01-07-2017, 05:43 PM
I learned quite a lot from this article despite knowing a good bit about the distinction between calendars. What follows is not just for the Orthodox: it's a window into a world most people, including most Christians - including most Orthodox Christians, even - are pretty unaware.
The discussion surrounding the Julian calendar has come up once again, although the question being asked is not: Why does the Russian Orthodox Church live according to this calendar?—since the answer is obvious, because this is our thousand-year tradition. Rather, the question is more like this: Why haven’t we changed to the calendar that the majority of people in the country are using, which the Union of Peoples’ Commissars called on February 8, 1918 the calendar of “cultured people”? The question boils down to basically, why do we follow tradition? The answer is obvious: Because in the Orthodox Church, tradition is important.Even so, let’s look at the arguments usually presented in favor of “change” from the point of view of Church tradition, and the practical-everyday argument.The scientific question—correcting the Pascalia?
Instituting the Gregorian calendar. A bas relief on the grave of Pope Gregory XIII in St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome.
The scientific argument goes like this: The Gregorian calendar more accurately describes astronomical manifestations; namely, it more accurately corresponds to the tropical year—the earth’s rotational period around the sun. And in order to institutionalize the reckoning of time, the calendar was introduced, first in Europe, by Gregory XIII. This began in the Catholic world and then spread to other countries.But actually, Pope Gregory introduced the new calendar for a different reason. The main idea behind the Gregorian reform was a correction in the Paschalia. Scholars of the time, mainly Italians, found that the lapse given in the classic Julian year will in several tens of thousands of years lead to Pascha falling in autumn, and this would disrupt certain principles. A commission was created, and after fairly long discussion it came to the conclusion that a reform had to be made in precisely the Paschalia, and for the sake of the Paschalia the entire Julian year would need to be reformed. Changes were made, which shortened the year a little. The rule of determining the leap years was introduced: years divisible by four and 400 remained leap years, and those divisible by 100 remained non-leap years.And what about the Paschalia for which the calendar was changed? The entire Orthodox world follows the traditional Alexandrian Paschalia, while the Roman Catholic world never did finish its work on its own Paschalia, and essentially its reckoning of the Easter date depends upon the same Alexandrian Pascalia to which are simply joined some corrective add-ons. Moreover, only very recently, almost just last year, the Catholics of the Holy Land changed directly over to our Orthodox Paschalia, returning to the tradition they had departed from in the sixteenth century—admitting by this that the main task in creating the Gregorian calendar is recognized as not having been satisfactorily completed. All the Orthodox Churches that for practical convenience changed to the “new style” calendar in the twentieth century have also acknowledged this fact. Formally, they have changed not to the Gregorian calendar but a New Julian calendar, but for the next several centuries it will still correspond to the Gregorian calendar. However, in changing over to this new calendar these Churches still observe the Paschalia according to the old tradition, the Julian calendar, because the Alexandrian Paschalia cannot be combined with the Gregorian calendar—such is its inner mathematical apparatus, you might say. It is calculated only on the Julian calendar.Thus, the first argument falls away, because the main scientific problem motivating the creation of the Gregorian calendar—correcting the...