Sunday, January 23, 2011


Byzantine Rite and wrong: are latinisations good or bad? It depends.

AMM writes:
I took a more detailed altar picture this morning. It was mentioned a few weeks ago it is rather Western-looking.
Thanks for this.

Sir George Martin has said, ‘It may seem an Irishism but I like music that’s out of tune as long as it’s tuneful’, rather like blue notes in jazz.

To me there are good latinisations – ‘out of tune but tuneful’ – and bad.

I'm all for leaving a traditional rite alone but things like this kind of altar, Greek Catholic and ACROD monsignori, people saying rosaries at home (po-našemu folk ‘up home’ in Pa. who just wanted to be left in peace doing what they’ve always remembered doing, without the local Irish for example trying to close them down... ACROD in a nutshell: driven out of the RCC for no good reason), Tridentine manuals of moral theology (the Russians used to teach scholastic theology), traditional Western painting, Russian baroque architecture and Russian choral music – basically German chorales with a few ‘sad’ Oriental minor keys thrown in to remind you it’s Russian – are the good kind. (They follow the principle that liturgical change is inevitable but should be so slow as to be almost inperceptible.)

Taking down an iconostasis and putting up statues (Bishop/Archbishop Elko’s 1950s-1960s plan to make the Ruthenians ‘more American’; I think Archbishop Senyshyn was like that with the Ukrainians too), having nuns in late-’60s streamlined habits or without habits, priests apologising for ‘sexist language’, having Saturday-night Mass instead of Vespers, and altar girls, as have been spotted in a few Ukrainian Catholic parishes in North America (basically it’s an ethnic version of the Novus Ordo), are the other kind.

BTW Holy Ghost, Phoenixville has a decent iconostasis. You can’t see it in the photo above because its royal doors are very wide as is their longstanding custom.

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