Saturday, May 30, 2015

Religion

  • Converts and strawmen. I've thought that convertodox bring their Protestantism with them (religious Catholics and born Orthodox almost never switch); Fr. Hart says a lot of them conveniently act like they have amnesia, as if they've forgotten what Western Christianity really says.
  • St. Tikhon's has changed. So a friend tells me of the OCA's main seminary, in upstate Pennsylvania, based on the experience of a Catholic priest who used to visit. (OCA: historic American Russian Orthodoxy, but they were Ruthenians under the Russians, not Russians. The people in The Deer Hunter.) I've been once for their Memorial Day festival, 13 years ago. You could see a generational divide among the clergy probably because of the convert boomlet. The older priests (who are married) looked and acted like many Slavic Catholics, minus the Pope, because historically that's what they were; the younger ones had adopted Russian/ROCOR trappings (not bad in themselves, but keep reading). So I hear now that the place is decidedly anti-Western. (Like their denomination's canonization of ex-Catholic Fr. Toth there: I don't think there's any real devotion to him among the Slavic parishioners, unlike SS. Michael, Nicholas, and Panteleimon, for example. At least among the ones I used to know.) Their loss, as with anybody who leaves the church. Also why Western Rite Orthodoxy (which the OCA doesn't have) is a dead end, besides being outside the church: the Orthodox don't really want it.
  • May Archbishop Morse rest in peace. He has died at 91. Fr. Robert Sherwood Morse was a rector (of St. Peter's, Oakland) and head of the American Church Union, an Anglo-Catholic group obviously based on the Church Union in England. He put his money where his mouth was and tried to save Catholic faith and order as he saw them (the church minus the Pope, or Hooker minus Erastianism) so he left the Episcopalians in the '70s; the Anglican Province of Christ the King is essentially the old American Church Union as a church unto itself. Like Blessed Pius IX supposedly said of Pusey, he was like the campanile calling the people into the church, but he stayed outside. Commending him to God's mercy.
  • G.K. Chesterton: The "Reformation" was evil.
  • Yes, they will throw Jews under the bus for Big Gay.

17 comments:

  1. I loved the old, latinized Greek Catholicism and Orthodoxy. I used to passionately defend it's hybrid practices to many modern BC's and Orthodox (Needless to say, that didn't go over very well with them). For all its faults, Latinized GCism represented a true organic development of liturgy and popular piety. They chose Latin rite practices and rituals because they has both a universal appeal and worked as a way to channel the devotion of the laity. The modern, "by the book" Eastern practices are like the BC equivalent of the Novus Ordo. They are forced on the people from the top down by pseudo intellectuals who think that "they know better". They don't and end up causing more harm and killing off more faith then anything positive.

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    1. Well put. At byzcath (which, as you can see if you literally read its fine print, isn't Catholic), I have been in moderation lockdown since I dared write that our mother the church offers both unlatinized and latinized options for the Byzantine and other Eastern rites. As you wrote, most of the time, Byzantine Catholics have latinized themselves, starting centuries ago, but that was never the church's plan for that rite. The church DOESN'T say you have to do that to prove you're Catholic, but, persecuted under the Communists in Eastern Europe, those practices mean a lot to Byzantine Catholics there for that reason. (The Communists tried to force them to become Orthodox; some chose going underground, martyrdom, or exile. The first Eastern Christians I knew were Ukrainian Catholic exiles.) So I'm all for both forms; I just hate the anti-Westernism that often comes with the snobbish unlatinized folks in either church. (They turned me against them; I'm Roman Rite, fitting my Anglican background.) And witness the obvious byzantinization of the Western Rite Orthodox. (At least in practice, Orthodoxy is very much tribal, not universal.)

      Part of the trouble with unlatinized Byzantine Catholics who oppose church teaching online (usually converts, like a lot of the anti-Western American Orthodox: self-hating Westerners; the ethnic majority's usually offline and more easygoing) is they give LOYAL unlatinized Byzantine Catholics an undeserved bad name. They want us to dump our post-schism doctrine and become Orthodox. So well-meaning conservative Roman Riters start associating being unlatinized with schism. Educated Catholics know that's not so, but the damage is done.

      Thanks for the insight equating the "by the book" Byzantinizers with the Novus Ordo. It has taken me a long time to figure out why on earth such liturgical conservatives, Catholic and Orthodox, would side with Novus against us traditionalists. Now I think I've figured it out: it's just another form of anti-Westernism. Part of the same cultural movement as "multicultural" political correctness, some elite Westerners' affectation like adopting (distorting) Islam or Buddhism. Boutique religion, a rarefied form of church-shopping.

      Although you don't have to latinize to be Catholic, seeing remaining latinizations among the Slavic-American Orthodox is of course poignant to me; heartbreaking. So beautiful and so sad because they're still so close to us, but outside for no good reason, not really because of our teachings and because it was largely our fault. I get the feeling that although they are still understandably angry at us (an ecclesiology of revenge), at least part of them didn't really want to leave. All they wanted was for things to stay the same, and they should have had that. Which is why I'd say to them: here's my bonafide offer. Everything's on the table except doctrine. But they're angry, and some people just won't take yes for an answer.

      OCA people have long thought they're Russian, since their metropolia days; ACROD is basically hellenized in church now but in English with different music. But Catholics, or at least I, can tell they were relatively recently part of us. Ut unum sint.

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  2. ACROD is not "hellenized."

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  3. One of the issues of "latinization" is that modern latinizations are not traditional; outside of the Byzantine rite (but found there as well) the eastern rites within the Catholic Church are now adopting novus ordoism of their rites. This usually includes doing away with Saturday Vespers or Vigil and replacing it with an evening liturgy and of course having mass facing the people and having female readers and servers at the altar.

    Personally, I am not at all opposed to the traditional, often centuries old, latinisms, that existed in the Byzantine rite; but that is not what is happening today.

    Joseph, if one compares the older usages of ACROD, especially during the time of Bishop John Martin, the modern ACROD is indeed very, very Hellenized; but then as the Archbishop of Greece, and recently the Greek bishop of Canada has declared: "Hellenism is Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy is Hellenism."

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    1. Care to give examples?

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    2. When I was young, so many, many years ago, we still had daily low masses (my guess is that not too many even know the Ruthenian tradition of Low Mass; it actually has quite interesting rubrics); stations of the Cross were still followed; hymns; the rosary; use of the amice, there were quite a few Latin traditions that no longer seem to exist even now in ACROD. My mother's old parish, with Moscow, has completely destroyed all of the Ruthenian traditions quite recently actually; especially the popular devotions during Lent as well as congregational chant.

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    3. Delatinization is not hellenization.

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    4. It's a generalization, like "English comes in two versions, British and American," but Eastern Orthodox practice comes in two versions, Greek and Russian.

      ACROD's founders (we pushed them out over priestly celibacy and parish ownership of property, not our doctrine; within our authority but completely unnecessary) saw the metropolia/now OCA's russification of Ruthenians (some metropolia parishes went under Moscow; the same thing continued) and didn't want that. So they went under the Greeks (the Patriarch of Constantinople, who's in charge of Greeks in America; by the way, most American Orthodox are Greek), who left them alone.

      I understand ACROD's push to delatinize is very recent, from their late most recent former metropolitan, Nicholas (Smisko). The monsignori are now protopresbyters, for example. Now for some reason their new bishop is a Greek-American. Anyway the usage they're copying now, with some historical reason (medieval Ruthenian practice), is essentially Greek, not Russian. So I say "hellenized." Historical precedent, but I say artificial, not the practice the Ruthenians brought with them to America, the preservation of which was ACROD's reason to be. The change makes sense in a way: if you think Orthodoxy is the true church, you really think Byzantium is the church. So it's part of their foundational myth: "Woo hoo! We're Orthodox!" But this hellenization is not their living tradition, plus after a century in America they're not really Ruthenian anymore, so I think this denomination, and American Orthodoxy for that matter, is self-limiting; it has no future. A theology of revenge and ethnic chauvinism doesn't have much staying power. Diluted Ruthenians being ersatz Greeks don't appeal to most Anglo-Americans. The Greek Catholics are declining here too as they Americanize; not my wish, just social reality.

      Doing away with Saturday Vespers or Vigil (Vigil is Russian, not Ruthenian or Ukrainian) and Sunday Matins seems long established among American Greek Catholics; the first traditional Catholic Mass I went to was a Ukrainian Low Divine Liturgy on a Saturday night 30 years ago. The American Greek Catholics are slightly Novus Ordo-fied, in spirit and practice; the Maronites and Chaldeans (split from the Nestorians) extremely so as Dale mentions: "facing the people" and altar girls. I've been to a Maronite Mass; I can vouch.

      Personally, I am not at all opposed to the traditional, often centuries old, latinisms, that existed in the Byzantine rite; but that is not what is happening today.

      Exactly.

      Hellenization appeals to newbie snobs in Byzantine Christianity (Catholic and Orthodox) who sense the subtle latinization of Russian practice, from baroque art and architecture to Western choral harmonies to scholastic-style theology manuals and catechisms, and reject it: Orthodox anti-Westernism meets modern liberal "diversity," "multicultural" anti-Westernism. Greek is exotic and thus cool. I'm not knocking the unlatinized. But that's what I see.

      I like unself-conscious old ethnodox better: they're Catholic only they don't know it.

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    5. Joseph, these so called "Latin" traditions are centuries old in the Ruthenian tradition, to simply destroy them is barbaric, and leaves what? Ruthenians must now pretend to be either Russian or Greek. Period. Could you imagine if the Greeks and Russians were to really start getting ride of the westernisms that have crept into their traditions? They would go nuts. Just try mentioning to a Russian that the opera music they use is Latin! Just try to get ride of it, but they had no problem in destroying Ruthenian plainchant as "western"! Destroying an ancient, living tradition simply because it might be Latin has been the modus operandi of destroying the Ruthenian traditions, and too many Ruthenians have simply gone along with it. One Russian I know actually posted that it was a good thing to get ride of the Ruthenian traditions because "they were only peasant ones anyway."

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    6. Reminds me of American blacks who became Muslims, real or pseudo (Elijah Muhammad's and Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam isn't really Muslim), to spite whites, thinking Islam is the friend of the black man, not knowing Muslims were in the African slave trade.

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  4. I attend an ACROD parish (in Phoenixville) and no one would confuse it with a Russian or Greek parish. I don't know where you've been, Dale, but ACROD has preserved Ruthenian plainchant. And it's truly unfortunate that the OCA churches did not do this- from what I understand, their Russification was mostly voluntary. ACROD did not make the same mistake (though from time to time the choir will sing Russian-style hymns... again, a voluntary adoption and unfortunate, but not nearly as prevalent as in the OCA). But if your "hellenization" argument were to hold true, I should be hearing Byzantine chant. I agree that a lot of the de-Latinization is unfortunate... I am not a knee-jerk anti-Latinist.

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    1. I've been. I mentioned in an earlier comment that ACROD has "different music" from the Greeks; I know they've kept their music.

      Again heartbreaking to me, almost as much as being in one of their old churches in coal and steel country that used to be ours (been), because I know former Catholics built it and can tell. Holy Ghost, Phoenixville is a local schism from St. Michael's, Mont Clare.

      In Philadelphia there is an OCA parish that's a century-old schism from a Greek Catholic parish (interesting: the Greek Catholic parish jumped to the Russians for a year but came back; those who didn't want to be Catholic again started this place) and, while they now think they're Russian (I think there aren't many parishioners left: white flight and dying out), they have kept much of their Ruthenian music. The litanies, for example, sound just like at your parish.

      I'd bet you've got "purists," likely non-Slavic newbies, who'd love to have Byzantine chant instead. Orthodoxy is Byzantium. We believe Byzantium is only part of the church. Big difference; I love it.

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    2. Orthodoxy is not Byzantium, and I am hardly the only Orthodox who thinks this. I've visited the Mont Clare church a few times... I feel the ACROD parish is a tad more vibrant and welcoming to newcomers. I have never run into anyone in ACROD or the OCA, convert or not, who thinks Byzantine chant is superior. I am not Slavic at all and I think the prostopinije is wonderful. Re: the Philly parish, which one are you referring to?

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    3. Preserving Byzantium in Greek, Russian, etc. forms, is Orthodoxy's sole reason to exist.

      Assumption, 28th & Snyder, the 1913 schism from Holy Ghost, 24th & Wolf, Philadelphia's first Eastern-rite church, dating to the late 1800s.

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    4. I sometimes visit an ACROD parish by me and they also still use Ruthenian plainchant. Other than the mention of the Ecumenical Patriarch instead of the Pope, I would not be able to tell the difference between this parish and the local Ruthenian Catholic one. Unless the parish I have been to and Joseph's parish are anomalies, I can't see how ACROD is Hellenized.

      Anthony

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  5. "Preserving Byzantium in Greek, Russian, etc. forms, is Orthodoxy's sole reason to exist. " You very well know this is not true and bearing false witness is a sin.

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    1. My conscience is clear because I believe it's the gospel truth.

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