Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

The Model for a real WR.


Saint Sava - icon of catholicityCan there be a Western rite? Of course. One of the things the enthusiasts do is polarize the debate (create factions instead of discussion) by labelling all their opponents anti-WR. Many of us can sing Gregorian with the best of them, have the books, and even use Western liturgical prayers in our private devotions, knowing them very well and how to say them properly. Many of us keep, discreetly, a number of Western pieties that are very old, from when there was one Church. Who said anything about being anti-WR? What we are against, in many cases, is the confusion of a rite with a religion, something the WR enthusiasts state frequently that they’re not doing, but evidence in so many other disturbing ways. What then, the question comes from the moderate mind, can we do? Perhaps the best answer for an Orthodox attitude about what the Church might look like, re-imagined, harmoniously neither Eastern nor Western comes from a place we recently “bombed back to the stone age” to quote the hawks.

‘At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West while the West considered us to be the East,’ Some of us misunderstood our place in this clash of currents, so they cried that we belong to neither side, and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell you, Irinej, we are doomed by fate to be the East in the West, and the West in the East, to acknowledge only heavenly Jerusalem beyond us and here on earth — no-one. – St Sava (Nemanjic, 1175-1235), the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, writing in an epistle

A recent work of Balkan historiography is entitled, Elli Skopetea’s I Dysi tis Anatolis, which can be translated as “The West of the East” or “The East’s West.”

You see? We dream false dreams now. We dream of being Eastern Orthodox or Western Orthodox, and get so excited to go here or go there to find the Church. But this writer dreams of a Church that is neither Eastern nor Western in that way, but catholic. An East of the West, A West of the East. When it is that, it will have our full support. Not synthesis, but fullness. We present to you Saint Sava, icon of catholicity.

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January 25, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WRV = Unilateral Shift in General Policy


“More recently, some Orthodox churches have also accepted the policy of admitting a “Western rite” to be used not by entire ecclesiastical bodies joining corporately the communion of the Orthodox Church, but by smaller splinter groups, who seceded from these Western churches to join Orthodoxy. As is well known, the Roman Catholic Church was–and is– following a similar policy in reverse by accepting small (or big) splinter groups into its own communion with the proviso that they would keep and preserve their Eastern rite.” – Fr. John Meyendorff, SVTQ 1980

One may express concern that this really is, therefore, a shift in general policy in the history of Orthodoxy (there are exceptions, but these demonstrate the rule), and therefore really is a matter for pan-Orthodox consideration rather than the unilateral behavior that resulted in Bishop Anthony’s encyclical, which few have shown that they understand in this light. But this is indeed precisely the driving problem that he addresses.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ER is the Mother-Rite of America and Orthodox World


Fr. John Meyendorff writes: “It is also true, however, that since ths schism which occurred in the Middle Ages, Orthodoxy has *in practice* been preserved in the framework of an “Eastern” civilization, and its tradition has been shaped by the Great Church of Constantinople, i.e. Byzantium. It is from there that it spread to many other areas, and it is the Byzantine liturgy, translated into many languages, which has served for centuries as the principal, and sometimes the only vehicle for the living tradition of the Orthodox faith. In this Byzantine liturgical form, Orthodoxy was also brought to America.

Meanwhile, the Christian Tradition of the West was embroiled in changes and crises, which we, as Orthodox, cannot consider uniformly legitimate. And today, the schism still exists, and differences in faith show themselves in different forms of worship.” – SVTQ 1980

One cannot help but further observe that not only have the Orthodox, who used the Eastern Rite, preserved the living Faith of Orthodoxy, but also transmitted it to the Celts, the Russians, to America, Australia, and so on. The Eastern Rite, in some sense at least, is our Mother, just as those Churches are our Mother Churches.

In the case of the US, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South (OCA) replied to the Pat. of Constantinople concerning the latter’s assertion to be Patriarch of our Mother Church, that in fact the Russian Church is the Mother Church of the Americas; it is from her that our churches came, and from her so many American Saints. The Orthodox roots of America, one may conclude, our in the Russian Church, the Eastern Rite, and the Saints who brought them both to us. The idea that Westerners who wish to truly convert now insist on a different rite, begs the question of whether they or we any longer truly regard it as conversion. It may be argued quite reasonably that the American Orthodox tradition lies in continuity with, not irregularity regarding, our great Mother Church of Russia and her holy, righteous, and glorified Saints of America. One might ask, in this sense, then, what Antioch has to do with it, and whether this pushing so hard for the WRV to become the norm is with these things in mind.

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Platonism, Fullness of Faith, Unity, Open Debate


Fr. John Meyendorff: “I will not try to enumerate here all the dimensions of the issue, which clearly involves the very nature of the current Orthodox witness in the world. The Orthodox Church has never considered its liturgy to be frozen once and for all in the limited cultural forms of tenth-century Byzantium. Of course, these forms are unequalled as an expression of the Tradition of the Church, but even they, as Fr. Schmemann likes to insist in his writings, have been often misunderstood and misinterpreted in categories of a platonizing symbolism of doubtful quality. On the other hand, if it wants to be credible in the West, the Orthodox Church can and should not only liberate itself of that which is unauthentic in its own historical past, but also assume everything which is true and beautiful in Western Christianity. But, in so doing, it must avoid simplifications, amateurism, superficiality, deceit and arrogance, which it so easily condemns in others. The liturgy is not a game of arbitrarily interchangeable rites, but an act of faith reflecting our salvation in Christ within the unity and the catholicity of the Church.

The debate about the Western rite is, therefore, both ecclesiological and pastoral. It is concerned with the relationship between the *lex orandi* and the *lex credendi* in the Catholic Church–a relationship which has remained very real in Orthodoxy, and has been greatly loosened in the West–and with concrete needs of the Orthodox mission. It is not about the legitimacy of a Western rite as such, but about the real situation of today’s Western Christianity, about the confused religious situation in America today, about the highly responsible task of building up an American church truly Orthodox and genuinely united, and finally about the issue of Christian unity in general. What is also needed is a joint pan-Orthodox decision on the matter, and therefore a preliminary open debate.1980 SVTQ [all emphasis ours]

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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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