post #61 of 92
12/5/08 at 9:54pm
There are some differences in liturgies though - there is, for example, the Western Orthodox Church, which is a new thing, and seems to use what is essentially an Anglican liturgy that has been vetted for proper content. They tend to have a more Western style of music, vestments, and fasting. Some of them use statues.
As far as I can tell, some Orthodox people are very nasty about them, as they aren't really "Eastern". Although it seems to me that quite misses the point of claiming to be the True Church.
Bluegoat, there are multiple problems with the Western Rite (what you called the Western Orthodox Church), as it is properly called. There are two uses: one is essentially the Anglican service, with a stronger epiclesis, and the Filoque restored to the Creed, along with a few other things. The other use is an English translation of the Tridentine Latin Mass, also tweaked.
The problems stem from several issues:
1. There appears to be a great deal of "liturgical archaeology" - various bits of services are put together to make a whole. Also, there are missing parts of propers for various things. There is no Western Rite ordination service, for example. They are ordained with the regular Orthodox (Eastern Rite) service. No "Orthodox" (pre-Schism Western) liturgical has come down whole - with all services, propers, hymns, etc. There is one (I don't remember which - Mozarabic?) that has come down the most complete, but large portions of the liturgical bits are missing.
2. There are very large pastoral issues with regards to the laity (and some priests). I've had multiple opportunities to speak with a Western Rite priest, so I have this first hand. First of all, many folks are just fleeing the liberal Episcopalians, and there is some real question if they truly become Orthodox, or just want to be rid of the liberal Episcopal leadership, and keep all the Anglican liturgics, etc.
There simply aren't a lot of Western Rite parishes (these are virtually all under the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America). I've been told of not a few folks who convert in the Western Rite, but then move to where there is not a Western Rite parish. The folks are so attached to the Anglican liturgics, not the Orthodox faith, that they lapse and go back to the Episcopalians - they can't conceive of being in a standard Eastern Rite Orthodox parish.
I was at a Western Rite Orthodox "Mass" and funeral last year. I was raised Roman Catholic, and then spent 5 years as a mostly Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, before I became Orthodox 5.5 years ago. These services were held in a standard Eastern Rite Orthodox Church building (OCA), since the deceased was retired in the area and had been Western Rite in another state, so a lot of things were done to allow the person to be buried in the Western Rite (including getting permission from the local OCA bishop for a Western Rite service to be held in an OCA parish - the OCA has not, at least so far, allowed the Western Rite). The deceased was from a Western Rite parish that followed "Roman" use, so the Mass was, in parts, pretty familiar to me growing up as a Catholic. It was *mostly* in English, although some Latin was used (this is allowed in the Western Rite). But it didn't flow properly, iykwim? Things didn't quite fit together. I pay attention to liturgics.
I'm against the Western Rite - for the reasons I pointed out above. Many of the WR folks I've talked to cannot get over being Episcopalians. Being in a different rite (the Eastern Rite) has allowed me to put a great deal of distance between being Episcopalian and being Orthodox. It's totally different, from liturgics to music. The WR folks still have it there in their face. The ones I've talked to freely admit that they would still be Episcopalian, if the leadership had not gone so liberal. The Orthodox faith wasn't what so much what drew them in, as the chance to still keep Episcopalian/Anglican liturgics and be under a conservative leadership. It's more being "small o" orthodox, rather than being "Big O" Orthodox - at least with the ones I've talked to.
The Western Rite was basically aimed at dissatisfied Episcopalians in the States, at least as established by the Antiochians in the 1950s or so. I've heard proponents of the WR go on and on about the older (1928 Prayer Book) Anglican use / pre-Vatican II Catholic use are the "cultural memory" of Western Christians. Well, how many Catholics/Episcopalians are young enough to really remember this? None of my generation, that's to be sure - I was born in 1969. Orthodox priests I've talked to have also told me there are some serious theological concerns, but I've not had a chance to do more research into aspect of it.
So, someone can be against the Western Rite and have serious reservations about it, without being nasty about it.
Are WR churches in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church or are they a completely different church all together?
I'm not sure that I see a huge problem with item 1 that you mentioned. It is not, certainly, the normal way for a liturgy to develop. However, the Eastern rights can also not be traced in whole back to the very beginning of Christianity, and has not always held the same form that it does now. Now I know that some people think that Western rite Orthodoxy should, if it is going to exist, take a "whole" pre-schism western style rite, which I can see as a resonable solution, though it is perhaps a mistake to make a God of liturgy any more than a God of a particular musical style.
As far as the Episcopal converts, I am not at all surprised that this has been a problem. I can think of any number of ways to possibly address it, though I'm sure it would be impossible to reach everyone.
Yes, doing something very different liturgically would surely make it clear that you were in a different place. It can also be a danger - the problem of making what claims to be a universal church into an ethnic church, by confusing doctrine and practice. This, it seems to me, has been a larger problem for the Orthodox Church than converted Episcopalians who are not adequately serious. And then there are those people who never feel at home in that place, also a rather sad situation, or perhaps worse, those who are attracted because of it's exoticism.
I don't know the answer to this, but it seems to me that this is in fact a major issue in many Orthodox churches. So I suppose I wonder how much that is really what impacts attitudes to a Western style liturgy. This is a case where the Catholic church seems to take the call to universalism a little more seriously, and has very carefully defined what falls under doctrine and what under practice, and they have and number of different types of Catholic churches. Of course it has resulted in some rather nasty liturgics in recent years, although it looks like that may improve in the future.
Incidentally, I was told recently that most people that use the Western Rite were actually Orthodox before they started using that form of worship. Perhaps they just cause less controversy?
Bluegoat wrote: What would be the difficulty, for example, with using a more Western style of chanting in a Western right parish. There are lots of good existing examples, and they are, as you pointed out, easier to adapt to English.
I think when I was thinking of people not feeling at home, it was not so much a matter of being turned off. But rather, giving up a perfectly valid and good expression of religious faith, even when it is perfectly within the bounds of Orthodoxy. People do this of course, because they believe that the Orthodoxy part is more important than the trappings, which is undoubtedly correct. But it seems to me it is impoverishing rather than filling up, and shouldn't happen if it can be avoided.
The problem is that there has not been an Orthodox WR for 1000 years. The Anglican use (Liturgy of St. Tikhon) WR folks simply decided to use the American Episcopalian Hymnal 1940. Since there was no previously existing WR, they're pulling stuff from everywhere, and it's really questionable among Orthodox theologians if the WR folks have a coherent whole that makes any sense.
While the Western Christian style of worship is a "valid" form of liturgical expression, it's not Orthodox in that it's not existed in Orthodoxy for centuries.
You mention that the converts into ER Orthodoxy appear to have a constructed culture, but the WR folks really do seem to be consumed with a pre-schism nostalgia for the British Isles - Our Lady of Walsingham and all that. It's not so much that there focus is on that region, but there seems to be a conscious choice to ignore Eastern Christian saints/writers as a whole. They'll read Augustine and Ambrose and Bede, but can't be bothered to pick up Chrysostom, at all.