Thanks, Brigid. I was impressed with that answer. Rather than a predictable apologia for the Novus Ordo
(which was a mistake in prudential judgement), it is a calm and rational explanation why one faith can come in the form of several rites.
The answer is also consistent with the Catholic Church 'in the good old days' - disciplinary rules and practices can and do change; defined dogma doesn't.
This is also true in the Orthodox Church historically - on my Orthodox Tradition page
you can buy a book by Canon Hugh Wybrew on the historical evolution of the Byzantine Rite Divine Liturgy.
Change in apostolic churches is organic and usually moves at a glacial pace. Immemorial custom has a lot of weight, East and West (a little like English common law).
Reducing required fasts to tokenism may be a mistake in prudential judgement, but there is a vital difference between changing disciplinary rules and dogmatically teaching against
fasting. In other words, the church can't get rid of fasting but can change how and when one fasts. (A lot like economy in Eastern Orthodoxy.) As a Catholic friend once put it to me, the church can raise and lower the bar. This is also true in Eastern Orthodoxy - consider that in the ancient Church one had only one second chance with Confession; if one sinned again one was OUT. Or the severe penances back then - not going to Communion and having to stand outside the church with the unbaptized for periods lasting several years. Raising and lowering the bar - the prerogative of the apostolic ministry. Happens all the time: Bishop Kallistos (Ware) writes in The Orthodox Church
(which you can also buy on my Orthodox Tradition page
) that much of Orthodox canon law is in fact unenforceable today. Immemorial custom is the determining factor. Again - raising and lowering the bar.
Regarding the Mass, the basic essence of the mass are the same in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches: the Penitential Rite, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the theology of the real presence of Jesus in the Sacrament. Just because Orthodox churches have longer masses, or Catholic churches in Nigeria have 3 hour masses, and here in the US or in your country of Australia, there are 1 hour masses, do not make the one hour mass less of a spiritual experience. The basic elements are all there. We encounter Jesus in the Word and in the Sacrament. It is the packaging that is different.
Entirely true from the Catholic dogmatic POV and many Orthodox would agree the two sides believe the same thing about the Eucharist
. I wondered what he meant by 'Penitential Rite', though. That's really a Novus Ordo
-ism. In the, er, real Roman Mass, the Confiteor
isn't really part of the Mass but along with Psalm 42 is part of a preparatory office for the priest and clerks (servers) from the Middle Ages that got added onto the Mass - the Mass begins when the priest opens the Missal (service book) and reads the Introit. The Kyrie
is obviously really a vestige of a litany like in the Byzantine Rite, not a 'Penitential Rite'. Maybe he sees the Trisagion
('Holy God') in the Byzantine Rite Liturgy as a 'Penitential Rite' but that seems historically 'off' somehow. Oh, well. He probably meant well.
In my studies of Early Church history, when early Christians broke bread together, there were differences in method or packaging in the different liturgies that emerged. For example, the liturgies at Ephesus (Greek), Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Rome had many differences in method, language, and practices, but they did retain the essence of liturgy which contains the truths of our faith.
Well put. Rites are the packaging of the faith. Different rites of the apostolic churches exist because of different cultures and the relative lack of communication and mobility in the ancient world.