Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Evangelical or Eschatological

“I don’t think a lot of the criticisms of the Western Rite (which ought to be distinguished in some important ways from the liturgical practices of the West prior to 1054) have to do with its lack of beauty, but with its artificiality. I don’t believe one can be principally opposed to historical-critical “restorations” of the Liturgy and also for the active, artificial construction of a liturgical form by way of the same methods (though, perhaps, with less precision and a lot more synthesizing). It’s also difficult to take the Western Rite “movement” at face-value because a lot of the justifications for it are so flimsy. The absolute worst thing I can think of for the liturgical life of the Church is to “Protestantize” it by endorsing—on any level—the view that worship ought to be evangelical rather than eschatological.” – from a blog comment

The writer above is responding to a blog post about beauty of Gregorian chant and plainsong and the complexity of Russian music. In fact, the original post quite unfairly compares chant with the choral music of composers. But this is useful, in that it illustrates the point: when someone makes an aesthetic judgement about these things in the first place, what ensures them that their attitude is fundamentally an orthodox aesthetic – it seems to be an assumption.

December 27, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unpacking the Buzzword of Culture

This really is an [excellent discussion], though I think the final comment misses the point viz a viz eschatological vs. evangelical, but at it’s core it’s the cultural argument unpacked. The discussion unpacks the buzzword “culture” into things like aesthetics, and then asks whether aesthetics is a sound basis for critique of a rite an establishment of an alternative, likewise observing that a) anything new is foreign to start with and b) past cultures have only very gradually (e.g. over 1000 years) evolved what they received aesthetically – it was not a program to be started yesterday, with hastily cobbled texts, and hastily converted choirs.

December 26, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lacks Occidentalis

A response to Lux Occidentalis quoted in extenso, because it’s one of the only ones of substance we’ve seen:

If the article is what I believe it was intended to be, an apologetic for the western rite, I must say that it feel well short. If it set out to be a brief historical overview of the western-rite services, then it was at least partially successful. The author’s addressing of His Eminence, of Blessed Memory, was respectful, if only marginally so. But a few other things unrelated to the argument stood out and concerned me. First, his claim that St. John Chrysostom was an ‘Arab Christian,’ perhaps I am in error, but I fear this was the first time I have heard such a claim, does someone have some reference to suggest that St. John Chrysostom was indeed an Arab, or is this just poor scholarship? Secondly, I am quite disturbed by the profound disrespect this ‘Priest’ showed towards Patriarch Theodore VI of Antioch, the Great Canonist Balsamon.
Continue reading

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Old Necessarily Good?

Another way to put it is: Just because Orthodox used it (even Saints), and it’s old, does that make it good?

“My second reason is that to say that Western Christians should be expected to follow a Western liturgy is to pre-judge the issue of the fitness of Western liturgy as suitable for Orthodox practise. On the one hand, we cannot say that it is unsuitable simply because it is not Byzantine, but we also cannot say that it inherently suitable simply because the existence of Western Rite is an historical reality. The present reality and the historical reality may or may not correspond. That is an issue that needs to be determined, not prejudged in either direction.” – Mark Harrison 7/9/2006

“I am NOT saying that WR is necessarily flawed, but I do believe that both the history of the Western liturgy and the very way in which Western worship communicates the faith, are areas that need examination. I deliberately included here evidence that would favour the use of the Anglican canon, as well as evidence that points to problems which far greater and more authoritative people than I have observed. I did so with the hope of demonstrating how complex the matter is. This is why I have always said that WR can neither be justified simply on the basis of the historical use of Western liturgy in the Orthodox Church, nor condemned on the simple basis of it not being Byzantine” – Ibid

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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