The Church in Fourth Century: from Constantine to Augustine
The Church in Fourth Century: from Constantine to Augustine Class #10: The Christian Calendar The Revolution in Christian The change Culture in the legal and social position of Christianity produced a mighty effect Now [Christian worship] came forth from its secrecy and must adapt itself to the higher classes and to the great mass of the people, A republican and democratic constitution
demands simple manners and customs; aristocracy and monarchy surround themselves with a formal etiquette and a brilliant court-life. The universal priesthood is closely connected with a simple cultus; the episcopal hierarchy, with a rich, imposing ceremonial. (Schaff) Sunday Before: strictly religious, voluntary, continually interrupted After: civil observance, ecclesiastically and legally supported 321 Law (Dies Solis) prohibiting manual labor, juridical transactions and military exercises
Constantines Christian successors: Expanded number of Christian holy days Added restrictions on observing Sundays Church councils in 4th c. increased duty/obligation to observance of Sundays & added fasting/prayer on Wednesdays and Fridays The Christian Year 2 c.: Christians observed two historic days: Easter a time of sorrow over the death of nd Jesus
Pentecost a time of rejoicing at Jesus resurrection/sending of the Holy Spirit Feast of the Epiphany soon added to celebrate the manifestation of Christ as Messiah giving way to Christmas, a celebration of the manifestation of Christ particularly to Gentiles 4th c.: 3 Christian festivals: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost Each with a season of preparation and an appropriate after-season The Feast of Christmas
360 AD - Liberius, Bishop of Rome, consecrated Marcella, sister of Ambrose, as the nun or bride of Christ, with the words: You see what multitudes are come to the birth-festival of your bridegroom. (indicating that the Christmas festival was already in practice in the west) 376 AD Christmas introduced in Constantinople 380 AD Christmas introduced in Antioch 430 AD Christmas introduced in Alexandria
The Feast of Christmas Probably an absorption of several pagan holidays celebrated in Rome in December: Saturnalia, Sigillaria, Juvenalia, and Brumalia. While the meaning of the feast was significantly different, much of the practice of celebrating was probably carried over. (Such borrowing would not have happened had the day been observed prior to the 4th c.) It was at the same time, moreover, the prevailing opinion of the church in the fourth and
fifth centuries, that Christ was actually born on the twenty-fifth of December; and Chrysostom appeals, in behalf of this view, to the date of the registration under Quirinus (Cyrenius), preserved in the Roman archives. (Schaff) The Feast of Easter Oldest and greatest annual festival 325 AD Quadragesima 40 days of repentance and fasting (Ash Wednesday not begun until 6th c.) During the days preceding the beginning
of Lent, the populace gave themselves up to unrestrained merriment, and this abuse afterward became legitimized in all Catholic countries, especially in Italy, in the Carnival replacing the Roman feasts of Saturnalia, Lupercalia, and Floralia. (Schaff) A Festive Faith 4 c.: 3 Christian festivals: Christmas, Easter Pentecost Each with a season of preparation and an th appropriate after-season 4th-6th c saw an increase in such festivals to fill the calendar year
Many of these were local, cultural and traditional Others were celebrated empire-wide Festivals for Saints Each saint was given a day of the year Typically the day of his death/martyrdom (birth-day) or other significant event in his life Ceremonial observances A memorial oration Exercises of divine worship More & more unrestrained amusements by the people
Festivals for Saints Feast of the Apostles Peter & Paul, June 29 th (4th c) Feast of the See of Peter January 18 in Antioch February 22 in Rome Chains of Peter Festival Festivals to coincide with the birth of Christ: Feast of Stephen, Dec. 26 (5 c) Feast of John, Dec. 27
th nd th th th Festivals for Saints Festival of John the Baptist Celebrated on the occasion of his birth (rather than death)
June 24 th , 6 months prior to the birth of Jesus Signifying the close of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New: He must increase but I must decrease (Jn. 3:30) Feast of the beheading of John, Aug. 29th Festivals for
Saints and Angels All Saints Feast after 4 c Feast of the Archangel Michael Sept. th 29th (5th c) Representative of the church triumphant Connected rumors/tales of Michaels various appearings Worship of angels grew right along with the worship of Mary and the saints
Festivals in Honor of Mary At first, Mary was saluted during the festivals given for Christ: birth, resurrection and ascension. But soon, festivals dedicated to the honor and adoration of the Virgin became not only prevalent but numerous. [The] mythical and fantastic, and almost pagan and idolatrous Mariology impressed itself on the public cultus celebrating the most important facts and fictions of the life of the Virgin . (Schaff) Festivals in Honor of Mary
Annunciation announcement by Gabriel to Mary, March 25th, 9 mo.s prior to Christmas (5th c) Purification (Candlemas) 40 days after Jesus birth, February 2nd (5th c) Ascension/Assumption of Mary August 15th (6th c) Festivals in Honor of Mary The entire silence of the apostles and the primitive church teachers respecting the departure of Mary stirred idle curiosity to all sorts of inventions, until a translation like Enochs and Elijahs was attributed to her. Two apocryphal Greek writings of the end
of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, contain a legend that the soul of the mother of God was transported to the heavenly paradise by Christ and His angels in presence of all the apostles, and on the following morning her body also was translated thither on a cloud and there united with the soul. Subsequently the legend was still further embellished, and, besides the apostles, the angels and patriarchs also, even Adam and Eve, were made witnesses of the wonderful spectacle. (Schaff) Festivals in Honor of Mary Nativity of Mary 7 th
c Presentation of Mary 9 Visitation of Mary - 13 th th c c Immaculate Conception 19
th c The Christian Year This multiplication of festivals has at bottom the true thought, that the whole life of the Christian should be one unbroken spiritual festivity. But the Romish calendar of saints anticipates an ideal condition, and corrupts the truth by exaggeration, as the Pharisees made the word of God of none effect by their additions. The Christian Year
It obliterates the necessary distinction between Sunday and the six days of labor, to the prejudice of the former, and plays into the hands of idleness. And finally, it rests in great part upon uncertain legends and fantastic myths, which in some cases even eclipse the miracles of the gospel history, and nourish the grossest superstition. (Schaff) The Christian Year Abuse by way of sensual, superstitious indulgence was almost immediate. Such things we will leave to the Greeks, who
worship their gods with the belly; but we, who adore the eternal Word, will find our only satisfaction in the word and the divine law, and in the contemplation of the holy object of our feast. Gregory of Nazianzus The Christian Year By the 6th c., the church embraced the Christianizing of pagan feasting forms which contributed to the paganizing of Christianity in the Middle Ages. New Covenant Presbyterian Church
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