Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Taboo Topics: The Material Fast?


If you refuse... you might offend them!A priest recently began Lent with a sermon on keeping the fast. It seems like people are afraid to talk about that, as though the prohibitions against fasting before men, or against judging the brother who eats, somehow forbid discussion of it, or stating what the Church requires. It is popular to read the sermons of Saints about the importance of keeping the fullness of the fast (forgiveness, fasting from the passions, alms for the poor (which come from the money saved by fasting), but quite unpopular to read saints who point out that one who does not fast does not really believe in God.

Of course in places in the world where most Orthodox are baptized as infants, at least until the Bolsheviks ruined it for them, everyone knew that everyone else was fasting, and there wasn’t this pretense that we’re protecting one another’s secrecy. Contributing to the problem in convert countries is the conviction that fasting is a personal impulse rather than a corporate activity. One supposedly decides for himself when to fast, from what to fast, and how to fast. How this cripples our ability to encourage one another to stand strong, to help those who would ask advice but feel silenced by this pseudo-secrecy. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing. We know, of course, that for some reasons of ailment or definitive weakness, a fasting rule may be modified by economia, under the care of a father confessor, but we know the general rules: no animal products, no olive oil, no alcohol.

It’s a serious failure of Orthodox mind and culture that whole sectors of Orthodox aren’t even bothering to go through the motions. When the Fast is mentioned, it’s a bit like mentioning chastity and the prohibition on premarital sex among a group of young, single lovers and romancers. It’s a quaint, old custom from the past, but not how we really live anymore. This is a culture swimming in a sea of passionate foods and sensuality. To envisage 40 days without animal products, for most people, is like proposing a month without television or video. It sounds absurd. You actually hear people ask, “what would we eat?” showing not only no planning or preparation, but a complete failure of education on the part of their hierarchs. Continue reading

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March 14, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let us quit ourselves like men.


“Let us, let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our souls and cleanse our flesh; And as we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion. Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit, may we persevere with love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God, and with great spiritual gladness, to behold His Holy Pascha.” – The Sticheron of the First Monday of Great Lent

March 10, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Rite Fasting Rules


Fish & Chips w. Beer“Fasting, as distinguished from abstinence… Fasting is absolutely forbidden on all Sundays, Solemnities, and Greater Feasts. Additionally, since both canonical rules and the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict prohibit fasting on Saturdays, only abstinence may be observed on Saturdays in fasting seasons.” [source]

The article is muddled and verbose, but it still amounts to no steak dinner on Sunday afternoons. 🙂

“Water does not break the fast.” [Ibid.]

Actually, the tradition is to fast even from water on Saturday nights until holy communion, is it not? [answers in the comments section]

“On days of abstinence, fish and dairy products are always permitted. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited, but wine and beer, where customary, are allowed. “ [Ibid.]

What? Regular boned fish? So one can go for fish, chips, and a beer in Lent? [answers in the comments section]

March 8, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties | , , , | 15 Comments

Theology and Economy


TheologyTheology is who God is in and of himself apart from any created thing. Economy, in contrast, is God’s activity toward all that is not God – that is, toward all creation (and what is not God is created). Economy is God’s salvation from everlasting. The Energies (the Grace) of God, by which we speak of His activity, are likewise uncreate, are God, and in fact are the means of creation and redemption. The Orthodox alone hold this Faith from the Apostles. By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church considers grace (the energies) to be created: created grace – which is a different and incompatible theology (doctrine of God), leading to a different an incompatible mysteriology, eschatology, and other doctrines.

Economy: The Economy (another word for it is Condescension) is really the Incarnation of Christ. When we speak of the Economy or the use of economia, we speak specifically of the Incarnation, for in that reality all God’s activity is recapitulated, from creation to redemption. God became man, and all history looks either forward to or back from that prime event. In this is our teleology (belief concerning the meaning of history) and likewise the mystery of our eschatology (doctrine of the future).

The God who created man, became created man, to save him, and to make possible the union of God and man, theosis (deification). God condescended to man, because man could not reach God. God overcame the barriers between us and salvation, closing the uncloseable distance of union. God is unknowable and so unobtainable, but God became what we are, that he might remain God, unknowable in essence, but that we might obtain union, through his uncreated Energies.

All activity of God toward man is of the Incarnation, is Economy, and has its character and attitude. All God’s activity toward man is for man’s salvation – for theosis. Nothing else. Even theology is merely a means to an end – this union with God. Theology is nothing in itself – and union is all. And so our genuine theology is the far reaches of the path of union, rather than any academic study, which is more a discussion of a path rather than a pursuit of it. As the fathers say, theology is prayer, and the true theologian is the one on the path of true prayer. Continue reading

February 23, 2008 Posted by | -- Theology, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monks are the Front Line


MonksAn ancient Orthodox saying: Angels are the lights of monks, and monks are the lights of men. We refer to them as our earthly angels, for they guide us, help us, keep our path, and fight things we cannot handle. They are our superheroes. As for us, our prayers are monastic prayer – just look at them. Our fasts are the monastic fasts. “The Orthodox rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules.” from this The ascetic life of the church and of each individual Christian is that of monks, taught to us by monks, exampled by monks, explained by the behavior of monks.

The first great ascetic, is of course Our Lord. He engaged in prolongued fasts. He stood during prayer. He kept the feasts. He battled the world and the enemy. He kept at bay the passions. He prayed lengthy prayers (“could you not pray with me one hour?”). He is the ultimate example of the ordinary ascetic life of all we ordinary ascetics who are not monks, but follow the path they have hollowed through the world and hallowed through the piety. All the activities of our life have but the one ascetical purpose: theosis. The very union with God that all monastics seek, and all laypeople must, if they would be saved. Everything that is not an ascetical means, so to speak, a means of theosis, is a weight.

For instance, take the contemporary attitudes toward theology, even among many Orthoox. This approach to theology as something learned through academics is relatively recent and has never been our tradition. Theology, in the teaching of the fathers, is a gift, like repentance is a gift, and theology is given only at the farthest levels of theosis, almost exclusively to monastics. We might discuss theology, but we cannot do theology, except as union with God. Ours is not a belief system but an ascetical journey. Continue reading

February 21, 2008 Posted by | -- Asceticism & Monasticism, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , | 8 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

The East/West argument vs. Cyril & Methodius


Fr. David Abramstov wrote: “Unless a truly indigenous African Liturgy can be foreseen, a truly indigenous Indian and Chinese Liturgy, composed according to the one unique structure of the Liturgy (a structure imposed interiorly, having its source in dogmatic and mystical theology—in the true sense of those words—and not exteriorly by stifling the life of other Liturgies, as was the case historically speaking, where St. John Chrysostom’s Liturgy is concerned), the truly Orthodox vision of the world has not yet been seen. Uniformity, imposition, external authority are the death of Orthodoxy, for she is a precious box encrusted with a thousand different (but equally lovely) jewels, each of which reflects the light of truth in a manner particular and unique.” – On the Western Rite Edict of Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir)

Response: It sounds good, especially the appeal to these other cultures. But liturgical development has always been organic. It was in the West and the East. It was never something merely invented or reconstructed whole cloth. The liturgy in foreign lands was always the rite of the Orthodox missionaries who planted Churches there. St. Cyril and Methodius gave us the Orthodox model – we translate the liturgical books into the native language, and lead people to Christ. Never has there been a policy of questioning the rite being used, or which rite was appropriate, or suggesting that this or that rite is more appropriate to this or that culture. If Western missionaries founded missions, they used their rite; if Eastern missionaries founded missions, likewise the Eastern rite was used. That is living, breathing liturgy brought by living, breathing Orthodox. What we’re discussion now is liturgical reconstruction for setting up parallel Churches on different calendars, different fasting rules, different readings, and doing this with the argument that it’s somehow indigenous.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions on the Edict


In 1958, Met. Antony issued his Edict of August, setting forth the general and provisional basis for establishing Western rite parishes within the Antiochian Archdiocese. Among the Edict’s stipulations are the following (with commentary):

1. All converts to the Church must accept the full Orthodox doctrine of Faith.

This is probably the most serious areas of concern. It is easy to say that one accepts the doctrine of the Faith in toto, but can one accept it truly with insufficient understanding of and education in it? Does this mean just the creed? The speed at which many converts are being funneled into the WR, and the inadequacy of the catechetical instruction and requirements, is a reasonable point of concern. Is it really acceptance of the *full* Orthodox doctrine of Faith, if that faith is not adequately understood.

2. Parishes and larger units received into the Archdiocese retain the use of all Western rites, devotions, and customs which are not contrary to the Orthodox Faith and are logically derived from a Western usage antedating the Schism of 1054.

This is probably the second most serious area of concern. One the one hand, how can churches that barely observe the pieties and pious customs of the East ensure that Western Rite missions they’re setting up are observing the genuine and full expressions of Orthodox piety. In parishes where there is barely any keeping of the fasts, where liturgy and the liturgical prayers are spectator behaviors, where the non-Sunday services are barely attended, Confession barely a regular practice, and nearly all semblance of the asceticism that shapes *all* Orthodox worship is missing, from where is this surety to come? And in the absence of such things, will we not see the filling of the void with precisely such heterodox devotions as the Roman Catholic rosary and the Stations of the Cross. There is a very real dearth, in theatre-like Orthodox Churches, of anything approaching a full expression of Orthodox worship, devotions, and customs.

3. All individual converts must be integrated into parochial life; there can be no individual converts to the Western rite unless to an established parish.

Again, another area of concern. In parishes that are “planting” Western Rite Missions, converts are easily run through a quick catechesis and given a choice of “going East” or “going West”, and then it’s a rush to get the storefront built out, and the clergy chrismated and ordained, and everyone into their building. Just as children are stunted if they do not spend adequate time building relationships with adults, one worries about creating parallel communities that aren’t truly integrated with each other, and so have a false basis for integration in their separate communities.

7. Western rite parishes and clergy are subject to the canons of the Orthodox Church and the laws of the Archdiocese.

To what degree are they or their parent churches really familiar with the canons to treat them with due reverance and observe them faithfully? It is of some interest whether the canons are truly being respected in general, but what about their observance in the conduct of a Western Rite in the first place? Will the canons be observed with regard to fasting? Are they known? etc.

The goal in asking these things is to convey substantial and justifiable concerns with what is and is not being done in the name of setting up Western Rite missions and parishes, aside from the cheerleading in various media.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AA WR uses Roman Catholic Calendar


The Sanctorale calendar of the western rite is the Roman Martyrology, with any post-schismatic heretical “saints” and feasts expunged. The western rite uses the common Orthodox date for Holy Easter, and the Temporale Calendar is based on that date. The Western Rite Vicariate publishes and annual ORDO delineating the feasts, fasting rules, and regulations regarding the Calendar and similar related matters. – St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church 1/16/2008

Note: The Orthodox West for the entire span of their Orthodoxy used the Old (Julian) Calendar rather than the new calendar innovation, so it would not be accurate to deem this a return to the calendar of the Orthodox in the West. Likewise, the fasting rules, time frames for some feasts/fasts, etc. would be quite different.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AA WR uses 1950s Roman Catholic Fasting Rules


The fasting rules, vestments of the clergy, clerical attire and other ceremonial details of the western rite are those of the dissident west in 1950. This date, it is to be noted, considerably precedes the invocations of the so-called second Vatican “council.” In fact, the authorized western rite forms antedate even the earliest wave of changes instituted in the West in the mid-and late 1950s. – St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church 1/16/2008

Note: 1950, besides being before Vatican II, and signifying a nostalgic cultural era in the hearts of many Roman Catholics, is the year the Pope Pius XII declared that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven was the “infallible” dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.

Note also: The fasting rules of the pre-schism (i.e. Orthodox) West were notably more severe/devout than those used by Roman Catholics in 1950. Arguably, though, they are also moreso than those practiced today by many Orthodox members of large Antiochian churches.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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