Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Texts or Devotions?


“The actual text of the Eucharistic liturgy is usually one of the slowest changing and most “calcified” part of any Christian tradition. That is why it is easy to find certain elements and themes in even the earliest times (the Didache, the writings of Justin Martyr or St. Cyril of Jerusalem, etc.) that correspond to nearly all modern liturgies whether Coptic, Constantinopolitan, or Tridentine Roman. The really big changes and the parts that usually push heresies in any heretical body’s devotional life are the private, domestic devotions.

If you don’t believe me, try the following experiment: read just the plain text of the Mass or the Office from a traditionalist Roman Catholic site. Now read the interpretation/”guide to understanding the Mass” from one of those sites or read up on some of the private devotions, chaplets, or spiritual exercises practiced in counter-reformed Catholicism. Which one had ideas that were more bizarre and disturbing to you as an Orthodox Christian? In which one did you read more about “making reparations”, “offering up” one’s suffering for the “poor souls in purgatory”, and engaging in excessively sentimental and overly imaginative spiritual “exercises”? In short, where is the real *soul* of what makes counter-reformed Catholicism different from Orthodoxy?” – [source]

The author of this post goes on to appeal to authority, presenting the same fait accompli argument that so many have, not being familiar enough with our history and its meaning. The interesting aspect of the above comment is that this is PRECISELY the question at hand when we’re looking at Western Rite adherents doing the rosary, keeping the “sacred heart”, and doing stations of the cross. (What’s next? Statues?) In short, he’s right, but he misses the point that this debate is far from over in the larger Orthodox world, just like many others.

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February 1, 2008 - Posted by | Western Rite -- Sacred Heart, Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Yes. An interesting book, “Orthodox Prayers of Old England,” has a collection of pre-schism devotionary material, which is quite good (and totally devoid of these later, heterodox pieties). Also, Westerners can feel comfortable with the Akathist. Italian monks were using it in Latin translation as early as the 8th century.

    Comment by fatheraugustine | February 2, 2008 | Reply


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