If you are a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, you would have recently received the current issue of The Word. You may have noted an article by Fr. Kenneth DeVoise from the Department of Missions and Evangelism.
Fr. DeVoicse's passion for the Western type of liturgy is evident, there's no disputing that. Furthermore, his desire to see Western Rite Orthodoxy thrive in the Antiochian diocese of North America is clearly conveyed. There's only one problem, and it is a problem redolent in Western Rite Orthodoxy. It is the recitation of the same disputable Western Rite talking points that have succeeded in robbing Western Rite Orthodoxy of much legitimacy.
1) The mythical rite of St. Gregory
This the foundational myth among Western Rite Orthodox groups. There is a rite of St. Gregory that has been finally restored in their officially sanctioned liturgies. Where is the manuscript evidence of this rite of St. Gregory? By all accounts, there is none. Rather, we're expected to pull from diverse sources and follow a hypothetical argument of what the liturgy of Gregory of Rome must have been (normally in the light of modern Orthodox liturgics).
2) The Tridentine Liturgy was the first adjustment of rite of St. Gregory in one thousand years
What evidence are we pointing towards for this? The Hadrianum? Okay, fair enough. The Hadrianum is an excellent source for the pontifical liturgy at the time of Pope Hadrian. Excellent. So, I presume the Western Orthodox restored liturgy lacks a proper sanctoral, common massess, etc. correct? Then where are we getting this from? Alcuin's supplement, the same source as the Missal of Rome itself? The moment one accepts the "traditional" sanctoral of the Roman liturgy, one accepts a massive change occurred around the time of Charlamegne. The Tridetine sanctoral, with the exception of added saints, presents nothing new.
Perhaps Fr. De Voise refers to the merits of the saints, a feature expunged from the Tridentine collects in the Western Rite missal. Fair enough. This feature doesn't mesh well with modern Byzantine liturgics. However, this feature is also decidedly pre-schism. We have the manuscript trail pointing to that fact; the merits of the saints are an ancient custom in the clearly Roman type, a trait observable in the Veronese Sacramentary and the Old Gelasian.
Perhaps he means the insertion of an epiclesis? There are a minuscule number of witness (primarily the Missale Gothicum) of an epiclesis in the Latin liturgy. So far as manuscript evidence is concerned, the pre-schism Roman liturgy betrays no indication of a proper epiclesis. So far as concerns the text of the Canon, the Tridentine liturgy reproduces the pre-schism text remarkably well.
In truth, if you want to point towards how the Tridentine Liturgy was an adjustment of the earlier Roman liturgy, then you have to appeal to the rubrics of the Ordo itself. It is a painful fact that when establishing the order of the typical Mass, the Missale Romanum of Pius V ignored all of the available texts providing for a corporate celebration of the Latin liturgy in favor or rubrics which reflected the priests private celebration. This situation was slightly remedied by the publication of the Caeromaniale and Pontificale, however, the damage had been done. Of course, Fr. De Voise doesn't note this, leaving one wondering what exactly he alludes to.
3) The infamous outline
There is a now common outline among Western Orthodox groups which tries to demonstrate how their reconstructed (read: fabricated) liturgy of Rome circa A.D. 1000 was part of a continuum of development from the Roman liturgy circa A.D. 400. In the course of this, there is the assertion that the Missale Romanum of Paul VI has no continuity with the historical tradition of the Latin/Roman liturgy. Whatever my judgments on the Pauline liturgy are, I couldn't help but notice the Western Rite's outline of the Roman liturgy circa 400 A.D. looks startlingly similar to the Ordo Missae promulgated in 1970.
Depending upon one's perspective, the Western Rite in Orthodoxy is either a well meaning but misguided attempt to save classical Western/Latin liturgy, hymody and prayer, or it is the confounding attempt by certain quarters to keep fighting the reformation. Whether either of these are true makes little difference as if the Western Rite continues to go in its current direction, it is lurching towards failure. This is not do some hidden agenda on the part of the Orthodox hierarchy. Rather, it is due to the fact that the Western Rite's advocates have a deficient historical perspective on the Latin liturgical tradition. This is not going to be corrected as long as the Western Rite keeps pulling from its normal reservoirs of adherents.
Western Rite Orthodoxy plainly needs more people coming from the Patriarchate of Rome to guide its liturgical observance. It needs this type of historical perspective. The problem is most Roman Catholics who go Orthodox express little to no interest in the Western liturgy. This is understandable. The Byzantine liturgy is a world unto itself. One spent a life time learning the Roman liturgy, one spends another life time learning the Byzantine - Orthodox liturgy demands that much attention.
For the Western Rite to sruvive in Orthodoxy, its proponents need to seriously reflect upon what they hope to accomplish and why.I suspect the motivations are not as simple as wanting to preserve the Western tradition while at the same time believing papal infallibility is a massive ecclesiological error. A crucial step in this process will be acquiring a more comprehensive historical perspective on the Latin liturgy and an acceptance of its major developments.