Jesus Christ: He who Is!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Twentieth Century Western Orthodox Missionary

A Twentieth Century Western Orthodox Missionary by Monk Gorazd
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Hebrews 13,7
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
John 12, 24-26
It is now nearly sixty years since the martyrdom and birth into eternal life of Bishop Gorazd of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. In this ever darkening age, the image of this martyred Bishop now shines forth ever brighter.
The future Bishop Gorazd (Pavlik) was born on 26 May 1879 in the Moravian town of Hrubavrbka in the Czech Rupublic and was baptised Matthias. After schooling he finished the Roman Catholic theological faculty in Olomouc and was ordained priest. During his studies he had become interested in Orthodox Christianity and the mission of Sts Cyril and Methodius and visited Kiev.
With the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and freedom from Austro-Hungarian Catholic tyranny, hundreds of thousands of people left the Catholic Church, among them Matthias Pavlik. Some of these people turned for help to the Serbian Orthodox Church (parts of which had also suffered from the same tyranny 1 ). As a result the Serbian Church consented to consecrate Fr Matthias bishop with the monastic name of Gorazd.
When the Serbian Bishop responsible, Bishop Dositheus, made Fr Gorazd an archimandrite in the monastery of Hopovo in Serbia, he uttered the following words:
'In history the successor to St. Methodius, the Archbishop of Moravia, was Bishop Gorazd. Through the intrigues of those who hated Orthodoxy, he was chased out of his native land and went to the south Slavs 2. And in you, Fr Gorazd, the Lord is raising up in Moravia a new Gorazd, the renewer of Orthodoxy amid the Czech people'.
On the 24 September 1921, now aged 42, Archimandrite Gorazd was named Bishop of Moravia and Silesia at the Vigil Service in the Cathedral of the Holy Archangel Michael in Belgrade. On the next day Patriarch Dimitri of Serbia consecrated Fr Gorazd bishop. His concelebrants were Metropolitan Antony (of Kiev[ROCOR]) 3 and Bishops Barnabas 4, Dositheus and Joseph. Entrusting the new bishop with his staff, Patriarch Dimitri exhorted him to follow the example of Sts Cyril and Methodius and their successor St Gorazd. Much moved and in a trembling voice, Bishop Gorazd expressed his profound gratitude to the Serbian Orthodox Church for its help to the Czechs who wished to return to the faith of their forebears of the time of Sts Cyril and Methodius.
Thus began the selfless labours of a new worker in the harvest-field of Christ. The spiritual meadows made fruitful and sown by the work of grace of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius and their disciples had long since become thick with the weeds of various heresies and vain philosophies. Bishop Gorazd was to suffer many attacks, trials and tribulations from those who fell into temptation at 'the foolishness of the cross'. Vladyka suffered everything patiently, saying that every truth must be tried in the fire of temptation. Unfortunately, most Czechs in the movement towards Orthodoxy did not remain in the truth; holy Orthodoxy seemed to them too heavy a burden. They did not wish to believe in the words of the Saviour, that 'strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life' (Matthew 7, 14). But once Bishop Gorazd had come to believe in the saving truth of Orthodoxy, he kept faith with it even unto death. This consistent standing in the truth and personal integrity were very characteristic of him. They are a reproach to our times when there are so many lies, compromises and bad consciences. When still a child, his father had said to him: 'Never be afraid of anyone, and when you are right, do not give up'. . He always acted so, even when the price was at times very high.
Together with those who had remained faithful to Orthodoxy, the Bishop set to work. Churches were built and parishes organised in various parts of Bohemia. In all eleven churches and two chapels were built under him. Services were in Czech. Essential church books were published, for example the Book of Needs, catechisms and so on. Using his knowledge, experience and contacts, Bishop Gorazd also helped those who had returned to their ancestral Orthodox Faith in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Russia, which was then part of Czechoslovakia. He was keenly interested in the monastery at Ladomirovo in Slovakia, founded by Archimandrite Vitaly Maximenko, later an Archbishop in the USA who valued and supported Bishop Gorazd. Thus in 1934 Bishop Gorazd took part in the twentieth anniversary commemoration of the shameful Marmarosh-Sigotsky trial. This had taken place in 1914 when 94 Orthodox together with Fr Alexei Kabaliuk had been condemned for renouncing Uniatism and returning to the faith of their fathers. At the time the Hungarian judge had severely fined them and imprisoned them 5.
Bishop Gorazd was to carry his heavy cross for twenty one years in all. But just as during the Passion of Christ, signs of His future glorification began to appear (for example when the wife of Pilate called the Lord righteous after her pre-monitory dream, or when Judas said that he had spilt innocent blood), so in the many trials of Bishop Gorazd's life, some began to see something of the spiritual greatness of this faithful servant of Christ. When many Roman Catholic priests rose up against Bishop Gorazd, even the Catholic Bishop Stoian said: 'Leave Pavlik alone, you are not worthy to tie his laces, it would be good if everyone were like Pavlik'. The Catholics tried to persuade Bishop Gorazd to return to Catholicism, while remaining in bishop's orders and with the choice of rites.
Bishop Gorazd understood that Orthodox life is the way of the cross, a daily bloodless martyrdom 6. He took this truth into his life and this helped him when the time came to accept the martyr's crown. It is impossible not to be moved by his words in a work he devoted to Jan Hus 7: 'For far too long we have failed to give much value to martyrdom. We think that it is better to live and toil for a great cause than to die for it. But there is nothing greater than to lay down one's life for the Gospel of Christ'.
When the Second World War broke out, Bishop Gorazd asked Metropolitan Seraphim (Liade) of Berlin to oversee his diocese until such time as normal relations could be resumed with Serbia. The Metropolitan supplied Bishop Gorazd with myrrh, antimensia and helped him to strengthen his position in Bohemia and Moravia 8.
In 1942 the Czech Resistance assassinated the Nazi governor Heydrich in Prague. The resistance fighters were allowed to hide in the crypt of Sts Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Cathedral. When Bishop Gorazd learned of this a few days later, he was greatly troubled, realising that if the occupying Germans found out, then the whole Czech Orthodox Church would suffer repression. Before leaving for Berlin to take part with the Metropolitan in consecrating Fr Philip (Gardner) 9 to the episcopate, he asked that the resistance fighters be moved elsewhere as soon as possible. However the Nazis found the Czech hiding-place and on 18 June 1942, seven of them were shot there. The two Cathedral priests and other Orthodox were arrested. Bishop Gorazd did not try to save himself, but wishing to avert repression of the Czech Church, took all responsibility on himself. He wrote three letters to the Germans with the words: 'I am giving myself up to the authorities and am prepared to face any punishment, including death'.
On the 27 June 1942 Bishop Gorazd was arrested and tortured. He was executed by firing squad on 4 September 1942. He was aged 63. The two Cathedral priests were also shot. The Orthodox Church in Bohemia and Moravia was forbidden to operate and its churches and chapels closed. Orthodox priests were exiled to forced labour camps in Germany. For his part Metropolitan Seraphim courageously refused to issue any statement condemning Bishop Gorazd.
Bishop Gorazd was truly a good shepherd, always guiding his flock. He showed his love to the end and by his death was counted worthy of fulfilling the Saviour' s words: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'. (John 15, 13).
The martyred bishop was recognised as a New Martyr by decision of the Serbian Orthodox Church on 4/17 May 1961. On 24 August/ 6 September 1987 he was glorified in the Cathedral of St Gorazd in Olomouc in Moravia. He is feasted by the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church on the day of his martyrdom 22 August/ 4 September.
Of particular interest in the missionary context are the relations between the martyred bishop and Metropolitan Antony 3. The following details are taken from an article by Fr Dr Pavel Alesha in, 'The attitude of the holy Bishop Gorazd to Russian Orthodoxy' (An Anthology of Orthodox Theology, Prague 1989).
Metropolitan Antony reposed on 10 August 1936 in Serbia at the age of 73 'in the brotherly arms of Patriarch Barnabas' - in the words of Bishop Gorazd, he passed away, 'like a lamp that had burnt down to its last drop of oil'. Bishop Gorazd wrote an article dedicated to his radiant memory in The Herald of the Czech Orthodox Diocese (1936, No 9).
On the twentieth anniversary of his episcopal consecration, Bishop Gorazd also recalled the bishops who had consecrated him, men who 'were distinguished by their living faith, wisdom, love and holy life'. These were 'Patriarch Dimitri of Serbia and Metropolitan Antony of Kiev of the Russian Church, both great men of prayer, the latter also the foremost luminary of Russian theology and the kindest of advisors in missionary work, as well as my constant defender against various reproaches made against me' (The Herald, 15 September 1991, No 8).
Bishop Gorazd wrote about the activities of Metropolitan Antony in Volhynia in Western Russia, where he had been bishop for twelve years. Then he had met the 60,000 or so Orthodox Czechs who lived there. The Volhynian Czechs had immediately attracted his attention as an ethnic island. They lived differently from those who surrounded them with their own traditions, brought by the previous generation from Bohemia and kept by the new generation. These were reflected in their Orthodox Church life. As a good psychologist, missionary and a spiritual pastor, he took action against local church activists who, imbued with a strict ritualistic spirit, wanted to do away with the differences of the Orthodox Czechs 10. He made sure that as far as possible the Czechs had priests from their own midst, priests who understood the soul of the Czech people with its strengths and its failings.
Further Bishop Gorazd wrote: 'Metropolitan Antony did our Orthodox mission great service; from the beginning he was interested in it. Without interfering in the authority of the Synod of the Serbian Church, he gave fatherly or rather brotherly advice as to how I should operate in my missionary work. And this in such a way that the Czech and Slovak people, for whom the movement to enlighten the Slavs was in fact created by Sts Cyril and Methodius, would once more come to love their ancestral faith, strive to know it and return to it. His starting-point was the conviction that the Czechs would not be attracted to the Orthodox Church, if it were immediately presented to them in a historically set form in all its fullness, and at the same time in a purely formal, ritual way. He said that no mission should act in this way, especially in an Orthodox mission, since Orthodoxy in principle respects the ways each people thinks and feels ... Orthodoxy has certain special forms among each people which naturally do not affect its dogmatic essence 11.
Metropolitan Antony asked: 'Which ready form of Orthodoxy would you offer to your fellow-countrymen - Serbian Russian, Bulgarian, Greek, or another? If you wished to set out from such a viewpoint, which is in fact alien to Orthodoxy, taking into consideration your conditions, then I would advise you to accept the Serbian form, because your canonical ties with the Serbian Church would cause the least hurt. But I would not advise you to act thus. On the contrary, you must start from what there is in your people, as always happens in matters of upbringing and education. First of all look at the confessional views of your compatriots and find what is Orthodox and what is not Orthodox in them. Then restricting yourself to the main points alone, try to eradicate from religious life what does not appear to be part of the Orthodox confession of faith. A lot of work will have to be done before you overcome prejudices ... proceed slowly and step by step as you introduce Orthodoxy into liturgical life. Acting thus, let no one who is not competent in these matters trouble you. The opinion of the Patriarch, the Synod and the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church must be decisive in all things. In their representatives they wholly understand your Czech conditions and the tasks that await you. Those who are unable to rise above mere formal ritualism will probably criticise you and perhaps condemn you 12, but do not worry. You are not responsible to them. Work according to your understanding and trust in God's help. I will personally accompany your work with my prayers, for I know what a great and holy task you are accomplishing. I will follow with interest your successes and your failures, not as your master - which I am not - but as a bishop and elder brother who is always ready to help you with advice' (The Herald, pp 4, 7-8).
Bishop Gorazd said that at his every meeting with Metropolitan Antony in Yugoslavia he always asked many questions about the successes and the difficulties of the Czech Orthodox mission and encouraged him to be patient and constant. In his letter of 14 January 1926, Metropolitan Antony wrote:
'You will have found just the right method for your missionary work when you strive to bring to the conscience of your flock at first only that which is essential in Orthodoxy. In this way souls that are lit up by the grace of God, with love and patience will deepen their understanding of organisation and ritual, and will raise their minds to the spirituality of the faith, and then without pride and protest will accept it not as something alien, but as their own. If it is God's Will that Orthodoxy take root and spread among the Czech people, then this will take place thanks to you. I am not writing this to make you proud, God forbid, and I am sure that you keep in your heart the words of St Paul, 'not I, but the grace of God within me' (I Corinthians 15, 10). It is better when the preaching of Orthodoxy moves ahead slowly, not too fast, and not according to the slogan, "I came, I saw, I conquered". I was afraid that the Russians who understand very little as to what is faith and what is ritual, will be unpleasant to you, as in Apostolic times the Jewish-Christians behaved with Gentile neophytes. I set great store by the ritual and the canons of the Church, but I well understand that the creations accumulated through history cannot be adopted all at once'.
Bishop Gorazd added: 'This was the speech worthy of a great man of God, who knew to perfection the problem of missionary work in general, and among the Czechs in particular'.
In conclusion we would like to turn to the words of prayer once uttered by the disciples of St Methodius to his faithful follower and successor, the holy martyr Gorazd: 'O Thou, holy and all honourable prelate, through thy prayers look down upon us who love thee from above! Deliver thy disciples from attack, spreading the Orthodox teaching and chasing away heresies, that we who dwell here may be worthy of our calling and that we thy flock will stand together with thee on the right hand of Christ our God and will receive eternal life from Him, to Whom belong all glory, honour and worship unto the ages of ages! Amen.'
Editor's Notes
1 It was the tyranny of the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Orthodox in Serbia that sparked off the First World War.
2 St Gorazd was a Moravian and linguist, one of the seven disciples of Sts Cyril and Methodius. Despite initial Papal support, in the ninth century he was chased out of Moravia by Frankish political machinations and persecutions of Orthodoxy. He then went to the south Slavs (Yugoslavs) in Ochrid in southern Serbia.
Feast: 27 July.
3 Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev (1863-1936) was the great renewer of theology and Church life in Russia before the Revolution and also the main organiser of the 1918 Russian Church Council. Probably the finest theological mind the Russian Church produced in the twentieth century, he was the leading advocate of the restoration of the freedom of the Russian Church and the Patriarchate, after the decadent period instituted by Peter I. After the 1918 Council he was imprisoned in a Uniat monastery. Released, he went to Constantinople and then Serbia, and with the blessing of the holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, he founded the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The seventeen volumes of his works total 6,000 pages. Although some have found him overzealous in stamping out Russian Scholasticism and renewing genuine Patristic theology in Russia, he has been accorded the title 'Blessed'
4 (1880-1937). He was elected Patriarch of Serbia in 1930.
5 The vicious Austro-Hungarian persecution of Orthodox in the East of their Empire went on for hundreds of years until the First World War. During that War in well-documented war-crimes, hundreds of Orthodox were hanged by the Austro-Hungarian authorities because of their Faith.
6 'A daily bloodlesss martyrdom' . Until these words have been taken to heart by Orthodox converts, they will remain but converts.
7 Jan Hus (1369-1415) was an early Czech reformer who was inspired by Orthodoxy and in turn inspired the English reformer Wyclif. Both men, but especially Hus by reason of his knowledge of early Czech history, knew that the Orthodox alone had kept the Faith. Hus was burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church. Sadly, later reformers both in Bohemia and elsewhere in Western Europe overlooked Orthodoxy and invented Protestantism.
8 Metropolitan Seraphim was a German convert to Orthodoxy and had studied theology in Russia well before the First World War. During the Second World War he was the Orthodox bishop in Germany and stood up valiantly to German Fascism. The Felixstowe parish serves the liturgy on an antimension signed by him. (The antimension is a special cloth signed by the former or present diocesan bishop, without which no liturgy can be served).
9 Bishop Philip Gardner was the foremost Russian Orthodox musicologist of the twentieth century.
10 As a very young bishop in Western Russia in the 1900's, the future Metropolitan was also particularly active in stopping the anti-Jewish pogroms of unchurched Russian and Ukranian racists. His protection of the Orthodox Czechs and his appreciation of their customs against local Russian racism and ritualist bigotry shows his true stature as an Orthodox churchman, rising above the level of those around him. No wonder he later became the foremost churchman and theologian not only in Russia but all over the cosmopolitan Orthodox world and consecrated St John the Wonderworker bishop. His biography for this period is extremely interesting since it well illustrates both the spiritual depth but also the extreme decadence of the Russian Church before the Revolution - which in itself explains that Revolution. Perhaps one day this biography will be translated and made obligatory reading for all converts. His spirit is sorely lacking in the international Orthodox church of today.
11 This may seem obvious to us, and yet the main Orthodox Patriarchates seem to believe in practice that Orthodox missions are all about hellenisation or russification - the sad results of such a way of acting are known to all.
12 And they do!

Western Rite a Short History

Short History of the RWRV by Hieromonk Aidan [Keller]

"Moscow is the third Rome, and there shall not be a fourth." So runs one popular summary of what Monk Philotheus of Pskov was writing in the year 1510. He meant that Rome had sunk into schism in 1054 A.D., the New Rome—Constantinople—was sinking before advancing Muslim armies, and it was now incumbent on northern Rus’ (Muscovy) to champion the Orthodox Christianity—and not only protect it, but even proclaim it throughout the world.

Pre-History of Russian Western Rite

The Russian Orthodox Church is a direct heir and conservator of the Eastern Christian heritage, of the legacy of Constantinople ( “second Rome”), and of her Byzantine liturgical rite. Less well known is that the Russian Church has historically fostered the Western liturgical rite of the elder Rome. The missionary work of Sts. Cyril and Methodius was carried out in both Eastern and Western rites, that is, both the Latin and the Greek rite. The oldest surviving Church Slavonic document in the world is a liturgical fragment housed at a museum in Kiev. It is from the 10th century, and it is a small piece of a Roman-rite missal. We do not know to what extent the Western rite was present in Russian lands in the formative period after the baptism of Rus in 988. But the royal houses of England and Rus’ were intertwined in this period, and Western customs such as the use of bells and the erection of a wall between the sanctuary and nave (which in Russia took the form of what we now call the “iconostasis”) appeared soon after Russia’s conversion.

We know that the Western rite was preserved in Slavonic among certain groups of Russians, all the way up to 1963, when a significant group of Russian “Old Believers” (i.e., Old Ritualists) emigrated from Turkey to the U.S. As they departed Turkey, authorities confiscated their service books containing the Western “Liturgy of St. Peter” (a byzantinised form of the Roman Mass); we know the Old Ritualists celebrated it mainly because of interviews held in America with their adherents. The extent of the Roman rite between the year 1000 and the year 1963 in the Russian Church is not known; she has always represented, in the main, the Byzantine liturgical family.

Early Modern Western Rite

In 1868 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church approved the use of a Roman Mass in Tridentine form. The Synod also evaluated the Sarum form of the Roman rite and found both of them worthy of use. The approval came in connection with the pioneering work of the Anglo-German Dr. Joseph Overbeck. In those years preceding the Russian revolution, the Russian Church engaged in many inventive missionary endeavours. Certain priests used, between them, some twenty languages in celebration of the holy Liturgy. Furthermore, two different forms of Byzantine rite were in use in Russia, the Niconian usage and the pre-Niconian kept by the Old Believers (i.e., Old Ritualists). It need not come as a complete surprise, therefore, that even a different liturgical Rite should have been authorised.

In 1904 a Russian Church committee on Anglican and Old Catholic affairs published findings on Anglican liturgy. This St. Petersburg committee had examined an Anglican Book of Common Prayer (BCP), as requested by St. Tikhon, who was then serving as a bishop in North America. In one and the same report, the committee (a) declared the BCP rite to be wholly unsuitable for Orthodox worship, and (b) left an open door for a potential approval in future, provided specific alterations would be made.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Russian Orthodox cathedral of St. Nicholas on 97th Street in New York City hosted a Western Rite Orthodox group, who worshipped in a side chapel. This occurred when St. Tikhon was still a bishop in America. Because St. Tikhon returned to Russia in 1907, this means that this Western Rite community in New York was active over one hundred years ago. These were former Episcopalians, who may have used the Roman rite which was the only one approved in those years.

Middle Period

In the 1930s, a dialogue was opened between the “Church of France,” a Western Rite body, and the Russian Orthodox Church. The French people were received by the Moscow authority, under patriarch Sergius Stragorodsky, and still later by the Russian Church Abroad, under her bishop St. John Maximovitch. There were also Western Rite communities in the Low Countries. During this interval the Western Rite of the Russian Church included both Roman rite and a Gallican rite which had been reconstructed and was blessed by St. John. A Western Rite bishop was consecrated at Paris. After St. John was transferred to America, these communities fell under stricture and passed out of the Russian Church. They were next independent, then with the Romanian patriarchate, then independent again. Nowadays there are still a few bi-ritual parishes under Romania, including the parish of St. Genevieve and St. Martin at Paris. In its heyday, the “French” Church counted adherents in North and South America, England, and elsewhere.

Now we return to the decade of the 1930s. A Western Rite bishop, William Brothers, was consecrated in St. Nicholas Russian cathedral in 1934 by a wandering Albanian bishop. This occurred without proper authorisation from the Church in Russia, so it does not, strictly speaking, constitute a part of our little history. But it was a foreshadowing, for in 1962 Archbishop John Wendland of the Russian Church received this little group’s clergy, including the church of Christ on the Mount at Woodstock. The cluster of parishes was called the Patriarchate’s “Western Rite Vicariate” and they appear under that title in the 1967 “New Catholic Encyclopedia.” Brothers soon left again, but their Abbot Augustine Whitfield stayed on in the Russian Church as superior of Mt. Royal monastery. Dom Augustine mentored many Orthodox clergy of Western origin in his lifetime, especially as to Benedictine monastic formation. He used a form of Roman rite right up to his repose in the bosom of the Church Abroad in June 2010.

Also in the early 1960s, St. John Maximovitch continued celebrating Gallican rite Liturgies on occasion, though he no longer had oversight of the French communities.

In Europe, the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Russian Patriarchate received a number of Italian convert parishes. These were permitted to retain the use of the Roman rite in its Tridentine form. Entire groups of former papal-Catholics in Italy, including some whole villages in Alpine regions, were celebrating daily Mass and divine office, in Latin, while affiliated with the Russian Church. This burgeoning movement proved short-lived, for when the Vatican protested, the Patriarchate withdrew its patronage.

In the early- and mid-1960s, in the United States, there were a number of Western Rite communities in the Church Abroad, in New York, Florida, Alabama, and the Midwest. Fr. John Shaw made contact with these people and also with Russian Old Ritualists. He himself celebrated the old Roman rite (Sarum Use) frequently. As the 1970s wore on, however, Western rite in the Russian Church waned. In 1975 Fr. John convinced the Brothers group to go to the older Roman tradition. There followed two or three decades of translation and publication on a massive scale, and in the end the old rite became accessible to modern man. During this time, so it is rumoured, there was some Western rite activity in the Moscow Patriarchate, but this has proven impossible to substantiate.

Late 20th Century

In the early 1990s, a Western Rite hieromonk, Fr. James (Deschene), was made head of Christminster. This house was a direct descendant of the Mt. Royal monastery but was located in Rhode Island (and now it is in Canada, in Ontario). Dom James uses a form of Roman rite. In these same few years, the then-Bishop Hilarion (now Metropolitan) visited St. Hilarion Western Rite monastery in Austin, Texas, and blessed its liturgical publications of the older Roman rite to be sold in Russian Orthodox bookstores. St. John of Kronstadt Press promoted these materials starting in 1994. The possibility of reception of St. Hilarion's into the Russian Church was explored, but there was opposition. It was not an opportune time, and talks were deferred.

In the mid 1990s, some time after Brothers had died, David Pearce, assistant to Abbot Augustine, was ordained by the Brothers group and served the old Roman rite (Sarum). For a brief time, Abbot Augustine joined the Brothers group, but returned to the Russian Church Abroad in 1997. In 1997 the Brothers group joined the old calendarist “Milan Synod.” [see addendum below]

In the late 1990s, in Tasmania, an Anglican priest of independent affiliation, Fr. Michael Wood, was received into the Russian Church Abroad and commenced missionary activities. In 1997, he was blessed to use an Anglican (BCP) type of liturgy. Thus the allowance the St. Petersburg committee had made in theory in 1904, was realised. Fr. Michael uses both Anglican and old Roman (Sarum) liturgy.

In the late 1990s, a Russian Patriarchal monastery in Illinois began to use the Sarum rite on certain liturgical occasions. It remains unclear whether this was a “state of things” or represents a smattering of occurrences.

21st Century

Beginning in 2004, Milan Synod clergy, both Eastern and Western in rite, started to turn themselves to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. After the election in 2008 of Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) as first hierarch of the Church Abroad, some ten Milan priests were received, many of them serving in the Western Rite. In late 2010, another independent group with Orthodox beliefs, headed by Fr. Anthony Bondi, was received into the Church Abroad. Their group formed the basis for what is now called the Fraternity of St. Gregory, an association which has now taken in clergy of other origination as well. Seven months on, ordinations are still occurring to serve the needs of the Fraternity’s churches. Meanwhile, from Europe comes the news that the Milan Synod itself, in Italy, is negotiating to come under the Russian Patriarchate. The outcome is uncertain.

In the year 2010, all Western rite people and clergy in the Russian Church Abroad were placed under the immediate supervision of the Metropolitan, so that they are all “stavropigial.”

Fr. John Shaw, having been previously consecrated to the episcopacy as Jerome of Manhattan, was named Vicar Bishop for Western Rite. A Western Rite Vicariate was established (the RWRV). Abbot James Deschene was made assistant to the Metropolitan for North America. Fr. Anthony Bondi, a monastic, was made assistant to the Metropolitan for Western Rite affairs. By the time of this writing, Bishop Jerome has ordained Western Rite clergy using both Byzantine and Roman rite forms, and has celebrated the pontifical form of the Roman mass.

There are now over thirty Western Rite and bi-ritual clergy serving in the Russian Church Abroad. There are monks and nuns, and three Benedictine abbots, Dom James Deschene, Dom David Pearce, and Dom Martin Hohlfeld. There exists a diversity of Western usages, including the Roman rite (in Tridentine and Sarum versions); the Anglican (BCP) rite adapted; a Roman-type rite created by the Fraternity; and the Gallican rite (kept in an Iowa parish). The liturgical forms found in the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate are approved for use in the RWRV. RWRV people and clergy are not particularly homogenous in origin, but spring from a variety of backgrounds, including various national Orthodox Churches; the Old Catholics; the Roman Catholics; the conservative Anglican movement; various Protestant groups both liturgical and non; the Greek Old Calendarist movement; and others. There are now communities functioning in Tasmania, the United States, Canada, Brazil, England, and the Philippines, with new communities in current formation. Within the U.S., fully eighteen states have at least one RWRV church in them.

The influx of Western Rite people has been dramatic and indicates high potential. It remains to be seen how church life will develop in this rejuvenated Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Church. Its cordial relations with the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate certainly bode well for inter-Orthodox cooperation as to Western Rite matters.

In October 2011, a large Western Rite Orthodox Conference is scheduled. As of July, the number of registrants is near to maximum. Clearly, these most recent developments are being described here even as they unfold.

Addendum by Dcn Fr Finbarr Brandt-Sorheim:

The Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey of The Autonomous True Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles is the direct continuation of those who in 1997 left the Russian Moscow Patriarchate with Archbp William [Brothers] to join the old calendarist "Milan Synod.” In 2011 Met Evlogios of the Milan Synod granted this American diocese a tomos of autonomy for their continued work. They are not with the Milan Synod in seeking to submit to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. However, their very extensive work on WR texts and Sarum chants based on British manuscripts and partially represented in the Medieval Monastic Psalter of Orthodox England Noted in the English Language (available on line gratis at: )

is approved for use in the Western Rite Vicariate of ROCOR under Metropolitan Hilarion and Bp Jerome.

The Rites of Orthodox England
The rites of the monastic offices and the rite of Sarum translated into English with Gregorian notation.

The Autonomous True Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles

Did You Know?

Moscow, like ancient Rome, is built on seven hills.

Further Reading

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia:
Fraternity of St. Gregory:
Occidentalis Website for Western Orthodoxy:
Occidentalis—a Western Orthodoxy Discussion Group:
Oremus: Roman Rite in the Orthodox Church—a blog:
Liturgical Texts Project:
Essays on Western Rite Orthodoxy:

This summary was written by a monk of the Russian Church pending revisions and additions. By no means does this summary delve into subject of Western Rite Orthodoxy as a whole, for that story involves other of the national Churches.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Give Me A Break...the Orthodox Western Rite

our Metropolitan John [LoBue] of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia
A recent comment was negative about the Orthodox Western Rite, advising us just to become Roman Catholic. A beloved holy Orthodox hierarch, St John of San Francisco and Shanghai stated that the West was Orthodox for a thousand years using the Western Rites, let no one forbid the Western Rite saying it cannot be Orthodox. At present there are many Western Rite Orthodox blessed by their hierarchs to use various forms of the Western Rites. Such arrangements are notable here in North America in the AWR of the Antiochians, the Western Rite Vicariate of ROCOR/MP, and various smaller groups including the Autonomous Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles. ~~~ Roman Catholics should be cognizant of their own Eastern Rites...Eastern Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Melkites, and name only a few of their many Uniat organizations. Whoever else may find the Orthodox Western Rite confusing, Roman Catholics should not. ~~~ Some argue that revitalizing an old rite is poor policy. In truth however, the evidence for the ancient Western Rites is rich and available, just not much attended to in the past, and shows the ancient Western Rites [AD 900-1200]  more akin to the East as genuine practices are documented and recovered. The growing question is why and how did the West allow itself to be improverished and altered!? 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

St Brendan the Navigator Western Rite Orthodox Mission

St Brendan the Navigator Western Rite Orthodox Mission
Honeoye falls, New York USA
--- Vicar Fr John / Mark Mc Monagle
--- Deacon Fr Finbarr / Peter Brandt-Sorheim
--- Acolyte/Reader Andrew / Joel McMonagle
--- Rev'd Stavrophoremonk Simon-Salos, attached      
[Sacred Hermitage Cell of St. Prochoros, Syracuse, NY]

A Litany of Saints From the Lorrha Missal

V: O God come to my assistance.
R: O Lord make haste to help me.
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
R: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.

We have sinned, O Lord,
remit our sins and save us.
Hear us, O Thou Who didst guide Noah upon the waves of the Flood,
and didst recall Jonah from the abyss by Thy Word;
free us.
O Thou Who didst offer a hand to Peter as he was sinking;
bear us up, O Christ, Son of God.
Thou didst perform wonders among our fathers, O Lord:
stretch forth Thy hand
from on high to answer our necessities.
Free us, O Christ.
Saint Mary, Pray for us.
Saint Peter, Pray for us.
Saint Paul, Pray for us.
Saint Andrew, Pray for us.
Saint John, Pray for us.
Saint James, Pray for us.
Saint Bartholomew, Pray for us.
Saint Thomas, Pray for us.
Saint Matthew, Pray for us.
Saint Thaddeus, Pray for us.
Saint Matthias, Pray for us.
Saint Philip, Pray for us.
Saint Simon, Pray for us.
Saint Mark, Pray for us.
Saint Luke, Pray for us.
Saint Stephen, Pray for us.
Saint Martin of Tours, Pray for us.
Saint Jerome homilist and translator, Pray for us.
Saint Augustine, Pray for us.
Saint Gregory the Great, Pray for us.
Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Pray for us.
Saint Patrick of Ireland, Pray for us.
Saint Ailbe of Emly, Pray for us.
Saint Finian of Clonard, Pray for us.
Saint Finian of Movilla, Pray for us.
Saint Keiran of Saigher, Pray for us.
Saint Keiran of Clonmacnoise, Pray for us.
Saint Brendan of Clonfert, Pray for us.
Saint Brendan of Birr, Pray for us.
Saint Columba of Iona, Pray for us.
Saint Columba of Luxeuil and Bobbio, Pray for us.
Saint Comgall of Bangor, Pray for us.
Saint Cainnech of Kilkenny and Aghaboe, Pray for us.
Saint Finbarr of Gougane Barra in Cork, Pray for us.
Saint Nessan of Mungret, Pray for us.
Saint Fachtna of Rosscarberry in Cork, Pray for us.
Saint Lua of Lismore, Pray for us.
Saint Lacten of Friar's Island, Pray for us.
Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha, Pray for us.
Saint Carthage of Rahan and Lismore, Pray for us.
Saint Comghan of Ross, Pray for us.
Saint Mochoemog of Arderin, Pray for us.
Saint Brigid of Kildare, Pray for us.
Saint Ita of Killeedy, Pray for us.
Saint Scetha, Pray for us.
Saint Sinecha, Pray for us.
Saint Samthann of Clonbroney, Pray for us.
All ye Saints, Pray for us.
Be Gracious, Spare us, O Lord.
Be Gracious, Free us, O Lord.
From all evil, Free us, O Lord.
Through Thy Cross, Free us, O Lord.
We sinners entreat Thee, Hear us, O Son of God.
We entreat Thee, Hear us, and grant us peace.
We entreat Thee, Hear us.
Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.

(Taken From the Lorrha Missal used by Churches of Ireland, Scotland, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy. Edited for this blog)

The Medieval Monastic Psalter

Excerpt from the Preface of The Medieval Monastic Psalter:
Many attempts have been made in the early and latter parts of this century to produce a version of the Hours of the Monastic Office in the English Language that could be easily used for prayer by those with little or no training in ancient languages or musical theory. The need to put forward another attempt comes from certain lackings in previous versions that made the Editors feel that no previous version incorporated all the needs present before them.
First, by way of correction, was the need to present the ancient Western usage of Monks and Nuns that followed the Rule [RSB] of St. Benedict of Nursia in a manner that was completely Orthodox, i.e., completely in accordance with the doctrine, canons, and practices of the Orthodox Church. This, of course, requires that the Hours be done in the completely ancient manner that was practiced in the first millennial Orthodox Churches of the West, which by the year 950 a.d. had spread through the greater part of the civilized world, from the Baffin Islands in what is now Canada, to the island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga in the present day Russia, to the Western Rite Monastery of Amalphon (called Morphonu by the Greeks) on Mount Athos. This usage was the singularly predominant prayer of the Monks and Nuns of the present day Italy, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England. It has been considered most appropriate to look to the latter country, whose Monks and Nuns were the source of conversion for the aforementioned countries in the north of Europe, and which had received the Monastic Office itself from St. Augustine of Canterbury, the Italian monk that had been the Prior of St. Andrew's Monastery on the Coelian Hill in Rome where our Father among the the saints, St. Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Old Rome, had been the Abbott. St. Bede the Venerable writes that St. Gregory, after learning that St. Augustine had successfully begun the mission among the Angles and relating his joy for this success in a letter to St. Eulogius, Pope of Alexandria, sent "all things needed in general for Divine Worship and the services of the Church, sacred vessels, altar clothes, furniture for Churches, vestments for the Clergy, relics, and also many books." It is the latter books that served as the foundation for this life of prayer in the Latin usage of the Monks and Nuns of medieval England that these volumes of Monastic Office in the English language are meant to continue.
Secondly, it was needed to produce these Office books using that ancient and essential tool of assistance for prayer service in the Western Rite that has come to be known as the Gregorian Chant. This was no small matter of difficulty, since much that had existed in manuscript form from the various monasteries of England had been destroyed during the Protestant Revolt. Three main manuscripts were available, however, being the Portiforium of St. Oswald of York, (also known as the Portiforum Wulstani), the Antiphonale Wigorniense of Worcester Cathedral Priory where St. Oswald (died A.D. 992( was Bishop, and the Breviary of Abingdon Abbey in Winchester (later called Hyde Abbey) where St. Ethelwaold (died A.D. 984) was Bishop. These two great monastic reformers of the 10th Century Orthodox Church in England. They have left for us a wonderful treasure of prayer for the entire Church year. Second only to the RSB which provides the main structure and cycle of Psalms for the Psalter, the aforementioned Antiphonale Witgorniense provided the main Antiphons and Responsories. The Portiforium of St. Oswald which appears also to have been derived from Winchester, provided the many Chapters and Collects that have been used, and the Abingdon Breviary provided those items missing from the first two manuscripts. Together, they provide us with a clear picture showing how the Monks and Nuns of the Orthodox West conducted what St. Benedict calls. "the Work of God."
Thirdly, the Editors needed a version of the Psalms from a recognizable Orthodox source. This, of course, had to be the Septuagint, or the Old Testament in Greek according to the Seventy. Translated from Hebrew into Greek some 200 years before the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour, these are the Psalms quoted in the New Testament Greek, and which survived the rewriting and repointing of the Hebrew Psalms begun at the Rabbinical Council of Jamnia after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Even here there were variant manuscripts available. We are most grateful to Father Justin of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, Mass. for extending to us the kind permission of Bishop Ephraim for using their translation (1987) of the Psalter. This translation served well out purposes in preserving ancient Orthodox worship, and in the rare places (Psalm 13 and 94) where the ancient Western usage derived from the Latin Vulgate translation of St. Jerome of Sidonium had made use of Septuagint manuscripts with additional phrases, these phrases, taken from the translation of the Septuagint by Sir Lancelot Brenton (1851), have been included in our Psalter within parentheses. We are confident that this usage has preserved the ancient meaning of the Psalms which were fulfilled in the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This series is divided into many Volumes, for which Volume I is the Psalter Outside of Paschaltide, Volume II is the Psalter in Paschaltide (from Low Sunday through the Octave of Pentecost), and Volume III begins the Proper Offices for Advent. The Offices of the week of Pascha, while having a Monastic usage, are not technically part of the Monastic Psalter, as the Cathedral Use like that of Old Sarum, not the RSB, has provided the structure for these offices ever since the Monastic Council of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in 817 A.D., and thus will be provided for in a separate Volume of the Proper.
Finally, we apologize that our effort could not prove to be more grand, since, in order to complete these Volumes in a suitable time frame, we have neglected style and the multitudinous ornamentations that our holy predecessors provided in their manuscripts.
May Heaven forgive us! And may all who use these volumes pray for the souls of the unworthy workers who have put them together. O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon us, the sinners.
Abbey of the Holy Name
January 14/27, 1993
St. Sava of Serbia