Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

A Cause for Bigotry


“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” — St. Paul

The institutionalization of divisions between us comes not so much from acts of the Church as from Orthodox publishing and media. The term “cradles” in contrast with “converts” is one example, fitting well in the glossary with “ethnics” and “non-ethnics” (by which everyone means ‘Americans’, the cultural hegemony of the age and exporters of Walmart, even if they can’t bring themselves to say it). And we don’t hear Christ anymore who, consistently, showed us that we all need to convert. The apostles were cradle-Orthodox, lest we forget. Everyone converts. Everyone is born anew into Christ. Some just do it earlier than others. And as for ethnics/non-ethnics (or Jew vs. Greek – same thing), it’s just another example, on the one hand, of the equation of ‘American’ with a political-cultural-religious concept that is clearly demonic. And on the other hand, it shows we don’t believe our own gospel. We don’t; you know it, and any independent observer can see it.

The enthusiasts for much that’s being done in the name of “Western Rite”, will claim that any criticism, any questions that don’t roll over for straw men, appeals to authority, and sometimes outright lies, are also creating a division. It’s like blaming the central park jogger, really, for being dressed in too short a skirt. What the WR gang has done, though, is initiate a fundamental assault on Orthodox ecclesiology, and then claim that if we don’t evolve with it, we’re divisive. The factious man is the one who attacks the holy doctrines of our faith in the first place.

What is it, precisely, that is under attack, and how? Here are some examples:

A group of people are petitioning to convert to Orthodoxy, but have indicated that they want to wait until a Western rite parish is finished near them, so they can “convert to the Western rite”. The response has not been to correct their notion of our ecclesiology, but to give them the nod.

A group of people is going around the parish which gave them catechesis and the mysteries, and is helping them start their Western rite parish, taunting the people who have grown up in Orthodoxy, with “our liturgy is older than yours”. Their catechesis, apparently concentrated on facts related to ‘what you have to do to convert’ and the official propaganda about the WR, but not an understanding of what the church really is.

Instead of encouraging those who are ready to come to the Orthodox faith, because a rite is just a rite, and the Faith is everything, Protestant groups are being courted to come en masse, ‘when they’re ready to come as a group’. Again, the notion is that of converting not to the Faith, but to a particular liturgical norm, as though it were essentially the ekklesia.

Conversions from groups who have zero claim to anything remotely resembling apostolic succession, like the Charismatic Episcopal Church, who have nothing to do with the Episcopal Church in communion with Canterbury, are being received with quick catechesis, quick chrismations (not baptisms), and their “priests” being ordained before the aforementioned oil is dry, and before even learning the basics of either rite. The implication is that the are fundamentally Christian, but just need a bit of tweaking. Don’t believe it? Given that the rite they are “converting to” (whatever that means), is a dressed up Anglican Prayerbook with the filioque taken out here and an Eastern prayer added there, the same claim is being made about the rite itself. Have a look at the pamphlets and web site postings put out by the AA:- the talk of people being “better rooted in their own western spiritual ethos” and utilizing “their own familiar and theologically Orthodox liturgical forms, while coincidentally restoring the Western liturgy to the Orthodox Church.”

The overall assertion, the propaganda, is that there is nothing fundamentally amiss in the Western religious mentality that must be addressed by a real conversion but that, with some oil, explaining how it’s done, and a textual modification, we’re good to go. Do you not see the terrible claims being made in this behavior concerning our mysteries, salvation, and the Church? Never was there a more dreadful form of ecumenism. This is not reverse-Uniatism; it’s worse. And it’s a form of ecumenism that captures the hearts and minds of those who, if it weren’t so deceptive, would know better.

Already para-church “bible study” groups are forming around “the Western rite” to make sure we can hang on to the glossolalia and cult of personal understanding, while merely adding the mantle of objectivity to the “authority” of newly ordained priests. And more are coming; the literature is advertising heavily with the following basic premise: “Are you a dissatisfied episcopalian, disgruntled roman catholic, protestant looking for something solid to base things on. Want to hold onto your faith, get your own rite, and have the only Church with genuine apostolic integrity sign off on it? Convert to the Western Rite.” Don’t believe it? Keep your eyes open; watch.

Yes, it’ll be years before we’re all holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah, because the AA is tightly controlling growth, and is getting these folk quickly into their own buildings, where it’ll be years before we realize what we’re now part of. Remember, if you commune monophysites, they don’t become Orthodox; rather you become monophysite. What is at stake here, is nothing less than the Faith itself. Even some of those who have converted have wised up and decided to stay with the host parish rather than head to the WR storefront. You can sell a refugee camp all you want, but some people will actually move into the suburbs.

What’s notably missing in all this, is any sense of CONVERSION. We’re just correcting a few irregularities. What’s different about the WR, says the AA literature? Here come the attractive sales bullets: It’s “simpler, less redundant (yes, they’re actually saying that), obviously shorter, and employs a hymnody…” They’re marketing it as the light beer of Orthodoxy (low cal, light-feeling, and won’t fill you up before dinner). It comes complete with the easier non-Orthodox 1950s Roman Catholic fasting rules. For all the justifications of this or that being pre-schism, apparently it doesn’t include fasting and the calendar. The duplicity is endless.

And when you have to use false advertising, much less appeal to people’s laziness, confessional resentments, and latent prejudices, something wrong is being done. The literature out and out lies: They’ve been caught claiming a proposal submitted to St. Tikhon constitutes his approval, and they still put that one out there. If most bishops sanctioned half the ideas proposed to them, none of us would be here. This too: “The Holy Synod of Moscow responded by approving the restored form of the Western Liturgy….” Let’s get that document on the web, shall we? I’d like to see it. Because a lot of us know what it is, and it isn’t what they’re saying. Then too, plastering St. John Maximovitch’s name on this? Sure, he said things about the Western rite that we should listen to, but he wasn’t talking about this. That’s like saying Abraham Lincoln would drive a Lincoln.

Bishop Anthony was right: “We are thus placed in the awkward position of having to accept the “western rite” vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese as belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church while at the same time recognizing that this is a foreign element within the Body of Christ…” But it’s far worse than analogous to the unia. Give it a few years and the fastest growing segment of Orthodoxy will be the ‘planting’ (infestation) of one WRV church by another, so that before you know it, a cacaphony of novelty of thinking, piety, and eventually doctrine will prevail in such numbers, combined with a parochial Orthodoxy of historically feeble understanding, that we will effectively find outselves in a new Church. Nothing the WCC or NCC could have dreamed up would be this effective.

If you can’t make the Orthodox join a world Christianity, then you join Orthodoxy in such numbers that they’re in anyway.

Welcome to the Age of the Spirit, folks.

Oh, and don’t think that a bunch of these people won’t suffer; they don’t know it yet. Remember when the Frankish monks showed up in Byzantium singing the filoque? The Orthodox refused to pray with them. Those days will come. It’s a serious disservice to these children in Christ to encourage delusion about what they’re really converting to. If a lot of them had a clue, they’d demand a longer and substantial catechesis, without anyone having to suggest it. A ton of them really don’t know and, when they find out, they’ll have to make a decision to consider it a fait accompli, or pack their bags. Someone did a study of the numbers once (leave a comment if you remember where), and a large number of those who convert under these circumstances go back to where they came from in a few short years. That’s not evangelism, and it certainly isn’t mission. What’s the old adage? A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. What of converting w/o the mind being truly convinced – worst of all, because the significant issues were never raised in the first place.

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January 22, 2008 - Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] we carried an [article] on Cradle and Convert, Jew and Greek as a template for addressing attitudes surrounding the […]

    Pingback by Children of The False Promise « Western Rite Critic | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Here’s a can of worms for you:
    The False Promise of Israel(it’s related)

    Comment by tuD | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Wholeheartedly agree.

    I sincerely hope this site will instigate the necessary sense of caution on these matters. I am eternally grateful to the Antiochian bishops for having the heart to support Westerners in their legitimate desire to be Orthodox, and to also honor and uphold their heritage.

    I believe they are good men, and I hope that these cautionary statements will promote more attention to catechesis and a closer look at just what exactly the Tikhonite proposal recommended, and just what exactly is being done…

    Most importantly, I hope Western Rite “enthusiasts” will understand that the real way to promote their cause is with holy zeal, hard work and discipline. I know many of you already know this. The painful labor of self-examination and correction of our errors must be done, or we’ll lose it all anyway. Most importantly, we’ll find many people dropping into apostasy. One needn’t be reminded of how much more dreadful the state of an apostate is, than that of a well-meaning heterodox. Surely we took our baptisms (chrismations) seriously…

    Comment by fatheraugustine | February 2, 2008 | Reply


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