Saturday, April 04, 2015

On comparing rites

I have to be totally honest here: I enjoyed the service tonight but the Byzantine Rite just totally blows us Latins out of the water altogether when it comes to doing Holy Week. I'm not saying what we do is "bad"; I'm just saying the Easterners, be they Orthodox or Catholic, do it better.

Well, the good news is, no matter what "rite" you are baptized into, being a Catholic means you can fully embrace and practice any of the rites you choose. It makes one appreciate the Universal Catholic and Orthodox Church so much more!
Serious devotees by choice of the Christian East are right that a rite is more than a suit of clothes; it's supposed to be a whole culture. (Our doctrine has always been a big tent of different schools of theological speculation and spirituality, which don't always get along.) A reason why you need to actually join a particular ritual church for a few things, namely, to be married or ordained in it. But yes.

Readers of prolific online writer Diane Kamer will recognize this:
Well, it's always a matter of personal taste, and in a sense that's as it should be. That's why it's good to have both options. I grew up before Vatican II in a very Catholic Irish ghetto in Boston, which was absolutely saturated with Novenas and Holy Cards and Stations and stained glass and rosaries and statues and Benediction and on and on. That stuff is in my blood and always will be. If I had been brought up in an Eastern Christian milieu, I would no doubt have a very different POV. The Eastern stuff would be in my blood. But as it is, I am Latin down to my fingernails. I can certainly appreciate the Eastern stuff. But it does not resonate with my inmost soul the way the Latin stuff does. But...variety is the spice of life, right? Diff'rent strokes. It would be boring if we all gravitated to the same thing. One isn't better than the other. It's just a matter of what resonates with YOU.
A beautiful unique selling point of Catholicism is it doesn't force you to hate one to love the other. As I was born Episcopal to a wayward Roman Riter, I'm Latin to my fingernails by extension. But my first traditional Catholic liturgy in person was Ukrainian. My biggest lesson from the Christian East in America is about the same as from Latin offshoot Anglo-Catholicism: the possibility of a conservative semi-congregationalism for Catholicism. (My favorite American Orthodox parishes are Slavic ones that are almost like Catholic parishes 50 years ago but are run semi-congregationally; appealing but heartbreaking because they're so close to us and in many cases started out as part of us.) The Eastern rites and Tridentine are point-for-point analogues to me, all largely medieval developments.

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