Saturday, October 07, 2006

Christminster: Western Orthodox FAQ

The living saint of Rhode Island, Dom James M. Deschene, has posted a FAQ on his monastery's website. It is valuable in many rights, but the following are some of the most FAQ we receive from inquirers at this blog. Rather than bungle the answers, I'll present those of Dom James:
How are you different from traditionalist Roman Catholics or Anglicans?

Very simply - but most importantly - we're Orthodox. We hold the ancient Orthodox Catholic faith in its fullness, in union with all Orthodox believers of east and west. We read and accept the Scriptures according tothe unchanging tradition of the ancient Church, the seven councils and theholy fathers. We remain - by the grace of God - free from the doctrinal dissension and moral deterioration that in our time have often plagued western Christianity in its various forms.

Traditionalist Roman Catholics often have concerns about papal authority. In some cases, they assume Rome has lost it and they alone have preserved it. In other cases, they assume that there can be no orthodoxy apart from the Roman see and its claims. Unfortunately, these groups - in common with modernist Roman Catholics -- have little appreciation of or use for Orthodoxy. (Pope John Paul II may be an exception here.) As Orthodox Christians, we are able to recognize the traditional role of the bishop of Rome as first among equals - but only when he and his church return to the faith and communion of Orthodoxy, renouncing false claims and invented doctrines (e.g., papal infallibility, Immaculate Conception, universal jurisdiction, etc.). For this reunion, we long and pray.

Traditionalist Anglicans are presently suffering a disintegration of the worldwide Anglican Communion - a dissolution precipitated over severalgenerations by erosions of traditional faith and morals and departures from traditional ecclesiastical order. Among these are the ordination of women,blessing of same-sex unions, and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. Again - by the grace of God - Orthodoxy remains blessedly free of these issues and concerns. Undistracted by these matters, we are able to focus onthe primary work of Orthodoxy which is the worship of God, the saving of our souls, and the proclamation of the Gospel in its Orthodox fullness and purity to all the world.

Inevitably, because we exist in a homely and familiar western liturgical form, we can be a haven for disenchanted and disenfranchised Roman Catholics and Anglicans (as well as other Protestants) who seek an Orthodox home where they will be welcomed and will truly feel at home.

It is our joy and mission to provide that home to those lost seekers. As converts ourselves, we know both the pain of leaving one's old church and the joy of finding the fullness of Christ's true Church in holy Orthodoxy - and finding there too those familiar western liturgical and devotional forms and traditions that have meant so much to us and are part of our heritage. But we believe very strongly that such seekers should come to Orthodoxy not merely on the rebound from an unsatisfactory church situation, but because they see Orthodoxy as the original Church of Christ, possessing the fullness of the apostolic faith and teaching.

How does Christminster compare to the western-rite in the Antiochian Church?

It should first be noted that we have excellent relations with theAntiochian western-rite vicariate, both with members of the clergy and with Bishop Basil and Father Paul Schneirla, its Vicar. In fact, some of our oblates (clerical and lay) are members of the Antiochian vicariate. Liturgically and ritually, our Liturgy is very similar (nearly identical) to their Liturgy of St. Gregory, though some of their parishes use the St. Tikhon Liturgy as well.

Our orientation is monastic where theirs is parochial, but we both provide avery open, "non-ethnic" and welcoming atmosphere to visitors seeking the authentic Orthodox faith in a western setting.

It is our hope that our good relations with the Antiochian vicariate will only deepen and mature as we seek to bring a living and dynamic Orthodoxy to an increasingly secular world.

What kind of music is used at the monastery?

We use mostly Gregorian and Ambrosian chants. Our psalmody is sung to tones in the traditional eight modes. Our hymns come largely from the 1940 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church, Hymns Ancient and Modern, the Westminster Hymnal, the St. Ambrose Hymnal, and from other suitable sources. At present we sing everything unaccompanied, but look forward one day to having organ music to enhance our worship.
He also relates the present structure is too small to accomodate any more vocations. Imagine square yardage preventing someone from joining an Orthodox Benedictine monastery. (Of course, one could always fly to Tasmania and join a Sarum monastery with another pastoral hieromonk; I think he has room for expansion.) Read the whole FAQ; then support Dom James in his ascetic struggle.



Blogger Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Reading back over several past posts(all the way back to Erica Seraphima's original)ireally appreciate the clarity on the Western Rite. However, Sarum/ROCOR/
Benedictine monks? I thought Sub-Deacon Benjamin said it was dead!
(Just a little jab SDB!)
I am one who loves Sarum and wish there was a WR-Sarum Use mission I could attend. St. Michael's is great
but I guess I am just an old archeologian or antiquarian or just
old.(Yes I ocasionally visit the local RC-Indult parish mass but it's
just not the same.)
Anyway, have a happy Lord's Day y'all and keep those cards and letters comin' in!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Matthew, why don't you contact Fr. Michael of St. Petroc's, or our friend Ari Adams?

God bless,

11:09 PM  

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