Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

The fathers explain several ways in which the 9th commandment may be violated.

One is outright lying about someone. There are hosts of people who say in their minds that God will vindicate them, because they did it in the name of their cause, and their cause, presumably, is just. But we Orthodox have no such Inquisition; better the heavens fall and our Faith with it, than we presume to need injustice to preserve it. We do not accept that the ends justify the means, nor can any Christian.

Another is slander, which includes telling the truth about someone in a way that will damage his reputation. Most often this means reading off a litany of failings of the other person, such as “he’s divorced”, “his kids don’t speak to him much”, “he used to be a member of ___”, “he’s been associated with ___” (guilt by association is its own category of dishonesty that is beneath the honesty and integrity of any Christian). This includes campaigns of character assassination against dissidents and opponents. Summing up a person in light of his failings always gives a false impression – always false witness. And it further deceives, by tempting the hearer to a sense of superiority.

Then there’s casting suspicion on the other person. In other words, one brings false witness not only if they know the charges are untrue, but if they do not know for certain that the charges are true. This includes blaming someone for things on suspicion alone, claiming that event X has happened, and person Y is probably its cause, or using vague ambiguous and non-specific charges in a Kafkaesque manner.

It is difficult, quite honestly, to discuss significant and real differences about our topics without falling into mockery and belittling anyone. These things indeed would seem to be violations of the 9th commandment. The fathers warn us against even blaming anyone. We must indeed be able to discuss matters of import to the Faith, its future, and the salvation of the faithful. But in doing so, it is imperative that we not lose the Faith we are trying to protect, or lose our own salvation and lead the faithful into the pit with us. Therefore, this is a call to enthusiasts and critics alike to take the high road of discussing issues with some degree of charity, while refusing to target personalities for persecution, something both dishonorable and immoral.

We’ve often been asked to reveal who operates this site. It is not one person alone, and neither are those involved alone, but all have people in their care and loved ones it is their duty to protect. Recently someone was falsely charged with operating this site, and then a potentially actionable campaign of character assassination was carried out against him and members of his family and associates, in the name of some prominent religious personages. In other words, not only has every reason we’ve ever explained for remaining anonymous been validated, proven, and demonstrated, but it is clear that our opponents do not intend to adhere even to the basic levels of decency and honor expected of men, let alone moral and Christian men. They have slandered, cast suspicion, and even outright lied about a man they only suspected to be their primary intellectual opponent. What do you think they would do, if they had confirmed it were correct? Indeed, we know what we’re up against: people who don’t care what the means or methods are, don’t care if the Spirit of God flees from their actions, but intend to destroy their enemy whatever the cost. And these would lead us to Christ? These are shepherds? These are servants of the faithful?

We call you, and you know well who you are, to repentance, and we will repent with you of any similar failings. We ask you to be Christians in your methods, not only in your doctrines, not only in theory. And in fear of the Judgment, we will endeavour with you, to disagree with you, to be intellectual opponents where need be, but to do so without targeting you for destruction, as you have done to others, without campaigns against personalities. Life is brief and passes like a short season. Death is coming soon for us all, as one of the monks says. It will not be long now, and we will be giving account. Let us comport ourselves with the basic civility and decency of civilized and decent men. Let us save ourselves and one another:

I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you brethren: that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Therefore, I beg blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray for me to the Lord our God.


February 22, 2008 - Posted by | -- 9th Commandment, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Reading this entire post, I feel moved to deeper personal conversion and prayer.

    Comment by publican123 | May 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. The example of St ALEXIS and his parish in returning to Orthodoxy was an encouragement to hundreds of other Uniates. The ever-memorable one was like a candle upon a candlestick giving light to others (Mt 5:15), and his flock may be likened to the leaven mixed with meal which leavened the whole (Mt 13:33). Through his fearless preaching he uprooted the tares which had sprung up in the wheat of true doctrine, and exposed the false teachings which had led his people astray. Although he did not hesitate to point out errors in the doctrines of other denominations, he was careful to warn his flock against intolerance. His writings and sermons are filled with admonitions to respect other people and to refrain from attacking their faith. While it is true that he made some strong comments, especially in his private correspondence with the church administration, it must be remembered that this was done while defending the Orthodox Church and the American Mission from unfounded accusations by people who used much harsher language than Father Toth. His opponents may be characterized by intolerance, rude behaviour, unethical methods and threats against him and his parishioners. Yet, when Father ALEXIS was offended or deceived by other people he forgave them, and he would often ask his bishop to forgive his omissions and mistakes. In the midst of great hardships, this herald of godly theology and sound doctrine poured forth an inexhaustible stream of Orthodox writings for new converts, and gave practical advice on how to live in an Orthodox manner. For example, his article “How We should Live in America” stresses the importance of education, cleanliness, sobriety, and the presence of children in church on Sundays and Holy Days.

    – Fr. Steven (concerning St. Alexis Toth)

    Comment by tuD | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. Sent recently to an Orthodox monk:

    Our intellectual opponents, not realizing that we’re not really opponents at all, have been hard at work to ascertain who is involved w. the site, so we can be scandalized or silenced, and have been willing to even take out innocent bystanders . . .

    The most deeply disturbing thing to us is the almost complete disregard for Christian charity, the commandments, the delicacy of the very converts they proclaim a desire to protect, and indeed all our souls, which may easily be lost in such a ruckus. Lord have mercy. The commitment, likewise, to techniques that do not address concerns but overpower them, appeals to authority, appeals to force, attacks on the man… these puzzle us in the extreme, because we desire to contribute to sound thinking and dialogue, but these are the techniques of obliterating both. What could possibly need such support? Only in ecumenism have we seen such commitment to going forward with decisions without discussion, and indeed some of the parallels in that regard add to our concerns.

    We desire only to provide a service to Orthodoxy, that:
    * those who have concerns, but feel threatened or find themselves silenced, may be emboldened to discuss them
    *those who try to overpower concerns will feel scrutinized, less bold to do so, but may be compelled to come to the table in Christian charity
    *those who have authority in Western Rite activites may consider the far-ranging implications and even perhaps some of the smaller concerns that are disturbing to many of us, and perhaps think or see in ways they might not have considered from where they sit, though in our unworthiness we rely on them to perfect these considerations
    *those Bishops in jurisdictions still forming their opinions and insights on these matters, both for their own flocks and in fraternal companionship to the aforementioned, may find our contributions, again unworthy, helpful to their wise counsels and considerations
    *those involved deeply in Western Rites may find us useful, as offering both external and internal critique, in an atmosphere of fiercely defended freedom and candor, indeed freely emphasized at times with humor, irony, satire, and even outright provocative settings, and so may find both impetus and helps to their own insights to perfect their rites, devotions, and communities – not through our wisdom, but through that which God gives – and so present to the world a Western Rite, and Western Rite Communities, and Western Rite devotions, and a Western Orthodoxy as spotless as the the Church herself, and Lamb of God, and Bride of Christ, and so fulfill the deepest vision in the hearts of an Overbeck, or a Fr. Alexander Turner, or indeed a St. John of San Francisco. By the prayers of all these save us.

    This is the true testimony of our desires, our prayers, our hopes, and our firm convictions, given in the hearing of God Almighty, in the witness of witnesses surrounding us, saints of God and Angels, and may we find ourselves ever held to it, unshakeably, in that charity which all Orthodox of any rite must ever share, above all other concerns, if we would face the Judgment on the Last Day with any hope of salvation.

    Comment by tuD | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] La Coctelera: Quisiera ser la miel que endulce tu amargura… – Inicio wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptLet justice be done, though the mountains fall. The fathers explain several ways in which the 9th commandment may be violated. One is outright lying about someone. There are hosts of people who say in their minds that God will vindicate them, because they did it in the name of their cause, and their cause, presumably, is just. But we Orthodox have no such Inquisition; better the mountains fall and our Faith with it, than we presume to need injustice to preserve it. We do not accept that the en […]

    Pingback by Let justice be done, though the mountains fall. | February 22, 2008 | Reply

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