My problem with the Western Rite is that it removes some of the Liturgical unity that I believe is important. However, that is a personal opinion, and the calendar issue has already pretty much done that. So, since we have a Western Rite, I am not all that particular with what language they want to use. All of the WR people that I know came out of the Anglican Communion. Latin is not thier language of choice, but rather English. I guess that if a boat load of Old Catholics came on board, I would not object to them using Latin - even if I did actually have anything to say about it. Now, if I could attend one of the old Liturgies from Venice during the time of Geovanni Gabrielli, I could easily be converted to the Western Rite.
Well, hopefully the only thing some converts to is Orthodoxy, not a ritual expression
However, I would like to point out that when the Apostolic Catholic Church was at its closest unity, it was most diverse in its expression. True, as we saw in the East, liturgical uniformity can be important when its the only thing uniting people under great persecution and limited freedom, but that's not the situation under which those parts of the world where Western Orthodoxy makes sense finds itself. If history shows us anything, in fact, it would actually be that unity is brought about when individual cultures express and incarnate the Apostolic Faith in their own peculiar ways.
I agree with Punch on this point.
What troubles me most about the Western Rite is that it seems every parish has its own very distinct way of doing things. I realize this is true in the Eastern Rite as well, but the differences are with musical settings and things, not so much in the "meat" of the liturgy.
What meaty differences did you have in mind? We aren't allowed to change the liturgies that have been approved for us, so it can't be that. Are you talking about the calendar? I know in some instances it's at the priest's discretion as to which saint will be honored on a particular day, but even then, most of that has already been worked out.
I'd be interested in what you experienced that was so different in substance from one WR parish to another.
It troubles me that, essentially, the divine services are conducted according to the liturgical interests of the priest. I know a WR priest and it seems that a lot of his material is the result of his own personal liturgical archaeology, and I get the sense that is true elsewhere too.
He shouldn't be doing that, if it's true. I mean, unless it's something minor. It concerns me, though, when you say "liturgical interest" because we cannot make adjustments to the approved liturgies.
If it's something else though, perhaps like a Stations of the Cross service, or something, then yes, you'll see parishes do those differently. Would that really trouble you though?
This is not the same as the liturgical diversity of old, because the bishops still were intimately involved in those matters. Early on, the Churches were few and far-between, so bishops were personally present in many of the parish communities. But today, there are no Western Rite bishops.
When we're talking about the liturgical diversity of old, it's mainly to demonstrate that the Apostolic Faith was always expressed differently by the cultures that incarnated the Faith, and also to show that true, genuine unity is not gained by liturgical uniformity, as many like to argue. Liturgical uniformity is an abnormality and, while it has proven to be useful to bolster unity in dire times, history also shows us that the Faith thrives when a people takes it and makes it their own.
Our bishops—God bless them—in general have neither the time nor the knowledge to supervise these things. Their forte is the Eastern Orthodox ways as they have always been.
Our bishops supervise our parishes to the same extent they supervise any other parish, whether ER or WR. They don't treat us differently and we're not left to do as we wish according to our own desires. In fact, you could make a case that because the AWRV is so small (comparatively) that we are more closely monitored than any ER parishes, which are not exempt from innovation in praxis just because they use the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom.
I would feel a lot more comfortable if there was a dedicated WR bishop(s) in the Churches that have WR parishes.
I think you'll find that most of us agree on this (although I've grown quite fond of my Bp. BASIL and would miss him dearly) and I don't think it's too far out where this will be the case.
But for now, it seems like the WR is a group of priests, to a large extent unsupervised, who are conducting liturgical experiments in their own little laboratories.
Again, I'm very interested to hear what gave you this impression, because I can't help but say it's a gross caricature that I've not seen born out in my experience at all. The AWRV not only has bishops that we answer to, we also have our Vicar General and his assistant to answer to, as well as Met. PHILIP, whom we technically answer to directly. We have been given approved texts for our services, and exercise freedom in those areas where we've been given permission to do so (such as devotional services).
If priests are going rogue and changing the liturgy or incorporating elements that they have not been given permission to do, that is definitely a singular offense and should probably be reported.
Such things need to be done I suppose, and it was done in the past, but it should then be intimately overseen by bishops, whose Orthodoxy is thoroughly ingrained and above reproach.
Agreed, and honestly, if you spend any decent amount of time in a WR parish, I think you'll find this to be the case. Certain people like to spread the false meme that WR parishes are nothing but High Church Protestants who wanted to stay what they were but be "legit" under one of the truly Apostolic Churches, of which the Orthodox Church was the only one left. It's not only preposterous, it's outright deceit and dangerous.
Come to one of our humble parishes and ask yourself what we have gained if that were the case, since so many priests lost their friendships, their homes, their pensions, so many parishioners lost their church property, etc. We did NOT stay what we were, and that was fine by us, even though it required vast amounts of sacrifice. We became Orthodox because we believe in the Orthodox confession of Faith, and recognize that the Holy Orthodox Church is truly Christ's Bride, the guardian of Truth.
The biggest divide in WRO parishes seems to be between those who want to use the Gregorian liturgy (Former RC's I'm guessing) and those who want to use the St Tikhon Liturgy (Former Anglicans I'm guessing). There are a number of other forms used by WRO, but these two are, I have heard the most prevalent.
I believe that's true for the AWRV. And I personally think that's a fine approach; the two liturgies are rather distinct from each other.
It's true, but I wouldn't call it a "divide" for there is no animosity. There's no greater divide between us than there was between the Church in the British Isles (which is the patrimony of our Liturgy of St. Tikhon) and the Church of Rome (which is, obviously, the patrimony of the Liturgy of St. Gregory).
I am somewhat troubled by using the BCP liturgy though, since the Anglican Church's entire existence was in schism with Orthodoxy.
First of all, we don't
use the BCP liturgy. The Liturgy of St. Tikhon was based upon the Anglo-Catholic Mass found in the American Missal
with certain things incorporated
from the 1928 BCP, which was itself the fruit of a centuries-long tradition away
from the distinctly Protestant tradition of subsequent BCP's from 1549 on. It's actually a fascinating history, which would require a thread of its own
However, I understand the initial impulse to hold the rite suspect because of its presence amongst Anglicans. But the first BCP itself was not the whole-cloth fabrication of an entirely new liturgy. It was, more than anything, a translation into English of the latin services that had been in use since the 9th century at least. Yes, it underwent developments, as all living things do, but the Latin liturgical heritage that was assumed into the first English BCP, and subsequently developed by the Elizabethans, Caroline Divines, Non-Jurors, Anglo-Catholics, etc., (some of whom formally sought union with the Eastern Orthodox Church) was of genuine, pre-Schism, Apostolic origin. It has been said that the Anglicans reformed a Catholic Church, they didn't start a Protestant one. I think that's true. Aside from breaking communion with the Pope of Rome, their was no vast break from that which came before (at least at first) and there has always been bodies within the Anglican Church (some of which I mentioned above) that emphasized their truly historic and Catholic heritage, keeping what they had inherited in line with that ancient spirit.
When all is said and done, the Liturgy of St. Tikhon is really nothing more than an adaptation of the Roman rite that was brought to the British Isles in the 6th century. That it was maintained and further developed by those outside the Church could cause one to balk at the idea of its use, but once you know who those people were, what their intentions were, and see the fruit of their labors, well, it's no wonder St. Tikhon went through all the trouble of sending the 1892 American BCP all the way to Moscow for review, and its no wonder the Holy Russian Synod thought it quite possible that the Orthodox faith could be expressed through it, and it's no wonder that it is today the liturgy in use by the majority of Western Orthodox parishes. And that's because its patrimony really is that of the ancient Orthodox West, and its the heritage that has been kept alive by the Western peoples until the present day, making it the ideal basis for any ongoing Western Orthodoxy into the future.
But that's the AWRV's general approach: Anything that is not objectionable may be used. I'm not sure how I feel about that approach though, since orthodoxy is often more subtle than simply the words written on the page....I don't know.
That's not the whole of the approach, though. The use of "nothing objectionable" is only after
all that is proper for an Orthodox Christian is in place.
I have heard that ROCOR's WR is not quite as organized though, and there are almost as many rites as parishes, with varying degrees of quality. But I don't know that for a fact, it's all gossip and hearsay.
The biggest difference between the AWRV and ROCOR's WR, to the best of my knowledge, is that the AWRV refused to bless individuals to the WR, but only allowed entire parishes to come in. ROCOR does seem to allow the use of a lot more liturgies than the AWRV, which has only blessed two, as well. But, there has been some recent dialog between the two entities and I think that's only a good thing, for both.