Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rusyn Catholics: they wanted things to stay the same

And that was a good thing. But it’s possible to make an idol out of a good thing such as your culture, without even believing in Christ or the church. And end up not even keeping the culture, turning into something else. That said, my approach is very similar to theirs. I have a remote ancestral connection to my religion, keep my Mass as it’s been done for centuries, and want to be left in peace to continue to do so.

  • Family and ethnicity, and part of the old America: two videos from ACROD, one a ’54 newsreel (with the Mid-Atlantic accent, the slight English accent American announcers used to fake). Their golden era too, just like Cardinal Spellman’s Catholicism. Most Ruthenians didn’t go into schism in the ’30s but this was still a preventable wound to that community. These people had a point (the title of this post), weren’t heretics, and were pushed out of the church for no good reason. So seeing one of their big, beautiful old churches, in Saint Clair and Perth Amboy for example, is painful to me; I could tell they were originally Catholic before anyone told me.
  • More history.


  1. Watching the video, I saw a very Latin (as in TLM) style design on a phelonion! The melodies are just as I remembered in our local Ruthenian BC parish church of about 10 years ago. I haven't been back there since the "change," but I expect it nonetheless to be pretty much the same music.

    1. Yup. One priest's phelonion (chasuble) has a Gothic orphrey design, the cross with the raised arms, plus he's wearing the equivalent of the biretta, like the Orthodox skufia but stiff like a biretta. A priest told me it's uniquely Greek Catholic and copied from the Jewish cantor's hat in Eastern Europe. Clean-shaven clergy, even Bishop Chornock, and notch Roman collars. Charming – I mean that. Actually not too different from their fellow Rusyn-Americans in the Russian metropolia at the time and from the majority of American Orthodox then and now, Greeks, except the Russian and Greek bishops have beards. American Orthodox priests have long looked like Catholic or Episcopal ones, clean-shaven in black suits and clerical collars, Roman or Anglican. It wasn't just that the Slavs used to be Catholic; the Greeks assimilated that way too. Yes, the same Rusyn music. And overall, recognizably Byzantine Rite, not overly latinized. Very nice.

      Also from that time, in the Ruthenian Church and ACROD, are phelonia with a Latin cross on the back, just like on a fiddleback.

    2. fiddleback, which when you think about it for a bit, you realize that it should be called a fiddlefront! LOL


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