The Origin and Development of the Christian Liturgy According to Cultural Epochs Political, Cultural, And Ecclesial Backgrounds, History of the Liturgy - Complete 5 Volume Set by Attila Mikloshazy (Edwin Mellen Press)
The Second Vatican Council solemnly proclaimed: "Liturgy is the summit toward which the action of the church is directed and it is the source from where all her energy surges" (SC.10) It follows that there is no more noble service to the Christian community than to promote her progress toward this spiritual summit and to assist her to let this energy keep flowing.
Attila Mikloshazy has rendered such service to the church throughout his long career of teaching, preaching, and celebrating the liturgy in many parts of the earth — from the rising of the sun to its setting. The best fruit of his spiritual and intellectual activity is invisible to us: it lives on in the minds and hearts of his students, hearers, and partners in worship. In this book, however, he makes a part of his learning and reflections accessible to the public: it is an extensive documentation in five volumes of how in the course of history Christian communities kept incorporating the elements of human culture into their "sacrifice of praise" offered to God. They followed the counsel of St. Paul: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is love, whatever is gracious (Phil. 4:8) ought to be brought before God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (cf. Phil. 4:6). There is the dynamics of incarnation.
His "history" not only helps us to know our past, but it carries also a powerful message for the future. For the church to reach the summit in her own spiritual life and to bring God's energy to all nations, it is necessary to do both — to feed from the riches of Christ's revelation and to reach out for what is honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious in all cultures. In the Christian community, the divine praise is the highest when in it grace and nature blend. This will be the enduring teaching of these volumes.
This book is not the result of original research, but rather a collection of data according to certain leading ideas for the use of those interested in liturgy. The author wrote it first of all for students of liturgy, seminarians and lay people, and certainly to priests who want to know what they do and why, when they celebrate the Christian liturgy. In other words, rather than an original work, it is a collection, compendium and thesaurus of liturgical data from the origin and of development of Christian worship.
Before we begin to investigate or study the history of liturgical expressions, we ought to know something about the theology of the liturgy, which the author tried to summarize in his book: "Benedicamus Domino! The theological foundation of the liturgical renewal," (Ottawa, Novalis, 2001). Liturgy is the mysterious cooperation of divine and human actions. Throughout salvation-history, God reveals himself in manifold ways, symbols and actions. From the human part, liturgy requires to be the external expression of our inner, religious, spiritual experiences, which ought to be based on sound theology. The expressions change with times and cultures, though the essence must remain the same. In order to discern what is changeable and what is not, one ought to know the history of the rituals, texts, and symbols. These are much influenced by the contemporary culture, since liturgy is one of the most noblest forms of any culture. It is well known that any art (architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, music, etc.) takes its origin from the expression of religious experiences. Thus, any cultural change modifies and affects liturgical expressions as well. (Here I must admit that I received this idea to classify
the liturgy according to cultural epochs from the book of A.L.Mayer, Die Liturgie in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgemeinschaft, 1971).
The culture of an age, of course, depends much on the political situation, therefore it should be located within that political framework. The liturgy by its nature being an activity of the Church, the life of the Church ought to be also known in its ups and downs. Consequently, each chapter contains four sections: the political background, the cultural background, the life of the Church (Church history), and finally the detailed development, reforms and appearances of liturgical rites.
So we begin our study with the antecedents of Christian liturgy, with a brief introduction to the general phenomenological aspects of worship in any religion, even primitive ones, followed by the Greco-Roman cultural milieu of early Christianity, and then the Jewish background from which the Christian religion grew organically, though with the determining factor of the Incarnate Christ and his plan for the Church, which continues his saving work. The Jewish liturgy, especially the synagogue liturgy, is treated quite extensively, giving many texts as well, though not claiming any critical judgment as to their dating or origin. Yet, we thought it essential to become more familiar with the Jewish spirituality expressed in these prayers, even if it reflects the current Jewish usage and not necessarily the early Jewish liturgy of the time of Christ. The texts of the prayers were taken mostly from the Jewish Prayer Book for Weekday, Sabbath and Festival, edited by Ben Zion Bokser (New York, Hebrew Publishing Co., 1961).
The second chapter deals with the writings of the New Testament, which provides us with a wide range of data regarding the elements of the Christian liturgy. Most of these elements were taken from J.M.Nielen's book: Gebet and Gottesdienst im Neuen Testament, (Freiburg, Herder, 1937), and some from R.Brown's book:
Priest and Bishop, (Paulist Press, 1970). The first three centuries of Christianity under persecution manifest a wide spectrum of liturgical styles, which developed around the large cities, where saintly bishops exercised their apostolic function with deep theological acumen, and produced liturgies which were the same in essence, yet provided quite a bit of local variations.
These variations became more pronounced and organized in the fourth century, when Eastern and Western Christianity were somewhat divided by Constantine, and produced the "Eastern and Western Liturgies". So the fourth chapter gives a brief overview of the different Eastern and Western rites, which mirror the situation of today, rather than the fourth century division, yet whose roots go far back in history.
From this point forward the chapters deal mostly with the development of the Western liturgy, and even more specifically of the Roman Liturgy, though other Western liturgies and also some Eastern liturgies are occasionally taken into consideration. We do not however attempt to make comparisons among the different branches of liturgy, nor make any judgement about their structures and languages. We want simply to remark again, that unfortunately in the West we do not know sufficiently the extremely rich treasury of the Oriental Liturgy, which would considerably enhance our liturgical spirituality in the West.
The Golden Age of the Roman Liturgy was the time of the Church Fathers, who produced, commented and propagated it in the Early Middle Ages, which still had the classical Greco-Roman culture. Much of the Roman liturgy had its roots in this period, and so the fifth chapter is quite extensive. (Most of the material in this chapter I owe to M. Righetti's four volumes of Manuale di Storia Liturgica, Milano, Ancora, 1945-66; and to C.Vogel's Medieval Liturgy, Washington, Pastoral Press, 1986).
The following Dark Ages, or the Romanesque Age, manifest a certain decadence liturgically, yet the monastic culture preserved and even somewhat promoted the precious heritage of the past centuries (sixth chapter). It is interesting to note that a liturgically flourishing epoch is usually followed by a rather confused and decadent age in the church, which is mostly manifested in the decline of missionary zeal and religious life, as well as in liturgical aberrations. Then again, the Church renews itself and a new age comes, which shows healthy improvement and progression.
Thus, in the High Middle Ages the Gothic spirit reached a renewed church life and the liturgy. Chapter Seven deals with these developments and outlines the foundations of the "modern Roman liturgy", with considerable additions.
The Renaissance period, which followed, again produced magnificent art works but also liturgical abuses, in spite of the healthy critiques of the Humanists (Chapter Eight).
No wonder that the Reformation period attempted to correct these mistakes, though in a radical and often unwise way. The Church reacted to it with its counter-Reformation and the triumphalist Baroque style in art and liturgy (Chapter Nine).
The Baroque ebullience produced its own positive and negative developments, and therefore the following Age of Reason and Enlightenment attempted to curb it, once again in an unwise and radical way. Its rationalist reforms failed, yet somehow foreshadowed future reforms in the liturgy (Chapter Ten).|/p>
The cool and sober Neo-Classicist style suited perhaps well the spirit of the French Revolution, but later, the reaction of the Restoration and Romanticism brought back the forbidden emotions in the nineteenth century, and created a flourishing life in the church, yet not much happened in the field of liturgy, except in an isolated and scientific way (Chapter Eleven).
Finally, the twentieth century arrived with its pluralistic culture of confusion in literature and art, and eventually also in liturgy. There is no longer a unified cultural trend in the Western world. Globalization created manifold cultures in every country, even in every city where the immigrant population brought their sub-cultures with them, (Chapter Twelve). Now the church tries to inculturate its liturgy to a congregation, which consists of so many different cultures and national characteristics, that the unity of the Christian liturgy is endangered. That is the situation today and the task for the Church is to deal with this problem: creating community and unity in diversity, and meanwhile distinguishing the permanent essential elements from the changeable, historically conditioned ones.
Of course, this problem does not touch only the Catholic Church. Though we outlined briefly the attempt of the Reformers in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries, we did not follow up their further reforms, nor did we mention their serious reforms in our ecumenical age, which in the field of liturgy produced significant results.
The present book consciously omitted the many footnote references to the sources of the texts, yet it tried to give in certain more important places the bibliographies to the pertinent section. The extensive bibliography, divided according to cultural epochs, gives a more complete, though not exhaustive list of past and current publications, which can be consulted by those who want more knowledge on a specific topic.
As we said before, this book is primarily for the use of
those, priests and laypeople, who want to know how the present
Christian liturgy has arrived at the point where it is today. At the
same time, it also gives a broader view with its political,
cultural, and church history of each epoch. The sad experience of
ignoring past history by many people today prompted the author to
provide these backgrounds before treating the real purpose of this
book: the origin and development of the Christian liturgy throughout
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