Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Unity and The Apocalypse


The Church of the Seven CouncilsThere seems to be a general ecumenism among many Protestant groups that takes the form of a general wish for Christian unity, catholicity, and indeed Orthodoxy herself. In itself, this is precisely a desire for the things the True Faith gives us in fullness and without lack.

But taken out of that venue and given an Orthodox one, this clamour for unity, if it does not evolve, does not stake stock of the teaching of Christ and the apostles and the fathers after them, can actually become heretical and dangerous. It can take the form not of an ecclesiology that has found the fullness of the Faith, the One undivided Church that can never be broken, the genuine ark carrying us into the Heaven of union with God – but instead an ecclesiology of an even more pronounced branch theory and a spiritual psychology of needing to “fix” the Christian world for Orthodoxy – an inordinate, even foolish, push for a union that can not be.

Augmented by new-convert fervor, with pronouncements and immoderate statements and zeal, and supported by Orthodox who differ from our Fathers, hoping privately for precisely the thing that would cost these new Christians their newfound Faith, for a different use for this energy altogether, we see the trend toward ecumenism receiving a rush of inappropriate and unwise support.

Indeed, this is exactly and precisely the reason why new converts are to keep silent, and not speak on behalf of the Faith, or teach others, or make pronouncements of this sort. That is our tradition and, like so many others, it is there for wise reasons and was established and preserved by wiser men who knew the pitfalls that come from abandoning it. But even in silence, without sound teaching about what the Church really is, and without true conversion to the Faith shared in the consensus of the Fathers, the desire on the one hand to “just love one another” or “get rid of our differences and hug”, or on the other to join with something else based on mere doctrinal agreement or juridical ‘authority’, can mean that the more the Church is seen to be the Church, the more the convert ceases to have converted – ceases to be a part of it.

Let us state categorically: The Church is not broken, nor divided, nor in any way un-whole. The Church is not flawed or incomplete or in any way wayward or improper. The Church is the Lamb without blemish and the spotless Bride. The Church is One and cannot be otherwise. He who speaks against the Church, to imply that she is fractured, scattered, or incomplete, or lacks anything necessary to life and salvation, denounces Christ and his most pure Mother and has renounced Christianity, denied Orthodoxy, and repudiated the True Faith. So beware. Be absolutely sure, if you say such things, you want them repeated back to you on the day of Judgment. Dangerous is that way. Filled with devils and lost men, it is.

If you are a convert and you hear contrary pronouncements, opinions, and agreed statements, you are encouraged to test these things against the consensus patrum, and to listen to the consensus of the holy Athonite monks, who have written quite clear statements of these things as well. On ecclesiology, may we suggest the following articles:

Lastly, let no one deceive you. Our Lord, the Holy Apostles, and our Prophets before them, taught that Christ’s coming was the beginning of the last days, and that these days would end, to quote St. Paul, with a great “falling away” – an unparalleled apostasy – that our own brethren would betray us, believing they do God a service. The Apocalypse provides the image of a single world religion, a unified ‘Christian’ experience that dwarfs the attempt at Babel. Repeatedly, too, in the parables of Christ, we are warned that an apostasy means something that occurs among Christians – occurs from within, rather than from without, even while it is a departure from the Faith of our fathers.

It may be popular these days to dismiss all this as the Protestant, millenarian “end times” thinking of the 1970s-1990s. Indeed, when those fundamentalists waiting for something to happen at the Millenium didn’t see it, the mood shifted (not that we don’t remember very disturbing things happening at that time, but they certainly weren’t part of popular fundamentalist conception). And so now is a time of saying, ‘it will not come’, ‘things will go on as they have done’, and we are focused now on finding a way to join what cannot be joined, and the emphasis is on authority and juridical actions, because that is what’s needed for such a thing, and indeed that is how the heterodox think in the first place. But the end will come, deny it all we wish. The end will come, and all the words of Christ will be found true, though all the rest of us be made liars.

It’s cute to hurl at someone “he’s got an emphasis on the apocalypse” or “they’re up in arms over ecumenism”. So was Christ, so were the apostles, and so have the fathers been after them. Indeed, we will all see, at an hour we do not expect.

“The Antichrist can come only as a result of universal Apostasy, that is, the abjuration of the people from God and His paths, when God’s grace withdraws from the people. – Archpriest Boris Molchanoff

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February 25, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, -- Eschatology, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Church is Indivisible


CommunionThe Church, is the One, Undivided, Spotless Lamb without Blemish, not a bone of which can be broken, nor anything lost, clad in a seamless garment, or else we are all damned, and there is no Faith and no God. All of our Fathers are in agreement on this and share in this Faith, without which none of us can be saved, and unless a man think as this, is anathema. For there is “One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.”

We must be willing to die for this Confession. Continue reading

February 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

WR Ecclesiology?


Branch Theory“We are called to help recover the Orthodoxy of the ancient West so that East and West can once again be united.” – Susan Wallace, Again Magazine, Winter 2007

One has to ask: Which is it? An ecclesiology that claims the Church is not already united, or one that looks to ecumenism to join what cannot be joined? In the ambiguity of such statments, either or both may be surmised.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Questions | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

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

What caused the Roman Catholic Liturgical Debacle?


The sixties weren’t the beginning of liturgical falling away: “. . . What are the root causes of this liturgical debacle? Any reasonable person understands that these causes cannot be traced to the Second Vatican Council alone.” – Monsignor Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

Prior to this statement: “We are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our [Roman Catholic] faith rests. Added to this state of affairs is the shocking assimilation of Protestant ideas brought into the Church under the guise of the misunderstood term ecumenism with a resulting growing estrangement from the ancient [Orthodox] Churches of the East; that is, a turning away from the common tradition that had been shared by the East and the West.” – ibid.

The author goes on to cite several things:

Continue reading

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, 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

Unity vs. Diversity


“I will speak only of the situation in Britain, for I am not qualified to express an opinion about America. Here in Britain we Orthodox, few though we are in numbers, are fragmented into a multiplicity of “jurisdictions”; but at least we are united in the use of the same rite – the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. If a “western rite” is introduced here, it will add still further to our fragmentation. Is this desirable? . . . Is this pastorally helpful? – Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 5, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is reasonable to ask…


“We are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our [Roman Catholic] faith rests. Added to this state of affairs is the shocking assimilation of Protestant ideas brought into the Church under the guise of the misunderstood term ecumenism with a resulting growing estrangement from the ancient [Orthodox] Churches of the East; that is, a turning away from the common tradition that had been shared by the East and the West.”

It is reasonable to ask whether, in creating a rite specifically for those fleeing the dismantling of their confessions, we risk dismantling our own confession in the process, which has never been something shared with the heterodox over “bare essentials” of doctrine (itself a Protestant notion) which merely need a bit of help. Make no mistake, good, old-fashioned Anglican, Protestant, and Roman Catholic thinking, piety, and worship are more alien to us, than their latest innovations are to the refugees. They still have far more in common with each other, than either their ecumenist or continuing jurisdictions have with Holy Orthodoxy, and a hasty, inadequate catechesis, quick ordinations, and relatively instant mission creation without sufficient time to live the Orthodox Faith (assuming their host churches can really teach them that at all), is unfair to them, offensive to the confessions they’ve fled, and dangerous to the salvation of all involved, ourselves included.

As one current Anglican said, “If they’re going to convert to Orthodoxy, they should convert to Orthodoxy, and not just treat it as a door to remaining Anglican but without the responsibility to live in a Anglican community.”

January 1, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, -- Evangelism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why now? What are you not saying?


“Nevertheless, the problem of an Orthodox “Western rite” is unavoidable whenever the question of a “corporate” reunion of Western Christians with Orthodoxy is envisaged. For example, if reunion is accomplished with the Roman Church–obviously in the Orthodox faith–there would also be an Orthodox Western rite, as a result of such a union. Reunion with smaller Western bodies–Old Catholicism, Anglicanism, etc.–has also been frequently envisaged, and even negotiated by the Orthodox Church. It is on the occasion of such negotiations that Orthodox theologians, particularly Russian, have studied the forms of worship in those churches (as Dr. Sopko emphasizes) and come up with suggestions concerning ways of having those forms maintained in the sacramental and doctrinal fellowship of world Orthodoxy, once reunion has taken place.” – Fr. John Meyendorff

The question that comes to mind is: Is that indeed what’s happening – that a corporate union with, say Rome or Canterbury, is being envisaged. One cannot help but noticed the overtures of Rome during this period, or the consolidation of Orthodoxy by the formal union of ROCA/MP/OCA. What’s up? Why suddenly is there a rush to accelerate the number of Western Rite parishes in 2007-2008? The question of ecumenism seems unavoidable.

December 11, 2007 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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