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.

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

Refugee vs. Runaway


runaways.jpg“The problem here is that some people do not convert to a belief so much as they convert away from another. There is a certain sort of Catholic who, by becoming Orthodox, has joined the church that did not go through what is often called “the chaos” following Vatican II. They are sometimes disappointed when they meet bishops who are not as authoritarian as they think bishops should be, and they are especially upset at any notion that Orthodox liturgy might undergo any change of any sort in any way. There is a certain sort of Episcopalian who in joining Orthodoxy joins the church that does not ordain women, and the idea that the subject might be discussed leaves them furious, as if the thought alone meant a betrayal of Orthodoxy.” – A Typology of Converts – Fr. John Garvey

“My approach to this has been to tell any potential convert to take some time, to hang around the church for a year or so, seeing what it is like to be Orthodox, and finally to make sure it is Orthodoxy they are coming to, and not something else they are fleeing from. Baron von Hugel told an Anglican niece who wanted to become Catholic that she should learn the strengths of Anglicanism, and not become Catholic until it would be clearly a sin for her to remain in her own tradition, until it was completely necessary for her to convert. This seems about right. People who move from one tradition to another for negative reasons bring all those negative reasons with them.” – Ibid.

February 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Credit where it’s due


Liturgy of Saint? Thomas CranmerIt’s time we fessed up and stopped plagiarizing. If you’re going to be Anglican Rite Orthodox, put the words “Liturgy of Thomas Cranmer.” on the cover. In fact, a glorification might be in order. Liturgy of St. Thomas (Cranmer). We have excellent editions of both the old one and the Edwardian Rite, and it’s painful to see their work basically ripped off without proper credit, or stamping Eastern Saints names on it (like St. Tikhon). How un-Western of us. Why the need to appeal to an Eastern Saint for your rite, if it’s a Western rite?

That brings up another point. Western Rite people are going around reversing the meaning of scripture, prophesy, and tradition for this, with novel new apologetics. We all know that Christ will come from East to West, that our tradition accords great meaning to the origin, to what comes “out of the East”. Did you know the new ‘word’ is that, “Well, it’s coming to the West!” Gee, a reversal of our pieties just for a quickie apologetic, and there’s not even a punch line. For shame. Oh well. They’ll probably start wearing their rings on the left hand and crossing themselves backwards too, in the name of whatever anti-Pope came up with that one. Next thing you’ll be hearing is that the WR is closer to the temple worship of old, and then it won’t be long. You guessed it: you’ll hear that Jesus was Western Rite!

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Para-Church Charismata, Rite, Ecclesiology, Mysteriology


First, it is a happy thing when anyone finds the Faith. Whatever they used to be, wherever they came from, we consider ourselves less worthy. However, this is a different question from whether conversion to Orthodoxy means right-affiliation or a right-mind.

One concerns is reports of para-church “bible studies” and “prayer meetings” forming alongside the liturgy, in which the so-called “charismatic gifts” are practiced (speaking in “tongues”, praying “in the Spirit”, getting a “word” of prophesy or letting Jesus “speak to your heart”). This is a grave thing indeed, for it means not only the establishment of a parallel rite, a parallel spirituality (mysteriology), indeed a parallel charism (another Spirit) which is incompatible with that of Christ as revealed in fullness in the Orthodox Church, but also indeed a rejection of the fullness of any rite, Eastern or Western, which is precisely the concern that many of us have consistently voiced.

When the Charismatic Episcopal Church says, “We believe that the CEC has an appointment with destiny to bring back these three streams, to make the Church charismatic, evangelical, and sacramental, all at the same time.” it must not, can never, will never refer to the Orthodox Church. The Church is One, it is Undivided, it is the Spotless Lamb and Without Blemish. it is complete, whole, and the fullness of the Faith. Any notion of coming in to “make the Church” this or “make it that”, to “bring” in fulless, is, friends, an utter repudiation of Orthodox ecclesiology.

“I’m not bringing what I want to Orthodoxy, it’s bringing it back to me.” – Kevin Barry, catechumen (True Convergence: Orthodox Podcast #4)

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Debacle of Orthodox Radio


There are a lot of good and useful things out there in Orthodox media. But there are also some rather disturbing things, anyone with a little discernment would admit.

When you listen to Orthodox radio, and you hear an Episcopalian priest who’s being ordained use the word “resonate” 5-times in under 2-minutes: “Orthodoxy resonates”, “this resonates with me”, it tells you that the attitude of the convert and of the group he’s converting to is potentially delusional – as though Orthodoxy appears to fit into an existing “spirituality”, and as though the Faith has external criterion by which it can be judged. It is clear that the internal voice as criterion of truth, faith, and confession, is still at work in this man, and it’s a heterodox notion that has no place in Orthodoxy. People will say we’ve said, “There’s no place in Orthodoxy for you.” No, there’s no place in Orthodoxy for an Orthodoxy without conversion.

When you hear, in the same media, a Charismatic priest who’s being ordained say, “I’m glad to find that there’s a place for me as a born-again, spirit-filled Christian, in Orthodoxy.”, it tells you the exact same thing. One doesn’t want to be harsh by saying, “No, there is no such place.” There’s always a place for any individual willing to really convert, but there is no room for the delusion that “we’re ok, you’re ok, and we’re coming in for a slight tune-up”. Again, this notion of a para-spirituality which denies the Orthodox anthropology, eschatology, and soteriology, and the delusion that it is somehow acceptable, indicates that a real conversion is dubious.

There are good reasons why the Church has rules on new converts speaking in public about these things. The fact that they’re being ignored reflects precisely the kind of attitude that can entertain these delusions. Why the rush to ordain these people when clearly they’ve received inadequate catechesis, and why would they allow themselves to be ordained, when clearly they still have grave differences with the Faith we hold to be apostolic and retain attitudes that so many of us insist are doctrinally and spiritually incompatible?

January 18, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

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

WRV


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

————–> Continue reading

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

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

The Trail Out of Canterbury


This is probably fairly described as a mainstream, middle-of-the-road [conversion account] from an Episcopalian who reposed in the Lord among the presybtery. It’s offered here as simply a point of reference.

December 22, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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