Western Orthodoxy: an
Innovation or a Reclamation?
by Fr. Stephen Empson
Note: Fr. Stephen was an
American priest of the L'Eglise Catholique Orthodoxe de France. When
this article originally appeared in the 1980's in the journal Axios,
this community was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of
In response to a great number of requests for a clarification of the
terminology Western Orthodox largely from the readership of
Axios, we present this paper which touches upon three major aspects
of Western Orthodoxy. The first consideration is ecclesiological by
nature: the historical position of Western Orthodoxy in the Universal
legacy of liturgical materials which issued during the first flowering
of Western Orthodoxy, including the sixth-century Mass structures of
Paris and Rome. We close this paper with a discussion of the current
state of Western Orthodox affairs, including brief comments upon the
one Western Orthodox Diocese now in existence.
For a number of reasons which are quite obvious, most Orthodox clergy
and faithful have either never heard of Western Orthodoxy, or at best
could not offer a workable description of it. Probably first among
these reasons is the fact that the published writings on Western
Orthodoxy would scarcely fill a library shelf. And most of this output
exists in languages other than English. Another reason for the lack of
general knowledge of this subject, at least in English-speaking lands,
is the fact that the very few Orthodox catechisms and concise histories
of Orthodoxy, even should they mention activity in the Christian West
Roman Empire during the first millennium, do not leave the reader with
an outright impression of a thousand-year Western Orthodox era. There
is also a general tendency among the Eastern Orthodox to view things
Western with various degrees of repugnance, perhaps forgetting that the
Christian West was not always Roman Catholic. Most obvious of all is
the fact that since the great schism of 1054, Orthodoxy was at first
exclusively Eastern, and to this day remains overwhelmingly Eastern.
And since the proclamation of Balsamon  the Eastern Church has been
based liturgically upon the much evolved Byzantine Rite . All of
this quite naturally leads the average person into a comfortable belief
that Orthodoxy was always Eastern and Byzantine Rite, and perhaps that
this disproportion in the universality, or catholicity if you will, of
Orthodoxy must be maintained forever.
This brings us to our first general topic: the historical position of
the Western Orthodox Church. Roman Catholic seminaries have always
taught that the first thousand years of the Christian West constitute
Roman Catholic Church history. In a sense, of course, there is truth in
such an assumption, for the Christian West was indeed in the spiritual
jurisdiction of Rome, and was indeed Catholic. The Bishop of Rome was
Patriarch of the West, and canonically the first-among-equals of the
Orthodox episcopate .
However, this understanding of history is partial .
Orthodox seminaries have always featured courses in Church history
centered upon Byzantine and Slavic evolution, and there are countless
excellent texts written from this viewpoint. Rare or nonexistent are
courses entitled, for example, "The History of Orthodoxy in England,"
or "The Evolution of Orthodox Liturgical Music in Spain". The few
specialists in these and other aspects of Western liturgical
development must largely refer to published material by past and
present non-Orthodox scholars.
We consider our Holy Orthodox Church of Christ to be One, Holy,
Orthodox, Catholic, Universal and Apostolic. Each of these
characteristics, or parameters if you will, of our Church would require
many printed pages to fully, or even adequately, describe. Our Church
represents and includes within itself a fullness which in some cases
remains to be revealed and in others escapes close scrutiny and human
attempts at categorization and conceptualism.
Among the characteristics of our Church which are not so elusive is its
universality. Let us consider this term in the context of The Universal
Church. A dictionary description will not suffice in this instance,
although it is worth noting that in our Webster the word "universality"
indicates "a universal comprehensiveness" and "unrestricted versatility
or power of adaptation or comprehension". As far as these descriptions
go, they are appropriate. Certainly they refer to the period of the
undivided Orthodox Church of the first millennium, which was indeed
comprehensive: the Church was Eastern and Western, extending to the far
corners of the entire Roman Empire. This was Our Lord's expectation 
and the task of "evangelization" quickly gained momentum after
Pentecost . Even in Apostolic days we can speak of the universal
Church, although the balance between East and West took on a definite
shape during the post-Apostolic era. The first Bishops or overseers
took over the work of the Apostles, and inherited the Apostolic grace.
Episcopal sees rooted themselves in the great centers of population:
Rome, Antioch, Constantinople and Alexandria, or course, but also in
Toledo, Milan, Vienna, Lyons, Paris, Poitiers, Canterbury, York, Whitby
and Lindisfarne. The Church was universal, comprehensive, and certainly
We read of the great hierarchs of the East: of Saints Basil, Cyril,
John Chrysostom, Photios, Athanasios and Ignatios. We also read of the
great hierarchs of the West: of Saints Ireney of Lyons, Germain of
Auxerre, Hilary of Poitiers, Gregory of Rome, Ambrose of Milan,
Augustine of Canterbury and Wilfrid of York. As we study the exemplary
lives and works of the Eastern Monastic Fathers, and pray that they
will intercede to God in our behalf, we can be assured that Saints
Benedict of Nursia, Martin of Tours, Odo of Cluny, Benedict Bishop of
Wearmouth, Boniface of Fulda and Columba of Iona are entirely at our
disposition. The absolute joy of the resurrected Christ which inspired
and impelled the foundation of the Studion Monastery in Constantinople
also inspired and impelled the foundation of St. Denis Abbey, Melrose
Abbey and Marmoutier. Even before Isidore and Melitios projected the
great Hagia Sophia, the
Merovingian architects had designed a great cathedral dedicated to
Saint Stephen in Paris . Such was the universality,
comprehensiveness and versatility of Orthodoxy; such was the balance
which once prevailed. And so it is that we speak of the undivided
Church: so rich in the various local expressions and manifestations of
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism .
This ideal balance, this magnificent diversity within an absolute unity
of Faith and Dogma could have been established and maintained only with
Divine Assistance: the intimate participation of The Holy Spirit. This
Divine Counsel guaranteed the undivided Church against doctrinal error.
The Ecumenical Councils included Eastern and Western Fathers, who
gathered together from the far points of the Empire in order to defend
Orthodoxy against heresy. The Fathers deliberated, and framed the
canons, always guarded and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Bishops, from
East and West, were equal in grace, and the faithful, Eastern and
Western, constituted the "conscience" of the Church. As long as this
concept of ecclesiology prevailed, the Holy Spirit maintained the
Church undivided, and the Church expanded as naturally, successfully
and harmoniously as could be expected. This long period of harmony and
balance gradually faded within the undivided Church in direct
proportion to the gradual loss of conciliarity which occurred as the
Patriarchate of Rome became the papacy and the well-known innovations
and corruptions began.
Although we understand that 1054 is the formal date of the Western
schism, the seeds of non-conciliarity were planted in Rome long before,
as we shall discover shortly.
As we now consider certain major examples of liturgical structures
which took root in the undivided Church, we can continue to rejoice in
the Church's universality and power of adaptability.
There is a vast treasury of Western Orthodox liturgical materials, to a
degree unexplored and to an even greater degree unused. Few of those
who have worked on these liturgical materials in the past have
described them in the context of Orthodoxy. Yet these materials are the
very substance and structure of the Orthodox West from Post-Apostolic
times henceforth. The liturgical structures and the music which adorned
them command our reverence, inasmuch as they form an integral part of
the written Tradition of our Church, along with the Holy Scriptures and
the dogmatic and disciplinary canons. We dare to put the early
liturgical structures on this plane because in each instance we have
the results of the intimate participation of the Holy Spirit. Certain
men in the course of time cooperated with the Holy Spirit and the
Scriptures took form. Later, other men sought the participation of the
Holy Spirit in order to determine the "canonical" and
"deutero-canonical" books, and to point out those that were spurious.
In issuing the Holy Canons at the Ecumenical Councils, we are familiar
with the terminology, "It seemed right to the Holy Spirit and to us…"
It was the same Holy Spirit who inspired and guided the formation of
the liturgical structures of the early, forming, shaping Church.
The joyous reality of this veritable Divine participation in the
formation of all the early liturgical structures of the Church should
be a major consideration in the study of Liturgical Theology, yet we do
not observe any such emphasis . This is perhaps the principle reason
that the early Orthodox liturgical structures are researched for the
most part by the non-Orthodox, from a purely archeological point of
view. Of course, there is a major exception to this situation, which we
will discuss at the appropriate time.
We have discussed the fullness, the universality, the versatility and
power of adaptation of our Church as it took root in the East and in
the West. We considered Eastern and Western Bishops, Confessors and
Abbots; we see that Byzantine domes and Gothic spires together led men
of old to the contemplation and aspiration of things Divine; we
discovered that The Rule of Saint Benedict and The Rule of the Master,
for example, are just as Orthodox, if you will, as the Rules of
Pachomius and Saint Basil. It is necessary, before discussing actual
liturgies, to suggest a cut-off date, which will enable us to confine
our considerations to that period in history during which such
liturgies evolved and flourished. We will suggest the year 800 as an
ideal cut-off date. In this year Charlemagne was crowned as the first
Western Emperor. Charlemagne condemned the Ecumenical Council of 787 in
794. During the pontificates of Popes Stephen III, Stephen IV and
Hadrian I (752-795) the Patriarchate of Rome, for all practical
purposes, freed itself from the East, and pursued its independent
course. Year by year, in stages and degrees, the Orthodox Patriarchate
of Rome became the monolithic Roman Papacy. One of the first major
proofs of non-conciliarity were Rome's efforts at uniformity of
liturgical practice (then and ever since).
Charlemagne and Alcuin were given the task, by Rome, of replacing all
local liturgical structures in the West with the local liturgical
structure of Rome. This is the type of legislation which has come to
characterize the Roman Church; unilateral and devoid of the
participation of the Holy Spirit. No council, Eastern or Western, was
called by anyone concerning this liturgical innovation of the ninth
And so it is that we suggest the year 800 as the end of the flowering
of ideal Western Orthodoxy, as one by one the beautiful, effective and
sacred liturgical structures of the West (save the Roman) were torn out
by their roots, the seeds of which had been planted many centuries
earlier by Saints and The Holy Spirit. Suddenly, the worship structures
of millions disappeared from cathedrals, churches and abbeys and began
to take their new places on library shelves. Genuine liturgical
development ceased. Speculation and caprice followed, and even the
Roman Rite in time became infused with Gallican uses . At the same
time the archetypal Roman liturgical chants assumed layer after layer
of Gallican stylization  to form a tradition now known somewhat
erroneously as Gregorian.
During the period of Western Orthodox florescence, the principle
liturgical structures formed what we now call the Gallican family.
Included in this family are the Gallican Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, the
Ambrosian Rite, the West African and the Celtic Rites.
Coeval with the Gallican structures of Western Europe was the Roman
Rite in the City of Rome and its environs. A number of secondary
sources on the Roman Rite have presented this structure as being
somewhat removed from the Gallican family from the point of view of
content, style and focus. This has been the result of comparing more
recent Roman MSS with older Gallican MSS, for example. We have even
seen the sixth century Gallican Mass set side-by-side with the
Tridentine Mass for the purpose of an accurate appraisal of the
differences! The Roman structure, by the time it became "codified" by a
liturgical commission under Pope Pius V in 1570, had not only taken on
a considerable amount of Gallican uses , but had also lost some of
its own original elements . It is beyond the scope of this paper to
present in corresponding columns the Orthodox liturgical structures of
Rome, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, Paris, Toledo and Milan, for
the purpose of comparison. But it is sufficient to mention that in
doing so, the scholar must select a particular date, such as 500 or
600, in order to arrive at reasonable conclusions concerning the
differences and similarities of the several rites. From a theological
point of view, we can consider the liturgical development throughout
the Empire to be truly representative from the post-Apostolic period to
the sixth or even the eighth century. It was a natural, uncomplicated
development, which perhaps significantly took place during the period
of the Councils. It is more than significant that the Council Fathers
neither deliberated over current liturgical use nor framed any canons
in this regard.
If the first eight centuries of the Christian era give us the most
ideal picture of Orthodox catholicity, universality comprehensibility
and adaptability, from both ecclesiological and liturgical standpoints,
thus presenting a truly Spirit-inspired balance within one Church, then
it would seem that these very liturgical structures should once again
take their rightful, legitimate place within the same one Church.
With this in mind, and having decided upon an ideal, truly
representative period of liturgical development, for our purpose in the
Orthodox West, we can touch upon the legacy of pre-Carolingian
Let us begin with an exposition and brief history of the Gallican Rite
which is actually celebrated in the parishes of the Orthodox Church of
France. This we call the Divine Liturgy according to Saint Germain,
Bishop of Paris (555-576). When we say "according to" we do not
indicate actual authorship, for no early liturgies were written or
composed by a single individual.
Saint Germain was born in Autun, France in 492, and became Abbot of the
monastery of Saint-Symphorien in Autun. In 555 he was appointed Bishop
of Paris by King Childebert . This same year he outlined and
commended upon the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the capital (in a style
similar to the Cabasilas Commentary) and sent his observations back to
the Autun monastery. For 1154 years, the Letters of Saint Germain
remained in the monastery. In 1709, this precious MS was discovered by
two Maurist Benedictine liturgiologists, Dom Edmond Martene and Dom
Ursin Durand . They published the Letters in their Thesaurus
Novus Anecdotum in 1717. This was reproduced in Patrologia Latina,
Volume 72, wherein also appears the biography of Saint Germain by Saint
Venance Fortunat (535-600), Bishop of Poitiers. Pierre Le Brun
(1661-1729), an Oratorian priest, also worked on the Letters and
published them with commentary in 1777 . Other Merovingian MS serve
to substantiate the content of the Gallican liturgical structures;
these fit into four convenient categories. Let us first mention the
writings of the Church Fathers of Gaul:
Saint Sulpice Severe (5th c)
Saint John Cassian (5th c)
Saint Gennadius (5th c)
Saint Gregory of Tours (6th c)
Saint Venance Fortunat (6th c)
Saint Avit of Vienne (6th c)
Saint Sidonius Apollinarius (6th c)
Saint Faustus of Riez (6th c)
Saint Caesar of Arles (6th c)
Saint Aurelian of Arles (6th c)
each of which amplify particular aspects of the liturgical structures
and church life in general during the period we now consider .
Secondly, we mention the local Councils of Gaul, the canons and minutes
of which present valuable witnesses to contemporary liturgical practice:
Council of Agde (509)
Council of Lyons (517)
Council of Vaison (529)
Council of Macon (585)
Council of Rouen (650)
Council of Nantes (658)
and others, which also amplify certain aspects of church life and
corroborate the manuscript of Saint Germain . The writings of the
Church Fathers and the Council canons and minutes are obviously closely
related, and, in addition to their vivid portrayal of Merovingian
church life, they give absolute testimony to the interdependence and
unity that prevailed in sixth and seventh century Orthodoxy, a unity of
Faith expressed and experienced within local liturgical structures.
Thirdly, we list a number of Missals and Sacramentaries. Although the
actual order of the Mass, for example, is not given in these MSS such
order in indirectly given. We will find Collects and Readings for the
Temporal and Sanctoral cycles, all given in a particular order. The
Post-Precem Collect (Oratio) points to the Litany which precedes it.
The Post-Nomina Collect points to the Diptychs which precede it, and so
forth. Among the most interesting and valuable MSS in this category are
Missale Gothico-Gallicanum (Autun Missal)
Missale Gallicanum Vetus
Sacramentarium Gallicanum 
The Mone Missal 
The Stowe Missal 
The Bobbio Missal
Fourthly, there are the Lectionaries and Antiphonaries which have the
same interest and value as the Missals and Sacramentaries, in various
degrees. Among the principle MSS we quote:
The Luxeuil Lectionary 
The Autun Lectionary 
The Bangor Antiphonary 
There are numerous published texts which cover the nineteenth and
twentieth century research on The Divine Liturgy according to Saint
Germain of Paris . We now present the structure of this Liturgy:
Call to Silence (Silentium)
Canticle of Zachary (Prophetia)
O.T. Reading (Propheta)
Thrice-Holy before Gospel (Aius ante Evangelium)
Thrice-Holy after Gospel (Sanctus post Evangelium)
Catechumen exit (Catechuminum)
Collect of the Litany (Post-Precem)
Great Entrance (Sonus et Laudes)
Collect of the Diptychs (Post-Nomina)
Kiss of Peace
Collect of the Kiss of Peace (ad Pacem)
Preface and Sanctus (Contestatio)
Collect of the Sanctus (Post-Sanctus)
Institution (Qui pridie)
Breaking of Bread (Confactio)
The Lord's Prayer (Orationem Dominicam)
At first glance the Liturgy according to Saint Germain appears quite
lengthy, but in fact our average celebrations, exclusive of extended
sermon and communions, require one hour.
The Gallican-type liturgies contain many proper, or changeable prayers,
all very expressive and often quite colorful. Each of these prayers
points explicitly to the dominant theme of the Sunday, the Feast, or
the Saint. For instance, in the Missale Gothico-Gallicanum, Feast of
Saint Sernin, Bishop of Toulouse (November 29) we are given two opening
Collects which serve to introduce the Feast didactically, a
Post-Nomina, an Ad Pacem, and a Contestatio . In the Sacramentarium
Gallicanum, Feast of Saint Martin of Tours (November 11) we are given
an O.T. Reading, Epistle, and Gospel, in addition to the five prayers
just described. The terms "Sacramentary" and "Missale" each have their
proper significant semantically, although the actual Sacramentaries and
Missals in question are often similar in content, even including those
parts proper to the Lectionaries. The Antiquissimun Lectionarium
Gallicanum  contains readings for 42 Sundays and Feasts and for the
ordination of Deacon and of Priest, each set of readings is followed by
very interesting historical notes and observations. Fascinating among
the ten introductory paragraphs to this Lectionary is the discussion of
Advent Sundays, which in the early Orthodox West numbered six, as in
the East. Testimony from the Mozarabic and Ambrosian Sacramentaries are
given, both of which give Propers for six Advent Sundays, in addition
to a quotation from Canon 9 of the Council of Macon (585) which points
indirectly to six Advent Sundays, "Ut a feria Sancti Martini (November
11) usque ad Natale Domini, secunda, quarta et sexta sabbati jejunetur,
sacrificia quadragesimali debeant ordine celebrari."
Another Maurist Benedictine, Dom John Mabillon, in his "Investigation
of the Gallican Use" , discusses the history of the Divine Office
in the East and West, the origin and development of Western liturgical
The Missale Francorum  presents the
rubrics and texts for ordinations, consecrations and blessings. The six
orders preliminary to the priesthood mentioned in the writings of Pope
Caius of Rome (+296) are ostarius, lector, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon
and deacon. The Missal Francorum presents these six orders, and in
addition, the ordination of priests, the consecration of bishops, the
consecration of nuns, the blessing of widows, the consecrations of
altars, chalices and patens.
The Deacon of Lyons, Florus (+860), wrote extensively on many subjects
concerning church life up to and including his own time, and took a
prominent part in the public defense of Orthodoxy. Among his works we
find "De actione Missae"  which, in describing the ceremonial
(rubrical) aspect of the Gallican liturgy, serves to corroborate the
content of the liturgy from still another viewpoint.
There is a vast literature on the Gallican liturgical structures.
There is not space at this time to even list the primary sources
properly, and as to the outstanding secondary sources we must be
content to mention, in addition to Martene and Durand, Pierre Le Brun
(+1729), an Oratorian Priest, who in 1777 published a treatise on the
Gallican liturgy .
Even more vast is the literature on the Old Roman Rite, the most
valuable testimony being contained in the numerous rescensions of three
Sacramentaries: the Leonine, the Gelasian, and the Gregorian. Most of
the Sacramentaries are of French and Swiss origin. Without elaborating
on this subject, which has been widely covered by others, we will list
four Gelasian Sacramentaries personally examined. The first is the
Gelasian Sacramentary of Angouleme (GeA), a Merovingian MS now in the
National Library in Paris, Latin Codex 816; the second is the Gelasian
Sacramentary of Rheinau (GeR), dating from 800, now in the Central
Library in Zurich, Codex Rheinau 30; the third is the Gelasian
Saramentary of Corbie Abbey (GeV), dating from c. 750, now in the
Vatican Library, Codex R.L. 316; the fourth is the Gelasian
Sacramentary of Saint Gall (GeS), a MS dating from c. 825, now in the
Library of Saint-Gallen, Switzerland, Codex 348. These MSS were
compared for the purpose of determining the actual content of the Roman
Canon in the fifth century. Other sources were consulted in order to
determine the structure of the Liturgy of the Word (Mass of the
Catechumens) during this same period, principally Bishop and Wilmart
 and of course J. A. Jungman , the twentieth century expert in
The purpose of this research was to reconstitute the liturgy of Rome,
as it was celebrated during the era of Western Orthodox florescence.
The reasons for selecting this ideal and representative period are
outlined eariler in this paper, and these criteria will affect our
future work on the other Western Orthodox rites. When this task is
accomplished, we will have a fairly accurate picture of Western
Orthodox liturgical structures during the same period, prior to their
contamination and compenetration.
The results of our work on the Old Roman Rite are reproduced below, and
it is very satisfying to note that the Liturgy at that time was indeed
a corporate offering of all the worshipers, whose intimate
participation was an absolute necessity (as in all other coeval rites).
No one could have been a passive spectator at a "mysterious ritual
performed by a priest on behalf of others," to quote R.F. Buxton ,
who further states in this regard, "between the eighth and fifteenth
centuries the corporate community Mass in which all participated
changed into an atomized multitude of individual low Masses, at which
all but priest and assistant were really passive spectators." This was
of course a gradual process, part and parcel of the general
"heterodoxization" of The West.
We now outline the structure of the Old Roman Rite, which we entitled
The Divine Liturgy according to Saint Gelasius, Bishop of Rome:
Great Litany of Saint Gelasius 
Solemn Prayers of the Faithful 
Preface and Sanctus-Benedictus
Unde et memores
Supra quae propitio
Supplices Te rogamus
Per quem haec-Per ipsum
Kiss of Peace
Fraction and Commingling
Agnus Dei (7th c)
Quod ore sumpsimus
Collect and Dismissal
This liturgy was printed for our use in January 1984 and has been
celebrated in New York on January 25 and June 29 to date. It is not
intended for regular Sunday use in the parishes of The Orthodox Church
of France and for this reason the Creed is not included. It would be
positioned after the Solemn Prayers. The Gloria was chanted after the
Kyrie Litany when the Bishop was present and at Easter. Western
Orthodox Parishes which desire to use the Old Roman Rite on a regular
basis would chant the Creed and the Gloria according to the prevailing
rubrics, in this case bypassing ancient legislation. Even though they
are subsequent additions to the old structure, they in no manner upset
the integrity of the old Roman Rite.
With regret we must omit any consideration of other rites at this time,
notably the Mozarabic and Ambrosian, and leap into the third category
of this paper: the current state of Western Orthodox affairs.
Earlier in this paper we stated that Western Orthodoxy is little
understood, either inside or outside of the Orthodox Church. In
addition to the reasons initially given for this situation, there are
others of a different nature that we will now touch upon.
We do not see Western Orthodoxy as simply a Tridentine Mass or Cranmer
Communion Service superimposed upon a Byzantine liturgical structure. A
Rite is very much more than a Mass, and discussions of Western
Orthodoxy cannot be limited to the subject of the epiclesis  or of
the merits of the Saints. A rite in an entire liturgical structure,
including the Mass, Lectionary, Sacramental forms, Devotional forms,
Liturgical music, Ordination and Blessing forms, Temporal and Sanctoral
Calendars, Monastic uses: in other words, all the expressions and
manifestations of Church life. These various manifestations are related
to, and compliment each other intrinsically, together forming a
congruous entity known as a Rite.
Thus, heterodox worship forms inserted into the Byzantine liturgical
structure lose whatever integrity they possess, and rest most
uncomfortably in a setting so alien to them. Heterodox forms represent
quite a different thrust and theological focus, and inevitably require
adjustments. Such forced liturgical hybridization, based upon certain
imaginary needs and accomodations, is neither theologically or
aesthetically satisfying, nor does it constitute a Western Rite or
Western Orthodoxy. This approach, as we observe at present in America,
is an unsuccessful experiment. It has basically amounted to the
Byzantine observance minus the Byzantine Liturgy, its very culmination
Articles have appeared in our Orthodox journals, attempting to
enlighten those interested in the subject of Western Orthodoxy.
Unfortunately they have for the most part dealt with the American
experiments to date. An encouraging departure from this norm appeared
in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Volume 26, Number 2 (1982)
entitled "Some Perspectives on the Western Rite" by Winfield S. Mott.
This author rightly describes a Rite as consisting of an entire
liturgical structure, and the entire article is both interesting and
reasonable. The reader, however, is not informed as to the "Western
Rite" itself: which Liturgy is included within its infrastructure and
context? What would, for example, form the corresponding infrastructure
and context of the Tridentine, Anglican or Lutheran "living" Liturgies?
Following the fine Mott article is a brief statement by George H. M.
Dye which wrongly identifies Western Orthodox liturgical use with the
effects of the Renaissance. Western Orthodox use involves Western
Orthodox materials. Not included in this category is the Tridentine
Mass, or ideally any uses after 800, for the several reasons given
previously. Fr. Dye was obviously seeking Orthodoxy as expressed in a
resolutely Occidental manner, which is altogether possible and
desireable, but abandoned his search long the line. At the end of his
statement he dismisses his quest, saying, "… we have no need for the
fundamental problems that would be associated with a western rite in
the Orthodox Church".
In the same quarterly, Volume 24, Number 24 (1980) appeared a
three-part article on the Western Rite. In the first, Fr. Meyendorff
states that the cultural expressions of tenth-century Byzantium "are
unequalled as an expression of the Tradition of the Church." This
declaration reveals an overview of condescension upon this subject, and
the article, intended to introduce a "debate" on Western Orthodoxy,
seems to approach the subject from a distance. The second
article, by Dr. Andrew J. Sopko, is entitled, "Western Rite Orthodoxy:
A Case Study and a Reappraisal". The author, in his introduction, fails
to adequately described Western Orthodoxy, even what he believes it to
be. The title of his article gives the reader an impression that
he consideres The Tridentine Mass altered and superimposed upon the
Byzantine liturgical structure to constitute Western Orthodoxy. The
parish whose short history is reviewed is at present an Eastern
Orthodox parish, after having experimented with the impossible
superimposition just described. The article contributes little to
either an understanding of Western Orthodoxy or what is happening in
the legitimate Western Orthodox centers. Lastly, the statement "… in
Europe, western usage has also been oriented toward the Roman `shape'
with the inclusion of local variations" is completely in error, now, as
it would have been if stated in Merovingian times. The third article, a
closing statement by Fr. Schmemann, takes exception to some of Dr.
Sopko's conclusions. It is a lively presentation, as the readers of
this outstanding theologian have come to expect. To mention, however,
that Western liturgical development has always been shaped by a
succession of theological clashes is somewhat exaggerated, especially
considering the period of Western Orthodox florescence, long before the
Renaissance, the Reformation and Trent. Fr. Schmemann reveals no
objections to Western Rite Orthodoxy, declaring wisely, "… to have such
an objection would mean the loss by the Orthodox Church of her claims
Two and three decades ago those
participating in Western Orthodox life in America were favored with the
superb articles of Fr. Alexander Tyler Turner, whose knowledge of this
subject and of many others seems unsurpassed. Each issue of Orthodoxy
was anxiously awaited and thoroughly read. A brilliant future was
projected for Western Orthodoxy, largely based upon the enthusiastic
and qualified thrust of Fr. Turner. It is truly unfortunate that his
movement passed into history for all practical purposes, now deprived
of his energy and focus. It has been reduced to a laboratory for
"Western Rite experiments". The non-expressed purpose appears to be
eventual Byzantinization, revealing a type of counter-uniatism in
effect. For this reason, perhaps, the present leadership of the Western
Vicariate in America accepts as natural the failure of its Western Rite
parishes to remain Western, often stating that this is to be expected
We bring this paper to a close with a brief discussion of the Orthodox
Church of France, a Western Orthodox diocese under the leadership of a
Western Orthodox bishop, with parishes in France, Belgium, Spain,
Germany, Switzerland, North and South America. Over 100 major clergy
serve in the parishes, monasteries and missions.
According to its statutes and declarations (issued in 1972 by Metro.
Nicholas of the Patriarchate of Romania) it is "… an autonomous Church
actually constituted in an autonomous Diocese, preserving its autonomy
in spiritual and administrative questions, it its Use, and in the
independence of its national interests."
Relative to the Western Orthodox criteria outlined earlier in this
paper, we are happy to give the following quote concerning the
activities of the Orthodox Church of France: "It seeks to bring to
light again the primitive sources of the local tradition which had (in
time) been disfigured by historical accretions – the tradition which
blossomed within the borders of the undivided Church during the first
seven centuries… before the centralization effected by Charlemagne…"
. The success of the Orthodox Church of France is undoubtedly due
to the thological and liturgical expertise of its first leader, Fr.
Eugraph Kovalevsky (Bp. John), which was coupled with extraordinary
determination and courage.
Since 1972 the diocese is under the spiritual leadership of His Grace,
Bishop Germain, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England, on September
22, 1930. The diocese sponsors theological education at its Institute
of Saint-Denis in Paris, which opened on November 15, 1944. Among the
first faculty members were Fr. Eugraph, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr.
Louis Bouyer, Fr. Lambert Bauuin and Vladimir Lossky. Nine courses are
given during each of the two semesters per year; the current professors
include the Bishop, Maxime Kovalevsky, Yvonne Winnaert, Fr. Pierre
Deschamps, Igor Reznikov, Fr. Roger Michel Bret and Marie-Madeleine
Davy. Iconography courses are given at the Saint Luke Workshop in Paris
each week. The entire program of education of the diocese is accredited
by the Academy of Paris. Correspondance courses are given by means of
printed texts and tape recordings (cassettes).
The quarterly journal of the diocese is entitled Presence Orthodoxe,
which includes a wide spectrum of subjects of general interest to
Orthodox clergy and laity. Another publication in newspaper format
contains articles and the parish chronicles. Editions Friant publishes
texts of former and current theologians of the diocese, and the
printing of the complete service books has been under the direction of
Maxime Kovalevsky. The complete history of the Orthodox Church of
France is contained in two volumes entitled La Divine Contradictionby
The old edifice at 96 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui in Paris, built as the
Old Catholic Church of Saint Denis (under Utrecht), on October 13,
1946, became the Western Orthodox Parish of Saint Irenee and in 1964
became the Cathedral of the Diocese.
With this brief outline on some of the activities of the Orthodox
Church of France, we bring this paper to a close. We hope that the
reader now has some new perspectives on Western Orthodoxy, as it is
expressed and experienced in its full and dramatic splendor within the
Orthodox Church of France – a veritable Orthodox reclamation from
liturgical and ecclesiological points of view.
1. In 1194 Theodore Balsamon, the rigidly
pro-Byzantine canon lawyer with decidedly caesaropapistic inclinations,
declared, "All the Churches of God ought to follow the custom of New
Rome, that is, Constantinople. Balsamon fiercely defended the rights of
the Patriarch of Constantinople, and it is only natural that he
defended the Rite of New Rome in such manner.
2. The evolution of the Byzantine Rite is
covered in The Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by Casimir
Kucharek (Alleluia Press, 1971) and The Byzantine Divine Liturgy by
Melitius Michael Solovey (CUA Press, 1970).
3. Implied in Canon III of the Second
Ecumenical Council and in Canon XXVIII of the Fourth Ecumenical Council.
4. The Oxford Christian Dictionary of the
Christian Church, whose entries are free of bias states the following
(page 1173) on Roman Catholicism, "The term (Roman Catholicism), which
denotes the faith and practice of all Christians who are in communion
with the Pope, is used in particular of Catholicism as it has developed
since the Reformation". Since the declarations and precisions of Trent,
Roman Catholicism is virutally a denomination.
5. Matthew 28:19-20.
6. Acts of the Apostles 2:41, 44, 46.
7. The great Merovingian Cathedral was
discovered as excavation began for an underground parking lot directly
in from of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
8. Ephesians 4:3-6.
9. For instance Introduction to Liturgical
Theology by Alexander Schmemann (Faith Press, 1965) covers the history
of the Byzantine Synthesis. The origin and development of the Ordo are
treated as profound problems and the liturgical situation of
contemporary Orthodoxy is described as a profound liturgical crisis
(page 21). The work proceeds somewhat philosophically and
scientifically, and liturgical development is treated as a human
phenomenon rather than a Divine manifestation.
10. In Christian Life and Worship by Gerald
Ellard (Bruce Publishing Company, 1933) the Tridentine Mass, codified
in 1570, is outlined. By that time, twenty-five Gallican prayers had
been included in the Roman Mass, as well as several English, non-Roman
Italian and Spanish prayers.
11. Well discussed in "Introits and
Archetypes: Some Archaisms of the Old Roman Chant" by Thomas H.
Connolly which appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological
Society, Volume XXV, Number 2 (1972).
12. See note 10.
13. The principle expressions of the
faithful had fallen into disuse: The Great Kyrie-Litany was reduced to
nine responses and no versicles, recited by the priest and perhaps sung
by the choir, and the Solemn Prayers of the Faithful (the Diptychs)
were reduced to Good Friday use.
14. The biography of Saint Germain, Bishop
of Paris, was written by Saint Venance Fortunat, Bishop of Poitiers.
The complete text is given in Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns
15. Dom Edmond Martene (1654-1739) is best
known for his monumental four-volume work De Antiquis Ecclesiae
Ritibus, first published in Antwerp in 1738, reprinted in fascimile by
Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim in 1969.
16. Father Pierre Le Brun (1661-1729) was
one of the first specialists on the subject of the epiclesis. His
liturgiological discoveries and commentaries are contained in
Explication de la Messe, published in Paris in 1777 by Librarie Valade.
17. Patrologia Latina, Volumes 42, 58, 68,
18. Karl Joseph Hefele (1809-1893) wrote A
History of the Ecclesiastical Councils (Konzillengeschiechte) in seven
volumes between 1855 and 1890. (Volume II covers the Gallican
Councils.) Two additional volumes were contributed by Joseph
19. The Missale Gothico-Gallicanum is reprinted in
Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns 225-318. The Missale Gallicanum
Vetus is found in the same volume, columns 339-382. The Sacramentarium
Gallicanum appears in the same volume, columns 447-580.
20. The Mone Missal, named for its publisher
in 1850, is reprinted in Patrologia Latina, Volume 138. Scholars feel
that this Missal is a fifth-century work originating in Auxerre.
21. The Stowe Missal is the oldest known
Celtic Missal, possibly a sixth-century work. It is so named because it
remained for a very long period in the library of Stowe House in
England. This Missal was reprinted in two volumes by the Henry Bradshaw
Society, 1906 and 1915.
22. The Luxeuil Lectionary, a sixth or
seventh century MS representing the use of Luxeuil Abbey (founded by
Saint Columbanus), was reprinted in 1944 by P. Salmon, O.S.B. It was
first discovered by Dom Mabillon in 1683.
23. The Autun Lectionary, representing the
use of the Abbey of Saint Symphorien at Autun was discovered and
reprinted by Dom Germain Morin (1861-1946) in the Revue Benedictine.
24. The Bangor Antiphonary represents the
use of Bangor Abbey (Ireland) and dates from the late seventh century.
It is the only known surviving liturgical authority for the choir
office in the Celtic Church, and is found in Patrologia Latina, Volume
72, columns 583-608.
25. For instance, The Ancient Liturgy of the
Church by Neale and Forbes (1855), Liturgie Gallicane des huit premiers
siecles de l'Eglise by L. Marchesi (1869), The Early Gallican Liturgy
by H. Lucas (1893). Also in the works of Duchesnee, Ferotin, Batiffol,
Thibaut, Jenner, Lowe, Capelle, Baumstarck, Chadwick and others.
26. The structure and spirit of the Divine
Liturgy according to Saint Germain of Paris was preserved in its
current use. The very few interpolations, while not found in the MS,
are entirely subservient to the original structure and entirely in the
same spirit. Such texts and chants serve to accompany actions and
gestures which have proved useful, if not necessary, in our time.
Archeologists have criticized these interpolations, while liturgical
theologians have understood them as desireable concessions to current
needs, tastefully accomplished.
27. Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns
250-251. Each of the five entries mentions the Saint by name.
28. Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns
29. Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns
30. Patrologia Latina, Volume 72, columns
31. Patrologia Latina, Volume 163.
32. See Note 16. The fourth dissertation,
beginning on page 228, covers the ancient liturgy of the Churches of
33. Edmund Bishop (1846-1917) is best known
for his work The Genius of the Roman Rite, which, along with some of
his other studies, appear in Liturgica Historica (1918). One of
Bishop's closest friends was Dom Andre Wilmart (1876-1941), a monk of
Solesmes, best known for his edition of the Bobbio Missal (1924).
34. Fr. Jungmann's text, known in English as
The Mass of the Roman Rite, first published in 1951, was reprinted in
1980 by Christian Classics, Westminster, MD., and his The Early
Liturgy, witten in 1949, was published by the University of Notre Dame
Press in 1959.
35. See Eucharist and Institution Narrative
by Richard F. Buxton (Alcuin Club Collections Number 58). Our
quotations are found on page 45.
36. The translation we use in our Roman Mass
is that of Fr. Brunner, who provided the English version of Fr.
Jungmann's The Mass of the Roman Rite (pages 224-226 for the Great
Litany of Saint Gelasius).
37. The Solemn Prayers are found in any
Tridentine Missal as part of the Good Friday ritual. They are set to
the ancient Roman tone in the Tridentine Altar Missal (found on pages
155-162 in the Benziger edition).
38. There has been considerable commotion
over the epiclesis in Western Rite studies and discussions, which we
feel is quite unnecessary. An excellent and revealing text on this
subject is Eucharist and Holy Spirit by John H. McKenna (Alcuin Club
Collections, Number 57). This text will enlighten those who would add
an additional epiclesis to a Canon, not recognizing the one already
39. From time to time there appears a brief
report of the Western Rite Parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese at
their annual National Assemblies, the minutes of which are published in
40. These two quotes are found in the Yearbook of the
1978 edition (Verlag Alex Proc. Munich) in the entry concerning the
Orthodox Church of France (Patriarchate of Romania), pages 142-144.
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