“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Orthodox Easter: Different Date, Same Meaning

Easter has been given different dates, but “in reality there is no difference” between the feast celebrated by Catholics and by Orthodox, says a director of religious literature.

Easter has been given different dates, but “in reality there is no difference” between the feast celebrated by Catholics and by Orthodox, says a director of religious literature.

Following the Julian calendar, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow celebrated Easter on Sunday, as did other Orthodox Churches, as opposed to the Church of the Latin rite, which celebrated Easter the previous Sunday, as established by the Gregorian calendar.

“Easter cannot be Catholic or Orthodox — it is Christ’s Easter,” said Orthodox priest Giorgio Chistyakov, director of religious literature of Russia’s State Library of Foreign Literature.

“Christ rose from the dead, and when Christians began to celebrate Easter, the Church was one; there was no divergence between East and West,” Father Chistyakov added. “It was another matter when different rites appeared later. That is why today the difference lies only in the way of celebrating it.

“The Byzantine rite took shape around the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In it, for example, there are prayers sung consecutively that make up a very special part of the Mass. However, the essence of the celebration is the same.”

The Orthodox priest continued: “The ancient songs of exaltation are a part of the Office that was kept only in the Western rite. In principle, it is thought that the latter were also found in the Eastern, as is the case of the custom of baptizing during Easter, which is now preserved in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil in the West.”

A professor at Moscow’s St. Thomas Institute of Philosophy, Theology and History, Father Chistyakov explained to ZENIT that for the Orthodox, the celebration of Easter begins on Saturday night and combines with the liturgy on Sunday morning when all proclaim: “Jesus is risen!”

All disciples

“Here there are some differences in the rite,” the priest said. “However, it is necessary to point out that they do not minimize the fact that Easter is a common feast. For me it is very lovely to find the similarities between the Catholic and Orthodox rites, because it expresses that we are all disciples of Christ and descend from the same group of apostles who were at Jesus’ side.”

The intention with this is to manifest the joy that “Jesus is risen, truly risen!” and, in a certain way, it helps to change the widespread idea that the most important feast for Catholics is Christmas.

Father Chistyakov added that this confusion is not due to the Church “or to the rite or to believers, but rather to tradition.”

“At Christmas gifts are exchanged; it is very noisy,” he observed. “But the Easter triduum, namely, the three days before Easter, is the summit of the liturgical year, both for Orthodox as well as Catholics. It is the most important event that occurs during the year.

“It is precisely because of this that on Easter Sunday the Pope gives his message ‘urbi et orbi.’ In the Orthodox world, similarly, the patriarch sends an Easter message to the faithful.”

2016-10-24T07:29:32+00:00 April 26th, 2006|Categories: News|