Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Two Paths to Two Western Rites


A lot of participants on this site are supporters of Western rites, various Western rite initiatives, or at least some hypothetical restoration of a Western Rite environment in Holy Orthodoxy. We agree with some of them in some respects at least some of the time, if not most of them most all the time. It might seem odd to visit WesternRiteCritic.com and read that statement, but only if you miss the distinctions we’re drawing. That understanding can be gleaned from a number of recent articles but, just to make it explicit, we offer the following chart:

WR Enthusiasts Lovers of Western Orthodoxy
  • The Church needs to be more American!
  • We need an Orthodoxy that’s less Russian!
  • We’ve got to appeal to the youth. I don’t want to be in a fringe group!
  • There’s no reason why Episcopalians shouldn’t become Orthodox. We’ve got to change our style!
  • Our numbers are too low. We’d be a lot more successful if we went Western Rite.
  • We need a place that’s more familiar to the heterodox, so we can evangelize easier.
  • Orthodoxy is strange to people here, and that’s just unacceptable.
  • We need more Western faces and styles in our Churches, not all this ethnic stuff!
  • My style is Western – I expect my Church to be Western.
  • I’m just not at home among the Eastern Rite people – they’ve go a lot of stuff that’s just alien to me – like Tabouli.
  • The Byzantine services are too long and too repetitive – I don’t believe in that.
  • All that fasting and bowing and standing; it’s just too backward and old-fashioned; it’s not my culture.
  • What matters is not whether a liturgy or piety was ever Orthodox in history – what matters is whether it’s compatible with Orthodoxy right now. If it’ll fit, we can use it.
  • There are a lot of disaffected Roman Catholics and Anglicans out there, and they’re looking for a home. The Western Rite could be that for them.
  • The only thing Western Christians really lack is canonical bishops and a few points of doctrine. Other than that, they’re basically Orthodox, and we can fast-track them in to a Western Rite church.
  • We’ve got episcopal sanction for Western Rites, so really no other arguments have any bearing [including the ones above?] – authority is authority. Besides, we’ve got big names on this ticket – St. Tikhon, St. John. Who are you?
  • Western Rite is our chance to start over, to build an Orthodoxy that’s really free of the problems we see all over the place, like multiple and overlapping jurisdictions. If we’re to get what we want, it has to be Western Rite; we can’t do it in the Eastern Rite, they’re too set in their ways.
  • I love the beauty of the Gregorian liturgy, just as I do the liturgy of St. John. I’d like to have the one without us losing the other.
  • I want us to have all of it: all of our tradition, Eastern and Western.
  • I don’t want the heterodox pieties created in a schismatic religion – I want to follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick and St. Aidan.
  • I’m not trying to hang on to my heterodox prayer book – I want the pure words prayed when the West and my people were Orthodox.
  • It pains me that a lot of Western saints aren’t on the calendar, and ikons are hard to find. I wish we’d revive wider veneration of these pious saints.
  • I can feel at home among the Orthodox anywhere – the Church is the Church, and they’re my brothers. But there’s a lot of stuff in my heterodox background that I still feel is good and right, and now I see it’s really part of the ancient Faith.
  • I think, if you keep the demands of the Western Rite, there’s just as much vigour and piety of the body. Of course, the rite as just a rite, minus everything else, would be no good.
  • A genuine Western Rite service is liable to be just as much an affront, if not more so, to visting heterodox as any Eastern Rite service – not that attendance is our chief means of evangelism.
  • There’s only one reason to do anything – it’s no popularity or acclaim or attracting others – it’s our own salvation – theosis. That’s the only legitimate reason for supporting a Western Rite.
  • A genuine Western Rite is neither more American nor more “Western” than an Eastern Rite. The West has deviated so much from her own Orthodox beginnings, that she can no longe really recogize what’s truly Western. The last authority we should consult is the surrounding culture and the religions that prevail in it.
  • It’s fair to say that if you can’ identify with the pieties of the Russians or the Greeks, you can’t be Orthodox – not really. The Orthodox mind recognizes itself in the depth of piety of the elder peoples among us.
  • I can acknowledge that there’s no such thing as a “rite of St. Tikhon” and that St. John Maximovitch never sanctioned everything being done in his name – in fact, I can go without namedropping altogether – and still see good reasons for a Western Rite.
  • I don’t have an agenda; I just want to pray. I’m glad to use the Eastern Rites if it’ll make me a better Orthodox Christian.

Now, to be fair, we’ve put words in the mouths of everyone concerned. And it’d be just as fair for you to say, “I don’t think anyone is saying that.” or “I don’t think that’s what they mean by what they’re saying.” It’s an interpretation, to be sure. What we’re saying is that we have seen all these things discussed in one way or another, in one place or many and, if nothing else, it’s helpful to illustrate what we think are indeed two disparate trends which, though you might choose different content, you’ll see if you look.

We encourage you to think about these distinctions, to think about where you are on a map of attitudes toward Western Rites. Indeed, to do it, you have to know what you mean by “Western Rite”. Is that just a matter of a certain text – a different prayer book? Is it an entirely cultual millieu? What does it involve and entail? Would what you really mean amount to the creation of denominations within Orthodoxy, or an artificially imposed (socially engineered) homogeneity? Would it really accomplish the things being claimed for it – is there any evidence to suggest that your version of “Western Rite” would solve the problems it is supposed to solve? Would it create a whole new set of problems? If you’re in one camp or the other, can anything meaningful come of your approach while a significant number of your fellow supporters remain in the other camp? And perhaps: what’s really going on in your own heart? Is it the Cross – that crossroads between public acclaim, the glamour of the world and all its kingdoms, the popularity of Barrabus, the respectability of the Pharisees, the success of the Emperors and Legionaires and, on the other hand, the hard road of quiet salvation, the personal road of stones, the road of rejection even by one’s own family, the road of ascetic feats of which Our Lord said, ‘I go first, you must come after me.’? From where are your ideas and attitudes coming?

Feel free to sound off in the comments section if any of this means anything to you. In any case, while we might have some disagreements over any kind of restoration of Western Rites, and certainly what we’re talking about when we append the article “the” to “Western Rite”, it’s probably clear which path we see as plausible, and which we see as the children of Israel being seduced to bow to the golden calf: ”Come, be more popular, be more accepted, let the world embrace you.” You might not agree with any of this analysis, but that’s OK too. Our goal is to engage you with circumspect thought about what is a divisive topic (divisive is not a bad word, when it’s the calf or the law) – divisive not just for those who support or don’t support some kind of Western Rite environment – but between those who do support it, but don’t agree on what they mean or what they’re supporting.

June 15, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western? | , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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

Maybe the Rite isn’t the Core of the Problem Anyway?


Would it be fair to say that many of the problems plaguing Western Rite initiatives are endemic to their parent jurisdictions? Would something like the following chart be a fair way to compare these problems?

Eastern Rite Western Rite
Includes some WR people who were pressured to “Byzantinize” Includes many converts who were pressured to “go Western Rite”
Sometimes treating WR brethren as second class Often dismissing ER brethren as outmoded and irrelevant
Can exhibit East European Phyletism Frequently exhibits Anglo-American & West European Phyletism
Confusion about what is Orthodox Confusion about what is Western
Twin problems of Neopapism & Anticlericalism Twin problems of Neopapism and Congregationalism
Alien (im)pieties: general absolution, deprecation of all things seen among Russians Alien pieties: sacred heart, stations of the cross, rosary
Abbreviated Liturgics, and deprecation of the full range of services, vigils, etc. Serious liturgical problems: Tridentine, BCP, and so-called Tikhon’s Liturgy
Confusion about what is piety and what is culture Confusion about what is culture and what what is piety
Inadequate Catechesis & Dubious Converstion Inadequate Catechesis & Dubious Converstion
Ecumenistic courting of Rome Ecumenistic courting of Rome
Deprecation of monasticism Deprecation of monasticism
Dubious evangelistic methods Dubious evangelistic methods

May 15, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , | 38 Comments

Disaffection and the Social Psychology of Conversion


Well phrased insight here: “…how does the next generation build on the sense of being “disaffected?” It seems the WR in its present form liturgically attempts to even amplify that sense…” – Publican123 from [these comments]

We’d be interested in your comments. If you haven’t yet cast your Western Rite poll vote, that’s still open, too.

May 15, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Participate in a Poll


What is the most significant problem of current Western Rite initiatives?
Click an answer below to vote:

1. Western/European Phyletism (attitudes of American or Western cultural/ethnic supremacy)

2. Problems of Liturgics & Liturgical License

3. Illicit Devotional Pieties (Sacred Heart, Rosary, Stations of the Cross)

4. Challenges of Catechesis & Conversion

5. Challenges of Ecclesiology & Ecumenism

6. Determining what’s really “Western”

7. Absence of ascetic/monastic anchor

8. Personalism, emotionalism, and creativity

9. An essentially Protestant mentality

10. Absence of Pan Orthodox Approach

11. For those who feel there are no inherent or internal problems with contemporary Western Rite initiatives, but only external problems (e.g. how WR is received), please feel free to make this point in the comments section. We want to hear from you, too.

12. Other: for those who identify inherent or internal problems with contemporary Western Rite initiatives that cannot fit any of the above categories, please feel free to make this point in the comments section.

Elaboration on any of the votes is welcome in the comments section.

Results so far:

Also want to create a poll? Click here

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , | 25 Comments

When Proof Texts Go Wild


It’s always easy to justify one’s personal agenda for the Church and Orthodox religion by creative placement of texts. Recently, for instance, we read a passage from [this blog] which makes a case for emotionalism in Orthodox pieties (something rare and generally foreign to our experience). It does this by presenting a lengthy description of events in Constantinople in the 4th century as of Great Thursday. In fact, they are in the main a description of Great and Holy Friday, the most solemn and sorrowful day of Holy Week, and a day of total fast. Whereas the text to which the quotation links makes this clear, the article citing it does not, putting only a header concerning Thursday above the quotation. It then boldfaces the portion about the “emotion shown and the mourning” before the cross on Great Friday which, of course, one can only expect.

This example is just one of many, but it illustrates the problem of scouring history for proof texts in an effort to recreate and reconstruct an Orthodox experience presumably now lacking in the attitude of contemporary Orthodox. This dialectic, misused, can actually be quite harmful, and is solely a matter for conscientious converts and ambitious academics (meaning, in both cases, theoreticians) who wish to rescue the Church from its failings by restoring to it a history they barely comprehend, deprived in fact from its full context. This is history as a tool rather than hagiology as a means of theosis. We really aren’t meaning to pick on the blog owner above. He asks for and receives quite enough flack. But since his is perhaps the ‘loudest’ example of the evangelical hermeneutic at work in the “Western Rite” theatre, his posts are typically replete with helpful examples of the matters that concern a sober mind about what is getting called “Western Rite”.

Again, to try to create a blanket justification of concepts or experiences detached from their context (by proof texts in the wild, or by any other hermeneutic) is a dangerous process to set loose upon a Faith. Its harmful effects have already been experienced in the history of the Roman Catholic and Anglican religions, which have become bywords for this error, and we find it a dubious undertaking for clergy of any religion in the name of winning an argument or scoring support for a private agenda. Besides, if that agenda is indefensible otherwise, then it should be rejected as lacking the very historical continuity it presumes to demonstrate.

Not all critical examination of contemporary Orthodox community life or investigation of historical precedent is a bad idea. Indeed, we benefit from it frequently. But it must be done in a mature and circumspect manner, with some sense of how the Church uses history in the first place, how it ‘places’ its thought within history, and how it’s Faith differs from the manufacture or “rediscovery” of concepts, as in Protestantism and archaism. The Church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our essential ecclesiology, our fundamental hermeneutical tradition, and our basic mysteriology must guide our consciences in our treatment of the Church’s history, Her texts, and Her sacred experience.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , | 3 Comments

Enemies, Opponents, and Brothers in Christ


Wool over one's eyes.Recently a Christian speaker stood before an audience desiring to gain acceptance for a path that conflicted quite clearly with their tradition. The technique he used is tried and true. He began to describe how there’s a difference between crazy and not crazy. Always he drew associations with his theoretical opponents and craziness, always with his own views and sanity. In other words:

  • He presented a false dilemma: Your choices are: my novel views or else these extreme and unpleasant attitudes and motivations; those are your choices. He didn’t define craziness, of course. You could insert the word ‘extremist’ or ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘liberal’ or any other undesirable buzzword. The important thing is to leave it vague enough, and to indicate, without indicating why or how, it is undesirable: You don’t want to be thought of as “x”, do you? Well then, the only alternative is my views.
  • He poisoned the well: Those who would oppose me are, by opposing me, demonstrating that their motivations are irrational. Of course, he did not have any actual opponents on hand to prove him wrong – the goal was to prevent opposition, and stereotype it in advance.
  • He mischaracterized his opponents, theoretical or otherwise. By attributing to them irrational, he easily escapes contest with the many rational books and articles that have been written to refute his position. He likewise, escapes having to engage such things, since a scholar needn’t, after all, debate with the irrational. [1]

In short, this speaker silenced opposition, embarrassed concern, and slid a pre-packaged point of view into the minds of those least educated on the matter, least versed in the relevant body of thought, and most likely to desire an easy avenue to intellectual status – namely, the mass of new converts and under-educated members of churches that cater to every novelty while fostering ignorance of tradition. He pled to dilettants.

These techniques are cited here, because they’re not uncommon among Western Rite enthusiasts. Frequently, those who express concern, potent questions, and certainly challenges to things done in the name of “Western rites” are characterized as “hysterical” [2], “raving”, “railing”, “polemicists” [3] “bashing”, “attacking”, “hostile”, “attempting to demean the rite” [4], and so on.

In other words, a variety of irrational emotions (rage, hysteria), evil motives (hostility, hatred, the desire to demean), and extreme actions (railing, raving) are attributed to those who would express concern over some of the enthusiasm being expressed, question the wisdom of some of the initiatives undertaken, or oppose the novelties introduced. The technique is the same, and it’s effects are:

  • Present a false dilemma: you must choose the “balanced view” of the enthusiasts, or the extreme emotions, motives, and actions presumably characterizing their opponents. There is no third choice – namely that of happy approval of what is good, and firm, even adamant opposition to what is not, coupled with cautious consideration of what is questionable. There is only, in this presentation, “us” and “them”, and “them” aren’t really an option.
  • Poison the well: when you see opposition, you must read it with the remembrance that it cannot come from genuine and legitimate concern, a righteous desire for fidelity and purity, and a human struggle to balance the need to admonish and sometimes correct one’s brother for his own salvation, for ours, and for the sanctity of the Faith, with the need to seek dispassion, find humility, and pray for the best. No, opponents must be ‘read’ with a certain pre-packaged hermeneutic – with eyes provided to you by the enthusiasts.
  • Mischaracterize opponents: you are encouraged to read opponents with prejudice and feelings, all the while being admonished not to read the enthusiasts with prejudice and feelings, except of course where prejudice and feelings are deemed to favor the enthusiasts. The first step in persecuting anyone (as the enthusiasts so frequently claim to be persecuted) is to dehumanize them – to make them into caricatures of honest, honorable, reasonable people. This is how you become the enemy of another, and not merely the opponent. Once you have decided that your opponents are not honest, honorable, reasonable people with whom you can seek and indeed find the truth together, you may feel safety from them, but in fact you are no longer safe from yourselves. The truth is, we all need each other, to challenge one another, question one another, admonish one another, and indeed to listen to us. Once we willingly decide to end that, no position we hold is worth having.

Opponents need not be EnemiesThis capacity, to treat opposition as warfare, which always reduces opponents to something less than our fellows, lies in wait as a temptation for any of us, and we are most vulnerable when wounded by one another. As St. Nikolai said, “Men can do me no evil as long as I bear no wound.” And likewise, he offered an entirely different way of looking at enemies in [this wonderful prayer].

So we must encourage those who are enthusiasts, those who are critics, and those who aren’t sure, to use moderation in characterizing opponents. The very caution that we use in examining these matters for approval or disapproval, let us use in choosing how we portray our counterparts, for agreement or disagreement. Let charity teach us to use more strictness with ourselves and more leniency with others. We who are writing this have often failed in this regard. We have sometimes let prejudice, defensiveness, and the desire to finish the course easily determine our words. We are resolved to do better. At the same time, we must, for the sake of the things for which we are striving, point out misleading and harmful techniques, when they endanger our brothers among Western Rite enthusiasts, our fellows anywhere, and ourselves in the temptation to respond in kind. We only seem to be opponents, after all, but to the degree we seek salvation in this striving, we are not opponents – not really. And just as we must acknowledge behaviour sometimes unbecoming, we must seek forgiveness, too, for driving our opponents to behaviours unbecoming fellows in Christ.

Let us love one another, that with one mouth, one mind, one accord we may confess, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Trinity, One in Essence, and Undivided. Amen.



End Notes:
Continue reading

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The First Denomination within Orthodoxy


First Orthodox Denomination?The Protestant impulse may be loosely defined as that tendency toward fragmentation over the desires, interests, beliefs, persuasions, passions, etc. etc. of religious adherents. There is substantial agreement on “the Faith” itself, but the very process being performed upon the Faith reduces it to a system of ‘essentials’ which are contrasted with non-essentials. In other words, those who disagree on essentials are of a different Faith. Those who disagree on non-essentials are of a different denomination.

Traditionally, of course, Orthodox Churches grew organically. They were planted by apostles and they were missionized among ‘barbarians’ by those “equal to the apostles”. The notion of programmatically ‘setting up’ a Church was more or less appropriate to the papal or Protestant ecclesiologies.

But what if it were otherwise? What if the Orthodox shared an essentially Protestant/Papal ecclesiology: Church by administration – church by fiat? At least two things would result, but two things, certainly:

1. The impulse and moral justification for creating a church would be “cultural” differences within the fold. This is the Protestant element.
2. The legitimization of this impulse would be juridical – something a hierarchy would sign off on but closely control. This is the Papal element.

And if these two things were to coincide, the result would be an organization within an organization, organism within organism, organ within organ: in short, a church within a church. Anyone else, of course, looking in, would term that a denomination. The basis for departure are the non-essentials, while the basis for administrative authority and control (simultaneously) would be the essentials.

And if this were all there was, these things in theory, we might yet be hesitant to refer to the Western Rite as a denomination within Orthodoxy. But then one reads Western Rite literature, and hears the call to go to one Church if you’re ‘ethnic’ and another if you’re white, to go to one church or another depending on which side of the Bosphorus your ancestry falls, which bank of the Mediterranean, which bloodline, which inclination, how you were raised, where you converted from, etc. This is the language of denominationalism.

Again, though, one might be hesitant to call it that, until one also reads Western Rite apologetics. The sometimes indiscriminate pilfering of the treasure houses of history, finding justifications, references, bloodlines, geneologies, and whatever bases one can for distinction, all the while demanding, often shrilly, recognition of union. This too, holding in constant tension the quest for objective authority in references and the demand for subjective authority in the recognition of others, is the Protestant impulse. And the method of handling texts is akin to arguing your point, and then finding the footnotes to back it up later. Substitute the ‘bible’, and you’ve got the fundamental Protestant hermeneutic, whether you’re doing ‘Orthodox’ hagiography or what have you.

If we took out the words “Western Rite” and inserted the words “Missouri Synod”, one might easily survey a number of “Western Rite” sites and be surprised if someone suggested the Westerrn Rite were anything *but* a denomination of Orthodoxy (aside from the absence of Western Rite bishops that could actually make up their own synod). We mean these observations not to belittle Western Rite endeavours, but rather to call adherents to awareness (no, not of how they look, but) of the religious sociology being introduced into Orthodoxy by the attitudes, mindsets, and resultant activities done in the name of “Western Rite”. A different rite, after all, needn’t be a different denomination, but when a rite is confused with a host of other things, and touted in a tribalist, multiculturalist way, a denomination is what you get, and denominationalism as an impulse – indeed a host of other things that are needed to prop up such an impulse, and which are actually foreign to Orthodoxy of any rite.

In seeking to accurately, adequately, and appropriately pursue a rite, one must not allow a quasi-Protestant, pseudo-Orthodox culture to be constructed that undermines these very efforts. This will prove worse than no effort at all, and what adherents will find themselves clutching in the end is not Orthodoxy but just another religion, whose claim to be the True Faith depends on cognitive dissonance – on saying one thing, and acting as though another were true.

That said, the Orthodox of the rite of St. John (called Eastern, by some), should cease all such denomination-inspiring rhetoric, whether this is making fun of the Russians (as is now popular where Orthodoxy has become an arrogant quasi-Episcopalian dilettantism), or else drawing illicit contrasts between ethnic and non-ethnic, cradle and non-cradle, parochial and monastic, this ethnic group or that one. All such work is the work of Protestantism, even when they call themseles Orthodox, and even when they are clergy or ‘famous’ Orthodox personalities. Many Protestants, in fact, are more Orthodox, when they cast off the very impulse that has so fragmented their Faith and which we now see at work wherever Orthodox has courted acceptance in the cultures in which the heterodox impulse is embedded.

We feel as much at home with those who pray the Western Rite as those who pray the Eastern, when either of them act like Orthodox Christians. But we are concerned that the very things ruining Orthodoxy by Anglicanizing it in so-called “Eastern-rite” churches, is actually generating the programmatic Anglicizing of Orthodoxy in so-called “Western-rite” churches. It’s not our only concern, but a thing seemingly yielding the fruit of Protestantism, and coming from its orchards, bears consideration in that light.

April 9, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Latinizations Revisited


LatinizationHistoric Western Orthodoxy vs. Heterodox Innovation

This article is a followup to Melkites Define Latinizations from March 1st, and is actually a comment appended to that article by Monk Aidan.

Let’s see how these practices compare to the liturgical practice of Orthodox Christians of the West before the Schism.

1. Unmarried priesthood

They had that, though many exceptions were made, and even advocated by Saints, and that even up to the very eve of the Schism of Rome.

2. Statues

They had statues, some of them wonder-working, though flat Byzantine-style iconography was also very common and even more prevalent.

3. Altar rails

They didn’t have those. Altar rails were invented during the Counter-Reformation. Continue reading

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Pieties | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

Questions and Answers: AWRV


Q&AThis is a selection of questions and answers from “The Protomartyr” published in The Spotlight, a newsletter of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate in New Zealand:

QUESTION: Must the sermon follow the recessional hymn on normal Sundays?
ANSWER: . Not at all. The sermon is to be delivered after the Gospel, if the “Turner Missal” is used (old Tridentine style), or after the Creed if the Anglican style Liturgy is used. There is no provision for it being delivered at the end of The Liturgy.

QUESTION: Is the use of a confessional permitted for the sacrament of Penance?
ANSWER: If you like. Some of us prefer to hear confessions at the altar rail, or in front of an icon of Christ as is done in most Orthodox churches. We feel that it is important that our people make their confessions in our parish in the same way they would if they were attending any Orthodox church. In Orthodoxy, confessions do not follow the same legalistic pattern as is followed by Roman Catholics or Anglicans.

QUESTION: would our stautues have to be replaced with icons? Would we have to use icons at all?
ANSWER; No, You may keep your statues if you like, as long as they are not of post-schism “saints” or of events depicting things not accepted by Orthodoxy. (The “Immaculate Conception, for instance.)

QUESTION: Must blessed bread be distributed following Mass in a western-rite parish?
ANSWER: No! if you don’t want to. It is a very symbolic and useful custom, however, and something which may be distributed to all present, even if thcy are not orthodox. Sacraments, including Holy Communion, may not be administered to non-orthodox. (This, of course, does not include the initiatory sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation which bring one into the Orthodox Church.)

QUESTION: How would the architectural setting of the church be affected?
ANSWER: If your church is a traditional western catholic church, it would not be affected at all. The Mass may not be said facing the people, however, so if that is your practice and your church is set up for it, you might have to make an architectural change.

QUESTION: Why did you choose the Antiochian Archdiocese rather than one of the other jurisdictlons?
ANSWER: Because it is the best jurisdiction! In addition, it is the only cannonical Orthodox jurisdiction which has a western rite and actively supports and encourages it. There are many other reasons, including the fact that Orthodox churches from the Middle East are less influenced spiritually and pietistically by national or ethnic customs since they were never the “Established Religion” in the country of their original background. Many practices which non-Orthodox believe to be of the essence in Orthodoxy, and which they find somewhat hard to take, are actually nothing more than Russian ethnic
customs which have become important to those of Russian background and appear to those outside as “part of the Faith”. Such things are not as obvious or paramount in the Orthodox from the Middle East.

QUESTION: Is it permissable for women to serve on the vestry or board of trustees in an Orthodox parish?
ANSWER: But of course! We have four women on our vestry, and there are at least two women on the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees. We hear that some jurisdictions won’t allow women to serve in that capacity, but we like women! Women cou1d never even be considered for the priesthood or other ministerial offices anywhere in Orthodoxy, however, for that would be impossible for theological reasons.

QUESTION: Are western-rite parishes expected to “easternize” later on?
ANSWER: Positively not! As a matter of fact, they are not allowed to do so. Thc western-rite parishes operate under the Western-Rite Vicariate of our Archdiocese, and as such constitute a most important missionary outreach for Orthodoxy. We would certainly not have many W-R congregations if they were expected to “easternize”.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Idol Under the Bed


Tongues in the CEC“And the best of intentions may have damaging results if misapplied to the wrong ends, as exchanging the spiritual state for a state of psychotic hysteria is essentially an act of dissipation merely disguised by a religious false front.” – ALEXANDER Turner, first vicar of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate

Fr. Thomas Hopko recently answered a question on the Illumined Heart podcast about “the Charismatic sign gifts” like “speaking in tongues”, by which is meant glossalia, “words of prophesy” (divination), etc. Fr. Thomas, in the course of this conversation, referred to a conversation in mid-May with a recent convert from the Charismatic Episcopal Church, who is now the priest and pastor of a new Antiochian Western Rite mission. In the conversation, he asked the new priest “point blank” if he “prays in tongues”. The priest indicated that “I have and I still do, privately for my own edification, but I never do it publicly anymore.”

Folks, the retention of these practices, even in private devotions, is a problem with mass conversions and ordination of new converts not steeped in the Orthodox mind – indeed still steeped in their own practices (even if they’ve simply gone underground). This creates a parachurch culture of the “enlightened” or “spirit filled” who share with each other “words of prophesy” (presuming to give a message from God) and pray in tongues (presumably the speech of God), and even go so far as to attribute these occult practices (for that’s what they are) to Orthodox Fathers, who clearly are not referring to the same things at all.

All of the fathers teach that the kind of clairvoyance attributed to some startzi comes from a long life of Holy Orthodoxy, lived in continual holiness, through the way of the desert and the monastics. There are two kinds of illumination:

1. The kind that comes through the arduous, difficult path of theosis and is given as a gift (charismata) to the most advanced among the saints. This may be called Illumination.

2. The prelest that tempts the immature believer, deluding him, and enticing him into the passions and the arms of the Enemy. Indeed the enemy needn’t steer anyone to brothels who only had decided he is worthy of visions, who surrenders his senses to involuntary utterance and abuse of the tongue, and who presumes to speak prophesy of his own accord. This properly is called Illuminism, which is but the deadly counterfeit.

Retention of these heterodox practices is indication of a sickness at the heart of the catechetical and conversion process. It’s indicative of the belief that one’s own idol has a place under the bed in Israel. Indeed, this is like a wife married from among the Canaanites, who brought with her the family idols and hid them under the tent, and the Lord judged Israel because they were concealed there.

It is not a matter of ‘giving up’ practices long held, but a question of whether or not conversion, and indeed ordination, involves an understanding and attitude that does not allow them to continue – most especially not in private where, concealed, they are not within the scope of the Church’s ability to say Amen, interpret, understand, or reject. As such, it cannot be tested, and both the convert and his Faith are in danger.

The answer that it is merely switched to private devotion misses the point that: when a leader or a group of people indicate to others that they practice such a thing, it lends it legitimacy. When this is not merely the saying of the Western offices, but is a practice actually forbidden in scripture but interpreted by heterodox according to their own private interpretation as being prescribed, this is more serious, and indicates the need to turn from the practices rightly cast away to those of the Orthodox, as converts have from time immemorial. The Witches burned their books. The Jews laid down their persecution. The Charismatics, likewise, to be within the mind of the Church, must not attempt to augment it with their practices which are quite clearly antagonistic to Orthodox piety and a threat to their own salvation. Rather, they must become Orthodox – not Orthodox “charismatics”. Continue reading

March 1, 2008 Posted by | -- Charismaticism, Western Rite Pieties | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Qatl Qitl Qutl


Nice, moderate thoughts [here]. Excerpt:

“I do not believe that that the Orthodox Western Rite is intended to be a sort of attraction to facilitate evangelizing the West. There is no reason to become Western Rite if one is already practicing western liturgical forms. There are myriads of ‘purist’ or ‘traditionalist’ groups within Catholicism and Anglicanism to satisfy the person who desires a more ‘orthodox’ liturgical experience. Why, then, would such a person want to become Orthodox? I believe it is the same reason I became Orthodox, precisely because of the theology of the Church and what she claims to be, the Body of Christ”

February 29, 2008 Posted by | -- Evangelism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

He’s not Crucified Yet!


Stations of the CrossIf you’d done a google search three years ago on Orthodoxy and the stations of the cross, you’d have found more material explaining why this post-schism Roman Catholic devotion, as part of a general distortion of the gospel, frames it too much as an obsession with Christ’s “passion” (or suffering). These days, it’s not popular to put up articles like that. Instead, you’ll get information on Orthodox adopting the devotion at ecumenical gatherings or as part of a Western Rite, which in some quarters is showing off its new Roman Catholic getup and gear and fitting in nicely as the ‘Catholicism’ of the golden age (i.e. the 1950s). You know – Catholics w/o all that Vatican II stuff, or a history of pedophiles. Or, if you will, Anglicans w/o women priests and homosexuals.

“The second thing to remember is that this is an imaginative exercise. Its purpose is not a historical examination of “what really happened” on that day in history. It’s about something far more profound. This is an opportunity to use this long standing Christian prayer to let Jesus touch my heart deeply by showing me the depth of his love for me. The context is the historical fact that he was made to carry the instrument of his death, from the place where he was condemned to die, to Calvary where he died, and that he was taken down and laid in a tomb. The religious context is that today Jesus wants to use any means available to move my heart to know his love for me. These exercises can allow me to imaginatively visualize the “meaning” of his passion and death.” – Filipino Chaplaincy, St. Joseph’s Parish, Penrith
“The central reason for avoiding exercise of the imagination in prayer is theological. God is present everywhere. Christ is present by His Holy Spirit in the depth of the being of every Christian living the reality of Baptism into the death of Christ. If we live our Baptism, sealed with the Seal of the Spirit, then the Risen Christ lives in us, by His Holy Spirit, and we live the Risen life in the Spirit. We do not need to imagine Christ as present: He is present: we need to remind ourselves of His presence.” – Orthodox Church of Estonia, Icons, 2/27/08
“The Catholic Faith is caught rather than taught. In this regard, it is vitally important to emphasise such devotions as Benediction, the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross, devotions to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart of Jesus” – Western Rite Catholic Church
… in 1870 they unanimously agreed that the Pope of Rome is infallible whenever defining faith or morals for the Church… The Orthodox were aghast. Expecting some Catholics to seek refuge in Orthodoxy, the Russian Church approved a Western Rite Mass for them (their offer had few takers). – Pocket Church History for Orthodox Christians
Let us enter the Fast with joy, O faithful. Let us not be sad. Let us cleanse our faces with the waters of dispassion, blessing and exalting Christ forever. – First Friday Matins [The Lenten Spring]
Let us begin the Fast with joy. Let us give ourselves to spiritual efforts. Let us cleanse our souls. Let us cleanse our flesh. Let us fast from passions as we fast from foods, taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit and accomplishing them in love, that we all may be made worthy to see the passion of Christ our God and His Holy Pascha, rejoicing with spiritual joy. – Forgiveness Sunday Vespers [The Lenten Spring]

It’s an odd thing to watch, this clamour to adopt devotions not out of devotion itself, certainly not out of the heart of Orthodox feeling, but out of a desire to fit a mold. We need to start doing this, add that, and we’ll be having this on Wednesday. By the way, have you bought a rosary yet? At the moment, they’re gearing up for the Passion of Christ. One remembers a hideous film by that name, and we’re not really that far off: When you’d walk into one of the Roman Catholic churches they’d like to emulate, you were greeted with scenes of judgment, Hell, suffering, torture, and gore. And that was before the service.

While the rest of us are with Christ in the desert, battling temptation with him, sharing his fast, as expressed in our presanctified liturgies, the neo-Western Rite crowd, for that’s what they are, will already be going through something the rest of us reserve for the balance and dignity of Holy Week (i.e. Passion Week). While we wait for the sepulchre, they are already calling for the crucifixion, without even a triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. And they will not do it once, but repeatedly. For them, this is an extended time of agony.

Implicit in this mistaken obsession with the Passion is the notion that the primary work of Christ’s Incarnation is pouring out his agony and suffering as propitiation for the wrath of God – the very quasi-Calvinist and eminently Latin juridical approach to the Atonement that the Orthodox have rejected all this time as a facet of hyper-Augustinism. If the filioque were translated into a soteriology, it would look like this. In the same way, Orthodoxy has rejected the neo-Nestorian worship of body parts (e.g. the Sacred Heart). In the same way, the Orthodox have warned against the use of imagination in prayer (e.g. the Rosary). All we need now is a weeping Romanesque madonna and a teenager with a fatima-like vision, and we can scrap all this stuff about not being just the Roman Catholics’ kissing cousins.

Indeed, some Western Rite proponents cite building the Western Rite as an ecumenist bridge as their actual motivation – desiring to Give Rome a Home when they ‘unite with us’ – they fail to realize that, when that happens, the Roman Catholics do not become Orthodox, but rather we become Roman Catholics. Rather than giving them a home, the Western Rite finds it’s home in Rome. Perhaps that’s why they don’t yet have Western Rite bishops; they’ll be getting a new one, to put it mildly.

Statue from St. Augustine's Church in Denver (WRV)Then too, instead of an icon painter, trained in the ancient patterns, perhaps, as is now done, a local artist of any sensibility can be commissioned to carve the Madonna. It will not be long then before we can turn to modern composers, likewise, to do musical settings for our liturgies, for there is no difference. Besides, organ music could use the revival. Make no mistake, adopting Latin pieties is also a matter of also adopting the dominant culture, whether of the Renaissance or the post-modern. Sure, we’ll start out being 50 years behind – not the Church of Antiquity but the Church of Antiques, yesterday’s Rome, a living time capsule for the disenchanted contemporary. A museum of devotion from the most recent bygone golden age.

Let us ask: if we’ve no problem with all these heterodox pieties, not only post-schism but, if you think about it, Post-Christian, then why have a problem with heterodox mystics like St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, yea even St. Ignatius of Loyola? Why not? If you’re going to do it, do it boldly. Don’t be surprised when those books come out in “Orthodox” editions, with accompanying studies of their ‘benefit’ and ‘virtue’ – though, by then, there won’t be any need to publish Orthodox editions anymore. And if these Franciscan devotions are to be the norm, why not equip the churches with statues of Francis? Think it couldn’t happen? Don’t be too sure. In fact, why don’t we just make a list of post-schism Roman Catholic devotions, visions, mystics, saints – basically everything but doctrines (we’re saving those for later – though even then, not always) – put them in a book, and call it a manual for the new Western Rite? Seriously: why not? What, exactly is wrong with it? This is the question we put to Western Rite adherents.


February 27, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Sacred Heart, Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite Pieties | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

The Mystery of Ancestry


Mormon Geneology Books“There’s something very comforting by being able to worship in the same tradition as our ancestors. I can assure you that great cloud of witnesses, that communion of Orthodox Saints in the West, St. Patrick being one of them, have been praying for those of Irish, Scottish, English, French, and German heritage, to be able to pray, and chant, and worship as they did.” – Fr. Mark Wallace, St. Elijah Antiochian Church 1/17/08

Incongruously, the priest goes on to say there is neither East nor West (after having said that heritage is a source of heavenly intercession, and rites based on ancestry (“descent”) are the object of it). Will next we devote ourselves to following a person’s geneaology as spiritual DNA to determine which rite the Saints want them to use? One almost hears a quasi-Mormonism or crypto-Judaism.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WR Ecclesiology?


Branch Theory“We are called to help recover the Orthodoxy of the ancient West so that East and West can once again be united.” – Susan Wallace, Again Magazine, Winter 2007

One has to ask: Which is it? An ecclesiology that claims the Church is not already united, or one that looks to ecumenism to join what cannot be joined? In the ambiguity of such statments, either or both may be surmised.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Questions | , , , | Leave a comment

Imagination in Prayer


“I’d like to point out, that I don’t believe the Rosary, the Sacred Heart or “Transsubstantiation” are things that inherently develop from anything in the Pre-Schism West.

The problem with the Rosary is not the prayers being said or even the events being contemplated. The objection is to a clear Patristic teaching that the imagination should not be used in contemplative prayer. That this is a clear part of the Western Patristic and even pietistic traditions, can be demonstrated by a reading of St. John of the Cross or the Cloud of Unknowing.

The Sacred Heart has absolutely nothing to do with the pre-schism West. Sure, the West saw a mystical significance to Christ’s five wounds – but early on, considered this only as a mystery to be pondered – there was no devotion specifically to the wounds apart from Christ as an Whole. Anybody who reads the history of the Sacred Heart devotion and Margaret-Mary Alacoque’s visions, would clearly see that this is a disturbing, unorthodox devotion.

“Using the imagination in prayer can lead to error of the gravest kind, when our own imaginative creations replace the reality, and we can even end up praying to our own mental fantasies.” – [source]

From the Philokalic Fathers:

“In the time of contemplation we must keep our intellect free of all fantasy and image…” – St. Diadochos of Photiki

“The effect of observing the commandments is to free from passion our conceptual images of things. The effect of spiritual reading and contemplation is to detach the intellect from form and matter. It is this which gives rise to undistracted prayer.” – St. Maximos the Confessor

“The fifth form of discipline consists in spiritual prayer, prayer that is offered by the intellect and free from all thoughts. During such prayer the intellect is concentrated within the words spoken and, inexpressibly contrite, it abases itself before God, asking only that His will may be done in all its pursuits and conceptions. It does not pay attention to any thought, shape, colour, light, fire, or anything at all of this kind; but, conscious that it is watched by God and communing with Him alone, it is free from form, colour, and shape.” – St. Peter of Damaskos

Trans-substantiation is more a development of post-schism, Aristotelian fancies being applied to an Apostolic doctrine of East and West.

But, to be fair: yes, it is inevitable that some Eastern Orthodox – perhaps even very spiritually mature belivers – will reject certain Western devotions and practices because they are Western, not because they are unorthodox.

But that means, that those of us who want to see the Western Rite succeed, can offer an important olive branch. In the first place, we must admit that we are not formed in the Orthodox mind, if we have simply been received as Episcopalians or Roman-Catholics turned Orthodox, while making only minimal changes to our spiritual life. Therefore, while it is theoretically possible that our practices are Orthodox, we would hopefully have the humility to admit that we may be poor judges of the matter.

Secondly, we would hopefully admit that the Eastern Rite faithful have an intuitive grasp of Orthdooxy, that we don’t. So, some degree of defference to them is appropriate.

So, the olive branch we can offer: by standing upon the firm foundations of pre-schism, Western Orthodox piety and practice, we cleanly avoid the accusation that our spirituality is influenced by Roman Catholic and Protestant strains of thought. We can then, without having to dissemble or take anything for granted, be quite clear that our practices are different only insofar as they are Western, no insofar as they were developed outside of Orthodoxy.

And when it comes to those few pre-schism practices that scandalize Eastern Rite faithful (and really are not normative even for the pre-schism West – I speak primarily of unleavened hosts, mandatory clerical celibacy and things like bishop-only confirmation), we really should have the humility and wisdom to submit to the more Catholic practices, preserved to this day by the East.

In short, I agree that some Western things may be rejected because of Eastern prejudice, and not because of any true lack of Orthodox piety. However, I also feel that WR converts need to pay more heed to the more refined, Orthodox sensibilities of lifelong Orthodox Christians – and admit that unless we return to pre-schism practices, we are always going to be suspected of “Papist” or Protestant tendencies. The only way to avoid this, is to go back to the Orthopraxy of the West, before Papism and Protestantism existed.”

From [this comment].

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Sacred Heart, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite Pieties, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , | 13 Comments

Orthodox Mind: The Rites vs. Renovationism


Traditional “Renovationist”
The Church’s system of liturgical services (i.e., the Typicon) is the divinely inspired mature growth of the Apostolic embryo. The full flower of God’s revelation to His people—as embodied in the Divine services—organically emanated from the seed of the early Church. The Typicon as we know it today has become somewhat unintelligible and tremendously cumbersome; for it is encrusted with layers of extraneous and repetitive material that reflect a significant shift away from, and degeneration of, the worship forms of the early Church.
We should have faith in Divine Providence and that the same Spirit who “guides us into all truth” also ordains the Church’s order of worship (see quote by Fr. Michael Pomazansky, below). The liturgical services mainly represent the product of a “naked chain of events,” or historical cause and effect. The Holy Spirit does not ensure that our rites are kept pristine.
The fourth century (in the wake of the “Peace of Constantine”) saw a Spirit-guided organic development in the Divine services, as confirmed by the witness of the Church’s consciousness in the following centuries up through our present day. The fourth century saw a “break,” or “abrupt shift” in the system of services resulting in “deviations” from the purity of the Apostolic era due to the overlaying of Hellenistic “strata” and the synthesis of new and conflicting “liturgical pieties.”
Our Task: to understand and grasp this revelation of God to His people as contained in the Divine services. This requires humility and ascetic struggle with a view towards purifying our hearts. Our Task: to figure out what has gone wrong with our liturgical services and “fix the many problems” with them. This requires a spirit of doubt and suspicion, as well as heavy reliance upon Western scholarship.

[Source]

February 11, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , | 6 Comments

Transition vs. Overnight Institutionalization


roberto-ferruzzi-madonna-1897-venice.jpgWestern Rite churches, to be fair to all – those with concerns, enthusiasts, and simple seekers – are in a state of transition.

In some places, the need to “get something up and running” overnight will tend to result in inadequate conversion, insufficient catechesis, and the hasty institutionalization of heterodox pieties because they ‘look and smell’ Western “Orthodox” (statues, stations, sacred hearts) . In other places, the approach will be with more reverence and taste.

There just seems to be a different attitude at work between “We’re in transition.” and “We’re here, we’re near, and you’d better get used to it!” Looking at this, albeit poorly if not irreverently filmed, video of a Spanish Orthodox Church, you get the impression that the merely religious paintings (like this lovely Ferruzzi madonna, 1879, Venice – an admittedly beautiful piece in itself) are what they had, and will be replaced by real icons, and ultimately aren’t attempts at 1950s Latin/Anglican cultural archaeology. Says one comment at youtube: “One monk put together the church, a replica of the colonial style common when the Spaniards came here. Where old style icons existed, he put them up: where icons did not but the saint was important, the priest put the best he could.”

It’s hard to quantify a distinction in attitude, and we aren’t going to try. It is enough to point it out. Here’s the video, for the curious:

February 10, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite -- Sacred Heart, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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