Fortunately, Orthodoxy is not about what's "necessary." It's about the fullness of the Faith. The Western liturgical tradition and spiritual heritage are part of Holy Tradition and they rightfully belong to Orthodoxy. Hmmm forgive me for sounding "shifty". If I look at the WR overall I have no problem with the rejuvenation of Western Christian Orthodoxy - as like S. John of Shanghai, I accept the validity of it. What I struggle with is the disingenuous position of those who try and pretend the Great Schism never happened, or those who think that by calling Anglican BCP Matins "Sarum" that it is OK even when BCP Matins is clearly a child of the Reformation.
SubdeaconDavid, forgive me, but you just appear so...shifty and fickle in regards to the Western Rite. One day you'll make posts about how you have no problem with it at all and want to see it thrive, and another day you'll say its "just not necessary." I don't understand it.
I struggle with the fact that you have WR groups with their own prayer books and a determination not to even let scholars in Western liturgy access them. I struggle with the fact that you have a tiny congregation of Western riters with a priest in an ecumenical meeting room my own city and my own 60 year old Russian Orthodox temple has no resident priest and we do not even celebrate feasts together. That simply saddens me.
I am NOT inimical to Western Christendom. I grew up an Anglican. I made my confession believing them valid as an Anglican. I made my communion, having fasted, said preparation prayers and believing tbem valid and the mass that I was attending valid. However the bottom line is I was wrong about the validity of western orders and western Christian history post 1054.
Western-rite not necessary? If you understand that we can worship in English, using the same rite as 99% of Orthodoxy, then NO it is not necessary. It is a liturgical relic - the DNA has been taken by WR clerics and people and brought back to life - of sorts, but it is not the same as the Orthodox experience of unbroken bishops and priests, unbroken community of believers worshipping and living the Orthodox rite of the 'East'.
Western culture has never been homogeneous. Rites based on Anglican worship have little cultural validity in Continental Europe, let alone in the East. The Russian Church in China baptised thousands and ordained many priests - native Chinese, who learned Slavonic, used Chinese as well in worship and for whom the rite was simply 'the Orthodox rite'.
When I joined this thread it was mostly out of curiosity. The whole notion of a Western Orthodox church has always seemed unnecessary to me as well, not that my opinion on the subject really matters. It seemed to me Patriarch St. Tikhon, and perhaps others, were looking for a way to reach out to Protestant Americans in particular, and they thought the long services in Slavonic were perhaps something of a hindrance. Since the common language of Orthodoxy in the US is now English, even as various jurisdictions continue to worship in other languages, it would seem the context has changed rather radically from St. Tikhon's time.
After reading the comments and participating in the discussion, I've learned to respect my Western Rite brothers and sisters (as well as fathers and mothers) in a new way. I bought one of the prayer books--the one prepared by Fr. Aidan--and have been going through it. I have both Anglicans and Roman Catholics in my family and was a professional church musician for many, many years, so the content of this particular book is fairly familiar. I believe anyone who feels at home in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, or even, perhaps, in the pre-conciliar Latin church, would be comfortable with the liturgies in that book.
But the issues remain. First, it feels
like something that was assembled, rather than something that evolved. Once in awhile I find myself with a little bit of a "greatest hits" feeling. Second, I return to some of the debates I participated in a couple of months back: There is simply no basis for asserting that we know how liturgy was celebrated in any Western church before 1054 (or even long after 1054), and there are no extant primary sources for the Sarum Rite before the 12th Century. I know many proponents of the rite disagree with this assertion, but so far no one has offered any actual primary sources to refute it. Certainly, references exist, even individual texts and musical "settings." But nothing like the volume of material that would be needed to put together a Rituale with rubrics for a single liturgy, let alone the entire church year. Now, of course it is reasonable to assume that the material from the 12th-Century sources would reflect earlier practices, so the challenge might be valid if these slightly later sources were missals, for instance, or a complete set of all the material used by an 11th-Century English monastic choir. But these later sources are one Gradual and two Antiphonaries. None of those books is meant, even today, to be used as a stand-alone source for all liturgical practice, and nor do the two books combined contain everything necessary.
So, without in any way questioning either Fr. Aidan's bona fides or his scholarly qualifications, which are far, far superior to my own, I do, nevertheless, feel the question of provenance is a valid one that requires more study.
The other thing in my view is the need for the rite itself. I understand it's been authorized in some jurisdictions, so in a sense my comments are superfluous and irrelevant. But I come back to the feeling I had before I started reading the comments here. I've been deeply moved and inspired by the faith and sincerity of the people here who've shared their love for the Western Rite. But I can't get past the nagging little voice that says loving it isn't enough. The Tridentine Mass is a beautiful liturgy, too, and if one experiences it being celebrated, whether in all the splendor of a European Gothic cathedral or in the simplicity of a rustic mountain chapel, it can be truly awe-inspiring. An Anglican Evensong, sung of a summer evening, perhaps at Ely (or Salisbury itself), is another beautiful spiritual experience. When I open the Western Orthodox prayer book and see the great hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, it is like being greeted by an old, old friend. But we are not talking about a spiritual experience, even less of an aesthetic one. We are talking about "true theology," as the Canon before Communion calls it. We have an ancient liturgy that embodies, expresses, IS this true theology. I'm not persuaded (not that anyone needs to persuade me) that anything other than this ancient liturgy is needed or even desirable, however much one may love this "other," or however beautiful it may be.
Anyway, as many have pointed out, wiser heads than mine have already ruled, and since those heads also wore miters, their decisions bind. LOL