Friday, February 21, 2014

The Eastern Un-Orthodox?

Generally the Eastern Churches out of union with the Apostolic See in Rome are orthodox, given that the meaning of "orthodox" is "right praise" and not acceptance of doctrinal precepts. Most all rites used outside of union with Rome are also used in union with Rome, so there is no point in calling the Greek Orthodox Liturgy schismatic.

However, not all Orthodox are orthodox, especially in the United States, where a quiet liberalism has festered for some time, although it is checked by the hardliners such as ROCOR. Above is an example of oriental liturgical liberalism which, honestly, strikes me as very much what the Roman liturgy looked like during the transitional years of the 1960s: theoretically the old, but with much new  material integrated, new material that pointed to a new direction. The readings are spoken rather than sung, the sermon is cut short so that a Churching of a Mother and Child may be done (supposed to be done outside Divine Liturgy, preferably after Orthros), and a "sign of peace"—complete with a priest waddling down the aisle looking for handshakes—is interpolated before the [spoken] Creed around the 49:00 mark.

While they are not Catholic, we ought not wish upon the Orthodox, or anyone else, what happened to us in the 1960s. And may God grant that this parish's praxis not influence future clergy.


  1. RT,

    In your estimation, could you rate the jurisdictions according to their Orthodoxy/Heterodoxy? Where do, say, the OCA, or the Greeks fall on the spectrum?

    PS - Recall I'm FSSP. I'm just curious.

    1. I can only speak of my own [narrow] experience with the Eastern Orthodox in the USA, but here it goes:
      -ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia): super hardline. Would re-baptize and re-ordain a valid priest if he became Orthodox. Strong emphasis on pristine liturgy.
      -Antiochian Orthodox: friendlier with other Orthodox groups than ROCOR, but less so to Catholics (exact opposite of their attitude in the Middle East actually)
      -Greek Orthodox: easy going and affable, generally sounds liturgically with the odd parish that has altar girls
      -OCA: generally middle of the road, but many liberal elements

      The non-Chalcedonian Orthodox (Armenians, Copts etc) usually are more guarded against various forms of liberalism in liturgy, perhaps because of the ethnic influences and language, but more open to things like birth control (again, just *my* experience).

      These are just generalizations. With the Orthodox, as with us, it's something of a crap shoot from parish to parish, although the differences liturgically are rarely as drastic as in the video above.

  2. I would be the first to notice liberalism within an Orthodox Church parish. I find your accusations of liberalism rather overstated, and unfairly harsh for the most part. Though I agree that your claims have some basis, I feel you are exagerrating the situation as worse than it is. If one watches the video closely they may form a more positive opinion of this particular liturgy.

    Taken as a whole, I would gladly take a 100 liturgies as presented in this video in exchange for avoiding one single generic post-conciliar mass in the roman church. (salvific as its sacrifice may be..)

    #1 their music while not of the highest most polished "profesional/lifelong cantor" quality is genuinely beautiful and uses the same settings heard in most greek orthodox churches in the USA. That is far more than we can say about any novus ordo.

    #2 the priest does not face the people and does not use a "new mass".

    #3 they do not actually shake hands, most of them truly do give a "kiss of peace" in the ancient fashion. Even the priest when he holds out his hand, it is for kissing NOT shaking. The only error in their "kiss of peace", is that they are talking too long during that time period. This is probably what led to the kiss of peace being abandoned in both byzantine and roman rites a long time ago, it can if not done well, lead to commotion. However, the oriental orthodox liturgies from egypt and syria which I have attended also have a kiss of peace in the traditional manner, on the cheek or with hands touching (an indian custom) in both instances it is brief, short and without undue noise. They are the only churches I have attended that provide a solemn reverent kiss of peace that blends in seemlessly with the liturgy without detracting ones attention from it. I suspect that within this church the kiss of peace was reintroduced, and is not being managed as well because it is not coming from age old living tradition.

    Now I will agree with you partially.

    I have never attended abyzantine rite that squeezed the churching into the liturgy etc, you are right that it is done outside it at the end of the eucharistic liturgy or some other time, but I think this is an error that can be overlooked and corrected overtime.

    It is true that their church architecture with it's barn shape and sometimes barren walls is not traditional. However, unfortunately a number of Greek Orthodox Churches on the west coast are known for rather strange architecture features, still most retain more stunning examples of traditional elements thrown into the mix that tend to soften the otherwise noticeable peculiar architecture of the building itself. Basically bizarre architecture is not unusual on the West Coast of the USA even in many Orthodox Churches, still at least they are not iconoclastic.

    I want to also add that all instances of altar girls have been stomped out within a year or two by every orthodox bishop in the united states that I have noticed. Their are enough "watchdog" types in the USA who make certain of this. I believe the more serious altar girl problems are amongst the Orthodox diaspora within Western Europe, say Germany for example. And even there...not common, but it has been known to occur (with great protestation).

    Liturgically, I think that the case against the Orthodox Church on the whole, being liberal novelty minded remains extremely weak.

    Morally, eccesliologically, criticize all you like, but no Church in the world has the liturgical consistency of the Orthodox, for that is the very essence of who and what this Church is.
    Let not one parish that is not as absolutely ideal as possible dissuade you from thinking it is headed in a post-vatican II direction.

    No worries mate!

  3. P.S. You have too much free time!