Thursday, February 09, 2017

Intercommunion and more

  • Intercommunion: For all their being self-consciously Byzantine/unlatinized, some Melkites pushing intercommunion with the Orthodox without converting the Orthodox sound like Western liberal churchmen, not like Orthodox. Ironically, we don't intercommune because of what we have in common: every ancient apostolic church claims it's the only true one. By the way, quoting a semi-private blog (not mine), intercommunion "for pastoral reasons" in mixed marriages for example is giving the finger to everyone who converted on principle, like illegal immigration (undocumented means criminal) does that to people who came over by obeying the law. So is lending our churches to Protestants. (St. Peter's?!) Respectful people don't act like they're entitled to being treated like members of a community without being members.
  • Byzantine tidbits: At my part-time parish, the priest told me that you can stack up to eight commemorations (saints' days) in one day in the rite. And my eyes and ears tell me the truth: Slavonic (the traditional Slavic Byzantine liturgical language, that of Russian Orthodoxy) is closer to Russian than to Ukrainian; Ukrainian changed more. The Ukrainian Catholic Church has officially switched to Ukrainian; our Divine Liturgy has some of it. Father says some Ukrainian Catholic priests in the Ukraine don't like Slavonic because it reminds them of Russian including Soviet persecution; understandable. (The Ukrainian Catholic Church used to be all of the Ukraine and Byelorussia; the metropolitan of Kiev converted. Russian westward expansion as the Ukraine declined, including persecution, squashed that, reducing the Ukrainian Catholic Church to old Polish Galicia, its base now.) But I'm reminded of a good quotation I learned from an Episcopal Church bulletin recently: never use the liturgy for ulterior motives. When it's more about the blue-and-yellow flag, the tryzub, and Taras Shevchenko than Christ, your community will die by the third generation in America.
  • Vatican II was a mistake so we are best off acting like it never happened. Let it collect dust. It's about rules and policy recommendations, not doctrine, something most people don't understand about it. I remember Catholic books 30-40 years ago sounding like it was doctrine so to resist it was to oppose the Holy Spirit. I should have logically concluded that a religion that contradicts itself like that isn't worth taking seriously and taken up Buddhism or something. Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit that I didn't?
    Exactly. I am getting tired of people acting like it's the council of all councils. There were 20 other councils before that one.
    It was far worse right after it happened. Loyal churchmen like Gommar DePauw and Marcel Lefebvre were told they were effectively outside the church.
    The one good thing that came out of V2 was it helped the Eastern Catholics in reclaiming their traditions and stopping latinizations but then again those issues could've been solved without the need of a big grand council.
    A lot of good came of that but so did problems, as a visit to an online Byzantine fever swamp will show you: same self-righteousness as Western Catholic liberals with exactly the same target. I've only recently begun doing Byzantine things again because a Ukrainian Catholic parish moved from its slummified city closer to me, but the attitude I describe (and a lot of the online rabble leaves the church, and encourages you to) is why after I returned to the Catholic Church I didn't set foot in an Eastern-rite church again for four years. Both the unlatinized and the older version of latinized have a place in the church. I've been kicked off online fora for saying that.
    Same target?
    Pre-Vatican II Western Catholicism and even Catholic doctrine. By the way, real Slavic Byzantine Catholics, such as the community I worship with, don't think like that.

    All the good that Vatican II ostensibly tried to do could have been done with no harm to the faithful through a few papal pronouncements. The church already encouraged Eastern Catholics not to latinize; St. Pius X chartered the Russian Catholic Church partly for that reason. (My part-time, unofficial Byzantine practice is Russian. I know Russian and Slavonic so I understand written Ukrainian and set Ukrainian prayers but don't speak it. By the way, hooray for Putin, and Catholicism and Ukrainian nationalism aren't synonymous, nor Irish nationalism.) Pronouncements for a vernacular option for the traditional Mass, saying that American-style religious liberty is workable, and starting official Catholic participation in ecumenical talks (chance to teach the faith to Protestants).
    How have ecumenical talks with the Protestants worked out?
    Right; not very well. The mainliners inclined to talk to us are even farther from us now. Which hurt me as an Episcopalian (born into it) 35-40 years ago because I thought we were getting closer, then the Episcopalians ordained women. What's the point of dialogue under those conditions? The trouble with the council is its framers didn't really have the modest goals I just named. They wanted to overhaul the church for the space age, thinking like Protestants that they were great reformers who were making the church even better. A secularized, Protestantized, mid-century Zeitgeist, the same thing that begat the UN. So Bugnini wanted to rewrite the Mass, for example. Which the church can do, even though until then we never did, because the liturgy long wasn't a subject of historical study. Whether we should do that is another matter.
    Bugnini is the reason we can't have nice things.
    Vatican II and other church documents of the time play this game: praise a nice old thing, then effectively abolish it a few lines down by making it optional. If you wanted to keep the old things for any reason, priests would tell you that you were disobedient to the church and indeed to the Holy Spirit. No wonder I liked congregational Anglo-Catholicism better (historical irony: Vatican II is tame and yes orthodox compared to what Cranmer did).


  1. A few thoughts:

    "every ancient apostolic church claims it's the only true one"

    The one temporary exception was the "Assyrian" (aka, Nestorian) Church of the East, which for much of the 20th Century seemed to be influenced by the Anglican "Branch Theory" ecclesiology (thanks to the contacts with them that some English Anglicans cultivated from the 1870s onwards, and especially in the 1920s and 30s) - but now they seem to have returned to a more traditional "exclusivist" view (ironic, in that they originated as a "uniate" split from the main "Nestorian" Church in the 1550s, lost contact with Rome around 1600, and repudiated communion with Rome in 1670 after Rome demanded that they remove Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia [Nestorius' teacher] from their calendar of saints - while the main body of "Nestorians," after splitting into two or three quarreling groups in the 1680s, had all entered into communion with Rome by 1804 as the Chaldean Catholic church).

  2. More:

    "Father says some Ukrainian Catholic priests in the Ukraine don't like Slavonic because it reminds them of Russian including Soviet persecution; understandable."

    The Ukrainian Catholic parish of which I am a member has its Sunday Liturgy entirely in English on two/three Sundays of the month, and 60%/40% English/Church Slavonic on the other two.

    "Russian westward expansion as the Ukraine declined ... the blue-and-yellow flag, the tryzub ..."

    Better to write, "as Poland declined," since Ukraine was simply part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth - part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania before 1569, when the union of the two realms was simply a dynastic one (like England and Scotland between 1603 and 1707) and then transferred to Poland proper in 1569 when the Union of Lublin (on which, see permanently united both realms, while preserving some distinctions between them (like England and Scotland in 1707); modern Belarus remained part of Lithuania after 1569.

    I have long wondered whether the tryzub, or, more specifically, its blue-and-yellow colors, is (like the coat of arms of the Krakow archdiocese, and, thus, Pope John Paul II's papal coat of arms) derived from Sweden through the Vasa dynasty, in the person of King Sigismund Vasa (1566-1632), King of Poland (by election) from 1587 to 1632, and King of Sweden (by inheritance) from 1592 to 1599 (when his uncle seized the throne, using Sigismund's Catholicism as his pretext); the older Vasa line remained kings of Poland until 1668, the younger branch, of Sweden until 1654.


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