Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Eastern Rite Catholic Customs & Orthodoxy

Over at the Byzantine Forum (a recent addition to my linked sites in the left column) there is a very interesting discussion on the way Byzantine Catholics do business by comparison to Orthodox. From my own (admittedly limited) experience in the Eastern Rite on my way to Orthodoxy, I can confirm most of the observations made by the various posters. This raises the question of why Eastern Rite Catholics seem to have lost touch with traditional practices and forms of worship common to Eastern Christians.

In the parish I attended before moving to California people rarely venerated the icon before the Royal Doors (or any icons for that matter), the doors stayed open throughout the liturgy, and I never once saw anyone do a full prostration in the church. I did one once, but the looks I got made me decide on the spot that it was not a good idea. They have Saturday vigil liturgy, no vespers or matins, just liturgy. Confession is in a room that is clearly a Roman Catholic confessional in all but name, complete with screen. I could go on but I am sure you get the point. This is not a shot at Eastern Rite Catholics. It’s rather the observation of a tragic loss to their spiritual patrimony. Rome can condemn Latinization all they want, but the reality is that it’s a done deal. Very few BCs seem to possess what we would call an Orthodox Phronema. For all of my above noted complaints, I should say that the Byzantine Rite was like a drink of ice cold water for my soul after the long struggle in the desert that is much of the modern Latin Church. For those Catholics who are stuck in a comer of the world where the choices in RC parishes are something between bad and just awful, I can enthusiastically recommend the Byzantine Rite (or any other Eastern Catholic Rite Church) as being generally a safe haven from the worst abuses in the Latin Rite.

On a related point, this particular thread was posted under the topic of the “Revised Divine Liturgy!” The very idea of that makes me cringe. And judging from the posts on the forum it would seem most of the BCs there feel the same way. Why exactly does the Divine Liturgy of St. John require revision? Liturgical Renewal perhaps? Now there is another term guaranteed to make the skin crawl and the hair stand on end for any one familiar with the splendid results of that in the Latin Church. Lord Have Mercy!


Anonymous said...

Hi - fairly recent convert here. One small point - you mention the doors being left open throughout the liturgy. My understanding is that this is the norm in all but the Slavic tradition. That is, that you would see the doors left open at any liturgy in Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon etc. Am I wrong?

Young fogey emeritus said...

I wish I could vehemently disagree about the current modernised and culturally compromised (latinised) Eastern Catholic churches but can't. You nailed it. Underneath the orthodox liturgy and better externals you've basically got an ethnic version of the modern RC Church, phronema and all. They don't want to be Eastern, which is partly why you got a dirty look for doing a prostration. Basically it's Novus Ordo people half-heartedly trying to act Orthodox only because Rome is making them do it.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I have seen Orthodox Churches where there is no curtain, usually Greek. But I have never been to one where the doors are open through the whole liturgy.