Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Great Expectations

There are such things as reasonable demands one may make upon a parish or religious community. One may demand the parish or religious community of one's association reflects one's theology, offers suitable worship, upholds an acceptable moral code, etc.

Demands become unreasonable when, after having core elements met, one has any expectation that a given parish or religious community will suspend its long standing customs, its traditions, its identity or liturgical praxis to accommodate ones wishes and whims.

For those migrating from the Western Church to the Orthodox Church, there are legitimate expectations one can have. It must not be supposed, however, that the Orthodox Church has a duty to assimilate Western Christian liturgy or observance. Joining any community is a mutual exchange. One seeks ABC and receives ABC. One is expected to observe XYZ as these are the tenets of the community. One should not expect that one will be able to observe EFG, nor, more importantly, that the community will observe EFG. One cannot expect a community to abate its "natural" praxis in favor of adopting something new an eccentric to satiate one's tastes.

The Latin Church has no duty to have its parishes offer the Divine Liturgy or adopt other typically Byzantine modes of prayer or worship. In point of fact, those who argue against such adoption have a valid point; the Roman Church ought to celebrate the Latin tradition if said tradition is to have any integrity. Similarly, there is no such obligation for the Orthodox Church to be a forum for the Western/Latin Tradition. Those who expect that it should will be sorely disappointed.

Further to the above, the Orthodox Church does not bear the responsibility for preserving the Latin Tradition or the Traditional Latin liturgies. One should not expect that such a project will ever be high on the Orthodox priorities. It should not be expected that the Orthodox Church senses the same degree of crisis over the Western Tradition as Catholics or Anglicans nor see how important it is to have outposts for traditional Latin/Western liturgy. This responsibility remains with the Western Patriarchate. If the appropriate Patriarch has been negligent in his duty (for whatever reason), it is not for the other Patriarchs to intervene or otherwise attempt to have some jurisdiction over the Latin liturgical tradition.

Transitioning to the Orthodox Church in the hope of finding an outpost for pre-Vatican II Catholicism sets one up for failure, bitterness and resentment. One is expecting the Orthodox Church to take responsibility for something that regardless of antiquity belongs properly to a particular Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church can, of course, offer much for the road weary Western Christian, but this is done with the expectation that the liturgical praxis of the Orthodox Church will be followed.

Orthodoxy is not Catholicism, and Catholicism is not Orthodoxy. It should not be expected that Orthodoxy will be the last refuge for Traditional Catholicism - Orthodoxy has its own tradition to preserve.

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