Western-rite Orthodoxy

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
I've been meaning to start a thread on this topic for some time.  I know that it's been discussed before a bit, but I think the time is ripe to consider once again the questions posed by the emergence of the Western rite in the Orthodox Church.

My own take on it, in a nutshell, is that Orthodoxy should allow for the establishment of Western-rite parishes, should an entire parish wish to convert to Orthodoxy and retain a Western usage.  I would say the same thing in terms of an eventual reunion with the West, should that ever come to pass.  The Orthodox must allow for some kind of Western liturgy, although probably not the novus ordo as it is now practiced in North American Latin Churches, to be used by the Western Church in this instance. 

I think that some Eastern disciplines should clearly apply to Westerners.  For example, fasting before communion would have to be the rule.  But what about issues like fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays?  Perhaps they should just follow Eastern rules whole hog here?  Or maybe there should be something of an allowance for divergence in practice, perhaps a return to pre-Vatican II fasting practice for Westerners being prescribed?

I am of the opinion that Western theological emphasis should be permitted and encouraged in Western parishes that are received into Orthodoxy, up to a point.  There is clearly a point beyond which one cannot go here.  Clearly, any such emphases must be confined to developments occuring in the  first millenium of Church history, and even then, some should be viewed with caution.  I suppose a hybrid kind of emphasis might be what I would favour, but really with Eastern concepts taking the lead.

Some Western liturigies already in use in the Orthodox world appear to me to be quite suspect, others being more sound.  In theory, I have a great deal of difficulty with Anglican usage that is now allowed in some parishes, seeing as the Anglican rite evolved in a very inorganic, non-traditional way: it was basically artificially constructed.  The epiclesis inserted in the Anglican rite seems very artificial too:  would not a supplices te rogamus prayer be more compatible with Western forms?

Another problem I have with some Western liturgies is that they are actually more primitive in form than Eastern liturgies, and as such, do not have built in to their content the reflection of the historic battes for Orthodoxy that were waged in the early and middle Byzantine period.  Also, because of their more primitive nature, Western liturgies are, ironically, less scriptural in content and not nearly as doctrinally explicit.


And yet, having said all this, would it be possible for the Orthodox to allow for a wide variety of non-traditional liturgical use to be brought into play, just so long as the faith was held in common, and trust the Holy Spirit to confirm that which is good in this practice, and to weed out was inappropriate?  After all, Orthodoxy has historically taken that which was good in a given culture and sacralized it, making it its own.  We shouldn't be out to "Byzantinize" or "Russify" or "Romanianize" people, but to share the treasure of the Orthodox faith with them. 

It's true that many Orthodox do not consider Western-rite Orthodoxy to be legitmate at all.  As far as I can tell, this is because of a few  arguments that are somewhat related.  In the first case, some of these liturgies have been mothballed for ages(e.g., the Sarum rite) and are museum pieces, not liturgies that have been allowed to develop naturally.  A similar argument against Western liturgical usage would be that it evolved in a schismatic and/or heterodox setting.  But I think that under certain conditions, it simply has to be allowed.  I would like to hear divergent views on this topic, that I know are out there!  My own position is far from fixed on it, and I could change my mind on some issues, should I encounter compelling and convincing arguments.  Comments?
 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,377
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
44
Location
Omaha
Pravoslavbob,

I agree with your general statement--that there should be Western Rite Orthodox Churches.  Here in Omaha, we are fortunate to have one (part of the Antiochian archdiocese) and sometimes I go there for Vespers and Matins during the week.  The prayers and the hymns and the style of chanting (Gregorian) are very gratifying to my Western ears, though, I have come to make the Eastern Rite my preference.

As far as fasting rules go, I know that the Western Rite is not as strict as Eastern Rite.  For instance, fasting is pretty much limited to Wednesdays and Fridays even during the Nativity Lent and Great Lent seasons and also the restrictions on what can be consumed is relaxed.  The thing I do not want to happen is people becoming Western Orthodox only because they feel they cannot handle the rigidity of the Eastern Fast.  There should be more clarification on this.

But for those who are former liturgical Lutherans (like myself) and Episcopalians and RCs, the Western-Rite Orthodox parishes could be a good catalyst to bring them into the one true faith.  I know from some of my conversations, that many converts became Western Rite because the mystical nature of the Eastern Rite was foreign to them.  So let them have their Western Rite congregations.

Scamandrius
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
366
Reaction score
0
Points
0
In nomine Iesu I offer you all peace,

I think this is an interesting idea. Isn't this what Russia is trying to do with the OCA?

Pax Vobiscum
 

Starlight

OC.Net Guru
Site Supporter
Joined
Jan 28, 2006
Messages
1,537
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Boston
James Bob and Scamandrius,
What a great topic! I would say, I agree with everything what you wrote. I consider that some people can found Western rite more native for them and the decision of conversion may become much easier. Additionally, the veneration of Western Saints has a lot of indication that good components of thier previous faith are well respected. Especially, that would apply to Roman Catholics. Personally, I agree that existing congregations or significant parts of existing parishes can be accepted as new Western Rite Orthodox parishes. But also it would seem applicble to consider an idea of establishment of a new Western Rite misssion in every major USA city. For example, it has been successfully implemented in Washington, DC by AOA. Being an Eastern Rite cradle from "the Old Country", I visited that mission - St. Gregory the Great - several times and I really enjoyed services. So, I would say for someone, who spent years within Liturgical Lutheran, RC or Episcopalian traditions, an opportunity to visit familiar serivces in the Orthodox Chruch would be even much more beneficial, even if these people consider only Eastern Rite.
That issues of new Western mission appears especially important now after new SCOBA decisions regarding coordinated missionary work and during the time of growing disappointment of conservative Episcopalians, caused by certain overly liberal changes.
Last, but not least. Exposure to ancient Western Rite Orthodox spirituality to broader Easter Rite audience would enhance thier faith and illustrate more international character of Orthodoxy, which may benefit for example in cases of non-Orthodox spouses conversion to Orthodoxy. Orthodox Church in UK already has done a lot of work in studies of pre-schism Western spirituality.
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
francis-christopher said:
I think this is an interesting idea. Isn't this what Russia is trying to do with the OCA?
I haven't heard anything about that, Francis-Christopher.  Maybe you could explain a bit more about what you mean?

James Bob
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
scamandrius said:
I agree with your general statement--that there should be Western Rite Orthodox Churches.  Here in Omaha, we are fortunate to have one (part of the Antiochian archdiocese) and sometimes I go there for Vespers and Matins during the week.  The prayers and the hymns and the style of chanting (Gregorian) are very gratifying to my Western ears, though, I have come to make the Eastern Rite my preference.
Interesting.  I've never been able to attend a Western rite service.  I would like to some day.

As far as fasting rules go, I know that the Western Rite is not as strict as Eastern Rite.  For instance, fasting is pretty much limited to Wednesdays and Fridays even during the Nativity Lent and Great Lent seasons and also the restrictions on what can be consumed is relaxed.  The thing I do not want to happen is people becoming Western Orthodox only because they feel they cannot handle the rigidity of the Eastern Fast.  There should be more clarification on this.
I guess you're right.  It's possible that this might become a problem.  Is the solution to make Eastern fasting practices the rule across the board?

JB
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
Starlight said:
James Bob and Scamandrius,
What a great topic! I would say, I agree with everything what you wrote. I consider that some people can found Western rite more native for them and the decision of conversion may become much easier. Additionally, the veneration of Western Saints has a lot of indication that good components of thier previous faith are well respected. Especially, that would apply to Roman Catholics. Personally, I agree that existing congregations or significant parts of existing parishes can be accepted as new Western Rite Orthodox parishes. But also it would seem applicble to consider an idea of establishment of a new Western Rite misssion in every major USA city. For example, it has been successfully implemented in Washington, DC by AOA. Being an Eastern Rite cradle from "the Old Country", I visited that mission - St. Gregory the Great - several times and I really enjoyed services. So, I would say for someone, who spent years within Liturgical Lutheran, RC or Episcopalian traditions, an opportunity to visit familiar serivces in the Orthodox Chruch would be even much more beneficial, even if these people consider only Eastern Rite.
That issues of new Western mission appears especially important now after new SCOBA decisions regarding coordinated missionary work and during the time of growing disappointment of conservative Episcopalians, caused by certain overly liberal changes.
Last, but not least. Exposure to ancient Western Rite Orthodox spirituality to broader Easter Rite audience would enhance thier faith and illustrate more international character of Orthodoxy, which may benefit for example in cases of non-Orthodox spouses conversion to Orthodoxy. Orthodox Church in UK already has done a lot of work in studies of pre-schism Western spirituality.
Starlight,

You make a pretty convincing case for broadening the acceptance of the Western rite beyond what I think should be allowed.  Maybe you are right.  I can see how it might make Orthodoxy more appealing to some people, and prove to them that we are not bound to expressions of Orthodoxy that might appear to be tied to just a few cultural expressions of the faith.  However, I do worry a bit about Western liturgies not being as doctrinally explicit as Eastern liturgies.  I don't dismiss out of hand the arguments of those who like to see the use of the Western rite restricted.  I wonder if anyone else has anything to say about this.  :)

JB
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
366
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Pravoslavbob said:
I haven't heard anything about that, Francis-Christopher.  Maybe you could explain a bit more about what you mean?
In nomine Iesu I offer you peace,

I only mean that with the independence of OCA from Russia, isn't the OCA free to develop its own unique American Tradition?

Pax Vobiscum
 

Ebor

Taxiarches
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
6,492
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
64
Location
Maryland
Pravoslavbob said:
However, I do worry a bit about Western liturgies not being as doctrinally explicit as Eastern liturgies.  I don't dismiss out of hand the arguments of those who like to see the use of the Western rite restricted.  I wonder if anyone else has anything to say about this.  :)
Well, St. Tikhon did look over the Book of Common Prayer and did some things to the liturgy in it.  I should think that he knew what he was doing about doctrinal explicitness.  :)

Ebor
 

Fr. George

Stratopedarches
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Oct 5, 2004
Messages
21,830
Reaction score
16
Points
38
Age
39
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Ebor said:
Well, St. Tikhon did look over the Book of Common Prayer and did some things to the liturgy in it.  I should think that he knew what he was doing about doctrinal explicitness.  :)

Ebor
Eh, I don't think that your argument necessarily proves the point; he may not have worked on the doctrinal "explicitness" if he didn't think it was necessary, but it doesn't mean that it isn't necessary now, or that it wasn't necessary then.

It would be akin to the argument about the Holy Spirit being "omoousios" in the Creed - why did generations of fathers, and 5 other Ecumenical Councils as well as countless Endemousa Synods and local councils not add it?  They felt it wasn't necessary.  But one can argue effectively that it belongs in the Creed if the Creed is to be the one-stop, all-inclusive definition of the necessary core of our belief.

So too, the WR liturgy may need to be more "doctrinally explicit" (I don't know - I haven't read it) even though St. Tikhon went over it with a fine-tooth comb; or it may not.  If someone wanted to do a textual study here on OC.net of the WR liturgy, then maybe the issues could get hashed out.
 

Ebor

Taxiarches
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
6,492
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
64
Location
Maryland
Sorry.  No argument was intended.  Just a data point that there have been EO hierachical types who have looked at the Western Liturgies and not rejected them out of hand.

Ebor
 

Timos

High Elder
Joined
Jun 10, 2005
Messages
856
Reaction score
0
Points
16
Age
33
Location
Toronto, Canada
In my city, we have about 30 Orthodox parishes which are all ethnic. The only non-ethnic parish is an OCA one in a neighbouring town 20 minutes away. In the same town, a Western Rite parish is starting up and I've been asked to be a part of it. I see nothing wrong with being part of an Eastern Orthodox parish and a Western Orthodox parish. Actually I think living in North America, it balances it out. I love my greek parish and we do 50/50 english/greek but sometimes you just wanna hear the whole thing in english and thats not bad either. Western Rite services are almost identical to Pre-Vatican II RC services...actually the Tridentine Mass (traditional mass used before the 70's) as it is called has less revisions in it than the byzantine liturgy which kept adding prayers on to it as the centuries passed. Thats why the Western Masses tend to be somewhat shorter. I'm not advocating one over the other. Both Eastern and Western forms are ancient and I have no problem with either form.

Pravoslavbob said:
I think that some Eastern disciplines should clearly apply to Westerners.  For example, fasting before communion would have to be the rule.  But what about issues like fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays?  Perhaps they should just follow Eastern rules whole hog here?  Or maybe there should be something of an allowance for divergence in practice, perhaps a return to pre-Vatican II fasting practice for Westerners being prescribed?

I am of the opinion that Western theological emphasis should be permitted and encouraged in Western parishes that are received into Orthodoxy, up to a point.  There is clearly a point beyond which one cannot go here.  Clearly, any such emphases must be confined to developments occuring in the  first millenium of Church history, and even then, some should be viewed with caution.  I suppose a hybrid kind of emphasis might be what I would favour, but really with Eastern concepts taking the lead.


Another problem I have with some Western liturgies is that they are actually more primitive in form than Eastern liturgies, and as such, do not have built in to their content the reflection of the historic battes for Orthodoxy that were waged in the early and middle Byzantine period.  Also, because of their more primitive nature, Western liturgies are, ironically, less scriptural in content and not nearly as doctrinally explicit.

  After all, Orthodoxy has historically taken that which was good in a given culture and sacralized it, making it its own.  We shouldn't be out to "Byzantinize" or "Russify" or "Romanianize" people, but to share the treasure of the Orthodox faith with them. 
Pravoslav, fasting before ocmmunion is not solely an Eastern development. Up until 2 decades ago, Catholics had to fast between 3-9 hours before reception of Communion.

Historically, in the West, ppl only fasted on Friday- not the Wednesday.

About it being more primitive, that is part of the beauty of it. We can look at the Byzantine Rite as something as an ongoing development from the 3rd century to the 10th. And we can see the Western liturgy as basically having the same form since the 5th century. Whats wrong with that? A natural development of liturgy is OK, a random reformation of liturgy is NOT (aka Vat. II).

I agree. I'd hate to walk into a western orthodox parish and see tons of icons and no statues for example. Every rite or tradition should stick to its original form, without trying to hybrid with anything else.
 

welkodox

Archon
Joined
Aug 30, 2006
Messages
2,076
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I think they should be supported and encouraged.  The totality of the liturgical expression of the church is not the worship that developed in the Byzantine framework.
 

Fr. George

Stratopedarches
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Oct 5, 2004
Messages
21,830
Reaction score
16
Points
38
Age
39
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Timos,

Timos said:
Actually I think living in North America, it balances it out. I love my greek parish and we do 50/50 english/greek but sometimes you just wanna hear the whole thing in english and thats not bad either. Western Rite services are almost identical to Pre-Vatican II RC services...actually the Tridentine Mass (traditional mass used before the 70's) as it is called has less revisions in it than the byzantine liturgy which kept adding prayers on to it as the centuries passed. Thats why the Western Masses tend to be somewhat shorter.

(...)

About it being more primitive, that is part of the beauty of it. We can look at the Byzantine Rite as something as an ongoing development from the 3rd century to the 10th. And we can see the Western liturgy as basically having the same form since the 5th century. Whats wrong with that? A natural development of liturgy is OK, a random reformation of liturgy is NOT (aka Vat. II). 
Eh, not only oversimplification, but not totally accurate.

Oh, and shorter doesn't necessarily mean more "ancient."
 

pensateomnia

Archon
Joined
Mar 25, 2005
Messages
2,360
Reaction score
0
Points
0
cleveland said:
Eh, not only oversimplification, but not totally accurate.
Well, I guess not totally accurate, in so far as the Roman Canon didn't reach its static form until the early 7th century (having been truncated rather considerably over the previous two centuries). I suppose one could also say that there were some Galician influences after that, and some additions here and there (preparatory prayers, Agnus Dei, addition of the Creed, the Last Gospel, etc.).

It's hard for me to compare the significance of these additions in the Roman Rite to the medieval changes in the Byzantine Rite.
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
francis-christopher said:
In nomine Iesu I offer you peace,

I only mean that with the independence of OCA from Russia, isn't the OCA free to develop its own unique American Tradition?

Pax Vobiscum
I see, Francis-Christopher.  What we are talking about here are liturgies that have developed in the West and their Orthodox usage.  I think that what you are suggesting will take hold, but it will take place slowly over a period of time.  Eventually, there will be something like a North American recension of the Divine Liturgy, but it will still be the liturgies of St.Basil and St. John Chrysostom that are in use. 

JB
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
Ebor said:
Well, St. Tikhon did look over the Book of Common Prayer and did some things to the liturgy in it.  I should think that he knew what he was doing about doctrinal explicitness.  :)
I have to say, that, in its present form, I find this liturgy somewhat artificial.  I think it's kind of weird that there is an epiclesis stuck into it.....which ironically is quite explicit, but that's just it, it seems kind of foreign to the way Western Liturgy developed.  If they had used something like the te supplices rogamus prayer from the old Roman canon, would it have been more appropriate?  Have you ever participated in one of these liturgies, Ebor or anyone else?  If you did, what was your impression?
 

Pravoslavbob

Protokentarchos
Staff member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Canada
welkodox said:
I think they should be supported and encouraged.  The totality of the liturgical expression of the church is not the worship that developed in the Byzantine framework.
It's very interesting that all the posters here have up to now demonstrated a very positive dispostion towards Western-Rite liturgy.
 

Landon77

Elder
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Messages
308
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
37
Location
TN
Well, I've been in lurk mode since... the site went down.  It's been really nice, but I love the Western Rite, so I had to come out, if not just to put in my two cents.

I see the epiclesis come up a lot.  To a theologian, it's probably a big deal, but to the ordinary person going to worship every Sunday, it doesn't raise any eyebrows.  I didn't know it had been added in till I was told in my class for catachumens. And to tell the truth, I'm not 100% sure I know what it is.  I gather is is the part where we ask for God to make the Host and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ instead of just thanking him for doing so?  At any rate, I'm going to an OCA parish now- obviously Eastern Rite.  I have never been lost, as far as the Divine Liturgy goes.  It's about the same thing, but it goes more into detail on the petitions and it repeats itself at times.  The customs are what are different, like 50% water and 50% wine in the chalice, and blessed wine with the blessed bread, or that the rubrics call for warm water.  I also like that as you're serving you can hide behind the iconostasis; plus my parish closes the doors and pulls the curtain when it can.  Oh, and only crossing behind the altar, that is a new one.  It is easier too, because my priest is also and ex-Episcopalian, so he understands where some of my questions come from, such as, "What candle do I light first?" when I was asked to light the candles.
To respond to the earlyer post: no, the Western Rite will not be taking on Eastern fasting rules.  A Rite includes more than the Mass.  It is the way the life of the church is carried out.  I'll admit to you, I've been bad.  I've been keeping up my western practices at home, even though I probably wont get back to the WR for a very long time... but that is another thread.  It is good to fast, for the right reasons, but WR fasting and abstinance (the WR makes a distinction) is just as effective.
 

dantxny

High Elder
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
769
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Fort Worth Texas
Pravoslavbob said:
I have to say, that, in its present form, I find this liturgy somewhat artificial.  I think it's kind of weird that there is an epiclesis stuck into it.....which ironically is quite explicit, but that's just it, it seems kind of foreign to the way Western Liturgy developed.  If they had used something like the te supplices rogamus prayer from the old Roman canon, would it have been more appropriate?  Have you ever participated in one of these liturgies, Ebor or anyone else?  If you did, what was your impression?
I have been to the Liturgy of St. Tikhon a couple of times.  It was nice and everything, but overall it seemed unnatural.  About a third seemed like they belonged in a Latin Mass or SSPX church (50's clothing and stuff), the other third seemed like the stereotypical well to do, well dressed Episcopalian, with the other third being a hodge poge.  It was a pretty Church and felt like a traditional Latin or Anglican Church with a lot more icons (I don't recall any statues).  The priest seemed genuine and there was an Orthodox mindset in the clergy.  That said, the liturgy seemed confused.  I felt like I was attending a nice Anglican service with a lot more Lord Have mercies and as you said the eclipses which really did stick out like a sore thumb.  Futhermore, there seemed to be a general confusion as some people made the sign of the cross with five fingers some with three, some left to right, and some right to left.  Again, I'm not saying differences are a bad thing in themselves, but from the Liturgy and the actions sometimes I felt as though I were attending a really watered down Orthodox service with kneeling, or a really nice Anglican Rite Service.  It seemed unable to express itself completly and independently.  Perhaps time will allow a change in this.  So, I have mixed feelings.

I genuinly hope that a western rite can be found, but from my experience with the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, I don't think this is it.  Does anyone know how much the Antiochian head is involved with nurturing the western-rite?
 
Top