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Original Post (Thread Starter)
#420746 12/21/2020 12:19 PM
by son of the desert
son of the desert
Hello my friends,

I attend a Roman Rite parish that is down the street from my home. There is a Ukranian Byzantine parish approximately 40 miles from here. I have not been there yet. However, what stops me is that as much as I am in love with the Eastern approach to the Faith, I love the people of my parish more. For me to switch rites at this point is impossible for how can I abandon those to whom I have been given and who have been given to me by God? Till we eventually move to the Pittsburgh area I will have to content myself with my Orthodox prayer book, the Jesus Prayer, the Philokalia and the writings of the Saints of the East.

This brings me to a realization I had at Mass yesterday. During Mass it came to me that the possession of the Kingdom is given to the "poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3). Poverty of spirit is essential, therefore all that we do, in my opinion, should have the shade of repentance over it. I find this approach prevalent on every page of my prayer book and of course in the Jesus Prayer. It is there that my soul calls out to the Lord. However it seems to me that in the Roman Rite repentance is hardly ever mentioned except for the penitential rite at the beginning. This is ok but does nothing to emphasize a life of repentance in the hearts of those in attendance, in fact it almost generates the unspoken idea of a spiritual fire extinguisher ( "just in case you sinned before Mass here's a chance.."). I am grateful for this chance and have taken up on it many times, but again it does nothing to spur me on to a life of repentance.

The difference and my frustration became clear. We, in the Roman Rite since Vatican II, have emphasized the celebratory (ie: "celebrating the Sacraments"), giving the connotation of a big religious shin dig, complete with dancing, a "meal" and hip music (please know that none of these things exist in my parish as my Pastor is a fine priest).. The liturgical abuses that followed the Council demonstrate this quite clearly. For instance, a nun once told me that "we get together and make Church". Nothing could be further from the truth. In my opinion, we offer ourselves to the Lord, He offers Himself to us and as a result we meet! On the other hand the East emphasizes repentance, or perhaps poverty of spirit in approaching the Lord. In that moment I realized that my spiritual home (the Roman Rite) was offering me the way of celebration while my heart was calling out for the way of poverty.

As stated by the Holy Father St. John Paul II, we need BOTH lungs to breathe. To breathe on one lung is dangerous, not fulfilling and leaves on gasping for breath. Yet something deeper exists for me...people. Christ calls us to repentance not just for ourselves and our own struggle for divinization, but for others. Perhaps theosis has as much of an evangelical quality as it does a mystical one. It is my sincerest hope that should I make it all the way to theosis in this life, that I will not forget those whom God has given to me. Spiritual narcissism can be a real danger. Pray for me that I do not fall captive to that spirit.

your friend,
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#420757 Dec 22nd a 01:25 PM
by ajk
Originally Posted by Utroque
Even in its newest mode it has all the marks of its antiquity, especially in that beautiful supplication at the Breaking of the Bread: Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi... This prayer is absent from the DL to my knowledge, but I think it bears all the characteristics of Sacrifice, mercy and repentance that we'll ever need. The very reason we are able to ask for mercy is that He has taken away the sins of the world by His Sacrifice, Death and Resurrection. The Eastern Rite is most worthy of praise, but don't undersell the rite of Rome. I somehow feel it does not get the kind of catechesis it needs. The Agnus Dei should always be chanted in Latin, by the way, and with all the passion it deserves!
Thanks for this comment; it got me thinking.

The Agnus Dei is a allusion to John the Baptist's acclamation:

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

The Latin liturgy, quoting the Gospel text even more explicitly, has the priest before communion holding up the bread, and in the Novus Ordo optionally the cup also, saying: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi [Behold the Lamb of God, behold who (masculine, so him-who) takes away the sins of the world.] Both uses are slight variations on the Gospel text. John's acclamation is a third person reference to the Lamb, a participle (masc., nom., present) that the Greek idiom often uses though not so in English: the-one-taking-away-presently, the sin (singular, peccatum). Both liturgical texts have sins, peccata rather than the singular, "sin" of the Gospel. And the Agnus Dei does not have the third person form tollit (takes, taketh) but the second person tollis, like, you-who-takes (who takest vs. taketh; the inflected Old English can do it.). The Agnus Dei payer is addressing the Lamb: Lamb of God who TAKE (not takes, i.e., you take) away ... (Contemporary English can try to convey that second person form but it can sound awkward to the modern ear; see e.g. the RDL, prayer before the Our Father, ": To you, O Master who love us all,...; also discussed in Feminism and the English Language).

The Byzantine liturgy, in the Proskomedia where the sacrificial aspects of the Divine Liturgy and references thereto abound, has at the preparation of the Lamb (the center portion of the loaf stamped with IC XC NI KA) the priest, as he "sacrifices it in the form of a cross," saying "The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world..." Also at the liturgy's essential fraction (rite), -- the breaking of the bread as in the Latin rite -- the priest says "Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God..."

I too have a great love and appreciation of the Latin liturgy, especially when it is true to - and in continuity with -- its roots. An aspect of that continuity is an awareness of the harmony of our life and the rhythm of our worship with the world that God created and "so loved ... that he gave his only Son (John 3:16 RSV) "who for us, Men, and for our salvation...became Man."

Such harmony that speaks in its own way in addition to words is found in today's O Antiphon, sung at Vespers before the Magnificat in the Roman rite.The seven O Antiphons are sung to the same beautifully haunting melody. And it is precisely on this day, December 21, the darkest day of the year, the winter solstice, that the church appropriately sings:

O Oriens - Rising Sun,
splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O Oriens
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

(written on December 21)
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