Liturgy does NOT mean Work of the People (Against Liturgical Pelagianism)

Examples of λειτουργία from the New Testament

It became quite stylish in the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 1970s to teach that the Greek word for liturgy is λειτουργία (leitourgia) and that this word means “work of the people.” This led to the new idea that λειτουργία or “liturgy” is something that lay people should be leading and even performing within the context of worship.

Does λειτουργία mean “work of the people”? No.

Photo: Pope John XXIII Celebrating the Eastern Divine Liturgy

Liturgy certainly does not mean “work of the people,” and I’ll show you why from examples in Sacred Scripture. But before looking at Scripture, let’s look at the actual Greek word:

The Word “Liturgy” in Greek

λειτουργία, like so many words in Greek, is a composite. The first word half of the word derives form the Greek word “laos” meaning “people.” (There is also the variation of “leos” which is the Attic Greek version of the same word for “people.”) This word “laos” (or “leos” in Attic) is where we get laity and laypeople. It’s a generic word for a collection of people. The Greek name Menelaos means “withstanding the people” and the Greek name Nikolaos means “conquering the people.”

The second part of the word derives from the Greek word “ergon” meaning “work,” as in ergonomic, energy, and synergy.

When you smash the two Greek words together to describe something you get: leitourgia or λειτουργία.

Does λειτουργία mean “work of the people” or “work for the people”?

So the term contains the two Greek words for “people” and “work,” but how do we arrange it for its meaning? On one hand, it could be “work of the people,” meaning something the people work out together. On the other hand, it could be “work for the people,” meaning something done for the benefit of the people.

Option 1: Liturgy as “Work of the People”

The kumbaya (Elvis liturgy) crowd of the 1960s and 1970s insisted that it was former – something people work out when they come together. This led to the idea that lay people should lead prayers, read the lessons, prepare the altar, handle chalices, handle the Eucharist, distribute the Eucharist, bless people in the Communion line, and cleanse the vessels. After all, if liturgy means “work of the people,” then the people ought to be up there doing active work.

Option 2: Liturgy as “Work Done for the People”:

The historical, traditional, and received definition of liturgy or λειτουργία is that it is something done by one for the sake of the people. This may come as a crushing blow to the legions of Christians who were taught that liturgy was the “work of the people,” but it’s the plain truth. In Plato and other Greek authors, λειτουργία is something done by one for the sake of the people. Consequently, the Greek term is usually a priestly or political term depending on the context. And in the Bible, it is usually a priestly term, but we will examine one passage in Romans that is expressly political:

Let’s look at Sacred Scripture to settle the debate:

In the account of the birth of John the Baptist, we discover that his father Zacharias is an Aaronic priest of the tribe of Levi. As such, he serves in the Temple as a priest when it is the time of his allotment. [I explain elsewhere how this detail leads us to know that Christ as born in late December.] The passage explains that St Zacharias goes to the Temple to minister and the original Greek word is that he goes there to do liturgy:

And when his time of service (λειτουργίας) was ended, he went to his home. (Luke 1:23)

Did Zacharias gather a bunch of people to worship the Lord? No, the passage explains that his duty was to go into the Temple and offer incense to Yahweh. He did this to ceremoniously present the prayers of the people to God. It becomes obvious that his “liturgy” was something he did as a priest for the benefit of the people, not something he did as a priest with other people present.

Let’s look at another example from Hebrews:

And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship (λειτουργίας). (Heb 9:22)

This is a description of how Moses consecrated the tabernacle and vessels for divine worship in the Old Testament. The tent/tabernacle and the vessels could only be handled and used by the Levites, as they administered them for the benefit of Israel. Once again we see that λειτουργία refers to what is done by a priestly class on behalf of the laity.

The Liturgy of Christ as for the people:

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry (λειτουργίας) which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Heb 8:6)

The author describes Christ as a High Priest who now administers a better New Covenant through a better λειτουργία or Liturgy. Once again, this λειτουργία is something Christ is administering on our behalf for our salvation. Notably it is His presentation of His Body and Blood to the Father for our redemption – something that is presented in every Liturgy of the Mass.

Roman Emperor as Liturgizer:

And let’s not forget that Saint Paul calls the evil Emperor Nero a “liturgizer.” In Romans 13, Saint Paul explains how the Roman Emperor (at that time Nero) and all political rulers are “liturgizers””

3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant (διάκονός or diakonos) of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers (λειτουργοὶ or leitourgoi) of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Saint Paul identifies the Emperor as διάκονός or deacon and as all rulers as λειτουργοὶ or liturgizers. Be mindful that this Emperor was Nero, and yet he receives sacerdotal titles from Paul.

In fact, the dalmatic (which is worn by deacons) is an imperial garment traditionally reserved for the Byzantine court. I cannot find the source at the moment, but I recall reading once that Constantine was allowed to read Scripture in liturgy while still unbaptized because he was considered to be a quasi-deacon by virtue of his status as Emperor. And the Emperor in Constantinople processed with the Patriarch and the clergy, often in a dalmatic.

Back to “liturgy” in Romans 13. It’s manifest that the Roman Emperor and other Roman rulers are accorded the title of λειτουργοὶ. They are not liturgists designing services. Nero isn’t leading the people in “Gather us in, the rich and the haughty.” Rather these Roman rulers are, according to Paul, appointed by God to administer justice for the people. 

Liturgy as Something Done for People

Liturgy, at least in the Old and New Testament is something priestly or political that is done for the sake of the people. It is communal only in that it is done for others.

A priest saying the Mass alone in a Russian hotel room is doing “work for the people” without anyone else gathered together with him.

Likewise, the Pope gathered at a Mass of 10,000 people is doing “work for the people,” but the people being present doesn’t make it “liturgy.” The liturgy is accomplished in persona Christi for the people. Just as Zacharias was able to do “liturgy” all alone with his thurible in the Temple.

When Christ died on the cross, He administered a new λειτουργία for the people of the world. It was a liturgical act in which nobody participated by dancing, performing, reading from a book, or carrying a vessel. The truly “active participation” was accomplished by the Mother of God, Saint Mary Magdalene, the other women, and by the Apostle John when they lifted up their hearts to the divine Crucified Rabbi on the cross. They painfully and silently received the bloody λειτουργία of Christ on their behalf.

The time has come for us to understand liturgy as sacerdotal and as something done by Christ for His people. Cardinal Sarah summed this up recently with these words:

Liturgy is about God and His work for His people. Whoever tells us that we must celebrate ourselves in the liturgy is undermining biblical liturgy. Liturgy as “work of the people” is liturgical Pelagianism – the heresy that says that man can naturally work for his salvation.

If you’d like to learn about Sacramental Theology and earn your Certificate in Catholic Theology along the way, please join us at the New Saint Thomas Institute. We have a 2 part video on the “Mystical Meanings of the Mass according to Thomas Aquinas” waiting for you:

Learn more about our online theology courses and earn up to 6 Certificates in Philosophy, Theology, and Church History at newsaintthomas.com, the largest global online Institute for theological studies.

Godspeed,
Dr. Taylor Marshall

Photos from Pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice

Plus Video of Cardinals and Bishops at Corpus Christi Procession in Rome

I’m sorry that I have not been posting articles for the last two weeks. I’ve been teaching a class in Rome to Seminarians called “The History and Theology of Rome” (based on The Eternal City) and it has been a rich blessing.

Since I have not been posting theology articles, I’ve been posting a stream of photos and videos. For example, here is a video of the bishops and cardinals processing with the Holy Eucharist for the feast of Corpus Christi:

If you’d like to see a constant stream of photos of Roman and Italian relics, saints, churches, architecture, sites, and food, please check out my daily photo posts on Instagram (DrTaylorMarshall): click here to see photos.

Godspeed,
Dr Taylor Marshall

PS: I’ll be back in the US next week and will resume theological blog posts.

Vader and ShenFu: The Surprising Titles of Priests in Other Languages

This week a priest from Holland named Father Johannes van Voorst liked an Easter photo that I posted on Instagram (drtaylormarshall).

I clicked on his profile and saw that his title is Vader Johannes. Vader. You know, as in Darth Vader.

Vader in Church Procession

I have long known that Vader means “father.” That’s the hook in The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader is the “dark father” of Luke.

Yet somehow it never registered with me that those black cassock-wearing priests in Holland would be affectionately called “Vader” by the faithful. Super cool.

So here are some various titles for priest in various languages. I do this to celebrate the 46th nation now represented in the New Saint Thomas Institute for theological studies:

Titles for Catholic Clergy in Various Languages:

Shénfù. Mandarin Chinese refers to Catholic priests with the title “Spirit Father” or shénfù (神父). I was a (Protestant) missionary for a summer in college and I love learning more about Christianity in China. One name for “Catholicism” in Chinese is gongjiào (公教) meaning “universal teaching.”

Shinpu. The Japanese title for a priest. Similar to Chinese. It also means “spirit father.”

Abouna. Syriac or Aramaic for “our father,” as used by Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian Christians (and the Maronites).

Bathyushka. The Russian title for Orthodox priests, meaning “father.” Incidentally, the wives of Russian Orthodox priests also have a title: Matushka, meaning “mother.”

Cha. Vietnamese for “Father.”

Dom. This is actually a shortened version of the Latin Dominus meaning “Lord.”  Dom is an honorific prefixed to the given name. It derives from the Latin Dominus. It’s used for Benedictines, Carthusians, and Canons Regular in English and French (eg. Dom Columba Marmion, O.S.B.). For Portuguese, it signifies a bishop.

Don. Italian and Spanish version “Dom.” Don can be used in writing and in direct address (e.g. Don Bosco). You see this among monastics, but Opus Dei (Spanish in origin) also often refers to their Prelate as Don Avlaro or Don Javier. It’s not by any means restricted to clergy. Don is an honorific in all Spanish cultures. Don Juan of Austria is a notable example.

 

Sagart or Sacart. Irish or Old Gaeilge corruption of the Latin word for priest: sacerdos.

Athair. Irish address for “Father.”

Monsignore. Italian for “my lord.” The final “e” is often dropped. In Romance languages, it’s used to denote bishops, but in English it is restricted to presbyteral Prelates or Chaplains to His Holiness.

Otets. Ukrainian priest is usually addressed as “otets'” (отець), father, and his wife- dobro`dyjka, literally, “one who is doing good deeds” or “benefactress.”

Ojciec. Polish. When addressing a priest (vocative), it is Ojcze.

Padre. Corruption of Latin Pater. Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian for “Father.” It Italy, “Padre” is for mendicant religious priests (e.g. Padre Pio) and “Don” is for diocesan priests (e.g. Don Bosco).

Pappa. In Greek towns, priests are called Pappa, which means “daddy.” Our Latin Papa or Pope is the same word. I suppose each Greek Orthodox priest is papal in his own town.

Părinte. Romanian for “parent” or “begetter.” Corruption of the Latin Parens. There is a Romanian word for “Father” but Părinte is used instead. Romanian Christians address their priests with: “Sfinția Voastră” or “Your holiness” (“Your” in Romanian actually being a “pluralis majestatis”). Sfinția coming from the Latin word sanctitas meaning “holiness.”

Père. French corruption of the Latin Pater meaning “father.”

Abbé. A member of the French secular clergy in major or minor orders. It derives from the Aramaic “Abba” meaning “father.”

Romo. Indonesian for “Father.”

Vader. Dutch for “Father.”

Vater. German for “Father.”

 

Question: Do you know of more priest titles in other languages. Please leave a comment below and I’ll add them to the list. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

How did Christ ride a Donkey AND a Colt (at the same time?)

The Mystical Sign of Christ riding a Donkey and a Colt

For years I was confused by Saint Matthew’s description about Palm Sunday: we read that Christ rode a female donkey and her baby colt.

However, in Mark, Luke, and John, we read that Christ rode a donkey without any mention of the her colt. For some reason, I had imagined that Christ rode the she-donkey and the little colt at the same time – wide straddling both. This seems ridiculous, but I didn’t know how else to visualize what Matthew was describing.

jesus-christ-riding-into-jerusalem-for-passover

I finally found clarity while reading Cornelius a Lapide’s commentary on the passage. According to Lapide, Christ first rode the ass up and down the mount and then transferred and rode the colt into the city.

There is a practical reason for this. The she-ass would be stronger and more able to go up and down the terrain. Next, the colt would be able to bring him into the city easily.

Yet there is a mystical signification is this as well. The she-ass and her colt signify “the two sorts of people of which the world is made up—the Jews, accustomed to the yoke of the Mosaic law, who were represented by the ass; and the Gentiles, living up to this time without the Law of God, and who were denoted by the colt.”

The she-ass represents Mother Israel who has been burdened with the Law of Moses. Saint Peter our first Pope described the Mosaic Law as “a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10, D-R).

The young colt represents the new and untrained Gentiles – the wild olive branch that the Apostle describes as the Gentiles.

Christ our Lord rode both to signify that both the Jews and the Gentiles were called to be Christophoroi – Christ-bearers.

Question: Now it’s your turn:

How did we carry “Christ to the world” in our age. What is the humble donkey or colt in our lives that communicates Christ’s Gospel to others? Please leave a comment. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Here’s Thomas Aquinas on why Christ rode a donkey on Palm Sunday. 

Get Dr. Marshall’s book Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages for free by clicking here.

How NOT to do Meatless Fridays in Lent (Plus 12 Meatless Meal Ideas)

I had the best Fish Friday of my entire life on the first Friday of Lent this year. I was blessed to lead a retreat for the Bishop’s Servers of the Diocese of Shreveport, and the bishop and I caught a couple of catfish whoppers (see pic below).

Fishing with a bishop (successor of the apostolic fishermen) and landing monster catfish: Thank you Lord!

But Louisiana catfish are not necessary for a great Fish Friday. Here are some great ideas on how to keep “meatless Fridays” in Lent, and how NOT to do meatless Fridays:

Taylor Marshall w Big Catfish

[I’ve discussed the theological reasons for why we Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays in another post: Please read “Why is Fish Okay But Not Meat.”]

Before creating an intentional plan for “Friday fare” or “fish Fridays,” Joy and I would just sort of wing it: “Oh it’s Friday. Shucks. Mmmm. I guess we’ll have to order some cheese pizzas.” Even worse, we’d remember after the fact. I’d order a chicken sandwich at lunch and then suddenly remember.

This is playing defense. You want to plan offense. Defense reacts. Offense creates a clear strategy. You need to make a plan. Write it down and post it on the fridge.

Today’s post focuses on the practical aspect. How do you and/or your family keep meatless Fridays?

It seems like such a chore. However, with some creativity, it can become an act of penance and a family tradition. And when your conference of bishops restores the custom, you’ll already be accustomed to the laudable and ancient practice. I’ve listed some suggestions below.

Why Do Christians Worship on Sunday and Not Saturday Like Jews?

NSTI Student Member Paul C asks:

I also hope Taylor could address Seventh Day Adventism in a video.

My in-laws are Adventists and a few are curious about Catholicism. At family get-togethers I’ve gotten questions, such as, wasn’t Constantine the founder of the Catholic Church? and, didn’t a Pope change the Sabbath day in order to attract converts from followers of a Sunday pagan ritual? They’ve been taught a lot of misinformation!

Clearly Constantine was not the founder of Catholicism. See our video(s) on Constantinian era on this.

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Regarding Sunday, it goes back to the Apostles:

And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight,” (Acts 20:7).

Here Saint Paul is breaking bread (Eucharist) and preaching on Sunday.

Paul preaching on Sunday

Saint Paul also recognizes Sunday as the day of Christian gathering here:

On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:2). So the offering was taken on Sunday – during Liturgy.

The Jews kept Saturday (last day of week) because they looked forward to Messiah. Christians keep Sunday (first day of the week) because we look back to the Messiah.

Moreover, Christ rose again from the dead on Sunday and the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost on a Sunday. Christ is King of the New Creation and so Sunday, the day of creation is the day of His worship.

Seventh Day Adventists are thus Judaizers and they do not understand the fulness of Christ’s fulfillment of not only the Old Law, but the Old Creation. If you want to see study how Christ fulfills the entire Old Testament (including an appendix list of over 300 prophecies), see my book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity.

Crucified Rabbi Look Inside

Catholic Webinar Invite: History and Theology of Catholic Advent with Dr. Taylor Marshall

Advent season is here, but so many of us are unsure about what it means, how to explain “Advent” to our friends/family, and what to do keep a “holy Advent.” Here’s a class to help you:

DISCOVER THE HISTORY & THEOLOGY OF ADVENT
In this Catholic Webinar, I will explain:

  1. the earliest historical records about Advent
  2. the ancient relationship between Advent and Lent
  3. why Advent went from 5 to 4 Sundays around AD 1000
  4. the theology of “delayed gratification” as it relates to Advent & the Eucharistic Fast
  5. practical tips on how to celebrate Advent (especially important for families)

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Please join me for my Catholic Webinar on the “History and Theology of Advent”. It’s free and open to the first 1,000 registrants.

 

Please click here or below to register:

Register here button

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

Catholic Halloween and the New Evangelization

Is Halloween the Devil’s Day? Let’s break it down and see how Satan is trying to steal our Catholic holidays. Ready?

As you know, Halloween is short for All-Hallows-Even. “Even” or “Eve” refers to the evening before the day.

halloween saint

Christmas Eve is the night before December 25. Similarly, Hallows Eve is the night before November 1, the Catholic festival of All Saints.

This holy day of obligation was once known as “All Hallows” since “hallow” is a more ancient form of “holy.” For example, “hallowed by thy name” means “holy is thy name.”

All Saints = All Hallows. In fact, November 1 was once called “Hallowmas.” For those linguists out there, hallowed comes from the Old English word haligra which fell out of use before AD 1500. Those who know German will recognize it’s similarity to heiliger.

Is Halloween the Devil’s Day? Is it Evil?

There are some Christians who have written off Halloween per se as some sort of diabolical black mass.  This interpretation usually includes a legend of how the Catholic Church conspired with druids to corrupt Europe, or some other nonsense.

To be clear, it’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. But they have also attempted to redefine “marriage,” Easter, Christmas, St Valentines, and increasingly Ash Wednesday.

Yes, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!

Hell is on defense since Jesus Christ came. It’s the “gates of hell.” Gates are defensive. We are supposed to be storming the gates of hell. The sacrament of Confirmation commissions us as soldiers.

Pandaemonium: Here’s your Greek word of the week

The word Pandaemonium derives from Greek “παν”, meaning “all” and “δαιμόνιον”, meaning “little devil.” Pandaemonium means “All Devils.”

John Milton imagined Pandaemonium as the capital city of Hell in Book I of his Paradise Lost (1667).

Milton was an Arian, but his Paradise Lost is a pretty cool book. If you’re a Member of NSTI, you should read it and let me know if you think his Arianism bleeds through the pages. Also, check out Milton’s Satan Trinity.

The Devil would love to take over the feast day “All Saints” and rebrand it as “All Devils” or “Pandaemonium.” Are we going to let him? Hell no [pun intended]. All the Saints are ready for battle.

Watch Dr. Taylor’s Youtube Video: Dracula vs. the Eucharist.
How do All the Saints hear us from Heaven? Free mp3 from Dr Taylor answering this question: Click here to listen (mp3).

Let’s take back the entire “Hallow Triduum” of:

  1. Halloween (Oct 31)
  2. All Saints Day (Hallowmas Nov 1)
  3. All Souls Day (Nov 2)

Celebrate Hallows Eve, but clarify “We don’t celebrate it by glorifying the demonic.” Dress your children as saints and be counter-cultural. Be leaven in the lump. Salt in the world. Be hallowed.

Oh, and don’t forget All Hallows (Nov 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s a mortal sin not to attend Holy Mass on this day (unless it is lawfully transferred by the bishops).

Don’t forget to read my 10 Tips for a Catholic Halloween by clicking here.

And share it on Facebook with all your friends by clicking here:

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Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation with Dr Marshall

This Thursday night at 8pm I’ll be hosting another free Catholic Webinar on the Book of Revelation from a biblical, traditional, and Catholic point of view. If you’ve ever had questions or confusions about the End Times of the Book of Revelation, you won’t want to miss this Catholic Webinar Event.

YOU WILL DISCOVER:

  • Why the Book of Revelation was written
  • a Catholic interpretation of Revelation based on Scripture, Tradition, and Church Fathers
  • the Virgin Mary in Revelation 12
  • the Mark of the Beast and 666 from a Catholic view point of view
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a FREE pdf worksheet of the Webinar. Dr Marshall will make available his 16 part series on Catholic Revelation.
  • Register to reserve your spot by clicking here.

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Photos: Happy 2030th Birthday to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Yesterday was the feast day of the Birth of our Blessed Virgin Mary (it’s 9 months after the feast of her Immaculate Conception on Dec 8).

Our family usually has a birthday cake and sings Happy Birthday. Here’s this years cake:

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Close up #nofilter:screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-11-39-25-am

As you know from my other posts, I believe that Christ was actually born on Dec 25 1BC (there is not year zero) and I’ve written a small book on why that’s the case and how Josephus made an error on the death of Herod.

So if traditions states that Mary was 14 around the birth of Christ, that means that this year she turns 2030 years old (or 2031 if she was 15). Happy birthday Blessed Mother!

Godspeed,

Taylor