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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Which Rite is Right?

Too many people approach Western Rite in the Eastern Orthodox Church as a theoretical exercise. One often hears (pro and con) statements about historical continuity or non-continuity, Frankish-influence issues, minutiae (e.g., what kind of vestments Eastern rite clergy should wear, when attending Western rite services), and so forth.

Oft bypassed by the non-Western-rite observer is that WR Orthodoxy faces more immediate, practical concerns: how to acquire and adorn a chapel; how to get vestments made; how to marshal a choir; and, of course, what to use for liturgical texts.

In the Antiochian Western rite in the U.S., this latter question has been largely decided and is currently settled. It is an essentially dual approach (Tridentine-Roman and traditional Anglican), avoiding pre-Reformation liturgics on the one hand, and the latest modern developments on the other.

In the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the liturgical question has not been settled definitively. Usages currently blessed include three versions of the Roman rite (Tridentine, Sarum, and Mt.-Royal) and traditional Anglican. None of these has been identified as an exclusively prescribed usage, and there has been no attempt to impose liturgical conformity. That might be a good thing, since it gives the hierarchy time to observe and assess what works and what doesn't.

The Romanian Church has parishes using a theoretical reconstruction of the lost Gallican rite, a usage kept in France in the 1960s under Abp. St. John Maximovitch. This represents yet another strain of liturgical usage. And there is potential for use of the Mozarabic rite of Spain, the Ambrosian rite of Aquileia, as well as liturgies of the Roman-Catholic religious orders.

Speaking of St. John Maximovitch, he blessed for use both Gallican and Roman rites.

It must be admitted that the "Which Rite" question remains unanswered, if one is speaking of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

note: No anonymous commenting allowed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Western Rite Ship in London Encounters Rocks

From Fr. Hieromonk Michael (Mansbridge-Wood) of Australia, Jan. 16, 2010:

"Well, our celebrations in the cathedral lasted only a few Sundays. Now Archbishop Mark has demanded that our service should finish before the Eastern Rite service in the upper church starts at 10.00 (in order not to "undermine" their service!!). This would mean my getting up at 03.00, driving out my front gate before 04.00 and starting the service in London 100 miles away at 07.30 in order to finish before they start. Our opponents know very well that this is not going to happen. They know very well that London is a very large city indeed and that our congregation is eclectic and that they simply cannot get to the church in Chiswick by 07.30. So, no more services in the cathedral. However, services continue in Southbourne and next Tuesday, we will celebrate the Epiphany in the beautiful Resurrection Chapel in central Bournemouth..."

My response: I wonder if something can still be worked out. For example, could one omit Matins and Litany, and start the eucharistic service at 8:45, make a very short sermon, and finish just before 10:00? Many parishes start at 9:00 a.m.; 8:45 is not too far off from that. I just wonder if there is some possibility yet for a work-around. Are sounds from the service below leaking into the church above? I hope our London brethren and sistren will not lose heart. In many Russian cathedrals that have an all-Slavonic Liturgy at 10:00, there will be an 8:00 a.m. English-language Liturgy (I find 8:00 rather early!) Is there any London "parishioner" whose house could be used? In Austin we meet in a small mobile-home chapel difficult to find, not well heated and cooled, having no restroom, no narthex, no church sign, and yet we have grown tremendously in just a year and are looking to buy a place. But I do admit that having disadvantageous circumstances makes it more difficult to establish more than a minimal attendance.

Our prayers are with you all in England.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax!

I hope that all of our readers enjoyed a blessed Nativity and I wish all of you a joyful and spiritually prosperous New Year.

- Hieromonk Aidan+, a sinner