Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Neither East nor West

“So it is with Orthodox Christians. I have no idea why an Anglican or Roman Catholic would have me believe that when the Church became involved in the Palamite controversy, it was simply arguing “semantics” and describing things in an “Eastern way”. That’s a bunch of B.S. St. Gregory and the Fathers before him and after him are describing reality when they speak of what happens during prayer and during mystical experience. It is experiential and universal. That is why Slavic monks who are descendants of Vikings and live in a country with extensive Western European influence describe the same thing. That is why Romanian monks who speak a Romance language (like Spanish or Italian) and live in country bordering Hungary and looking like this also describe the Uncreated Light. The whole “Eastern” label is really old and lame. Buddhism is Eastern. Shinto is Eastern. Islam is Eastern. Greek is not Eastern. If you study Western philosophy, you read Plato. You don’t read Lao Tzu. The uncreated light is neither Eastern nor Western. It is a description of reality and it is human. If the most authentic, most pure, and least spiritually dangerous and deceptive form of ascetic practice and life of prayer was preserved in the Eastern Roman Empire because that is where the Holy Catholic Church survived… well is that so weird? And expecting this to be normative for all honest Orthodox Christians is not culturally biased or an attempt to Byzantinize anything. It is simply being consistent and honest.” [source]

Of course, this line of reasoning can be utilized quite differently than the author intended.


January 29, 2008 - Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , ,


  1. Fr, I mean that aside from the merely procedural aspect of it, I find fault in attempting to lure, confuse, or fool any group of people as to what the Church is or isn’t, and where it is or isn’t. That’s my beef w. Rome over Uniatism.

    In fact, this is a discussion I’m having w. an Anglican friend over the blurring of confessional boundaries there, including the flight of their own into the Western Rite, and our dishonor in receiving people w/o communicating the fullness of the Faith, the character of a real conversion, etc.

    In other words, it’s one thing if they come from the Anglican Communion and want to, in good understanding, through real catechesis, convert – and understand that it is a conversion – not merely a switching of administration – and if we don’t wink at things that cannot rightly be brought into Orthodoxy. Well and good – neither my friend nor I have a problem with it.

    But when it’s being painted not really as a conversion at all, not really, and the catechesis seems almost intentionally watered down, so that we make sure they don’t really know what they’re converting to (much less that it’s a conversion), and so that really key incompatibilities are addressed, as any claim to pastoral care would do, then it’s a scam – it’s robbing the other confession (e.g. Anglicanism) and really IS a uniatism on our part, it’s deceiving the convert and robbing him of the fulness of the faith and setting him up to stumble at worst and suffer at best, as well as sowing dissension in the Churches, and it’s to ask people to accept, within Orthodoxy, that which cannot be accepted, believe that which cannot be believed.

    Both sides should consider this dishonorable and unChristian and eschew it.

    And this set of problems is exactly what we see surrounding some WR communities, if not in the main. They’re the cause of the concerns you raised in your [first comment] on this site and, in fact, is are what led to the founding of the site for, if we remain silent in the face of our own dishonour, then we have tacitly affirmed it as right and proper, and will have to answer for that.

    For my part, I do what I do for the salvation, at least in intention, of my Anglican friend, and those with her and like her, and for those of us who had no voice to speak of these things, and for the proselytes (Christ preserve them!), for myself and my associates, and for all honourable men of whatever religion who would favor truth, transparency, justice.

    God grant us, by our synergetic cooperation, the fullness of Orthodox evangelism.

    There was a time when we respected each other’s confessional boundaries. There was a time when people were more religiously educated, too. And when a Methodist and a Presbyterian, a Roman Catholic, and a Rabbi saw each other at Sunday buffet, they each knew something of what the other believed, and why they were not each other, and so there could be charity, dignity, and respect. There was no stealing of souls, however much God may work such a calamity on our part for good in the Kingdom. Praise the Wisdom of his Condescension.

    Uniatism, superficially, is merely an administrative and liturgical choice. But in practice, it is a means of illicit acquisition of (or retention of) converts. May it not prosper. If we believe God, we can afford to evangelize according to his teaching, confident that he will draw those who should come, and others when the time is better, and others will not be tempted, through our faults, to become tares, and apostate to all religion anywhere.

    I will be accused of speaking against the Holy Spirit but, I would rather see a conscientious, committed Anglican who knows why s/he is that and isn’t us, and trust that God will work his will, that no one can come to Christ except the Father draw him…. than I would see anyone tricked into a faith where his conscience would not otherwise lie, drawn by the merely frail acts of men, the mere administrative and liturgical conversion of superficials, depriving him of the opportunity for the fulness of salvation. I say this believing God works all things for good, but that that very fact precisely frees us to behave ethically and not submit to any compulsion – any passion – to control things that the Spirit rightly demands as his own.

    I will be misunderstood, but I must act my conscience in this, and bear misunderstanding, and even my own brethren thinking me an enemy and that silencing me would serve God. I will bear it with God’s help. I stand by what I’ve said; I cannot do otherwise, unless God convinces me. Convince me. God save me. And your prayers.

    The Lord.

    And, for my Anglican friend. This is how God loves. I will do this for you. For all you love and cherish, that all I love and cherish might be all that it is. Even this, may God give you.

    We’ve seen this before, my brother, Fr. Augustine. Ecumenism created a situation of universal uniatism that, in our case, merely masquerades as something else in the debates of economia in the reception of converts. I take my Anglican friend to task to. Does not ECUSA willingly admit any Orthodox who goes, to its chalice. Not that this is widespread, but they happily would. And do so KNOWING that this excommunicates that person, makes him, in his own faith, an apostate. What hubris. This is the same blurring of confessional lines, same loss of dignity and respect and honour, and it too is a form of uniatism. And my friend knows it, and will not give the chalice to one of ours, even if others will. Praise God. Honour. Let justice be done though the heavens quake and the mountains tremble.

    Likewise, ecumenism everywhere, in its agreed statements, blurs confessional boundaries, and compromises ALL participating parties, making all apostates to their own faiths, and uniates to each other. God save us. It is Ba’al. It is Molech. To this we sacrifice babes. And they are babes, and so are we. To this we drive the one laden with his own cross, to the valley of skulls, and we do not recognize what it is we crucify, and whom, and to what “god”.

    This is the bloody spirit of the age, and we must face it where we are planted. For me, this is one such place. And a few others. And I do not hope to win, only to save myself by resisting, and defend what innocents are given me.

    I will sound dramatic. So be it. This is a type. A typical issue. A representative of the watershed that will bring upon us the great apostasy. I do not say that the WR is the great apostasy, or that it will bring it, or that everything around it is wrong or evil. I have said otherwise repeatedly. But we must separate the question of a WR itself from the religious culture, atmosphere, assumptions, attitudes, psychology, philosophy, and conduct that has the WR in its grip to such a degree that its own proponents confuse them and refer to them interchangeable. “The” western rite, western rite “orthodoxy” – referring to totalities that are really implementations, polities, that have nothing to do with a western rite per se and in itself. And those things, are indeed reflections of who we are right now, our general attitudes in this age, what we are doing everywhere else, and unfortunately the culture and age in which we live, and its god.

    I tell you now, if I never am able to say another word about it, I have not argument with a genuine Gregorian rite as a rite, or its use in Orthodoxy when pastorally appropriate. But I will never sign over my own hold on the faith to Ba’al as long as God preserves me, and I have concerns, and for my part, to the degree that I’m not merely the primary comments ‘host’ on this site, I have a duty, however unpleasant and difficult a task ( I do not like it, I tell you ) to make them as explicit as I can in my unworthiness. God save me.

    Fr. Augustine, you’ve certainly been a help. You lifted much off my shoulders. Thank you.

    Comment by tuD | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. How do you mean?

    I agree that, when the Unia coerces people (with force or money) to join up with Rome, that’s morally wrong.

    I was referring simply to Rome having Eastern Liturgy, which people were free to take or leave.

    Comment by fatheraugustine | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. I mostly agree. But I think you’d acknowledge that the Unia has this much in common w. the Sack of Constantinople. It’s painful for people to seize an opportunity that deprives people of the Faith, the Church, or the Holy things. The Unia is seen as a bit underhanded. They have the right legally, perhaps even ethically, as far as that can lead us, but certainly not morally.

    Comment by tuD | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Right. While I can understand why emotional opposition to the Unia would run high, who among us would deny that the Roman Catholic Church has the right to allow any kind of worship it wants?

    Many people say they don’t want the WR to be a “reverse unia.” Well, if by that they mean we shouldn’t coerce Westerners to join, or encourage them to retain their heterodox customs – sure. But if they simply mean to say “it’s a bad thing that Rome allows an Eastern Rite, so we shouldn’t allow a Western Rite”… I don’t follow. Why would it be bad, in and of itself, that Rome allows another Rite? What business is that of ours? And why is Unia a derogatory term?

    Comment by fatheraugustine | February 2, 2008 | Reply

  5. Very differently than the author intended, I am thinking! LOL

    Having clarified that, I have to say I find this argument weak – an appeal to an idea being “universal” of a sort (versus “pan-Orthodox”) as evidenced by its commonality among various ethnic groups, from the Romance-language speaking Romanians to the viking descendants of Russia proves this idea no more (essential, errant, heterodox, orthodox – pick one) than…

    Than appealing to western concepts as being essentially true because they were found among the Slavic-language speaking Poles (who had domed churches!) and the descendants of Vikings in Ireland!

    Either group can be said – by those who are in opposition – to have just been infected with “heresy X”…

    I also found the objections of the author that follow rather weak:

    “I can think of one really important way that these two concepts are different from each other: In WRO, where was the political involvement and large scale “turning over” of parishes without the majority of the laity knowing what was going on? To put it simply, where in the Western Rite of Orthodoxy has there been something comparable to the Union of Brest-Litovsk. Answer that question, then you can refer to Western Rite Orthodoxy as Uniatism.”

    How self-servingly arbitrary can one be? Because the Anglicans of late brought their own BCPs when knocking on the door of the Antiochians they are not “uniates”? But Greek Catholics are because they were (400ish years ago, and only in some cases) possibly co-erced?

    Never mind that some Eastern Catholics petitioned Rome just the same as Anglican-rite Orthodox did. Never mind that through the course of a dozen generation just about all Greek Catholics are there by choice – they had the option to leave the unia when lands came under Tsarist control. Many stayed. They were liquidated in 1946, three generations on, many opted to resume unia. We aren’t trapped in a cage of history.

    Are the Russian Orthodox Catholics not uniates because they sought Rome? Are the Greek Catholics who went under the Patriarch of Constantinople while retaining all of their Latinizations (including the title monsignor!!!!) a sort of proto-uniate?

    Honestly, when it comes to who CAN be called that slur, it is as ironic and distasteful as two Black guys arguing over who should be called a “nigger.” In my book, neither should be!

    Dare I suggest, no one should be called derogatory term?

    Comment by asimplesinner | January 29, 2008 | Reply

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