Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

What do Critics Really Think?


Many of the enthusiasts for current Western Rite initiatives have been saying for some time that the primary concerns of those questioning the wisdom of such initiatives were simple prejudice or unfamiliarity. In short, they have, in their rhetoric, reduced all criticism to self-refuting categories. They have not listened.

Poll results:

The results of our poll clearly show that the primary areas of concern are neither small minded nor nitpicking, but are areas of sociological substance and regarding the state of Orthodox spiritual psychology.

While we don’t pretend this is a sufficiently scientific poll, with requisite controls, sufficient sample size and demographics, etc, we do think it represents the most vocal who have concerns. The most significant concerns were Western/European Phyletism and an essentially Protestant mentality. There were also significant concerns, representing roughly 25% of respondents, about liturgics and devotional pieties not merely being “post-schism” but being in fact heterodox or “post-Orthodox”, as the discussion by respondents throughout this forum will show. None of the concerns, in fact, were merely trivial. Respondents who felt their concerns were not fully represented by the poll, cited expediency as the central concern (what one respondent termed “The Offer”). By expediency is meant the exchange of whole, vast, comprehensive areas of Orthopraxis and the Orthodox Phronema for an influx of conversions.

We therefore offer these results as indication that the vocal critics of much of what passes for “Western Rite” and Western Rite initiatives have substantive concerns that cannot be so easily dismissed, and have faithfully indicated poignant, reasonable, and pointed concern for the salvation of persons in both Western Rite and Eastern Rite, for the spiritual psychology of our religious bodies, and for the pan-Orthodox (read ecumenical) articulations of our Faith. To mischaracterize or dismiss these concerns as either pedestrian or irrelevant would be headstrong, prideful, and ill-advised. We offer this for your consideration.

May 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Groark on Devotional Abuses


“Novenas, rosaries, holy hours, statue crownings, (are) prepared and offered by various religious  orders, and offered to the people, while the offices of matins or vespers are never heard in parish  churches. Whether these and numerous other abuses will be corrected by the decrees of the  (Second Vatican) Council is a most important question . . .” E. T. Groark, Orthodoxy (Basilian Journal of the Western Rite) Volume X, Number 4, Autumn 1964, p. 120.

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Raphael on Anglicanism


Pastoral Letter of Bishop Raphael

To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox
Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centers; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox Faith, as many of the prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy—the Book of Common Prayer—I wrote a letter as Bishop and Head of the Syrian-Orthodox Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly requested. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the one hand, to help my people spiritually, and, on the other hand, to open the way toward bringing the Anglicans into the communion of the Holy Orthodox Faith.

On hearing and in reading that my letter, perhaps unintentionally, was misconstrued by some of the Episcopalian (Anglican) clergy, I wrote a second letter in which I pointed out that my instructions and exceptions had been either overlooked or ignored by many, to wit:

a) They (the Episcopalians) informed the Orthodox people that I recognized the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church) as being united with the Holy Orthodox Church and their ministry, that is holy orders, as valid.

b) The Episcopal (Anglican) clergy offered their ministrations even when my Orthodox clergy were residing in the same towns and parishes, as pastors.

c) Episcopal clergy said that there was no need of the Orthodox people seeking the ministrations of their own Orthodox priests, for their (the Anglican) ministrations were all that were necessary.

I, therefore, felt bound by all the circumstances to make a thorough study of the Anglican Church’s faith and orders, as well as of her discipline and ritual. After serious consideration I realized that it was my honest duty, as a member of the College of the Holy Orthodox Greek Apostolic Church, and head of the Syrian Mission in North America, to resign from the vice-presidency of and membership in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union. At the same time, I set forth, in my letter of resignation, my reason for so doing.

I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices, as well as the discipline, of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definitions of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic-minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulous is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what She teaches. Like Her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria—which He in His mercy pardons—She is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8) the mother and safe deposit of the truth as it is in Jesus (cf. Eph. 4:21).

The Orthodox Church differs absolutely with the Anglican Communion in reference to the number of Sacraments and in reference to the doctrinal explanation of the same. The Anglicans say in their Catechism concerning the Sacraments that there are “two only as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.” I am well aware that, in their two books of homilies (which are not of a binding authority, for the books were prepared only in the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth for priests who were not permitted to preach their own sermons in England during times both politically and ecclesiastically perilous), it says that there are “five others commonly called Sacraments” (see homily in each book on the Sacraments), but long since they have repudiated in different portions of their Communion this very teaching and absolutely disavow such definitions in their “Articles of Religion” which are bound up in their Book of Common Prayer or Liturgy as one of their authorities.

The Orthodox Church has ever taught that there are seven Sacraments. She plainly points out the fact that each of the seven has an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual Grace, and that they are of gospel and apostolic origin.

Again, the Orthodox Church has certain rites and practices associated and necessary in the administration of the Sacraments which neither time nor circumstances must set aside where churches are organized. Yet the Anglicans entirely neglect these, though they once taught and practiced the same in more catholic days.

In the case of the administration of Holy Baptism it is the absolute rule of the Orthodox Church that the candidate must be immersed three times (once in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity). Immersion is only permissory in the Anglican Communion, and pouring or sprinkling is the general custom. The Anglicans do not use holy oil in the administration, etc., and even in doctrinal teaching in reference to this Sacrament they differ.

As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ’s authority to consecrate is “transmuting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His “all-pure Body” and “precious Blood” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that “the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted” (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) “Unto the remission of sins, and unto life everlasting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).

Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a Sacrament—”Chrismation”—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary.

Holy Matrimony is regarded by the Anglican Communion as only a sacred rite which, even if performed by a Justice of the Peace, is regarded as sufficient in the sight of God and man.

Penance is practiced but rarely in the Anglican Communion, and Confession before the reception of Holy Communion is not compulsory. They have altogether set aside the Sacrament of Holy Unction, that is anointing the sick as commanded by Saint James (see James 5:14). In their priesthood they do not teach the true doctrine of the Grace of the Holy Orders. Indeed they have two forms of words for ordination, namely, one which gives the power of absolution to the priest, and the alternative form without the words of Our Lord, whosoever sins ye remit, etc. (John 20: 23). Thus they leave every bishop to choose intention or non-intention in the act of ordination as to the power and Grace of their priesthood (“Ordination of Priests,” Book of Common Prayer).

But, besides all of this, the Anglican Communion ignores the Orthodox Church’s dogmas and teachings, such as the invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, special honor to the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and reverence for sacred relics, holy pictures and icons. They say of such teaching that it is “a foul thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God” (Article of Religion, XXII).

There is a striking variance between their wording of the Nicene Creed and that of the Holy Orthodox Church; but sadder still, it contains the heresy of the “filioque.”

I do not deem it necessary to mention all the striking differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion in reference to the authority of holy tradition, the number of Ecumenical Councils, etc. Enough has already been said and pointed out to show that the Anglican Communion differs but little from all other Protestant bodies, and therefore, there cannot be any intercommunion until they return to the ancient Holy Orthodox Faith and practices, and reject Protestant omissions and commissions.

Therefore, as the official head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and as one who must give account (Heb. 13:17) before the judgment seat of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Pet. 2:25), that I have fed the flock of God (I Pet. 5:2), as I have been commissioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, and inasmuch as the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA) does not differ in things vital to the well-being of the Holy Orthodox

Church from some of the most errant Protestant sects, I direct all Orthodox people residing in any community not to seek or to accept the ministrations of the Sacraments and rites from any clergy excepting those of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the Apostolic command that the Orthodox should not commune in ecclesiastical matters with those who are not of the same household of faith (Gal. 6:10), is clear: “Any bishop, or presbyter or deacon who will pray with heretics, let him be anathematized; and if he allows them as clergymen to perform any service, let him be deposed.” (Apostolic Canon 45) “Any bishop, or presbyter who accepts Baptism or the Holy Sacrifice from heretics, we order such to be deposed, for what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (Apostolic Canon 46)

As to members of the Holy Orthodox Church living in areas beyond the reach of Orthodox clergy, I direct that the ancient custom of our Holy Church be observed, namely, in cases of extreme necessity, that is, danger of death, children may be baptized by some pious Orthodox layman, or even by the parent of the child, by immersion three times in the names of the (Persons of the) Holy Trinity, and in case of death such baptism is valid; but, if the child should live, he must be brought to an Orthodox priest for the Sacrament of Chrismation.

In the case of the death of an Orthodox person where no priest of the Holy Orthodox Church can be had, a pious layman may read over the corpse, for the comfort of the relatives and the instruction of the persons present, Psalm 90 and Psalm 118, and add thereto the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy Mighty,” etc.). But let it be noted that as soon as possible the relative must notify some Orthodox bishop or priest and request him to serve the Liturgy and Funeral for the repose of the soul of the departed in his cathedral or parish Church.

As to Holy Matrimony, if there be any parties united in wedlock outside the pale of the holy Orthodox Church because of the remoteness of Orthodox centers from their home, I direct that as soon as possible they either invite an Orthodox priest or go to where he resides and receive from his hands the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony; otherwise they will be considered excommunicated until they submit to the Orthodox Church’s rule.

I further direct that Orthodox Christians should not make it a practice to attend the services of other religious bodies, so that there be no confusion concerning the teaching or doctrines. Instead, I order that the head of each household, or a member, may read the special prayers which can be found in the Hours in the Holy Orthodox Service Book, and such other devotional books as have been set forth by the authority of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Commending our clergy and laity unto the safekeeping of Jesus Christ, and praying that the Holy Spirit may keep us all in the truth and extend the borders of the Holy Orthodox Faith, I remain.

Your affectionate Servant in Christ

+ RAPHAEL,
Bishop of Brooklyn,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

Accuracy of translation and fact of the above prescriptive direction and pastoral instruction being still in force and authority, unabated and unmodified, now and for all future time in this jurisdiction, certified April 27, 1927, by:

+AFTIMIOS,
Archbishop of Brooklyn,
First Vicar of the Russian American Jurisdiction,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

[Source]

May 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Give Evil No Place


It’s worth reminding ourselves, as we do periodically, that we must avoid the blindness that comes and delusion that precedes belittling and ridiculing our brother. For all such offenses, we ask forgiveness. And to any who are caught by the demon that inspires these things, we say “save yourselves, and pray for us, so we can be saved.” We may disagree, indeed must disagree at times, but we are not enemies.

Let us leave off all forms of saying to our brothers “raca”, which in modern parlance is translated: fool, idiot, moron, simpleton, bone-head, dolt, loser, human waste, excrement, or any number of other attributions. But let us give the demon speaking such words through our lips no place, and speak of the limitless value of our brother and only of our own failings. In this way is the Evil One defeated and cast out.

“For this reason it is very beneficial for a person to think of himself as smaller than all, so that he sees the brother as better, in order that he may, with the help of God, be delivered from this evil. ” – Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

In every personal failing we see in another, let us turn the finger around and point it at ourselves. Then people will listen when we speak of real concerns about the directions of our religious communities, and will not confuse this with personal insults. But, as it is, we accept as true all things that people say of our character – that we are silly, angry people, filled with passions. In this way, we will deprive the enemy, too, of power.

If we have to criticize, and we do, and that is what this site is for, it is a criticism of those things which deprive us of salvation, and is not meant to undermine anyone’s view of another person, though we are sure we fail to communicate this at times, and to show sufficient love to our detractors. Pray for us; we cannot walk this delicate path without your prayers.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meditation during prayer


Orthodox MeditationWe recently read a discussion on meditation “prior” to prayer, which included this: “I suggested meditation on the mystery under consideration prior to prayer, precisely as a means to “warm up the heart” as recommended by, e.g., St. Theophan the Recluse.”

Since we don’t know exactly what is meant by this discussion, we offer some theses on the subject:

* Meditation is not prior to prayer but an act of prayer (with the understanding that much that we consider prayer is prior to ‘true prayer’).

* By preparation for prayer, what the Saint is describing is a process of movement from attention to the world to prayerful attention – in short, preparation for prayer is actually movement into true prayer, or beginning to pray, or becoming prayerful. The use of the vehicles of prayer, icons, candles, and even the words are part of these means of preparation.

* The notion that one should have a separate period of meditation on the sufferings of Christ, and afterwards begin praying, strikes us as a Latin approach to piety that is foreign to Orthodox piety, but we are willing to be corrected on this.

* We still have concern that a danger of the use of a heterodox format for meditation in prayer (much less in any way separated programmatically from prayer) is the use of imagination in prayer (the consensus patrum is against this) and its inevitable transformation into fantasy, and fantasy’s transformation into prelest against which, says St. Seraphim, the fathers armed themselves more fiercely than anything.

* “Warming up” is actually warming the heart by means of movement from the cold attention to the world and its cares to the warm attention to union with God. It is not a separate activity ‘prior’ to prayer in the sense that the cited article seems to be indicating. In fact, it would seem to us to be slightly dangerous to engage in any meditation on a subject separate (even if prior) to prayer, since this could only be, in our view, a flight of the imagination’s fancy.

* The kind of attention ‘prior to prayer’ that we are familiar with takes the form of standing in silence and removing from our hearts and minds the attentions to the world, but also removing from our minds and guarding against all false images. This is very important. The notion that these moments of readiness are to be filled with imagination or constructed images of Christ, makes us uncomfortable. It is one thing to be wounded with the fact of Christ’s suffering for us, with its meaning and implications, and it’s another to play in our minds a virtual movie of the Passion, the focus of which becomes rather inevitably a reconstruction of the details. We aren’t meaning to be sticklers, but we think we’re reading these texts slightly differently than some others.

* This puts forth the question not of whether meditation on the Passion is proper in fact (which is and has been acknowledged), but what exactly is meant when the fathers talk of ‘meditating’ on the sufferings of Christ: “the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony” [source1] [source2]. Are we talking about running a mental movie, or else what the meaning of these things is for us? We think the latter, and we think that when the fathers speak of considering, meditating, fixing in mind the thorns, they mean not a mental movie but a kind of contemplation (with the aim of prayer, never dangerously separate from prayer) of Christ’s suffering for us. In other words, it proceeds in terms of meaning more than images.

* We take as our primary text Orthodox iconography, and it’s treatment of the Passion, which is not the realism of Latin painting, but the expressionism of Orthodox attitudes on the subject. To the extent that images provide us with impetus to prayer, the icons are the standard, and teach us what kind of images we mean, and indeed offer us an objectivity of images that does not require a subjective searching of mental and cultural movie references, or an illicit realism, which is not ‘real’ at all.

* It’s not as easy as posing various rabbinical authorities against one another in a as though we’re doing either Talmud or mediaeval scholasticism or messing around with Orthodox action figures with their various superpowers: Sts. Diadochos, Maximos, and Peter of Damascus on the one hand and Sts. Ephrem, Tikhon, and John Chrysostom on the other. It’s tantalizing to the Western mind to believe that there are different “schools” of thought on this within the one true faith, and all are equally ‘valid’, but this is to scholasticize Orthodoxy in a neo-Marcionist way; it begs the question by presuming a Western cultural hermeneutic and arriving, of course, at a Latin understanding of how we read the Fathers on these subjects. A better way than to hurl quotations at one another is to presume that there is one consensus of the Fathers, if read in an Orthodox manner, and to read them looking for this consensus and understanding of what they mean in the living context of how the Church has lived and prayed at all times and in every place. Then we will be truly catholic in mind as well as in name. That said, we offer the following texts, since they were first cited by the enthusiasts rather than ourselves, as key texts for consideration of this question: Continue reading

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Phase 3 is Operational


In Phase One of the site, we built up our article database – the focus was on becoming the central resource for criticism of much that flies under the “Western Rite” aegis. Also in this phase, we encouraged discussion, solidified a protocol of discussion free from ad hominem, appeals to authority, etc. This phase has been successful.

In Phase Two, we began including a wider range of material on Orthodoxy. After all, the cure for problems within Orthodox communities is Orthodoxy itself. Of course this attracted far less discussion and interest (sometimes Orthodoxy isn’t very popular among the Orthodox), but it was worth it. It also enabled us to better relate concerns related to Western Rite initiatives to the Faith itself.

As we enter Phase Three of the site, we begin loosely structuring the concerns into areas of interest, discussion, and research. You may have noticed the new category structure on the right. These are now overlapping categories, where before there was only one category per article. This lets the user focus on a particular area of interest, discussion, etc. This may mean less frequent articles, but a more useful overall resource.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching the Rail


Pain BenitSt. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church (WRV): “However, you are invited and encouraged to come to the altar rail for a blessing from the priest and to receive a piece of the non-sacramental Pain Benit (Antidoron). This is a bread of fellowship which is not the Holy Sacrament, but a sign of our wish to include visitors in a sense of fellowship and hospitality in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

What will You Be doing This Lent?


March 2, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

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

We told you this would happen.


Well, we’ve warned before that if they keep messing with the cork in the dike, they’re liable to unleash the flood. Here it comes. A new site of criticism of some of what passes for Western Rite has been born at westernritefraud.freehostia.com

The Horde of the Uncanonical? Or just superheroes on a day's work?Apparently, in the witch hunt to expose all opponents, critics, or persistent questioners, that site’s new founder had been repeatedly accused of running this site and slandered accordingly, and decided finally to start one of his own.

Hey! Credit where credit is due, eh? This site is run by little green men. Or the government. We don’t know which government, but hey – it’s probably the one with an agency so secret that it doesn’t even know it’s an agency. It probably thinks its a postal service or something. Or it could be run by a cadre of conspirators out to destroy everything good and lovely (or at least duplicitous and easy). Or maybe every “uncanonical” and “vagante” group, bishop, and jurisdiction have teamed up in a kind of League of Justice to expose the darkness that is this city. It’s the Night of the Vagante.

Do you want it? It's a flood.Well, there’s no actual proof that the accused isn’t everywhere. He might be behind you right now, dear reader. He might be Santa Claus and have access to a really really fast sleigh and be responsible for all the presents in the world. Or….

Maybe the enthusiasts just equated suspicion with reality one too many times, and yup… there are actually more than a handful of people in the world that think a lot of the activities styled as “Western rite” are a bad idea, and we’re finding each other, and finding a voice. And now – they’ve gone and goaded us into making more web sites. If we could shake our collective heads over the internet, we would. You’ll just have to try and imagine it.

Hey… do you hear that? What’s that sound? It sounds like… rushing water….

February 19, 2008 Posted by | -- 9th Commandment, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

How We Cross Ourselves


Three fingers joined, for the Holy Trinity. Two aside, for the two natures of Christ.“We cross with our right hands from right to left… We hold our hands in a prescribed way: thumb and first two fingertips pressed together, last two fingers pressed down to the palm. Here as elsewhere, the Orthodox impulse is to make everything we do reinforce the Faith.” [antiochian.org]

This is presented as a reminder. Some Orthodox seem to have taken to crossing themselves in another fashion (we’re not wishing to embarrass them by pointing them out). Three fingers joined, for the Holy Trinity. Two aside, for the two natures of Christ. This is the proper way.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

So that’s the Difference!


“The clergymen said there are several differences in worship style between the Eastern and Western rites. … Some worship differences involve music, they said. In the Eastern Orthodox rite, only a cappella singing is allowed, while the Western rite allows the use of an organ.” [source 2/16/08]

February 17, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The threefold anathema on real discussion


So often the proponents of the WR rely on an out and out dismissal of concerns and an appeal to authority, without genuine consideration or discussion. All new discussion is considered out of vogue. All old discussion is swept into the categories of prejudice, fear of change, or misunderstanding. You know, though, this is really part of the way the culture approaches conflict. The theory is that all conflict is a result of:

  • misunderstanding: they disagree, because they don’t get it, they don’t understand that…
  • madness: they’ve obviously got some “deeper” issues, some personal problems with it
  • malice: they’re full of hate and are just trying to sabotage and cause us problems

With this theory, there can be no real, substantive conflict over genuine and honest differences of thought that merit a reasoned discussion. Painting opponents into the three categories indicates it is a culture not of discussion, or even of honest dialogue, but of propaganda. The sad thing is that it means in “American” cultural dialogue and the religious dialogue that draws on its assumptions, a reasoned, thoughtful discussion of concerns, which must credit the other side with intelligence and sincerity, cannot occur. If that is what the Western Rite depends upon, then it actually underscores our reasons for concern.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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:

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January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Rite does not equal Western Orthodox


“Orthodoxy doesn’t have to have a “western rite” to have a western memory. With this in mind, let us suppose Overbeck’s experience of the Church had been quite different. Suppose he had attended the celebration of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on the feast of the venerable Bede and there in the narthex was a beautiful icon of this saint for veneration by the faithful. Suppose, too that the Liturgy had been conducted entirely in English. What could he find missing to celebrate the fe ast of this great saint of the early Christian west? True, the Liturgy would not be served in exactly the same way as Bede himself would have done. (But then, neither – by a long shot – would the “western rite” liturgies of St. Tikhon or St. Gregory be t he same as done by the venerable Bede.) What matters most is that the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the ancient, pre-schismatic liturgical life of the west were the same in all essentials.” – Father Michael Johnson
Eastern Rite as Universal:

“Without question, Byzantine worship has demonstrated its suitability for all people. It became the dominant liturgical expression for the Russians as truly as it had been for the Greeks. It also rooted itself deeply in the culture of those Orthodox “Latins”, the Romanians. And in Alaska it expressed the religious aspirations of native cultures – Aleuts, Tlingets and others. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is now being celebrated in Japanese, Korean and a half dozen tribal languages in Africa. Recently, it provided the scriptural worship sought after by the Evangelical Orthodox Church, who were, until recently, the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission. The use of the Byzantine liturgical tradition by the AEOM is one of the strongest arguments, against the need of a “western rite” for purposes of evangelization in America.” – Ibid

The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 13, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TAC and Roman Catholic Discussion


Re: 10’s of thousands of Anglicans ask to join the Catholic Church?

More discussion among Roman Catholics:

The reference is probably to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which has sent a letter to the Vatican, seeking that steps be taken to enable them, corporately, to return to full communion with the See of Peter.

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January 7, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Criterion is not Recovery but the present Liturgy


Perhaps the criterion for evaluating liturgical thought is not a presumed recovery of something that died away, which assumes the neutrality or spirituality of the mind doing the recovery, but in fact the present liturgical rite as expressing the living Spirit.

“It is my deep conviction that the eastern liturgical tradition is alone today in having preserved, in spite of all historical “deficiencies”, the fullness of the Church’s lex orandi and constitutes, therefore, the criterion for all liturgical evaluations.” – Father Alexander Schmemann (1920-1983) (SVTQ 24/4, 1980) The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 7, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roman Catholic Questions


Among Roman Catholics, but an interesting discussion [here]. Brings up all kinds of interesting issues in theory. Married bishops comes to mind.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose liturgy is it?


While it’s hard to agree with some things here, this writer makes the point that “ Unfortunately these western-rite Orthodox Liturgies are only practised by presbyters with no canonical western-rite Orthodox bishops. From an ecclesiological point of view this is an irregular position as the presbyter says the Liturgy of his bishop, the normative minister of the Eucharistic Liturgy.” [source]

December 31, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best argument for the Western Rite so far


Best argument for the Western Rite so far: “My greatest awareness of being an Orthodox Christian did not come when I first started coming to Church as a zealous convert with all the answers. It came when I saw those pious old Ukrainian and Slovak people who instinctively made the Sign of the Cross when they heard an ambulance siren or a bit of bad news. It is more real for them than it is for me because they don’t have to remind themselves to do it. For them it is life. And like it or not, the Western European and Northern European descendents of most Americans received Trinitarian, “little ‘c’” catholicism centuries ago. This cultural memory stays with them even if they are un-churched. Little girls in America dream of growing up, meeting a nice boy, and saying their vows at the altar. Read it again. They do not dream of and will never dream of exchanging their crowns at the wedding table. We may have a bunch of converts in N. America running around with a fetish for 19th century Russia, but we are deluded if we feel like we are going to uproot a cultural memory which stretches back, in some cases, to the point where the East and West were still in communion. After the recent convert has finished convincing himself that he is in the right Church, there comes a point where all those troparians, metanias, and sleepy Sunday mornings at Orthros seem, well, just a little forced. The West knows what Church is. In the West, Church has “Sunday Service” or “Mass”, not Orthros and Liturgy. It has steeples and stone bell towers, not onion domes. It has pews, kneelers, and hymnals or missals. It has King James English, not Slavonic or Greek. They both may be almost as hard to understand for the uneducated masses fed on MTV, but even they recognize that only ONE of those is our liturgical language. If our Orthodox Churches put Pope St. Gregory the Great on the calendar and commemorate him after Presanctified Liturgy, then they shouldn’t have a problem with Orthodox Christians praying the way that he prayed. If we say that praying the way that he prayed is not allowed, then I say we are hypocrites.” -[source]

He’s sadly wrong on these things, but it is a compelling emotional argument.

December 28, 2007 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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