Monday, March 28, 2016
The church's two Easters
Seeing "Christ is risen!" "Indeed he is risen!" online now, I understand the bind American Eastern Catholics are in; the push and pull of being in sync with most Christians vs. with most other Eastern Christians, part of the unnecessary pain of schism. Before the '50s, all Eastern Catholics used the traditional Eastern dates. Ruthenians in America changed about 10 years before Vatican II. Most born Greek Catholics I've known don't give it a second thought; they love mother church and do what she says. (Remembering the 70th anniversary of the pseudo-council of L'viv with which the Soviets outlawed the Ukrainian Catholic Church; ordered to leave the church, all of Eastern Europe's Greek Catholic bishops and many of the priests and laity refused. With the Prague Spring in 1968, almost all of eastern Slovakia returned to the church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church in its homeland resurfaced from the underground with the collapse of the USSR.) The only people who fret are the converts understandably in love with the Byzantine Rite (its beauty being the result of the Roman Empire becoming entirely Catholic). The calendar is not de fide (also, a big minority of Orthodox use the Gregorian calendar for fixed-date feasts such as Christmas) so the church says two Easters and two fixed-date calendars are fine! But the only reason for the different Orthodox date for Easter is the same reason England didn't adopt the Gregorian calendar at first: spite Rome! They use the old, increasingly inaccurate Julian charts to get their Easter date while the rest of Christendom uses accurate astronomy. In person I use those greetings after the Orthodox date, in Slavonic, which I somewhat know ("Христосъ воскресе!" "Воистинну воскресе!"), with a parishioner who grew up Ukrainian Catholic (another was born Greek Orthodox but culturally is entirely Roman Rite), and in Greek ("Χριστός ἀνέστη!") with the Greek immigrants in my town who make the best spaghetti sauce here, Christos and his crew; also the good folks at the Olympic Diner in Clifton Heights and the Olympic Flame boardwalk diner in Wildwood if I'm there in the spring (classic-car show). Nothing beats a whole diner kitchen yelling back "Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!" My little part in someday bringing these often maligned estranged Catholics home.