Saturday, November 25, 2006

Met. NICHOLAS: Ut Unum Sint

His Eminence Met. NICHOLAS of the American Carpatho-Russian Archdiocese has instructed his spiritual flock to pray for peace and unity, leading up to the historic meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) next week. The two hierarchs will meet from November 28 to December 1.

In a statement issued November 16, Met. NICHOLAS hopes at this hierarchical meeting, theological controveries will be"set on the way toward resolution" and that no violence will mar the occasion:

It is for these two reasons – for hope and for concern – that I ask for your supplications for the safety and success of this visitation. Pray for peace and protection, and the stilling of tumult. Pray for doctrinal clarity and ecclesial harmony. Pray for history to be made this month, for the glory of God and the aggrandizement of the Apostolic Church. Pray, truly, that “Thy Kingdom come, and Thy will be done.”

For this cause, I am directing all priests of the Diocese to include the following special petition in the “Triple Litany” after the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy:

O Holy Father from Whom all blessings flow, we come before You in meekness and bow down: humbly we beseech You to look kindly upon the meeting of Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, and Pope Benedict, Pontiff of Rome. For too long, there has been division and alienation in the Church, when there should have been the unity of the Body of Christ. We beg Your mercy and wisdom, O Lord, to provide for the welfare of the holy churches of God and for their union. Let this occasion of fellowship be for the healing of old disputes. In Your infinite power, protect these Shepherds of the Great and Holy Pasture of Christ. Shield them, and all who attend, from the peril of harm. And in Your matchless grace, establish a bright new work in these latter days, so that the world might see the Face of Christ; so that men and women might repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved in the Apostolic Church of God. For these supplications, we humbly beseech You, Holy Father, hear us and have mercy.

This is to be done for the Liturgies on the Sundays of November 19 and November 26. This petition may also be used in other Liturgies throughout the respective weeks.

The Roman Catholic television network EWTN will have live coverage of this meeting beginning at 3 a.m. Pacific/6 a.m. Eastern.

May we all share this prayer, and Christ's petition as our Great High Priest, "Ut unum sint": that all may be one, in Him and in His Truth.

P.S.: Am I the only one who heard "The Old 100th" while reading the first line of this prayer?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Prayers of Thanksgiving, East and West

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we, Thine unworthy servants, do give Thee most humble and hearty thanks for all Thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men; [*particularly to those who desire now to offer up their praises and thanksgivings for Thy late mercies vouchsafed unto them.]. We bless Thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for Thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech Thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may he unfeignedly thankful: and that we show forth Thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to Thy service, and by walking before Thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen. -- A General Thanksgiving, from the 1928 BCP.

Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and Governor of the universe, for my well-being through the years since I arrived at birth. Thanks be to Thee, my joy, my confidence, my God, for the gifts by which Thou hast preserved me and enabled me to grow. A Prayer of St. Augustine.

I adore Thee, my God, and I love Thee with all my heart. I give Thee thanks for having created me, for having made me a Christian, and for having preserved me this day. Pardon me for the evil I have done today; if I have done anything good, do Thou accept it. Keep me while I take my rest and deliver me from all dangers. May Thy grace be always with me. Amen. An Evening Prayer.

O Existing One, Master Lord, God, almighty and adorable Father: It is truly meet and right and befitting the majesty of Thy holiness that we should praise Thee, hymn Thee, bless Thee, worship Thee, give thanks unto Thee and glorify Thee, the only truly existing God, and offer unto Thee with contrite heart and spirit of humility this our rational worship; for Thou art He that hath graciously bestowed upon us the knowledge of Thy truth.

And who is sufficient to speak of Thy mighty acts, to make all Thy praises to be heard, or to tell of all Thy wonders at every season?

O Master of all, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation both visible and invisible, Who sittest upon the throne of glory and beholdest the depths, Who art unoriginate, invisible, immutable, the Father of our Lord: the great God and Savior Jesus Christ, our Hope, Who is the Image of Thy goodness, the Seal of equal type, in Himself showing forth Thee, the Father, the living Word, the true God, the Wisdom before all ages, the Life, Sanctification, Power, the true Light, through Whom the Holy Spirit was manifested: the Spirit of truth, the Gift of adoption, the Pledge of the inheritance to come, the First-fruits of eternal good things, the life-giving Power, the Fountain of sanctification, by Whom enabled every rational and intelligent creature doth serve Thee and ascribe to Thee perpetual praise, for all things are Thy servants.
Filled thus with great awe at Thine immeasurable mercies and love, do Thou receive the unfeigned praise and thanksgiving of our unworthy hearts for all that Thou hast provided for us in this world and the next, and enable us to walk before Thee in holiness and purity all the days of our life in fitting gratitude for Thy loving-kindness to us; For blessed art Thou O Holy Father together with Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory and worship, now and every and unto ages of ages. Amen. Thanksgiving Prayer of St. Basil

O God, Whose mercies are without number and Whose goodness is an infinite treasure: we render thanks to Thy most gracious Majesty for the gifts Thou hast bestowed upon us, always imploring Thy mercy, that as Thou grantest the prayers of those that ask Thee, Thou wilt never forsake them but will prepare them for the future reward. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Act of Thanksgiving

Eternal Father! I thank Thee, I bless Thee, for Thy goodness and mercy. Thou hast had compassion on me, although in my folly I had wandered far away from Thee and offended Thee most grievously. With fatherly love Thou hast received me anew after so many relapses into sin and forgiven me my offences through the holy sacrament of penance. Blessed forever, O my God, be Thy loving-kindness, Thy infinite mercy! Never again will I grieve Thee by ingratitude, by disobedience to Thy holy will. All that I am, all that I have, all that I do shall be consecrated to Thy service and Thy glory. Amen. Thanksgiving After Confession.

O my Lord, my Lord, I thank Thee for that I am, that I am alive, that I am rational: for nurture, preservation, governance: for education, citizenship, religion: for Thy gifts of grace, nature, estate: for redemption, regeneration, instruction: for calling, recalling, further calling manifold: for forbearance, longsuffering, long longsuffering towards me, many times, many years, until now: for all good offices I have received, good speed I have gotten: for any good thing done: for the use of things present, thy promise and my hope touching the fruition of the good things to come: for my parents honest and good, teachers gentle, benefactors always to be had in remembrance, colleagues likeminded, hearers attentive, friends sincere, retainers faithful: for all who have stood me in good stead by their writings, their sermons, conversations, prayers, examples, rebukes, wrongs: for these things and all other, which I wot of, which I wot not of, open and secret, things I remember, things I have forgotten withal, things done to me after my will or yet against my will, I confess to Thee and bless Thee and give thanks unto Thee, and I will confess and bless and give thanks to Thee all the days of my life. What thanks can I render to God again for all the benefits that He hath done unto me? A Thanksgiving of Bp. Lancelot Andrewes.

Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.

Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.
But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen. From the Agpeya (Coptic Book of Hours).

Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew ; We yield thee unfeigned thanks and praise, as for all thy mercies, so especially for the returns of seed-time and harvest, and for crowning the year with thy goodness, in the increase
of the ground and the gathering in of the fruits thereof. And, we beseech thee, give us a just sense of this great mercy ; such as may appear in our lives, by an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all glory and honour, world without end. Amen. From the 1787 Book of Common Prayer, for Thanksgiving Day.

O most merciful Father, who of thy gracious goodness hast heard the devout prayers of. thy Church, and turned our dearth and scarcity into plenty; We give thee humble thanks for this thy special bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness unto us, that our land may yield us her fruits of increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. For Plenty, from the 1928 BCP.

Warrior-Chieftain and Lord, Vanquisher of hell, I Thy creature and servant offer Thee songs of praise, for Thou hast delivered me from eternal death. But as Thou hast unutterable loving-kindness, free me from every danger, as I cry: Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me. Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus.


Another Example of East-West Orthodox Cooperation

From today's Roman Martyrology:
The birthday of Pope St. Clement, who held the sovereign pontificate the third after the blessed apostle Peter. In the persecution of Trajan, he was banished to Chersonesus, where, being thrown into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck, he was crowned with martyrdom. During the pontificate of Pope Adrian II, his body was translated to Rome by the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, and buried with honour in the church that had already been built and named for him.
The two saints most honored in Eastern Europe, who with St. Benedict are patrons of the whole continent, brought the relics of Pope St. Clement I back to Rome. They did so while seeking papal blessing for their missionary journey, which (as I have mentioned elsewhere) was "birituralistic": that is, they celebrated both Eastern and Western Rite liturgies. According to Fr. Edward Hughes, the only parishes these great saints personally founded that survived were Western Rite parishes in Dalmatia. So, the Pope blessed the use of both rites in their missionary journeys, and they returned a predecessor's relics while leaving behind missions of both rites.

May God grant us visionary leaders who will encourage the Western Rite to evangelize alongside the Byzantine, visionary "missionary" priests in both rites, and a greater spirit of cooperation between each co-equal expression of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.


Celebrating Thanksgiving: A Western, Orthodox Holiday

One of the most fruitful steps toward baptizing Western culture — and for advancing Orthodoxy in the United States — is the Orthodox hallowing of the Thanksgiving holiday (celebrated today in the U.S.). A vital part of American (and Canadian) national identity, it is the only non-church national holiday specifically dedicated to the honor of God. St. Tikhon himself urged American Orthodox to adopt this holiday and composed a Service for Thanksgiving, which many U.S. Byzantine churches still celebrate. The 1906 Russian Observations upon the American Prayer Book made no objection, either to the 1892 Book of Common Prayer's "Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the Fruits of the Earth in Autumn." The following rubrics are taken from the 1892 BCP, 1928 BCP, and the Anglican Missal.

May these prayers lead us to a greater appreciation of Christ's bounty and beneficence, "that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful" and that we may serve Him all the days of our life. And on a personal note, I am grateful to and for those of you who have read the blog or contacted me with your comments. May God bless us and lead all of North America into His own Mayflower, the Church and Ark of our Salvation, cresting finally upon the shores of His eternal Kingdom.

Thanksgiving Day
Privileged Votive
Instructions from the Anglican Missal: On any day appointed by Civil Authority as Thanksgiving Day, is said in the United States the privileged Votive Mass ordered by Ecclesiastical Authority. And if on Thanksgiving Day a Holy Day occur, where obligation of Choir exists two Masses are said, one of the Feast without Commemoration of the Votive, the other of the Votive without Commemoration of the Fast or other Occurrence unless it be of a greater Feria, of a privileged Octave, of a Sunday, or of a II Class Double. But when both Masses are not said, the Votive alone is said, without any Commemoration unless it be of one of the aforesaid Occurrences. The non-Prayer-Book Propers given below are those authorized in the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands.

¶ Among the Sentences at the beginning of Morning Prayer shall be the following. (1892 BCP)
HONOUR the LORD with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty; and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (Prov. iii. 9, 10). The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens: by his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. (Prov. iii. 19, 20).
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deut. xxxiii. 27.
Israel then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon the land of corn and of wine, also his heaven shall drop down dew. (Deut. xxxiii. 28).
Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency? (Deut. xxxiii. 29).
Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung (from the '28 BCP).

O PRAISE the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

After the General Thanksgiving, shall be said this which followeth. (1892 BCP)

MOST gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew; We yield thee unfeigned thanks and praise for the return of seed-time and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering in of the fruits thereof, and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. And, we beseech thee, give us a just sense of these great mercies; such as may appear in our lives, by an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all glory and honour, world without end. Amen.

For the Mass
Introit (Cibavit eos, Psalm 81)

Priest: He fed them also with the finest wheat flour:
People: And with honey from the rock hath he satisfied them.
Priest: Sing we merrily unto God our Strength:
People: Make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob
Priest: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
People: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Priest: He fed them also with the finest wheat flour:
People: And with honey from the rock hath he satisfied them.

The Collect.

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle of St. James, 1:16.

DO not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Gradual (Psalm 145)

Priest: The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord:
People: And thou givest them their meat in due season.
Priest: Thou openest thine hand:
People: And fillest all living things with plenteousness.

Alleluia (Psalm 147)

Priest: Alleluia.
People: Alleluia.
Priest: O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God;
People: Yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
All: Alleluia.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew 6:25.

JESUS said, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? There-fore be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving: sing praises upon the harp unto our God.


We beseech thee, O Lord, give us a just sense of these and all thy great mercies: such as may appear in our lives by an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Communion (Psalm 147)

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion. For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates: and hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders: and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.


Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew: we yield thee unfeigned thanks and praise for the return of seed-time and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering in of the fruits thereof; and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Monday, November 20, 2006

One Small Step for the Novus Ordo: "Pro Multis"

There's (mildly) heartening news out of the Vatican: 36 years after the issuance of the Missal of Pope Paul VI, the Papacy has decreed the Latin words "pro multis" should be translated correctly into the vernacular. This phrase from the Words of Institution (over the chalice (His Blood "shed for you and for many") is presently rendered "for all" in the English version of the Novus Ordo and many other languages (für alle; por todos; per tutti).
Critics of the current translation have argued, since it first appeared, that rendering pro multis as "for all" not only distorts the meaning of the Latin original, but also conveys the impression that all men are saved, regardless of their relationship with Christ and his Church. The more natural translation, "for many," more accurately suggests that while Christ's redemptive suffering makes salvation available to all, it does not follow that all men are saved.

Francis Cardinal Arinze instructed the world's bishops all new translations of the Mass must translate the Latin correctly...but they don't have to change the current mistranslations. He also stated his rationale for the insistence:
  • The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26,28; Mk 14,24) make specific reference to “many” for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53, 11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said “for all” (for example, cf. Luke 12,41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is “for many”, and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.
  • The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.
  • The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.
  • “For many” is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas “for all” is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.
  • The expression “for many”, while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.
  • In line with the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts in the typical editions.
As Roman Catholics hold that transsubtantiation takes place at the proper recitation of the Words of Institution, some traditionalists believe this mistranslation is one of a number of items that makes the present Mass invalid by RCC standards. (SSPX has broached the question.) It is good to see this concern addressed; we'll see how (or if) this is implemented. Here are a series of articles from The Wanderer on the phrase itself.

May the RCC go further to undoing the damage inflicted upon its spiritual life by Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass.

(Hat tip: York Forum.)

Pope Pays to Rebuild Russian Church

Pope Benedict XVI has made a significant financial contribution to the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch ALEXEI II has thanked the pope for the move. According to this Roman Catholic news source:

Moscow, Nov. 17 ( - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II has sent a message of thanks to Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), after the Pontiff made a donation to help rebuild an Orthodox cathedral damaged by fire.

Pope Benedict had sent a €10,000 contribution to help repair Trinity cathedral in St. Petersburg, after a fire that seriously damaged the building, collapsing the dome. In a letter of thanks released on November 16, the Russian patriarch thanked the Pope for the donation, which he characterized as "a sign of sincere love for the Russian Orthodox Church."

Patriarch Alexei said that the reconstruction of the cathedral was a matter of keen interest to Orthodox believers because the building is a "unique architectural masterpiece." He added that he hoped the Pope's generosity could be "a sign of further development of our relations."

Earlier this week, in an interview with Paris Match magazine, the Russian patriarch had shown unusual openness to the possibility that he might someday arrange a face-to-face meeting with the Pontiff. "If such an encounter took place-- perhaps in a third country-- it would be a historic event of exceptional importance," he said.

During the pontificate of John Paul II, Patriarch Alexei scuttled plans for a "summit meeting" with the Pontiff on at least two occasions, saying that the encounter could not take place until the Vatican provided a satisfactory response to Orthodox complaints of Catholic "proselytism" in traditionally Orthodox countries. Patriarch Alexei repeated those complaints in his interview with Paris Match.

(Hat Tip: LeoXIII on York Forum.)


Chalk One Up for the Church's Catholicity

YouTube has videos of a Byzantine Orthodox service celebrated in Yokohama, Japan:

Elsewhere, this blog discussed the ancient roots of Chinese Christianity. You can read more on the modern church in China at the Hong Kong Metropolitanate and the Orthodox Church of Taiwan.

Fr. Daniel Byantoro planted the Orthodox Church in Indonesia.

The Orthodox Church has missions in Mexico, Guatemala, and throughout Central and South America.

We've also discussed African Orthodoxy, including the Ethiopian (Oriental) Orthodox Church (a part of which had accepted a Western Rite diocese last year) and their brethren in Eritrea.

And I recently mentioned the Indian Malankara (Oriental) Orthodox.

Ari (or Huw) mentioned the Orthodox Church's mission to Israeli Jews, Rum Orthodox Ivri.

Naturally, this blog is devoted to the Western Rite, worship familiar to those Europeans not historically associated with the Eastern Church.

The Church is a catholic Ark containing all ethnicities and "races" (really only one: the human race). How shameful that, of all the ways the Orthodox Church had to be divided in the diaspora, ethnicity walled us off from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Truth About St. Tikhon and The Liturgy of St. Tikhon

Fr. Matthew Thurman has taken up a long-running (and long-discredited) swipe some of our critics take at the Liturgy of St. Tikhon. Fr. Thurman notes:
One of those old war-horses of critics of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate that gets trotted out every so often concerns the role St. Tikhon had in the formulation of the "Liturgy of St. Tikhon." It is the assertion that "St. Tikhon never approved the 'Liturgy of St. Tikhon.""
He relates the history of how St. Tikhon's Liturgy came to be:
St. Tikhon (then Bishop of North America) was approached at one point by a group of Episcopalians interested in becoming Orthodox, but wanting to retain their Western services as embodied in the 1892 version of the American Book of Common Prayer. Bishop Tikhon forwarded a copy of this book to the Synod of the Russian Church with the request that they review its suitability for use in an Orthodox context in 1904. Their findings were written up as Russian Observations on the American Prayer Book.

An important truth. However, I'm afraid Fr. Thurman leaves out an important piece of the puzzle: the Observations issued in 1904 were not implemented during the three years before St. Tikhon was recalled to Russia, not through any lack of agreement or desire on St. Tikhon's part, but because the Episcopalians who had petitioned him had since lost interest (much as the Non-Jurors or Lutheran Tübingen scholars had centuries earlier).

Secondly, St. Tikhon was the ruling Bishop of North America when the inquiry was made (and later made Archbishop). As the highest-ranking Orthodox prelate in North America, it was well within his authority to simply tell the Episcopalians no if he did not approve of establishing a Western Rite using a modified version of the Book of Common Prayer; he needed no one's approval to issue a denial. He instead appealed to the Mother Church. In 1904, one did not simply e-mail the text; one had to ship the books — at great expense — over oceans. Yet he agreed to mail out a copy of the 1892 Book of Common Prayer, indicating his belief that, under the right conditions, it could be used in the Orthodox worship of God. He would have been intimately familiar with the book's contents, having visited many PECUSA churches, including St. Mark's in Denver (now part of the Western Rite Vicariate). Moreover, nothing in St. Tikhon's hagiography suggests that he was given to imposition. Although he was intellectually lively, he would not ask the Russian Synod to convene a multi-year investigation, during a time when the Church was coming under increasing anarchist and Bolshevik attack, just so the Synod could scratch his intellectual itch. The bishops provided the changes required for the BCP to be changed into an Orthodox liturgy, and there is no indication the saint asked the Synod to provide an answer he had no intention of implementing.

Those who retort "St. Tikhon never approved the 'Liturgy of St. Tikhon'" strongly imply this means that he had no desire to approve such a rite. Their use of this anti-Western Rite mantra conceals the fact that the saint took great pains to ascertain that such a rite could be approved and that, when he did so, it would be recognized by the Church as Orthodox. In other words, it ignores that he went out of his way to create the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, and without his efforts, there would be no such liturgy (which has since been authorized and celebrated within the Antiochian and Alexandrian patriarchates, ROCOR, and I'm told within the Moscow Patriarchate*).

Unfortunately, Episcopalians denied St. Tikhon the opportunity to establish Western Rite churches during the months after he received the Holy Synod's answer. As Fr. Thurman points out, for that matter, St. John Chrysostom did not "authorize" the "Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom" as we have it today; St. Basil did not "authorize" the "Liturgy of St. Basil"; as one reader commented on this blog, St. James did not "authorize" anything approaching the surviving recensions of the "Liturgy of St. James"; and as this blog has noted, it seems likely St. Gregory the Great did not "authorize" the "Presanctified Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialogist." However, reasonable people are compelled to believe St. Tikhon favored the establishment of such a litugry, and that the Rite rightly bears his name. It seems clear St. Tikhon, in his loving, saintly, pastoral wisdom, would have welcomed such piety.

Fr. Thurman concludes his post with a plea for peace and tolerance; please just leave us alone and let us worship God as the Orthodox Church allows. "[P]erhaps we can now trot this old war horse off to the glue factory where it properly belongs," he implores.

For honest and reasonable people, this should set the matter aside. I fear he underestimates the irrational and intractable nature of some of the Western Rite's self-appointed detractors, for whom lashing the approved practices of the Church fills some kind of emotional void. Nonetheless, we can always pray, as our Byzantine brethren do, "Grant it, O Lord, grant it." Grant us that peace which the world cannot give. Through the prayers of St. Tikhon.

* - Information on the Moscow Patriarchate's Western Rite — including its existence — is kept deliberately vague. However, the celebration of St. Tikhon's Liturgy has been acknowledged by excellent authority.

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