On Liturgical Archaeology


There are many objections to the Orthodox Western Rite. Many are founded on ignorance and can simply be either disregarded or educated away according to mood or circumstance, (such as the lady who flat out refused to believe that anything but the Byzantine Rite was ever used in the Church and tried to convince me that the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom was commonly used in England prior to the Schism). Others do actually have some basis in reality and in genuine concern for the proper passing on and living of the Orthodox Faith and for the spiritual well-being of Orthodox people. These deserve more attention and ought to be taken on board to one degree or another. There are yet others which cannot be so easily categorised because their proponents see them as so self-evident that, in expressing them, they do not often go beyond a brief statement, expecting that this will be readily understood and agreed upon by all right-thinking people, (i.e. people like them). The truth is that this simply serves to further polarise already opposing viewpoints. Then listening stops as, due to human weakness, both sides become defensive and dig their heels in.

One example of this is the position that holds that the restoration of pre-schism western services for use in the Church is "liturgical archaeology". This sort of disparaging terminology may serve as a self-congratulatory mantra among those who already agree with each other but to those who remain to be convinced, it simply shows a lack of respect and a dismissive attitude. Reliance on such belittling expressions instead of actual reasoned and coherent thoughts also suggests a severe lack of confidence in a very weak argument. This may be an inaccurate assessment but it is precisely the picture painted by the way in which this is often presented.

So, let us examine the reasons why people perform this "liturgical archaeology".

There seem to be two main approaches to the Western Rite within Orthodoxy. Both of these approaches may be found in both the Antiochian and ROCOR Western Rite Vicariates. I do not claim impartiality here and, often to my detriment, I am far too outspoken. Therefore, it ought to be clear which approach is my favoured.

The first is to try to rehabilitate heterodox services and culture, bringing them back into Orthodoxy, taking that with which many western converts to Orthodoxy will already be familiar and making it acceptable to the Orthodox ear. I suppose this has a certain appeal to those who are very much attached to the externals of Anglo-Catholic or traditional Roman Catholic worship and wish to continue in these forms while entering the Orthodox Church - personally, I find it very difficult to relate to, despite having been similarly attached to Anglo-Catholicism in my own past. To enact this approach is very easy. What you need to do is to take services as they exist in heterodox, western churches at an agreed date of their most recent agreed general acceptability, (usually Anglican and/or Latin practice of the mid-20th century or some other arbitrary date), remove from them what is obviously incompatible with Orthodoxy, add to them the Orthodox elements that are obviously lacking, then place the results before a Russian or Arab bishop, persuade him that they are Western Orthodox services, and ask his blessing to use them.

Along with this approach often (though not always) comes the importation into Orthodoxy of practices and devotions from the post-schism or even post-reformation period, that are not entirely in keeping with the culture of Orthodoxy and which may even be the result of arguments between Catholics and Protestants in which we Orthodox had no part, which really do not concern us in any way, and which we perhaps ought not to be importing into our Church.

Now, let me make it clear that, whether I like it or not, this approach was given the blessing of the Holy Synod of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, and those who use these forms of worship today are simply acting in obedience to proper episcopal authority within the Church. However, the Holy Synod's recommendations did not come without some reservation:

The examination of the "Book of Common Prayer" leads to the general conclusion that its actual contents present very little comparatively that clearly contradicts Orthodox teaching, and therefore would not be admissable in Orthodox worship. But this conclusion comes not from the fact that the book is actually Orthodox, but merely from the fact that it was compiled in a spirit of compromise, and that, while skilfully evading all more or less debateable points of doctrine, it endeavours to reconcile tendencies which are really contradictory. Consequently both those who profess protestantism and their opponents can alike use it with a quiet conscience. But worship which is so indefinite and colourless (in its denomination bearing) cannot, of course, be accepted as satisfactory for sons of the Orthodox Church, who are not afraid of their confession of Faith, and still less for sons who have only just joined the Orthodox Church from Anglicanism. If it were, their prayer would not be a full expression of their new beliefs, such as it ought essentially to be.
- from the Russian Synod's observations on the Anglican Prayer Book.
And therein lies the main reason why there are those who eschew this approach in their own worship. Many are converts and for them, conversion means leaving behind a clinging to Anglican forms of worship and a full embracing of Orthodoxy, both internally and externally. That is not to dismiss those who, after some time, are able to do this despite using worship based on the forms of their past homes but rather to express that such forms of worship do make it more difficult for some people. For others, they are simply Western Christians who have embraced Orthodoxy and wish to worship God according to the western forms of worship used by the Saints before them, who walked these isles, who sang those hymns, and so forth. They have no desire to use eastern services, for they are western, and they have no desire to use adapted Anglican services, for they are Orthodox.

The answer to this is to use existing Western Orthodox services, which is the second approach. These do not require adaptation or supplementation, for the most part, for...
...the west was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.
-St John of Shanghai and San Francisco
These services exist, intact, with very nearly a full complement of prayers, music, and rites for the various parts of the Christian's liturgical life.

Now, some tell us that western services have not been used in Orthodoxy for a millennium. Well, this is, of course, another objection with its basis in ignorance. The western rites of the pre-schism Church were not limited to use in the patriarchate of Rome and that patriarchate's persistent heresy and ultimate departure from the Church of Christ did not see the immediate disappearance of western rites from Orthodoxy. The most famous example of continuation of the Western Rite is perhaps the Amalfion Benedictine monastery that continued on Mount Athos until near the end of the 13th century but there were others in present-day Albania, Turkey, and likely elsewhere, (as indeed there were Byzantine churches in Italy). Up until the 20th century, a form of the western Mass of St Peter (the Roman Mass under the name by which it was known prior to the Gregorian reforms) survived among the Russian Old Believers. This was in a heavily byzantinised form (as was the case with other non-Byzantine Orthodox liturgies during their last days due to the gradual move toward uniformity of rite) but, nonetheless, there it was.

However, leaving aside for the time being the lack of accuracy of the claim, the general point seems to be that the western services have not been in widespread use within Orthodoxy for some considerable time and that any attempt today to resuscitate them is not the Orthodox way.

Well, I have to wonder about this. You see, one benefit that I find in the insistence on pre-schism services in the Western Rite is that they actually have more in common with the eastern liturgies than do those that suffered the eventual effects of the Schism and the Reformation, (see a few examples in my series of posts on ritual overlap, "from East to West"), both in terms of certain practical elements due to their common roots with the east and which they held before the later developments but, more deeply, in the catechetical and spiritually-uplifting richness of theology that they express. The troped propers of the early Sarum Mass are a direct equivalent to the troped daily and festal antiphons of St John Chrysostom's Liturgy, (which were anciently also used on Sundays and have been restored in the modern Greek tradition); the text of the Sarum hymn sung before the day Mass of Pascha is the very same text as one of the Resurrection stikhera at Matins in the week of tone 2; the Offertory procession in a Sarum Mass could easily be mistaken by a casual observer for the Great Entrance; and the thing that convinced a sceptical Greek friend of mine that the Western Rite was indeed Orthodox was reading the Sarum prayer for the blessing of the baptismal water at Pascha, and seeing that it is full to overflowing with the very same richness and super-abundance of the Church's understanding of baptismal regeneration and new life in Christ as can be found in the Trebnik. The ancient rites of the Orthodox west may not have been in widespread continuous use for some time but they are so full of the Faith that has been passed on continuously that, when they are used today, they fit like an old glove, with no evidence that the break ever occurred. If restoring these ancient rites to use is indeed liturgical archaeology, my question is: so what?

I'm afraid that it will simply not do to dismiss something with disparaging language and feel that this is all that is required to persuade thinking people that it is no good, and the onus is on those who oppose the use of these forms of prayer, embracing the words, music and faith of the Orthodox Saints of these isles, to show how they are not suitable for use by Orthodox people.
Those who go to church on Sunday morning are not called upon to be liturgicists or liturgical archaeologists, any more than the patient needs to be a medical scientist or go into the lab to be given medicine. The ‘finished product’ is nevertheless today’s worship; if they hear or join in texts that had been in an ancient manuscript, they need never suspect it, for all that is worth. These materials have been returned to use because they provide what was needed.
- Archpriest John Shaw (now Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the RWRV)
I think that the point was well made by Bishop Jerome. The people who pray those rites only need know that they pray in an Orthodox fashion, expressing the faith and custom of the Saints of old and according to the Faith passed down for generations since then. The fact that the prayers and rubrics come from a book that may not have been used for a few centuries need not concern them, if they ever know about it at all.

After all, how many people at the average Byzantine Rite parish know the roots of the various elements of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom? How many know which portions go right back to the man himself and which were only added a hundred years ago? Very, very few, I am sure. Discussing the worship of the Church, there are those who suggest that not a word has been added since earliest times and that we must preserve this by refraining from changing anything ourselves (for this would be innovation) or from restoring things that, for good reason, may have fallen into disuse (for this would be archaeology). I would ask such people if they truly suppose that St John Chrysostom included prayers for those who travel by air, or what their views are on the omission of "O Lord, save the king" from the Greek Liturgy when the Byzantine (Roman) empire was no more and there was no longer a king to save.

For three centuries before the Peace of the Church, the early Christians held to an understanding of the worship of heaven reflected on earth, but, due to external influences on the Church, they were unable to actualise it in their earthly worship until the persecutions ceased. Only then were they again able to freely adopt those elements of temple worship that are right and proper to the Christian offering to God but which had been out of use for 300 years. Were they liturgical archaeologists too?

I think that, after all of the scholarship is done, and all of the spoken words and rubrics are fitted together, the question need simply be asked whether or not these services pray Orthodox, whether they lead a person to true repentance and amendment of life, and to being imbued, as part of the Body of Christ, with the energies of God. If the answer is yes, then perhaps the result of the archaeology, if that is indeed what it is, has been the rediscovery of a long-buried treasure which has finally been restored to its rightful owners within the household of God.


18 responses:

ex_fide said...

Amen. A very good post. People like you give us hope that Western Liturgy will not die.

margaret said...

As an Anglo-Catholic convert who was put off WR many years ago by the 'tarted up' BCP and has had severe misgivings lately reading W-Riters justifying mediaeval RC practices and getting their petticoats, sorry albs, in an excited bunch about the possibility of wearing a zucchetta or mozzetta, I am very grateful for this article. It makes me feel that liking the Sarum rite and hoping for its inclusion once again in the plethora of rites blessed by the Orthodox Church is not as suicidal as it once seemed. I am, you see, uncharitable enough to suspect that a certain kind of W-Riter only wants to be an Anglo-Catholic or Roman Catholic without worrying about women priests and liturgical dancers. Enter convenient Russian or Arab bishop. I suppose there's an epitimia for thinking so ill of one's fellow believers and I will find it out one day.

James the Thickheaded said...

Having worshipped in the Rite of St. Gregory (AWRV) for four years, I think this is a very fair article. I think one issue is that for those of us who like to choose of the Western Rites the one which is most Eastern... whether that instead raises the ante of...well... then why not the Eastern Rite?

Another issue is that without making this choice, we have rites in which it is very difficult to connect the dots between worship and theology... as evidencing all our Orthodox theology as we have it... emphasis on the last 4 words.
Entering Orthodoxy through this door, then becomes a measurably harder process of assimilation - speaking of my own experience. Would Sarum fix this? Don't know enough to say.

The last issue I think you touch on but don't address directly is whether there is someone in authority who can change the rite as the worship needs of the faithful evolve... which they do. The lectionary for liturgy on Sanctity of Life remains strangely unaffected, but could do well with a reading on the Holy Innocents in the opinion of many. And could a western rite add something like the Akathist of Thanksgiving? WR needs a bishop with authority who can manage these decisions... otherwise the archaeology charge starts to gain more traction than it deserves.

For me, I don't share the chauvinism with respect to either East or West, but at the end of the day, the Eastern liturgy and hymns won my heart (Russian hymnody) over Gregorian... and all of that was a very big surprise. And it was the little details, some of the rubrics and not anything big (and these are rubrics that seem to me should be added from ER to the WR for Orthodox theology). But there I go again... wanting to change things in WR... so I think integrity suggested I leave it to those who hold for it rather than work for change. Cumulatively though, it was enough for me to switch to an eastern liturgy parish recently and get into the mainstream.

Could I have done this cold turkey at the beginning? No. Don't think so. WR made it possible, and I am thankful for that. But like you say, when you reach the point of willingness to surrender Anglican ways... it runs deep and you will even surrender the beauty of the Elizabethan language that has held so many in bondage for so long. So continuing with anything from BCP is just not an issue.

Yes you nailed it 100%. Thank you.

Finally, FWIW, I'm sure there are those who want to AC or RC w/o women, but as for the WR folks I've known were Orthodox first, WR second.

Hope his helps.

Athair Ambrois said...

Fr Aidan (Keller) has stated quite strongly on several occasions that the Western Rite has never died out in the Orthodox Church. If that is the case why are people trying to reconstruct it from Anglican and Catholic sources?

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Michael, I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughtful article.


I don't quite know yet what I would do if I were to be faced with having to choose only one, as I have a deep and enduring love of both Rites...........

Currently I attend an ER parish for Divine Liturgy, but my private prayers are WR, particularly the Benedictine Horarium.

Michael said...

Thank you, all, for your kind words, thoughts, and comments.

Margaret, as you know, I, too, was involved in the Western Rite in my early days of Orthodoxy and loved it but the Western Rite that I loved was always theoretical: for the particular form to which I was exposed was not something that I loved. Rather, it was something for which I settled. While the reason I ultimately left behind my diect attachment to the Western Rite (at the time) was not directly related to this, that final thing was really the proverbial back-breaking straw - I found the particular rite unsatisfactory for my Orthodox life.

I think this takes me onto what you have said, James. I can see the argument that may be raised: if you wish to use the pre-schism western forms because they are closer in spirit to the eastern forms, why not just use the eastern forms? I think that this argument, though, has its foundation in the assumption that the reason converts follow the Western Rite is because it is diffcult for western converts to embrace the eastern rite. I would sugest that this assumption is a false one.

Certainly, for my part, I had no difficulty embracing the Byzantine Rite. Perhaps reaching that point was easier for me than it perhaps is for others because of the particular reasons that I started to look towards Orthodoxy in the first place. However, the fact remains that the Rus claimed it as their own in the 10th century, and many other nations and peoples for whom it was not indigenous did so in later centuries. Goodness, look at the Orthodox Church of Japan! So my love for the Western Rite had nothing at all to do with any idea that embracing the Byzantine Rite was difficult for me as a westerner or any sort of nostalgia for the Book of Common Prayer. I was not clinging to Anglican forms of worship and music, and had no desire to bring them with me into Orthodoxy. Besides, the Anglican-based rites that I found available to me in the Orthodox Western Rite bore little resmblance to the Anglican services with which I grew up: they were based on the Anglican rites of yesteryear, so if the point was to make the transition to Orthodoxy a smooth one for ex-Anglicans, it was designed in such a way that it would fail all those who were not old enough to remember when that form of worship was used in more than just a few isolated pockets, as is generally the case today.

No - I wanted to become Orthodox, and to use Orthodox rites and ceremonies, to hear Orthodox music, to sing Orthodox hymns which had been sung by the Orthodox Saints of the West. I came to Orthodoxy in the first place because I came to be convinced that the pre-schism Church was Orthodox, and that I had been brought up in a breakaway group from a breakaway group. So my desire was for authentic Orthodox services, and not a post-reformation, patch-work Frankenrite. So the argument against pre-schism rites from the position of difficulty in transition doesn't compute for me personally.

Like Elizabeth, I love both rites. I am firmly ensconced in my Byzantine Rite parish while at home, many of my private devotions are from the Western Rite. I no longer pray the western hours as the calendar doesn't harmonise with my parish life but that may not be entirely insurmountable.

Time will tell.

Deacon Fr Finbarr said...

Thank you, Michael! I am another convert to Orthodoxy since about 30years ago. Only recently have I been involved in the Western Rite as the WR mission is most conveniently located. We use pre-schism forms with slight adaptations including in English rather than Latin. For me chanting in Gregorian feels more natural than the Byzantine or Russian choral form. One additional aspect, in the Orthodox Church the old forms come back to life as the same Holy Spirit and Apostolic blessing enrich them as infused them in prior centuries. If it is in any sense ecclesial archeology, it is done in the presence of the God Who can raise up life on the dry bones, and raise of sons of Abraham from the stones.

MPT said...

I find it ironic that a post about correcting misunderstandings and mischaracterizations can refer to an approved Orthodox rite as a "post-reformation, patchwork Frankenrite."

One can only assume you have the Divine Liturgy of Saint Tikhon in mind, since you mentioned the BCP and they share some of the same language/elements. But to call it "patchwork" betrays either historical ignorance or just willful antagonism on your part, both of which are insulting to your readers.

The Rite of St. Tikhon was the fruit of over half a millennium of development via the Caroline Divines, Elizabethans, Scotch, Americans, Non-Jurors and Anglo-Catholics, (many of whom sought formal union with Orthodoxy) wherein the rich English liturgical heritage was wonderfully interwoven into the ancient Roman Rite. It's not an Orthodoxified "Anglican" rite; rather, it is the ancient Western Roman Rite (which, contrary to pop "Great Schism" mythology, did not "die" in 1054) which just expresses certain elements in the English, rather than Roman, way.

Patchwork implies the hurried, haggard work of an individual (or committee) that seeks to "fix" something last minute, with little regard for history or heritage or beauty or cohesion or all those things that make a truly living liturgy what it should be. That is not the case with the Rite of St. Tikhon, despite the popular myths out there about it being a "churched up BCP."

The approved rites of the Antiochian Church are nothing less than the full ancient Western Rite, as it has been lovingly preserved, developed and handed down to us today in a living patrimony.

We don't resurrect older liturgies or indulge in liturgical archaeology, not because we are Anglo-Catholics or Roman Catholics who had nowhere else to turn and wanted to remain what we were, lurking in the shadow of the Orthodox Church hoping to go unnoticed with our pet attachments to our "heterodox" ways. No, we just realized that our inherited, living rites, were in reality, substance, fact, and experience, the very same as those of our ancient Western Orthodox Fathers and Mothers.

Yes, they bear the marks of having moved throughout the subsequent aeons of history, and certain elements, phrases, rubrics, etc., that weren't blatantly part of the "pre-Schism" times have become part of the stream that has now been reunited to Holy Orthodoxy. But rather than trying to ignore that, explain it away, or toss it in the trash heap in hopes of re-creating some alleged golden age of Western Orthodoxy by resurrecting something that has no living memory, we humbly receive that which has been handed down to us by our devout and pious forefathers, recognizing that the fullness of the ancient Orthodox West is in no way obscured or distorted in the living patrimony that has been blessed for Orthodox use.

In other words, we don't retreat to long-ago liturgies because we don't have to! We have the fullness of the faith in what we have received. The ancient worship of the West has survived to the present time and has been re-unified with the Mother Church from which she came.

That's not to say there is no place for bringing liturgies that fell out of use back into contemporary praxis. In fact, I think it's a worthy effort and one that I pray bears much fruit for the future of Western Orthodoxy. But let's stop speaking as if all our rites are in competition with one another, like we're in some trial period wherein we're all waiting with baited breath to see which one emerges the champion and will be the singular use of future generations. I pray to God that doesn't happen. Uniformity is stagnancy.

Let's pray for the continued success of ALL approved Orthodox rites and leave our lame remarks and caricatures and superiority-complexes in the trash heap where they belong.

Michael said...

Welcome, MPT. It is good to hear a voice from another perspective so I'm grateful for your contribution.

Thank you, as well, for your thoughts on the St Tikhon Liturgy. I have never experienced this rite beyond seeing the text and some multimedia online, although I must confess to not being won over by your list of influences on its development. Of course, I am nobody and whether I am convinced or not is, in the main, immaterial: this Liturgy has episcopal blessing for use. However, I do think that there must be some importance given in Western Rite circles to their acceptance by the rest of the Orthodox family and reasons why that may not always be forthcoming. Yes, much of it is simply a mentality of "east good: west bad" but when reticence is displayed even from supporters of the Western Rite, then perhaps some pause for thought may not always be a bad thing. But no, it was not the St Tikhon Liturgy that has formed my feeling on this. As you are probably aware, the Antiochian Western Rite does not extend to these shores, and the local Antiochian deanery is decidedly against that changing any time soon. While it was not this Liturgy to which I was referring directly (although yes, I suppose it was at the back of my mind), I presume that you probably feel similarly about the English Liturgy and its accompanying offices, which is my experience of an Anglican-based rite blessed for use in Orthodoxy. Please correct me if I am wrong. (Also, I hope you aren't affronted by my description. "Anglican-style" is precisely how their compiler referred to these services in an effort to reach out to disaffected Anglicans). As somebody quite familiar with different forms of the Roman Mass (and office), I found that the obvious BCP elements stuck out like a sore thumb, and in the case of the offices, it was more the other way round, with the non-Anglican bits being the exception. I also struggled with the attempts to make it appear as Anglican as possible: eschewing plainsong in favour of Anglican chant, and so forth.

As for the Frankenliturgy comment, it was slightly tongue in cheek but, in any case, I did say at the outset that I am far too outspoken at times. While I concede that this juxtaposition smacks of hypocrisy, as you rightly point out, I suppose the difference is that I would never posit such terminology on its own as an argument against using these liturgies, as though this were somehow sufficient, and it is preciselt the use of "liturgical archaeology" in such a manner against which I am arguing in this post.

On the point of the arbitrary date of 1054 and western liturgy within the Orthodox Church, we are agreed.

Michael said...

On the differing views of resurrected pre-schism vs. post-schism-based liturgies, I have occasionally wondered whether there might be a pond difference here. It is often said that Britons consider 300 miles to be a long distance while Americans consider 300 years to be a long time, and I think that this does affect our perception of things. An American friend of mine currently in the UK for a year repeatedly finds himself baffled by the reluctance of British Orthodox people to travel "long" distances for services at other churches, which for him are a mere stone's throw away. He has also been excited to be able to visit some of the shrines and holy places associated with the pre-schism Orthodox Saints of Britain, saying, 'We don't have these in our back garden'.

The point is that, for North Americans, the introduction of a liturgical form of Christianity with origins in Orthodox services came in the form of the late Roman Rite the Anglican Prayer Book, and so forth. I can see how American Orthodox people, looking back to their own history and roots, might embrace that and seek to restore its Orthodoxy. For Orthodox Britons, however, the perception of these same rites may be somewhat different because of their different history and associations here. For us, they represent a departure from our pre-schism Orthodox history and roots, and have associations that maybe they do not have for our American brethren, (allowing for those who do trace their roots back to these isles). Could this be why their use has taken off in America but not here? The current dean of the local Antiochian deanery is a friend of mine and his opposition to the Western Rite is known but it is actually more nuanced than people give him credit for. In one conversation with me, he said that he would actually be much happier with "Sarum, or something like that", and he was pleasantly surprised when I explained that this is blessed for use in the Russian Church. It seemed to me that his opposition was not entirely to the Western Rite per se, but at least in part to the particular form of the Western Rite that would be available to him, and I wonder whether there are others who feel similarly. When I visit the shrine of St Bertram and think that prayers and hymns he probably knew and used are blessed for use in Orthodoxy today, that gives me sense of continuity with the Orthodox Saints of these isles, and an inspiration to again tend the garden that sprung from the seed that they planted on this soil that I do not get when I think of Anglican services corrected for use.

This is all speculation on my part, of course, but I wonder whether there might be something to it. Thoughts?

Michael said...

Dear Dcn Finbarr, welcome too!

Thank you for sharing with me about your parish. It sounds fascinating. Perhaps you could let me know where you serve (by e-mail if you prefer not to do so publicly).

I particularly like your scriptural references to the restorative power of God and its applcation here.

MPT said...

Thank you for the warm welcome, and the thorough reply.

There's no doubt that the Antiochian approach in North America was adamant that any Western Rite be based upon the "living liturgy" of the West. And the reasons for this were, in part, pastoral (which I think we should all agree is the most important component, being that there are real souls and lives involved here, rather than our pet ideologies!). But another part of that is the recognition that continuity is important, not only with our Orthodox past, but also in terms of the people and culture involved. It's that thorny concept of "patrimony"; that which the people inherit, ingest, make their own, and pass on to their children.

In North America, that patrimony was the Roman Rite as found in the English Missal tradition, which "represents the principle stream of European Christianity throughout the centuries in a marvelous linguistic package" as Fr. Guy Winfrey puts it. It's theology is ancient, not Calvinistic or Reformation, but truly Catholic. It is rich in its applicability to the real daily lives of Christians in all their difficulties and needs. It springs from the very trunk of Tradition rather than merely an off-shoot (like the Sarum Use).

I'm continually puzzled by the Only Pre-Schism School of WRO that champions the Sarum Use. From an Orthodox perspective, it is a Use that is entirely post-Schism, having been developed in France and imported to England via the Normans. Many promote its use as part of a distinctly English patrimony, but that's just not true. It was used in England after the Norman Conquest. Prior to the Conquest the normative Use in the Isles was the Roman Rite brought by St. Augustine. In Fr. Winfrey's words, again, "Sarum represents a romantic notion of English Catholicism and expects far too much from it."

Furthermore, having fallen out of the living use and memory of the people, it is but a vague memory usually being presented by, as you claimed of another rite, a patchwork job, pieced together as good as one can do. Academic recreations of liturgies should be a last resort, if one at all.

MPT said...

So, to turn the point you made back on you, this should give WRO pause as well. We've seen far too many catastrophes come about via the misguided, albeit well-intentioned, labors of bad liturgical scholarship (I'm thinking of the Gallican patch jobs with L'ECOF and more recently, the Novus Ordo).

In the "Missal tradition" of the Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics, we have a legitimate historical and experienced stream of the Roman Rite, in living use and living memory from the ancient Orthodox West.

Now, some might throw up their hands and say, "But there are post-Schism elements in there too!" And that is absolutely true. However, we must understand Tradition to be the living, dynamic thing that it is. And Orthodox Tradition is one that has a long history of incorporating things that were produced outside of her experience, blessing them, and assuming them as part of her living Tradition.

One example would be the distribution of "Anonymous" spiritual writings by desert monks, who passed on the writings this way because they showed real spiritual value but didn't associate the name because the author may have been a known heretic.

Another would be attributing a work to a more respected individual, even though that person had nothing to do with it. The obvious example here would be the "Athanasian Creed" which we all know was not penned by St. Athanasius. This was a creed that contained the filioque, having been composed at a fairly late date, and yet it was corrected by the Orthodox Church and now appears in all Orthodox Horologia. It is part of Orthodox Tradition now, via correction and adoption.

Another profound example is the great and beloved St. Nicodemus of Holy Mount Athos, who assembled a vast collection of late Western spiritual writing, corrected them, translated them into Greek and distributed them because of their immense spiritual value. Two of the brightest examples would be "Unseen Warfare" by Lorenzo Scupoli, and the "Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola." St. Nicodemus' insight has now bestowed upon Orthodox Tradition these wonderful works.

St. Tikhon Bellavin, along with the Holy Russian Synod, fall into this stream as well, when they set out guidelines for correcting and adopting portions of the 1892 American BCP. The fruits of this labor didn't come about (in North American anyway, where St. Tikhon was laboring) until 1977 when the Antiochian Church blessed for use a corrected form of the Anglo-Catholic liturgy from the American Missal which, as we've already discussed, is merely the Roman Rite utilizing some of the Prayer Book's unique language and prayers.

Thus, in the Rite of St. Tikhon, we have the height of English liturgical language interwoven with the ancient Roman Rite as set forth by St. Gregory, creating a work of such haunting beauty there is quite honestly seldom a dry eye at my parish on Sunday mornings.

MPT said...

I don't know how The English Liturgy you referenced is carried out, but if it's anything close to the Rite of St. Tikhon, I feel sad for anyone that isn't moved by it!

To address your concerns of who "developed" the Liturgy (Non-Jurors, Carolines, etc.) I only mentioned them to show that A) the Rite of St. Tikhon is part of a living patrimony, as opposed to a "patch job" and B) that it represents a distinct tradition within English liturgy that is quite separate from the Cranmerian Prayer Books of the official Church of England, which were decidedly Protestant.

I don't really think your use of "Anglican-style" is helpful because what does that even refer to? Which Anglican style? High Church, Low Church, Protestant, Catholic? The "approaches" of various Anglican bodies are as many as there are Anglican parishes!

And, to be honest, it seems that a lot of ROCOR's approach is the same way. Antioch set out very specific guidelines for Western Rite use. It was not based on some romantic notion of re-creating a "pure" Western Orthodoxy of a bygone era from some idyllic Golden Age (which quickly descends into the chaos of "what I like" or "what I think is more Orthodox than fill-in-the-blank" or "my favorite golden age of liturgy" or "my favorite old Western Christian country or ethnicity." It was, rather, one of genuine ecumenism and reunion. They took real, living Western Christians and reunited them to the Orthodox Church, as they were.

The approaches are definitely different, and Western Orthodoxy is new and needs time to grow. Perhaps there will be room for both approaches and both schools of thought? Personally, I think this will be the case, and I think that's a wonderful thing. But I'm also convinced that the Antiochian approach is the healthiest one, as it represents a genuinely living stream of experience and interplay with Western culture and people.

Michael said...

Thank you for your comments, MPT. Please forgive my apparent silence. I am currently preparing for the arrival of a house guest for a few days, looking after a housemate who returned from hospital yesterday after a heart attack last week, and preparing for my bishop's visit to my parish this Friday and Saturday, so time on the internet is quite restricted. I hope to respond m ore fully some time after I return from London on Sunday.

Dale said...

Isn't it about time to simply drop the bait-and-switch that is so-called western rite Orthodoxy? Even Overbeck had to admit by 1893 that it was, and would always be, a failure?

Although the Byzantine Church does like to play the "we are the true church" game, their reality is that they are simply the Byzantine tradition at prayer. Their inabiility to be anything more than the religion of Byzantine culture is the only real historical reality. They have not only Byzantinised all of their western rite parishes, always few in number, but also byzantinised all Syrian rite communities that converted to Russianism in the end of beginning of the 19th century as well.

By the time a perfect western rite is produced by the Byzantines it will simply be the Byzantine rite with perhaps a gothic style chasuble...hardly a western rite.

As the Ecumenical Patriarch has declared, "Orthodoxy is Hellenism and Hellenism is Orthodoxy." Perhaps instead of wasting time on the issue of a western rite it is time for the Russian Church to follow through on the re-adaptation of the Greek tradition begun in 1666 and time to free itself from western style music and ikons and return to the Greek source of their faith.

I think that all right thinking Anglicans or Romans considering Orthodoxy should at least be honestly told that for the Byzantines our ancient traditions are about as much respected as converting Japanese Buddist traditions are; and as pointed out, they have no problem with accepting the Byzantine tradition, of course, they also have no ancient Christian traditions to forsake.

Michael said...

To briefly adress some of what has been said...

On the pre-schism nature of "Sarum", it is my understanding that the term is used both in its strict sense of referring to the liturgical use of the cathedral at New Sarum and also more loosely to the customs and forms from which what later became known as "Sarum" eventually developed, which I understand to be neither uniquely British nor entirely a post-schism importation into Britain. As such, it seems not unreasonable to use Sarum (in this broader sense) as an Orthodox form of worship.

On the question of its restoration and lack of continuous use, my thoughts are still what they were in the original blog post.

However, I do wonder whether my position on adapted Anglican rites may be worth reconsidering in light of what you have said, MPT. My views stem from an initial reaction but also from personal experience of such a rite myself and also discussion with those who once worshipped in that form and no longer do so, and the effect of it on them, so it is not unfounded or simply knee-jerk. However, I recognise that this experience may be limited in its ability to form the basis for a reasoned opinion.

To re-iterate, though, the term "Anglican style" to refer to these sorts of services is not my own. Rather, it is the term used by the compiler of The English Liturgy to present that very service and the offices that accompany it to Anglicans. It may be considered an unhelpful epithet, but it is one from within and not one born of external criticism.

Dale, a forthright response is always welcomed here. :-)

I do, of course, disagree on a number of points but, on the ultimate "success" (however sucha thing is measured - perhaps permanence or stability might be a better word), of the Western Rite, I suppose the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. As I said in an earlier post:

'May we soon begin to see Orthodox Saints whose lives have been formed in the Western Rite - the true test of its Orthodoxy.'

James the Thickheaded said...

FWIW...elsewhere Dale recounts a story where some years back a WR parish was shutdown in Italy by ROCOR (I think) and if I have it right, the parishoners told to leave (and become Roman Catholics?). Understandably some issues there. While I admire your irenic response, "Forthright" does not begin to capture the sense of it here and elsewhere. It is sad how readily our churches have needlessly and heedlessly hurt the faithful.

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