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( See ALEXANDRINE LITURGY; AMBROSIAN LITURGY; ANTIOCHENE LITURGY; CELTIC RITE; Clementine Liturgy, treated in CLEMENT I ; RITE OF CONSTANTINOPLE ; GALLICAN RITE; LITURGY OF JERUSALEM; MOZARABIC RITE; SARUM RITE; SYRIAN RITE; SYRO-JACOBITE LITURGY.) In this article they are considered only from the point of view of their relation to one another in the most general sense, and an account is given of what is known about the growth of a fixed liturgy as such in the early Church.
Liturgy ( leitourgia ) is a Greek composite word meaning originally a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen.
As for ceremonies, at first they were not elaborated as now.
All ceremonial evolves gradually out of certain obvious actions done at first with no idea of ritual, but simply because they had to he done for convenience.
At the outset of this discussion we are confronted by three of the most difficult questions of Christian archæology, namely: From what date was there a fixed and regulated service such as we can describe as a formal Liturgy?
How far was this service uniform in various Churches?
When a Greek speaks of the "Holy Liturgy" he means only the Eucharistic Service.
Its elements are leitos (from leos = laos , people) meaning public, and ergo (obsolete in the present stem, used in future erxo , etc.), to do.
From this we have leitourgos , "a man who performs a public duty ", "a public servant", often used as equivalent to the Roman lictor; then leitourgeo , "to do such a duty ", leitourgema , its performance, and leitourgia , the public duty itself.
In the New Testament this religious meaning has become definitely established.
In Luke , Zachary goes home when "the days of his liturgy " ( ai hemerai tes leitourgias autou ) are over.
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It should be noted also that, whereas we may speak of our Mass quite correctly as the Liturgy, we should never use the word Mass for the Eucharistic Sacrifice in any Eastern rite.