Sunday, September 04, 2016

This month's Byzantine Sunday: A bit about latinizations


This is such an action-packed month of weekends of car shows and flea markets, as summer ends and these taper off into autumn, that today was my monthly Byzantine Rite Sunday because I was free. At coffee hour we talked mostly about cars (my Edsel in the lot being an opener; by the way, today's the anniversary of the make's launch) and what a great place Chester, Pa. was for a thriving working-class Catholic community 50-70 years ago. Thought so. Got to field-test one of my positions with nice older born Ukrainian Catholics. (These are Americans descended from immigration before World War II and likely before World War I.*) They mentioned moving from the Chester church to the new merged parish and regretted the clergy's decision to delatinize by not bringing the old church's Stations of the Cross. I stated my case: yes, the church wants the rite to be in its original form (the church always did; even the filioque wasn't required) but you have to strike a balance because the people want their devotions they adopted decades ago. I'm fine with latinizations if they're old (pre-Vatican II) and if they don't take over the rite. In this case, the people were fine with what I said. Elaborating here: there should be entirely byzantinized parishes and there should be hybrid ones for the people who want them. This stuff is cultural, not de fide. Another of my sayings: rite is to keep order in church; home devotion is a free-for-all where you can have your own canon of private saints such as deceased relatives and do any practice from any rite. (Yet another: Catholicism includes Byzantium. The Byzantine Orthodox don't really include us.)

An observation I and others have made: I say being a faithful Catholic who's unlatinized Byzantine is a hard, rare calling; the observation is they're usually former Latin Catholics who've fallen in love with the rite. This fellow (pictured) who died four years ago (eternal memory, вѣчная память) reminds me of that: Brother Ambrose (Moorman). (There have been a few cases of Russian Old Believers becoming Catholic; in tsarist Russia after the small Russian Catholic Church started. "The enemy of my enemy [in the Old Believers' case, the official Russian church] is my friend.")

Nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter as St. Pius X said "commissioning" the Russian Catholic Church to follow official Russian Orthodox usages. The Russians' main successor in America, the OCA, had the right idea: just translate the old services (don't write new ones!) and neither suppress nor advertise the ethnicity lest hypothetical inquirers assume they're not welcome. The Antiochians are doing the same. This little corner of the Catholic Church where I hang my hat once a month is doing likewise, of course hoping for the best. As I like to say, there's so much potential: a Catholic traditionalism without some of our baggage.

P.S. A no-brainer in a way: Mother Teresa has been canonized. Worth learning about besides her famous charitable work is her apparently long dark night of the soul where she felt like she had lost her faith. We are saved by faith but it's still hard work.

*As a friend upstate, a Ukrainian Catholic by choice, says of his parishioners, when these families weren't sure which country if any they identified with, their part of the Ukraine long being absorbed into Poland, or, to the south, being in eastern Slovakia (Rusyns, in Ruthenia), both places being parts of Austria-Hungary. (And Galician Ukrainians and Rusyns didn't always get along. Hey, Joan of Arc was burned by fellow Catholics.) Po našomu (should be po našemu, по нашему), meaning "according to our way," or "Slavish"; "Ukrainian" sometimes came later. Like a lot of people from outside, I'm a bit of a russophile (I know Russian), seeing all the things these Eastern Slavic sub-groups have in common, but if the Ukraine wants to be independent, fine with me. Anyplace where the Catholic Church has a chance.

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