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Restoration of the WR: historical parallels?


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#1 Christophoros

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:40 PM

The recent reception of western rite clergy by the ROCOR has me wondering if anyone is aware of historical parallels in the past millenium. Specifically, has there ever been a reception of a heretical community which continued to utilize a rite which had fallen into disuse within the Church (Monophysite, Nestorian (Assyrian), certain Uniates, etc.), and if so, were they allowed to retain it, and how did the Church deal with any liturgical revisions that occured prior to the community's reception?

I say in the past millenium because shortly after the papal schism, a process of liturgical homogenization began to occur, with all patriarchates eventually adopting the rite of the Great Church. Previous to this, there was greater liturgical diversity.

(Also, I recognize there are some who believe the western rites never actually died out to begin with. I am using "rite" in the scholarly sense: meaning, the totality of liturgies and sacraments, public and private prayers and devotions used by a given community, and not merely one liturgical service.)

In Christ,
Chris

#2 Anna Stickles

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 08:27 PM

I am not sure if this applies, but Michael and I ran across an "Old Believers" parish in Erie, PA that had been accepted back into ROCOR and the web site stated that they are still practicing the old believers rite. Now I don't know what changes were instituted in the liturgy during that time in Russia when this debate was going on or how much real difference their is between the older and newer rites. I am not exactly sure if the Old believers were exactly considered heretical either.

#3 Christophoros

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:11 AM

I came across a reference about "several thousand Nestorians from Urmia (Northern Persia) with their Bishop and clergy in 1898" being received by the Russian Church, but nothing more. Is anyone familiar with the history of this event?

#4 Christophoros

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:31 AM

http://www.roca.org/bishop_john.htm

The above article discusses the Nestorian bishop received by the Russian Church, but no indication whether this community was permitted to retain their rite "as is," whether it was subject to any modification, or whether they adopted the Byzantine rite.

#5 Christophoros

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:44 AM

"The Russians insisted that the Assyrian converts renounce their 'Nestorian' heresy and seek absolution before being accepted into the Orthodox Church. Over time, the Russian Mission sought to replace the services of the Assyrian Church with translations of Russian services made into Syriac. This new 'Assyrian Orthodox' church did not survive long after the fall of the Russian Empire. Once the promise of political and financial support was gone, only a handful of individuals remained loyal to this union."

- History of the Syrian Nation and the Old Evangelical-Apostolic Church of the East, by George David Malech, Gorgias Press, p. viii

#6 Nathaniel Woon

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 02:30 PM

I remember reading something about groups of Armenians who accepted Chalcedonian Orthodoxy before the fall of the Russian Empire some time back in a Russian site.

Back to the restoration of the WR - is anyone familiar with the liturgical texts that have been prepared by the Milan Synod?
They are available here - http://orthodoxengla...9/11/about.html

#7 Jason H.

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:27 PM

Does anyone have information about the use of the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church? I made a comment about it to someone and was "attacked" because I doubted the authenticity, or it's historical/Sacramental use, throughout the ages. I was told that St. Tikhon of Moscow and St. John of S.F. were big proponents of the use of the WR. But for the whole 4 years I've been Orthodox I've never come across articles about exactly what Western Rite they were using.

-Ignatios

#8 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:19 PM

Unfortunately, the enthusiastic proponents of Western Rite can be a bit "touchy" when questioned. Even when questioned by someone who supports Western Rite...

I'm not sure I would call either St Tikhon or St John BIG proponents, but they certainly had no issue with the concept of Western Rite. St Tikhon apparently spearheaded a move to have the Anglican Book of Common Prayer assesed by the Russian Synod of Bishops, who recomended a few changes to make it consistent with Orthodox theology (the removal of the filioque, the addition of an explicit epiclesis, etc.). That is the source of the Western Rite "Liturgy of St Tikhon" - which is basically a slightly altered pre-1963 Anglican liturgy. This was done at a time when the Anglican Churches and the Orthodox were seriously considering, and working towards, inter-communion - which would have established the Anglican Churches as Western Rite Orthodox. The later theological and moral meanderings of the Anglican Communion have permanently curtailed that. To my knowledge, there is no evidence that St Tikhon ever performed, or even attended, a "Liturgy of St Tikhon".

St John did oversee a group who used a Western Rite when he was the bishop of Paris. He was a great lover of pre-schism western saints, establishing a good number of them into the Orthodox Calendar of Saints. He is often quoted as saying "Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must also be Eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of Her heresies." Sadly, that group has since left Orthodoxy. I am under the impression that the rites used by this French group are different again, than any being currently used by the Western Rite Orthodox.

Certainly, the West, with all it's rites intact, were fully Orthodox prior to the Great Schism. That's undeniable. That's what being "pre-Schism" means. So why doesn't the Western Rite simply use the western rites, as they were prior to the Schism? Well, that's because we basically don't seem to have any set of full liturgical books from the West that pre-date the schism (I don't think we have any from the East either!). We have bits and pieces that various scholars have put together (and have furiously argued about, too!) and not everyone is in full agreement.

A different approach of some of the Western Rite folks seems to have been to take pre-Vatican II Roman and Anglican Rites and "Orthodoxify" them, by removing the filioque, adding and epiclesis, removing references to "merits" of the saints, removing post Schism saints from the calendar, and so on. Again, there is controversy about some of these modifications, some thinking they haven't gone far enough, some thinking they have (or even gone too far!).

So, in short, the concept of Western Rite Orthodoxy is solid. The practice is still being figured out. I just hope folks on all sides of the debate can start to realize that we're still in that process of re-creating a Western Orthodox praxis, and therefore we need to treat each other with a lot more gentleness, because we could very easily be the ones that are wrong...

Edited by Cyprian (Humphrey), 29 November 2010 - 07:21 PM.
I type like I'm wearing mittens...


#9 Jason H.

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 03:37 AM

Thank you Father!

#10 Paul Cowan

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:01 AM

Here is the page of our local WR parish in Houston; St. Paul

#11 Jason H.

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:45 AM

Thanks Paul! I'm definitely going to read over the articles on the site.

#12 Jason H.

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 03:25 PM

For some reason i just don't see the WR Liturgy as following in the Anglican form. To me, my opinion, if we were to follow a more historical approach of celebrating the Liturgy as it was done in the West after the Schism, wouldn't it be more like the Tridentine mass?

#13 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 04:27 PM

Well, I think the goal would be to celebrate the Liturgy as it was done in the West before the Schism, but I presume that was a typo. :)

I see you point, and actually agree with you, but I fear we are going to get vehemently flamed for voicing it. It's that "touchiness" that some have again...

But, yes, there is no way the BCP is pre-Schism. Although we generally give a date of 1054 for the Great Schism, it actually wasn't an instantaneous moment, but rather a process that occured from the ninth to 13th centuries. 1054 is a reference date, usually given for convenience. The first version of the BCP was produced in 1549. So, it's approximately at least 300 years too late to be pre-Schism. Apparently there are claims that the BCP is based on ancient, pre-Schism texts, and I can't speak to the veracity of those claims. I'm not a liturgical scholar. They may well be true. (Also, I'm not trying to annoy anyone who is a liturgical scholar that feels those claims are true. I'm just trying to express that there is a divergence of opinion amongst those who know about these things.) But that still doesn't undo the fact that the BCP is a Calvinist revision of Western Rites, with Calvinist interpretations guiding the translation and selection of texts for it's composition. That's a problem.

To my knowledge, most of the ROCOR and Milan Synod Western Rite is based on either the Tridentine mass and it's antecedents, or some sort of variation on fragments of the Sarum Rite. So they don't have that particular problem. What they do have is that not all of the available texts pre-date the Schism, and some of them have rather questionable Anselmian Atonement ideas expressed in their prayers, as well as other similar problems, like references to "merits" of the saints, and so on.

What the issue is (at least in some circles), is that just because a bishop, or a synod of bishops, gave something a blessing, doesn't actually mean it's perfect and completed, and there's no need for improvement. What they (the bishops) did was give their blessing to start using certain rites, and even though they may have not expressly said it, to continue with the effort of correcting the errors, and fixing the problems. So, just because a bishop gave a blessing to use the Liturgy of St Tikhon, doesn't mean it's impossible for the Liturgy of St Tikhon to have "issues". That goes for the Sarum, and other rites as well...

I mean, if the blessing of a bishop automatically and magically made something theologically perfect, and unquestionable, the Second Council of Lyon and the Council of Florence would apply, and there would be no Schism! And we all know how that worked out...

#14 Jason H.

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:49 PM

Thank you Father Cyprian for correcting my wording! My brain is not working today.

I hope that this doesn't cause an uproar, but I think it is something worth talking about and researching.

The site that Paul linked to mentions the Liturgy according to St. Gregory the Great. I did brief search and it appears that St. Gregory didn't really come up with a Liturgy but rather made changes to the existing one (from catholic source). So I guess we would have to know more about what the Liturgy was prior to St. Gregory.

Is there an online version of the service book that WR use?

#15 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:58 PM

Well, there are a number of service books in use. This site has some interesting comparisons and resources:

http://www.allmercif.../Liturgics.html

That, and a lot of the books from Lancelot Andrewes Press (although they are technically not a 100% Orthodox publishing company - they publish for both Continuing Anglicans and Orthodox). Although these are not available to peruse online for free, you actually have to buy them - how old fashioned!:

http://www.andrewespress.com/

That, and Christminster has a lot of good information:

http://christminster.org/

Only suggestions though. I'm sure Western Rite folks will chime in and provide links and references to other wonderful stuff.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 30 November 2010 - 08:01 PM.
added "not"





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