Friday, May 05, 2006

The Monastic Diurnal and Western Rite Hours

Considering we just commemorated an Orthodox Benedictine monk, it's also an excellent time to answer this question from the mailbag.

Q: Is it true the Antiochian Western Rite hours (Matins, Vespers, etc.) are "throughly Protestant," simply the BCP rite, and recognizing this, the Antiochian WRV has "recently" appointed the Monastic Diurnal as an ad hoc stop-gap?

A: No, in its entirety. I've dealt with the charge of the alleged "Protestantism" of the Liturgy and hours of St. Tikhon here. As I wrote, no Protestant would be comfortable with the Marian devotions customary at our parishes, our iconography, nor our Orthodox theology. And even the bare BCP -- as distinct from our Antiochian Tikhonite hours -- largely collated the medieval church's hours (Matins and Lauds into Morning Prayer; Vespers and Compline into Evening Prayer), streamlining them for lay participation -- originally in a parish setting (daily), then later at home.

More importantly, the Monastic Diurnal is not a "new" observance: it has always been an authorized prayer book of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate. (To be fair, I do not know what Hours were prayed by the very first WRO in America, in 1927-33. However, I strongly suspect it was the MD or another Roman form.) Since the Liturgy of St. Tikhon was not celebrated in the AWRV until 1977, it should be obvious the Tikhonite hours were not used before then, either. The Church's ancient Benedictine services were the exclusive use before that.

Benjamin Andersen sent an informative historical note about this very situation recently. I'm glad to give him "a blog from beyond the cyber-grave":

The religious order which was received into the Antiochian Church and became the Western Rite Vicariate (in 1958), the Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, used the Oxford MD [Monastic Diurnal] as its official office book. Ever since, as I understand, the Monastic Office [Breviarium Monasticum - BJ] has been the standard for clergy (even married clergy) for their private recitation, and the standard in our Roman (Gregorian) Rite churches for public celebration.

With regard to the use of the MD according to our Orthodox guidelines,

(1) We are to recite it in accordance with our version of the Western church kalendar...and the current Paschal calculations of the Orthodox world.

(2) We are avoid expressions of certain controversial doctrinal issues, such as the Double Procession of the Holy Spirit (e.g. we have a slighly altered sixth verse of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, appointed for Vespers on Pentecost).

Otherwise, the Antiochian Church regards the Benedictine Divine Office to be fully Orthodox, especially since it's essentially what is set forth by Our Holy Father Benedict (a saint high esteemed by both East and West) in his Rule, and used by many Saints and countless pious monastic souls long before the tragic schism.

We're eternally grateful, Subdeacon Benjamin. (I hope the blog wasn't too indelicate a hint.)

Clearly, the source of this question is confused about the Western Rite in general, or an inaccurate source of information. Thank you for the chance to clear this up!

Got questions? Got myths? Send 'em my way.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Possible Convert

National Review writer Rod Dreher, of "Crunchy Con" fame (or infamy, depending on your POV), announces he is considering conversion to Orthodoxy. "Grant it, O Lord, grant it!"

(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)

Am I the Only One...

...who is a little unnerved at the way the female half of EWTN's Bob and Penny Lord ends their broadcasts by intoning, "We luuv yoou"? It's not the sentiment so much as the tone of her voice....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dom Denis Chambault, Pray for Us

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." -- Psalm 116:15.

Dom Denis Chambault was translated to glory on May 3, 1963. As Superior of d’Alleray Priory in Paris, Dom Denis (formerly "Lucien") cared for all the souls who came seeking advice or his charismatic gifts. (He was "an acknowledged healer" for the last 17 years of his life.) In addition to maintaining the traditional Benedictine life and hours, he served the ancient Roman rite Liturgy of St. Gregory (the so-called "Tridentine Mass"). His devotion and reputation attracted a following throughout the French capital, and he remains today an uncanonized saint.

Although a Frechman, this holy man played a pivotal role in the development of the Western Rite in North America -- a work that continues today. After having visited Dom Denis during a trip to Europe, current Vicar-General of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate Fr. Paul Schneirla was so impressed by the beauty of these services that he inquired about the Antiochian Patriarchate's view of the Western Rite. Metropolitan ANTHONY (Bashir)'s letter asking for elucidation reached the patriarch. To Fr. Schneirla's joyful surprise, the patriarch immediatley authorized the Western Rite.

The AWRV and Christminster Monastery carry on in the spirit of Dom Denis, and all his children happily commemorate him today. Until he takes his place among the saints connected to the Western Rite, may he ever intercede for us. Ora pro nobis!

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Liturgical Anonymous

Over the last century many support groups have arisen for substance abuse, alcohol abuse, and other addictions. But until now one much needed organization was missing. What about liturgiholics who abuse the liturgy? People drunk on power to change the liturgy in their parishes to their own visions divorced from liturgical history have had nowhere to turn to. That is until now...Many liturgical addicts deny they have a problem and will often brow beat those who complain about their "little changes" to make the liturgy more relevant and more oriented to the people...Once a liturgical change addict admits they have a problem they are ready for Liturgical Anonymous. My name is [Insert Name Here] and I am a liturgical abuser.

Welcome. You are on the road to recovery.

Read the whole hilarious post here.

(Hat tip: York Forum.)


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Shudder. Double Shudder.

Romania Legalizes Witchcraft.

Mikhail Gorbachev of Green Cross Intl. Addresses the World Council of Churches.

(The Antiochians led the way on getting out of the NCC. What can we do to extricate ourselves from the WCC?)