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How important is a parish's Western Rite identity...

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...specifically in terms of outreach?

I'm keenly aware of the spiritually and culturally ingrained elements of belonging to one rite or another, and that has been dealt with more than thoroughly on other threads.

My question here is to what degree communities steeped in the Western Rite see that specific element of their identity as being a missionary tool.

This line of thought was sparked by an observation that some parish and mission websites draw a great deal of attention to the fact that church is Western Rite while on other sites, you might only deduce this fact from observations you might make from photographs, and so forth.

Looking at the header on the homepage of the first type of website, the fact that the church is Western Rite is usually the first thing you learn about the church after the dedication.  Before you know when their services are, what jurisdiction they belong to, or how to find the church, you know that they are Western Rite.  The banner at the top of the hompage will proclaim:

"St Caesarius of Arles Western Rite Orthodox Church"

Then there might be a section of the website often placed on or prominently linked to from the homepage, explaining what the Western Rite is, usually with the ubiquitous "Never, never, never..." quotation from St John.

It is clear that the fact they are Western Rite is not only important to them but they also believe that it is important to ensure that visitors to their website know this, perhaps as a vital part of outreach.

Yet, other parishes have just as much of a Western Rite identity as touching their worshipping and spiritual life but, much like their Byzantine counterparts, do not advertise the rite so prominently, and you really have to go looking to find out this information.

On the homepage you might see "St Teilo's Orthodox Church" but the fact that they are Western Rite might only be apparent from the terminology used in the schedule of services and some of the music and worship resources available on their site.  You won't find the words "Western Rite" plastered everywhere.  They are not hiding the fact but it simply isn't seen as being as much of an outreach tool.

I have a few unrefined ideas about why churches might choose one approach or the other, but I wondered what the views might be of others, particularly of those who might have responsibility for taking these decisions.

In Christ,
Cyprian
 

Volnutt

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I doubt "we're Western Rite" is going to be relevant/understandable to your average unchurched, if that's who you're talking about in terms of outreach. Seems like having it in the name of the parish and having a basic spiel about what that means (which will likely wind up talking about the Pope at some point lol) would be the easiest way to go.
 

Agabus

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Volnutt said:
I doubt "we're Western Rite" is going to be relevant/understandable to your average unchurched, if that's who you're talking about in terms of outreach. Seems like having it in the name of the parish and having a basic spiel about what that means (which will likely wind up talking about the Pope at some point lol) would be the easiest way to go.
I don't see how Rite can in some senses be separated from identity.

I think including notice that the parish is Western Rite and a separate [easy to find] what-to-expect page on the Website are necessary since — while they are wholly Orthodox — it should be noted that a WRO parish is not what you are going to find praxis-wise in the majority of Orthodox churches. IOW, don't hide it, but keep it simple for the uninitiated, show some photos (with cutlines explaining what is going on in them!) and avoid jumping into in-the-weeds stuff like azymes.

In terms of outreach, do good works and answer any questions people have without sounding like a crazy person. The majority of people don't care about rite cold turkey as much as they care if the parishioners are nice and how they experience the worship  in a church without the lens of experience.
 

Volnutt

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Agabus said:
Volnutt said:
I doubt "we're Western Rite" is going to be relevant/understandable to your average unchurched, if that's who you're talking about in terms of outreach. Seems like having it in the name of the parish and having a basic spiel about what that means (which will likely wind up talking about the Pope at some point lol) would be the easiest way to go.
I don't see how Rite can in some senses be separated from identity.

I think including notice that the parish is Western Rite and a separate [easy to find] what-to-expect page on the Website are necessary since — while they are wholly Orthodox — it should be noted that a WRO parish is not what you are going to find praxis-wise in the majority of Orthodox churches. IOW, don't hide it, but keep it simple for the uninitiated, show some photos (with cutlines explaining what is going on in them!) and avoid jumping into in-the-weeds stuff like azymes.

In terms of outreach, do good works and answer any questions people have without sounding like a crazy person. The majority of people don't care about rite cold turkey as much as they care if the parishioners are nice and how they experience the worship  in a church without the lens of experience.
Makes sense, yeah.
 
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Thank you, both, for your thoughts.

I think I agree with what you have both said.

I cannot speak for the North American situation but certainly here in the UK, I see little value to plastering "Western Rite" all over everything.  My social and working life bring me into contact with a vast range of people, some of whom are open to the prospect of exploring faith, and that within a Christian context. However, the term "Western Rite" and its significance would be lost on them, and it seems an unnecessary thing to have to explain on top of the plethora of core things that would need to be introduced to them over time.

I know of one mission that mentions "Western Rite" no fewer three times in its brief website introduction and advertises every single service with "Western Rite" before the name of the service. I have to wonder what benefit there might be to this.

I suppose it depends on the target audience of the website, and I can definitely see value in making it known that the church belongs to a particular rite, specifically for the few and far between who might come from a western liturgical tradition and be liturgically astute. I was one of those people, so I know we do exist, but looking around in Orthodoxy for the past 14 years, I can see that I don't have much company. Not everyone is wired that way and comes from that sort of background.

So it's very difficult for me to imagine that this sort of demographic could be the core fishing ground for Orthodox missions today. 20-30 years ago, perhaps. However, my experience (and I realise that this is anecdotal and I'm happy to be corrected) is that most people who would have left such churches did so years ago, and those who, while perhaps disagreeing with developments in their churches, have remained, have chosen to remain for particular reasons. For the most part, waving a bit of Gregorian chant in their faces isn't going to cause them to up sticks en masse.

I don't say any of that as an opponent of the Western Rite - far from it! That is the rite through which I worship God and seek to work out my salvation. It is the family of traditions by which the Orthodox saints of these islands did the same. They said these prayers and sang these hymns on this soil, hallowed by their tears and blood.

For those reasons and others, I am glad that the Western Rite exists. However, it can feed and nourish people without them knowing about about its provenance. How many faithful Orthodox Christians in Serbia know that they worship according to a Slavic recension of something called the Byzantine Rite? Not many, I'm sure. Yet this lack of historical knowledge is no hindrance to their salvation.

As ROCOR's Bishop Jerome said, while still Archpriest John Shaw:

Those who go to church on Sunday morning are not called upon to be liturgicists or liturgical archaeologists, any more than the patient needs to be a medical scientist or go into the lab to be given medicine. The ‘finished product’ is nevertheless today’s worship; if they hear or join in texts that had been in an ancient manuscript, they need never suspect it, for all that is worth. These materials have been returned to use because they provide what was needed.
More important to me is to till the fertile soil of those on the periphery of church life, as well as the unchurched who are open to God but don't have the tools to begin to know where to start.  Yet even to these people, the Western Rite is of benefit. They might be the sort of people who go to a Christmas midnight Mass or an Easter day Mass with family, and turn up at the occasional baptism and funeral, but from that they have a perception of what church in their culture looks and feels like, and the Byzantine Rite it is not.

So my personal view, again speaking only from the perspective of somebody in a largely godless UK culture, is that being Western Rite is beneficial, but making a big song and dance about it is not. Let it be known, certainty, for those for whom it might be helpful, but for it to be too prominent in a church's web presence seems to me to be counterproductive and the result of the assumption that we all fall into at one time or another, which is that everyone thinks as we do.
 

noahzarc1

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Interesting thread. The only Western Rite parish I have been to, it did not say Western Rite anywhere on their website. In fact, from looking at their website and the few photos, it looked like the Latin Mass to me, but I knew the website said it was an Orthodox Church, so I was actually quite confused. Only after I heard the priest give an interview on AFR that it then made more sense to me who they were and I decided to contact him, meet and then check out the church. I don't even recall we talked about Western Rite at all the first time we met.

However, I will say (and I've told the priest this too) that anyone who was a traditional Catholic (Rome) and attended the Tridentine Mass immediately can feel comfortable in one regard, but also be bothered here and there on others. In all honesty, the insertion of the Epiklesis by the Orthodox into the mass are like nails on a chalk board for me. I just can't get past it. There was a time when I attended a traditional Catholic Latin mass and I attended the Eastern Rite in a Ukrainian Catholic Church that used the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. After stepping away from Rome and then a period of searching, there I found myself in a Western Rite Eastern Orthodox Church using the Latin Mass with the Eastern Epiklesis stuck in there. Honestly I had to finally just take a step back altogether.

The East rightfully has had their gripes about the Union of Brest, the "latinizing" of Eastern Churches, but I could not help being struck by the thought it seemed the east couldn't wait to get their hands on the Latin mass and put the Epiklesis where they felt it belonged. Basically they easternized the western rite. In fact, the priest from the Western Rite agreed, and really did not like it (but he celebrates the mass in humility and obedience) but I know he'd like to one day see it removed. I also found it quite odd to pick up the hymnal and find there are Wesleyan (or other western post reformation hymns) in there. Though I never heard them sing those, and they have a beautiful, beautiful choir. It appeared all their singing was Gregorian chant, or something from an older period. In fact, their choir really made the overall mass something that at times could seem other worldly, so the mass is overall very beautifully done. I was raised in the Novus Ordo, so thinking back I remember we had a lot of similar hymns. But I don't know what a Catholic Hymnal from Trent or later would have had in it. Something tells me the post-Trent church did not have any Protestant hymns anywhere near it, but maybe I'm wrong.  All that said, I know the east boasts about being Unbroken Christianity and they attach this fact to the restoration of the Western Rite, seemingly claiming they've restored what always was. This goes to my next rub on that.

I have never been bothered by any website or church making it known they are Western Rite. However, I've read a few websites now that are overly complimentary of the Anglican tradition and the "Anglican Branch theory" and have really made saints of the Anglicans.  When I see this it just appears it must be a church with pews completely filled with disgruntled Anglicans who'd rather be Protestants, but given the grave situations and changes in Anglicanism had to settle on Eastern Orthodoxy. So when I read these ornate histories that make it sound like Eastern Orthodoxy was itching to unite again with the Anglicans who so properly held the Western Rite together, it seems a little sketchy to me. At the same time they've talked to me about the Western Saints and Doctors and that many of their restored prayers are the western tradition, but from my reading of history on Rome, these saints, doctors and prayer rules were Catholics from Rome, not Anglicans from England.

I could write more and I fear I am not expressing well enough all my thoughts on this topic, but these are just some for now. It's mentally confusing for me that the western rite seems to have looked to the Anglicans for the restoration of the mass, but then looks to Rome (here and there) to find the other traditions that "restore" the western rite. Rome is still here. If Rome today is what we observe Rome to be, then this is what Rome morphed into. Rome restored the Tridentine Mass under Benedict XVI, my last parish I attended had it (3 Novus Ordos on Sunday and then the Latin Mass at 12:30.) I've just stopped buying, for now, the "restoration" of the Western Rite and moreover what seems like opportunistic moves from the east to take on the Western Rite, but what really seems like a place for conservative, traditional Anglicans to land. They should have a place to land and come home to the church. However, many times it seems like crafty writing on the history of it all. 

Finally I will say the conclusion I've reached for now. If I'm going to be Western Rite, I'm going home to Rome before I hitch my wagon to "restored" i.e. western rite Anglicanism. These of course are all my own opinions from my own observation. The Western Rite parish, has some of the most loving, kind people and a very open, honest and kind priest!
 

Deacon Lance

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I would say it is simply truth in advertising.  When people see Catholic they think Roman.  When they see Orthodox they think Eastern.  If the sign says St John Orthodox Church people come expecting the Byzantine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.  If they are then given the Roman Tridentine Mass they are probably going to feel bait and switched.  The minority Rite has to advertise itself as such to avoid confusion.
 

noahzarc1

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Deacon Lance said:
I would say it is simply truth in advertising.  When people see Catholic they think Roman.  When they see Orthodox they think Eastern.  If the sign says St John Orthodox Church people come expecting the Byzantine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.  If they are then given the Roman Tridentine Mass they are probably going to feel bait and switched.  The minority Rite has to advertise itself as such to avoid confusion.
Deacon Lance, I think I would say at the outset it is confusing. Prior to Trent there were at least 14 different text of the Mass as celebrated in and around Rome. At Trent, any form not older than 200 years old in 1570 had to be replaced with the Tridentine Mass. The Roman Missal that Pope Pius V issued at the request of the Council of Trent, gradually established uniformity within the Western Church after a period that had witnessed regional variations in the choice of Epistles, Gospels, and prayers at the Offertory, the Communion, and the beginning and end of Mass. Yes, there were changes over time from Trent, but by and large, the Tridentine Mass was the ordinary form of the mass in Rome for nearly 400 years until the changes of Vatican II.

I have not read all of Overbeck's book Catholic Orthodoxy and Anglo-Catholicism which he wrote in the 1860's when desiring to establish the western Rite. It is not only my view, but other reviews that cite it as largely a polemical work basically describing why the western churches (at the time of his writing) should be rejected. At the same time his cry is "no popery, no protestantism" is what he uses to prop up Anglicanism. He takes a notably protestant stance in all his claims against Rome, some of which I am not entirely sure the East took.

Interestingly he very early on takes on the question of whether the church can "subsist" in the other communions as they look for restoration. Vatican II was chided for the use of this very word to describe the Catholic Church in that council's documents. In one regard, Overbeck seems like an early sedevacantist. If one today thinks and talks the way Overbeck does, "popery this and popery that," it really does deny an essential established part of Christendom, that the Bishop of Rome is the Pope of Rome. This I think is my problem with the propping up of Anglicanism in the fashion in which he began his book. It essentially dismisses the bishop of Rome for the established Anglican unions. It also seems he (and others since him) encouraged the same. It is through this "branch" the east was encouraged to "restore" the western rite to Eastern Orthodoxy. Now he spends time rejecting the evangelical position of his day, which was opposed to any form of Anglicanism that retained "popery" but he does so to show that Anglicanism is closer to Orthodox communion than Rome could be.

Why shouldn't people think Catholic when they see Roman? Was Rome the reason for that? Partly, but also individuals aware of the issue would not fail to think Catholic when they see Orthodoxy. The development of these terms over time are a function of history. If it is your argument that people only think Catholic when they hear Rome, what do you think they hear when they see "Orthodox?" You seem to suggest people do not think Catholic when they think Orthodox, but instead think "Eastern." Well then saying Western Rite is not going to add any value to that or change one's perspective. The only thing they will ask, perhaps what I asked, "What is this 'Western Rite' of the Eastern Orthodox?" What they may find then is that it is not so much a restoration of what truly was restored or celebrated in the West, so much as what was restored as only celebrated by a small communion in opposition to the west of their time. I do not mean to paint with a broad brush stroke. I appreciate the conversation and I hope we can talk some more. Thank you. 
 

WPM

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Western Rite is not that big of a deal
 

noahzarc1

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It is a big deal, because it is very early on in the restoration period relative to the overall time period of the church. So its claims need to be observed and its growth needs to be cultivated, but responsibly.
 

WPM

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noahzarc1 said:
It is a big deal, because it is very early on in the restoration period relative to the overall time period of the church. So its claims need to be observed and its growth needs to be cultivated, but responsibly.
The one I go to is called the Western Orthodox Mass.
 

noahzarc1

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WPM said:
noahzarc1 said:
It is a big deal, because it is very early on in the restoration period relative to the overall time period of the church. So its claims need to be observed and its growth needs to be cultivated, but responsibly.
The one I go to is called the Western Orthodox Mass.
If it is not that big of a deal, why do you go? Your comments derail the thread.
 

WPM

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noahzarc1 said:
WPM said:
noahzarc1 said:
It is a big deal, because it is very early on in the restoration period relative to the overall time period of the church. So its claims need to be observed and its growth needs to be cultivated, but responsibly.
The one I go to is called the Western Orthodox Mass.
If it is not that big of a deal, why do you go? Your comments derail the thread.
So? If I make a comment it's a comment, doesn't matter.
 

WPM

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The Western Rite might as well be Catholic.
 
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