Thursday, May 25, 2006

The True Extent of the Russian Decrees

The Russian Orthodox Church that examined the Roman Mass and the Book of Common Prayer actually granted much broader latitude than is generally mentioned.

1. Roman. When the Russian Orthodox Church first approved a Western Rite liturgy in 1870, the resultant text was a barely modified form of the 1570 Missale Romanum. Dr. J.J. Overbeck (ora pro nobis!) publicly pressed for only four textual changes to the "Tridentine" Mass: adding the Trisagion immediately after the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, which "was to be said twice in Greek and once in the vernacular"; removing the filioque; ending the elevation at the Words of Institution; and substituting the epiclesis from the Mozarabic Missal for the Supra quae propitio. (The Russian Church wisely retained this prayer, interpolating a Byzantine epiclesis into the Supplices te rogamus.) [1] One need not agree with all of Dr. Overbeck's ideas -- the Russian Church Herself ultimately did not -- but his proposals at the modern origins of Western Rite Orthodoxy merit discussion.

What's really interesting is: Overbeck appears not to have demanded a different translation of the English word "merits" whatever.

Moreover, on another front Richard J. Mammana Jr. presented this text online as "The Divine Liturgy according to the Western Rite, Permitted for use by The Synod of Bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia." This Mass is substantially the so-called "Tridentine" Mass with fewer alterations than Overbeck's. It has no rubrics, so it's not clear if the elevation is retained, but an elevation is present in other ROCOR WRITEs. In addition to omitting the Trisagion, this text lacks Byzantine pre-communion prayers. So, as far as the Russian decrees are concerned, "merits" is not necessarily a stumblingblock, and the Western pre-communion prayers are sufficient.

2. Anglican. Not only did the "The Russian Observations Upon the American Prayerbook" set forth precise guidelines for the adaptation of the Anglican communion liturgy for Orthodox use, but it also approved far more of the Book of Common Prayer than is currently used within WRO. Although the statement required modifications be made to "The Order for the Holy Communion" and Matins/Vespers -- modifications Antioch and ROCOR have made in full -- it also approved entire sections of the BCP (the 1892 Prayer Book, at that) without any alteration whatsoever:
There is nothing noticeable which is open to objection the dogmatic side in the "Prayers and Thanksgivings upon several occasions" which are contained in the American Prayer Book [1892 BCP], being partly common to it and the English book, and partly peculiar to it alone...The same may be said of the services placed after the rite of burial:—The rite of the Churching of Women, Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, A Form of Prayer for the Visitation of Prisoners, A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the Fruits of the Earth in Autumn, Family Morning and Evening Prayers.
In other words, not only could this liturgy and hours be adapted without fear of being labeled "Cranmerian/Protestant," but these sections could be prayed as-is. (The document also provided guidelines for the revision of yet more 1892 BCP services, e.g. the Ordinal, but these have not, to my knowledge, been undertaken.) This allowance is often overlooked when discussing the WRO.

Note: This post has been updated.

On another note, Dr. Overbeck also asked for "The Horae canonicae to be purified from Romish stain; and to be said in full length by the Regular Clergy (Monks), but 'ritu paschali' by the Secular clergy." This should answer the question on this blog: can a secular breviary be approved for WRO? (Fr. Jack Whitbrock, Antiochian W. Rite priest of New Zealand, has compiled an Orthodox revision of the Missale Romanum.)



Blogger Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks for the link to Russian Observations on the American Book of Common Prayer. I agree with these observations, especially concerning the tranformation of the Bread and Wine and the benefits for the dead. I have come to appreciate Orthodoxy's fuller understanding of the Eucharist as standing both in and outside of tie and therefore beneficial to both the living and the dead.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Andersen said...

Also, oddly, Overbeck added the Trisagion into the Roman Mass, as a "memorial" of the reunion with the Eastern Church.

I've seen two different accounts of what kind of epiclesis he interpolated: some sources suggest that it was the Byzantine epiclesis; others suggest that it was an old Mozarabic epiclesis. I'm still not clear as to which it was (IIRC, there's a copy of the Overbeck Mass in the University of Chicago library?)

Also, Overbeck removed the rubrics about the elevations at the Words of Institution. This is reflective of the old Latin / Russian polemics about the "moment of change."

3:18 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

As always, Subdn. Benjamin has the story! Thank you.

From all I've seen (at least from his own writings), he wanted to use the Mozarabic epiclesis, but all the texts I've seen of an approve Gregorian liturgy have a Byzantine epiclesis.

His comments on the elevation rubric were an interesting polemical moment, but I didn't mention them since they didn't affect the text itself. I don't know this rubric of his was ever followed?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Jean-Michel said...

and the decreet of Moscow for France
ukaz 1249, 16th june 1936

but I can't find an English ensured translation of it. Anyone has it?

for the epiclesis, I have never understood why so much trouble. Saint Nicholas Cabasilas has checked the issue and found that it was simply a "reverse" epiclesis used in the West after the Schism, but a real one anyway. So I don't see why "restorations" using Roman Rite find the need to change what was correct.
Enfin, that's not my business :-)

btw, If I could also have the link for the real Overbeck Mass, this interests me too.


7:16 AM  
Blogger Jean-Michel said...

btw, does anyone have a picture of Joseph J. Overbeck?

1:37 PM  
Blogger Fr. John said...

Praise GOD I have found your blog! I have been "walking in the snow, my eyes blinded by so much wind and noise," thinking I was alone in my desire for an Orthodox WR that is vibrant, living, and fully the EQUAL of the St. John Chrysostom rite.

I knew the Antiochians had their own group, but it is nice to find a blog that is not 'officially tied' to one or the other, as it were. I look forward to 'reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting' what is on this site!

7:16 AM  

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