Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Western Rites and the “Episcopalianizing” of Orthodoxy


Lambeth - Orthodox - AnglicanThe Marcionites would be happy with what the Western Rite enthusiasts have been trying to achieve. A church within a church, a confession within a confession. This pattern – this template – is the gnostic/masonic/revolutionary template from of old. It creates “unity in diversity” by creating within a religious body another religious body that cannot exist outside it but is in contradiction to that in which it inheres. This has been done to every major religious confession. It’s essentially the translation of universalism and the filioque into an ecclesiological expression.

Observe how it was done with the Episcopal Church. The 1979 prayer book gave us not just two different rites, as the 1928 continued to be used simultaneously in most churches (though, as in this case, proponents kept claiming it was all about rites and rites alone); what it did was elucidate, exacerbate, and continue producing two religious cultures, one within the other, but each in contradiction to the other (despite the harmony the enthusiasts would claim). Even the most optimistic glossers of those events now can scarcely deny that the chickens of contradiction have come home to roost. In the early morning hours, the high-church protestant wing, adhering to the ’28 books, would show up to say the spoken prayers. In the later hours, the quasi-catholic wing, to whom the ’79 book and its culture were now effectively glued, showed up with its charismatic converts to sing the new writ (the former would show up to vigils and such, too). And so the holders of the old way were forced into an ever more Protestant mold, while the holders of the catholic way were melded to the new movement. Effectively, this coopted, compromised, and weakened both.

And so tensions that were already there were exacerbated in the extreme, leading to the present troubles. The 28ers began to lose their catholicity for the sake of their Anglicanism, as they left in droves for Continuing groups. The 79ers, offering the heroic myth of a return to ancient practices, found their “catholicity” in indeed embracing all, but therefore putting them at odds with their own moral standards, and so further dividing them. You can’t embrace everything without becoming nothing. When you’re self-definition is open-ended, people will throw a lot of garbage into it. Defections from each ‘canonical’ group to the other became rampant, satisfying neither the leaving nor the receiving parties. The “Continuing” solution, of freezing the religious assets, as it were, simply created little museums dedicated to a myth of purity and the golden age. Now two great myths collided and fed on one another.

In effect, the complete fragmentation of Anglicanism we are currently witnessing is leading not to the end of Anglicanism, but the transformation of it into a faceless goo that is the raw material to be reformatted into something altogether new – something that prepares it for a more global apostasy. And none of its splinters, or splinters within splinters, whether they be in communion or contradistinction, admit fully what has happened.

It’s not a long leap to looking at the same template in relation to the Western Rite and so-called Byzantine Rite. The ’79 and ’28 prayer books overlay quite neatly. It’s “just about rites”, right? We even have the attendant claims of “returns to more ancient practices” and “embracing the culture that surrounds us” – same things the Episcopalians were saying and many now rue – when they’re dealing in reality at all. But one doesn’t even have to squint to see all the rhetoric about a shift in religious culture being trumpeted by Western Rite enthusiasts in one place while simultaneously denied with shrugs and protests in another. This template is that template. The necessary stages in the preparation of any amalgum include a distillation, a simplification, and extraction of the right isotope to define the necessary parts going into the new whole.

One needn’t even mention that this same alchemical process went to work on the great Protestant confessions, and didn’t have far to run to distill them into elements more akin to an ultra-fragmented fundamentalism in some cases, something like episcopalianism in others, and an ultra-refined generic mega-church (a kind of religious androgyny) in the rest.

If you want to see the future of “Orthodoxy” in the vision of those making the most enthusiastic noise about “Western Rites”, you have only to look around you at the crumbling pillars of Rome and her children. The very religiosity into which they wish to initiate us is being boiled down, and our participation will be courted as the ‘recovery’ of something lost (merely an earlier stage in the process) and the ‘purification’ of what was fundamentally fine (a different stew than our fathers ever knew). We are being asked to embrace a new Orthodoxy, a traditional Orthodoxy, and a continuing Orthodoxy, all within the same confession. We are being asked to become Episcopalians in culture and Orthodox in name.

So-called “Western Orthodoxy” is merely a symbol of this process and a symptom of the new order being formed, a different ecclesiology, a pseudo-ekklesia. In and of itself, it certainly has significant problems, many of which have been rather universally recognized [survey]. In terms of what its progress is telling us about the contemporary Orthodox movement (and the very fact that it is movement, and can no longer be considered static or a state – and so now has much in common with the Episcopalian experience) — in those terms, it points to much larger problems that are as yet, just as with the Episcopalians, not widely or fully acknowledged. This despite the countless warnings of monastic communities, ascetic saints, Orthodox prophets, and holy martyrs. Lord have mercy.

You’d think the Episcopalians would like what these folk are up to, but anyone that has suffered what many of them have, through this process, could only look at it with sadness, and perhaps a will to help us fight it. The ones chasing it like a grail are those ‘true believers’ who still think the key problems are gays and women priests, and miss the point entirely. For them, an Episcopalianized Orthodoxy, especially a Western Orthodoxy, is a mirage, and they’re greedily gulping down what many of us recognize as sand. The sad thing is that we are feeding it to them, in the name of disseminating the Faith. This can only happen when we have begun to lose our Faith the same way they did: Quite literally by losing The Faith.

The Marcionites, Masons, and Revolutionaries should be happy, but no one else will be. Not when, instead of coming home to roost, our dove departs for the last time.

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June 9, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- What is Western? | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

St. Raphael on Anglicanism


Pastoral Letter of Bishop Raphael

To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox
Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centers; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox Faith, as many of the prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy—the Book of Common Prayer—I wrote a letter as Bishop and Head of the Syrian-Orthodox Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly requested. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the one hand, to help my people spiritually, and, on the other hand, to open the way toward bringing the Anglicans into the communion of the Holy Orthodox Faith.

On hearing and in reading that my letter, perhaps unintentionally, was misconstrued by some of the Episcopalian (Anglican) clergy, I wrote a second letter in which I pointed out that my instructions and exceptions had been either overlooked or ignored by many, to wit:

a) They (the Episcopalians) informed the Orthodox people that I recognized the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church) as being united with the Holy Orthodox Church and their ministry, that is holy orders, as valid.

b) The Episcopal (Anglican) clergy offered their ministrations even when my Orthodox clergy were residing in the same towns and parishes, as pastors.

c) Episcopal clergy said that there was no need of the Orthodox people seeking the ministrations of their own Orthodox priests, for their (the Anglican) ministrations were all that were necessary.

I, therefore, felt bound by all the circumstances to make a thorough study of the Anglican Church’s faith and orders, as well as of her discipline and ritual. After serious consideration I realized that it was my honest duty, as a member of the College of the Holy Orthodox Greek Apostolic Church, and head of the Syrian Mission in North America, to resign from the vice-presidency of and membership in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union. At the same time, I set forth, in my letter of resignation, my reason for so doing.

I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices, as well as the discipline, of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definitions of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic-minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulous is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what She teaches. Like Her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria—which He in His mercy pardons—She is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8) the mother and safe deposit of the truth as it is in Jesus (cf. Eph. 4:21).

The Orthodox Church differs absolutely with the Anglican Communion in reference to the number of Sacraments and in reference to the doctrinal explanation of the same. The Anglicans say in their Catechism concerning the Sacraments that there are “two only as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.” I am well aware that, in their two books of homilies (which are not of a binding authority, for the books were prepared only in the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth for priests who were not permitted to preach their own sermons in England during times both politically and ecclesiastically perilous), it says that there are “five others commonly called Sacraments” (see homily in each book on the Sacraments), but long since they have repudiated in different portions of their Communion this very teaching and absolutely disavow such definitions in their “Articles of Religion” which are bound up in their Book of Common Prayer or Liturgy as one of their authorities.

The Orthodox Church has ever taught that there are seven Sacraments. She plainly points out the fact that each of the seven has an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual Grace, and that they are of gospel and apostolic origin.

Again, the Orthodox Church has certain rites and practices associated and necessary in the administration of the Sacraments which neither time nor circumstances must set aside where churches are organized. Yet the Anglicans entirely neglect these, though they once taught and practiced the same in more catholic days.

In the case of the administration of Holy Baptism it is the absolute rule of the Orthodox Church that the candidate must be immersed three times (once in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity). Immersion is only permissory in the Anglican Communion, and pouring or sprinkling is the general custom. The Anglicans do not use holy oil in the administration, etc., and even in doctrinal teaching in reference to this Sacrament they differ.

As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ’s authority to consecrate is “transmuting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His “all-pure Body” and “precious Blood” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that “the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted” (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) “Unto the remission of sins, and unto life everlasting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).

Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a Sacrament—”Chrismation”—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary.

Holy Matrimony is regarded by the Anglican Communion as only a sacred rite which, even if performed by a Justice of the Peace, is regarded as sufficient in the sight of God and man.

Penance is practiced but rarely in the Anglican Communion, and Confession before the reception of Holy Communion is not compulsory. They have altogether set aside the Sacrament of Holy Unction, that is anointing the sick as commanded by Saint James (see James 5:14). In their priesthood they do not teach the true doctrine of the Grace of the Holy Orders. Indeed they have two forms of words for ordination, namely, one which gives the power of absolution to the priest, and the alternative form without the words of Our Lord, whosoever sins ye remit, etc. (John 20: 23). Thus they leave every bishop to choose intention or non-intention in the act of ordination as to the power and Grace of their priesthood (“Ordination of Priests,” Book of Common Prayer).

But, besides all of this, the Anglican Communion ignores the Orthodox Church’s dogmas and teachings, such as the invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, special honor to the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and reverence for sacred relics, holy pictures and icons. They say of such teaching that it is “a foul thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God” (Article of Religion, XXII).

There is a striking variance between their wording of the Nicene Creed and that of the Holy Orthodox Church; but sadder still, it contains the heresy of the “filioque.”

I do not deem it necessary to mention all the striking differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion in reference to the authority of holy tradition, the number of Ecumenical Councils, etc. Enough has already been said and pointed out to show that the Anglican Communion differs but little from all other Protestant bodies, and therefore, there cannot be any intercommunion until they return to the ancient Holy Orthodox Faith and practices, and reject Protestant omissions and commissions.

Therefore, as the official head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and as one who must give account (Heb. 13:17) before the judgment seat of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Pet. 2:25), that I have fed the flock of God (I Pet. 5:2), as I have been commissioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, and inasmuch as the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA) does not differ in things vital to the well-being of the Holy Orthodox

Church from some of the most errant Protestant sects, I direct all Orthodox people residing in any community not to seek or to accept the ministrations of the Sacraments and rites from any clergy excepting those of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the Apostolic command that the Orthodox should not commune in ecclesiastical matters with those who are not of the same household of faith (Gal. 6:10), is clear: “Any bishop, or presbyter or deacon who will pray with heretics, let him be anathematized; and if he allows them as clergymen to perform any service, let him be deposed.” (Apostolic Canon 45) “Any bishop, or presbyter who accepts Baptism or the Holy Sacrifice from heretics, we order such to be deposed, for what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (Apostolic Canon 46)

As to members of the Holy Orthodox Church living in areas beyond the reach of Orthodox clergy, I direct that the ancient custom of our Holy Church be observed, namely, in cases of extreme necessity, that is, danger of death, children may be baptized by some pious Orthodox layman, or even by the parent of the child, by immersion three times in the names of the (Persons of the) Holy Trinity, and in case of death such baptism is valid; but, if the child should live, he must be brought to an Orthodox priest for the Sacrament of Chrismation.

In the case of the death of an Orthodox person where no priest of the Holy Orthodox Church can be had, a pious layman may read over the corpse, for the comfort of the relatives and the instruction of the persons present, Psalm 90 and Psalm 118, and add thereto the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy Mighty,” etc.). But let it be noted that as soon as possible the relative must notify some Orthodox bishop or priest and request him to serve the Liturgy and Funeral for the repose of the soul of the departed in his cathedral or parish Church.

As to Holy Matrimony, if there be any parties united in wedlock outside the pale of the holy Orthodox Church because of the remoteness of Orthodox centers from their home, I direct that as soon as possible they either invite an Orthodox priest or go to where he resides and receive from his hands the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony; otherwise they will be considered excommunicated until they submit to the Orthodox Church’s rule.

I further direct that Orthodox Christians should not make it a practice to attend the services of other religious bodies, so that there be no confusion concerning the teaching or doctrines. Instead, I order that the head of each household, or a member, may read the special prayers which can be found in the Hours in the Holy Orthodox Service Book, and such other devotional books as have been set forth by the authority of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Commending our clergy and laity unto the safekeeping of Jesus Christ, and praying that the Holy Spirit may keep us all in the truth and extend the borders of the Holy Orthodox Faith, I remain.

Your affectionate Servant in Christ

+ RAPHAEL,
Bishop of Brooklyn,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

Accuracy of translation and fact of the above prescriptive direction and pastoral instruction being still in force and authority, unabated and unmodified, now and for all future time in this jurisdiction, certified April 27, 1927, by:

+AFTIMIOS,
Archbishop of Brooklyn,
First Vicar of the Russian American Jurisdiction,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

[Source]

May 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Roman Catholic points out WRO Weakness


A great critique of WRO thinking from [this source]

“I have written apologias on my own blog for Roman Catholicism, and to tell the truth, it just feels that your advocacy of a Western rite in Orthodoxy can go not much further than the level of abstraction. To have attachments to Western externals while denying the theological patrimony of the Western Church would make me say, “Thanks, but no thanks”. These externals were the result of a coherent world view that were expressions of “heretical” concepts in your eyes. Case in point: Marian devotion in Hispanic culture. Most of the Virgins that are venerated are Inmaculadas, that is, representations of the Immaculate Conception as the vision of the Woman in the Apocalypse. The most famous of these is the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (That is where you get the tradition of celebrating Mass in blue vestments: it is only permitted for the Mass of a Virgin who is also an Inmaculada.) The historical greeting in many circumstances in the Spanish speaking world has been, “Ave Maria Purisisma! Sin pecado concebida!” – Arturo Vasquez

So the question becomes obvious. Can one really adopt the 16th century Anglican prayer book, the 20th century Roman Catholic fasting rules, and a mishmash of vestments, calendar items and formats, postures, and gestures, prayers and species, hymns and pieties… a buffet menu of mostly post-schism Western history, and not adopt the attitudes and psychology (or preserve that psychology, for converts) of those periods and the whole of their history? Or if you repudiate that psychology, why keep the forms and claim they are your Western heritage.

In fact, we are faced with the very real question of whether the Western rite represents a genuine Western Orthodoxy at all, or rather a poor substitute, which is actually shortchanging a genuine Western Orthodox mind, while giving false support to one that remains essentially heterodox. At best, might it not currently represent the very piecemeal museum-collection that one so often finds in self-made groups like the CEC.

January 28, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , | 20 Comments

He gets it Rite.


Per Christum web siteFrom an excellent discussion at per Christum, with many more implications than are yet being observed:

“In the North American Antiochian Archdiocese, the answer is that is should look like the Tridentine, Counter Reformation, Roman Catholicism. Indeed, the liturgical standards for the AWRO are publicly and expressly those of the of the Anglican Missal & Ritual Notes or the 1962 Latin Missal (translated to English) and Fortesque’s Ceremonial.

Personally, I find this bizarre, to say the least, because Tridentine Catholic Doctrine (whether Anglo- or Roman) and the Liturgics that embody it (which the AWRO does to the nth) has little or nothing in common with the Western Orthodoxy of the First Millennium. To the contrary, Tridentine Counter-Reformation Catholicism (and its later aping by Victorian Anglo-Catholics) represents the fully developed embodiment of everything sectarian (that is herterodox) and wrong about Western Christianity since the Great Schism!!

In other words, regardless of pragmatic concerns, AWRO is in kind if not degree as egregious as slapping an icon on the wall of your local Universalist Unitarian church and relabeling it “Orthodox.” And, this simply won’t do. As we say in the South, you can put lipstick and a dress on a sow and call her Peggy Sue, but she still ain’t nothin’ but a big fat pig. Indeed, at a minimum, the revival of WRO must actually involve the use of liturgical practices at least based on pre-schism, Western Orthodox doctrine, spirituality and piety. In this regard, I do believe that ROCOR’s version of WRO is much more closer to be authentic.”

January 24, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Brief History of Rites


Diet Rite: For those prefer an abbreviated rite without all those lengthy prayers and repetitions like the Russians do. Alternately, this refers to an attitude about any rite that sees it purely as a matter for glue and scissors.

Stride Rite: For those who prefer pews and kneelers to the tradition that the Church pray standing, but who still say they’re going back to their Western heritage (i.e. just not that far back). Besides, it makes the comfortable Orthodox look bad.

Rite Aid: The practice of putting Eastern liturgical snippets in Anglican prayerbooks, whether as Sunday inserts or with some tape or glue. Beware Anglicans, groups of disgruntled Episcopalians may be going to work on your BCP’s this Saturday night. You could wake up and find yourself (just like the books) . . . Suddenly Orthodox!

Continue reading

January 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

St. Tikhon never heard of it!


Just as attaching the name of St. Gregory to the WRV “Gregorian Rite” is dubious, so is attaching the name of St. Tikhon to any such rite. Fr. Michael also makes the point, as did Roman Catholic author Klaus Gamber, that Orthodoxy has never been about mere adequacy, merely not containing error; Orthodoxy is about the fullness of the fullness of the Faith, and never less.

Father Michael Johnson, pastor, St Nicholas Church, Tacoma, WA:

Second, the “Liturgy of St. Tikhon”: However inappropriate the “Liturgy of St. Gregory” may seem for Orthodox worship, it can’t hold a candle in this regard to the other “western rite” liturgy now in use, which has somehow gotten itself named after a 20th century Russian saint. St. Tikhon served as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America before being elected Patriarch of Moscow in 1917. During his tenure in America, he apparently received a petition for the use of a “western rite” from a group of American Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians. St. Tikhon then forwarded their request to the Holy Synod in Moscow, which examined this proposal carefully and granted the possibility of a “western rite”, provided far reaching changes in the Book of Commo n Prayer were made. The Holy Synod left the final decision to St. Tikhon, who – for whatever reason – never formally authorized the establishment of a “western rite” during his pastorate in America. It therefore seems farfetched in the extreme to name th is liturgy after St. Tikhon. He is not the “father” of this “western rite” in even remotely the same way that St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great are the fathers of the Liturgies which bear their names. Furthermore, even if St. Tikhon had authoriz ed the use of a “western rite”, every administrative decision made by a saint should not be considered infallible.

What, then, is the “Liturgy of St. Tikhon”? First of all, it is not the Eucharistic rite of the Book of Common Prayer as ever approved by the Episcopal Church. Rather, it is based on a strange amalgam commonly known as the “Anglican Missal.” This missal was developed by Anglo-Catholics to make up for deficiencies they perceived in the Book of Common Prayer . The Anglican Missal contains the anaphora and other prayers from the BCP, folded together with parts of the anaphora and other prayers from the Tridentine Mass translated from Latin into King James English. As now used in the “western rite” of the Antio chian Archdiocese, it contains still further additions and corrections made by the Orthodox. A more confusing liturgical hodgepodge could hardly be imagined! The “Liturgy of St. Tikhon” is the Reformation rite of Thomas Cranmer, with additions from the C ounter Reformation rite of the Council of Trent, with still further superficial tinkering in order to make it “more Orthodox.

In defense of this rite, some Orthodox are saying that we should accept it because it contains “nothing heretical.” Unfortunately, that itself is an Anglican argument. An Orthodox rite must do far more than avoid heresy – it must clearly proclaim and tea ch the Orthodox faith. In Communist Russia as in Ottoman Greece, the Orthodox Liturgy alone maintained the faith through long years of persecution. Bearing in mind that Cranmer was probably a Zwinglian who designed his rite to express “the real absence” of Christ in the Eucharist, it is easy to see that the “Liturgy of St. Tikhon” could never meet the basic criterion of being an Orthodox Liturgy.”
The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bishop Anthony’s Concerns


The concerns of Bishop Anthony of San Francisco, expressed in an encyclical to his diocese, have been dismissed, attacked, and ignored, rather than listened to for their pastoral concern, their substantive evaluation (expressed and hinted at) of the implications of the Antiochian WRV, and so deserve quotation and explication here, with commentary, rebuttal, riposte, etc. Likewise, it should be presented, if for no other reason than that the mere expression of an “unfavorable” commentary on the Western Rite is so often treated as unacceptable in the midst of a fever of uncritical enthusiasm and this particular piece is not merely an opinion but an episcopal decision and so should give the more perceptive reader greater circumspection and hopefully, more pause.

October 4, 1995. Protocol no. 3.

To the Reverend Clergy of the Holy Diocese of San Francisco
Dearly Beloved,

The current existence of “western rite” parishes in California, Oregon and Washington within the Antiochian Archdiocese has recently been brought to my attention by a number of clergy seeking direction regarding our relationship as a Diocese to these communities.

These parishes use, as a basis for worship, modified versions of the old Anglican missal or the pre-Vatican II mass. This is, at best, liturgically unsound and pastorally unwise: liturgically unsound because these rites are not in direct continuity with t he worship of the early Church in the West, but are primarily the result of 16th century Reformation and Counter-Reformation debates; pastorally unwise because this adds still further to our fragmentation as a Church in the Americas and creates a tiny grou p of missions and parishes that are liturgically isolated from the rest of the Church.

We are thus placed in the awkward position of having to accept the “western rite” vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese as belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church while at the same time recognizing that this is a foreign element within the Body of Christ, analogous to the creation of the Unia by the Roman Catholic Church.

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January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traditional Theology vs. Orthodox Theology


“As Western Christians become increasingly concerned by the drift of their denominations away from traditional Christian theology and liturgical practice, many have returned to Orthodoxy.” – From the Diocesan News for Clergy and Laity, February 1995, Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)

Response: This one sentence is so common, in so many different forms, that it seems representative of the theorum supporting the ballooning of WR in the US. It’s in two parts: 1. The flight of disaffected Anglicans, Protestants, and some Roman Catholics based on what a critic might call mysogyny, homophobia, and an unwillingness to stay and fight for the beliefs they claim to hold so dear. Implicit in the lingo, though is an intentional ambiguity: “traditional Christian theology and liturgical practice” – an argument that there is somehow a theology (or here we take the meaning to be doctrine), and liturgical practice, that was present in those confessions prior to recent changes, whether 1979, 1962, or whatever. 2. This ambiguity is then equated with Orthodox theology, doctrine, and liturgy by calling it a “return” to Orthodoxy. In other words, the argument is being offered, demonstrably untrue, that these people are in their hearts and souls, and their pre-1979 Anglican Prayer Books, and pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism, essentially Orthodox. This is a questionable argument indeed, if not specious, but it may explain why, instead of the ancient liturgics, a revised BCP is used, and instead of the ancient fasting rules, why the 1950 Roman Catholic ones are in vogue. What’s interesting, too, is the departure of the Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, of their own accord, from “traditional” theology, doctrine, and liturgics. To whom will we flee, with our abbreviated liturgies, our Roman Catholic sacerdotal and mysteriological attitudes, and our own relaxed attitudes about morality? What the above argument seems to present is a general, non-specific religiosity that really does call into question whether converts to the Western Rite are truly converting to Orthodoxy, and likewise whether we ourselves are in fact converting to something else. To quote Vladimir Lossky: “a God in general, who could be the God of Descartes, or the God of Leibnitz, or to some extent the God of oltaire and the de-Christianized Deists of the eighteenth century.”

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Historical Revisionism, Liturgics, and the BCP


“The vision of the Western Rite as an essential part of the Orthodox Mission in America belonged to Archbishop Tikhon of the American Archdiocese under the Moscow Patriarchate. About ninety years ago he examined the existing Anglican Book of Common Prayer and sent it to the Holy Synod of Moscow. That Liturgy, derived from the ancient use of the Orthodox West, and first expressed in English in the edition of 1549 by authority of King Edward the Sixth of England, was corrected and approved by the Holy Synod for Orthodox Church use.” – WesternOrthodox.com (1/16/2008)

Question: Why all this quoting of pedigree, pre-schism pedigree, post-schism pedigree, when it’s basically a revised Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer? Even the Anglicans, with their notions of doctrinal development collaborating with liturgical development, didn’t bother so much as to claim this flawless a pedigree for their innovations. Is this rewriting history?

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

AA WR Sources of Liturgical Instructions


In the case of St. Augustine’s Church, where the Gregorian Rite (the oldest Liturgy of the Orthodox Church) is utilised, the authoritive source for our ceremonial is the exhaustive work of eminent ceremonialists Adrian & Fortecue and the Revd J.B. O’Connell, S.J. in their monumental work, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described ninth and previous editions). Those parishes which use the rite of St. Tikhon receive ceremonial direction from Ritual Notes (eleventh and previous editions) which is and resource based almost entirely on the seminal work of Fortescue and O’Connell. In some cases, more recent editions of each book may also prove to be useful, but the older editions are always better sources for specific ceremonial directions.

The clergy are required and morally bound to follow these authorities in their parishes ceremonial. The are not authorised to “make it up as they go along.” Pastors may be forced to adapt and modify the directions of ceremonial authorities, because of local circumstances and church design, but the authoritative guides are always followed as closely as possible. Certainly no modification of ceremonial in a modern and contemporary direction is ever to undertaken. Orthodox Christians are “maximalists” not “minimalists” (as the modernists are called). — St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church 1/16/2006

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AA WR contains few modifications


The theological modifications to the Western Rite Orthodox text are subtle and hardly noticeable to even the most regular worshipper. Two of these alterations include the deletion of the Filioque [and the Son] clause in the Nicene Creed and the addition of a stronger epiclesis (invoking of the Holy Ghost) in the Canon prayer said by the priest at the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. – St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church 1/16/2008

In addition to these two changes, the Western Rite includes other minor changes that Roman Catholics familiar with the pre-Vatican II rite and most Anglo-Catholics (High Church Episcopalians) would find to be either familiar or certainly acceptable. The Orthodox Western Rite allows western Christians to retain familiar, traditional forms of worship. Thus insuring themselves of remaining within an ecclesiastical communion, under Apostolic bishops who attempt to teach and practice the ancient Gospel of Jesus Christ as it speaks to the needs and concerns of today’s men and women. – Ibid.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Anglican + Roman Catholic + Some Modifications = AA WR


WESTERN RITE ORTHODOXY is the use of the traditional Roman Catholic or Episcopalian Services and Devotionals, as they were done before the changes of the last fifty years. The Antiochian Archdiocese has made some modifications, which reflect proper Orthodox theology. The primary service is the Gregorian Rite Roman Mass, or its Anglican derivative, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) Holy Communion Service. – St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church 1/16/2008

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WRV


Excerpts from the WR Dept page of the AA web site 1-17-2007, with questions and/or comments.

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January 16, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restoration or Cobbling Together?


“In summary, the “Liturgy of St. Tikhon” has no historical validity whatsoever. The “Liturgy of St. Gregory” can be traced back to that great saint only in a very attenuated way. The simple fact is, neither of these liturgies represents an authentic retur n to the pre-schismatic Orthodox worship of the ancient Christian west.” – Father Michael Johnson, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 15, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Rite as Ecumenist Bridge


“With the reception of “western rite” parishes into Orthodoxy, there were some who felt that the Uniate ideal had now found its proper home. Comparison of Western Rite Orthodox to Eastern Rite Catholics is, of course, inevitable. And, we should keep in mind that historically, Rome has often held up its Eastern Rite Catholics as a bridge to union with the Orthodox.” – Father Michael Johnson, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

And… will it work? The answer is a resounding maybe:

Continue reading

January 14, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Rite or an Eastern Rite informed by the West


The point has been made more than once that it is one thing to venerate Western Saints, and even to adopt Western prayers from the ancient tradition. It is quite another to establish a parallel rite in the same communities.

“For many people, the eastern and western rites are two entirely different and self-contained “blocks” ruling out, as an impure “hybridization”, all contacts and mutual influences. This, however, is wrong – first of all, historically. In a sense, the entire history of Christian worship can be termed a history of constant “hybridizations” – if only this word is deprived of its negative connotations. Before their separations, the east and the west influenced one another for centuries. And there is no exagg eration in saying that the anaphora of St. John Chrysostom’s Liturgy is infinitely ‘closer’ to the Roman anaphora of the same period than the service of Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer is to, for example, the Tridentine Mass.” – Father Alexander Schmemann (1920-1983) (SVTQ 24/4, 1980) The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 10, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Western About it?


“Indeed, one does not have to be an “authority on the West” in order to know that liturgical development in the West was shaped to a degree unknown in the East by various theologies, the succession of which – and the clashes of one with another – constitute western religious history. Scholasticism, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, etc., have all resulted in sometimes radical liturgical metamorphoses and all have had a decisive impact on worship. Therefore, one should speak today not of the western rite, but of western rites, deeply – if not radically – differing from one another, yet all reflecting in one way or another, the western theological tragedy and fragmentation. This does not mean that all these rites are “heretical” and simply to be condemned. It only means that, from an Orthodox point of view, their evaluation in terms merely of “deletions” and “additions” is – to say the least – inadequate. For the irony of our present situation is that while some western Christians come to Orthodoxy in order to salvage the rite they cherish ( Book of Common Prayer , Tridentine Mass, etc.) from liturgical reforms they abhor, some of these reforms, at least in abstacto , are closer to the structures and spirit of the early western rite – and thus to the Orthodox liturgical tradition – than the later rite, those precisely that the Orthodox Church is supposed to “sanction” and to “adopt.” – Father Alexander Schmemann (1920-1983) (SVTQ 24/4, 1980) The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reservations: Bishop Kallistos (Ware)


“I understand that there are “western rite” groups in the USA which are using what is basically an Anglican rite, with a Byzantine epiclesis inserted into it. I have some reservations here.

The Anglican service is in large part the work of Cranmer, who was Zwinglian in his theology (i.e., he did not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist): do we make his rite “Orthodox” simply by inserting a Byzantine epiclesis? Indeed, is it right to take the Byzantine epiclesis and insert it into a western liturgical text where it does not properly belong? It is said that St. Tikhon of Moscow, while Archbishop of North America at the start of this century, blessed a rite of this sort. But how carefully was he able to examine the question? And if he were living today, would he recommend the same course? If we Orthodox are indeed to use a western rite, then there needs to be a full discussion on a pan-Orthodox level to clarify what western rite we should employ.” – Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 6, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Fix to Correct the Rite?


Fr. Alexander Schmemann: Assuming the wrong idea of a fundamental Eastern versus Western liturgical dualism, Dr. Sopko is inescapably led to a wrong answer to the question, essential from the Orthodox point of view, of what makes a Western rite Orthodox? For him, as indeed for many proponents of the Western rite, all it takes is a few deletions and a few additions, e.g., “striking the filioque” and “strengthening of the epiclesis.” This answer implies, on the one hand, that there exists a unified and homogeneous reality identifiable as the Western rite, and, on the other hand, that, except for two or three “heretical” ingredients or omissions, this rite is ipso facto Orthodox. Both presuppositions are wrong.

Indeed, one does not have to be an “authority on the West” in order to know that the liturgical development in the West was shaped to a degree unknown in the East, by the various theologies, the succession of which, as well as the clashes of which with one another, constitute the Western religious history. Scholasticism, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, etc., all have resulted in sometimes radical liturgical metamorphoses, all have had a decisive impact on worship. Therefore one should speak today not of the Western rite, but of Western rites, deeply, if not radically differing from one another, yet all reflecting, in one way or another, the Western theological tragedy and fragmentation. This does not mean that all these rites are “heretical” and are simply to be condemned. It only means that from an Orthodox point of view, their evaluation in terms merely of “deletions” and “additions” is, to say the least, inadequate and cannot resolve the tensions mentioned above. And even if in the past this method had a semblance of justification, the acute liturgical crisis that encompasses today virtually all Western confessions, makes it obsolete and irrelevant. For the irony of our present situation is that while some Western Christians come to Orthodoxy in order to salvage the rite they cherish (Book of Common Prayer, Tridentine Mass, etc.) from liturgical reforms they abhor, some of these reforms, at least in abstracto, are closer to the structures and the spirit of the early Western Rite and thus to the Orthodox liturgical tradition, than the later rites — those precisely that the Orthodox Church is supposed to “sanction” and to “adopt.”

All this will probably appear as another example of Eastern “arrogance” and emotional anti-Westernism. I count on Dr. Sopko to help me dispel this unfortunate impression. In having honored me by attending my lectures, he certainly knows how critical I am of our own liturgical situation, how many defects and deviations I wish to see corrected in our liturgical life. It is true, however, that this criticism itself is rooted primarily in my deep conviction that the Eastern liturgical tradition is alone today in having preserved, in spite of all historical “deficiencies,” the fullness of the Church’s lex orandi and constitutes therefore the criterion for all liturgical “evaluations.” Yet the true cleavage today is not between the “East” and the “West.” It is between those who seek in the liturgy the essential food of their Christian life and those for whom it is a matter of “attachment” or “allergy.” The Orthodox Church is full of people “allergic” to this or to that. Some are allergic to English and some to Church Slavonic. In some, liturgy is identified with Hellenism and for some others with Russia. And all these tensions which probably are also inevitable cannot and will not be solved except by an ever deepened interest — not in “liturgies” per se, not in “rites,” but in the Orthodox faith these rites reveal and communicate. Whatever the future of the Western rite, it depends, I am sure, on the thirst and hunger for the fullness of the Orthodox faith and on nothing else. Dogmatically, ecclesiologically — and I said this some twenty years ago on these very pages — Orthodoxy has no objection to the Western Rite as such. To have such an objection would mean the loss by the Orthodox Church of her claims to universality. The question therefore is not whether a rite is Eastern or Western. Neither Easternism or Westernism are important in themselves. The only question is whether a rite adequately embodies, manifests and communicates the eternal and unchanging Truth, — is Orthodox in the deepest sense of this word. – [ full article ] (St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly Vol. 24, No. 4/1980, pp. 266-269)

December 28, 2007 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hybrid Kilt-wearing Liturgy


This is an apologist for Scottish Liturgy, but his conclusions are interesting.

“The Gallican Liturgy. Exception has been taken to the Scottish liturgy on the ground that, being originally a Western rite, its development should have proceeded on Eastern and not on Western lines, and that in its present form it is something of a hybrid. Critics of this type, to whom the Roman liturgy is the one norm for the West, forget that the Roman liturgy itself is ultimately Eastern in its origin, and that at one time it possessed even the distinctive Eastern feature of an express invocation. It has been already shown that the Roman rite has developed on lines which have left its canon illogical and confused. While the Roman liturgy lost by its departure from Eastern forms, the Scottish liturgy gained both in orderliness and beauty, by a return to the ancient forms of the East.

As for the mingling of Eastern and Western elements in the same liturgy, that is no novelty; for, in the Hispano-Gallican or Mozarabic rites there are to be found, side by side, Western elements, such as collects, variable prayers, prefaces, etc., and an Eastern form of consecration. This group of liturgies was current in Gaul till the eighth century, when the rite was suppressed by Roman authority save in Toledo and Salamanca, where it is still used, though in a highly Romanized form. Cranmer, certainly, was acquainted with this rite, of which there are clear traces in the short prayers preceding the blessing of the water at Baptism in the Book of Common Prayer; and it is possible that his knowledge of that type of liturgy encouraged him to introduce the Invocation into the Consecration Prayer of 1549. It cannot, however, be proved that the Gallican rite directly influenced either the Scottish or the English liturgies. But it is of special interest to Scottish people, as an example of a marked fusion of Western and Eastern elements. The following is a translation of a Gallican Invocation: “We humbly pray that Thou wouldest deign to receive and bless and sanctify this Sacrifice, that it may become to us a true Eucharist in Thy Name and in the Name of Thy Son and Holy Spirit, changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord God, Jesus Christ.” – Rev. W. Perry, B.D., 1922

December 26, 2007 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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