Sunday, May 27, 2007

Western Rite Orthodoxy, or ‘Who’re you calling a Uniate?’

A lively discussion is taking place over at the Young Fogey's blog article, which is in part a response to Ben Johnson's article The Western Rite is not "Reverse Uniatism".

I am not normally a very pugnacious man, but when rank nonsense like this by a certain "Death" Bredon is uttered all over the blogosphereabout a rite in Orthodoxy in which I worship...well, let's just say that statements like this bring it out in me:

"Of course the Roman Rite (the words of the Eucharistic service) largely predates Trent, but the usage, ceremonial, art, architecture, music, devotions, etc. that surround the Rite itself and give it its character or ethos changed radically as the West first Germanized and then "Scholasticized." Hence, the ethos of Tridentine spirituality (including the liturgy) became extremely "Good Friday-esque" due in large part to the doctrines of satisfactionary atonement either to God's honor (Anselm) or wrath (Aquinas). Indeed, the difference between the Roman Rite in the first millennium and the second can be summed up in the very life-like crucifixes of Christ in agony found in traditional RC and Anglo-Catholic parishes today versus the stylized frescoes and murals of Christ Pantocrator in all his glory that typified all churches (yes, even in Britian) before the schism but only Orthodox and some Eastern Unitate churches now. In short, the Roman Missals according to Ritual Notes or Fortescue were employed (twisted?) to embody the very unOrthodox doctrines of Trent."

And here's the clincher:

"In any case, my main point is that Western Rite Orthodoxy parishes in North America are by and large engaged in varying degrees of false Uniatism with Orthodoxy."

Notice the lack of any specifics. Many critics of WRO speak in generalities, like "Well we all KNOW that the Western Rite is just Tridentine/Anglo Catholicism with an epiklesis..." and there the "argument" ends.

Now observe with what finesse our own Subdeacon Benjamin Andersen answers this "argument":

"Death Bredon -I can't say much about your view of the Antiochian Western Rite, which you have broadcasted far and wide in the blogosphere, except that I don't think that you have much experience of the way that the Vicariate actually is. Lots of people have strange ideas about what Western Rite Orthodox liturgies are actually like, and I find that most (even some of the most implacable Byzantine types) are pleasantly surprised when they actually experience it.Of course, we will never match your dreams and expectations for a perfect Church, but I doubt that any religious body ever will.Perhaps your problem is not necessarily with the Vicariate but perhaps with a very skewed, radically dichotomized view of East and West, the kind in which every day is either Good Friday or Pascha. Sorry, but it's just not that simple.Anyhow, we know absolutely nothing of the dreary religion you describe above. The Western Rite Vicariate may have its problems and inconsistencies (I am the first to admit), but we are far closer to the "Mass-and-Office" model of Catholicism described by the YF above than the caricature you so often describe (without, of course, having any experience worshipping in a Vicariate community)."

Well done, Cardinal Subdeaon :-)

10 comments:

The young fogey said...

Here is the post.

DB is a loyal reader of and commenter in my blog but seems the kind of (Continuing) Anglican who, like nasty Orthodox (but, thank heaven, not all Orthodox), really hates continental Roman Catholic culture.

"Well we all KNOW that the Western Rite is just Tridentine/Anglo Catholicism with an epiklesis..."

As Sir Paul McCartney crooned 30 years ago about silly love songs, 'But what's wrong with that?'

If you are a traditional Western Catholic but have moderate to minimalist views about the Pope (a belief that his office is man-made like any other patriarch's, not divinely instituted like the episcopate) and value 'Mass-and-office' practice over devotionalism (as I credited DB for) there are few other places to go.

I believe if you filter out the ethnocentrism and anti-Westernism of some/many Orthodox this form of Western Catholicism is compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy. Voilà, WRO.

Incidentally I've never been to a WRO church but used to know Fr Daniel Keller who's now a WRO rector in Texas and and have met Fr Nicholas Alford and one of his parishioners a couple of times, besides knowing you and Ben Andersen online.

Benedictus said...

"As Sir Paul McCartney crooned 30 years ago about silly love songs, 'But what's wrong with that?'"

LOL!!!

You're right, of course. We should not pretend that the Western Rite litugies as practiced in the AWRV are exactly what Sts. Augustine, Gregory the Great and Bede celbrated (any more than the current Byzantine Rite is exactly what the Cappodocian Fathers knew, btw).

"Incidentally I've never been to a WRO church but used to know Fr Daniel Keller who's now a WRO rector in Texas and and have met Fr Nicholas Alford and one of his parishioners a couple of times, besides knowing you and Ben Andersen online."

If you're ever here in Southern California, stop by St. Michael's! We have a nice light lunch after mass every Sunday, so we could sit down and meet and talk in another venue besides the blogosphere :-) I extend this invitation to DB as well, to whom I say "Come and see"!

BJA said...

Sbdn. Robert –

Thanks for the kind words!

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Monsignor Trigg, and though I met him once I'm sorry that I never got to know him better. Requiescat in pace!

JGurrea said...

"If you are a traditional Western Catholic but have moderate to minimalist views about the Pope (a belief that his office is man-made like any other patriarch's, not divinely instituted like the episcopate) and value 'Mass-and-office' practice over devotionalism (as I credited DB for) there are few other places to go."

Ah, but if you are a traditional Western Catholic with minimalist views about the Pope and a high respect for 'Mass-and-office' practice AND you come to the conviction that the Orthodox Christian Church constitutes the fullest expression of the Truth and the most likely place to find the Church established by Christ, then I guess the AWRV is the safest bet. ;)

DB's comments got my attention enough that I was inspired to write three posts on my blog on this same subject.

Benedictus said...

Subdeacon Benjamin-Thanks for the kind words for Monsignor Trigg. He was a prince among men, and a great spritual father. He was coomitted to the cause of Western Orthodoxy, and that's why DB's comments raised my ire.

Julio-I read your blog articles. Brilliant piece of writing!

Ben Johnson said...

And my response. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. (Sigh....)

God bless,
Ben

JGurrea said...

Thank you, Sir. BTW, I remember reading somewhere that you were of Cuban descent. If that is so, I believe that makes us the only two Cuban Orthodox Subdeacons on the blogosphere. I serve at St. Philip's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Davie, FL.

-Julio

Benedictus said...

"Thank you, Sir. BTW, I remember reading somewhere that you were of Cuban descent. If that is so, I believe that makes us the only two Cuban Orthodox Subdeacons on the blogosphere. I serve at St. Philip's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Davie, FL."

!Pues chico que casualidad!:-)

I was born in Havana in 1965, and was brought to this fruited plain in 1967. You could imagine that my memories of Cuba are not even numerous enough to fit into a thimble. I would like to go back for a visit. I understand that Havana's colonial-era cathedral is a must-see, AND, quite a few liturgical settings by Esteban Salas, Cuba's Baroque composer, reside there. Gotta see that!

Two subdeacons, and one priest-Fr. Ernesto Obregon. I guess that makes three in captivity;-)

The young fogey said...

Response to the response.

It's been resolved.

D.A. Silvestri said...

It's all very sad this tendency of some among the Orthodox to be so blindly ethnocentric. I even read a comment on a certain well frequented Orthodox forum, suspicious of Anthony Bloom because he was - well - "too Western". Being Western seemed to immediately place one over and against the 'Orthodox of Orthodox' people. - sigh!