Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bp. Grafton on Orthodox-Anglican Reunion

Bp. Charles C. Grafton of Fond du Lac.

As certain Continuing Anglicans continue to indulge the fancy that discussions with Rome will somehow result in their being allowed to maintain Anglican traditions without absorption into the Papacy, they may want to heed the words of their heroes, Bp. Charles C. Grafton of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He, a lifelong Anglo-Catholic, experienced the bitter disappointment of watching similar dreams of unity with Rome dissolve, and he wrote:

But while this is so, there are brightening prospects in the East. Thither, it would seem, God's providence is directing us. The venerable orthodox Russian and Greek Church is turning to us with friendly expressions of interest. She says, "We do not ask you, as Rome does, to 'submit' we only ask, 'Do you hold the same Catholic faith we have inherited from the Fathers?' If you do this, we are brothers." When we consider that the East has been but little affected by the schoolmen, and had not to pass through the convulsions of a Reformation, and has for nine hundred years borne consistent witness for the faith once delivered, and against Roman errors, Anglicans should be willing to free themselves from their prejudices and somewhat self-conceit, and listen to her kindly words.

The Church, indwelt by Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, is a living organism, and we may trust the Voice of God speaking through her before she was rent into Eastern and Western divisions. The Voice of God speaking to the churches is not confined, as some Anglicans seem to think, to any particular centuries. But in the seven Ecumenical councils we have the Voice of the Spirit and in the seven holy mysteries, the means of grace.

The question presenting the most difficulty has to do with the Filioque. There is no difference in belief between the Anglican communion and the venerable East on the doctrine of the Filioque, but without Ecumenical consent it has no right to be in the Creed.

May God inspire the wise men of the Church to solve the difficulty. Each church in the case of restored intercommunion would retain its own independent government and liturgy. Anglicans and Easterns must be content with agreement in the ancient faith,--not in the uniformity of its outward expression. While the faith is unchangeable, the Church, as the bride of Christ, has been led to follow her Lord's life, and sometimes has been more absorbed in devotion to His incarnation, sometimes to His passion. The faith abides from age to age; but ceremonies and practices of devotion are the fresh outcome of the Church's love. The East and the West have their own ceremonial traditions, and the differences existing should not hinder the restoration of Christian recognition and fellowship.

Bp. Grafton is not necessarily a hero of mine; he did not respect the Russian Church when it took in Fr. Joseph Rene Vilatte (after Vilatte abandoned Utrecht and Grafton but before he abandoned us and the "Jacobites"). Nor do I agree with all he had to say. But he had been down this road before, and his words above may prove a guidepost for Anglo-Catholics on the journey today.

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Let the Western Orthodoxy Take the Strain"

Our friend Inquisitor Generalis pointed out this toy: The Advertising Slogan Generator. Put your name in, and it crafts an advertising slogan for you. This is what we got.

Sounds like certain ex-bishops took this slogan too closely to heart....

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Continuing Anglican Bishop Converts to Western Rite Orthodoxy

Bishop Robert F. Waggener (in the middle, for our ECUSA friends).

Bishop Robert F. Waggener will trade his bishop's mitre for a priest's biretta in the Western Rite.

Bishop Waggener, who until recently served as bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross, has become the first Continuing Anglican bishop to convert to the Antiochian Orthodox Church's Western Rite Vicariate.

Fr. Michael Keiser will receive Bp. Waggener and his parishoners at Christ Church of Lynchburg, VA, as catechumens on March 5. Deo volente, Bp. Robert Waggener will then be ordained to the priesthood within the Orthodox Church.

Bishop Waggener and his congregation have truly expressed their desire to attain Christ above all, joining themselves to His Holy Church. All have chosen to lay aside their titles, leave their church homes, and temporarily do without communion (very temporarily, we hope) in order to enter the Ark of Salvation. God will surely reward their zealous self-sacrifice.

Our thoughts and prayers are with His Grace and his congregation during this time of preparation. Some doubted this day would ever come about, but this should prove to our critics that the WRV is highly attractive and effective as a missionary tool. Deo gratias!

"O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance."


Ten Books Meme

Thanks to Huw for tagging me with this: What ten books would you want with you if you were shipwrecked on a desert island? They "spot" you a Bible (Douay-Rheims in my case), and you must name the remaining 10 volumes. My answer? Easy: I'd take my laptop and burn my library onto 10 disks...OK, seriously, this is harder than you think, but here's my list:

1. The Orthodox Missal
2. Monastic Diurnal
3. St. Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter
4. The Rule of St. Benedict
5. Forty Gospel Commentaries - Pope St. Gregory the Great
6. Commentary of on the Seven Catholic Epistles - The Venerable Bede
7. Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holydays and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year - Fr. Leonard Goffine
8. The Philokalia (Vol. 1, if I'm limited)
9. The Mass - Fr. Adrian Fortescue
10. Seeds of Contemplation - Thomas Merton (NOT to be confused with the hideous revision of same, The NEW Seeds of Contemplation. For the record, I'm not an adorer of Merton, but the original Seeds can be read with limited caution.)

Honorable Mention: The Deification of Man: St Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition -- Georgios Mantzaridis. If I have to include a secular book, it would probably be Right Reason by William F. Buckley Jr., or another collection of his columns.

Four people I'm tagging:
1. Eric John.
2. Fr. John Fenton.
3. Michael Astley.
4. Inquisitor Generalis.

Incidentally, I started a similar thread on York Forum some time ago; this is a subject on which I enjoy getting feedback. My wallet hates it, though. What did I forget?

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Pro-WRV Greek Orthodox

To give another view of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's outlook vis-a-vis the Western Rite, the wonderful Met. ISAIAH of Denver published a pro-WRV in his diocese (in the Diocesan News for Clergy and Laity in February 1995). Of particular interest is his conclusion:
The Western Rite has proven to be an excellent missionary outreach in the Western World to those who seek the purity of Orthodox Faith, yet are uncomfortable with the oriental character of Byzantine Rite Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, people of either Rite worship together and the clergy may, with episcopal permission, concelebrate.

The properly Baptized and Chrismated members of parishes who use these liturgies and are approved by Metropolitan Philip are Orthodox Christians, and are welcome to worship in parishes within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and to receive the Sacred Mysteries.
His Eminence is also known as being on the cutting edge of Goarch on using the English language and welcoming converts into his parishes. He seems like someone worth heeding on this matter, if you ask me.


No, the REAL Criticisms of the Western Rite

So, I leave for a week, and all Tartarus breaks loose. Eric Jobe comments on our own page that we're somehow dodging the real Byzantine case against the WR, then Perennial Rambler let all WRO have it. (I'm told; his post disappeared before I got the chance to see it.) Perhaps before I move on to new material, I should tie up loose ends.

Thankfully, Ari has dealt with PR's old post; it should have also dealt with Eric's concerns. To give my own two cents:

Eric says we WRO spend too much time "trying to prove the [historical] validity of the WR," but we "seldom" spend any time "actually addressing the concerns that are brought up by its detractors." He cites opposition "primarily characterized" by three people: Met. Anthony of San Francisco, Bp. Kallistos Ware of Diokleia, and Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann. Of these, only one took an unwaveringly anti-WRV position throughout his life, and only one is still living on this terrestrial coil.

The late Met. Anthony (Gergiannakis) of SF, who went to his eternal reward in December 2004, focused his concerns precisely on the "historical validity" of the WRO. Fr. John Connely answered the late bishop's concerns at length in his paper "Lux Occidentalis."

As Ari pointed out, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann had taught at the Western Rite seminary in Paris employed by L'ECOF students. Fr. Schmemann criticized a 1958 article by Fr. Paul Schneirla in The Word, but later the same year he joined Fr. Schneirla as a member of the original Western Rite Commission -- along with eminent Byzantine theologian Fr. John Meyendorff and Fr. Stephen Upson. Subdn. Benjamin Andersen noted, "[Fr.] Schneirla recalls [Fr.] Schmemann’s work in particular as being key, as he was familiar with the Liturgical Movement within the Roman Catholic and Anglican communions. Schmemann was particularly instrumental in joining together the separate Rites of Initiation of the Rituale Romanum – Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion – into one unified rite, according to the Orthodox understanding." Presumably, whatever concerns he harbored beforehand vanished during his work with the WRV Commission, as one does not usually promulgate ritualistic norms he hopes no one will ever use.

As for Bp. KALLISTOS, his latest statements on the WR don't match those in the first volume of The Orthodox Church, then written merely by "Timothy Ware." In the original edition, he lauds the idea of the Western Rite and seemed specifically enamored of the French Orthodox approach. By the time he issued his latest revision of The Orthodox Church, which contains 1-2 critical sentences about the idea of the WR, the attitude of his jurisdiction had changed toward L'ECOF. The WRV consciously chose not to duplicate their path. Bp. KAILLISTOS further states he is speaking only of timing, only concerning his native land (Great Britain), and he is only dimly aware of the practices of the Antiochian WRV in North America. However we -- and the many jurisdictions who have accepted the WRV -- may disagree, everyone is entitled to his own opinion; one is not entitled to his own facts, as Met. Anthony, Erica, and all (not some, nor even a few) of our current detractors wish to be.

One bishop does not "the Church" make; on the other hand, the Patriarchates of Antioch, Russia, Alexandria, Romania, ROCOR, possibly soon Serbia, multiple saints, and more than a millenium of shared Church History rather do.

If you are interested in "empirical evidence" about what it's like to worship in the Western Rite, let me give you a very Orthodox response: taste and see. Pray with us, join in the Gregorian chants with us, recite the ancient Western Orthodox prayers with us at every Mass, then "taste and see that the Lord is good." In addition to the abundant, verifiable "empirical evidence" proving the "validity of the WR," the Western Rite is also self-authenticating. Many, many Byzantines who have visited our churches have come to appreciate our practices, just as we appreciate theirs when we are traveling. If you want to get firsthand accounts of other people's reactions to the WRV, come and have your own, then you will understand something of the experiences our lifelong, faithful parishoners have. Like those Byzantine followers before you, you will find people happy to be Orthodox and overjoyed by their participation in these glorious liturgies approved by the Church.

None of which will matter to our hardcore detractors, motivated by misinformation or other concerns, though they are thankfully a minority. But they will not be able to misinform those who have personally experienced the WRV.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I'm Baa-aaaack!

Sorry, I took an unannounced hiatus of my own. Rest assured, I've missed speaking with each of you more than you've missed reading me. But I'll have most posts shortly.