Moderated Forums => Liturgy => Western Rite Discussion => Topic started by: SubdeaconDavid on March 05, 2011, 04:49:10 PM

Title: Forgiveness Sunday Reflections
Post by: SubdeaconDavid on March 05, 2011, 04:49:10 PM
Of course I know that the Western-rite brethren keep to a Western calendar which does not have "Forgiveness Sunday".  Perhaps it would be a great universal calendar observance for those in the Western-rite to share the theme of the day as we begin Lent tomorrow - which I assume is Ash Wednesday for WR Orthodox.  The Western-rite rouses many responses in people - from those who love it and don't understand why many Eastern-rite people don't, to those who believe that all Orthodox should follow the Byzantine rite.  

There is much mythology in the Western-rite history, as portrayed by the arch-enthusiasts, as if the Great Schism never occurred or if it did the Western-rite didn't die out for many hundreds of years, leaving for the whole world only the Eastern Church. There is sometimes immense antipathy for the 1000 years of Western Orthodoxy within the Latin Church, and a seeking of non-Roman (Latin) Celtic sources, ignoring the historical impact of the Latin Church in the spread of Western Christianity which was indomitably Orthodox. There are challenges like so many variations in liturgy and a great deal of internal discord, even amongst the Western-rite clergy themselves, before one even looks to how they relate to their Eastern brethren.  

No one has nurtured the veneration of the Western pre-Schism saints as much as have the Eastern-rite clergy who have led the veneration, written molieben and canons to various Western saints, led pilgrimages to holy places and showed that there is no East and West for the Orthodox people of God.

A major challenge for the Western rite remains the fact that while some Western people who convert to Orthodoxy struggle with the "eastern-ness" of it all, many do not and they thrive, nurtured by English/Italian/French/Indonesian/Korean/Japanese/Australian/American priests, with service books in their own language and indeed everything that anyone could ever need to succeed in Orthodoxy in their own language.

In an age where geography is broken down, where the Byzantine-rite of the Russian Orthodox Church is found in more than 62 countries worldwide, with clergy and laity of just about as many nationalities, that exist, the divisions between West and East because of any notion of Western culture seem limited.  in post-Christian Europe it is as easy to convince the unchurched about Eastern Orthodoxy as it is to share a Western-rite Orthodoxy whose language and culture is disconnected from the lives of unbelievers anyway.

Nonetheless there are some positives happening in the Western-rite world, such as the steady progress of the Antiochian Western-rite Vicariate (AWRV) in the US and the steady growth of ROCOR's Western rite in the United States and Canada and in a small neophyte way, in the United Kingdom, symbolised by the recent tonsuring of a Columban nun, Sister Margaret (Smythe).  In my own country I wonder if it is too small - currently a handful of laity and one priest to have any impact at all, set against the steady growth of conversions to (Byzantine-rite) Orthodoxy.

The theme of today's Gospel from St. Matthew is the need for forgiveness. For those of the Western - and Eastern Orthodox rites that I have offended in my writings, please forgive me for my offences and pray for me a sinner to have a good Lent.