Saturday, May 27, 2006

Echoing St. Columba

At the risk of debasing St. Columba's stirring call, contrasted to the spirit of vainglorious title-seeking, I dare add the few poor thoughts that have occurred to me.

St. Columba's prayer bears the spirit of humility that must animate us all. God has established His Holy Church, the least member of which, according to Her divine Founder, is greater than "the goodly fellowship of the prophets" and St. John the Baptist, the greatest man born of woman (St. Matt. 11:11; St. Luke 7:28). Guarding the smallest, darkest door therein is of greater significance than leading whole "dioceses" attempting to simulate what occurs (and can only occur) within the Church. Although the Bride realizes there may be those "united to Her by ties which God has not willed to reveal to Her," the Church speaks forthrightly about where She is; if you believe the Orthodox Church's faith and ecclesiology, this is where you belong.

The Christian life demands the continual crucifixion of self-will, even for those who wish to do what the Church does. This is more true for those using such faculties to instruct the Church what She should be doing. If one feels a call to the ministry -- and it is legitimate -- one should pursue it with a determination to submit to the mind of the Church. This means accepting discernment as a process, not a way station to a foreordained end. If you have faith in God, have faith He will guide this process. If such a call is blessed, one should be able to find a vocation within some part of the multiplicity of canonical Orthodox jurisdictions and overlapping hierarchies present in the diaspora. If not, will you long preserve peace of spirit elsewhere, when your conscience constantly testifies you should be a member of the Orthodox Church? Will you be better off without the ministrations and comfort of the Church to Whom, in heart, you are already united?

It is merely my own humble belief that it is best for those who love Orthodoxy to join the Church that, in communion with Her Head, "Christ may dwell in your hearts...that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God," regardless of what titular station He may have for you.


St. Columba's Spirit

Our friend Ari Adams offers these words of St. Columba as a spiritual corrective to the mindset of the vagante social climber:

Almighty God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
to me the least of saints,
to me allow that I may keep even the smallest door,
the farthest, darkest, coldest door,
the door that is least used, the stiffest door.
If only it be in Thy house, O God,
that I can see Thy glory even afar,
and hear Thy voice,
and know that I am with Thee, O God.

"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." -- Psalm 83 (84): 10.

(Posted on Ely Forum)


Friday, May 26, 2006

The Song of the Vagantes

This is an uproarious poem published several years ago:

The Song of the Vagrant Dream

I'd like to be a vagante (episcopus that is)
And wear the tallest mitre that ever was or is,
Or grow an Elder's whiskers with a mighty Eastern crown
And whisper a troparion whenever I was down.

I'd like to be an Eminence and always wear mozettas,
And have those little tassels for the red hat on my letters,
Or call myself Catholicos and wear a tall white hat
Perhaps alternate Thursdays when things were rather flat.

I'd like to be a Primus with rochet and chimere,
And steal into St. Paul's whenever I was near,
Or start up correspondence with some great man in power,
So I could feel important whenever things went sour.

Oh, whenever the weather is less than clever,
Or I leave the wrong side of the bed,
Or I finally realise for certain that never
Will the Pope send a hat that is red.
I dream and I dream
Of a title that seems
To realise my true destination,
And mounting majestical sanctuary steps
I find with the greatest elation
A throne set on high
With an Archbishop nigh
And surrounding presbyteral assistants,
Beside all of which
In stall, bench and niche
The choir with melodic persistence
Greets its newest and greatest
(Or certainly, latest)
Grand Primatial Archiepiscopance.

May, 1993

There are also these directions on performance:

The last (chorus?) verse should be declaimed with mounting melodramatic excitement ......The interesting thing is that on the few occasions that I have shown that to a vagante - they have always thought that it referred to someone else....


(Courtesy of Fr. Michael at Ely Forum)

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What Are the Sarum and English Liturgies?

Some questions cropped up on my post noting that no canonical Orthodox jurisdiction endorses liturgical archeology, to wit: What are the Sarum and English liturgies celebrated by Western Rite churches in ROCOR? Hieromonk Fr. Michael has explained the provenance of these liturgies on Ely Forum:

The Sarum Liturgy (Usus Cascadae)

The text of the “Sarum” (Usus Cascadae) Liturgy is essentially the Sarum Use as translated into English by A. Harford Pearson and published in 1868 - although including some few translations of our own. Pearson noted in his introduction that he had preferred the Authorised Version for Biblical texts and the Coverdale (BCP) version for Psalms as being most familiar to our culture and practically usable. He also noted that he had preferred the already-translated (BCP from Sarum) Collects except where he found that the original had been altered.To Pearson’s work, we added the fixed hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” to accompany the censing of the Altar in order to ensure that an appropriate hymn was used in this place. We also added at the Offertory Procession, the hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silence.” This is a 5th century hymn from the Liturgy of Saint James, translated in 1864. We removed one or two additions to Sarum which were unarguably Crusades oriented material and we made the post-Fraction short litany a fixed feature instead of seasonal. In many cases, we simplified the rubrics to make them more easily understandable. Perhaps the most significant addition was that of an Epiclesis. In the course of discussions with Archbishop Hilarion (Kapral) of Sydney, it was decided to match like cloth with the original and accordingly, we adapted the Collect for the Throne of Peter from the Gothic Missal as the Epiclesis and inserted it into the above-referenced translation. Because the Liturgy which resulted was (a) in English and (b) included the above alterations, we named it “Usus Cascadae” in deference to genuine Sarum scholars, while retaining a reference to Sarum on the title page in order that others would recognise its provenance.

The fact remains that the Usus Cascadae text as mentioned above, is over 90 percent the authoritative translation of Pearson, rather than a pastiche of byzantine-compatible oddities picked out of obscure versions of Sarum and other non-Sarum Continental/Roman missals.

The English Liturgy
...At the same time time we had included in the Saint Colman Prayer Book the “English Liturgy.” This is an adaption of the Church of England Book of Common Prayer of 1549 utilising both Sarum and later liturgical works (1718 etc.). This follows very much the pattern of the Sarum - as indeed is reasonable given that Sarum was the direct antecedent of the Liturgy of 1549. Along with considerable Sarum material, we inserted the same Epiclesis as noted above, and the same two fixed hymns as noted above. We also appended the Sarum Vesting and Divesting Offices as these were commonly used by the clergy of 1549-50 together with the new rite.This adaption was carried out strictly observing the terms of the 1907 report of the Commission of the Holy Synod of Russia, which fixed the method by which the services from the Book of Common Prayer might be adapted for use by Orthodox people.
You can read the "Russian Observations Upon the American Prayerbook" at this site. You can read the text of the Sarum Liturgy (Usus Cascadae) and the English Liturgy on the St. Petroc Monastery website.

God bless the Western Rite.

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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.)


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Two Approaches" to Western Rite? Not Really

We've heard much about "Two Approaches" to the Western Rite of late, even in the comment section of this blog. Supposedly, the Antiochian Archdiocese favors a "Tridentine" application of the WR, adopting every "Counter-Reformed" devotion and stance of the post-Schism era. Conversely, ROCOR allegedly favors "liturgical archeology," freeing Western liturgies from all post-Schism accretions whatsoever.

Neither is true. As we'll see, there is only one approach to the Western Rite in the Church today.

ROCOR. The belief that ROCOR favors liturgical archeology seemingly derives from the lone blessing given to that phenomenon in Western Rite Orthodox history: ROCOR's short-lived association with L'ECOF, including its "new" Gallican Liturgy (another link here). While St. John the Wonderworker consecrated Jean of St. Denys a bishop, a few things must be recalled:
  1. St. John did not draw up the Gallican Liturgy. The liturgy in question had been prepared by French clergy, particularly then-priest Fr. Evgraph Kovalevsky (later Bp. Jean), before their reception into ROCOR (predating St. John's tenure as European hierarch);
  2. His consecreation of Bp. Jean was controversial in his day, the occasion of a mass boycott; and
  3. Even in his saintly oversight of French Western Rite parishes, he presided over more than Gallican rite parishes.
Under this saint's loving care was a French Orthodox monk graced with the gift of healing. That charismatic monk of sweet spirit, Dom Denis Chambault, followed the traditional Benedictine hours and celebrated the Liturgy of St. Gregory (which its detractors call "Tridentine"). His example inspired Fr. Paul Schneirla, which led to the formation of the Antiochian Western Rite. Meanwhile, Dom James Deschene of Christminster Monastery continues to celebrate a near-Tridentine Mass and has said calling the Latin Mass celebrated in the separated West until the Second Vatican Council "Tridentine" is a misnomer. Speaking of this liturgy, St. John told Dom Augustine Whitfield, “Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must also be eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.” Christminster's Mass, a barely modified form of the Tridentine, endures. [1] Conversely, St. John's children in L'ECOF were quickly disowned by ROCOR and ultimately orphaned by all of Orthodoxy, at least as Gallican Rite restorationists.

Put another way, the only seed planted by St. John Maximovitch's saintly Western Rite oversight to survive within canonical Orthodoxy was in its "Tridentine"/Benedictine expression, preserved by Dom Denis and Dom James, and flowering within the Antiochian WRV.

Antiochian WRV. In accordance with the original Russian approval given to a Western Rite liturgy in 1870, the original parishes to the Antiochian WRV celebrated the "Tridentine" Liturgy of St. Gregory. However, the AWRV did not then, nor does it now, merely accept every development of the Vatican I Romans. (If it did, its faithful could simply join SSPX or the like.) This was fleshed out, for instance, in Fr. Edward Hughes' masterful thesis on the paraliturgical devotions of the Western Rite, in which he rejected any form of the Miraculous Medal devotion, various "maudlin" Sacred Heart prayers, and other post-Schism developments not in keeping with Orthodox theology.

After the Episcopal Church USA began its flirtation with (and ultimately, capituation to) heresy, the Anglican liturgy envisioned by the 1904 synodal document entered Orthodoxy. To bring it into line with the Russian Synod's theological/liturgical observations, the AWRV added prayers from the only other liturgy that commission had approved: the Liturgy of St. Gregory. In doing this, the AWRV followed the vast majority of Anglo-Catholics, who had long before done the same thing to fill the void left by the barebones BCP.

Even at that, St. Peter's Antiochian Orthodox Church (WRV) in Ft. Worth, TX, has a different approach than "Tridentinism." It's not all merely one flavor within Antioch.

Some ask how the work of the ROCOR missions in Australia fit into this picture. Fr. Michael and those missions he oversees celebrate The Sarum Liturgy and The English Liturgy. Perhaps a separate post is in order on this topic, but in the short run, the former (quite distinct from the "Old Sarum Rite Missal" of Old Catholic provenance) would be recognized by another segment of the Anglo-Catholic Movement: those who preferred Sarum to Continental High Church forms. Any Sarum High Churchman of the Oxford period would recognize nearly all of it. The latter is simply a different form of bringing the Book of Common Prayer into conformity with the Russian Observations -- this time adapting the BCP to a Sarum rather than Continential Gregorian framework. (Shades of Percy Dearmer?) Either adaptation fulfills the Observations, though one questions how much the Russian Synod knew of Sarum generally.

In other words, all these are different ways to do the same thing.

At present, no liturgical archeology is at work within the Orthodox Church. Should the Church opt for such a course, She could do so, just as She could theoretically invent a new liturgy all Her own. For pratical reasons, I would suggest neither theory be put into practice.

These are the theories undergirding the alleged "two approaches," which are really but one approach: adapting existing historical Western liturgies already approved for adaptation to Orthodox standards. Let's hear no more of various hair-splitting "two approaches" posts, which serve only to divide an already (numerically speaking) miniscule religious movement (legitimate Western Rite Orthodox in the world), and opt instead to embrace the Church, Her teachings, and whichever approach She has furnished us at present. God will bring all our plans to flower "when your obedience is complete." If we show ourselves true, God will guide us in the way we ought to go. May He always continue to grant us His blessings and rich success in reaping souls for His Kingdom.

1. The additions being a Western litany -- not the Byzantine Great Ektenia, as some have intransigently claimed -- and a slightly different preparation ritual for some Masses.

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Russian Rome

Hierarchical authorities of the Roman Catholic Church were on hand as Russian Orthodox blessed the new St. Catherine's Russian Orthodox Church in Roma. You can see two video clips here and here.

This action aligns with the treatment Fr. Patrick Reardon found during his trip to Rome. When he visited St. Andrew Monastery, founded by Pope St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, he said the "Open Sesame" words throughout the stronghold of the Vatican were, sacerdote ortodosso: "I am an Orthodox priest." Upon entering, he learned El Papa had been partitioned the ancient monastery to allow Orthodox monks to share it alongside Roman Catholics -- a welcome contrast to similar arrangements in the Holy Land. Truly, the Vatican is interested in reunification (on its own terms, naturally) and has made conciliatory gestures for at least two pontificates. (Some would trace this to at least Vatican II.) Nonetheless, there are those who float conspiracy theories about Roman assassins "taking out" Orthodox priests with "extreme prejudice," or leaning on Russian Orthodox not to open churches in Italia, etc.

This church blessing is a welcome development -- and makes a much better photo op than the Ecumenical Patriarch grinning next to Castro.

One final note: I'm still sinful enough to enjoy the original poster's comments on these video clips: "Note the RC Cardinals getting sprinkled with Orthodox Holy Water!"

(Hat tip: Al Green on...many, many, many Orthodox groups.) :)


Monday, May 22, 2006

The "Left Behind" Code

Our friend Huw quotes another blogger with an important point: not all harmful fiction is produced by non-Christians:
I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends.
This is worth pointing out: the Left Behind series promotes chiliaism, continuously condemned by the Church since ancient times.[1] From my perspective, both are doleful developments -- more impetus for traditional Christians to enter the arts. (Two, three, many Mel Gibsons!) However, TDC is much worse than LB. The Left Behind series has probably won few if any converts to this peculiar, innovative approach to "the end times" who didn't believe in it already. How many people had ever considered that Jesus married Mary Magdalene before reading TDC? As this author noted, this was not a new idea, but TDC revived this discredited thesis for a new generation and popularized it within an easily digested framework that appealed to the right brain (like Arius with his tunes).

Culturally, we've seen all a ridiculous idea needs is a nose-in-the-tent of American society. After all, who would have imagined where the early discussion of gay marriage would lead? (Anyone remember the picture of Phil Donahue wearing a wedding dress on his TV program a mere fifteen years ago?) Perhaps this is why St. Paul instructs, " For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Eph. 5:12).

Certainly, Orthodox need to do a better job of challenging the premillenialist/rapture/kill-all-Russians-and-Arabs-and-Catholics view of eschatology dominating what's left of American Christian society. But it has waxed-and-waned over centuries; the heresy promoted by TDC is another magnitude of error.

1. A few early Fathers believed in chilialism, St. Irenaeus being perhaps the best-known.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Are WR Anti-Old Calendar?

An interesting question from a reader: Are Western Rite Orthodox opposed to the Old Calendar?

For our friends in ROCOR -- especially Dom James Deschene, Fr. Michael, and Fr. Barry -- this is an open-and-shut question: they all celebrate the Old Calendar exclusively. I have never heard a negative rumbling from any of the group on the issue.

As for those not presently under ROCOR, like many other questions not officially defined, you may receive a diversity of answers: some may balk at the idea of using the Old Calendar, while others look favorably upon it.

For my two-cents: Western Rite faithful generally are more traditional than most of their brethren (including some Byzantines). As a rule, they oppose changing "the old ways" of any rite. Although most WRO find themselves detached from this argument, you would find few die-hard opponents of the Old Calendar, much sympathy for those perceived as their co-traditionalists, and an overrriding wish for our peace and unity.

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