Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Latinizations Revisited

Tomorrow is the feast of Corpus Christi, one of the great feasts and octaves of the Church year in the Roman rite. It is also, in some Eastern Catholic Churches, the feast of the "Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

This brings up a self-critical question for the Eastern Catholic Churches: what is Latinization and what is a genuine contribution from the Latin Church to the Church Catholic? Use of hosts as altar bread, episcopal gloves, side altars, spoken "low" Liturgies, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Filioque in the Greek version of the Creed are all Latinizations that the Byzantine Churches and most of the other Eastern Catholic Churches (except the Maronites) have eliminated, having longed viewed them as extrinsic to their tradition. Other pieces of Western influence, such as the March 19 feast of St. Joseph and the feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ have been retained because particularly Eastern communities enjoy celebrating these feasts. One Byzantine priest I knew, very anti-Latin in his theology, liked the feast of the Body and Blood because of its texts and because it celebrates something obscured during the greater events of Great Week. In Eastern settings these feasts do not approach the weight they carry in the Latin Church, but parishes will often celebrate these feasts with a Divine Liturgy if they fall on a weekday.

As an aside, Latinizations seem to have been more prevalent in the United States than in the Eastern Churches' home patriarchates. The Melkite bishops in the United States were wearing chasubles, episcopal gloves, and holding adoration while their counterparts in Lebanon never stopped practicing the Greek tradition.

All this requires some further thought....

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