Saturday, July 3, 2010

More on the Western Rite

Several times on this blog, I have brought up the issue of the Western Rite. I have been asked by several people what my position on the Western Rite is.   There are so many questions and not any easy answers. For my part, I admit that I am somewhat torn on the issue. Orthodoxy is not just an Eastern phenomenon. If Orthodoxy is the fullness of the truth then that fullness is contained in both the East and the West. Yet, there can be no doubt that the West has suffered much at the hands of heresy and schism and the Rite which incorporates such schisms and heresies has been compromised.  After consideration of this issue, I must take the side that the Western Rite is simply  not suited for Orthodox theology or practice.

Many have written on the Western Rite:  Fr. Milovan Katanic at his blog, Again and Again, has reproduced an article with wonderful insights. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, last year at one of the Parish Life Conferences, shared his insights.  Though this essay does have praise for the Western Rite, it is approached with a high degree of caution, which should merit serious discussion. If the Holy Orthodox Church ever does manage to finally convene a Great Council of the Church, something that has been overdue for a long time, the issue of the Western Rite should definitely be on the agenda.

Here are my reasons for why the Western Rite, until debated by a Great and Holy Council, should be put on hiatus and the Eastern Rites of prayer and the Liturgy should be the norm for all Orthodox.  These are in no particular order.
1)  The Western Rite is an anachronism.  You will find that I agree with Fr. Patrick Reardon on this one.  Prayer and, in particular, the Liturgy must be organic and be living.  The Western Rite has not been used by Orthodox for a period of nearly 1000 years.  It simply cannot be brought back.  What was brought back was essentially a cut and paste job by the St. TIKHON, Patriarch of Moscow. He revised the Book of Common prayer, purged it of all "non-Orthodox" leanings, inserted an epiclesis and called it Western Rite.  The problem with this is that it codified the lowest point of development in the Western Rite.

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