Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Two households, both alike in dignity…


“In particular I want to look at liturgical life. In the extremely primitive condition of the early Church, it was logical that there should be a number of different local liturgical uses. It is likewise sensible to assume that this was not the ideal condition. The early Church is not the pure prototype we must always seek to emulate as so many Christians nowadays seem to think. Instead it was the seed from which the lofty tree of the fully developed Church would one day sprout. So I’m not an advocate of having 300 different liturgies just because the “early church” had them. Some Orthodox are so in love with liturgical archeology that they want a Mozarabic liturgy for Hispanics, a Syriac liturgy (or two) for middle-easterners, a “Celtic” liturgy for those Americans who are a quarter Irish, etc. This is unnecessary and more than a bit silly, I think. Once again, all the little local liturgies are pretty, but I don’t think they reflect the ideal condition of what the Church was meant to eventually develop into. Instead, we would be better off thinking of the Church’s liturgies developing into two distinct “families”. So even though I don’t believe in having a zillion local liturgies so that all the converts can feel proud of their ethnicity when they go play their medieval reenactment games in Church on Sunday, I would be foolish to deny the existence of two distinct liturgical mentalities that existed within the Church by the end of the first millennium.” [source]

Rejoinder: To the two families theorum: So, what does one tell the Irish? That they had a Celtic rite for hundreds of years, but that now they should accept a Norman one? How do you determine, in fact, that an Anglican rite is somehow more appropriate to Mexico than a Byzantine one? Perhaps the best response to this, taken out of context of course, is that of St. Sava of Serbia in the 13th century:

At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West while the West considered us to be East. Some of us misunderstood our place in the clash of currents so they cried that we belong to neither side and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell you Ireneus we are doomed by fate to be the East in the West and the West in the East to acknowledge only heavenly Jerusalem beyond us and here on earth–no one.”

This isn’t West Side Story or Romeo & Juliet. The world is bigger than a stage, and if you respond with the kind of localism that denies the Eastern heritage of the US, for instance, including all of her Saints and the rites they brought with them, and in fact separates from them liturgically for the sake of a false localism, then you can’t speak of families, or stop that process elsewhere.

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February 2, 2008 - Posted by | -- Phyletism, -- What is Western?, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Many years into the future I believe the mozarabic liturgy will dominate parts of latin america and the USA in its use alongside the other lovely liturgies which God has blessed us with.

    Comment by ordoromanusprimus | February 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. 🙂 Yes. I just don’t think the ground of the terminology should be yielded to one’s opponents, especially when it’s not so. So instead of St. Tikhon’s rite (no such thing) or Gregorian Rite (that’s a stretch), I needed a term. Anglican rite is what the Anglicans call it, and it’s their book. 🙂

    Comment by tuD | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. When you say “how do you determine that an Anglican Rite is more appropriate to Mexico than a Byzantine one?”

    What do you mean by Anglican Rite? Do you mean the BCP (Tikhonite liturgy)?

    Comment by fatheraugustine | February 2, 2008 | Reply


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