30 March 2011

More on the Ukrainians

By the kindess of a friend, I regularly read the newsletter of an American church of the Ukrainian diaspora. And what constantly strikes me is the determination of the Ukrainian Church to maintain and, if necessary, to restore, its own authentically Byzantine traditions; and to emphasise to its people that they are not 'Roman' Catholics. Reading between the lines, I suspect that there is even some resistance to this among some of their laity; that delatinisation legislation stimulates the angry question "Why are we being turned into Orthodox?"

And I have just spotted - in the March 20 newsletter - that the Second Sunday of Great Lent is also the Feast of "St Gregory Palamas" ... reminding me of a question that I raised in posts a little while ago. S Gregory was a great fourteenth century Archbishop of Thessalonica whose teaching, mediated to him from the earlier Greek Fathers through S Symeon the New Theologian, claimed to describe and to justify the teaching and ascetical practises of Athonite monasticism (he was also very explicit about our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces, but that's another question). For a long time, S Gregory was attacked as a heretic by Latin theologians; and I think I am right in saying that he has never popped up in the Martyrologium Romanum! The fact that large Churches in full Peace and Communion with the Holy See (the Ukrainians and the Melkites) commemorate him liturgically on a Sunday in Lent must have ecclesial significance for all the particular churches in Peace and Communion with Rome, Latin as well as Oriental.

I see these Byzantine communities as valuable reminders that the Catholic Church is more than just the Latin Church; and that the "Eastern Rites" (a horrid phrase) are not simply 'ordinary' or 'mainstream' Catholics who are graciously permitted, for reasons of ancestral fetich, to dress up in funny clothes (the other day, in the library of Allen Hall, I browsed through the Bullarium of Benedict XIV, my second most favourite pope, rereading his enactments preserving the rights of the Patriarch of Antioch and of the Melkite tradition against disdainful and illiterate Latins). I am currently trying to get out of the habit of criticising the Church of England; but I can't resist the temptation to point out the the Churches who are at one with the See of Rome contain within them an infinitely greater variety of (encouraged) diversity than you could ever find within Anglicanism. Two lungs, indeed. Or more.


By the way ... the video from the Ukraine suggests that the solita oscula are still very much alive and kicking among Byzantines!


Joshua said...

I love the image of Fr H. enjoying eighteenth century Papal Latinity, exercised in behalf of the Christian East. Perhaps, if we are good, he will treat us to an extract...

Священник села said...

Indeed. Much liturgical kissing goes on: of the holy table, of the gospel, of priestly hands, of all manner of liturgical hardware - it is part and parcel of priest-craft's character. As David Jones wrote in Kensington Mass:
He has no need of
the rubric's nudge: osculator altare in medio.
for what bodily act other
would serve here?
Creaturely of necessity
for we are creatures
Our own salvation
were it possible
could be no other than the rubric's osculator

The older books, by the way, include the Peace as a kiss 'on the lips', each given by each liturgical order to the other in order of seniority. This seems to have been dropped in all English language rubrics but the Old-Rite.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

In the Latin West, the Pax was so very much on the mouth that it was deemed to break a fast!!!!

Tawser said...

ENCOURAGED variety? In theory, perhaps. But Rome is a long way away from most places. You might want to take a look at the life of St. Alexis Toth, the Ruthenian priest who was driven into the Orthodox Church when a Catholic bishop refused to accept the validity of his orders.

Jens said...

Some latinisations saved the greek-catholics from the latinisation.

e.g. Sacred-Heart friday with regular confession in the greek-catholik parishes saved them to go over to the "polish" (=latins). Compare the real liturgical life and eucharistic piety with real russian-orthodox parishes....

Conchúr said...

Since Toth and latinisations have been mentioned it's interesting to note that those Ruthenians who went over to Constantinople and formed ACROD, rather than over to Moscow, were allowed retain most of their customs and praxis and do so to this day. As such, at first glance, it's quite difficult to distinguish an Orthodox parish from a Greek-Catholic one in much of Pennsylvania.

David Lindsay said...

There are currently certain tendencies within some Eastern Catholic Churches. There is the widespread excision of filioque clause. There is a dangerous Christological imprecision in statements made jointly by Chaldean Catholics and by the Assyrian Church.

There is the practice of "delatinisation': consider that Ukrainian Catholics must now have recourse to Lefebvrist bishops if they are to secure the ordination of priests prepared to continue Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross.

And there is the increasing prevalence among the Melkites of the more-than-familiar concepts of a "bridge church" and of only the "Undivided Church" of the first millennium as normative and definitive.

As orthodox Catholics have always reacted to those theories when professed by Anglo-Catholics, who it seems are not necessarily recanting them by joining the Ordinariate, so orthodox Orthodox will react to them when professed by Melkites, who will negate their own position by caring as little as Anglo-Catholics have cared.

But the Undivided Church still exists and has always existed, without interruption. The recognition of this fact was the basis of the Melkite, as of every other, unia. Is it the basis of the Ordinariate?

Bryan said...

I cannot resist mentioning that over in Eastern Slovakia in the City of Presov (in Hungarian Eperies) there is both a Greek** Catholic (Uniate) Bishop and an Orthodox Bishop. The Roman Rite Bishop for Presov is the Archbishop of Kosice far to the South of Presov. One of the only changes made during the Prague Spring that lasted Normalisation was the restoration of the Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Presov. Two of its Bishops were beatified - Bl Pavel Gojdic (+1960) and Bl Vasil' Hopko (+1976) - both white martyrs of Communism.

**They never use the term Ukrainian Catholics but Greek Catholics.

The Flying Dutchman said...

I agree completely with you, Father. The Eastern Catholic Churches provide an important witness to the universality of the Catholic Church. That said, there are, unfortunately, stupid and/or misguided people everywhere (including within the hierarchy of the Latin Church), but the Roman Pontiffs have for centuries defended the rights of the Eastern Catholic Churches-

Augustinus said...

"There is the practice of "delatinisation': consider that Ukrainian Catholics must now have recourse to Lefebvrist bishops if they are to secure the ordination of priests prepared to continue Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross"

The new head of the UGCC is a devotee of the Rosary:


Quote: 'The reminiscences of the Most Blessed Sviatoslav also prove this: “Before departing for South America Mechyslav Mokrytsky, Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Lviv, presented me with a rosary which used to belong to Pope John Paul II. It has been with me to the forests of Argentina and Brazil, the deserts of Patagonia, and the Andes.'

Eucharistic adoration continues to by practiced by some Ukrainian Catholics as well as by the Romanian Catholics, and I've been assured that The Stations of the Cross is alive and well in Western Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora.

Dale said...

Two weeks ago my son and I attended the "local" (almost a one hundred mile trip, one way) Greek Catholic Church where the priest celebrated the proskomedia in the centre of the church, facing the congregation. The office was very truncated and had the people bring up their own little piece of bread to be consecrated. This parish also sometimes has the priest, during the words of institution, leave the altar area, walk into the middle of the church with chalice and diskos and sing the words facing the congregation. The people also wave their hands around during certain parts of the Mass. It is all very much within the Spirit of Vatican II. I would venture to say there is a rejection of Latinization only so long as it is pre-Vatican II Latinizations (which one often may only find within former Greek Catholic parishes that have gone over to the Byzantine Orthodox!), but still a very strong movement towards a liturgy resembling the novus ordo is evident and growing. I have attended eastern rite Catholic churches with girl servers and mass facing the audience as well, not to mention lady eucharistic ministers.

One should mention that Toth left Greek Catholicism not over question of the rite, but marriage of priests.

Having mentioned the above, I agree completely with Fr. Hunwicke that the Eastern Churches, regardless of a certain attraction to novus ordoism, are indeed alive and well, and growing. A living reality of catholicity that Byzantine Orthodoxy cannot seem to duplicate.