Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daniel Nichols on ethnodox, converts and Greek Catholics
Largely true about ethnic vs convert.

Generally I like ethnic better.

The convert approach to fasting is off-putting. Spiritual pride, or a hobby/boutique religion for well-off folk who can afford to shop at Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck) or at least, like the old-school ethnics, are good cooks.

My impression is in practice the ethnics balance their church’s impossibly strict rule with ‘economy’, sort of like dispensations in the Roman Rite but less formal. (They’re not all scrupulous/Ned Flandersy with their parish priest like the convertodox and their ‘spiritual father’, playing monk.) So the fish and mac and cheese in Lent aren’t a big deal to people born into it.

I didn’t know that most of the OCA’s bishops are converts. Nice church: Slavs, Ruthenians, who were pushed out of the Greek Catholic Church 100 years ago for no good reason (the Roman Rite bishops didn’t want married priests in the US), going under their Russian cousins. Still very ‘Catholicky’ (a good thing) like Johnstown but non-Novus Ordo thanks to their isolation and with that grassroots conservatism that’s good about the Eastern churches.

I’ve never met a Greek Catholic, ethnic or convert (born Roman Riter), who was fanatical about the fasts, which in their church are really the modern Roman Catholic rules (not a putdown, just an observation). The high-church non-latinized minority (almost always converts) including the OicwRs may do the Orthodox rules but again they’re a minority of Greek Catholics.

My impression: a really holy person who happens to do all the fasts doesn’t talk about it.

The church can lower the bar on fasts. It’s just a rule.

Which approach is better: impossibly strict rule rarely enforced, an Eastern way that looks hypocritical to many Westerners, or changing the rule as happened to Greek Catholics? I don’t know.

There was the libs’ game at Vatican II as happened to meatless Fridays: praise a practice, then make it optional, which in practice abolished it.

My likes: high-church, non-Novus Ordo liturgy but moderation about fasting. The Mass is for everyone; the office available to all. Super-strict fasting is something I think few are called to.

Refugee conservative (sometimes ex) Roman Riters after Vatican II have been a mainstay and lifesaver for a few Greek Catholic parishes.

IIRC at least one such parish, in the Southwest, not in the Slavic-American home base of the Northeast, has been majority born Roman Riters. I’ve been to one Southern city where the Greek Catholic parish was a conservative Catholic magnet, under a non-ethnic, Rome-trained, high-church (non-latinized) priest. Good folks.

My guess is the convertodox boomlet was a flash in the pan 20 years ago. The number-one reason the few converts switch is still marriage. The Orthodox and Greek Catholic numbers will keep going down as are the Roman Catholic real numbers (seemingly steady because of counting Mexican immigrants).

Prayer beads: older than the rosary and Christianity; the East were the first Christians to have them; no St Dominic in the Balkans or Russia so no native devotion of the rosary. Crossover where East and West meet? Sure. Rite controls what you do in church. Devotion is free.

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