Monday, October 16, 2023



This is what Winter’s wrote in part on October 13th (the full article is HERE):

This week's synod deliberations began with a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at St. Peter's Basilica. The short video of the service published by EWTN displayed some of the beauty of that liturgy, as well as its strangeness to Latin-rite Catholics. It is not at all like the Tridentine rite, nor is it like the post-Vatican II rite. The music is different. The vestments are different. The language is different. 

Dear Sean,

The Divine Liturgies of the Eastern Rites may be strange to Latin Rite Catholics who have never attended the antecedent Latin Mass. If they have only experienced the sterile, pedestrian, sloppy and non-transcendent Modern Mass, indeed the Eastern Rite Liturgy, which has not denied any of its patrimony inherited after Constantine, would seem quite strange and befuddling to them as they are completely ignorant of the similar ethos of the TLM with the Eastern Rite liturgies. 

And that, poor, Sean, is what you miss and can’t even understand. Denying the development of doctrine and style of celebrating both the Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy and the TLM  took place gradually beginning in the 4th Century. There was no break in continuity with this development for the Eastern Rites but certainly a horrible rupture, a going backwards to the time prior to Constantine’s freedom for the Church, has damaged the unity and similarity of the liturgies of Latin Rite with the Eastern Rites. 

And the word is ethos. The same cultural sources, one for the east the other for the west, while different at the time, contain the same ethos, direction, transcendence and mysticism. This resulted in different vestments, language, and chant, but still of the same cultural experiences of the east and west at that time that flowered over the centuries and continues to flower in the Eastern Rite, but nipped in the bud in the Latin Rite because of a regression ideology (resourcement) of Vatican II as it concerns the liturgy where a new liturgy was invented. That did not happen in the Eastern Rites, praise be Jesus Christ.

No Sean, the Eastern Rite liturgies do not seem strange at all to Catholics who love the TLM. They get it, you and others like you who think the Mass began with Vatican II don’t get it and never will. 

This week's synod deliberations began with a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at St. Peter's Basilica. The short video of the service published by EWTN displayed some of the beauty of that liturgy, as well as its strangeness to Latin-rite Catholics. It is not at all like the Tridentine rite, nor is it like the post-Vatican II rite. The music is different. The vestments are different. The language is different. 


William said...

Well said, Father McDonald! And you gave Sean Winters the sound boxing about the ears he so richly deserves.

TJM said...

Sean Winters is a waste of time but Father McDonald gave him an important lesson. Interesting that in the early 1970s my pastor allowed a Maronite Rite Mass to be said in our parish church. Our choir actually sang some of the chants. Without batting an eye, at the conclusion of this Mass, the pastor stated how dignified and transcendent it was. I remarked to him, well, we had that just 10 years earlier. He looked embarrasse and changed the subject.

Православный физик said...

In a certain way both of y'all are right.

For those that experience the Modern Roman Liturgy as practiced in many parishes, the Byzantine usage would seem quite strange and quite out of place.

For those that attend the TLM or Anglican Use, the ethos experienced is similar, but a bit different at the same time.

It's a bit hard for me to explain it. (I haven't been to a Latin Rite parish in many years now, (and I don't have a desire to go back to one at this rate), but I'll try to explain.

I often say here within the comments is the fact that the very fact that one has to impose what should be inherent to the Liturgy for the Modern Roman Missal says everything one needs to know about the state of things. Things that bothered me during my days in the West (crying children, children running around like crazed animals and such) longer bother me these days...Things should not have to be imposed to be beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Tangential point: I wonder if those Eastern Catholics who had their rites besmirched with Latinization (circa the 1960s) and want to return to their earlier liturgical practices fall within the camp of rigid backwardists. I guess they're less easy to attack than Americans/Westerners. God bless our Eastern Catholic brethren!


ByzRus said...

The following thought is not properly developed: It is not at all like the Tridentine rite. This simply isn't true for the reasons you mentioned, Fr.

Fr. AJM, your summation is on point. You get it....ethos. The author perhaps hasn't had a reason to explore the broader Catholic communion let alone the history of his own rite.

To be fair, for those who have stayed in the Roman Church, and have been immersed in the fetishes and balkanization of the NO Church, this certainly would be unfamiliar, and perhaps strange. For myself, the Antiochian tones are unfamiliar, as is Arabic save for a few cognates. However, all else is very familiar and I would have otherwise felt right at home at Liturgy in St. Peter's. Of the Byzantine Churches, I understand this tradition to be the oldest. The brief video shows about how its been since formal liturgy started to solidify as Fr. noted.

Thanks for this post. It does me good to see my own explored here every once in a while.

ByzRus said...

For comparison, here is the Russian Liturgy. Ours is very close to this:

This starts with the Creed

0:20 Trikeria/Dikeria Candles, "Lift up your hearts"

1:46 Beginning of Anaphora (Consecration), Spoken, formerly sotto voce in the Russian Church

2:52 Holy, Holy Holy - Svat, Svat, Svat

Anaphora continues during the "Holy Holy"

Omorphorion placed on Patriarch during these prayers (revested in the minor stole - specific to the Russian Church)

4:06 Words of Institution Amin/Amen

7:54 Thine own of thine own etc. elevation

5.30 Tebe P'oem, "We praise you, we bless you, we thank you etc.

6:12 Exchange between Patriarch/priest and deacon begins. Really, the deacon leads the service, has a very distinct, precise and extensive role.

6:28 A steam valve cuts loose and ruins the solemnity. This is NOT part of Divine Liturgy. Notice how the Patriarch and Bishops don't flinch. The work does not stop under any circumstances (perhaps war, natural disaster) until it is finished.

7:07 Patriarch approaches the holy table. The deacon directs him by extending his orarion (symbolic of the Angels wing) - this is biblical btw. The deacon will basically tell the priest to bless the bread/wine etc.

7:10 Epiclesis

1) And make this the precious body of your Christ
2) And that which is in this chalice the precious blood of your Christ
3) Changing them by your Holy Spirit.
4) Deacon: AMIN! AMIN! AMIN!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The term Byzantine can have many meanings, one would be ornate, complex and shrouded in mystery, all out. Whereas the west is more straightforward and sober with greater order. I am speaking about centuries ago when both liturgies were developing, yet there is still a similar ethos. The TLM also developed with various levels of solemnity whereas I don’t think that is the case in the east. Mass with chant or spoken, with incense or no incense, with deacon and subdeacon or no deacon or subdeacon, etc

I think the Byzantine Liturgy could be likened to Rococo architecture in the west and the Latin Rite Liturgy of the TLM to stark gothic.

ByzRus said...

Joe. Agree. Strange, children used to be a distraction during my NO days. Perhaps because the fetishes were so very tedious. Now, we have crying babies and it's a total joy for most, if not all. Such a blessing, babies and children being babies and children thought they are curiously well behaved at the same time. They know.

As well, I've been in my ancestral Church for so long that returning to the NO has become culture shock.

Nick. Yes. Our liturgy had become so perverted during that time, something simply had to be done. There was little point continuing on as things were. In that regard, I thank God for VII. It provided the needed authority to backtrack. At this juncture, we're so close to the Orthodox from which we came, many couldn't tell the difference.

I do find it curious how some RC priests and predates gush over us during their "two lung" moments only to return to something that arguably is inauthentic.

Fr. AJM. Agree. "Byzantine" has become a catch all. In my world, however, it specifically references the tradition born in Constantinople. That tradition is separate and distinct from the Maronites, Syrian, Thomasene and the African Churches (Alexandrian???). In the East, Byzantine means something specific is my point.

Great discussion. Thx again.

Anonymous said...


Interesting. Do you have any recommendations for learning more about the Eastern liturgies, how they got perverted (that's the word I was searching for but couldn't find), and how they've been set aright or could/should be set back to rights? I have some knowledge of the topic, having dabbled at an Eastern Catholic parish I used to live near, but as they say, "a little learning is a dangerous thing."


TJM said...

Traditionis Custodes may drive Latin Rite Catholics to the Eastern Rites! PF is such a uniter!

Catechist Kev said...

"Traditionis Custodes may drive Latin Rite Catholics to the Eastern Rites! PF is such a uniter!"

Believe me, TJM; if there was an Eastern Rite parish within closer driving distance to me, I would switch Rites in a heartbeat.

ByzRus said...


I've had to give your question some thought. This wasn't a paper issue. Resources are, therefore, scarce.

Background: When our people arrived in this country, there weren't churches, a diocese or a bishop. We were persona non grata. Initially, we were placed under the auspices of Roman bishops. These bishops, mostly Irish and German resented our married priests and detested our liturgy. Married priests were sent back to Europe. Polish RC priests ministered to our peoples. 2 schisms occurred. We lost about half of our people to what would become the OCA and ACROD. We've never recovered after almost 100 years between the two schisms. It was a mess. Between 1905 and 1925, the Ukrainians and Ruthenians shared a bishop without a diocese. Then, we had an Exarch (not a diocese). Finally, around 1939 or 40 I think it was, the first diocese was erected in Pittsburgh PA. We were not yet self-governing in this country. Roman metropolitan bishops still had some influence over us and our activities.

The liturgical language of the Ruthenian Church in the United States was changed in 1969 from Church Slavonic to the vernacular. Why? After being several generations removed from the original immigration and with relatively few to no immigrants coming from the Soviet bloc, the number that actually knew the language was shrinking, and I imagine that shrinkage was occurring at an alarming rate. Certainly, those who could read Cyrillic was greatly reduced from 50+ years prior. The easiest way to think of this change is to take a TLM missal and simply start using the English side of the page. End of story there.

The Liturgikon (priest's book) from before 1969 was written in transliterated Slavonic. The liturgical texts in Slavonic were and remain unchanged. The problem wasn't there. So, what crept in? See next post. I’ve hit a character limit and have to break in two or three.

ByzRus said...

Latinizations that crept into the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church in the United States

*Increasingly, Latin/Roman chalices were being used
*Kneeling at the communion rail became common (kneeling and communion rails are not our tradition)
*Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament crept in. How is that possible when our books call for leavened bread and wine together in the chalice ? Simple, Roman-style hosts were being consecrated.
*Sanctus bells were rung during the consecration (not our tradition - tower bells are to be rung)
*Priests were taking liberties with vesting omitting that which wasn't deemed necessary. Roman albs were very common
*Devotions like the Rosary and Stations of the Cross became common. These are not our tradition despite being a devotion of the aggregate Catholic communion. Stations began appearing in our churches.
*Roman style aspergillums (sprinklers) became the norm. Not our tradition. We have our own vessel for this.
*Altar servers were vested in Roman style cassock and surplice. Not our tradition, not our vestiture.
*Roman style altars were installed. Not our tradition. For a time, our churches looked more Roman than your average newly constructed Roman church.
*Roman style cassocks were worn by priests. Not our tradition. We have our own style cassock.
*Bishops eschewed traditional dress and choir attire.
*Roman symbols began appearing on our vestments. Vestments became Eastern cut, '60s/'70s Roman poly materials.
*The iconostas (icon screen) became passe. In places, portions were removed creating an open garage door effect. In others, the iconostas was dismantled with icons being placed on the walls near the altar. Being integral to the liturgy, such removals significantly altered the meaning of certain liturgies.
*Church construction took on unfamiliar forms which negatively affected both the liturgy as well as our understanding of the theology of the building.
*Roman style baptismal fonts affixed to the floor became the norm in many places. This negated the traditional exorcism and churching of infants that is our custom.
*Infant communion and chrismation were put to the side. Roman style communion classes with attire became the norm.
*The diaconate, significant as leaders of Divine Liturgy, among others, subsided.
*Minor orders disappeared and so did distinct roles filled by occupants of those orders.
*Our priests accepted titles like "Monsignor", bishops started wearing Roman style rings.
*We have a depth of liturgy, beyond Divine Liturgy that subsided. Many parishes became what in our circles were known as "Mass parishes". Only open for "Mass". In fact, in many parishes, Divine Liturgy ceased to be called Divine Liturgy. It was just mass. Parishes also had "mass schedules" and intentions, positively identical to Roman parishes.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. I think you get the idea, however.

ByzRus said...

Part III. That dang character limit again.

So, I mentioned that VII put us back on track. It did, it just took 50 years to get to an overwhelming majority providing an authentic eastern Christian experience and then, doing so consistently.

In 2008 our Divine Liturgy, the English translation, was revised. This revision fixed many things, however, it's not perfect depending upon who you talk to. There are subtleties regarding more gender neutral language that ruffled feathers (e.g. brethren was removed though our Epistle book is dripping with it). Some of the beauty of language was removed though much remained. Truthfully, I think the OCA/ROCOR have the best translations. I'm not alone. We simply should have just used their books.

Europe. Our mother church in Europe never went through what we did here in the U.S. However, they didn't get off scot-free either. Where, geographically, they are closer to the Orthodox, priests/parishes will be more Roman leaning. Where, geographically, they are farther from the Orthodox, the exact opposite - really orthodox in terms of approach. This is more specific to the Ukrainian Church than to us. Also, don’t forget that during the Soviet era, our churches were outlawed and our priests and bishops persecuted.

My comments are about the Byzantine Ruthenian Church only. I can say that our sister churches went through much the same. Their reclamation of patrimony I believe to be ongoing.

I hope this helps.

ByzRus said...
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ByzRus said...
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ByzRus said...


I knew I forgot something. This one's significant.


Statues crept in, particularly the Virgin Mary.

Many parishes had May crownings and May queens. Not our tradition.

I'm not bragging, but, today, I feel the Ruthenian Church is the most aligned with Eastern praxis and tradition. Others might disagree however, the "proof" is in our communal worship. I've had several Orthodox visitors comment on how close we now are. As well, many of our priests are committed to making us more liturgically advanced reintroducing liturgies many have not seen in decades, if ever. While not all are delighted with this (strangely, our older people), an equal number, myself included, make up a rapt audience as we continue to explore our roots. Our treasure chest is very much open I'm pleased to say. We love it.

If you make it through all my posts, thanks for reading.

TJM said...

Note the magnificent robes worn by Paul VI? Now slobbism is in style at the Vatican.

Anonymous said...


Phew! I did make it. Thank you for putting all of that to "paper." I'm glad to hear that straying from the path has led to renewed interest in re-animating the Ruthenian Church's (and other Eastern Churches', hopefully) traditions. It sounds as if the Eastern errors consisted of taking on Roman practices, especially unfortunately at a time when Roman practices were straying not to the Christian East but to shlocky secularism, Eastern paganism, or desacralized Protestantism.

I remember when I first learned of Archbishop Ireland and his shocking demands placed on Fr. Toth--an instance of pastoral malpractice whose effects continue to this day. It is one of those cases where I have to think, "What might have been?"

You've hit a bit of a nerve for me, as well. You speak of the introduction of non-Eastern elements, such as statues. For our Roman part, I've noticed over the last decade or so the introduction of iconography in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West at unusual scales, certainly more than in Roman practice in the preceding centuries. It gets my goat a little; although the iconography is beautiful (excepting Rupnik's creepy pseudo-icon artwork), I internally protest, "Why are we Romans stuck with whitewashed churches, felt banners, and groovy stained glass, and the only 'good stuff' we get comes from the East?" We have such a patrimony and tradition of beautiful painting, frescoes, mosaicwork, and stained glass, that it seems foolish and condescending to say that we have to go East to get any of the good stuff.

These aren't fully-developed thoughts, but I hope my drift comes across.

One last thing: you say, "While not all are delighted with this (strangely, our older people), an equal number, myself included, make up a rapt audience as we continue to explore our roots." That is something that Romans and Ruthenians have in common. ;)

Thanks again-very informative!


Anonymous said...


Slobbism is in style because it's more pastoral and makes the priest smell like sheep--because more and more people these days are slobbists and smell like sheep.


ByzRus said...


In the East, many feel the same. The West has it's own traditions, visual arts, music, liturgy and should celebrate its own traditions through usage. While there isn't a hard and fast rule against leveraging Eastern visual arts, it often has a "look" like the Roman Church is cherry picking embellishments as their own tradition no longer encourages the same. If the West wants to use icons, fine. My observation: They aren't always written according to our standards and their placement oftentimes is inconsistent with our usage which isn't random. I suppose the Roman Church is free to use what it likes how it likes, however, the presentation is oftentimes perplexing from our vantagepoint. I liken it to an amoeba - changing shape to be whatever you want it to be.