Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Approaching the Rail


Pain BenitSt. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church (WRV): “However, you are invited and encouraged to come to the altar rail for a blessing from the priest and to receive a piece of the non-sacramental Pain Benit (Antidoron). This is a bread of fellowship which is not the Holy Sacrament, but a sign of our wish to include visitors in a sense of fellowship and hospitality in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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March 3, 2008 - Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , ,

18 Comments »

  1. I think we are, substantially, agreeing.

    When I mention post-schism texts like Chaucer and the Ancren Wisse, I’m not doing that because I’m authorizing everything about their spirituality and piety.

    Rather, I think we could all agree that if the Eastern Rite had fallen into apostasy, the liturgies and societal structures that were created by the Spirit in that culture during its Orthodox period would in some sense still be holy and precious things, since they were the workmanship of the Holy Ghost. Over time, of course, their liturgies would change and the societal structures/pieties would decay and collapse. Just as, in the West, the liturgy has undergone gradual corruption and the Orthodox societal structures and pieties have fallen into almost total disrepair.

    In a time period like Chaucer’s, we are still looking at a culture which bears the profound impress of Latin Orthodoxy. The customs I mentioned (like the “Benedicite” greeting), are pre-schism practices still enduring in Chaucer’s day – just as they endures in the Greek Church (like the common greeting, “evloghite”). Indeed, since Western society was built upon the edifice of Latin Orthodoxy, there remains a very real impress and lingering memory of the native Orthodoxy in all Western society. It has been severely savaged in most places, but it remains.

    These things were sanctified by the Spirit, born from a society that celebrated a True Liturgy and based its entire life upon it. These customs, practices and rites – taken by themselves – are truly a dead thing, as you say. Yet, because they were born of the Spirit and sanctified by Orthodox living, they are not devoid of a certain innate, spiritual value.

    Orthodoxy (regardless of rite) can certainly breathe the most important thing back into Western culture: the Spirit, the Eucharist, the Divinizing Energies. Nothing I say should be interpreted as a slight against that fact.

    My only point, is that the reclamation of that particular Orthodox piety (I don’t think it is wrong to speak of the various rites – and even ethnic variations on those rites – as having a different “piety” if we understand this in a pious fashion), upon which the Latin territories of Western civilization were based, is a powerful act of repentance, a powerful act of affirming the work God did in our culture (which we rejected through apostasy), and a more Orthodox, holistic approach to renewing Western culture.

    My emphasis is not on the aesthetics as of primary importance. Orthodoxy is incarnational, however, and I don’t believe that “aesthetics” are irrelevant. I believe that the aesthetics of an Orthodox people are an expression of their particular genius as transfigured and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Since the brightness of the Spirit’s light in Western culture still lingered on, albeit fading, even for some time after the Schism, a tremendous portion of Western culture can be appreciated in a proper context, if Western people learn once more to value the Spirit’s work in establishing their society.

    Incidentally, even the prayers I mentioned from the Ancren Wisse were pre-schism. My point, is that because Western culture all the way up until the Reformation really retained a tremendous amount of its Orthodox “shape,” almost all Western culture up until that point has tremendous points of contact with pre-schism Latin Orthodoxy. Amongst the simple folk, it hardly changed, I’m sure. It took Henry VIII, Wars of Religion and the Counter-Reformation to substantially alter the piety of the people. This is still true, albeit to a lesser degree, even up to the present day. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Old Catholics, Catholics and Methodists may all recognize the famous “prologue” to the anaphora in the Roman Orthodox rite, for example.

    Also incidentally, the only authentic, surviving Celtic Liturgy is very clearly a recension of the Roman Mass, with local twists.

    And lastly, this is to say nothing of the tremendous amounts of pre-schism piety and spirituality that are important. For example, all the tremendously beautiful Anglo-Saxon, Christian poetry that often makes reference to pious customs of the day. Or, reading the pre-schism lives of the saints, which often make reference to the Church’s practices and liturgy. I think it is a God-pleasing thing, if Orthodox Western Christians can participate so fully in the Orthodoxy that sanctified the foundations of their culture, that they can have the same experience as Eastern Riters when reading their Saints’ lives. I.e., when we read the story about the famous martyrs who showed up in Church and read the lessons for their feast day, Eastern Rite people recognize that point in the service, and now exactly what is being discussed. It would be ideal, if Western people could have the same sense of connection to their culture and their saints, and participate in the life of the Church in the same (or a very similar) manner. As I say, the Byzantine Rite could begin a new “phase” in Western Orthodox culture – but it would take a long time before this was really flourishing, and it would still leave this tremendous “gap” where the old West was concerned.

    You mentioned that our gospel is not one of “being established in one’s roots.” Of course not, and I would never suggest such a thing. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not something we would encourage, if possible. The naked Gospel is one thing. But, the ideal ordering of Christian life on as thoroughly solid a base as possible is something we would strive for, even when this goes beyond the bounds of “just the Gospel.” The Gospel, hopefully, sets peoples’ lives right in all sorts of ways, not just in the way which is most important. This reclamation of our society’s foundations is not necessary, nor an essential part of our Gospel. That doesn’t mean it’s not something, about which we can be enthusiastic and encouraging. Just like good music, quality icons and the best craftmanship for the Church and Her paraphernalia. None of those things are “our Gospel.” But they help us live our Gospel more fully.

    Augustine

    Comment by fatheraugustine | April 2, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thank you for this exchange. As someone received into the Russian Orthodox Church last year, I felt and still feel little attraction for a grand synthesis approach to Orthodoxy.

    Having also studied world religions especially Buddhism and Hinduism, having known in particular a fairly famous Buddhist monk, scholar and translator, he himself criticized among Western converts to Buddhism the propensity towards eclectism. I say this not to inject heresy or apostasy but a sort of baseline, to evoke a backdrop. It is a sort attention deficit disorder combined with hoarding syndrome, backed up with sloppy “thinking.” In the end, it amounts to not giving up one’s stuff or hearing the call “to leave all things behind.”

    Compassionately speaking, the formation of Orthodox phromena is a process. I’ll apply this to myself. But when “converts” enter Orthodoxy with the sense that “We’re going to show those Orthodox” something else is happening, and let’s be frank about this, has happened. And this has in some denominations been granted sanction by those in the clergy and the hierarchy.

    I don’t think the megachurch view subtley veiled will ever yield a calendar of martyrs. Like the proverbial frog slowly boiled in water, we easily normalize how far world cultures have fallen. But the “world” was never the way. The statistics are in.

    Comment by publican123 | March 28, 2008 | Reply

  3. Well, I sort of agree with this. We’re disagreeing about something though, I can sense it’s shape there – maybe I’ve mis-identified what we’re disagreeing on. I know you’re going places with it that I certainly can’t feel comfortable with.
    The above remarks, while concise, don’t show me the whole curve. I see you claiming that a Byzantine Rite requires starting a new culture, but I don’t think so; for one thing, the Byzantine Rite has been in the West for quite some time now. The old Celtic Rite is closer to it, imo, as well, and adherents of WR are seizing on the Norman Period for some reason that they’re not admitting. Or else a Latin rite. But not a WR per se. It’s got to be done a certain way, we keep hearing, but that way isn’t interested in being Western, it’s interested in something much more precise. So I’m looking for the reason, not the justification. Likewise, there is no culture in the West, not really. This is an anti-culture. Anything is really beginning again. But honestly, I think one can’t get back; as far as I’m concerned, the world is a write-off and is ending, and the heart of it is Western-ism. I would love to think that you can create a great civilization from a rite, but I don’t think that’ so.

    And I don’t believe you think it’s so either. A rite is just a piece of paper. And that’s where I really wish we’d talk the same language. Because I think what you really believe is that the piece of paper will help create religious communities that will either replace the existing ones (as they “die out” – God forbid), or (change over in the successive generations – which is just another way of saying someone will decide that for them), or existing in a dual track environment (again, God forbid). I’ve got no problem with having 16 rites in one locale – I’ve got a problem with having the things you want that you’re calling “rites” that aren’t – such as different calendars, different fasting rules, different pieties, and most especially a different spirituality and sociological attitude. I think this is the most unwise move since the calendar innovation. It’s either an ecumenist sham (for those who are selling it to us, but have a different agenda) or else a misguided optimism (for those who haven’t taken full stock of the depravity of Western Culture and what things this will cause). In other words, it works exactly like ecumenism did in the early days. Fr. Georges (Florovsky not Florensky) is wonderful, but like so many others, he put hope in something that ultimately created immense harm and only less obviously so because much of the embarrassment is concealed from casual view. The average church member doesn’t know how stupid were some of the things we really did, and it’s probably better they don’t know. I think we’re going there again.

    I just can’t be optimistic, because I think those who are driving this for the sake of union with Rome are going to ruin your hopes, if you’re sincere, and the culture is going to devour the rest of them, because it has become the antithesis of culture, the abyss of any such attempts at restoration. Western culture, in my view, is a fallen angel. Not that it ever was the great bright beacon that we might like to think, was it? I mean, when really was the lost golden age? The third century? OK, but it’d be kind of silly to try to think of “recovering” that. And honestly, we don’t want it. We don’t want the morality and gravity, the rationality. We want our comfortable resource consumption, our “rights”, or pseudo-democracies. In my view, anything we create will be a bastardization, like putting a dress on a sow.

    And frankly, I think it quite historically, religiously, and morally appropriate that the only way back now, is to come out of Sodom, and not even glance back at it. To come out of Ur of the Chaldees. To leave Egypt altogether. The best thing that ever happened to converts (and again, we’re talking about convert culture here, not really anything else), is having to make a conscious decision that he kingdom is worth abandoning the filthy city. You see what I mean?

    Comment by tuD | March 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Actually, you’ve misunderstood my view of culture.

    I don’t view Christianity as the product of culture. Quite the opposite: in fact, that’s what “culture” means (from the Latin ‘cultus’ = worship = culture). The idea, is that the religious beliefs and rites of a people give birth to “culture.”

    Thus, the Liturgy is not the “denial of the cultural impulse,” it is the genesis of culture.

    Precisely because the Eucharist, the Mass, the Liturgy, in the form it was offered in the West, shaped that culture, the culture is holy as a result of it. To salvage the Western Rite, then, is to heal (salvage = preserve/heal) Western culture.

    The Byzantine Rite can do the same thing… but it would begin again, and start a new culture. I think the more holistic and Orthodox approach, is to preserve the sacredness of the Christian West, by once again esteeming and celebrating the Mass that made it Holy. This is to bring about the most natural healing that I can think of.

    Augustine

    Comment by fatheraugustine | March 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. Father Augustine. It’s with regret that I disagree with you twice in one day, especially given how much I like and appreciate your contributions. But I must.

    You cite culture rather than blood as the reasons for affinity with a rite. But then you appeal to your personal experience as the only real explication of that affinity. Let me just cite my personal experience, so we’re back to square one: I feel at home in either rite, without reference to the culture, because I think of both of them as a repudiation of the dominant culture, rather than an extension of them. To the eyes they are only bread and wine – they are only the products of culture, and so we critique them on that basis, if we only see with the eyes. But in fact, they are the fulfillment of culture, and so a denial of the cultural impulse, just as Holy Communion is the feast that repudiates gluttony. We step out of cultural time when we step into the liturgy. We have no Rennaissance, no Enlightenment. The Kingdoms of this World are transformed, saved, deified into the Kingdoms of God. What you’re appealing to, in part, in my opinion, is a Western philosophy of culture that grew up precisely in a heterodox framework, namely the creation of Christianity by culture, whereas strangely, you don’t see that attitude in Russian history until Westernization hits it. You see culture taken up into Christianity and redeemed. It’s the other way around.

    But if we’re just talking about a set of our own feelings, what makes your feelings more telling of these things than mine, and the overwhelming majority of Orthodox (including converts) in the US who are crazily at home in the so-called “Eastern” or “Byzantine” rites. Not that I concede those terms, except in origin. They’re OUR rites. That IS our heritage. If we’re just offering opinions and feelings as the evidence, those are mine – perfect comfort in the rite (without reference to culture as such) and confusion when someone wants to suggest the rite is somehow less my heritage than some other rite. My heritage is that which my fathers gave me. And my fathers, in the United States, are Russian, and a Greek and Antiochian or two. That’s the *definition* of heritage, father – it’s following in the footsteps of those from whom I inherited and received the Faith (directly, physically, person to person) in the first place. And that’s not the Roman Catholics or the Episcopalians or the High Church Protestants, and certainly cannot be. They long ago ceased to follow our fathers, or I’d join their Church this moment, and simultaneously hold citizenship in mine. But we really are different faiths.

    In my view, Father, this is all a game we’re all playing with words. A scam. An Ethiopian Chain Letter of religious assumptions designed to evoke trust in a thing that cannot be trusted, because we already recognize what it is.

    On your finding latin references and references to Roman Catholic religious pieties in various mediaeval texts, such as Chaucer, I think it’s very telling that you’re citing post-schism texts. So your argument is circular. You’re saying, I find my Orthodox heritage of the West when I read post-schism heterodox writers who have something that once was Orthodox. By that argument, we should also be comfortable with tossing rites out altogether, and going with Western Protestantism, because after all, it helps me better understand Western Protestant books, which likewise have a residue of Orthodoxy. I think your logic is tenuous.

    You might have a point (not really, but almost) if you were advocating a Latin Rite rather than a Western Rite in English, but of course, then the notion of appealing to people’s culture goes away, and you’re really appealing to your own education – everyone else is standing there not understanding enough to recognize their culture, where at least in the Eastern Rite here, we speak English. How ironic, that we would be more Western on any given Sunday than a Latin Rite any day.

    You wax optimistic and rhetorical with a number of unsupported and dare I say supersitious assertions:
    “Western people who convert should reclaim their heritage” (I’m not buying it: for all the flaws we keep pointing out in that argument. What have I to do with Germany or Ireland – what you want is to create some false modern construction of “Western” and impose it over a mediaeval time that never knew of such a thing (unless you mean Frankish, God forbid), and even that was highly localized, and claim that somehow it’s attached to me. Speak for yourself: this to me, whenever WR people advocate it, is always a superstition, because there’s no such thing in history (in reality); it’s made up. What cultural heritage? Name the exact time period, language group, artistic school, philosophical school, governmental structures, etc. that are my heritage. This is like running a biorhythm or an astrology sign. We’re appealing to a flat earth that never was. And pretending it’s all one big homogenous “western” soup, when that’s balderdash. My friend, THERE IS NO WEST! Not back then. Not like that. You’re appealing to mythology. But it gets worse. The only corpus you can appeal to and call it this mythical west isn’t a culture at all – nope – it’s a religion – heterodoxy. You can appeal to Roman Catholicism as the only case for a single unified Western cultural something or ism. And if that, then what you’re really calling for is a conversion, not a reclamation. Besides which our religion, father, is not about reclaiming cultural heritage. That’s idolatry. That’s political gospel. It isn’t Orthodox.

    You’re slipping in the notion that if we give people Roman Catholicism, corrected, they’ll understand their art works from the past better, and be less detached from their “roots” and bond into greater stability, unity, etc. That’s not our gospel. Ours is not a commission to help people better understand their aesthetics, because in that art is the key to remaining in the Faith. I give up. Frankly, I don’t even know how we can talk about this stuff with a straight face. I’m looking at the false cause issues with your comments (why people apostacize, etc), the theoretical but unproven cultural and religious planning (if we do x, they won’t do y), and I think it’s a great temptation, but not a proper religious activity for us. This is the planned society in religious context. It’ll fail out of principle. I do not think it will be what you think it will be once you’ve done it.

    I’m beginning to wonder, father, if the planners of Western Rites are really, in some sense, building a new religion. And I can tell you that I, and a whole host of Westerners not only won’t follow, precisely because what you’re building is NOT our heritage, and flies in the face of our heritage, and repudiates how heritage works, and substitutes the world where grace belongs, but also I think it will become something that we’ll ultimately not be able to commune with. And so it will really create another religion, out of us, or the thing you build. I hope you fail earlier than that, or ammend what you’re doing so we can embrace it, but right now, I see so much of what I consider “magic” and “make believe” in these theories, that I don’t have a lot of hope for it.

    Comment by tuD | March 21, 2008 | Reply

  6. Don’t angels speak and understand all languages?

    Comment by asimplesinner | March 19, 2008 | Reply

  7. Do then agree, father, that the angels in heaven speak Latin?

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | March 19, 2008 | Reply

  8. I think that, taken too far, the idea that rite is inhernently tied to blood is wrong. In fact, it approaches the heresy of phyletism.

    But, there is something to it – and it has a lot to do with culture in general (not the physical make-up of someone’s blood). I know that, when I first discovered the Orthodox liturgy of my ancestors, it struck a profound chord with me – not that I wasn’t moved by the Byzantine liturgy, which is beautiful. I was simply moved and simultaneously “home.” In a Byzantine Church I am moved, and home insofar as Christ and the Saints are there. But culturally, no – I mean, you’re using scales and music which, while beautiful, are not a part of your culture. You are surrounded with iconography that is redolent of the East (I believe the general style of Byzantine iconography is holy and universal – but one sees differences between the ancient iconography of the Orthodox West, and that of the East, in subtle manners such as colour, etc.). You are painfully aware of how you are a “visitor” in another people’s culture. And it is heartbreaking to feel so at home, and so exiled, simultaneously.

    And the cultural importance of the Latin “heritage” is broader than this, even. For example, I just re-read a lot of Chaucer to write a report for my History Class. When reading Chaucer talk about religious customs of the Church – for example, the way that people greeted each other (and especially monks) with “Benedicite” (like in Greek, “Evloghite”), I realized that Orthodox Christians in the West would be able to understand the great works of their culture’s art and literature better, if they once again embraced their Latin Orthodoxy. I and my friends greet each other with “benedicite.” When I find it in Chaucer, therefore, it deepens my immediate ability to relate to and experience Chaucer – an important part of my culture. When reading any of the great works of the Middle Ages, such an intimate knowledge of our Latin Orthodox heritage opens the treasures up and heals the brokenness our culture experienced through the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. For example, I read the “Ancren Wisse.” The book was covered in footnotes because the author used so many abbreviations (often in Latin) to refer to prayers and devotions, that there were almost more footnotes than text.

    But I found myself in a very unique position – probably one not experienced by many people since before the Reformation – of being immediately familiar with all of them not through academic knowledge, but through daily, personal experience.

    The author says things like “When you first arise, bless yourself and say In Nomine, and begin anon Veni Creator with the versicle Emitte Spiritum Tuum and the orison Deus, Qui corda fidelium.”

    That is exactly how I begin every day, and had been doing it for years before I ever read the Ancren Wisse.

    Or, you’ll see a list of something like this:

    Ego dixi
    Converte Dmne
    Fiat misericordia
    Sacerdotes Tui
    Ab occultis
    Domine exaudi
    Dominus Vobiscum
    Oremus. Deus cui omni cor

    Now, people formed in WR Orthodoxy would instantly know to what all these things referred as a thing of daily familiarity. In short, reclaiming our Orthodox past allows us to stand not only in unanimity of faith and practice with our ancestors (not a necessary, but certainly a desirable thing) but also allows Western man to once again understand his culture and be a part of it. A large part of the relatavism and godlessness of our culture, comes from its complete isolation and detachment from everything that came before. When Western people become Orthodox, I think it is important that they reclaim their own cultural past, because this will help them to heal the inner isolation and division from their roots, which gives people a type of stability. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen apostatize even from the Eastern Rite of Orthodoxy, because Orthodoxy was just a mentality for them. Until Western people have Orthodoxy and some kind of real sense of their history, I think they will approach even the Eastern Rite in a detached spirit, no matter how much they try to avoid this. If we were converts from Paganism with no Christian past, then our heritage would be one of Pagan converts. But since our culture was built upon the edifice of Orthodox Christianity, it will never be healed until it repents and embraces it afresh. And for those of us who are Western, that healing will most effectively come to pass, through embracing our own heritage of Orthodoxy, and not permitting the good works that God wrought in our society to permanently disappear.

    Augustine

    Comment by fatheraugustine | March 19, 2008 | Reply

  9. I only question the repeated use of the concept of heritage. I’ve never believed the claim that there’s an affinity with a rite based on a quantity of blood. It’s like blood and soil – the connection, to me, is superstitious.

    There are some who contend that the rite is really a continuity with the heterodox experience of new converts, but that’s really a different context, isn’t it? You’re the exception, then, if we consider it that way. We’re talking about new converts from heterodoxy almost exclusively most of the time. The rest is just a hypothetical rare exception.

    And if that’s the case, then the question is whether it’s really wise to preserve the continuity with things that have become so embedded with heterodox thinking that quite likely a full conversion is doubtful. Or would it not be better to see the development of an Orthodox mind precisely by means of the contrast with the heterodox one?

    The problem is less the concept of a WR than what it is in practice. The same was true of the calendar and of ecumenism. Many were quite hopeful and optimistic at first, because conservatism is always hampered by a lack of vision. It is the gnostics that have the real insight into how change occurs and what kind of change it is. Conservatism, in faith or elsewhere, is by its own nature hampered in thinking far off.

    The WR people I see aren’t building Orthodox communities, but merely ones that fly the Orthodox flag – they’re Orthodox by fiat but something else in spirit. That doesn’t mean a WR isn’t possible, but then you’ve already exceeded talking about a text, and we all know we’re talking about something far more than a book and a few readings.

    Comment by tuD | March 19, 2008 | Reply

  10. Actually, I humbly find fault with the idea being posited here – namely, that it is still a “Byzantinization” if the inspiration for restoring a Latin Orthodox practice is a modern Greek one.

    This mentality is sure to destroy what hopes the Western Rite has, of recovering the riches of her full tradition.

    The entire reason I have entered the Eastern Rite of the Church prior to pursuing any involvement in the Western Rite, is because I believe one should learn Orthodoxy – if possible – by participating as closely as possible in a chain of tradition. For obvious reasons, the Eastern Rite Churches have people who have been “brought up” in Orthodoxy and formed there for many years.

    For that reason, this isn’t really a question of “rite,” either. I deliberately attended a parish Church that was two hours’ drive from me (rather than a local parish comprised almost entirely of new converts), not because I looked down on the converts as “less orthodox,” but simply because I knew the opportunity to receive a more solid formation existed within the other parish (where people had been Orthodox for many years).

    In short: because the Eastern Rite has more “direct” contact with the chain of tradition and formation, I look to the riches of Orthodoxy in the Eastern Rite, for inspiration and guidance in discovering my own Latin Orthodox heritage. So, when the pious, God-blessed and hallowed practices of the “Byzantine” Church point me to pious, God-blessed and hallowed practices of the Latin Orthodox Church, I thank God for the gift and wholeheartedly revive and embrace the Latin customs that are so consonant with Eastern Orthodox piety and practice.

    What’s more – this was the counsel of St. John the Wonderworker to the Western Rite: Love your own rites and embrace them, and always strive to bring out their fulness as time goes by.

    When Western Rite people begin again such wonderful practices as eulogeia or pain benit, we should bless God for the wonderful work He is doing, of restoring their Orthodox heritage to them after it had been ravaged by the enemy. We should be repenting during this holy season of Lent – not accusing our Western Rite brethren of “stealing” from the East when they actually re-invigorate God-pleasing customs from their Latin heritage. Or, would we rather they *not* experience the fulness of Orthodoxy? Is that the price we would make them pay, so we can retain exclusive ownership of everything that resembles something in Byzantium?

    Thank God that they were inspired (if they were) by the Eastern heritage. Surely that is a good thing. In fact, pray that they will find inspiration from the East to revive more and more of their Latin Orthodox heritage. That is the role that the Eastern Rite should play, in helping to rehabilitate us limping converts, crawling off the bloody battlefield of Western apostasy.

    Augustine

    Comment by fatheraugustine | March 19, 2008 | Reply

  11. Ah, in the other comment section, I forgot to mention the need to align in pieties in order to ensure the coming union with Rome. We’ll need our people … er… sheeple… doing mostly the same things, with the same mentality.

    Comment by tuD | March 7, 2008 | Reply

  12. hieromonachusaidanus , I am glad that I was able to give you a spring board to expound on a point of constradistinction… But that roundly misses the point.

    Going through the motions and effort of trying to find a roughly similar praxis in the (East/West), dusting it off of obscurity, inserting it in where the (East/West) ever so casually has a living tradition, and then calling it (1) correspondant and (2) an ancient restoration… When in fact it is neither.

    But the mere fact it is referred parenthetically as “(Antidoron)” is telling.

    On the meditation of the mystery of the Rosary – you obviously have never prayed it with Greek Catholic slovaks… The meditation is in each prayer, brush up on your Slovak and go listen.

    Comment by asimplesinner | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  13. It’s true I’m unacquainted with the prevalence of pain benit in the protestant Anglican rite over the last 100 years. I also am not sure what the prevalence was of distributing pain benit in the AWRV prior to, say, 10 years ago. It is a pre-Schism practice, so most of the history of the eulogium or “pain benit” or “holy loaf” did not involve any altar rail, altar rails being an invention of the Reformation era.

    Regarding the “Rule of Prayer… according to St. Seraphim,” it must be borne in mind that St. Seraphim never practised or taught, to our knowledge, any portion of that rule. If I recall, a disciple of a disciple of St. Seraphim’s came up with that rule, and half of Russia (to speak hyperbolically) were disciples of St. Seraphim. In other words, there is no proven connection between St. Seraphim and doing an Easternised rosary. Furthermore, those who use a rosary don’t actually use the “Rule of Prayer,” etc. format–they by and large use R. Catholic forms.

    The one thing that is cut-and-dried wrong with the rosary is the idea of praying the words of a prayer while pondering another thing–a mystery or whatnot. That is sheer delusion. The mind must be enclosed in the actual prayer at hand, or our inner house is divided.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  14. Greek Catholics with special attachment to the Rosary but wishing to be extra vostochnik have gone out of their way to justify “The Rule of Prayer to the Mother of God according to Saint Seraphim of Sarov”… That is all well and good and nice, but just pray your rosary and admit where you were inspired to do so.

    Comment by asimplesinner | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  15. The Byzantinization is Anglican-Rite Orthodox dusting off and interjecting “Pain Benit” into this service… Appeal to Sarum usage or French custom (in my research I can’t find precedent for it being done at the alar rail in the last century) is odd to say the least.

    Sure it can be found in the west if you go looking…

    Would they have gone looking if it weren’t still in the East?

    Comment by asimplesinner | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  16. I fail to see what is a byzantinisation here. The practice of blessing bread which is distributed after Mass is a rather universal, ancient Western custom which never entirely died out even in the R. Catholic church. It is definitely part of the Sarum use of the Roman rite, and has also been well-received by WR Orthodox in general. Because the custom was more retained amongst French Catholics than Anglophone Catholics, it is not surprising in the least that WR converts would keep up the familiar “pain benit” terminology. More power to them.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | March 4, 2008 | Reply

  17. Speaking of trying too hard (to justify something):

    This isn’t Western Rite (it is Western ecumenism), but it’s certainly an excellent example of misunderstanding of economia:

    You may be aware that there have been many exceptions to this practice. I myself was present when a top-ranking Orthodox hierarch was told by an Orthodox pastor that some of the faithful approaching the chalice were Catholics and yet he lovingly administered the Holy Mysteries to them.

    You see, in Orthodoxy there are two ways of observing the canons of the Church. There is the way of strict adherence which is called “akriveia” (Greek – and I am not completely sure of the correct transcription of that rare word) and there is the way of “ekonomeia” – which means that, when the case warrants it, an exception is made without abrogating the rule or giving grounds for citing a precedent and thereby continually acting in such a manner in the future.
    — From here.

    When economia is used to justify what is plainly forbidden, heretical, and even makes the clergy involved depose themselves, we’re not talking about Orthodoxy anymore.

    Comment by tuD | March 4, 2008 | Reply

  18. Huh? Anglican-rite folks are trying a little too hard with this one… putting a French name on a Byzantinization during an Anglican liturgy is entirely too wierd. Greek Catholics have been accused of some oddity and Latinization, but that one takes the pain!

    How many of these parishes and missions have their own permanent church building?

    From the New Advent online version of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia:“Later, when the faithful no longer furnished the altar-bread, a custom arose of bringing bread to the church for the special purpose of having it blessed and distributed among those present as token of mutual love and union, and this custom still exists in the Western Church, especially in France. This blessed bread was called panis benedictus, panis lustratus, panis lustralis, and is now known in France as pain bénit. It differs from the eulogia mentioned above, because it is not a part of the oblation from which the particle to be consecrated in the Mass is selected, but rather is common bread which receives a special benediction. In many places it is the custom for each family in turn to present the bread on Sundays and feast days, while in other places only the wealthier families furnish it. Generally the bread is presented with some solemnity at the Offertory of the parochial Mass, and the priest blesses it before the Oblation of the Host and Chalice, but different customs exist in different dioceses. The prayer ordinarily used for the blessing is the first or second: benedictio panis printed in the Roman missal and ritual. The faithful were exhorted to partake of it in the church, but frequently it was carried home. This blessed bread is a sacramental, which should excite Christians to practice especially the virtues of charity, and unity of spirit, and which brings blessings to those who partake of it with due devotion. The Church, when blessing it, prays that those who eat it may receive health both of soul and body: “ut omnes ex eo gustantes inde corporis et animae percipant sanitatem”; “ut sit omnibus sumentibus salus mentis et corporis”. In some instances the pain bénit was used not only with superstitious intent, and its virtues exaggerated beyond measure, but also for profane purposes. This usage was brought from France to Canada, and was practised chiefly in the province of Quebec. There the pain bénit had blessed immediately after the Asperges, and then distributed to those who assisted at high Mass. The parishioners furnished it in turn, and vied with one another in presenting as rich and fine a pain bénit as possible, until finally the bishops, seeing that it entailed too much expense upon the poor circumstances, prohibited it. Within the last twenty-five and thirty years the custon has almost entirely disappeared. “

    Comment by asimplesinner | March 4, 2008 | Reply


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