We must first see how well grounded is the idea of the liturgy of time on which we have based our notion of the structure of the early Christian ‘rule of prayer.’ We find support in the obvious link between the Eucharist and time expressed from the very first days of the Church in the Christian celebration of the Lord’s Day. This was the day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, His manifestation of the new life, and this day became in the Church the day of the Eucharist. For an understanding of the place of the ‘Lord’s Day’ in the liturgical life of the early Church it is important to clarify its relationship to the Hebrew sabbath. Christian thought has so ignored this relationship that the whole week has been simply ‘advanced,’ and the day of resurrection (the first day of the week, the prima sabbati) has gradually become another sabbath. All the Old Testament prescriptions and definitions touching the seventh day were little by little transferred to Sunday, and the seventh day has been converted into a kind of ‘prototype’ of the Christian day of rest. This displacement of the week became especially apparent when the emperor Constantine gave the ‘day of the sun’ an official state sanction, and made it a generally obligatory day of rest. But even before the end of the fourth century the memory still lived in the mind of the Church of the original relationship of the ‘Lord’s Day’ with the sabbath and the whole Old Testament week. It is still possible to find evidence of this, although in a rather unclear form, in our contemporary Ordo.
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