The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

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Orthodox worship to a Western Rite
26-06-2008, 03:48 PM,
Hi Simon,
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I am not saying that any BOC liturgy takes the "oi God" form - merely that in earlier postings the suggestions seem to be that BOC liturgy needs "updating" and that there is a great danger of "oi God" in doing this. The slippery slope that Anglicanism is taking!
I hope I made clear from my posting that I am currently a "seeker" and my very real concern is committing to a church that sees itself in need of "updating" or westernising or whatever and then falling apart like the Anglican church.

How widespread is this move to "westernize"?

Love and peace,
Steve. :?
Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you and so you will see the treasure house of heaven:for the two are the same and there is but one single entry to them both. (St Isaac the Syrian)
26-06-2008, 05:56 PM,
orthodox worship to a western rite
The Liturgy never needs updating apart from clarifications needed due to changes in the meaning of words used. However if we speak of the Syriac rite, which uses an ancient form of Syriac that has not been used as a spoken language for centuries, then no clarifications are needed.
It seems to me that to have a Western Rite as opposed to an Eastern Rite is counter productive. The rite whether it comes from Greek or Syriac or Old Church Slavonic is a universal (catholic) rite and as such, if to be used by speakers of English, what is required is a translation of sufficient merit to be used in Churches. Having spent my school years hearing Anglican hymns I feel that these do not create the specific atmosphere of awe and dread that ancient hymns and prayers intoned in Syriac produce.I am sure that it is possible to use such melodies and singing style in English.
These are just a few thoughts that will no doubt provoke a response!

Kirk Yacoub
26-06-2008, 08:38 PM,
Dear Steve,

I am not aware of any move to 'weternize'/'modernize' the Liturgy within the British Orthodox Church. In the wider Orthodox context I am aware that some Orthodox who worship in English prefer to use contemporary English whereas others (such as the British Orthodox Church) use Liturgical English which of us feel better encourage a sense of the numinous, the Holy, the Other. Even within the context of this thread it seems the most radical proposals I note are as to whether one might consider an Orthodox version of either BCP or a traditional Roman rite or Sarum... none of which stike me as desparately dripping with modernism! I suppose that ultimately I can only comment on myself and observe that I am fine and more than fine with the Liturgy of Saint James together with Matins and Vespers (and marriage, baptism and other services) according to the Coptic Orthodox rites in traditional or Liturgical English. That's quite modern enough for me.

Should you be interested at all, I do have DVDs of British Orthodox worship and am always happy to make a copy for anyone interested... though at the moment I am struggling with recalcitrant technology in the form of a particularly unco-operative DVD recorder. One of the things I love about my mother Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, is her ability to be utterly traditional in liturgy, spirituality and doctrinal belief and yet able to employ so much moden technology that some have suggested Copts should change the Creed to belief in One, Holy, Catholic and Electronic Church! Sometimes I feel I have no better chance of qualifying electronically than spiritually!!

If I could make one useful contribution to this thread however it would be to direct people to Michael Kennedy's post (31st October 2006) which to me breathes the true spirit of Orthodoxy. "Speaking personally, and based on this experience, I don't believe that a Western Rite is at all necessary for the church to grow... What does matter is good English untouched by the curse of political correctness or any other kind of newspeak and good theology. I think we have both. The onus now is on us to serve the Liturgy attentively with faith and humility - a sobering thought." Amen and amen to the words of one for whom I have profound respect.

As a final thought, I love your quote from St Isaac the Syrian - one of many favourite quotes I enjoy from the saint who is perhaps my favourite spiritual writer.

I hope that you find the Church for which you are looking. Unless you have any violent objection I shall take the liberty of adding your name to those we bring before God by name (for His blessing) in Church in the sacred heart of the Liturgy.

17-07-2008, 06:22 AM,
Abba Seraphim's comments on the Western Rite in Orthodoxy
Abba Seraphim has recently been corresponding on the topic of the Western Rite in Orthodoxy and has authorised me to release some extracts from these, as expressing his views:

"For the sake of clarification, I would reiterate that I am not intrinsically hostile to W RITE. In the first place I do not believe that Pope Shenouda would wish to authorise its use in the British Orthodox Church and, in the second, I am not persuaded that it is the best way to bring people to Orthodoxy. There are also pragmatic reasons why a small community, like ours, needs the identity of a unified liturgical rite rather than choice. Nor do I subscribe to the view that divides all liturgies into either East or West. For me the Liturgy of St. James is essentially an apostolic rite rather than eastern. However, I do wonder about the adoption by most WRITE groups of either Tridentine or Reformed Liturgies when logic suggests that liturgies used in the West when it was still regarded as Orthodox, are preferable. As you know, from our discussions over the years, I find that extra-liturgical services such as Benediction do not represent authentic Orthodox spirituality. Although we both believe that the Bread and Wine become the true Body & Blood of our Lord, the theology of transubstantiation - which underpins so much of Western sacramental devotion - is not how Orthodox understand the Eucharist and it is dishonest to pretend it is all the same.

There are some of us who have genuine concerns about the nature of "conversions" to Orthodoxy when the aim seems to be to present it in an Anglican or Roman ethos - a sort of Uniatism in reverse ! We also know the dangers of a negative conversion, where people are more likely to be united by a common enemy than a common faith. The sight of right-wing African bishops and the Archbishop of Sydney, making common cause, does not fill me with much confidence that Gafcon or any similar grouping will achieve anything other than schism upon schism."

17-07-2008, 05:57 PM,
Dear Peter,

How very wise our Metropolitan is, and how accurate his words.

Why fuss over East and West? We have an Apostolic rite from the earliest times, and its sonorous and uplifting qualities are timeless and need no geographical fix. If we look at what St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes in his Catechetical lectures about the Liturgy, that is what we do.

It is wonderful to be one with the ancient practice of the Church.

In Christ,

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
26-07-2008, 02:35 PM,
Plagiarism.... by me
Hello All,

Many thanks Severus. It does clarify things. I found the following criticisms at Wikipedia and reinforced my opinions of W'rite . Sorry if it's a bit long but I didn't like to edit it. :wink:


Despite the fact that the Western Rite is an established part of the Orthodoxy in North America, it does not exist without the presence of some vocal critics. These criticisms run the gamut from objections of a liturgical or historical nature to direct claims that members of the Western Rite are not actually Orthodox in their praxis.

Byzantine Rite only

Many commentators argue that the only rite which is and can be acceptable to Orthodoxy is the Byzantine Rite, whether in its Greek or Slavic usages. Many Orthodox Christians currently boast of the Church's liturgical homogeneity, claiming that, no matter where one might go in the Orthodox world, the liturgy will be familiar, even if it's in another language. Of course, as Paul Meyendorff points out that despite the fact that the majority of Orthodox Churches use the Byzantine Rite, they often use it in very different ways, particularly in North America with the presence of items such as pews, organs, weekly communication of all the laity, and a much shorter liturgy.[28]

In addition, even if the claim of the homogenous celebration of the Byzantine Rite could be claimed for the modern period, this has historically not been the case. During the period of separation of the Eastern and Western Churches, it would have been impossible to speak of the Byzantine Rite as being the only liturgy in use, even in the Eastern Church. The Rite of Constantinople only acquired dominance in the Eastern Church through a slow process that was not complete until at least the thirteenth century.

Lack of liturgical continuity

In continuation of the above criticism, many commentators argue that while the Western Rite was at one time Orthodox, its Orthodoxy ceased after the Great Schism. This argument essentially states that, because the Western Rite died out in the Church, and because a continuous living tradition is a necessary element of liturgical practice, the Western Rite ought to be abandoned and only the Byzantine Rite should be utilized.

Western Rite advocates have pointed out that there is nothing inherently unorthodox about creating a new rite for the Church provided that the Orthodoxy of the rite is sound. The Byzantine Rite has grown in ways which have caused liturgies and devotions to develop in one location without subsequent universal practice. Such services would have been invented from scratch based on pastoral need at some point, yet few Western Rite critics would say that such services or devotions should be abandoned, thus perceiving to lend to the legitimacy of restoring an ancient rite of the undivided Church.

Furthermore, it is also argued that the Divine Liturgy of St. James, once nearly extinct except in Jerusalem and the island of Kephalonia, has in the present time enjoyed resurgence outside of its traditional strongholds for use on October 23 to celebrate the Feast of St. James.

The Western Rite is Reverse Uniatism

The situation of Western Orthodox parishes has been compared with the status of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches (often called "Uniate" by Orthodox Christians) in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries, there have been hierarchical churches in full communion with Rome. Eastern Catholics, despite usages that more closely resemble the majority of Orthodox Christians, largely share a common dogma with Latin Catholics, a situation that is called 'uniatism'. Analogously, the Western Rite Orthodox share the same faith as their Byzantine Rite Orthodox brethren despite a different liturgical rite.

However, generally unlike Eastern Catholics, Western Rite Orthodox congregations are not the result of historically complex political and ecclesiastical developments, but rather of small-scale conversion to Orthodoxy by individuals and congregations. Also, Western Rite congregations all adhere to the same bishops as their Byzantine brethren; they do not constitute a separate church of their own. Criticism of the Western Rite based on its similarity with the 'Uniates' has been called guilt by association, overplaying a superficial similarity of form. Because the ideas are analogous, the argument goes, they must therefore share the same negative place as the so called "Uniates" do in the minds of some. Yet the more firmly established criticisms of uniatism usually have nothing to do with rite but rather with dogma, ecclesiology, and allegedly subversive missionary work.

The Western Rite is divisive

Another criticism is that the Western Rite is inherently divisive. Following different liturgical traditions than their neighboring Byzantine Rite Orthodox Christians, those using the Western Rite do not share liturgical unity with them and present an unfamiliar face to the majority of Orthodox Christians. This sentiment is expressed most famously by Kallistos Ware, who was particularly concerned about the further fragmentation of Orthodoxy in non-Orthodox countries, in this case in Britain.[29]

Whether the Western Rite survive in the Orthodox Church and will be accepted by the majority who follow the Byzantine Rite remains yet to be seen. In the meantime, the Byzantine Rite bishops who oversee Western Rite parishes and many who oversee no Western Rite parishes continue to declare the Western Orthodox to be Orthodox Christians and regard them as fully in communion with the rest of the Church. Though there have been negative appraisals on both sides of the Western Rite issue, supporters of the Western Rite claim that there is nothing inherently divisive about having a separate liturgical practice, particularly since these churches remain under the pastoral care of their diocesan bishop rather than a Western Rite bishop. As yet, there are no schisms within the episcopacy of the Orthodox Church regarding the issue of Western Rite parishes.

Conversion without conversion

Another criticism often leveled against the Western Rite is based on the fact that the majority of the members of Western Rite parishes are converts to Orthodoxy. The argument states that Christians want to be Orthodox but ?not too Orthodox,? so they keep their familiar rites under a new bishop. The unstated assumption behind this argument, however, is similar to the argument against all non-Byzantine liturgical traditions: that the Orthodox Church includes only the Byzantine Rite, and so if one wants to be truly Orthodox, one must also be Byzantine."

The bit about conversion without conversion especially chimed with me. Anyway,

Love and peace,
Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you and so you will see the treasure house of heaven:for the two are the same and there is but one single entry to them both. (St Isaac the Syrian)
26-07-2008, 03:12 PM,
Dear Steve,

The article meakes some interesting points, some of which underline the comments made by Abba Seraphim.

There is an interesting discussion to be had on the subject of 'conversion without conversion', and it might make an interesting thread.

In Christ,

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

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