Holy Week Rites


Pontifical Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris in 1705

Preference for the pre-1955 Holy Week rites in the Roman Catholic Church is still a relatively marginal question. I have two friends in England who are particularly interested in the question and who are regular readers of my blog. At least one of them, using the handle Rubricarius, has known John Tyson, a layman who devoted himself for many years to producing the famous Ordo in Latin according to customs of the middle of the last century before the unpleasant and unfortunate changes of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. This Ordo is now produced by Rubricarius, who runs The Saint Lawrence Blog.

I was also trained in the Roman Rite at seminary by a remarkable young priest by the name of Fr Frank Quoëx who was the MC and taught liturgy to the seminarians. He possessed the art of paying lip service to the 1962 liturgy and did as much as he dared of the pre-Pius XII rites during Holy Week, and also the use of folded chasubles in Lent.

Many have remarked that if the Pope should ever decide to do the ancient Papal Mass again, Fr. Quoëx would have been one of the few people who could have arranged it properly.

One piece of work he gave us to read was The “Restored” Holy Week by Msgr Léon Gromier, Papal Master of Ceremonies during the Pontificate of Pius XII – a conference given in 1960. I did this translation, though others may also have done translations (better than mine certainly) since I did this one around about the beginning of this century. I have already written on this subject in Monsignor Léon Gromier and Liturgical Reform.

Rorate Caeli has just published two parts of a FIUV Position Paper on the 1955 Reform of the Holy Week services. The texts are available through Rorate Caeli or in pdf format:

This author also recommends Philip Goddard’s Festa Paschalia. These papers are intended for non-specialist consumption.

I get a nagging feeling that questions of liturgy in the Church of Pope Francis are going to look like individual persons crossing the Atlantic in small boats or even swimming across! Also under Benedict XVI, there was no sign of anything substantial being done to the rites themselves, to either the “extraordinary” or “ordinary” forms of the Roman rite, using the terms used by the Pope emeritus in Summorum Pontificium. Perhaps such studies would give courage to individual priests and communities to take their own initiatives and break with the post-Tridentine instinct of not going to the toilet or sneezing without permission of the Congregation of Rites or the post-Vatican II equivalent.

In France, priests have taken initiatives for decades. One might exclaim – And look what a mess the liturgy in France is in! One might also notice a more liturgically-motivated reaction to the 1960’s reforms and the “heresy of formlessness“. There are two sides to priests taking liberties. Anglicans have always been masters at tweaking the liturgy to conform to rules and at the same time restore pre-Reformation norms as much as possible, stretching everything to the utmost limit. Percy Dearmer – and never mind about allegations of his favouring theological modernism!

But, indeed, there are no easy answers. Surprisingly enough, and I’m sure Patricius will pick me up – most Latin rite traditionalists seem to be satisfied with the 1950’s reforms of Monsignor Annabile Bugnini – because Pius XII was the Pope at the time! Was Bugnini a case of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus, or was it all part of a big plan as evidence suggests?

Comment as you will, but try to be positive and constructive. I use Sarum, not because I consider it a perfect rite, but because it has been undisturbed (because of its disuse) since 1549. Some things seem to be more “logical” because they haven’t been “disturbed” by the insertion of aspects of popular religion. That being said, that can be said for aspects of any rite. It is perhaps for the reason that liturgical rites are so imperfect, being the products of human minds and hands, that they should be left as undisturbed as possible – without “pruning them back” to “restore pristine simplicity” – – – or – – – introducing the parish’s favourite Blessed Sacrament and Rosary devotions to guild the lily!

The Eastern Orthodox seem to have kept liturgical stability and a liturgical sense. Why can’t we? Oh, please, Orthodox readers – be kind!

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41 Responses to Holy Week Rites

  1. Michael Frost says:

    Father, as regards your statement–“The Eastern Orthodox seem to have kept liturgical stability and a liturgical sense. Why can’t we? Oh, please, Orthodox readers – be kind!”–you should keep in mind the actual state of the liturgy in the pews around the world. Then we’d have to see if stability is all that it is cracked up to be? Though I say this being Western Rite EO (using near-Elizabethan English).

    In my mid-sized midwestern American city we only had a Greek church for the past 80 years or so, until recently the Serbs started their own (though without a resident full-time priest). The Greek church worships mostly in liturgical Greek, which isn’t the vernacular of Greece and certainly not America. The Serbs use high chuch Slavonic, which isn’t the vernacular of Serbia and certainly not America. And they wonder why their churches don’t appeal to Americans or their own youth. Try worshipping in a foreign language where the altar is hidden by an iconostasis. You can’t hardly hear the priest and what he says isn’t understandable. I’ve kidded people that sitting in the pew and reading the Sunday Times would be almost equally edifying and no one would care. Certainly not the men out front smoking or talking somewhere in the church hall, along with the kids in the basement Sunday school who often just come up right before communion. And communion is often on just an annual basis for the average worshipper here. So sadly, much of the congregational worship appears tied to personal devotions or a sense of mystery cult. As if just being present resulted in some “magic” that accrued to you. Here we are almost exactly as the medieval western Church and its mass of illiterate laity!

    Even in those USA EO churches that worship in modern English (there were two in my former city), the actual amount of liturgical participation can be rather limited. People still often arrive late. They rely on chanters or choir to do the responses. And communion remains infrequent. The laity pretty much just tends to sit and stand at the respective times without saying or doing much.

    I have seen a few wonderful exceptions. There is one about an hour away in a small town filled with Dutch Reformed. In a somewhat makeshift storefront. With a rather marginal iconostasis. Here I think their sense of difference and a strong feeling of being almost a mission church in a sea of active low church Protestants bonds them as a worshippping community. They actively engage because they know both who they are and who they aren’t. They sing together and commune weekly.

    From a big picture historical approach, never forget that EOs have been on the persecuted defensive in most places since the rise of Islam. And certainly in light of the rise of communism. Fighting for your life encourages a sense of preservation, uniformity, and protection, and discourages diversity and a sense of growth or change. We used to have a tremendous amount of liturgical diversity prior to the suppression, extinguishment, and voluntary abandonment of those rites that differed from the Imperial ones in Constantinople. See the demise of Antioch’s Syrian liturgical heritage. We can’t and shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the Reformation on the West (and the Counter-Reformation and Trent’s suppression of liturgical diversity). The East has never had a reformation.

    • Michael Frost says:

      I should also point out that sadly having an open, dignified (somewhat modern) vernacular Western liturgy, either Western Rite EO or Anglican, doesn’t appear to pack the pews–even though we’ve preserved a beautiful liturgy, sing wonderful hymns, actively participate, and encourage weekly communion. For whatever reason, probably tied to the loss of dignified liturgics in the post-Vatican II era (that afflicted RCs, Anglicans/Episcopalians/Lutherans/etc.), at least two generations haven’t had much experience with such worship and they don’t tend to gravitate toward it. We come across foreign or align to our surrounding culture. Almost as if we’re exotic or something to be watched for our historical or curiosity value. We get visitors but they don’t tend to come back for an encore. It will take a long time, if ever, for so many Christians to rediscover what they lost or given up?

      • I find it difficult to get rid of the nagging thought saying that liturgical Christianity has had its day – game over. Is it God’s will that we be marching in lockstep as Evangelicals at our local “purpose-driven” megachurch?

        Then I will dream and go to sea.

        I think it’s going to be each one for ourselves and dig in for the long winter…

      • Michael Frost says:

        In my experience in USA, seems like the most active, participating, living EO parishes are those filled with converts. Not sure if that little parish in the Dutch Reformed town had any cradle EO. Same for my Western Rite parish; my two young children were the only cradle born for pretty much the entire time they were there. The heavily ethnic parishes tend to be Christian repellant? Like my deceased Serbian friend told me about the GOC way back in the 1980s, where she’d worshipped for decades, “Since you weren’t born Greek, no matter what you do you can’t ever get your Greek card here.”

    • Well, that makes the scales fall from our eyes! I have had little contact with the Orthodox apart from assisting at the occasional Liturgy at Ennismore Gardens when I lived in London. So please excuse my naiveness!

      It really is a problem when most of the laity cannot relate to the liturgy! Just one step to getting rid of it – and then you have the Reformation!

      • Dale says:

        I think that what Michael as posted is, unfortunately, true about most of the ethnic parishes in the United States. My own, final straw experience (well one of them) was when I was the cantor and Sunday school leader in a Serbian parish in the American Southwest, the parish had about forty percent non-Serbs (none of whom was convert, mostly of “other” Slavic descent), the liturgy was all in English and the parish was bursting at the seams, the true Serbs hated it all. They had a secret meeting, excluded all non-Serbs from all parish committees, but they were expected to remain dues paying, and demanded that all services be sung in Serbian (Not church Slavonic), this was supported by the Serbian bishop, the priest and all of the non-Serbs, and quite a few Serbs left the parish. The ethnic rancor was horrible.

        But, besides the above there is one group in America that has the highest church attendance amongst all of the Orthodox and has managed to retain the youth, and that is the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholics. They have also, as long as they have not gone to the OCA, preserved congregational chant, hymns and many old-fashioned western devotions from their time as Uniates. They switched to English in the 1930s! What a difference attending one of their parishes is compared to the opera the Russians offer or the, all in Greek, single cantor screaming as if God were deaf that one finds in other ethnic communities. They have from their days as Uniates (Please excuse my using this term, but nowadays in the United States, “Greek Catholic,” is only used for and by Orthodox communities) kept the tradition of frequent communion and they have also shortened the services, a horror to so many, so that they are manageable, and people attend (unlike the three hour marathons at some other ethnic communities, which tend to be not much more than a shouting match between the priest and his wife, since no one else is there). They have no fear of popular devotions, pews, or even, beardless clergy, dressed in clergy suits and not looking like some ghost from 19th century Holy Russia. Their tradition is alive and living.

        having also spent much time in Eastern Europe, the situation, where the ethnics are in their own homes tends to be very different as well, at least in Greece, Slovakia, and the Ukraine (Where I have visited), the tradition is alive and well as well as vibrant. Holy Week in any Greek village is simply a sight to behold (it is very similar to what was posted here on the Good Friday procession in Spain. The burial shroud is carried through the streets with thousands upon thousands following, all preceded by a brass band! Thousands stand for hours in church to make their Easter confessions.

        Serbia is a different issue altogether. There people tend to be attached to the church mostly for ethnic reasons and seldom attend, and even children are not communed. I once spent some time in a small Serbian village during Holy Week, no one except the priest, his wife and mother attended the services, and the Mass for Easter was simply bizarre, hundreds were in the cemetery pouring booze on the graves of their ancestor (whilst drinking quite a lot of it themselves), the church was virtually empty and no one, this was on Easter, received communion.

        Personally, I find the convert, super Byzantine communities, in the United States very odd indeed, and more Orthodox than the Orthodox; their level of cultural self-loathing is very high indeed; and many, after playing at being more Greek than the Greeks (or Russian) leave after a few years of play acting.

      • Simone says:

        As I pointed out in the replies to a previous post, also western Europe begins to have growing communities of ethnic Orthodox, due to the massive migration in last twenty years. In Italy, we had two odd early experiences in ’60s, when two roman catholic parishes (Montaner and Montalto Dora) split after the arrive of an unwelcomed parish priests, and “converted to Orhodoxy”. In reality, they were taken care of by some bizarre vagante bishop claiming affiliation with some mainstream denomination; Montaner ended up in ROCOR and after under Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Montalto “schism” was recomposed in 1974. Other tentatives of setting an italian orthodoxy in communion with Moscow were made, but after the Balamand agreements in 1990s they ended in nothing else than pastoral care for the (at the time very few) eastern migrants in our cities. Then the mass migration begun and now in Turin we have Russians, Serbs, Greeks, Coptics, Tewahedo, Macedonian, Rumenian (both in communion with Bucarest and Rome), Moldovian (in communion with Moscow or with Rome) and even Russian Old Believers, each with his own church (often granted by the Catholic diocese in a gracious ecumenical effort) and bearded popes. I have visited quite all of such communities, they are extremely ethnically centered and very slighlty inclined to proselitism (also for the Balamand veto still in place). Their sunday liturgies are full packed (at least in comparison with their catholic neighbours), but it will be interesting to see what will happen when their identity will start to melt in the italian culture and their youths will find more interesting on sundays to go to a match of their favorite footbal team or in a daily trip in the beautiful sourroundigs than murmuring the magic spell along the old babushkas in a language that will not be longer their own. If they were more open to diversity (the interesting paradox that migrants in West always claims for more diversity, but can’t tolerate it in the enclosure of their own culture!) maybe it would be an opportunity to attract disgruntled traditional catholics like me, but the numbers would be few anyway, as religion is simply fading away from our lands.

  2. OTOH (and this is a lesson, I think, for all who value liturgy in both East and West): some years ago, Vladyka Dmitri Royster, long time Archbishop of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America, reposed. He was quite elderly, a veteran of the Second World War He, along with his sister, both natives of Texas, were converts from the Southern Baptist Church. When they converted as teenagers, prior to World War II, the only Orthodox game in town was the Greek Church, and the services, of course, were done exclusively in (liturgical) Greek.

    Further, while they were in the process of investigating Orthodoxy and regularly attending the Divine Liturgy, NO ONE FROM THE CONGREGATION SPOKE TO THEM FOR SIX MONTHS!

    Now obviously, this is not ideal, and I certainly do not recommend that anyone treat visitors to one’s congregation in this way, but the main point is that liturgy is not simply words acted out. It is that, but it is more, and that more can transcend the inability to understand the language being spoken and even, a neutral to hostile reception by those who are already active in the Church. Think opera, sung in a language unknown to the listener, or orchestral music, in which there are no words to begin with. These experiences “speak” in their own way apart from language. So does liturgy, especially traditional liturgy.

    • Michael Frost says:

      GNB, I suspect Jesus and his Apostles didn’t intend for the liturgy, the peoples’ work, to be seen as a mere attendance experience, like Opera or gladiatorial bouts in coliseums? I don’t get that sense at all from the NT. [Sadly, the sense of outsidership hasn’t gone away. I took my near-adult children to a local GOC a few years back. We went 4 Sundays in a row. Sat about 2/3rds of the way in the back, with a lot of people behind us, and never once did anyone from there say anything to us. I had the (dis)pleasure of telling their priest that a year or so afterwards. He wasn’t happy. (But I don’t think he was too surprised.) That church had a split and a group started a new one out closer to the ‘burbs. I’ve heard a few better things but never made it there.]

      • There are clearly two sides to this. I brought out one side, the one that is marginalized today, and your bring out the other, the one that, for the most part, dominates contemporary thinking about liturgy. Both positions are partially correct and so, should receive their due.

        I think the last 50 years has demonstrated the limitations of allowing this concern for “active participation” to determine everything when it comes to matters liturgical. Participation can be “passive” and be no less real.

        The same Lord who instituted the Eucharist at the Last/Mystical Supper also, as the pre-incarnate God the Logos, gave us the liturgy of the Temple, and Christian worship has always been rooted in both (as well as the service of the Synagogue). Also, note that “liturgy”, given its pre-Christian historic historic usage, is best understood as “work FOR the people”, not “work BY the people”.

      • Michael Frost says:

        GNB, I think the absolute minimum of any realistic participation in the peoples’ work, the liturgy, is for the people to be able to readily hear, see, and understand what is happening. To be part of that specific worshipping community at that specific time and place. As well as ensuring the laity have an actual appropriate liturgical role. And, most importantly, allowing them to commune, the final, ultimate participation in the Eucharist. But we’ve come to rely so much on deacons, chanters, readers, and choirs. To the exclusion of the laity. And we don’t even expect the laity to commune. So much of this also gets at the role of the laity as well, being properly catechized, understanding what is going on & why & their role, and actively doing what they are capable of doing.

  3. ed pacht says:

    I don’t believe that an unchanging liturgy is a good sign of the health of the church, nor is a liturgy which changes abruptly, nor a lirurgy ‘restored’ om archeological principles. All of these approaches bind liturgy to a particular time and culture. Traditionalists and modernists alike ‘deify’ their favorite period and effectively eliminate all the rest of Christian history. The liturgy is alive, and life is ever changing, but life is also continuous, containing within itself all of its own past. The ancient liturgies, both Eastern and Western are all the product of slow growth over time, are all reflective of various times and places, and all contain anomalies as a result. That is healthy, a sign that life is present. However, it does become necessary, from time to time, to do a little pruning — a little — done with sensitivity and care.

    To my own view, the ’50s changes in the Latin Holy Week rites constitute a good example of this kind of growth anchored in tradition, reducing some of the strangeness while carefully keeping the major aspects of the continuous tradition. I’ve experience both (in both RC and Anglican versions) and have developed a preference for the newer version.

    Also to my view, the more recent “Liturgical Movement” changes are an excellent example of what happens when changes are abrupt and done ignoring the continuity of tradition. These rites, whether NO in the Roman Church or in the newer prayer books of Anglicans seem to have broken with the past and constructed a thoroughly time-bound “liturgy” which will be hopelessly outdated within a mere few decades, while ignoring the heritage of the Middle Ages and any other times before this present.

    Change has to happen. Without change there is no life. However change does need to be resisted, even while it is happening. Biologically that’s why the body works so hard to resist mutations and cancer cells. Too much change too fast kills the body, and I believe also the spirit.

    • Dale says:

      Ed, I think all of your points are excellent…and true as well.

    • Yes, Ed, you do bring up excellent points.

      This is the great dilemma we have to live with. We live in a time when I would really prefer to be in that old Hillyard 37-foot boat! In other periods, there was – at least among the priests and monks – a sounder sense of liturgical symbolism and theology, so modifications came in usually prudently. Look, for example, at the sequences of the Sarum missal, many of which are in mediocre Latin and have little theological content. Sequences are devotional poetry and are lovely when sung to the medieval tunes, like our favourite Anglican hymns. They can be said / sung but they can also be omitted without upsetting the rest.

      These days, everything is seen as all black and all white:

      – Admit any changes in the liturgy, and you have to have that ever-changing rite that stimulates some people but certainly not me!
      – Admit any participation of women and the possibility of a bishop or priest washing the feet of a women – and you have to go all the way to women bishops!
      – Admit any pastoral attitude or kindness with those of homosexual tendency – and you have to go all the way of the gay lobby and political correctness!

      In short, the best kind of liturgy we can have in our days is something that hasn’t been changed and with which one can take limited liberties. For example, I use some feasts from the Roman rite, since many of the Fathers of the Church are absent from the Use of Sarum. I also use prefaces from the Rouen and Paris uses, as they introduce wealth. It is a bit like a fine pipe organ built all at one time by a master organ builder like Willis or Cavaillé Coll that has an integrity of its own but could do with the addition of a stop or two to make the kaleidoscope of tones richer without changing the original.

      My objection to the Pius XII Holy Week rite follows Monsignor Gromier. It is not so much that there was a change, or an addition of new material to make the liturgy richer. It was a question of principle, that of the liturgy being contingent to the whims of Church authorities – and then we see the extreme consequences in “clown masses” and various other liturgical abuses that scandalise the faithful. It is a question of degree. If the original integrity of the liturgy is left untouched, then there is no reason why options or additional prayers and ceremonies cannot be introduced when they are found desirable.

      The Bugnini changes of the 1950’s were not anchored in tradition but were designed to test whether the people were ready to accept the planned future changes which would come after Vatican II and under Paul VI.

      Of course as is our time, we can go to extremes. It is a question of the essential integrity of a liturgical tradition and only introducing new things that leave the original untouched.

      • Dale says:

        Some of use are old enough to remember the fading glory days of Anglo-Catholicism, and for me anyway, one of the strengths of those days was the reality of Anglo-Catholic worship; outside of a few places, it was in the vernacular, in most parish churches there was widespread congregational singing and I enjoyed the mixing of liturgical traditions, so long as it was still done within the tradition. I was never offended by parishes that were more Sarum than Roman, or had sections of the BCP stuck into the Roman framework of the missal; or the religious orders, some of which were completely Sarum as to the hours, whilst others very Roman.

        I always respected the fact that Anglo-Catholicism could be liturgically traditional and rich, but always had a rebellious streak and was almost invariably tolerant of differences; so very much different from both Rome and Byzantium.

        I firmly hope that the Continuum will be able to in some way continue to hold to this tradition of a sane traditionalism.

    • Michael Frost says:

      Ed, So very well put!

      But then the entire issue of “change” in a “living tradition” bogs down on the rough shores of reality…who wants to make it & why, who doesn’t & why, and, usually most importantly, who has the authority to make it or not. Whether it is one bishop, a synod, a single parish, or even a bare majority vote, no system is perfect and schisms can rend a Church, a church, or even members inside their little church. Which is why we have the constant “war” between those who want uniformity versus those who want diversity versus those who want tradition versus those who want modernity versus…ad infinitum!?!?

  4. ed pacht says:

    There’s one other principle that I think I detect in a truly living liturgy — it is local — not entirely so, but living and breathing on its own within a worshiping community. What I mean is that uniformity of practice simply cannot be imposed and enforced from above. Authority (or, perhaps better, leadership) indeed does develop patterns, which those respecting that authority should certainly heed. Before the printing press there were not rigid standard liturgical books, but books that recorded the local use and practice. These local uses certainly did follow after those in use elsewhere. It is certainly striking (for example) how closely related all the Western rites are to one another, but it is also striking what an amazing wealth of variation there was before Trent. Trent made (as I see it) a serious error in promulgating one centrally issued rite for the whole church (with some exceptions permitted, but grudgingly). Cranmer made a similar error in attempting to enforce uniformity in England (where there had always been a variety of uses). Dale is right that later Anglicans resisted these attempts to enforce uniformity, and, while evolving a recognizably Anglican worship, allowed, even encouraged, local churches to adapt the common forms for local use. Sarum did the same thing before the Reformation. Books were not uniform, nor did every church use the same colors, and so on. Fr. Chadwick, the freedom you describe in your use of Sarum is quite in accord with the spirit of things.

  5. Neil Hailstone says:

    I must admit that I find it appalling that folk can attend services at a Christian Church of whatever denomination and then find themselves ignored for months on end.What has any of this to do with the Gospel or the clear teachings of the New Testament? I suppose I would say this would I not? as a former Evangelical Assistant Pastor before becoming Anglican Catholic in 1992. How utterly wrong! My own view is that all of us, intellectual, non intellectual, Liturgists or whatever should be welcoming to new people and enquirers after truth.Especially the distressed seeking answers to fundamental questions about life and death, and the forgiveness of sins.

    I advocate that we should all of us be engaged outside of our church services in the matter of obeying the Great Commission.

    I pursue this in my local pub in Cornwall where I go now and then for a modicum of wine. I have convinced the locals that I am not an informer for the Excise Men, a second home owner, a politician or a social or sexual deviant on account of not for health reasons being able to drink large glasses of beer.

    Opportunities do crop up now and then for a quiet and unobtrusive word about the Gospel.

    On another matter and I must be careful how I word this – would Anglican Catholic readers please be assured that a proper Jurisdiction under the auspices of the Union of Scranton in England is becoming very close.

    Fr Anthony thankfully tends to stray on the side of leniency when I occasionally post a bit controversially here on the blog and I’m hoping this will appear.

    Best Wishes to All.

    • Dale says:

      Neil, you stated the following: “I find it appalling that folk can attend services at a Christian Church of whatever denomination and then find themselves ignored for months on end.”

      Actually, being ignored in many ethnic Orthodox congregations is even a kindness! Often, they will tell individuals from other ethnic backgrounds (and I am NOT joking), “Go to your own church!”

      I have an acquaintance who converted to Orthodoxy (I personally advised against such a move), and the wife of the local Romanian priest told him he should go back to the Episcopal Church where he belongs!

      • Francis says:

        But Dale,

        What do you make of those converts who persevere in Orthodoxy notwithstanding hostility towards them? – Those who’ve found a true home therein, for whom becoming Orthodox was not merely a matter of dignified worship but also of finding Christ in the spirituality of the (Hesychastic) Fathers in a specific way, for whom that worship serves as a ground and nourishment for the inner life? Well, we cannot know the secret of hearts. I’m heartened by the example of Father Andrew Philips in South-Eastern England, the Blogger of “Orthodoxologie” and others whose life is a witness to this commitment to the life in Christ as Orthodoxy gives it. Surely, the institution with all its defects cannot be equated to the spiritual substance, especially when Christ is the rock thereof, when we make the effort, aided by Grace, to seek Him and Him only. And, I know I may shock by saying this,doesn’t this hold true for the Roman, Anglican, Lutheran churches as well? Somehow, Grace, the Holy Spirit is above those institutional divides. – As long as the right intention and the desire to follow Christ and orient our lives towards Him only, together with the notion of Tradition and of the Communion of Saints remain. Mount Athos, la Grande Chartreuse, etc perhaps exemplify the different ways in which a total commitment to Christ may be undertaken by different routes, setting an example for us laymen. For some nationalism/tribalism is coterminous with this commitment (which is preposterous, of course), and this must be resisted. I know several issues are entwined in my comment – sorry for this extempore comment.

      • ed pacht says:

        Ah, yes, Francis (I assume you are not THAT Francis) 😉

        You really hit an issue head on. No matter how much a particular church claims infallibility for itself, there is no perfect church, and every church is made up of dreadfully fallible human beings. Even if I am convinced that my church stands closer to truth than others do, that does not make me, or my co-religionists, or my church itself any better in actuality than any of the others. We are all sinners, underserving of God’s free grace, but yet recipients of His love. We can’t judge any organization on the basis of those in it who violate its standards, or we have to apply the same standard to our own — and we all fail. Someone once cautioned a seeker against searching for a perfect church, with the words, “If you find one, don’t join it — it won’t be perfect if you do.” I’ve met a lot of “church-hopping” Christians who remind me of Groucho Marx’s famous comment that he wouldn’t join any organization that would accept him. Somehow that rings true of many over-fussy people. The church will let us down. God won’t.

      • Dale says:

        I think, especially in the case of Batuiska Philips in England, that an enormous amount of ethnic self-loathing is necessary; he is the prime example of the convert becoming more Russian than the Russians. His absolute hatred for the Anglican, as well as any western tradition, is well known.

        His, and many converts, who play the One True Church game are, at least to me, rather tiresome. They also rather enjoy being kicked around and mistreated, they really think it makes them very holy. Personally, I prefer not to pass water over the traditions or graves of my ancestors.

      • Dale says:

        Francis, I would also like to add that the Orthodox defense of their faith, regardless of the fact that it often produces such bigotry is often used to show how it is the true faith!?! I have heard this myself; but that is rather like Christianity not too long ago saying that one of the proofs of Christianity over Islam was that only Christianity had witches! I am not buying it.

  6. Neil Hailstone says:

    Dale, that’s interesting and illustrates my point!

  7. Hugh Allen says:

    I am very happily settled as a regular worshipper in parishes of the ‘Paris Jurisdiction’ (Russian tradition under the Ecumenical Patriarchate) in both England and France. In each of them the main language used is the local vernacular, but with token amounts of both Slavonic and Greek for the benefit of the ethnic minorities. With respect to the ‘western rite’: many years ago I knew a priest who had converted to Orthodoxy through a W.R. community and had retained permission to use its liturgy, although he had quickly found his way into the ‘mainstream’ of (Russian) church life; he found the western material very meagre fare after the riches of normal Orthodox liturgy so preferred not to use it. In fact the idea that St John Chrysostom et al are essentially ‘eastern’ is a typical piece of Anglo-Saxon cultural imperialism: in a paper given to the Fellowship of Ss Alban & Sergius in 1947 Derwas Chitty drew attention to the vast differences between (say) Russians and Arabs (to us, of course, both equally ‘Johnnie Foreigner’), yet both are completely at home with the same liturgy — as are we English & French in the Paris archdiocese. Something to think about, perhaps?

    • Hugh Allen says:

      This is the Derwas Chitty paper. Sadly the CofE has moved too far from its Orthodox roots for his concrete suggestions to be practicable.


      • ed pacht says:

        I’m basically in agreement with Fr. Chadwick here. I have a deep and abiding interest in the Eastern Church, and thoroughly Western though I am find a great deal that is both deepening of my Christian understanding and corrective of much narrowly Western thinking, but I am not Eastern and have no inclination to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy (or to its Western variant). There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God and Father of all, but those holding to the one faith arrive at it by a variety of different thought processes and thus express that faith differently, both in praxis and in theological discourse. I learn a great deal from Eastern Orthodoxy, and am grateful for it, but in so very many ways it is an alien world for me, without a place for the way my mind functions, without a place for my esthetic sensibilities, with a style of governance I do not even comprehend. I don’t agree with Hugh Allen that that there is less difference between East and West than there is between Russians, Greeks, and Arabs. Yes, those three (and other subgroups) are much different from each other, but the similarity is also striking, and such that all three are alien to me (though definitely loveable). I love the chance to visit them and to share with them in worship as a visitor (and am thankful for the immigration process that has made this possible), but it would be very difficult to see my home as among them. I am a Western Christian.

      • I too have a great interest in the Eastern way of theology since I was up at Fribourg and came into contact with a few of them. I also read some of those Russian authors (in English or French translations) like Lossky, Khomiakov, Soloviev and the later more “modernist” ones like Bulgakov. I prefer the eastern Trinitarian theology as was the preference of some of my professors like Fr (now Cardinal) Schönborn, Tillard, Torrell and others. Their sacramental and liturgical theology, Alexander Schmemann, is a light to us in the west.

        I have read quite a lot about the western Orthodox movement, and followed the entire Ordinariate episode since October 2007 in Portsmouth. It is all so fraught with problems. Uniatism ahas always been bad news all round, and ecumenism has got nowhere.

        All in all, heeding the wisdom we find everywhere around us, not only the Orthodox but also Lutherans like J.S.Bach and Jakob Böhme and other holy men and women of God, we need to stay in our own ecclesial traditions – either in the “official” Churches where we were originally baptised – or in the Continuing Churches we have been forced to resort to. There we’re not converting to anything, not even natural gas – we’re staying what we are and how we believe we should stay with staunch loyalty and fidelity.

        I have seen enough of convert zealots, be they Orthodox from Anglicans or Roman Catholics, or Anglicans from Baptists, or Roman Catholics from Anglicans, or any permutation thereof. We Anglicans might be more or less high-church, referring more or less to the Reformation formularies or the pre-Reformation Church without the abuses and superstition, but that is the way we are and that is our Christian identity.

        This is why I will not tolerate “true church” zealots proselytising here, for any Church. It is like someone who gate-crashes into my house and craps on the floor!

      • Michael Frost says:

        “It is like someone who gate-crashes into my house and craps on the floor!”…That use of earthy language that can be such a part of Western thought. Sounds so much like Luther’s Table Talk! Too funny, too true, and an…interesting…visual!

      • I’m a Yorkshireman! Hey’up, lad. Take tha down to t’pub and learn tha ta sup ale. As we would say in Dog Latin – Strainus maximus!

    • Thank you for this. I don’t find “In fact the idea that St John Chrysostom et al are essentially ‘eastern’ is a typical piece of Anglo-Saxon cultural imperialism” the slightest bit offensive – because I haven’t the slightest interest in converting to Orthodoxy. These issues are totally irrelevant to me.

      We English and French didn’t ask Orthodox people to emigrate from Russia, Greece, Serbia and elsewhere. If they wanted to avoid the Gulag or getting their throats slit for the glory of Allah, or just came to enjoy our standard of living, they have no business getting snarky with us.

      But, some of my readers are how they are, and some might take exception to these words. You might consider that anyone here who is interested in Orthodoxy has already gone over. Apart from that, no fodder here. I suspect you’re not an Ethnic…

      • Dale says:

        “In fact the idea that St John Chrysostom et al are essentially ‘eastern’ is a typical piece of Anglo-Saxon cultural imperialism”; since I am Welsh,this most certainly does not bother me at all!

    • Dale says:

      This is the normal imperialist byzantine tripe that one expects from self-loathing converts. But as I have mentioned before, Byzantine hatred for any tradition not limited to the imperial courts of Byzantium extends far beyond even the western tradition and includes all true eastern expressions of the faith as well; they happily destroyed, whenever they had the power, the traditions of the Copts, the Syrians et cetera and set-up artificial Greek patriarchates in opposition to the native ones in the east.

      What I have always found so interesting is that people who pull this, “he found the western material very meagre fare after the riches of normal Orthodox liturgy,” are individuals who have no real knowledge of the traditions they so blithely reject.

      Mr Frost, as a western rite Orthodox (please let us know how you are faring with this “very meagre fare”?), any thoughts on this?

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, You had to drag me in? 🙂 You can call me Michael.

        I concur with Ed. I’m a Western Christian, too. (Who is Orthodox.) I think like one. Which is why Western liturgics come so naturally to me and Eastern liturgics, no matter how well done or beautiful, just don’t fully reach me. For me it is as simple as wanting to hear and sing something like Now Thank We All Our God. Or Praise to the Lord the Almighty. The best of Western hymns are so wonderfully uplifting and edifying. As is the dignified beauty and simplicity of the “low” liturgy.

        And I accept that Eastern Christians are just that. Neither should ever be forced or coerced to reject their own foundation or feel that it is being denigrated or that they are somehow “inferior”. And I’d include the best of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, and Methodist, worship too. Really anyone or group that takes liturgics seriously in light of their theology and background.

      • Dale says:

        Oh, Michael, if all Orthodox converts were as normal as you are! But unfortunately, my experience is that most of them are like Mr Allen.

  8. Rubricarius says:

    Thank you, Fr. Anthony, for the link.

    Ed Pacht, whilst I agree with most of what you say I, perhaps understandably, disagree with you about the 1950s changes to the Roman rite.

    I share the view of Mgr. Gromier and Stephen Carusi and consider the 1950s changes to Holy Week to be a classic example of ill thought out, committee-work, and often erroneous ‘scholarship’. It is not only that the fabricated rites are ugly and inferior to their traditional forms but the paucity of scholarship is so evident. This contrasts with much of the work of the, vastly expanded Consilium a decade later. For example one could take the fabrication of the ‘Chrism Mass’ when in Rome the Reserved Sacrament was reserved at that Mass and communion distributed to parish members, later. The evidence for an ‘Evening Mass’ in Rome being circumstantial, at best. The new rite services, improved somewhat in the ‘OF’ form of the 1962 rite are some, moderate, improvement on the ‘EF’ – is one supposed to be redeemed by changes of costume during rites?

    The greater question is surely the rise of centralism and arbitrary control of liturgical orthopraxis. That process has been an unmitigated disaster for Western Liturgy. The rise in power of Rome has been been in inverse proportion to the decline of Western Liturgy. Let us have greater freedom for authentic liturgical diversity, let us experiment and see what results it produces – it can hardly be better than the product of papal interference in the Liturgy.

  9. Hugh Allen says:

    I’m sorry if some took offence. I wasn’t trying to denigrate western (or any other) traditions, but to make the point that it was possible for people from a western background (e.g. myself and the priest whom I mentioned) to settle happily into what might have seemed an alien tradition, and indeed to come to prefer it to the one in which they had been raised. As for horror stories about people being turned away from ethnic Orthodox communities — those could be replicated in churches of all denominations, and although regrettable are no argument against the validity of what goes on in them (cp Article XXVI).

    • That’s fine by me. Just remember that I’m the skipper here and I’m Anglican. Many of my readers are too, both Canterbury and “extra-mural”. Others are Roman Catholics and others are Orthodox. Here this is a space of tolerance and religious liberty, and of respect of conscience. If anyone wants to convert to Orthodoxy, then they might ask you about the best attitude to have regarding the Church they freely want to join.

      Otherwise we discuss politely and the “truth” of a Church is in the eye of the beholder.

      Please do not proselytise, otherwise I will moderate your e-mail address, and your messages will only be published if I approve them. I am only bound by the rules of decency. Some accuse me of being some kind of dictator, but that’s the way it is. I have just the same problem with Roman Catholic zealots or anti-Anglo-Catholic Anglicans.

      Just be good, and I will allow you freedom of speech that respects our freedom.

  10. StephenUSA says:

    If one is not literally in communion with an heir to an apostle, is that just playing in a fantasy land whose only end point is looking at oneself?

  11. I’m closing down the comments on this thread, because the posting was about the Holy Week rites of the western Church. It finished up as a discussion on Orthodoxy. I just received a comment which I have trashed and the commenter is on moderated status (has been for a while, since I checked). It was not so bad in itself and was reasonably courteous – but loaded and designed to start another long battle of apologetics and the same tired old stuff that destroys all blogs and wear down those who run them. Enough is enough. All because of one little afterthought, this has become all about Orthodox apologist “true church” stuff. I’m as sick of it as when the Roman Catholic convert zealots get started.

    I have better things to do.

Comments are closed.