Thursday, October 30, 2014

Western Orthodox

One reader asked a while back what my opinion is of the Western Orthodox experiment started some time about a decade ago. The truth is I have no opinion other than that the project is probably aimed at Anglicans and those in groups outside of communion with one of the ancient patriarchates. Liturgically they are quite scattered: there is a Hellenized "Liturgy of St Gregory" (Tridentine Mass with Greek bits popped in), the "Liturgy of St Tikhon" (Tridentine Mass with the anaphora of St John Chrysostom swapped for the Roman Canon), and a Hellenized Sarum rite. Some publishing house called St Hilarion Press also produces less Hellenized Sarum texts that I own and occasionally consult, although there are differences (no prayers for the pope, no filioque in the Creed). In America the Russians and the Antiochians were the primary movers. The project has generally stalled in the USA, although there is a Western Antiochian parish in Fort Worth, TX, ironically named St Peter's. I am acquainted with one former Episcopalian who became Orthodox via the "Western" path, but quickly switched to the mainstream Byzantine Orthodox setting.

If any readers have comments about the Western Orthodox endeavor or any experiences to share, they are more than welcome. I have little to contribute on the topic.

15 comments:

  1. I knew someone who went Western Rite Antiochian because of his options in town: the aforementioned or a Greek Orthodox done 100% in Greek. For a Texan with no knowledge of Greek, the choice is pretty clear cut.

    Heck, the Western Rite might even be a good thing for them if they can clean up the liturgy and market it right. It could mitigate their ethnic problem.

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  2. RT, your description of the so-called Liturgy of St. Tikhon is incorrect. This rather strange liturgy is based on the 1928 BCP. It has been Orthodoxized by deleting the filioque from the creed. Since the BCP has no offertory prayers of its own the oblation prayers from the MR1570 have been added. The American Anglican canon is used, however, the non-juror epiklesis as found in the Scottish and American BCPs was considered insufficient and the Byzantine epiklesis of St. John Chrysostom was added. There is debate among Orthodox clergy concerning St. Tikhon's roll in the approval of this liturgy, some argue he had nothing to do with it.

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  3. I think the whole concept of western Orthodoxy is based on the idea that the west was 'Orthodox' before the Great Schism. But 'Orthodoxy' actually means Byzantine and Slave culture, and the west was never Orthodox in that sense. Western Christendom was always Western Christendom, with its Latin, rather than Greek, culture. I think you are right that so called western Orthodoxy is designed to appeal to Anglicans, who want valid orders, and recognition by an ancient Apostolic Church (no bad thing) without submitting to Rome.

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    1. Anglicans are precisely the demographic to which Western Rite Orthodoxy appeals. Although there are a few ex-Romans involved, most traditionalist Catholics carry the same papal baggage as their Novus Ordo counterparts, fully accepting the papal doctrines of infallibility and universal jurisdiction. Most will stay with Roman, continuing to make excuses for the various liturgical abominations, hoping the next pope will "see the light" and return to the old order. Hope springs eternal!

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    2. You also have the $$PX line, "We are more loyal to the pope than anyone, and that loyalty requires us to be disobedient."

      There was a point where that made some sense, as it conjures up images of Eomer's riders in The Two Towers. Problem is, they've been separate so long that they can't imagine being normalized.

      I'm still amused that the most violent "No, the pope can NEVER EVER be a heretic" argument I've been in was with an $$PX-er. It came complete with him yelling "Heretic! Collegialist!"

      Anyway, I've seen some things I like about Western Rite Orthodoxy, in theory. If they actually tried to understand what the Latin church was in the first millennium (liturgically alive and free, tons of local uses, healthy respect for the pope while not veering into papolatry), they could give the RC's a good lesson. I don't see it happening, but a man can dream.

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    3. I too have had conversations with SSPXers, indeed, they can be quite entertaining. Some actually believe what they're saying.

      Western Rite Orthodoxy has a chance of success if its members will cease kowtowing to the ethnics, declare themselves autonomous and go about the business of marketing their "product", all the while ignoring the objections put forth by the Easterners. "It's not canonical, it's schismatic, it's heretical....anathema, anathema!", all said with thick Greek, Arab and Russian accents.

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    4. I believe by "baggage" you mean "belief". I don't see how the mutilated "Western Orthodox" liturgy is any less an "abomination" than the Pauline liturgy, given that both have altered anaphoras and the introduction of extrinsic theological concepts meant to suit the the ideas of the men who concocted those rites. It seems meant for Anglicans who want to be Catholic without the Pope and the Chalcedonian Orthodox are willing to meet them halfway (but no further).

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    5. By "Baggage", he might mean papolatry (at least that's how I read it), but not necessarily the papacy in itself. The papacy is a necessary aspect of Christendom (look no further than the little hissy fit between the Jerusalemites and the Antiochians), but needs to be understood within its limits. We've had many posts on this subject here :)

      Martin free to correct me if I'm incorrect in my interpretation of his views.

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    6. Papolatry is precisely my point.

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  4. There is a Western Rite Antiochian Orthodox Church near my home in Virginia. While they are currently worshipping in a strip-mall location, they are building a nice church: http://www.saintpatrickorthodox.org/OurParish/NewBuildingProject.aspx. I drove by the construction site recently and saw that most the exterior work is now done.

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    1. Very nice! Looks more authentically Western Catholic than some of the structures where I live (they have been featured on this blog).

      They even call it Holy Mass. That's a god sign that they're at least trying.

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    2. This parish appears to be going in the same direction as many other "Western Rite" communities. The influence of Byzantium is quite evident. Oriental iconography in an Occidental church is very disconcerting. A traditional English Rood would be more authentic, tasteful statuary could be added when funds permitted. The problem with Western Rite Orthodoxy is that of identity. So many converts are willing to jettison a millennium of tradition, in order to prove to their new hierarchs that they have truly converted, by plastering the walls with cheap paper icons.

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  5. Rad Trad is right about WRO being really for ex-Anglicans ("wanting to be Catholic minus the Pope"), and Prior Martin's right about the "Liturgy of St. Tikhon" (slightly byzantinized American Missal, 1928 BCP-based) and about the byzantinization. Charley Larkyns best describes the whole thing. Online commenter Dale has pointed out the bait and switch; the Orthodox really want you to go Byzantine.

    WRO's been around in some form since the late 1800s, when the Russians OK'd a byzantinized Tridentine Mass for converts which wasn't much used. Then, in the 1900s, the Antiochians signed off on an orthodoxified BCP based on a Russian study when the Russian Archbishop Tikhon in America sent them a BCP for possible convert use, hence the liturgy named for him. The Antiochians and ROCOR are the only groups with WRO; ROCOR's version basically being "anything but recognizably Roman Catholic," all heavily byzantinized, from their versions of the Roman Rite and the Sarum Use to a cobbled-together Anglican fantasy service from various BCPs and the Non-Jurors.

    Never been to WRO but have met Antiochian WRO three times, knowing one priest slightly; nice fellow who basically wanted to be an old-school Anglo-Catholic rector and is living his dream.

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    1. P.S. ROCOR also wrote a heavily byzantinized version of the Gallican Rite.

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    2. Also, make that "met WRO three times, twice with Antiochian and once with ex-vagante newly ROCOR (new priest)."

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