A kind friend has sent me a Kalendar published by one of the Melkite eparchies in North America. It is good to be reminded how similar the instincts of East and West are when it comes to liturgical observances; the West has Vigils and Octaves and the East has Preparations and days stretching out after a festival until they are concluded by a "Leave-taking". The East is happy to crowd several observances on to one day, just as the West has its 'commemorations'. Oops: I should have said that the West used to do all this, because two generations now have had to live with the Carthaginian General's vandalistic abolition of nearly all Vigils, Octaves and Commemorations.
This Melkite Calendar gives one particularly intriguing example of different observances crowded together on one day. In Orthodox Christianity, as my readers will be aware, the Second Sunday in Lent is the Sunday of the great fourteenth century Hesychast Doctor and mystical theologian, S Gregory Palamas ... the last but certainly not the least of the Greek Fathers. Sadly, nit-picking Westerners used to accuse him of heresy because of some of the terminology he used in his exposition of the wonderful mystery of our Deification in Christ. So, after the 1720s, when the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Successor of S Peter, renewed the fulness of his communion with that other Successor of S Peter a bit further West, it was deemed prudent to remove S Gregory from the Melkite Calendar. To fill the vacuum thus created, in 1843 the Patriarch Maximos III Mazloom made that Sunday the Commemoration of the Holy Relics.
In my 2011 Melkite Calendar, I see that S Gregory has returned to the Second Sunday in Lent. Splendid! Since the Patriarch of Antioch is - surely - the second most senior hierarch (after the Pope) of the Catholic world in communion with Rome, this is a tremendously authoritative affirmation, by the magisterium of the Catholic Church, of the sanctity and doctrinal soundness of S Gregory Palamas (and, by the way, in this calendar S Gregory also recovers his festival on November 16). Not that the Holy Relics have done runner. They share this same Sunday with S Gregory: a happy detail because Mazloom was one of the greatest Melkite Patriarchs, who secured the formal status of the Melkites as a Nation within the Ottoman Empire.
But I can't find within this Melkite Calendar poor old S Mark of Ephesus ... on whose festival a very dear friend of mine was chrismated into Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, I regard the reinstatement of S Gregory Palamas, who lived, taught, and was canonised outside formal canonical unity with the Apostolic See of Rome, as a good omen for the beatification, for the Ordinariate, of our Anglican Catholic beati.