ROCOR halts its Western Rite

Renegade vicar, via Ad Orientem. Reading between the lines, it sounds like another Western cleric who didn't want to be Catholic, only to discover that Orthodoxy is actually catholic.

When I left the Episcopal church, I walked into an Antiochian parish and, approximately one year later, received chrismation as an Orthodox. I did not know an Orthodox "Western Rite" existed, though my Archdiocese supports one. Consequently, I am open to correction about this entire topic. At this point though, I have the Eastern services and hymnody as my own, and so it shall be to my death.

I've never been clear on what all the source documents for the Western Rite are. There is apparently a surviving Liturgy of St. Gregory, which seems rather abbreviated, and everything else seems compiled from Anglican prayer books of the modern era, edited and supplemented with the Eastern rites for conformity with Orthodox praxis.

I assume the intent behind the Western Rite is 1) to recapture for Orthodoxy the Western forms previously lost to the schism with Rome and the Anglican catastrophe, and 2) to provide a familiar setting for cultural/ethnic Anglicans in the Orthodox faith.

My novice thoughts on the matter are that the orthodox Western forms are mostly lost to history. America has no nation, no creed, no aristocracy, no monarch and no emperor; it is terra nova for everybody. Converts to the True Faith can go to the back of the line and start with the Byzantine forms like everybody else. None of this is to suggest that the Western Rite is not in communion, but it's hard to avoid the sense that we are making it up as we go along. (Of course, going back far enough, everybody is making it up as they go along.)

Three centuries from now, it is possible that an organic Western rite will emerge from the current stew of missionary eparchies. There will not be a multi-national United States dominating the North American continent at that point, but several States organized loosely around their market-dominant ethnic majorities. Whether the Orthodox will still be around these parts remains to be seen.

And we can stop right there, because further particulars are impossible to predict.


Anonymous said…
"I've never been clear on what all the source documents for the Western Rite are.."

The western rite used in the Antiochian Archdiocese derives from modified Tridentine books (such as the Tridentine Missals you can find from the 60s and 50s; or the Priest's books from that time), except with the filioque excised. The other books for their St. Tikhon parishes are derived manly from the different Anglican and American missals,I believe, which are a combination of the Book of Common Prayer with certain Tridentine rituals (though, there is some lectionary difference), with no flioque, epiklesis added in all, etc.

The source material for the ROCOR western rite was largely based upon a Tridentinist type similar to the Antiochians; with some St. Tikhon stuff. Theoretically, and never used, there was in theory permission for an older Western rite, but, it was only used once or twice, if ever in the ROCOR wrv.

Of course, if you wish to know exactly how the Western Liturgy was celebrated for the centuries prior to the Schism, and even for the first few centuries after, and just before the Reformation, then simply look here:

There are some odd 20 Sacramentaries prior to the Schism. They are pretty much all the same from before the Schism until you get to the 13th and 14th century, when major changes began to happen. There are also various Antiphonales (such as that of St. Gregory which was used for centuries), as well as the Tropers (such as that of Winchester and Canteruby, though there are many others) before the Schism for the Proper chants. And, of course, the different Tracts and works on how to celebrate the Mass by the Irish, Anglo-Saxons, and French writers before the Schism and just at it.

Major changes that came in during the 13th century and leading up to the Counter Reformation and beyond, were the introduction of Corpus Christi feast, widespread tearing down of sanctuary partitions, ciboriums, altar veils, removal of offertory verses, psalm verse from communio chant, abolition of tropes, abolition of hundreds of prefaces that had had been in use for nearly 1,000 years, abolition of communion in both kinds, abolition of sequences (except a few retained), mutilation of vestments, widespread introduction of low mass where everything is said (and not sung, with no incense), abolition of the repetition of the introit antiphon after the psalm verse, abolition of the priest's arm extending in the form of the cross while praying "Unde et memores" in the Canon, and in the past 100 years or so, the abolition of the traditional fast/abstinence rules (no meat and dairy on Wednesday and Friday excepting Pentecost Week, Bright Week, and days of Christmas), etc.

The source material, if you look through it, is very explicit and thorough and doesn't require anything near 'guess' work.

Of course, this is in no way a judgment on whether one wants to use any kind of 'western rite'; it is simply to answer your question about 'where does everything come from.'

In Christ,

-Fr. Enoch

"We cannot destroy the Ecclesiastical Canons, who are defenders and keepers of
the Canons, not their transgressors." (Pope St. Martin the Confessor)

Thank you for confirming this. The Western Rite is fragmentary pre-Schism forms heavily supplemented with centuries of Roman and Church of England usage, edited to comply with Orthodox doctrine and praxis.

+John and +Philip allow the Western Rite in their jurisdiction, so the vicariate is in communion and so are all Orthodox with the vicariate. Again, this is not all about a "Rite."

Now that it appears the Western form has faltered badly in practice, at least in ROCOR, then suddenly it really is all about a "Rite," and worship forms which have not seen the true faith for centuries suddenly become Holy Writ.

Unfortunately, at least in ROCOR, it appears this vicariate is becoming a refuge for Anglicans who just don't want to be Catholic. And if they are not willing to accept Orthodoxy as a catholic faith, then they need to leave.
Anonymous said…
Yes, the Western Rite as practice in the ROCOR and among the Antiochians has many significant differences from the Western Liturgy prior to the 13th century, as noted above. There has been a meme going about that somehow some people in ROCOR were actually celebrating material that was pre-Schism; this is not true it appears. There is maybe one monastery of theirs that does this, and that monastery originally derived from an old calendarist church. The majority of the WRV in ROCOR practiced some version of a modified Tridentine rite (like the many of the Antiochians), but, in modern English.

The Tridentine rite, as opposed to the Anglican rite, among the Antiochians and the ROCOR people, represents a skeletal, as opposed to a 'fragmentary' form of the old Roman use. Among a few religious orders, monasteries, and privileged churches (an RC designation), and dioceses, the old forms of the Western rite survived the post 13th century reforms, and the Tridentine reforms.

The issues in ROCOR and its western rite, etc, are more complicated because they involve many political issues, issues that surround it's past troubles, and personalities, etc. It was my continuous affirmation that the whole wr initiative in ROCOR would ultimately fall apart. The current commission that has been granted authority to implement the specific points of the recent decree is composed of many people with different motives.

I make these observations as an outsiders, but, who has contacts with people inside, and has had to personally deal from a polemical and apologetical sense between ROCOR and myself. It was the prediction of myself that because ROCOR had an anything goes policy, that it would eventually become too much of an embarrassment for them to continue anything.

In Christ,

-Fr. Enoch

"We cannot destroy the Ecclesiastical Canons, who are defenders and keepers of
the Canons, not their transgressors." (Pope St. Martin the Confessor)
Chris Jones said…
I don't think that the Orthodox Western Rite is simply a refuge for Anglicans who just don't want to be Catholic -- certainly not in intention, and I don't think in practice, either.

I know little about the ROCOR Western Rite, but I am a former member of an Antiochian WR parish, and I've followed the AWRV's fortunes in the years since I left that parish and am personally acquainted with some in its leadership.

It is certainly true that many Antiochian WR parishes are former Episcopalian parishes that use the Anglican-heritage liturgy of St Tikhon. But when the AWRV was founded in the late 1950s, the first converts were of Old Catholic, not Anglican, heritage; and most of the recent growth of the Vicariate has come from non-Anglican sources.

Several of the newest AWRV congregations have come in from a small denomination called the "Charismatic Episcopal Church." Despite the word "Episcopal" in the name, the CEC has nothing to do with the Episcopal Church USA, but is a group of "charismatic" Christians who have gravitated toward liturgical worship and more traditional sacramental theology. A few of their congregations have followed that liturgical/sacramental drift to a logical conclusion and been received into the Orthodox Church.

A number of high-Church Lutherans have also come into the AWRV (both the Vicar General and the deputy Vicar General of the AWRV are former Lutheran pastors). Both the former Charismatic Episcopalians and the former Lutherans use the liturgy of St Gregory rather than the Anglican-heritage liturgy of St Tikhon.

Finally, I should think that there is nothing wrong with being an Orthodox who "doesn't want to be Catholic." If you don't want to be Catholic because you don't believe in the things that Orthodoxy and Catholicism have in common, you shouldn't become WRO; but if you don't want to be Catholic because you believe Orthodoxy is right on those issues where it does differ from Catholicism, that should be no problem. I have no reason to believe that the AWRV members who are former Anglicans do not unreservedly confess the Orthodox faith.
I should clarify. If the Metropolitan is fine with it, and the Patriarch is fine with the Metropolitan, then they are in full communion and that is that.

But it seems abused in several instances by ex-Anglicans who want to "hide out" with a Western form rather than actually become Orthodox.

Anyway, the matter can be left to the hierarchy.