.c. through the first century a.d., would have corresponded to December 23 according to the New Calendar.

144. S. I. Seleshnikov, History of the Calendar and Chronology (1985 ), p. 174. [Oddly enough, this is something which the leader of the American Revolution shares in common with the leader of the Russian Revolution. George Washington (1732-1799) was born on February 11, 1731 (Old Style), at a time when the American colonies were still on the Old Calendar (see the chapter "History of the Calendar Reform of Pope Gregory XIII"). Thus, Washington's Birthday, a legal holiday throughout the United States, is officially given as February 22, 1732 (although it is formally observed on the third Monday of February, a concession to the American weakness for the "three-day weekend").—Eds.]

145. Tchaikovskii, Textbook of the Paschalion, p. 18.

146. [For an in-depth examination of this phenomenon, see Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, The Paschal Fire in Jerusalem: A Study of the Rite of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Berkeley, CA: St. John Chrysostom Press, 1993 ). A strikingly similar supernatural phenomenon also occurs annually on August 6 (Old Style), the Feast of the Transfiguration, at the Greek Monastery located on Mount Tabor; see an eyewitness account in T. and F. Markovtsy, "A Miracle on Mount Tabor," Orthodox Life, Vol. xliii, No. 5 (September-October 1993 ), pp. 17-18.—Eds.]

147. St. Luke 22:19.

148. Archimandrite Nahum, The Grace–Giving Fire at the Sepulchre of the Lord (Moscow: 1991), p. 39.

149. Paschal Stichera, Sticheron 1.

150. Paschal Canon, Ode 3, Troparion 1.

151. Paschal Canon, Ode 8, Irmos.

152. Paschal Stichera, Verse 4.

153. He later attended the Fourth Œcumenical Synod at Chalcedon (451).

154. J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, Vol. lviii, cols. 606-609. [This particular miracle and the miracle of Saint Elias' Day mentioned earlier are both events cited by Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain ( 1809), in his exposition of the Seventh Apostolic Canon, as evidence of the sacred character of the Church Calendar. Saint Nicodemos further cites another unusual example: "...[I]n the region of Heli[o]polis, Egypt, where the great pyramids are, God performs the following strange paradox every year, to wit: on the evening of our (not the Latins') Holy Thursday, the earth vomits old human relics and bones, which cover the ground of an extensive plain and which remain standing until the following Thursday of the Assumption (misnamed 'Ascension' by the Latins), and then they go into hiding, and no longer show themselves at all, until Holy Thursday comes again. This is no myth or fable, but is true and certain, having been verified by older and recent historians.... In fact, these human bones presage the future resurrection of the dead, just as the Prophet Ezekiel [ fl. 6th cen. b.c.] too saw them" (The Rudder, trans. D. Cum mings [Chicago: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957], pp. 10-11).—Eds.]

155. [For a full account of this miracle, with eyewitness accounts, see the "Appendix" in Papa–Nicholas Planas: The Simple Shepherd of the Simple Sheep (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1981), pp. 113-119.—Eds.]

.156 [Here is another one: "On Pascha, 1996, a dried and dead wreath of thorns, placed on a Cross with an Icon of the Crucified Christ that adorns the Chapel of the Hermitage of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, a small monastic community in Pyrgos, Greece, under the jurisdiction of...[Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili]..., began to sprout green leaves. This moving image of the life which we Orthodox Christians find even in death is a fitting testimony to the mystery of Christ's Pascha and His life-bestowing Death and Resurrection. Archimandrite Father Gregory, Superior of the Brotherhood in Pyrgos, reports that the wreath, unwatered and otherwise completely dry and dead, continues to this day to produce green leaves and evidence of life" (Orthodox Tradition, Vol. xiv, Nos. 2 & 3 [1997], p. 44).—Eds.]

.157 [One we should not neglect to mention is the appearance of Saint Elisseos the Prophet ( fl . 9th cen. b.c.) to the recently Glorified Saint Nicholas of Athens (1932). After the calendar reform of 1924, when those who maintained the Old Calendar were first being persecuted, Saint Nicholas wanted to serve the Feast of the Holy Prophet Elisseos in the Church dedicated to his name in Athens (it has since been demolished), but decided against it after considering the possible confrontations which might ensue; he arranged, therefore, to serve at the Church of Saint Spyridon in Mantouka instead. However, the next day, June 14 (Old Style), found Saint Nicholas in the Church of Saint Elisseos, serving the Divine Liturgy in honor of the Holy Prophet. In great perplexity, his spiritual children asked him why he had changed his mind, to which Saint Nicholas replied with his characteristic simplicity, "...[T]his morning I saw the Prophet and he told me to come here to serve and not to fear anything, because he will watch over me" (Papa–Nicholas Planas, op. cit., p. 54 ).—Eds.]

158. [Further examples include two contemporary Saints who both reposed on the Feast of the Annunciation according to the Old Calendar. The first is Saint Savvas the New ( 1948), who followed the Old Calendar during his many years on Mount Athos and in Jerusalem. However, he reposed in the Convent of All Saints on Kalymnos, a convent which out of obedience to the local Bishop had adopted the New Calendar. Nonetheless, when Saint Savvas reposed on April 7 (New Style), one of the nuns was granted a vision of his soul ascending to Heaven, in which she heard him chanting, "Announce, O earth, great joy"—a hymn for the Annunciation, a Feast which the Old Calendarists at that very time were celebrating (see Constantine Cavarnos, St. Savvas the New [Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1985], p. 78). The second is Saint Justin of Chelije ( 1979), who followed the Old Calendar throughout his life. Born on March 25, 1894 (Old Style), he was Baptized with the name "Blagoje" in honor of Blagovest, i.e., the Annunciation. Eighty-five years later, he reposed on March 25, 1979 (Old Style), the very same Feast Day (see Father Daniel Rogich, Serbian Patericon, Vol. i [Platina, ca: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994], pp. 247-248, 260). In addition, Saint Bede of Wearmouth-Jarrow ( 735), recounts a case in his History of the English Church and People which verifies the correctness of the movable cycle of the Church: Upon becoming Abbot of Iona, Saint Egbert ( 729) took great pains to convince his monks that they should abandon their longstanding Celtic version of Quarto-decimanism and instead adopt the universal Nicene Paschalion. Finally acquiescing to their spiritual Father's advice, the Brotherhood celebrated Pascha for the first time according to the Orthodox Paschalion on April 24, 729 (Old Style). Saint Egbert himself served the Paschal Liturgy—and reposed immediately thereafter. His monks recognized this as obvious sign that their decision was truly God-pleasing (see [Venerable] Bede, A History of the English Church and People, trans. Leo Sherley-Price (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1955), pp. 321-322).—Eds.]

159. [The life of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Lazarus of Serbia ( 1389) combines the phenomenon of a Saint appearing on his Feast Day with the phenomenon of a Saint reposing on the day of his Patronal Feast. The fateful Battle of Kosovo, when Saint Lazarus would meet his Martyric end, took place on Vidovdan, i.e., the Feast of the Holy Martyr Vitus of Lucania (ca. 303), June 15 (Old Style). This is also the date of the commemoration of the Holy Prophet Amos of Tekoa ( fl . 8th cen. b.c.), who was Saint Lazarus' Patron Saint. Out of his great piety, Saint Lazarus had dutifully celebrated the Service of the Cutting of the [Webmaster (as I have no Cyrillic font capability): Slava Kolach]—a unique and special commemoration observed by Serbian Orthodox in which bread and wine are blessed in honor of one's Patron Saint—the night before the battle. In return for his faithfulness, God sent two Heavenly messengers to comfort and to strengthen Saint Lazarus in anticipation of his upcoming ordeal: one was clad in white, while the other was clad in crimson. The Saint clad in white was an Angel who introduced Saint Lazarus to the other Saint: "...[T]his man in the garb of a martyr of the Church is my brother, the holy prophet Amos. He is your patron Saint, your Krsna slava, which you began to celebrate last night with bread and wine, but which today you celebrate with blood and death..." (Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, "The Tsar's Testament," in The Mystery and Meaning of the Battle of Kosovo, trans. the Right Rev. Todor Mika and the Rev. Stevan Scott [Grayslake, il: The Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada, 1989), p. 55).—Eds.]

160. [It is precisely this "jury-rigging" of the Orthodox Paschalion with the Gregorian Calendar by the New Calendarists—and not the faithful adherence of the Old Calendarists to the harmonious combination of the Orthodox Paschalion with the Julian Calendar—which has lead to a rupture of liturgical unity within the Orthodox Church today. As Archimandrite Cyprian of Fili explains, the New Calendar innovation has "deeply divided" the Orthodox: "1) One faction...observes the Patristic Calendar and the Paschalion of the Fathers; 2) another part observes the New Calendar and the Patristic Paschalion; 3 ) a third part observes the New Calendar and a new Paschalion (Finland and Estonia); and 4) a final part simultaneously observes the New and Patristic Calendars and the Paschalion of the Fathers!" (Archimandrite Cyprian Agiokyprianites, Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement [Etna, ca: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1997], pp. 63-64 ).—Eds.]

161. [One would imagine that this complete elimination of Kyriopascha from the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church would outrage patriotic Greeks, since it was precisely on the coincidence of the Feasts of the Annunciation and Pascha on March 25, 1821 (Old Style), that Greece challenged the Turkish Yoke—another miracle traditionally taken as a sign of Divine favor towards the Church Calendar. Kuriop‹sxa has also manifested its miraculous Grace to our own generation by its most recent occurrence in 1991; that was the year of the demise of Communism in Russia, a demise which, furthermore, was finalized by a last, desperate gasp in the form of an abortive Communist coup thwarted on August 6 (Old Style)—the Feast of the Transfiguration.—Eds.]

162. [The incongruous combination of the "New Julian" Calendar with the Nicene Paschalion actually obstructs the Grace which flows from the channels of the Divine Services by creating liturgically absurd situations. For example, March 9, the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, is always confined to the forty days of Great Lent when calculated according to the Church Calendar. In the hymns for this Feast, an obvious parallel is drawn between the Forty Martyrs and the forty days of the Fast: "O athletes of Christ, ye have rendered the most honorable Fast most radiant through the commemoration of your glorious suffering; for being forty in number, ye hallow the forty days of Lent, emulating the Savior's suffering in your own suffering for Christ..." (Doxasticon at the Praises). When celebrated according to the "New Julian" Calendar, however, March 9 sometimes falls before the forty days of Great Lent have commenced (as early as Tuesday of the Week of the Prodigal Son), thereby spoiling the Lenten spirit of the hymnography of the Feast of the Forty Holy Martyrs. A similar thing occurs with regard to the Feast of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer, April 23. When April 23 is observed according to the Church Calendar, it always falls within the Pentecostarion period (and in those instances when Pascha falls on April 23, 24, or 25, the Typicon transfers the Feast of Saint George to Bright Monday, i.e., one to three days later). The hymns to this universally venerated Great Martyr are therefore replete with Paschal imagery: "...A shining and Divine Resurrection hath sent us from the earth towards a Heavenly Pascha. At the same time, the bright memorial of the all-glorious Martyr George, that we celebrate in joy and light, shineth forth..." (Exaposteilarion for the Saint). However, April 23 according to the "New Julian" Calendar sometimes falls within Great Lent (as early as the Saturday of the Akathistos), leaving the dilemma of whether to chant the Divine Service with all of its Paschal imagery intact—even before Pascha has been celebrated—, or to transfer the Feast fourteen to sixteen days later to Bright Monday.—Eds.]

163. Cf. I Corinthians 12:26.

164. St. Matthew 18:17.

165. Ibid., 10:28.

From A Scientific Examination of the Orthodox Church Calendar, by Hieromonk Cassian, eds. Archbishop Chrysostomos and Hieromonk Gregory (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998), Ch. 9.