Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'We Don't Split Up the Church' - OLiC

In listening to the Our Life in Christ Archives, I'm up to a bajillion nine part series on the Divine Liturgy. They take you through the *entire* thing. Things that happen *before* people start to arrive for the 10 am service. They start with the priest vesting, and go (so they say, I haven't finished the series yet - I'm only up to part four) through the entire thing.

Anyway, an interesting thing that they sort of mentioned, in passing, was that there is only one Divine Liturgy celebrated per day in a given church.

They didn't really go into any sort of detail as to the reasoning, just that 'we don't split up the church'. I've been thinking about this, and I'm trying to find out more information about the reasoning.

But, just from a practical point of view:

In the Catholic church, on Sunday, there are three to four Masses celebrated. (For smaller communities, this may not hold true) And, since the late Saturday Mass 'counts' for Sunday, I guess there're four to five services a person can attend that meet their Sunday obligation. Judging solely from my own parish, having only one Mass on Sunday wouldn't work.

There's just no way to fit everyone into the building. Maybe, *maybe*, on the 'off' season, but when the snowbirds come down? It'd be impossible.

I mean, I kind of *like* the whole, 'there is no early service, no late service, no charismatic service, only the Divine Liturgy' mentality. And, certainly, Orthodox churches don't have (that I'm aware of) problems - I assume that they build their spaces large enough for their needs, knowing that everyone will be there at once.

But, let's just imagine, for a second. Imagine that the Schism is healed, and (theoretically) Rome realizes it's been wrong this whole time and moves back toward the historic (Orthodox) way. Do they have to drop all the 'extra' Masses? Or is that a 'Western rite' tradition that could be kept? I suppose it really does depend on the actual reasoning behind having only one Divine Liturgy a day.

Priests are already limited as to how many Masses they can perform in one day - a priest can only perform Mass twice in a single day. And before anyone asks, I don't really know why that is either. I *think* it might have to do with the fact that a person is not allowed to receive (in the Catholic church) Communion more than twice a day, and at every Mass he performs, a priest takes Communion. So...*hand wavey*. It's one of those things I just learned the 'rule' for, and the reasoning behind it didn't really matter.

These are thoughts I think when I'm sleep deprived.

EDIT: Okay, so this is a possible, plausible, sense-making reason for one Divine Liturgy per day: "The Divine Liturgy can be celebrated only by a Bishop or a Priest, and neither can celebrate more than one Liturgy in one day. This is because they must partake of the Holy Gifts, having, of necessity, prepared themselves beforehand by fasting, prayer, etc. [If the Holy Gifts would be consumed before another Liturgy, the fast would therefore be broken!]" This answer is from here. Pardon me whilst I go 'duh' at myself. Also, in a related theme, this isn't a barrier to multiple Masses being performed by a priest in the Catholic church because the fast prior to Communion is only an hour. So, Fr. A celebrates the 7am Mass, Fr. P the 9am, then Fr. A can celebrate the 10:45 Mass, and Fr. P can do the 12:15 Mass.


  1. Oooo interesting. Orthodox is fascinating. I love how rich in tradition it is.

    Do tell us if you ever find out the reasoning for 1 mass.

  2. LK,

    I know. It's...kind of amazing to me, actually.

    I edited the post to include an answer I found.

    Basically, the Orthodox fast is from Midnight on, so once the priest celebrates Divine Liturgy, he receives, and has broken his fast. Therefore, it's impossible for one priest to celebrate two Divine Liturgies in one day. And, afaik, it's not common to have more than one priest at a church in the Orthodox tradition. Unlike Catholicism, where most seem to have at least two priests per parish.

  3. Oh yeah I remember the fasting thing! That was still done in Catholic churches when I was little...not anymore. A lot of wonderful traditions and ceremony are not done anymore :(

    I miss them. And the Easter hats, little girls dont seem to wear those any more LOL.

  4. LK,

    Huh? The fast is still a requirement before receiving Communion. A person is not supposed to eat or drink anything other than water for one hour (at least) prior to Communion. Of course, exceptions are made for health reasons. The fast has been reduced - I believe it used to be like the Orthodox fast, and then gradually was reduced down until just the hour it is now.

  5. Well then, no one I know actually does that and they forgot to teach us that one in 2nd grade lol I totally believe you though.

    Yeah I have a feeling a lot of people don't know what it is they are suppose to do.

  6. LK,

    I really wish I could say I was surprised, but I know better! :) Sad, very, very sad.


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