No sigh from me this time
I believe Isa and I are actually on the some page (somewhat) in regards to the Sacred Heart. I don't practice the devotion myself, but hold open the possibility that it can be seen through Orthodox eyes and put to use, if understood properly. In the thread devoted to the topic I merely defended it because no one else was doing so and I know there are many "lurkers" who can be on the fence about such things. I myself would not be brokenhearted if the devotion were left to Roman Catholics, and most of the Antiochian priests I know feel the same way. The feast is not celebrated at my parish, the devotion is neither encouraged nor condemned (you do indeed find it in the St. Ambrose Prayer Book) and it's most likely going to be left up to pastoral counsel if used.
At any rate, in regards to the OP, within the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate the approach is simple: As Western Orthodox Catholics, we have before us the totality
of the Western Catholic patrimony, (ancient, medieval and contemporary - up to the point that the Vicariate was started anyway), as a means to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, in communion with, and under the guidance of, the great Orthodox patriarchates. Part of the missionary aspect of the Vicariate is to lovingly preserve everything within this vast heritage that embodies the Apostolic Orthodox faith and spirit. And this is done without putting arbitrary dates on things (like 1054 AD) as "cut off" points, because it is recognized that nothing in history is that clean. The Western Catholic churches held to the Orthodox faith for well over 1,000 years and this is the context within which anything that came about in the last
1,000 years is understood and carried out.
This is the precise definition given by our first Vicar General, and I don't think you'll find a better one:Western Orthodoxy is the rediscovery of the Orthodoxy which withered in the west, and its revitalization, not through the transferral of eastern Patristic thought and devotional attitudes, but by the patient searching out, assembly and coordination of the supratemporal factors which created and characterized pre-schismatic occidental Christianity in its essence, and the careful selection of valid survivals in contemporary western thought and culture. 12
- “The Western Rite in the Orthodox Church.” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 1958), p. 35.
There are some who oppose this approach to things and want to "pick up where the Orthodox West left off" and forget everything from the last millennium in Western Catholic thought, praxis, etc., but that would be imprudent and unwise, albeit somewhat understandable. The Western Orthodox movement was not a romantic movement, it was one of genuine ecumenism. And it shows just how seriously some quarters of Orthodoxy are willing to take reunion! The fact is, the Spirit of Truth is not one of exclusion, but one of inclusion. As St. Paul says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any
virtue, and if there be any
praise, think on these things.
" (emphasis mine)
Western Orthodox Catholics simply worship and pray within the living patrimony that has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles, just as our Eastern Orthodox brethren do. We have abandoned anything that violates the ancient spirit and have preserved anything that embodies it, regardless of provenance or time period. No patrimony is perfect (including the Eastern Orthodox!) and we must always receive our inheritance with deep humility, but to change it willy-nilly, to hack at it with our liturgical/devotional pick axes according to our own "wisdom" is not the Spirit of Christ, it is the spirit of iconoclasm.
Those who doubt the truth, wisdom, beauty, purity, and loveliness of the "post-Schism" elements of our patrimony (like the Rosary, Stations of the Cross or the Anglo-Catholic heritage preserved in our Tikhon Rite parishes) must ask themselves why so many who have been formed by this patrimony have come to recognize the faith and worship of the Orthodox communion as there own. It certainly wasn't money or security or property that caused these parishes to abandon those very things in order to come into communion with the Orthodox Church. Those who know how greatly many of our Western Orthodox parishes struggle understand the real
reasons they have sought refuge in the bosom of the Orthodox communion. (And they also know how disheartening it can be when those we had hoped to call brothers, those we hoped would rejoice
with us at coming into the Orthodox fold, meet us with venomous attacks and question our motives and mock our patrimony as if it's no different than paganism or something). It sounds dramatic, but I could tell you some horror stories.
The fact is that those who have come into the Orthodox Church as Western Catholic parishes are there because
of their patrimony, not in spite of it. And the hierarchs who have welcomed and blessed them to continue living out their Christian lives in this manner recognize that and encourage them to preserve it so that it can be handed down to future generations of Orthodox Christians, glory be to God!