Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Many Years

To Benjamin J. Anderson (formerly of the Occidentalis blog) who took vows as a Benedictine Novice Monk on Saturday June 18th. Obviously as an Orthodox Christian I take no joy in reporting that a member of the Church has left for another confession. But I wish him well in his monastic vocation.

HT: Owen White

38 comments:

Matthew M said...

Are you kidding me?
Why would he leave Western Rite Orthodoxy for Rome? He could have gone to Christminster in Canada. He did so much good in the Western Rite and his blog Occidentalis was excellent and provided so much information on Western Rite Orthodoxy. This is sad. Well the Orthodox get Alvin Aidan Kimel and the Catholics get Benjamin J. Anderson and nobody gets John Corapi. What a month - and it's not even over yet!
MANY YEARS BENJAMIN and AXIOS!

Chris Jones said...

Why would he leave Western Rite Orthodoxy for Rome?

I'm not privy to Ben's reasons for leaving, but let us be charitable and assume that he was persuaded, in good conscience, that Rome is in fact the Apostolic and Catholic Church and cleaved to her accordingly.

Also, I have to say that as much as I love and support Western Rite Orthodoxy, the WR is something of a stepchild in Orthodoxy, and it is far from clear what its real purpose is and what its prospects are. Also, while this seems to be a period of real and rapid growth in WR Orthodoxy (both in the AWRV and in ROCOR), that very growth means that things are unsettled and a bit confused in the WR. If Ben was looking for stability and a place to pursue a monastic vocation in quietness, it is perhaps understandable that a Roman Catholic Benedictine community might have been attractive to him.

Again, my speculation; I have had no contact with Ben about this.

Proskomen said...

May he speedily repent from his apostasy.

Igumen Gregory said...

I think the term apostacy is very inaccurate considering that he has not renounced Christ.

Proskomen said...

He has renounced Christ's own Body. That is apostasy.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Great. Schism is now apostasy. Thus decrees Pope Proskomen I.

gdelassu said...

The thing I am most struck with in the spate of conversions we have seen over the course of the last year is how predictable they have all been, at least to my eye. I can remember back when Fr. Addison Hart wrote an essay for Pontifications, the response of most commentors was that he did not seem all that attached to Catholicism. Sure enough, he left the Church earlier this year.

I was largely shocked when Fr. Kimel chose Catholicism over Orthodoxy, because it seemed to me that the whole drift of his blog pre-conversion had been moving towards typically-Orthodox themes. Sure enough, in the end it turns out he really was not at ease with Catholicism. I wonder to what extent the obnoxious Orthodox arguments about absolute divine simplicity that dominated the combox threads for a while drove him temporarily in the other direction.

I remember the first time I ever read a post on the Ochlophobist blog that I was struck at how ill-at-ease the author seemed with Orthodoxy.

Now I read that Ben Anderson is leaving Orthodoxy for Catholicism. Just like with Pontifications, I was shocked when Cathedra Unitatis (as he was known then) made the choice that he did, because the whole thrust of his blog was in the direction of Catholic themes (sort of the opposite of Pontifications). This recent news makes much more sense to me than his previous public announcement of an intention to stick with Orthodoxy.

avowofconversation said...

Forgive me if this is nitpicking, but Benedictine novices don't take vows, at least not last I knew.

What strikes me about this story, not having known his blog or perspectives on western rite Orthodoxy, is that he has gone to a community with a strong emphasis on Eucharistic Adoration, which is not only alien to Orthodoxy, but also alien to traditional western monasticism. Which must mean that he wholeheartedly accepts later western developments and is not simply looking for a way to live original western monasticism in the spirit of a sort of two lungs approach.

Macrina

Chris Jones said...

Benedictine novices don't take vows

The linked announcement merely says that Ben was "clothed in the Benedictine novice's habit." There is no mention of vows.

Samn! said...

How often does the Western Rite serve as a waiting room for people on their way to becoming Catholic? It seems like that's kind of almost what it's set up to be.....

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Perhaps I am in error, but I was always under the impression that monastic novices take temporary vows. I am open to correction if that is not accurate.

Chris Jones said...

I'm not a part of the Western Rite (though I was at one time), just a friend and supporter of it "from the outside," as it were. But I have been following the WR for many years and off the top of my head I cannot recall any other instances of WR Orthodox becoming Roman Catholic. I am sure that there are such, but I have not heard of it.

It seems like that's kind of almost what it's set up to be ...

I don't see why you would say that. There isn't really much commonality between the Orthodox WR and Novus Ordo Catholicism. Maybe it's just me, but I love the liturgical "feel" of WR Orthodoxy, but the typical RC Mass makes me want to run from the building.

gdelassu said...

How often does the Western Rite serve as a waiting room for people on their way to becoming Catholic?

Not that I am any sort of expert, but the answer to this question, near as I can tell, is "almost never." I am hard pressed to think of any other instances than the one detailed on this thread where someone left WR Orthodoxy for Catholicism or Protestantism. It appears to my eye to be set up as a waiting room for the reverse direction, to ease the transition for Anglicans and Catholics that want to defect to Orthodoxy but are not sure that they can deal with a lack of pews and an excess of prostrations and "kyrie eleison"s.

Igumen Gregory said...

Perhaps some of our readers need to check out the orientale Lumen conference podcasts. Go to Ancient Faith Radio. Some very enlightening comments both sides of the Bosphorus.

avowofconversation said...

John, Temporary vows - at least in current Roman Catholic practice - are taken at the end of the novitiate, for a minimum period of three years although this may be extended. Novices may make a promise of obedience, and clearly agree to live a monastic lifestyle while novices, but this is not comparable with vows and they are free to leave at any time. The major rite associated with becoming a novice is that of receiving the habit.

Macrina

Proskomen said...

That's Pope *St.* Proskomen I to you! :)

Schism is separation from the canonical church while not departing from its doctrinal teachings. As Roman Catholicism definitely differs from Orthodoxy on more than one doctrinal front, leaving the Church for Roman Catholicism has to be more severe than a mere schism.

And since the person in question made a deliberate choice to separate himself from the Church, cleaving to that body and its false teachings, that makes him an apostate.

gdelassu said...

If the move from Orthodoxy to Catholicism is "apostacy," then what is "heresy" in your view?

Bob Glassmeyer said...

This man is following Christ as a Benedictine monk. No easy task. God be praised, thanked and loved. A person could do worse.

Fr Theodore said...

Let us pray for the strengthening and deepening of WR Orthodoxy and monastic life within it.

James the Thickheaded said...

FWIW, if you read the Rule of St. Benedict... it is EXTREMELY Orthodox. And yes, he may be separated, but there are as many wolves on the inside of the church as there are lambs outside it.

Anonymous said...

I recently completed an historical review of clergy serving over the past 50 years in the Antiochian WR. Of these 60, only one left Orthodoxy and became a RC priest. Statmann

Owen White said...

Anon,

How many of those priests came from ECUSA/Anglicanism, and how many came from the RCC? I'm curious. Further, do you happen to know if any returned to or left Orthodoxy for ECUSA/Anglicanism/The Continuum?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the term "The Continuum" have an Orwellian ring to it? Or maybe it just screams cult? No criticism intended of parishes or people involved, just can't imagine how someone could consciously identify as a member of The Continuum...

Anonymous said...

For Owen White: Of the 60, about (a couple of them had fuzy backgrounds) 45 came from TEC or Continuing Anglican grroups. Of the 45, two returned to Continuing Anglican. None to TEC. Statmannyos

Proskomen said...

If the move from Orthodoxy to Catholicism is "apostacy," then what is "heresy" in your view?

Heresy is holding beliefs or teaching ideas that are at variance with the doctrine of the Church. This person has divided himself from the Church, however, in conjunction with his adoption of false teachings, so he is neither strictly a heretic nor merely a schismatic.

People are used to defining apostasy (and I am spelling the word correctly -- it is not "apostacy") as forsaking Christ and leaving Christianity altogether. But apostasy is nothing more than leaving the Church and rejecting her teachings.

My point was that this is nothing to celebrate. Wish him many years, if you must, but hope that he uses them to return to the true faith.

Anonymous said...

For Owen White: None of the 60 were RC priests at time of entry into the Antiochian WR. One had been a RC priest and another the product of a RC seminary. Statmann

Owen White said...

Anon,

Thank you for that data. I'd heard that the WR was largely a phenomenon which involved ex-Anglican (TEC, etc.) priests but had never encountered any data.

You mention that your study concerns only the Antiochian WR. By any chance do you know (or have reason to make an educated guess) if the ROCOR WR has similar statistics?

Anonymous said...

For Owen White: The initial group (circa 1961 through 1977) could only use the Tridentine Rite. Then (circa 1977) they also could use the St Tikhon Rite (ala 1928 BCP). Sorry, but I have no data on ROCOR WR. Good source should be Christminster in Hamilton, Ontario. Thanks for your interest. Statmann

Visibilium said...

I'm with Pope St. Proskomen I. The rest of you sound like St. Vlad's grads.

Proskomen said...

Visibilium, since you mentioned St. Vladimir's, I feel obligated to mention that I am a St. Vlad's grad myself.

I had a wonderful experience there, and the seminary is very close to my heart.

Visibilium said...

Yes, St. Vlad's can be a mixed bag, but the question remains about which of the following types are more representative. I know one grad who routinely refers to the Unia as apostates and another who tells me that I shouldn't describe other Christians as heterodox.

Dale said...

The few clergy who became, or returned to the horrors of TEC had all been Byzantine rite, none of them western rite; as have the vast majority who either returned or converted to Rome.

But the comment about the WR being a waiting room for those really wanting to be Roman is typical of the bigotry against anything not Byzantine that one tends to find within Byzantine Orthodoxy.

I do indeed wish Benjamin all the very best in his new vocation. I recently read an article he had written in defense of ST Augustine in reply to a very stupid, ahistorical and completely lacking in theological soundness by the high-priestess of holy, moly Byzantium, Ms. Mathewes-Green; perhaps he simply tired of the fight against phelytism and rank ethnocentric cultural racism.

No, I am not a graduate of St. Vlad's, but of S Serge.

BJA said...

Thank you, John, for your post. I'm not sure why any of this is particularly noteworthy, but I do appreciate your charity and your well wishes.

I'm not prepared at this time to say much my decision in public (in fact, I may never anything about it, given my distaste for EWTN-style convert narratives), but I will say that Chris Jones's first comment and Dale's aren't too far from the mark. I should also clarify that I was born a Catholic. That might shed a bit more light on my intentions.

Pope St Proskomen the First, we've crossed paths before, no?

Proskomen said...

Pope St Proskomen the First, we've crossed paths before, no?

Possibly. Where do you believe we have crossed paths?

Ps-Iosifson said...

Re 'schism' or 'apostasy':

There is some question within Orthodoxy as to whether Rome is apostate or schismatic, and whether the terms apostate or heretic can rightly be leveled at those born into non-Orthodox communions. These simple facts should be taken into account when Orthodox discuss those leaving - there is no clear cut distinction as to what the Orthodox line is on this matter, e.g., Met. Hilarion Alfeyev's controversial statements - both his comments and historical rationale, as well as the response - regarding the validity of RC sacraments.

That is, a little charity and humility goes a long way - especially when living in glass houses.

Ps-Iosifson said...

In my own run-ins with the messiness of Orthodox phyletism and theological cliqueishness, I cam to a realization that one must simply follow the tradition one received, regardless of what some Orthodox tells you. That's slightly different than despairing that all of Orthodoxy is a cafeteria, but I can understand why one would see it that way. It's more similar to controversies over the dating of Pascha in the early church. It's not that the Quartodecimian tradition was wrong, it's that it had to be balanced, pastorally, with the other, more universal, but equally ancient tradition adopted at Nicea. One could argue that prior to the fall of Communism, Orthodoxy had come to a pretty clear view (apart from ROCOR and the Old Calendarists) on a number of ecumenical and modernizing issues, but since 1991 these questions have been opened again with the resurgence of faith in the more conservative churches (and younger faithful) of Eastern Europe.

That said, I can understand the emotional wear and tear, and I can understand how one could come to the conclusion that, whatever she might say, Orthodoxy does not in fact believe she is The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (TOHCAC) alone but that she sees herself as simply the local churches of the TOHCAO in eastern Europe and the Middle East. This is Orthodoxy's Achilles' Heal, and the convert/cradle, liturgical language strife in North America only amplify this weakness in the Orthodox witness. Actions speak louder than words, and far too many of the actions say 'We don't really believe we're the Universal Church'. I don't believe that is the case, and I think this weakness of witness and understanding is due more to social and culture factors in eastern Europe and the typical immigrant experience in North America, but I can understand how others come to a different conclusion.

Rather than smug proclamations of 'apostate!' and 'heretic!', we should repent over the great offense we give that has driven away so many from the Orthodox Faith - those that inquired but never joined, and those who left, both cradle and convert.

They are not Orthodox because of our sins, not because of theirs.

BJA said...

Proskomen: We may have crossed paths at SVS. Class of 2005.

Proskomen said...

I'm afraid not. 2005 was not during my time. I had thought you might have recognized me from somewhere else, but that does not appear to be the case.