Western Rite Orthodoxy, a new proposition

Bishop Jean Kovalevsky, consecrated by the Russian Church in Exile, a capital figure in the history of Western Orthodoxy

Bishop Jean Kovalevsky, consecrated by the Russian Church in Exile, a capital figure in the history of Western Orthodoxy

Not a little noise has been made about The Secret to Preserving Anglicanism by Fr Anthony Bondi of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. I’m sure our friends Michael Frost and Dale will make much of it, and there has already been a thread of e-mails started by Dr Tighe.

Fr Anthony Bondi is a good and kind gentleman with whom I have had correspondence over the years. Myself, I thought about the Western Orthodox idea from my student days in around 1988 when I met men like Dr Raymond Winch in Oxford and Dr Jean-François Mayer of Fribourg University, my own alma mater. I posted my translation of Dr Mayer’s magisterial article from 2002 in Western Rite Orthodoxy.

I became friends with Dr Ray Winch and went to see him in his Victorian terraced house in Oxford from time to time. He said the Office according to the Benedictine Breviary and worked on the The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox, an attempt dating from 1988 at reconstructing the Mass of Ordo Romanus Primus and the Gregorian Sacramentary for use in a western rite Orthodox context. We had long discussions about how Orthodoxy could “protect” what is left of pre-Reformation western Catholicism.

I saw Dr Winch less frequently towards the end of his life in 2002. He occasionally wrote to me, and explained his growing disillusionment with the various Orthodox jurisdictions present in England. He quietly went to Mass at St Aloysius, the former Jesuit church which is now the Oxford Oratory and drifted away from his former dreams without ever truly re-embracing the Roman Catholic ideology. When he died, he was buried without any ceremony. It seemed sad, but there was an inner logic to it all for those able to see it.

In theory, for a university student aspiring to the priesthood and some stable ecclesial solution as an alternative to neo-Tridentine RC traditionalism, western rite Orthodoxy seemed appealing. One thing that I noticed is that it remained as marginal and “odd” as Germanic Old Catholicism. It appeals to intellectuals but has very little to propose in terms of pastoral ministry to ordinary Christians. For example, there is no “open communion” – anyone who wants to receive the Sacraments has to be fully received into Orthodoxy. It means a commitment for which most western Christians would not be prepared. That is from the pastoral point of view. There are many other considerations.

At the time, I wrote to one of the priests of the Antiochian WR vicariate, which was much less developed and communicative that it is now. For me to follow up this possibility seriously, it would have meant emigration to the USA. That is where it stopped for me. I continued in the RC Church for another seven years, not really “all there”. It will be seen that Western Orthodoxy occupied a large space in my mind, but it was never a reality with which I would ever connect, let alone commit myself to whether as a candidate for the priesthood or as a layman.

I believe Fr Anthony and his superiors are obviously sincere in their pastoral outreach to Anglicans and other western Christians who for one reason or another can no longer relate to their Churches of origin. I believe there has been some success in the USA with the Russians “in exile” and the Antiochians. They have established parishes and it all looks attractive. The Russians and the Antiochians have a slightly different approach about what they are preserving. The latter caters more for former Roman Catholics with an attachment to the Tridentine liturgy (in English) and some Anglicans using an Orthodox version of the Prayer Book. The Russians seem to be more interested in referring to an earlier period, completely bypassing the Reformation, something with which I sympathise, but historical restoration can be quite “sterilised” and inappropriate in pastoral terms. Where is the balance found?

Some have left Western Orthodoxy very embittered, a few resorting to “hard” Protestantism and the Continuing Anglican Churches. I have not gone into all the reasons, so I will not come anywhere near to daring to make judgements. In Europe, if there was anything worthwhile, I would know about it. There are various communities using Gallican and Celtic reconstructions, nothing that would interest me. The Russian western riters in England have a public profile that compares with our Anglican Catholic Church, just as fragile and marginal as we are!

So my fundamental attitude is to be kind to Fr Anthony and see the best in what he is trying to get over. His subject of discussion is Orthodoxy being the best solution for Anglicans. Whether Orthodoxy is the best way to “preserve Anglican patrimony” is open to question. It might be a solution for individuals and groups looking for a spiritual expression close to their culture, and to their liturgical and social preferences. No one is blaming anyone.

Over the last few years, I have seen the weakness and fracture lines of the Continuing Anglican world. The TAC thought Rome would make it into some kind of “uniate” Church, and the ambiguity of Rome’s response destroyed it. Many became Roman Catholics by joining one of the three Ordinariates, and the rest would try to reconstruct a “TAC without Hepworth” or enter into alliances with other Continuing Anglican Churches. Despite these moving boundaries, I see no large-scale movement towards Orthodoxy, at least on anything like the scale of the Ordinariate-bound movement of a couple of years ago. There are strong parallels between Anglicanorum coetibus and what is being offered by Western Orthodoxy. Some could do very well out of it and others would become seriously unstuck.

What kind of Anglicans are attracted to Orthodoxy, albeit with a western rite? Certainly those “classical Anglicans” who like a strong dose of Calvin in their 39-Article soup are unlikely to consider Orthodox as any less an idolatrous abomination than Rome. Some of the “old high church” might idealise Orthodoxy in the manner of John Mason Neale and William Palmer in the nineteenth century. The more “Roman” Anglicans might be more attracted to the Ordinariate through the idea of being in communion with a billion Catholics in the world and having a chance to be exempt from the sappy and goofy Novus Ordo liturgies on offer in most parishes. The Orthodox Church has a sounder theological basis for the liturgy, but it is hard enough to build up a WR congregation in the USA, let alone Europe or England.

The biggest obstacle to overcome is closed communion. It is more rigorous in Orthodoxy, though the Roman Catholic Church still has laws against allowing other Christians to receive Communion except in the most unusual situation. We Anglicans will willingly give Communion to Roman Catholics and Anglicans from other ecclesial bodies. We don’t require an immediate all-or-nothing commitment.  It seems to be how I started this article – a pastoral problem. If the Orthodox Church were a little looser on this point, perhaps that would make things more practicable, but would also take away the appeal of a Church that has resisted liberalism at all costs, so us outsiders would be inclined to believe.

For the clergy, there is a more or less radical discontinuity in their priestly vocation: they have to be chrismated and almost certainly reordained. There is no question of loose ties between the Churches or a smooth transition. Perhaps the Russian Church outside Russia is making adaptations to smooth the way for those going over.

I’m not against it, the suggestion and this priest’s invitation. Those who feel they should go that way will follow their consciences. Perhaps Orthodoxy could to an extent play host to the “pre-Reformation” Church – though one would be encouraged to go back to the eleventh century as the “cut-off” point.

The article is worth reading and much can be learned.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Western Rite Orthodoxy, a new proposition

  1. ed pacht says:

    Unfortunately there are a great many choices laid before us, some of them seeming to have much to recommend them. I say “unfortunately” because I can’t for a moment believe that it pleases God that His One church manifests in so many warring sects who cannot share the sacraments with one another. That is a tragic situation. However, all these choices do exist and call out to Christ’s people, and no body extant is expressing the fullness of His truth. One hears constant diatribes from one camp against another, and there is indeed truth in all these attacks. We all have strayed and we all merit condemnation. But where is humility? Where is the realization that I and my party are seriously flawed and in need of reformation? Where is the awareness that those we are condemning actually have much that we lack and need? And above all, where is the joyful expression of our true unity in Christ?. It’s desperately hard to find. It seems we;d rather fight than love, and that is deeply tragic.

    I am drawn to Orthodoxy, whether in its Eastern forms or in this new Western manifestation, and have warm thoughts toward these brethren. I learn much from them and my theology and spirituality have been much affected — but there are reasons, which I don’t need to go into, that this is not a road I can take.

    I appreciate much that has come from the Roman Church, in early and medieval times and even since Trent and Vatican 2. but there are reasons I can’t go there. These get discussed ad nauseam. I welcome the Ordinariate as a solution for some whose questions are the ones it attempts to answer — but those are not my questions and I can’t go there.

    I am a Continuing Anglican, with a powerful love for all the various splinters we have formed, but with eyes wide open to the differences that exist. I could be content in most of these groups, but it is in ACA/TAC that I’ve found my home. We are not better than other churches, nor are other churches better than we, and not one of the many sects, Roman, Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic, even Protestant, is unnecessary to the fullness of the Gospel. We differ. Some of the differences are indeed major. Are they barriers that justify continuing separation? Or are they challenges to be overcome through love of the brethren? I say the latter, and in so saying, I believe our Lord calls us to think beyond the convincing of others that they need to change, and instead face up manfully to our own errors, for if there is one certainty, it is this: that we, as fallen human beings, are wrong in ways we do not even realize.

    ed

    • One thing has really come to mind as I wrote this little piece, as I had been very sympathetic to Western Rite Orthodoxy (as I understood it), is that the problem is closed communion. Only those people who officially and canonically belong to that Church (RC, Orthodox, whatever) may participate in any way in its sacramental life.

      I know there has to be a “dividing line”, which I reckon to be being baptised and believing that what we receive is truly the whole Christ. By this we are recognising the Church to be wider and larger than the canonical categories given by the law of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, or the more sectarian elements thereof.

      In “closed communion” Churches, one has to be received and make an all-or-nothing commitment. That sounds the right thing for anyone in those Churches, but people usually can only make progress stage by stage. Those approaching the RC and Orthodox Churches for reception always abstain from the Sacraments before they are officially received. It’s a little like no sex before marriage! But, closed communion either means split Christendom or that one of those Churches is the true Church and all outside it are “graceless heretics”. Round and round we go! That is why they have to have hermetically sealed and “high security” units to keep the uncommitted or half-committed out. Hence the Ordinariate and Western Rite Vicariate.

      The approach in most Continuing Anglican Churches seems moderate and still coherent. We have “open” Communion (with the requirements of baptism, belief in the Real Presence and a pious intention), but we do have reception into our communion, so that we know who are fully committed. At the same time, the boundaries are blurred, and others who are not so ready for complete commitment nevertheless have a measure of participation in our ecclesial life. That seems the most pastoral approach if there is no abuse in bad faith. Almost all those who ever come to my Mass are Roman Catholics, often not very committed to their own Church and against its exclusiveness – so I never refuse them the grace of the Sacraments, regardless of what use they make of it. Who are we to judge?

      • Michael Frost says:

        Father, Your comments about Continuing Anglicanism and “open” vs “closed” communion seem potentially a bit self serving. The local ACA church in my area says the following in each weekly Sunday bulletin’s liturgy guide: “We welcome those Confirmed by a Bishop in the Anglican, Roman, and Orthodox traditions to receive Holy Communion. Others are cordially invited to come the the Altar rail for a blessing….” [I suspect someone who is PNCC probably could say something to the priest and receive, too, though I’m not sure I’ve seen it.]

        So this “open” communion excludes ALL Lutherans, Methodists, Reformed, Baptist, etc. So they are saying something quite clearly about all of these other Christians and they deliberately and willfully exclude them all from communion. They don’t view them as being comparable. So it is a most limited “open” communion. Would that make it “semi-open” or “selectively-closed” communions?

        I wonder, is the purported “openness” more about Anglicans wanting to be viewed as equals to Rome and Constantinople and superior to Wittenberg and Geneva? And then the Anglicans don’t like it when neither Rome nor Constantinople will seat them at their big table? 😉

      • It doesn’t seem to be a god idea to sit between two stools. Best thing is to be Roman Catholic or snake-belly low whatever. 😉

        So, we need to put an end to all ecumenism and go back to holy wars, crusades and inquisitions. We could bring back cujus rex ejus religio, which in most countries is atheism / agnosticism. May the best win!

        By the way, I’m not self-serving, since I don’t have the slightest interest in pursuing conversion to Orthodoxy nor to receiving its Sacraments. 😀

      • Michael Frost says:

        I’m all in favor of principled, honest ecumenism that gets back to firm foundations, first sources, and the best of scholarship. And for people to defend their historical religious background, including its theology and liturgics. So a Lutheran should be citing Luther and Melanchthon. An Anglican Jewel & Hooker. A Methodist Wesley. A Reformed Bucer, Bullinger, and Calvin.

        I’m just always a bit confused by the CA angst over acceptance by Rome or Constantinople while at the same time the CAs look down on Wittenberg and Geneva. For example, all I see are tones of similarities between classical High Church Lutheranism (say Sweden in the 16th-17th centuries) and classical Anglicanism of the 17th-18th centuries. Is it ecumenical for CA to deny communion to High Church Lutherans, Methodists, and others?

      • All this stuff should be restricted to universities. Let ordinary people get a good lie-in on Sunday mornings! Yawn…

  2. Neil Hailstone says:

    Anglican Catholic readers of the various jurisdictions may wish to consider membership of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. Our Patron Saints being the first English martyr and St Sergius of Radonezh being the most venerated saint in Russia.

    The Fellowship exists to work for Christian unity between East and West. Many Anglican Catholics are members who like myself believe in unity between ourselves and the Holy Orthodox .Activities and Services which both may attend are arranged.

    Full information about the Fellowship is available on the website http://www.sobornost.org

  3. Michael Frost says:

    I do wish Fr. Bondi had talked more about ROCOR, past, present and future. (ROCOR has had a most…interesting…history. An often tumultuous one within themselves and with others.) This would include its relationship with the rest of Orthodoxy and with non-Orthodox. I’d like to know ROCOR’s official position regarding the sacramental validity of other Orthodox, RCs, Anglicans, and others, esp. baptism. The local ROCOR priest in my area was a former ECUSA priest who became French Orthodox before joining ROCOR. ROCOR re-did all the sacraments with him. (I’m not sure if that is standard practice or was more tied to his previous marriages/divorces.) On a most practical leve, from my limited experience with the local ROCOR WR parish, ROCOR appears to have meager practical resources to create, sustain, and grow churches.

    • Maximus says:

      For ROCOR’s views on the reception of Anglicans see here:

      http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/khrap_econ.aspx

      Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky (1st Primate on the Synod Abroad)

      [C]ertain of them, for the alleviation of the rupture in their spiritual life and for “the edification of many,” are permitted to enter the Church without the visible side of the mysteries of baptism or holy orders (that is, by the second or third rite), but through the operation of another sacramental act in which they receive the grace of baptism, chrismation and holy orders. (For example, for Roman Catholics, Nestorians and Donatists.)

      and here:
      http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/01newstucture/pagesen/articles/vlarina.html

      Met. Anastassy (2nd Primate of the Synod Abroad )

      Ordination is less important than baptism. Metropolitan Anthony was guided by this rule of St Basil the Great when he said that he was prepared to accept through the third rite both Catholics and Anglicans. He was of the view that as soon as organic ties to heresy are torn and Orthodoxy is accepted, grace is received, as if an empty vessel were filled with grace. We hold to the principle that we can accept those through the third rite whose thread of succession had not been torn. Even the Armenians, who confess a definite heresy, are accepted in their existing rank. Concerning the Anglicans, the question arose because they themselves are not certain that they have succession.

      and here: http://www.holy-trinity.org/ecclesiology/pogodin-reception/reception-ch0.html

  4. Michael Frost says:

    Looking over Dr. Mayer’s essay, I think the key is near the very end:

    “It does not suffice for High-Church Anglicans or Old Catholics to delete the Filioque in the Creed, recognize only the Ecumenical Councils of the first millennium and hang icons in their churches to become ipso facto Orthodox, as the experience of more than a century shows.”

    Many/most Continuing Anglicans appear to want to remain their own independent jurisdictional entity(ies). They don’t even really want to create one truly unified complete CA body? But they then also greatly aspire to be recognized and accepted by Rome or Constantinople as being part of the “one true Church”; however, while simultaneously maintaining their own separate and distinct theology, liturgics, and, most importantly, process of ordaining their own priests and bishops with complete independence. Seems that those who think this way essentially want to create an “improved” status quo, where they remain who they are (whatever that is, as defined entirely by themselves) but are accepted as equals by those select other bodies whose acceptance as equals really matters to them, for whatever reason?

    • Dr Mayer wandered around quite a lot on his own spiritual journey, about which he has written in some of his books. I believe he doesn’t bother much with church these days and sticks to the academic side of things. Perhaps the wisest thing… 😉

  5. Dale says:

    I have had contact with Fr Bondi, both via email as well as the telephone, he is an honorable and upright gentleman, and regardless of his former ecclesiastical position(s) he is now a canonical Orthodox clergyman and doing what he feels is best for Anglicans looking for a home who are, regardless of reason, unhappy with the continuing movement. I feel that Olivia’s ad hominem were indeed uncalled for.

    That said, the problem with western rite Orthodoxy is that it is, as Olivia has correctly stated, very, very Byzantinized and seems to only be a temporary “concession” until the full Byzantine rite is accepted. And as she has also correctly noted, the Russian Church Outside of Russia’s western rite parishes are so Byzantinized as to be simply unrecognizable as anything western at all. Already several parishes that were only recently accepted into the ROCOR western rite vicariate have adopted the Russian recession of the Greek liturgy.

    If one wishes to go Byzantine, simply go Byzantine; if one loves our traditions and does not wish to pass water over the graves of our own ancestors, Byzantium does not seem to be a very safe place to be. The history of the western rite in Byzantium is full of broken promises.

    • Olivia has come and gone. He/she threatened “I’ll be back” – a nice line from The Terminator. When people are aggressive and rude, they have a tendency to “disappear”, and the same thing happens when they resurface under a new alias. I have long experience with trolls. I may be wrong – I am only human – but it is my blog.

      For the record, “Olivier De Bears” has commented on http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/orthodox-bishops-speak-out-against-hhh-mandate/ and seems to consider him/her-self to be invested with a mission to root out clergy who are alleged to be “bad”.

      Anyway, enough of this! I have better things to do in life.

    • I won’t take sides about how the Orthodox treat converts of Anglican and Roman Catholic origin. I sensed very quickly that it is a world I would never relate to, like asking a French or Italian person to assimilate Anglicanism.

      The lesson to learn is that we need to find our spiritual home somewhere. I am a cradle Anglican and my place would be in the Continuum since I left the Church of England long ago. We have to find our way somewhere, or the option is being like everyone else. There are plenty of things to do on a Sunday morning: do the garden, wash the car, go sailing, play football – or just sleep in – and enjoy life.

      People get restless, and the important thing for us all is to learn to “let go”. After the downfall of the “Hepworth” TAC, I have joined the ACC. We are not a perfect Church, but a few of us together ensure a surer future than each of us alone.

    • Fr Anthony, NY says:

      Dear Dale,

      Your post was brought to my attention.

      I respectfully disagree with you. You agree with “the Russian Church Outside of Russia’s western rite parishes are so Byzantinized as to be simply unrecognizable as anything western at all.” Ok, show me where? Many will look at the Deprecatio Gelasii and say “there, it is not Western!’ Yet that was the Roman Kyrie Litany. So ignorance of the ancient Roman Rite becomes the basis of the assessment.

      Perhaps one of the problems is that most non-Orthodox Western churches themselves are unrecognizable as what us older guys grew up with as churches! There are those who see a rood screen as a “byzantinization.” Yet it is perfectly Western.

      There have been a few Western Rite parishes started and they filled up with Eastern Christians, so the priest made a pastoral decision having consulted the WR leadership, and began using the Eastern rite to serve his people. No matter how committed I am to Western Rite I still remain a pastor of souls first and foremost.

      As to the personal attacks, what can I say? I do not know what motivates people to deny the efficacy of the sacraments…and that is exactly what they do when they deny others forgiveness that they have received via the sacraments and amending their lives. I continue to pray daily “O Lord Jesus Christ, who for the accomplishment of Thy greatest works hast chosen the weak vessels of the world, that no flesh may glory in Thy sight….

      • Thank you, Father Anthony, and welcome to this blog. Some of the most violent arguments, when they have occasionally occurred, have been on the subject of Orthodoxy. There are some very passionate people in the Roman Catholic world, but little to compare… Conflict is always unpleasant and a anti-witness to Christianity. We also had a highly unpleasant troll attack concerning your person, and the worst thing I could do was to advise the person to take up the matter with your Metropolitan. Thankfully, the troll kindly went away with a little help from my blog parameters.

        If Western Orthodoxy can be a pastoral provision that would bring good to souls, then nothing that does God’s work should be criticised or discouraged. It should be encouraged alongside continuing Anglicanism and traditional Roman Catholicism, that the Sacramental Mystery may remain with us for future generations.

      • Dale says:

        This conversation is really not worth having. If you believe that dumping in a bunch of litanies from what the supposed third century (?) western rite is all right, okay; of course you have absolutely no idea how these litanies were chanted, so for forms sake you do them with the deacon booming them out a la Byzantine; what does he do in your liturgy, run out from the altar and then rush back again to stand behind the priest, or at his side depending upon, well who knows? If you believe that a priest dressing up with a Gothic chasuble and wearing emaniki instead of a maniple and topping it all off with a Russian style Kalmilavka (as was doing your priest in Mississippi) is all right, okay. If using cube style Russian altars is some lost ancient western tradition, well okay. it seems that whenever you people do something byzantine, even if it is directly from the post 17th century Russian recession and does not even exist amongst the Greeks it is some long-lost western tradition. One of your clergy even mentioned that the ancient manner to give communion was on a spoon because liturgical spoons are mentioned in sacristy inventories of the 11th century, little realizing that in the western rite a liturgical spoon was used to measure out wine to be placed in the chalice during the offertory! But, hey if it works for you..okay with me.

        One of my favorites is using the modern Greek form of making the sign of the cross, with three fingers and declaring that that was the ancient form in the west! Forgetting that even in Byzantium the ancient form was to make the sign of the cross with two fingers and not two. Also, you people do not even seem to know that the most ancient eastern form of making the sign of the cross as preserved in all Oriental Orthodox traditions if from left to right! The same as in the west.

        Another one of my real favorites is the priest bowing to the congregation with his hands crossed corpse like fashion across his breast. What is that supposed to be? Although one can see it done on several of the pictures of your so-called Gregorian liturgy celebrated in England. Oh forgot, it is an ancient and forgotten western tradition! Straight out of the modern Russian recession of the Byzantine rite.

        Oh, and another favorite, all of your clergy dressing up like modern, well post 1666, Russian priests, of course that is also from the pre-Sarum tradition of olde England! Anyone falling for this must be, well if not stupid, at least ignorant.

        I also find it so interesting that when you people reinvent the 2nd century (or what ever century it is you are inventing) western rite it always so closely resembles the modern, post old rite, of the Russian recession of the Byzantine.

        Another favorite is your so-called Gallican rite that actually has the bishop stand on an orlitz in the middle of the congregation holding a dikerion and trikerion whilst the choir booms out eis poli eti despota! With the audacity to explain that this is the fifth century western rite of France, although most of the present Byzantine episcopal ceremonies are, even in the Byzantine rite, post 1453!

        And then to explain to us poor westerners that we do not know our own traditions!

        As Fr Andrew Philip in England has already explained several times the western rite is being permitted for a short time until the full Byzantine rite can be understood and accepted by western converts, hence, it makes perfect sense to start with a heavily byzantinized so-called western rite, but please spare us any drivel about it really being western.

        By the way, in the west a rood screen serves no real liturgical function and is architectural, to compare it to the modern form of the Byzantine ikonostasis is mixing apples an oranges, and the most ancient of eastern rites, the Syriac, does not even use the ikonostasis, neither do the Armenians. Unfortunately, most of the Byzantine knowledge of the western rite is about on this level.

        Finally, it is nice to know that if any “Eastern” people show up the parish is expected to go Byzantine.

      • Dale says:

        As examples: here is an article from one of the ROCOR “western rite” parishes, St Nicholas of Myra, in the American state of Georgia, I dare anyone to find anything at all western about it: it concern how to act in a “western rite” Orthodox service:

        http://www.snmoc.org/SomeThingsToRemember.pdf

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, I took a look around their web site. Doesn’t appear to look WR at all. Certainly doesn’t look anything like my AWRO parish in Omaha. But I think it really is up to the laity in WR parishes to work hard to prevent creeping Byzantinizations. We have to take responsibility for working to create a viable, living, breathing WR.

        http://www.snmoc.org/index.html

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, Not sure if you’ve ever checked it out, but here is St. Vincent of Lerins, Omaha:

        http://www.stvincentchurch.org/St_Vincent_of_Lerins/Home.html

        I’m sure we’re not perfect, but I do think we try hard to be both W and O. Thankfully, the name alone gives one an immediate idea about it being WR! I believe we have a sister chuch in Canada (Calgary?). I pray that other WR parishes would choose some of the wonderful patristic Western saints that are sadly neglected. Two of the “best” are John Cassian and Faustus of Riez. Both from Gaul and in 5th century. Of course, John is a true bridge between E-W, knowing both Egyptian & Palestine monasticism. interacting with famous people like John Chrysostom, and being the “father” of W. monasticism, brining his knowledge of the East on the subject to Gaul and then writing his Conferences & Institutes (which Benedict had his monks read).

  6. Maximus says:

    More info about ROCOR pertaining to this subject:

    [T]he Orthodox mission of Archpriest Evrgaf Kovalevskii in France received some Catholics through repentance and some through baptism. However the bishops, at their meeting of October 26/November 8, 1962, did not object to this information provided by Kovalevskii.

    The Kovalevskii group was received into the ROCA in 1960. From then until January of 1962 they give Communion to heterodox for missionary purposes. Following conversations with his ruling hierarch, Archbishop Ioann, (St. John Maximovitch) Kovalevskii sent a special epistle forbidding such a practice. At his meeting with the Bishops’ Council on October 26/November 8, 1962, Kovalevskii explained that they did this:

    Because in France only twenty-five percent of the population practiced Christianity and only fifty percent were baptized. The Church left them behind. They are in search. In his thoughts Archpriest Kovalevskii sees crowds of Catholics who left the Church. They are baptized, chrismated, and are seeking the truth, coming to our churches. It is a shame that for 1000 years we did not care about them.

    Source:

    http://www.rocorstudies.org/articles/2010/02/28/andrei-psarev-relations-between-the-rocor-and-the-roman-catholic-church-1920-1964/#ftnref76

  7. Ad Orientem says:

    On the subject of how converts are received in Orthodoxy, the rule is do what your bishop says. That said there are three methods that are canonically valid.
    * Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion
    * Confession, Chrismation and Holy Communion
    * Confession, Profession of Faith followed by Holy Communion

    The first is the normative method, but the second may be, and often is, used as a pastoral concession provided the convert first received a Trinitarian Baptism with water and a sacramental intent. This would exclude a large number of Evangelical type Protestants as also all non-Trinitarians. We tend to be much stricter about that sort of thing than the Romans are these days.

    The third method is generally reserved for the Oriental Orthodox and Orthodox schismatics, but not heretics.

    ROCOR’s approach, like that of all jurisdictions, will vary depending on the situation. However, in general they have since at least the 1970’s tended to take a stricter position and been less willing to receive converts by oikonomia. As regards Holy Orders, no canonical Orthodox jurisdiction recognizes Anglican ordinations, nor those of episcopi vagantes. Some receive Roman Catholic clergy merely by vesting following Chrismation and Communion, and others insist on a full Orthodox ordination. ROCOR, the Serbians and the Jerusalem Patriarchate fall into the latter category.

    With respect to the Western Rite, Dale is mostly correct. ROCOR generally does not recognize any legitimate post schism liturgical or disciplinary development in the Christian West. And their Western Rite Vicarate is as heavily Byzantinized as Rome’s Eastern Rites have been Latinized. That is not however true everywhere. The Antiochian Western Rite Vicarate here in the United States has suffered comparatively rather minimal tampering with their rites and customs.

    Long term I do not know what the future holds for the WR. But my instincts tell me it is too big to just dismantle as a failed experiment.

    • Michael Frost says:

      Having a lack of uniformity and a potential reliance upon a plethora of sources (both ancient and modern) in regard to important areas of theology is, sadly, often the plight of Orthodoxy. The highly selective application of ancient canons or economia in areas like re-baptizing shows our lack of ongoing engagement with Christendom over the past millennium. As if the year were still 500 AD and we’re mainly considering Donatists & Nestorians. And as if the schism and Reformation had never happened. It would be interesting to see how the various jurisdictions around the world handle this.

      Re-baptizing Christians–whether RC, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Methodist, etc.–seems completely inappropriate both theologically and pastorally, esp. if only some but not all are re-baptized. What is the consistent underlying theological justification? Either a Christian was baptized or they weren’t. And we all agree that once validly baptized one cannot be-re-baptized. (I wonder if the treatment of non-Chalcedonian Orthodox hasn’t changed dramatically in the past 50 years or so. Prior to that the seriousness of their purported theological errors was akin to Nestorianism.)

      The other big area is in regard to previous marriages and divorces, esp. in conjunction with the reception of clergy. To re-baptize implies that all previous sacramental action was null and void, including marriage. Would be interesting to know if the re-baptized are also uniformly re-married.

      • You show good insight in this comment.

        People will do what they think they should do according to an informed conscience. I believe proselytism is a serious sin, because some might go to a Church under illusions and regret it bitterly.

        Anglicans and Roman Catholics should stay in their Churches or go to the “continuing” or “traditionalist” independent groups corresponding with the traditions in which they were brought up. I am not sure that any kind of uniatism is a good idea, even Tridentine traditionalists in union with Rome, whose official rite is the Novus Ordo.

        We can discuss matters like who need to be re-baptised, etc. I think this kind of talk is jumping the gun. The first question is whether the person really wants to change Churches, accept being “rebooted” ab initio and truly embrace what he wants to join.

        To be fair, Fr Anthony Bondi’s piece is about western rite unitatism with Byzantine Orthodoxy and people converting from Anglicanism. It is one thing to discuss how that is done, another thing to listen to the people themselves. Frankly, people shouldn’t be going to a Church because they believe it is the “true church” but because they want to embrace that Church’s tradition.

        This will always be the ambiguity between the various western rite vicariates and ordinariates, whether it is about uniatism and proselytism – or about providing “solutions” for alienated Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

        From this, I would conclude that Continuing Anglican Churches like the ACC should develop the “pre-Reformation” English patrimony, since there are many more Reformed groups and Tridentine communities identifying with Counter-Reformation Roman Catholicism. We should not be asking the Orthodox for safe havens any more than Rome.

      • Dale says:

        I have known Byzantines to also demand remarriage as well. It is all too bizarre for words, and seems to be simply personal opinion of whomever feels in charge at a given moment, and often is ethnically based as well. When I studied in Paris, I knew a supposed very strict, canonical, Greek Orthodox priest who would refuse communion to converts unless they had paper-work to prove that they had been re-baptized; yet, one Sunday a Roman Catholic family of the Greek rite from Cargese in Corsica where all given communion in his parish. Needless to say, I was shocked. And when questioned the priest’s response was, “Yes, but these people are GREEKS!” It is all rather a joke, and a not very nice one.

        It is interesting to note that the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate, who refused (still refuses?) to accept any Roman Catholic ordinations and sometimes baptisms at all as valid, received the whole of the Carpatho-Russian rite Roman Catholic Jurisdiction in 1930’s into their denomination, including all priests in their orders, via telegramme; it would appear that for most Byzantines ethnicity is the main factor in these decisions. Too bizarre.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Interesting thought on why someone should choose to belong to a Church. I’d like to think that the best reason is that one finds beauty, goodness, and especially Truth (the whole Christian Gospel) in the faith group. If one does, one is likely to feel like they’ve been called home by God and found a good home built on a very firm foundation. I agree with the Lutheran Pietist P.J. Spener, better a good RC than a bad Lutheran and vice versa.

  8. Dale says:

    “And their Western Rite Vicarate is as heavily Byzantinized as Rome’s Eastern Rites have been Latinized.”

    The Latinization of the Byzantine rites in communion with Rome, pale in comparison to the Byzantinization of the western rites in the Russian as well as Antiochian denominations.

    Not too long ago I posted a Greek Mass from Sicily, it is almost identical to a Mass celebrated in Greece, the Greek rite in Italy, in communion with Rome, has a thousand year history…no so-called western rite parish has existed for more than a few decades at most. Even though both Fr Bondi and others have been speaking about parishes that have been western rite for over one-hundred years, when pressed to tell us where these parishes are located, they are strangely silent.

  9. Stephen K says:

    I ask my co-readers to forgive me if I have said this before (I plead failing memory): I heard the Dalai Lama once exhort us not to shop around, to work our spiritual way in the tradition we found ourselves. This surprised me (not just because most people urge us to convert) and I have found that I have thought about it and remembered it vividly. I think he was expressing a great insight: that we are not ever – quite – tabulae rasae. We are children of our parents, our culture. Each of us here are journeyers, but none of us are not partly captive to our earliest formation. By my age it becomes harder to learn a new language. I have this vague conceit i would like to be a Buddhist, but it comes far too late. I am a pariah (I do not blame anyone nor feel the slightest resentment or lack) from and within my native religious village, but find that I undestand my village’s dialect better than any other.

    What to do? I know there is a world outside the village. I want no part of its feuds with other villages, however small and exotic. I like some of its customs and despise or mistrust others. I know I have to see the good and the universal in the village – but also in the others. I feel ignorant of much I sense I should know. I resign myself to dabbling. I sometimes atain detachment form worrying about whether it is good or sufficient etc: at the same time sensing that it is neither and impossible, hence the attractiveness and comfort and reasonableness of being detached. I find more and more that life is a paradox: God loves us but perhaps doesn’t give a fig for anything we do. God is personal but above and beyond and inside us. Jesus is a revelation (ephiphany, manifestation, incarnation) of God but woe betide us if we start to reduce him to an idol. etc etc.

    So, considering this conversation, and the question of communion: I haven’t partaken of communion for over 16 years. I am a sinner. I observe the rules all the while thinking they are themselves evidence of a kind of sin. The most perniciously corrupting doctrines appear to me to be the extra-contextual borrowing of “thou art a priest forever” that has led to a distorted sacramentalism and flawed clericalism, and the idea that, born into a Christian consciousness, we can proceed to thinking we can ever have truth that would exclude “others”. It seems to be the very antithesis of what Christianity is supposed to be about. I sometimes think that I am a failed and bad Catholic, even a non-catholic. But actually, on reflection, I think I am not qualitatively different from any other.

    But I do not intend to proceed from there to conclude I am no worse than any other. Just that I am not different. God loves me and I am rendered powerless and astounded by such a belief. Where do I get it from? There is little logic. I conclude religion is a combination of habit, familiarit and desire, nit virtue or wisdom. Thus all this denominational exclusiveness is deeply misguided. I pray for you all and ask that you all pray for me.

    • I think it does a lot of good to see things from the “outside” for a while, which gives objectivity. I have lived for many years, after my seminary hothouse time, like an “ordinary guy”. I have my daily Mass and my next door neighbours don’t know about it. It doesn’t matter, and they would be deeply offended if I were to go and do door to door “evangelism”. For what?

      As you say, Stephen, it is all a paradox. We believe in one breath that God loves us, and in the next, we have to see the reality of a world and human life that no outside agency seems to care about. As for belonging to a Church, it isn’t the Church or denomination “brand” or name you belong to, but the local parish. Or, if you live in the cathedral city, the cathedral. I have often spoken of the concept of “interface”, the point at which one being can relate to another being.

      For most of us, we no have this interface, and therefore Christianity is either something that has had its day, or we relate to it sacramentally and alone, in the same way as the universal idea of “Church” relates to Christ. I am a priest and can continue for as long as I live – yet I can’t bless myself, hear my own confession, etc. It is very limiting. For a layman, there is the Divine Office (see my remarks about Dr Ray Winch in my article), the long trek by car, train or bus, bicycle or walking on a Sunday morning and the lonely journey back home to a roast chicken and a quiet afternoon in some harmless pursuit.

      Keeping things at this level, like the country bumpkin and his village of centuries ago, we see reality as it is.

  10. Patricius says:

    The only thing for it is to simply stop caring. You save yourself a lot of grief and anger that way. There’s nothing like washing the car on a Sunday morning. Now, if I read anything about ancestral liturgical forms, I do so with a sense of detachment and without a longing for their present manifestation, supplanting the customs of Western parishes. But I don’t even read about them anymore. I am too busy watching unrelated DVDs, playing my Nintendo or reading memoirs.

    There’s more to life than religion, or concern about the disintegration of society. “Gay marriage” is about to be debated in the House of Lords, but what’s the point in being upset about its outcome? It’s inevitable. Hopes wither, ends come, our leaders are there about to smash the lantern and declare a new Dark Age. Do I care? Not one whit.

    • Michael Frost says:

      “to simply stop caring”… Would that make one, in the words of Christ, lukewarm? God forbid! Thankfully the early Christians didn’t do that when confronted by a hostile Jews and Romans. But that does seem to have been the response of far too many in USA and UK over the past 50 years that got ECUSA and CofE in such sorry states.

      • You are coming into this one without compassion, with a bludgeon, instead of seeking causes of our malaise. You talk like our old English schoolmasters who told us that the British Empire was built with the finest rattan canes and welts on the buttocks. Your vision of Christianity can only work with an authoritarian regime to enforce it. Such a view no longer represents mainstream society.

        Being a little more positive, we would appreciate a few paragraphs from you on how the early Christians really lived. I think you will find we actually know much less than what we thought we knew.

        I don’t think Patricius has stopped caring in the absolute, otherwise he wouldn’t bother writing on this blog. He would be out walking his dogs or whatever he likes doing. Most people don’t even talk about religion. What he really means is that we all need a defence mechanism against others who bash on our walls and invade us. We all have our private gardens and our war wounds.

        If we have a little more compassion and empathy (not made easy by communicating only by internet), unlike some of the more gung-ho types around us, then we might understand these finer points.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Anthony, You certainly could be right. Maybe he has a very dry and dark sense of humour that I missed. But to me the overall thrust of his words seems pretty bleak (“more to life than religion, or concern about the disintegration of society”). Detached (“what’s the the point in being upset”). Almost apothetic (Do I care? No one whit”)? Not sure what he meant about “washing the car on a Sunday morning”. That is usually when people would be at church. So I guess it is possible that maybe he is part of the choir. Just not sure he is singing with the rest of us? Could be off key? Or on a different hymn? 🙂

        My experience in USA with current and former traditionalist ECUSA members who have talked in similar ways is that it often is a sign of a surrender or retreat. Some stopped caring and just sit in the ECUSA pew listening to the lesbian priestess’ homily. Others stopped going to church entirely and just stay home, arguing that everyone and everything is likely wrong so does it matter at all any more. These two groups seem to comprise the majority and because of that it makes it so hard for the various traditionalist communions to attract them. Then there is the last group of others who look for some safe haven to hide out in; as long as they can find some dry patch of ground for them it is OK and it doesn’t matter if the dry patch is shrinking or likely to go under, as long as that happens after they pass on. [The local CA church in my area has been active for about 35 years or so and have had their own church building for nearly 30 years. Yet they are down to about 20 members and their average age is probably around 70-75. They may be down to 10 or less in the next 10 years.] Of course, sadly, the extreme fragmentation of the various CA groups certainly hasn’t helped the psyhology of the situation. I do know that we should constantly pray that the Holy Ghost will stir up the faithful, energize current workers, and bring new ones into the fields.

      • Before you analyse Patricius, you could ask him via a comment here or on his blog. I doubt he washes a car on a Sunday morning because I think he doesn’t drive.

        Many people have given up, not because they are bad and weak, but because they have experienced the Church offering them sweets (you Americans call them candy) and taking them away. Do that often enough and the entire relationship is broken. The onus is on the institutional Churches to repair these broken relationships. Otherwise it’s tough and the world will move on.

        Interesting analysis. I only hope this prayer will be heard… But, while it’s business as usual in the Churches…

      • Dale says:

        I rather pride myself, after having learnt to drive at the advanced age of 37 (many years ago now, the joys of being raised in Europe is that one does not need absolutely need private transportation) that I have NEVER washed my car, even on Sundays!

      • I learned to drive at 24 and to sail at 49. The boat gets a good wash in seawater every time she is taken out. My old Renault van gets the treatment that much more rarely, never at home and never on a Sunday morning – but in one of those places where you can use a high-pressure hose. One nice thing about living in the country is that I don’t get trolls at Mass! 😉

    • Stephen K says:

      Yes, Patricius. I think you are right. What you call “not caring” I interpret to mean “not getting het up about”. When we rage against different things we are ‘out of control’ and we are manifesting our insecurity at not being in control. It is a very hard thing for us humans to do: let go, and cease being a ‘control freak’. Violence is the sign of the latter, of covetousness and envy and fear. It does not mean that we are not called to defend the weak or right a wrong. But much of the outrage we often express over various things is petty, selfish, armchair and unfounded. Father Chadwick rightly points to the eremitic or alternative life and it often seems that it is in these the peace and calmness of inner stability is to be found. But it is not a habit or a monastery building that brings this about – the action takes place in our minds and hearts and our actions, hence we find calm people in all sorts of domestic circumstances. In fact, we find it inadvertently, Taoist-like, when we are immersed in what we love, whether woodwork, sailing, translating manuscripts, painting, gardening, reading, fixing car engines etc. It is in these moments we “forget” our self, and so the Spirit has room to enter. It’s food for thought.

  11. J.V. says:

    I found this post extremely interesting. There is a Western Rite Orthodox parish about a twenty five minute drive from my home. There is a good deal that interests me, although equal amount that concerns me. It seems there is a very fine divide between reacting to current events in the Roman or Anglican Church, and attempting to pursue the pre-Reformation and even pre-Schism form of Catholicism. I would like, however, to study a copy of their missal. In any event, I was interested in that option for a time. Recently, I’ve begun attending an Antiochian Orthodox Church. In the US, the Antiochian Church uses English for the liturgy – Arabic is used only for requested blessings. The Antiochian Church is lobbying hard for a patriarchate of North America (combining all of the Orthodox churches in the area). It is one of the Orthodox churches that is most active in trying to form a non-ethnic Orthodoxy in the US. They’ve seen the results – they are drawing converts, so, they believe it works. We’ll see. They certainly are the most welcoming and accessible community I’ve come in contact with.

    I’m sympathetic to any attempt to restore Catholicism, to revive models of liturgy and church that have long fallen by history’s wayside. I don’t know how possible such an endeavor is, really. I think, given the particular religious dynamics in the West, it could not happen without some substantial oversight. But from whom? The Pope? Not really? A Patriarch? Probably not. Hopefully, there will be something to get things together. Although there is the possibility I may migrate to the Antiochian Church, Catholicism (be it Roman or Anglican) has much to offer and much to teach although it needs to genuinely broaden its scope of Tradition. Pre-Reformation Catholicism would be a start, although I don’t think anyone with any “pull” is to eager to set to that task any time soon.

    As I type this, I wonder if I would be contemplating moving to Orthodoxy if Catholicism had some other option. If, for instance, the liturgy was modeled on Ordo Romanus Primus. I’ve always loved the bits and pieces of the early Western tradition. I just don’t see them ever becoming relevant. Western Christianity is locked into a certain mode of being; this mode of being may not be the earlier model of its more fruitful epoch, but it is the model which firmly established Roman, Anglican, Lutheran, and Protestant identities.

    • Responding to both JV and Patricius. There are two models of Christian life that are open to us. That of Fr Charles de Foucauld, with the warning that he was a military man with a very high degree of self-discipline and single-mindedness. The Trappists were too soft for him! Is there a possibility of another form of hermetical life for which people in more ordinary circumstances and more fragile physically and psychologically can be suitable? Fr Charles pushed things to the extreme, and his life might suggest that Christianity just isn’t possible for most of us. I have already cited the example of Bernard Moitessier, who, if he was a Christian, wasn’t a very orthodox one. He was a fan of Teilhard de Chardin and the spiritualities of the 1960’s, but he was a contemplative as the solitary seaman he was.

      The other possibility is a form of community life inspired by monasticism, but for ordinary lay people and their families if they are married. You can have either a totalitarian sect that goes “sour” as the guru loses his sanity – or some democratic type of leadership. Many of the charismatic “new communities” are run along these lines. But I don’t know of any such communities with traditional liturgies. I can see a danger if the community is too small – it doesn’t have “critical mass” and it is too fragile to survive internal conflicts.

      The best thing would be a community that has something other than religion as its “foundational meaning” but which is open to traditional Christianity and would have a church and a priest in its midst – and numbering not less than several hundred. This would be about the size of many rural villages in Europe. It could be financed by one or several cooperatives or “distributist” type organisations. But what protects the whole from early corruption, conflict and decay? Does any of you know such a community of “alternative living” that has worked and achieved stability? This is a genuine and not rhetorical question.

      Traditional Catholic Christianity too is tied to culture and the “integral” vision. Without this underlying fabric, it is a little like a painting without a canvas or music without harmony and counterpoint.

      At the same time, without some kind of fertile ground, traditional Catholicism (I’m not talking about the SSPX, etc. but a deeper understanding of tradition) is history. It has withered away and is no longer available to us, no longer viable or tangible. There is nothing to relate to. The pressure to give up is immense. We can either lapse into insanity and nihilism, or we can begin to do something to remove ourselves from the materialist and consumerist world.

      Ultimately, we have to give up on Europe and North America and move somewhere else – somewhere where the natives will accept us and be hospitable if we go to them in peace without wanting to sell them anything – just live among them. Moitessier tied up his boat in the Polynesian Islands and lived out his days farming and fishing.

      • J.V. says:

        The interesting thing, from a US perspective, is how many such attempts there are. In New England, there are a fair number of Catholic Worker communities, a few of which, in Central and Western parts of the state, have tried to establish a working relationship with some of the monasteries scattered in rural New England. In my area there are three Catholic Worker communities that have cultivated serious ties with the local Trappist abbey, creating some bridge between alternative community (on a small scale) and monastic liturgy….although, if you leave them to their own devices, the “home grown” liturgy tends to be…well, I suppose you can imagine. Nevertheless, there is an active interest in trying to figure out a way to expand the monastic model to include married laity and their families. These are experiments, true, but they are the only potentially viable projects. Given that, as a rule, most Catholic Worker communities are open to Anglicans, Lutherans and the reformed Churches, there is potential (if it had guidance) to rediscover a pre-Reformation Catholicism. Of course, they have their weaknesses which, if not addressed, will be detrimental. You get to the heart of the matter (If I understand you correctly) such an endeavor cannot be sustained by religion or religious fervor alone. It will need very much “nuts and bolts” economics, organization, planning and guidance. For coherency, it will need a solid monastic presence within the community.

        If you ever have the moment to read any of Morris Berman’s work, you’ll find a secular thinker who offers an intrigue scenario. Briefly, we’re living in the twilight of modernity.In his scenario as the arch of global capitalism begins to collapse under its weight, the remnants of the modern world will be held together by new monastic communities that, as their predecessors did with the collapse of Rome, carry on civilization. I can’t say I’m totally sold on his argumentation (it seems the last sixty or so years has been full of academics proposing such a scenario), although it’s interesting to read a secular argument in favor of new monastic communities.

        “It has withered away and is no longer available to us, no longer viable or tangible.” This is a positively crushing line to read, but probably accurate. Although, maybe something is possible if one accepts a degree of reconstruction.

      • The idea of capitalist-consumer society collapsing and being replaced by monasteries seems far-fetched. If the system goes down, there will be millions of starving people who will do anything to get food and organise gangs. We sometimes read about survivalism, but those people are not realistic. It would be like dreaming of surviving a nuclear war. Most of us will not survive. And nowhere in the world will be able to cope with millions of starving and desperate people.

        Islam and Sharia, etc. (cf. Afghanistan, Iran or Saudi Arabia) or Mafia-style organised crime at a big level (cf. Russia after Perestrioka and Glasnost). Feudalism. The Fourth Reich. Sorry, can’t be more optimistic than that.

        However, I did a Google search on scenarios after the collapse of capitalism – the Mad Max scenario is popular, together with the idea of grabbing guns, gold and beans, but by no means universal. There is also the frightening scenario that we have polluted and abused our world to such an extent that the game is really over – see Collapse of Industrial Civilization for a number of articles I can neither vouch for or deny on a scientific basis. Also see the trash vortex, an area about the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean consisting of indestructible plastic rubbish that kills marine life. This is not environmentalist propaganda but what this crappy “civilisation” is really doing to the world – and ourselves. For what? Ever more money.

        Money might still be everything for the foreseeable future, but we all have a sense that it can’t continue forever the way it is.

        Personally, I would try to sell as much as possible, buy a 40-foot yacht and go to the Polynesian Islands, perhaps Torres Strait, something like that – but there’s no guarantee. At such a stage, white people would be rejected, and probably rightly so. We sowed the wind… with our colonies.

        Just a few of us with “other” values and the perception needed to anticipate. In the end, we know where where we’re all going… God will provide.

    • Michael Frost says:

      J.V. I’d just encourge you to spend a lot of simple time with whatever local church you’re contemplating. Don’t rush in. Don’t expect perfection. Be realistic. Attend a lot of liturgies. Easily take in at least 6 months or more. Experience their liturgical cycle. Talk to the members. Listen actively. Ask questions. Get a feel for the community and their priest. Who they are and how they worship.

      Your thought–“I’m sympathetic to any attempt to restore Catholicism, to revive models of liturgy and church that have long fallen by history’s wayside.”–caught my eye. In my area there is a 2 1/2 year-old ROCOR WR mission. Their priest, originally ECUSA then French Orthodox Church before going ROCOR, uses their Gallican liturgy (“St. Germanus”). A liturgy that has been essentially “dead” for a thousand years. I found it to be rather artifical, more like a historical reconstruction that was divorced from ongoing living experience. It doesn’t seem like it is attracting anyone; they remain a tiny mission. (Gregory Dix’s thoughts on the Gallican liturgical tradition are interesting.)

      As for our Antiochian Western Rite, we use 2 liturgies. One is derived from the Anglican/ECUSA 1928 BCP tradition. The other from RC Tridentine tradition. For anyone familiar with either tradition, our liturgies should seem rather unexceptional. Just a bit more elaborate and detailed.

      • Dale says:

        Hello Michael, yes the rites as they have been printed in the “Orthodox Missal,” and especially in Lancelot Press BCP and the American altar Missal reprint are very nice indeed (actually, they are quite wonderful); and since I knew Fr Angwin personally, his work on the Anglican redaction of the Anglican Missal rite for the Archdiocese was a true labor of love for our tradition. Unfortunately, often the manner in which the rite(s) are used and presented is VERY byzantinized. More troubling is that the bishop who closed the western rite parishes in England and appointed the fanatically anti-western rite Abouna Hallam as dean is now the Patriarch. I do not see a happy ending.

        Now if the ROCOR would simply adopt the 1870 Overbeck rite with standard western rubrics, it would indeed be worth considering, but I have very little faith in that ever happening; what is odd, is that even when their Vicariate publishes their official western rites, the original Overbeck rite, simply the Tridentine with an, unnecessary (my opinion of course), epiclesis is never mentioned

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, Thankfully in my former long-term parish in Omaha, we’ve tried to stay true to the western liturgical tradition. Might’ve helped that my initial priest there had been a Lutheran pastor who later became an ECUSA priest before finally becoming Orthodox (and ultimately made Archpriest upon his retirement). Our current priest came from St. Mark’s in Denver, one of the former high points of Episcopal High Churches in USA.

        Personally for me, I find the greatest beauty in western liturgics in the simple Low Mass. I think the dignified simplicity brings out the inherent beauty of the western tradition. This may explain why I’m also a fan of classical Lutheran liturgics.

        But I do love high liturgies, too. I’m psyched for liturgy this coming Sunday at the local Anglican Church. I recently mentioned to the Archbishop, who is involved with hymn selection, that in the year I’ve been attending I’d yet to hear two of my absolute favorites from the classic 1940 PECUSA Hymnal: #276 (the great Lutheran hymn, Now Thank We All Our God) & #279 (Praise to the Lord the Almighty). Sunday he told me that both will be sung Sunday! I can’t wait.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, I forgot…You and Luther agree on the epiclesis issue. 😉

      • Dale says:

        Hi Michael. I also love low mass; it has a quiet dignity that, if the mass is properly celebrated, without ostentation or personality, has a joy all its own. Many of us, well a few of us, are old enough to still remember slipping into church on weekday mornings (and in those days it was really, really early in the mornings) to find a few, mostly older women, and the priest simply praying the mass…often so quietly that the singing of the birds could be heard through the walls of the building.

      • J.V. says:

        I no, no, no rushing in. I like the local Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral and I’m gravitating towards it. As for the Western Rite – I would like to study the missal to see how it transmits the Western tradition.

      • J.V. says:

        Why my first reply began with broken English is beyond me….

  12. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    Let me identify myself. I am Dale Crakes, a member of the AWRV since the early 90’s. I have been following WR Orthodoxy on the internet since 1995. I am a personal friend and research for the past and current Vicar Generals of the AWRV. I would like to correct or give my impression on a number of issues. Some of these continually reappear in various forms over the years.

    Ad Orientem said: “With respect to the Western Rite, Dale is mostly correct. ROCOR generally does not recognize any legitimate post schism liturgical or disciplinary development in the Christian West. And their Western Rite Vicarate is as heavily Byzantinized as Rome’s Eastern Rites have been Latinized. That is not however true everywhere. The Antiochian Western Rite Vicarate here in the United States has suffered comparatively rather minimal tampering with their rites and customs.”

    My response: The ROCOR WR Vicariate recognizes the Antiochian St Tikhon Usage Mass. This is a significantly corrected version of the BCP Communion service which removes any hint of Receptionism or other protestant eucharistic theologies. It also accepts the usage of the Matins/MP & Vespers/EP based on the English Office.

    Dale Griffith said: “Hello Michael, yes the rites as they have been printed in the “Orthodox Missal,” and especially in Lancelot Press BCP and the American altar Missal reprint are very nice indeed (actually, they are quite wonderful); and since I knew Fr Angwin personally, his work on the Anglican redaction of the Anglican Missal rite for the Archdiocese was a true labor of love for our tradition. Unfortunately, often the manner in which the rite(s) are used and presented is VERY byzantinized. More troubling is that the bishop who closed the western rite parishes in England and appointed the fanatically anti-western rite Abouna Hallam as dean is now the Patriarch. I do not see a happy ending.”

    My response: I know personally that Antiochian WR priests in some cases still include their personal preferences in their liturgical practice even though it is officially disapproved of. In some cases in the past this was in an attempt to use the WR priesthood as a back door into the ER. I would be surprised if the RWRV had not suffered the same devious behavior by priests. I know for sure that neither of these practices is approved by the Antiochian Metropolitan and his appointed bishop for AWRV and I am sure that the same is the case for those responsible for the RWRV. This is not to say that individual bishops may not favor the WR but the Patriarchs of Antioch and Moscow have in the past authorized the WR and their successors continue in this authorization.

    As to the details of the Antiochian/English I can state categorically that Dale Griffith in wrong about the closure of the Antiochian WR parishes in England. The Metropolitan at that time was Gabriel Saleeby, who was anti-WR, NOT Metropolitan John who is currently our Patriarch and favors the WR.

    Fr Bondi is a tonsured ROCOR sub-deacon. It is the practice I gather in Russian Orthodoxy for monks in minor orders to be referred to as Fr. Fr. Bondi has been appointed by ROCOR Metropolitan Hilarion as pastoral VG of ROCOR’s WR Vicariate. While Bp Jerome (Shaw) is the apostolic VG of the same.

    Fr Anthony Chadwick said: I posted my translation of Dr Mayer’s magisterial article from 2002 in Western Rite Orthodoxy.

    My response: I in no way would describe this as a “magisterial article” but rather would describe it as fatally flawed and putting any subsequent writings by Dr Mayer open to immediate doubt. I would categorize it as written by a person who had a negative opinion of the WR in Orthodoxy and cherry picked his sources from substantiating like minded sources. He spends the majority of his paper on the Orthodox WR in France which never was a success rather a hot house of rancor and ill will. I did a critique of Dr Mayer article back in 02 or 03 which if memory serves me correctly I posted on an earlier blog of yours Fr Chadwick. I may be in error on this but would be happy to post it now if it’s ok.

    • Thank you for your input. I have to admit that I have always found Dr Mayer’s criticisms of Western Orthodoxy unsatisfying even if cogent intellectually, but I am aware that nothing has ever compelled me to want to become Orthodox. The question for me remains academic.

      Yes, you can re-post your criticism of Dr Mayer’s article. Fair is fair.

      At the same time, I need to bow out of this conversation gracefully and leave it to those who are concerned about Orthodoxy.

    • Dale says:

      Hello Dale, you stated: “In some cases in the past this was in an attempt to use the WR priesthood as a back door into the ER.”

      The most recent parish to convert to the western rite in Antioch, Sts Peter and Paul, Hot Springs, Arkansas, has already adopted the Greek rite; so it is not “some cases in the past,” but is still very much happening.

      The priest of this parish now sports a very, very long beard and has declared that Orthodoxy is eastern.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, Sad about Sts. Peter & Paul. Web search shows the old links when they were WR Mission. But current Antiochian Archdiocese directory shows them “Eastern Rite”. But as I’ve always said, WR laity have to work really hard to maintain their identity and heritage! The natural currents work against them, so they have to be prepared to swim against the current. 😦

        Does make me think the initial line of defense is to choose an obviously Western saint as their patron. So easy to “convert” a Peter & Paul or Nicholas of Myra. And almost seems from start that they are ER? But Augustine? Vincent of Lerins? John Cassian? Benedict? And says a lot about who they are and where they came from when they are obviously choosing a Western saint!

  13. Fr Anthony, NY says:

    Dear Dale,(Griffith)

    We (the Vicariate) do not advocate the use of the spoon for communion. There is an Eastern priest who is not part of the Vicariate who runs a Yahoo group and who advocates all kinds of things that are truly not Western Rite practices as we understand them today. (Spoons, screens, cuffs etc.)

    However, Dale, I get it! You do not like the Western rite and the variety of rites that have been blessed for ROCOR-WR Vicariate. So, don’t attend them.

    But beyond your dislike of these liturgies there seems to be a lot of energy. What is that all about? Before the priest ascends the altar for the sacrifice he turns and bows to the people. Do you have a problem with that? It is an act of unworthiness on the part of a priest who is about to enter into the mysterium tremendans.

    You have posted much, my brother, about what you do not like…perhaps you can tell us what you do like?

    My phone conversations seemed to be respectful and pleasant with you. Yet I sense a different tone here. Why the anger?

    We are not perfect people. But we are trying to do something quite amazing. Do you realize that creating a way that Eastern and Western Christians can live together in the same Church in which that has not happened for a thousand years may be God’s will?

    If we do not do it well, why not pray for us…that we may do it better?

    Fraternally in Christ,

    Father Anthony
    New York

    • Michael Frost says:

      Fr. Anthony (B), I do think the “Dales” of the world serve a most valuable and important function. They challenge us in the WR to truly be both fully and authentically Western (historic, yet living W. Christendom) and Orthodox. That isn’t easy and it takes a great amount of constant work. It demands a most vigilant laity who are willing to stand up and protect their heritage. And he is absolutely right that there are people and forces within some EO communities that neither like nor want to co-exist with their WO brothers and sisters.

      So he may engage us with his jeremiads, but his words should be listened to very carefully indeed.

      (After looking over the St. Nicholas of Myra web site he referred to in his post above, all I can say is that I can’t tell at first glance that this parish is really WR. They don’t appear to look or act like my AWRO parish in Omaha. But our priest came fro St. Mark’s in Denver, a most historic home for traditional Anglicanism. And we’ve been constantly active as a parish for almost 25 years, including about 20 with our church proper.)

    • Dale says:

      Fr Anthony [Bondi], Actually, I do like and did academic research for my Candidatus on the original Overbeck recession of the Tridentine rite approved by the Holy Synod in the 1870’s…but that, very western rite, is not what is advocated by your group. And one is tempted to ask, if a convert priest were to begin to insert all sorts of western things into the Russian liturgy, what do you think would be the response? But the destruction of our traditions are not to be protested?

      I am always amazed that the Russian recreations of the “pre-schism” western rites all look very much like Holy Mother Russia.

      Dale Crakes, Bishop John supported the rejection of all applications for a western rite in England and did appoint Abouna Hallam: Here is what this abouna has to say about the western rite:

      “These are the reasons we don’t use the western rite(s) …

      (1) They are nothing more than the old American Prayer Book and a pre-Trent rescension of the Roman rite. Both are archaic, theologically deficient and poorly supported by seasonal mnaterial.
      (2) The unchurched in the UK are neither put off by nor attracted to ANY particular rite … provided it’s Orthodox in ethos. Those yearning for Sarum Redressed are a very limited constituency of existing Christians … not those who have not yet heard the gospel.
      (3) There is nothing alien about the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the vernacular. If it’s good enough for South Africans, the Innuit and the Japanese it arguably travels well and is good enough for us as well.
      (4) Redressing old western rites is an archeological exercise … it does not connect with a living rite right now.
      Who are “those who need it” beyond a certain shrinking class of former Anglicans who mourn the passing of the Prayer Book? That seems to me to be both an impoverished idea of evangelism (which means reaching those who have no acquaintance with the Christian Eucharist whatsoever) and a very uncertain strategy for helping former Anglicans to become Orthodox. The jolt to the system I think on the whole is rather good. This is definitely not “ole time relijun” in Orthodox dress.

      And yes, I am familiar with western rite material and it doesn’t come anywhere matching in breadth or scope what we already have.”

      When approached about the western rite in England, Abouna Hallam has categorically declared that the western rite is not on the table.

  14. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    Dale AWRV member I to took a look at the St Nicholas of Myra website and aside from the priest wearing a western chasuble there was absolutely nothing WR about it.

  15. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    Mr Griffith seems to reject facts. I repeat: “The Metropolitan at that time was Gabriel Saleeby, who was anti-WR, NOT Metropolitan John who is currently our Patriarch and favors the WR.” Saleeby was the Antiochian Metropolitan for western Europe and appointed Hallam. Here is a bio of Patriarch John. His Eminence Metropolitan John Mansour of Lattakia ordained John Yazigi a deacon in 1979 and a priest in 1983. As priest he served in the Archdiocese of Lattakia. Since 1981, he taught courses on Liturgics at the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology at the University of Balamand. During the periods of 1988-1991 and 2001-2005 he served as Dean of the Institute of Theology. In addition, he served as Abbot of St. George Al Humayrah Patriarchal Monastery in Syria. There he founded a monastic community and a school of ecclesiastic studies. He also served as the Abbot of the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery in the years 2001-2005. His Beatitude is the spiritual father of the Convent of our Lady of Blemmana in Tartous, Syria.

    In 1995, the Holy Synod of Antioch elected him as the Bishop of Pyrgou, an area called in Arabic Wadi An-Nasara or Al-Hosn. He served there till 2008 when he was elected by the Holy Synod as the Metropolitan of Europe. He was elected by the Holy Synod meeting in Balamand Monastery as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on Monday December 17th, 2012.

    • Dale says:

      Well, I suspect there must be quite a few western rite parishes under Antioch in England.

    • Dale says:

      Oh, and from June 17, 2008, he was chosen as the metropolitan of Western and Central Europe, and on August 19, 2010, his title was changed to “Metropolitan of Europe,” obviously he had no problems with Hallam or his anti-western rite attitudes; silence signifies support.

    • Dale says:

      Oh, it was indeed Metropolitan John who appointed Hallam, from Hallam’s own website: : “Metropolitan John, appointed me as Dean in his place and I was elevated in turn to the office of archpriest on my birthday, 19 June 2010. ”

      You, sir, owe me an apology.

  16. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    Since the Patriarch’s predecessor as Metropolitan of Europe had squelched the WR in England long before June 17, 2008 your “obviously” lacks any rational justification. You, sir, need to rethink your faulty logic. And by the way it was the first dean, Fr Michael Harper, appointed by Saleeby who was anti-WR and appointed for that very reason. Let the truth set you free set.

    • Dale says:

      Harper was appointed by Saleeby, both of whom were anti-western rite, but Hallam is fanatically opposed to the western rite as well, I even posted what he has to say about the current western rite used in your denomination, did you miss that? And he was appointed by Bishop John, and his attitude towards the western rite and its use in England were well known before Bp John appointed him…are you missing something here? If Bp John is so pro-western rite why would he appoint Hallam? A man who has consistently refused to consider any possibility of a western rite in England. Bishop John has also refused to consider the allowing the western rite in either France or Germany; I noticed you deftly refused to even admit that he was Metropolitan of all of Europe; which has NO western rite parishes at all.

      At least one thing you have written is true; the western rite in any Antiochian diocese can be overturned on the personal whim of whomever is bishop at a given moment. If a pro-western rite bishop is succeeded by an anti-western rite bishop, sorry…all western rite parishes must go Byzantine or leave…which is exactly what happened in England. I do not need to invent any of this…it is all true; regardless of the spin you are attempting to put on it.

      None of this is faulty logic, it is what has actually happened and continues to happen. Perhaps it would not hurt you to consider the truth. To attempt to portray the present Patriarch as pro-western rite is dishonest at best; and to resort to ad hominem against me is pathetic.

      I might add that I was personally involved with the original movement lead by Frs Michael Wright and Paul Lansley, both of whom were given, by Harper, Hallam and Saleeby, when they refused to reject our western traditions, their walking papers. Your take on all of this is less than honest.

  17. Dale says:

    Mr Crakes, you stated: “Saleeby was the Antiochian Metropolitan for western Europe and appointed Hallam.” This is not true, and your inability to admit the truth is problematic. Hallam was appointed by Bishop John, and his hatred, yes outright hatred, for the western rite was very well known, long before he was appointed. Please try to get some of your obvious untruths at least partially correct.

  18. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    You are correct I typed Hallem was appointed by Saleeby while in fact it was Harper. Harper was as anti-WR as Saleeby. By the time the current Patriarch of Antioch, John, was Metro of Europe the Antiochian WR in England was dead and for the rest of Europe it’s revival has never been a serious possibility. Your classification of the the Patriarchate of Antioch as a “denomination” is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of the original patriarchal Churches described as a denomination.

    • I don’t like to get into the crossfire, but a little etymology would be helpful. Denomination comes from the Latin denominare, meaning to “give a name to …” or “to call / name”.

      It is not strictly wrong to call any Church that has a name a denomination, whether it is a historic Church of Apostolic origin or a later community following, for example, Reformation theology.

    • Dale says:

      The actual “original patriarchal” church of Antioch is the Syaric, not the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is a usurper of the title instituted by the Byzantine emperors.

      • William Tighe says:

        You would be hard put to prove this of the Patriarchate of Antioch (although one can easily make such a case as regards Alexandria), since the Antiochene was more-or-less equally divided between pro-Chalcedonians, anti-Chalcedonians and “neuters” between the 450s and the 550s, and the “ethnic” divisdion between Greek “Melkite” Chalcedonians and Syriac “Jacobite” anti-Chalcedonians didn’t emerge clearly until the 550s. True, most of the Antiochene patriarchate was willing to go along with what I call “Henotikonism” from 482 to 519 (as was Constantinople, once Zeno reissued Canon 28 of Chalcedon on his own authority in 483, as well as, with more reluctance and continuing attempts to evade the issue, Jerusalem), while Alexandria was divided between the “official” church, which embraced Henotikonism as well, and the “akephaloi,” who insisted that nothing less than a formal repudiation of Chalcedon would do (the pro-Chalcedonians were a tiny minority in Egypt) — but from the 530s onwards it was split into two large groups (plus the “neuters,” who would follow whatever happened to be imperial religious policy).

    • Dale says:

      But one must also remember that much of this is indeed ethnic, and the first specifically ethnic Greek Patriarch of Antioch was Paul II (518-521); the true Syrian members of the Church, bitterly persecuted by the Greek Byzantines as were the Copts, date back far earlier and have preserved the ancient Syriac rite of the Patriarchate. The appointment of Greeks to the see were political appointees of the Byzantine state, as was the situation in Alexandria.

      One must also remember that for the Greeks for centuries their Patriarch of Antioch was simply a ethnic Greek, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, appointed by the Patriarch of Constantinople and not the emperor, and resided in Constantinople and not the Middle East, as is the present situation of both the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Jerusalem (although now the ethnic Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem does live in Jerusalem, the Greek Brotherhood makes certain that no Arab can be elected to this office), and the ethnic Greek Patriarch of Alexandria who follows the older tradition and lives most of the time in Greece. A “native” Arab Patriarch of Antioch only dates from 1898 when the last ethnic Greek Patriarch was deposed, and an Arab successor was elected in 1899 (this “palace revolution” was instigated by the Russians with the hopes of extending Russian influence in the Middle East). Until that time the Greek Patriarch seldom even lived amongst the Arabized members of his church residing mainly in Constantinople. Arabic also has only recently been accepted as a liturgical language in this Greek Patriarchate of Antioch. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch is not only indigenous, its Patriarch has always been a Syrian, and it has always employed the Syriac rite; it has never been a pawn of the ethnic Greeks or the Byzantine imperial state, so it would perhaps be even more difficult for the Greek Orthodox of Antioch to prove that they are the genuine inheritors of this apostolic see.

      Finally, most of today’s Greek Orthodox members of Antioch are not native Syrians, but Arabized descendents of the Greek communities spread out in the Middle East during the time of Imperial Byzantium.

  19. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    After one final reiteration of the fact that the current Patriarch of Antioch had nothing to do with the suppression of the Antiochian WR missionary effort in GB I’m signing off on this topic. However I was struck Fr by precision of your etymological comment and your subsequent use “Church”, “community” and “Reformation”. Questions of possible Implication and innuendo are the words that come immediately to mind.

    • Yes, I can see that certain words in the English language take on different meanings, and that denomination can be used in a derogatory way, to belittle or reduce to the same level as … or whatever. I don’t want to become involved in this dimension of the debate. I’m sure you understand as I’m not Orthodox.

    • Dale says:

      But he happily referred all subsequent inquiries about the possibility of a western rite in England back to Hallam…whose only response was that the western rite was not on the table. If Metropolitan John, now Patriarch, was so “pro-western rite,” as you have inferred (without one ounce of proof by the way), why would he appoint this man in the first place and why would he, knowing Hallam’s hatred for our tradition, then refer all questions about the western rite to him? You have not really adequately answered this issue. Met. John also received inquiries about the western rite in France and Germany and simply refused to deal with them at all. He seemed quite happy with the destruction of the western rite under Harper and Saleeby.

      The fact that Hallam could condemn the western rites as officially approved by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch as “theologically defective” (which alone is a very bizarre phrase, since in Orthodoxy something is either Orthodox or it is not) and suffer no repercussions and still be appointed as dean with full control over who is received or not received into your denomination is truly problematic; one can only conclude that his opinions are held by many in Antioch.

  20. Rdr. James Morgan says:

    Dear Fr. Anthony Chadwick:
    After perusing all the discussion here, I can see why you are not Orthodox! Makes me rather worried about stuff.

  21. Dale Crakes AWRV member says:

    Gee wiz what could one make of Constantinople under much or most of the Byzantine Empire and certainly under the Ottomans. It was probably pretty similar to that of the Papacy as it was periodically under various Roman families, European monarchs or the Holy Roman Emperor. Then of course there are the various “reformed denominations” which were by in large if not totally state churches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s