It's been mentioned a few times in this thread that some Eastern Rite Orthodox disapprove of having Western Rite Orthodoxy.
Why is that?
It is not a question of disapproving that which the Church has pronounced licit. Is having the WR resurrected more desirable than having all of the few WR missions worshipping together with
the Byzantine majority? In my view, no even though the WR is clearly licit. The price that is paid for having the WR is fine if you don't mind having small missions of convert Orthodox largely living a spiritual life in isolation from the majority Orthodox world, albeit they have occasional episcopal visits, and their clergy do sometimes attend BR services.
Doctrinal agreement with Byzantine Orthodoxy needs to be reflected in liturgy, the primary mark of Christian unity and this should not just be WR clergy attending or even concelebrating once in a while,but should involve all the laity worshipping together. The problem with having Byzantine Orthodox worshipping in a WR mass is that it is just so foreign to them -particularly those built closely around Church of England (Anglican) useage - their offices, and their mass that you just won't get the average Greek or Russian to attend. In many WR churches you cannot even light a candle before an icon of a saint. It might as well be an Anglican chapel - and indeed today many Anglican Churches will have an icon of the Theotokos or Our Lord.
None of this is to deny the validity of the Western-rite or it's place in the scheme of things. Clearly it needs numbers - a critical mass of laity, and enough trained clergy to get a momentum of it's own. Ultimately it needs WR bishops.
Is the WR the best medium to evangelise the West? WR advocates like to claim that the Byzantine-rite loses 50% of it's converts. Even if this doubtful figure was true, converts make up a significant and culture shifting element witin Orthodoxy in the diaspora today. Everything a convert needs is here in the Byzantine-rite. English prayer books. English liturgies. Convert priests, monks, nuns, bishops and thousands of laity. The Byzantine-rite has achieved that which the WR can only dream of at present.
Arguably the Byzantine rite's biggest attraction is it's street credibility. There is no playing with the semantics of "ye-olde Sarum", or of trying to say that my Western-rite is less Anglican than yours, or playing with the history books of Western society to seek to show that 1054 and the Great Schism didn't count for that much especially in the Celticosphere. In the Byzantine rite we have hundreds and indeed thousands of post-Schism saints - something that stopped dead in the water in 1054 in the West. We have holiness steeped in the lives of generation after generations of believers and it is this holiness that has impelled so many Westerners to look at Orthodoxy.
We live in a world shrunk by the internet and cheap travel, in which that which some call "Eastern" is not exotic at all. That the "East" has come to the US, Australia and Western Europe has been a lived experience in our countries for over a hundred years. Before the Russian and Greek and Arab diaspora to the West was an empty vacuum of a people ripe for the living holiness entering our midst from the East.
By all means resurrect the DNA of Western Orthodoxy, but don't do it with Reformation Eucharists with an Orthodox epiclesis ( and a little more) and call it a "Usus Sarum" "Liturgy", downplaying the Latin saints and popes of Western Orthodox Europe, that ironically are honoured in the Byzantine 'rite'. Westerners hungry for the authentic Orthodox Christian message want authentic holiness. I have no doubt that it is there in the Western-rite in Orthodoxy but it's fruits are marked not just by claimed Sarum liturgical purity, or rivalry between this WR camp and another, but by living congregations with real parish churches, monasteries that generate vocations and witness a living monastic life, with retreats for the laity, offices that we can attend, and holiness marked by a deep prayer life.
These things are not axiomatic in the so-called Byzantine rite either. They are hard one prizes, and yet in the Byzantine Church - of Russia, Serbia, Antioch, Jerusalem and elsewhere it is the laity who honour, recognise, value and support these signals of the grace of God. Such holiness will do more to win the so-called opponents of Western-rite Orthodoxy than any spurious arguments about Celtic Orthodoxy.
It is a noble and difficult task that the pioneers of Western-rite Orthodoxy are undertaking. Concentration on holiness, on building meaningful parishes, on creating institutions of substance that goes beyond the blogosphere, build places where people want to come, to have their children baptised, and above all build relations with the Byzantine-rite, forgetting the cultural baggage of pax Anglicana and the British Empire, and just maybe there will no Byzantine rite critics of the Western-rite.