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Father Robert Taft, S.J. Rejects Revising the Divine Liturgy

In his new book, “A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Volume VI, The Communion, Thanksgiving, and Concluding Rites” (2008, Orientalia Christiana Analecta, 281, Pontificio Instituto Orientale) Father Robert Taft, S.J. clearly and loudly rejects the idea of revising the Divine Liturgy. He does not speak directly to the Ruthenian Revised Divine Liturgy by name, but he does not have to as it is crystal clear that it would be included. I myself have no doubt that is speaking directly to Pittsburgh, as Pittsburgh is the only Church to have issued such a major liturgical reform.

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion. Text in red was emphasized by me.


CONCLUSION - by Father Robert Taft, S.J.

Ι do not intend to provide this massive volume with the customary sort of general conclusion, and that for several reasons. First of all, because each chapter and excursus ends with a reasonably detailed conclusion summarizing its yield, and there is no need to repeat here what Ι have already said there. Secondly, Ι deliberately eschew offering detailed pastoral recommendations for possible liturgical restoration and renewal as Ι had done in the conclusion to previous volumes. For Ι have learned to my consternation that some readers have taken such reflections as a license to exercise their "liturgical creativity" by introducing on my authority changes into the liturgical service.

Οn the contemporary mania for "liturgical creativity" Ι can only repeat what Ι wrote years ago:

... the first spontaneity and creativity of Christian worship is that of hearts and minds freely raised to God in love and song and prayer... Ι must let the liturgy speak for itself instead of trying to make it speak for me, instead of exploiting it as medium of self-expression. Like medieval cathedrals, liturgies were created not as monuments to human creativity, but as acts of worship. The object of worship is not self-expression, not even self-fulfillment, but God. ''He must increase, Ι must decrease," John the Baptist said of Jesus (Jn 3:30), and that is an excellent principle for liturgical ministers ... Furthermore, most people are not especially creative in any other aspect of their existence, and there is no reason to think that they will be when it comes to liturgy. They can, however, be drawn to participate in a common heritage far nobler and richer than the creation of anyone of us individually. What we need is not further to reinvent the wheel, not to reshape our liturgy every time we read a new article, but just to take what we have and use it very well. (Quoting BEW 300).

What Gerhard Delling has said of worship on the phenomenological/ epistemological level is even more true on the existential: not only in worship is religion known; it is through worship that it is fed and lives:

Worship is the self-portrayal of religion. In worship the sources by which religion lives are made visible, is expectations and hopes are expressed, and the forces which sustain it are made known. In many respects the essence of a religion is more directly intelligible in its worship then in statements of its basic principles or even in descriptions of its sentiments. (Worship in the New Testament (London 1961) xi

So the liturgical tradition of a Church is the story of a people at prayer, the Church’s ideal model of worship to which I must rise, not something I am invited to reduce to the level of my own banality.

Pages 785-786.
This excerpt confuses me. Didn't he approve the revised liturgy of the Ruthenians? Is he saying something different now?
It is reported that Father Taft has told people that he was asked by the Oriental Congregation only to review the text of the Revised Divine Liturgy for heresy, that he was not invited to comment further, and that he did not take it upon himself to exceed what he was directed to do. I do not know what actually happened and I guess one would need to ask him directly. And my information is second hand so consider it at that level.

Those who promoted the Revised Divine Liturgy have certainly indicated that they only followed his directives on reform. But Father Taft says here (and elsewhere) that in his musings on renewal he was doing the equivalent of thinking out loud about possibilities, not issuing a game plan for anyone to actually follow. My personal read of his work is that he believes some reform is necessary but that it should be left to the Holy Spirit over time as an organic development. Perhaps others will disagree with my understanding.

Maybe Father Taft's comments will spark the beginning of an authentic renewal of Liturgy in the Ruthenian Church? If they were intending to follow him then then they certainly should follow him now that he has spoken clearly. I, for one, would certainly support a pastoral embrace of the full and complete official Ruthenian Liturgy. Maybe a corrected version of the 1964 together with the old music that was memorized for 40 years and is still in the hearts and souls of the people. There are many of us who would work tirelessly toward that goal. Too many people have been hurt by the RDL. It is time to care for them.
Thank you for posting this information. I think many people were under the impression that Fr Taft was an integral part of the reformation of the Ruthenian Divine Liturgy. It certainly seems that his comments speak directly to that accusation.

R
Can we enlist Father Robert Taft's help in getting back the real Byzantine-Ruthenian Divine Liturgy? If so, how?

I want my church back. The bishops should not be allowed to continue to destroy it.
I am not that crazy about the RDL, but I don't buy the argument about the music the faithful have memorized for 40 years. The Latins now have 40 years of abominable music memorized. It needs to be thrown out, regardless of its age or how many have memorized it. Surely, it is possible for Byzantine musicians to restore music faithfully and authentically without producing something that is awkward and trite.
byzanTN raises some interesting questions.

While I would agree that some of the music used by the Latins is less then good I will disagree that all of it is bad. There is some quite good music used the Latin Church! I would suggest that the problem with some of the music in the Latin Church is not just with improper settings of the text but in many cases with the text itself. Some texts have been ‘dumbed down’ to the point where they are pretty meaningless. If one follows what is happening in the Latin Church one can see that the “Reform of the Reform” is occurring even with the music (texts and music).

I agree with byzanTn that it is possible for cantors to restore music that is faithful and authentic without producing something that is awkward and trite. Unfortunately that is not what occurred with the music promulgated for the RDL. It is very awkward to sing because the settings have the texts serving the chant rather then having the chant serve the texts. This is easily seen in the incorrect accentuation. [Those interested can find a short review with a good example here.]

Some questions for discussion:

1. On what basis does byzanTN declare that the settings for the fixed texts that were sung and memorized for 40 years were so bad that they could not be allowed? I was a cantor for 30+ years. In my experience they were slightly simplified but certainly not abominable. Professor Kavka of Philadelphia (Eternal Memory!) was in general agreement with this and used to say that the “curly q’s” just didn’t work in English. He had offered to the bishops settings which updated the familiar settings with the Revised Texts. Unfortunately his work was rejected by the bishops in favor of different, new and untested style that had the text subservient to the music.

I'd ask that the question be answered in light of the fact that people were hurt by the RDL. We had (and have) old people who broke down and cried because the stability they had in Liturgy all these years was taken from them. Why was this necessary? [Some supporters of the RDL refuse to discuss this point, or they consider these good people as either stupid or disobedient, and some have said these people need to leave.]

2. Given that even the Church in Europe has moved on from the 1906 Bokšaj (as chant is living, and ever developing) what is his snapshot for perfect chant (the model), and – given that the Slavs took Greek Chant and modified it for their use – why is it not possible for Americans to set this chant for good accentuation of the text? In the example I linked we can see the development (and slight simplification) of the Slavonic chant from 1906 to the current day. What was so unacceptable about this development that it needed to be forcibly abandoned and the chant returned to a form that even Europe has abandoned?

It seems to me that the creators of the RDL have things reversed. What we share with others (the Ruthenian Liturgy texts and rubrics) has been abandoned in favor of revisions based upon the ideas that came out of the worst elements of the Vatican II reforms. What we hold as our own (chant) has been treated as unchangeable Gospel to the point of bad accentuation.

The other point that needs to be made is that there is a large difference between the change in music in the Ruthenian Church and the change in the Latin Church after Vatican II. In the Latin Church pretty much everything was thrown out. The new music usually had no relationship to the old (it was not similar). In the Ruthenian Church the new music is notably different but close enough to annoy what has been planted in the hearts and souls of the faithful. Again, think of the Christmas Carol “Away in the Manger”. Think about the two well know melodies for the same song. In the Latin Church the parallel would be abandoning well known version one and replacing it with version 2 (not yet known). In the Ruthenian Church the parallel is to take well know version 1 and change the setting and words. It is far easier to teach a congregation something entirely new then it is to teach them a different version of something they have memorized, especially if they have accepted it and love it.
I wouldn't call music in the Ruthenian church abominable for the last 40 years, but would call much of it in the Latin church exactly that. I am music director/organist in a Latin church, but am fortunate to work for a pastor who won't tolerate the bad stuff. I would call Ruthenian music in the last 40 years over-simplified, sometimes fragmented, and badly performed in many places. Bringing up the point as in previous posts, that the wonderful, uncut, glorious liturgy which is held as the ideal here, was in reality never seen by most of us. My point is that what existed before the RDL could have been improved, and where it deviated from tradition and good musical practice, it could have been fixed. Some in the congregation would have complained about that, but it's the nature of our congregations to complain. They will do that in any case.
A modest suggestion:

The Administrator is largely correct in his posting on chant. I have only one slight modification to propose. In today's world of travel back and forth from Eastern Europe to North America and even Australia, it would be nice to agree on one common setting of the Divine Liturgy and other services - not for obligatory use all the time, but to have available for pilgrimages and similar events. The appropriate language is, of course, Church-Slavonic, since such an occasion is apt to include a significant number of people for whom Church-Slavonic is their "first liturgical language" (a new expression, but I hope the meaning is clear!).

I'm not just being theoretical; I remember the Divine Liturgy in Preshov Cathedral the day before Bishop John Hirka's consecration - the ability of the local Greek-Catholics, the guests from Transcarpathian Ukraine, and the visitors from North America to chant together in Church-Slavonic after so many decades of almost no contact was a powerful and joyful witness.

Fr. Serge
byzanTn seems to be changing his opinion, and I am no longer sure what it is.

Originally Posted by byzanTN
I would call Ruthenian music in the last 40 years over-simplified, sometimes fragmented, and badly performed in many places.

Let me play devil’s advocate.

So what?

So what if some of the settings for the fixed texts of the Divine Liturgy were over-simplified or even fragmented? They were memorized. By what moral authority does one force an entire Church to re-learn music that had served it perfectly well? What absolute reasoning do you have to offer that justifies hurting older people to the point where they sit in the pews and cry over what has happened?

I have stated numerous times that I would not have set them exactly that way had I set them back in the 1960s. But I respect people and what they have learned. I see no justification for the brute force that was used. Even if the new settings for the fixed texts of the Divine Liturgy were superior to the old (and they are, in fact, inferior) there is no justification for hurting people. [I wish people would not talk around this.] It seems to me that the way to enact change is to do so slowly. While the settings for the fixed texts were received and embraced by the Church the settings in the “Black Book” for the changeable texts never were received by the Church (few used them). Changeable settings should have respected the style used in setting the fixed texts.

As to badly performed, that is true in many places. But those numerous parishes that sang that music well evidence that the music was very serviceable, and that a congregation could use the music to “raise the roof”. The answer here is to better train cantors. Making the setting awkward and more complicated does not make them easier for cantors and congregations to sing.

I hope byzanTN (or others) will respond to the specific points I have raised.
Originally Posted by Serge Keleher
I remember the Divine Liturgy in Preshov Cathedral the day before Bishop John Hirka's consecration - the ability of the local Greek-Catholics, the guests from Transcarpathian Ukraine, and the visitors from North America to chant together in Church-Slavonic after so many decades of almost no contact was a powerful and joyful witness.

I have not had the blessing of traveling to Europe and participating in the Slavonic Divine Liturgy. I have had the privilege of singing in this country along with visiting priests and seminarians from Europe who have told me that they way I sing in Slavonic is almost identical to the way they sing. Neither of our 'styles' perfectly matches Bokšaj. I have heard some recordings from Europe (including some on You Tube) and it seems to me that the progression of chant in Europe - while not identical - is very much on the same path as is chant among Ruthenians in America.
Of course, there's no justification for hurting people. However, our church is not a democracy. Rightly or wrongly, someone is in charge and that someone or someones may do things none of us like. A good thing about the RDL is that it set some kind of standard to follow. It actually made our liturgies a bit longer with fewer things left out. Now whether or not one likes that standard is another matter. Given the rate at which the Ruthenian church is declining, our church seems preoccupied with rearranging the Titanic deck chairs. If that mindset doesn't change, there won't be a church in which to sing Ruthenian chant, authentic or otherwise.
Originally Posted by Administrator

I agree with byzanTn that it is possible for cantors to restore music that is faithful and authentic without producing something that is awkward and trite. Unfortunately that is not what occurred with the music promulgated for the RDL. It is very awkward to sing because the settings have the texts serving the chant rather then having the chant serve the texts. ...

Professor Kavka of Philadelphia (Eternal Memory!) was in general agreement with this and used to say that the “curly q’s” just didn’t work in English. He had offered to the bishops settings which updated the familiar settings with the Revised Texts. Unfortunately his work was rejected by the bishops in favor of different, new and untested style that had the text subservient to the music.

...

2. Given that even the Church in Europe has moved on from the 1906 Bokšaj (as chant is living, and ever developing) what is his snapshot for perfect chant (the model),...

It seems to me that the creators of the RDL have things reversed. What we share with others (the Ruthenian Liturgy texts and rubrics) has been abandoned in favor of revisions based upon the ideas that came out of the worst elements of the Vatican II reforms. What we hold as our own (chant) has been treated as unchangeable Gospel ...

There is a lot to think about here. This is a topic that bridges the kliros and RDL forums. Some thoughts -- rather random, broad and speculative -- that come to mind: they are still in a state of flux.

My criticism of the RDL approach is in accord with the above statement: the irony is that the RDL mandated a rigid adherence to one classical example of chant, and then took considerable and unnecessary liberties and innovations with the liturgicon, for which a single typical edition in Slavonic (the Ruthenian Recension) is acknowledged or at least given lip service. It should have been the other way around.

The inflexibility regarding the chant and the emphasis on Bokšaj stems from a good desire to have some uniformity and preserve one chant tradition. But the uniformity was simply imposed and the preservation of a chant tradition is a worthwhile academic or archival achievement, but our worship points in a different direction. There is the often quoted words of Johann von Gardner:
Quote
In Subcarpathian Rus’ in all the villages ... there was always practiced only congregational singing of the complete services ... The impression proved to be overwhelmingly strong.


Some years ago, well before the RDL and the MCI (site) I made this statement about a parish web page on the chant:
Quote
This page is dedicated to congregational singing of Prostopinije / Plainchant in the broadest sense. That sense honors in a special way the oral and manuscript chant traditions of the Subcarpathian Rus’ while also noting the evolution of that living tradition into a chant form proper to the liturgy celebrated in modern English. As such it admits adaptations of the received chant. It also admits contributions and borrowings and adaptations from other appropriate chant traditions that aid in communal sung prayer.


What's the difference in emphasis between the two quotes and what seems the RDL approach? The difference is the emphasis not on some single, specific form of plainchant, but on "congregational singing," and that of a rich and diversified plainchant heritage. So I would like to see, before offering a single standard for the Metropolia that need not be from a single source -- I would like to see the settings of Kavka, and Vernoski, and Jumba, and Mierzejewski, and the MCI and etc. available for evaluation, discussion and even use. We have the internet, music typesetting programs, pdf files, laser printers, etc. to put settings in acceptable formats, in the hands of cantors and even in the pews before investing (eventually) in costly books.

Change even to the good can be difficult and I have doubts that, for instance, just offering the RDL restored version of the Galician version of the Hymn of the Incarnation would have displaced the previous American-Carpathian-English version that was so familiar. But since that was done by mandate, with the restored Galician version being routinely sung, I wonder what would result if the former version were to be permitted. I've played and sung them both for comparison. They to me are really two entities, and without being critical of the Galician version, the old one still seemed very singable and still had its (nostalgia-free) appeal and charm. It is good chant even though it apparently departed from its pedigree.

The chant serves the text, but the chanting also affects the text by the very fact of its not being spoken but sung. It should never be even close to the point of the text becoming incomprehensible or awkward, but the text can and should be accommodating to the purpose of the chant, communal sung prayer. On a similar note on translation itself, a doctrine is sometimes put forth that the words and expressions in the liturgy must attain to some lowest common denominator of speech so it can be properly understood. The English language (and people using it) accommodates itself to a whole variety of accents in pronunciation and regional variations and specific usages. We expect and accept that. So while there should not be some remote or arcane hierarchical language, it is natural and expected that there should be a mode of expression and vocabulary proper to the liturgy. So we need to fix the translation. The RDL accentuations in the chant are no doubt based on some accepted musical doctrine about which expert and professionals agree, and professional choirs can sing, but from my evaluation as the simple guy in the pew, it ain't the way I'd like to sing it. An example comes to mind regarding actual use over theoretical form. For Great Friday procession we alternate the English and Slavonic of The Noble Joseph. We use the Levkulic versions and it seems we are singing the same thing. An English version was given in the special booklet prepared the year Great Friday fell on March 25. Sure, it was Tone 2, but there was no way to me that it matched the Slavonic. Had we tried to use it for the procession with the alternating Slavonic it would have been like switching between two different melodies/cadences.





Originally Posted by byzanTN
Of course, there's no justification for hurting people. However, our church is not a democracy.

It seems that the bishops ignored this when they rejected the directives of Rome, namely the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and Liturgiam Authentiam. To this day no explanation has been given for the outright rejection of these directives.

Originally Posted by byzanTN
A good thing about the RDL is that it set some kind of standard to follow. It actually made our liturgies a bit longer with fewer things left out.

I am really sick of hearing this because it is false. We already had a standard – the official Ruthenian recension liturgical books promulgated by Rome. In English we had the 1964/1965 translation. Not perfect and in need of some correction but overall quite good. And the music for the fixed texts of the Divine Liturgy was well received.

In many parishes the RDL Liturgcion reduces what was taken at the Divine Liturgy. Anyone who compares it to the 1942 Slavonic or 1964 English can see this quite easily. The elements that were added back in some parishes by force of mandate could just as easily had been added back through education, example and encouragement. The RDL does not add back anything that was not already in the 1964 liturgicon.

Originally Posted by byzanTN
Given the rate at which the Ruthenian church is declining, our church seems preoccupied with rearranging the Titanic deck chairs. If that mindset doesn't change, there won't be a church in which to sing Ruthenian chant, authentic or otherwise.

Parishes that took the full Divine Liturgy were actually growing. And in most places these congregations sung well. We’ve discussed this before. The RDL is the latest symptom of a Church with problems. We run from our traditions instead of embracing them. If you don’t like who you are people pick up on it, and they are not attracted to you.
Originally Posted by ajk
What's the difference in emphasis between the two quotes and what seems the RDL approach? The difference is the emphasis not on some single, specific form of plainchant, but on "congregational singing," and that of a rich and diversified plainchant heritage. So I would like to see, before offering a single standard for the Metropolia that need not be from a single source -- I would like to see the settings of Kavka, and Vernoski, and Jumba, and Mierzejewski, and the MCI and etc. available for evaluation, discussion and even use. We have the internet, music typesetting programs, pdf files, laser printers, etc. to put settings in acceptable formats, in the hands of cantors and even in the pews before investing (eventually) in costly books.

This has also been generally what I have advocated. Each presents his gifts and the Lord blesses what He wills. I was told by one member of the liturgical commission that it did not matter whether the new chant was good or bad. That the Church could learn to sing bad chant just as easily as it could sing good chant. The only thing that mattered here was that the new chant was official. With the fixed settings we already had a good degree of uniformity (since they provided for 90% of what is sung at the Divine Liturgy). We saw much work on the changeable settings by many cantors. Liberty would have served here better then rigid uniformity. And besides, this type of rigid uniformity of every music note is hardly Byzantine. It is more a product of a Latin mindset.

Originally Posted by ajk
Change even to the good can be difficult and I have doubts that, for instance, just offering the RDL restored version of the Galician version of the Hymn of the Incarnation would have displaced the previous American-Carpathian-English version that was so familiar. But since that was done by mandate, with the restored Galician version being routinely sung, I wonder what would result if the former version were to be permitted. I've played and sung them both for comparison. They to me are really two entities, and without being critical of the Galician version, the old one still seemed very singable and still had its (nostalgia-free) appeal and charm. It is good chant even though it apparently departed from it pedigree.

Again I am in agreement. The RDL version would not have been adopted on merit. Actually, very little of the RDL music would have been adopted willingly. I know of several parishes that just can’t manage the new setting and have gone back to the old. This will continue, I think, since we see “text only” pew books replacing what has been called the “Teal Terror”.

Originally Posted by ajk
The chant serves the text, but the chanting also affects the text by the very fact of its not being spoken but sung. It should never be even close to the point of the text becoming incomprehensible or awkward, but the text can and should be accommodating to the purpose of the chant, communal sung prayer.

An acquaintance of mine who works at Antiochian Village related to me that he has been present and sitting in his office during many clergy conferences for both the Byzantine Catholic Pittsburgh clergy and the Orthodox Johnstown clergy. He said that when the Pittsburgh clergy sang he could listen and understand almost every word they were singing. But when the Johnstown clergy sang he could not understand many of the words. Both groups sang loudly and decently. It was the settings. The 1965 Pittsburgh settings had fewer repeats of phrases and better accentuation then the chant sung by the Johnstown clergy, even if the melodies slightly simplified. So here we have a non-Slav indicating clearly that the settings make a huge difference in what can be understood. I will also relate that a fellow cantor had played the official music recorded by a Roman Catholic group to train Ruthenian cantors for his parents. They had no idea what it was. The music was unfamiliar and they could not understand the words. When he placed the green pew book in front of them they could not make the connection. They thought it was Gregorian Chant.

Originally Posted by ajk
The English language (and people using it) accommodates itself to a whole variety of accents in pronunciation and regional variations and specific usages. We expect and accept that. So while there should not be some remote or arcane hierarchical language, it is natural and expected that there should be a mode of expression and vocabulary proper to the liturgy. So we need to fix the translation.

Quite right. The difference between sacred and profane language. Profane means “outside the temple”. We could quote Liturgiam Authenticam here about literal accuracy at length.

Originally Posted by ajk
The RDL accentuations in the chant are no doubt based on some accepted musical doctrine about which expert and professionals agree, and professional choirs can sing, but from my evaluation as the simple guy in the pew, it ain't the way I'd like to sing it.

I’ve not seen anyone claim that the RDL settings are based upon some accepted musical doctrine about which experts and professionals agree. It seems to me that in this case the adage “save us from the professionals” is applicable! All that needed to be done was the simple and normal method of setting chant. Prostopinije has always been more of a sing along than anything else. We have the original Folk Mass! But, yes, the “it ain’t the way I’d like to sing it” is the most common complaint about the revised settings.

Originally Posted by ajk
An example comes to mind regarding actual use over theoretical form. For Great Friday procession we alternate the English and Slavonic of The Noble Joseph. We use the Levkulic versions and it seems we are singing the same thing. An English version was given in the special booklet prepared the year Great Friday fell on March 25. Sure, it was Tone 2, but there was no way to me that it matched the Slavonic. Had we tried to use it for the procession with the alternating Slavonic it would have been like switching between two different melodies/cadences.

A very accurate observance. That music book was a disaster everywhere it was used. The problem was a combination of awkward settings with much changed texts. Whoever created it was clearly not an experienced cantor. In the parish I chanted in that year we used “paste-ins” to the Levkulic Good Friday Vespers book. The people had no issues with the additions and raised the roof with their singing.
Quote
I am really sick of hearing this because it is false. We already had a standard – the official Ruthenian recension liturgical books promulgated by Rome. In English we had the 1964/1965 translation. Not perfect and in need of some correction but overall quite good. And the music for the fixed texts of the Divine Liturgy was well received.


I am sure this is all very true - somewhere. But as I have mentioned before, those standards were not followed in many places - mine being one of those places. And, no one in authority seemed to care.
Originally Posted by byzanTN
Quote
I am really sick of hearing this because it is false. We already had a standard – the official Ruthenian recension liturgical books promulgated by Rome. In English we had the 1964/1965 translation. Not perfect and in need of some correction but overall quite good. And the music for the fixed texts of the Divine Liturgy was well received.


I am sure this is all very true - somewhere. But as I have mentioned before, those standards were not followed in many places - mine being one of those places. And, no one in authority seemed to care.


That being so, how is the RDL a solution?

Does anyone dispute the standard as being the Recension? If yes, who? Then that is where there is a dispute and point of discussion right from the start.

If the standard, however, is acknowledged but not followed, then it is a question of education, obedience and authority. If the 1965 liturgicon and directives concerning it somehow are incapable of being followed, how does the RDL solve the problem?

If "no one in authority seemed to care," does authority now care about the RDL? If not, then what is the purpose of the 12 year labor to produce it? If yes, then why not just have had the same authority acting similarly in behalf of the accepted standard of the Recension and its faithful translation in the 1965 liturgicon?

The situation is like a book that is assigned to be read by a teacher. It happens that while some read the entire book, others do not, and read only excerpts. So the teacher gives directions on what portions of the book are required. But some students still do not follow the directions.

The teacher settles on a solution. He takes only the required excerpts and forms a new book. While he is at it, he also changes the text to adjust for irregularities caused by the abridgment and he also decides to alter the text to make the book more understandable from his point of view. He then requires that all must read the new abridged book and only the new book. He is satisfied with his solution since now the same standard of the altered-abridged book is required of all students.

Those who wanted to read the complete story can no longer do so, they can only read the altered abridgment. The integrity of the original story, in the new abridgment, is inherently lost. And nothing intrinsically has really been done that the students who did not follow directions before should now change their ways.



The reality is that the old standards were not followed, and now the RDL has been mandated. Rumors to the contrary, I see no indication on the part of the bishops that they intend to rescind the RDL. This is where we are at the moment. Where to from here?
Originally Posted by byzanTN
Rumors to the contrary, I see no indication on the part of the bishops that they intend to rescind the RDL. This is where we are at the moment. Where to from here?
The "intend to rescind the RDL" is not the point of my comments per se. My unanswered question is what was accomplished by the RDL? That could go to answering "Where to from here?"

Originally Posted by byzanTN
The reality is that the old standards were not followed, and now the RDL has been mandated.
Again, why not just have replaced "RDL has", with "old standards have", i.e.:

The reality is that the old standards were not followed, and now the old standards have been mandated.

The standards with the RDL are still not being followed. I went to a church in the Pittsurgh Metropolia yesterday and the liturgy barely resembled my home parish. We were done in 45-50 minutes. It's sad...very, very sad. The RDL has served no purpose other than to hurt the churches that were doing more.
One fundamental issue with the RDL is its overall approach to liturgy. The Byzantine Tradition establishes certain minima with regard to celebration--this much you must do, but you can do more as you desire or are able. The RDL reverses the formula by setting maxima--you must do this but no more than this. The result is a further narrowing of liturgical practice in the Metropolia, where the liturgy was already rather anemic.
Originally Posted by ajk
The situation is like a book that is assigned to be read by a teacher. It happens that while some read the entire book, others do not, and read only excerpts. So the teacher gives directions on what portions of the book are required. But some students still do not follow the directions.

The teacher settles on a solution. He takes only the required excerpts and forms a new book. While he is at it, he also changes the text to adjust for irregularities caused by the abridgment and he also decides to alter the text to make the book more understandable from his point of view. He then requires that all must read the new abridged book and only the new book. He is satisfied with his solution since now the same standard of the altered-abridged book is required of all students.

Those who wanted to read the complete story can no longer do so, they can only read the altered abridgment. The integrity of the original story, in the new abridgment, is inherently lost. And nothing intrinsically has really been done that the students who did not follow directions before should now change their ways.

Cliff Notes comes to mind. Or the Reader’s Digest Condensed Bible. The RDL is nothing but a permanent Low Mass. High Mass with good music is verboten.

There is an underlying hatred of the Ruthenian Liturgy. Father Petras has openly admitted that he hates litanies. He’s spent his life trying to excise them from the Liturgy.
The aversion to ektenies seems to have been with the Ruthenians for quite a while. I don't claim to understand the phenomenon - what is there about this particular form of prayer which would arouse such hatred?

Fr. Serge
The other thing is that the current promulgation ONLY APPLIES TO THE ENGLISH. The Slavonic, aside from some promulgated removals of 2 words of the text (i Synu from the creed) and a rubric change (eliminate the kneeling and replace it with standing during the anaphora) is not yet replaced. (At least per the MCI website.)
Originally Posted by Serge Keleher
The aversion to ektenies seems to have been with the Ruthenians for quite a while. I don't claim to understand the phenomenon - what is there about this particular form of prayer which would arouse such hatred?

Fr. Serge


I doubt it's the ektenie themseves, but the repetiveness of them. Me, I love them.

Without deacons, however, they fall to the concelebrant(s), and without concelebrants, to the celebrant. And they can be up to 1/2 of the clerical verbiage in some uses.

Now, apparently, we are not the speed demons of the Metropolitan Church, as we routinely come in about 65 to 75 minutes for St John, and 90 to 100 for St. Basil. We don't do the "Grant it" (it's optional) and we don't have special petitions at Sunday liturgies except when mandated by the Eparch or Metropolitan. Our pastor's voice gets shaky by the end of his third weekend liturgy*, and he isn't doing the hours publicly. (We take Reader's Third Hour... while he hears confessions.)

Our guest priest hit the same marks today, speed wise, as our pastor does. Different melody for his chant, but same speed. Eparch John for the Slovaks hit the same time frame when he was visiting.

Adding the other ektenie would push Father's voice to strain; Great Lent is hard enough on him...

I can't imagine how fast people are singing, or what they're cutting, to shorten it below what we do.

A deacon could cut 5-10 minutes off, tho', by cutting communion time in half... And the Metropolitan Particular Law does allow for EMHC's. (An additional MHC per 75 communicants. Is that 1+1 for 1-75 communicants, 33-75 communicants, or 75-149 communicants? RPL isn't quite clear as recorded in the documents section here.)

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* Vigil, Morning, and then afternoon at the mission.
One can see how the ektenie could become a burden for the priest celebrating without a deacon, particularly if he is also required to read the Anaphora aloud (especially Basil). This is just one reason why flexibility is required in this area.

For myself, I think it is better to chant the Anaphora aloud (not recite it, as is usually done in the Metropolia), but here the RDL falls into the error of not discerning the difference between prayers the priest says on his own behalf (which should be silent), those which ought to be concurrent with the prayers of the faithful (which should be chanted quietly), and those which are truly "public" prayers which should be chanted audibly.

However, even though a Novella of Justinian instructs the clergy to sing the Anaphora aloud, it is clear that this practice fell out of common use even in his time (otherwise why legislate it?), and it has become enshrined in the common Byzantine usage. If one wants to restore the practice of taking the "silent" prayers aloud, this should be done on a voluntary basis, taking into account the practical situation in each parish, and, of course, making sure that only the appropriate prayers are in fact chanted (not said!) aloud.
"The aversion to ektenies seems to have been with the Ruthenians for quite a while. I don't claim to understand the phenomenon - what is there about this particular form of prayer which would arouse such hatred? "

I have tried to fathom it myself, and have come to a couple of conclusions. First, I believe there has been a fundamental misreading of some modern commentators on the Byzantine liturgy, including Father Alexander Schmemann and Father Robert Taft. Both of them wrote of the accretion of various monastic practices to the liturgy, including the ektenie. I have noticed within the Metropolia a strong antipathy to authentic Byzantine monasticism and monastic practices, and there seems to be a desire to purge most visible reminders of monasticism from the Church and its worship. At a very visible level, too, monastics constitute an alternative center of authority which our bishops do not seem willing to tolerate.

At another level, and running counter to the general thrust of both Schmemann and Taft, the suppression of the ektenie seems to be part and parcel of an overall attempt to de-emphasize the role of the people and elevate the celebrant to an even more exalted level than he presently holds. Side-by-side comparison of the 1965 translation and the RDL (and especially a comparison of the RDL with the original Slavonic) shows the RDL consistently either chooses language, inserts words or omits others in order to make the liturgy more "priest-centered".

Clericalism was always an abiding problem in the Ruthenian Church, from the moment that priests were elevated to a higher social status than their parishoners back in the Hapsburg days. There were priests, there were cantors, and then there were peasants. Apparently there is a lot of nostalgia for those days and a desire to recapture the status that used to come with a pectoral cross.
Christ is risen!

I don't know about all these charges of clericalism. This seems to be a drum beaten by many Greek Catholics and Orthodox descending from them. In my experience, the Divine Liturgy (and all the liturgical services, for that matter) is a symphony. A priest certainly cannot conveniently perform them alone. In my experience (in the Russian Church: with a proper iconastasis, doors, and curtains. which are all fully utilised) the choir and the deacon are far more visible and audible components of this symphony than is the priest. But anyway...

I have been led to believe that those who advocate the omission of certain ektenia/litanies from the Byzantine Liturgy do so for several reasons:

1. Their repetitive character ("How many times are we going to say the same thing?")

2. The theory that certain ektenias were introduced or lengthened to "cover up" the secret prayer of the priest. The Little Litanies between the Antiphons and the Litanies of the Faithful come to mind here. In this view, when one desires to have the priest pray all the prayers in the hearing of the people, these ektenias become unnecessary.

3. A desire to shorten the Liturgy. There are those who think that modern human beings are not capable of, or will not tolerate, a Liturgy that last longer than an hour. Something then has to go.

4. Certain parts of the Liturgy are no longer deemed necessary because of changes in the Church's circumstances. For example, the Litany of the Catechumens is frequently cited as being unnecessary.

All the above reasons for advocating the abolition of certain litanies are found among both Orthodox and Greek Catholics. Among latinised Greek Catholics one might also observe that the Byzantine Liturgy without litanies far more resembles the Roman Mass.

Fr David Straut



Risen Indeed!

Well, let's see. Far too many Greek-Catholics, both in thought and in action, treat the deacon like an ersatz priest.

Repetitiveness is of the nature of an ektene - the chanting of "Kyrie, eleison" a dozen times is not the worst thing one might do with one's time!

No one seems to have proved that the ektenes were either introduced or lengthened to "cover" the time for the hierarchal-hieratic prayers in mystica. To the contrary, what evidence we have would indicate that, for example, the two ektenes before the Cherubicon were reduced (if there is no deacon) without any corresponding move to recite or chant the prayers aloud.

This "desire to shorten the Liturgy" exists, all right, but it is a bit peculiar. Priests (and even hierarchs) are apt to say that "the people", whoever they may be, need this. I know a few people who really do need it (mostly because they have small children who require much attention), but they do not demand that the Divine Liturgy be abridged; they simple arrive late (usually in time to hear the Gospel). They certainly would not maintain that others who do not have their specific time pressure should be deprived of the complete antiphons, for example.

The assertion - which one occasionally hears, usually from the clergy - that the Ektene of the Catechumens is unnecessary is sheer nonsense, and could evidence of downright bad faith. A quick look around us will indicate both the presence of adult children of Christian parents who appear in church once or twice a year, if that. Still more to the point: our towns and cities are filled with unchurched people. A claim that there is no need for prayer, especially when that prayer is already there in the books and mandated, is outrageous. Does a given parish have no catechumens? Well, get busy and start evangelising!

Meanwhile those of us (including Father David and myself) who think that the Holy Fathers knew what they were doing will continue to serve in the unabridged fashion.

Fr. Serge


Originally Posted by Fr David Straut

Their repetitive character ("How many times are we going to say the same thing?")


This one always drives me bonkers. It's like saying that you only need to tell your wife that you love her once.

Christ is Risen!
Dn. Robert
I think people deserve a response to questions about the repetitiveness of the Divine Liturgy-at least those who ask with an openness to being educated. While I do not know the motives of those who composed the liturgies of the Church with respect to their use of repetitiveness, I see value in it in that it helps shape the way we understand God and the way we approach God in prayer and worship. For me, the numerous times we pray for God's mercy reminds me of the great need I have for his mercy. The repetition of other requests reminds me of how much I depend we depend on God and how we have nothing apart from it. Of course God has no need for us to repeat our requests, but I believe that we repeat them for our own spiritual good. Again, I do not know the thoughts and motives of the Fathers of the Church for composing our liturgies as they did, but I suspect this is part of the reason for their choosing to use so much repetition.

Ryan
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repetitiveness of the Divine Liturgy


Christ is in our midst!!

I was taught that this very factor in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy was meant to give the sense of timelessness, of a meeting of Heaven and earth wherein we were able to stop the frenetic pace of our lives and focus on what is really important. We human beings, especially in the West, have a sense that we have to "get things done" or "get it over with." It's our "what is the minimum" attitude.

The Byz DL, in my humble opinion, asks us to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ in such a way that we realize that He is the most important Person in our lives and that we will spend eternity with Him. As one Orthodox priest of my acquaintance put it, "If you can't stand being at the DL for an hour and a half or two hours, how will you stand the Heavenly Liturgy which never ends?"

In Christ,

BOB
Having heard only one cleric recite the anaphora rather than chant it (and he was a visiting bishop, at that)...

The Ruthenian is about as condensed as the very most condensed of OCA uses. The catechmen's ektenie is in rubrics for when catechumens are dismissed to study. In this, the Ruthenian mirrors the Roman.
If you heard some of our Parma priests recite the anaphora out loud you'd understand why some should pray it silently. They rush through it. You can't understand them. It's embarrassing. So why bother? It's all political. The Roman Catholics do it so we must imitate them.
"If you heard some of our Parma priests recite the anaphora out loud you'd understand why some should pray it silently. They rush through it. You can't understand them. It's embarrassing. So why bother? It's all political. The Roman Catholics do it so we must imitate them."

I have no idea why they recite it. If it is to be taken aloud, the Anaphora, like the rest of the Divine Liturgy, is supposed to be chanted. Also, in the spirit of going from one extreme to the other, the present rubrics have the priest saying aloud prayers that are his own private prayers, meant to be recited silently, in addition to his public prayers, which (if you are so inclined) can be chanted aloud.
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"If you heard some of our Parma priests recite the anaphora out loud you'd understand why some should pray it silently. They rush through it. You can't understand them. It's embarrassing. So why bother? It's all political. The Roman Catholics do it so we must imitate them."


Christ is in our midst!!

I can't speak to how the Parma priests recite the anaphora. But I will comment on something that I have been doing for the past 36 years in various parishes of which I've been a member--training people in the speech art of proclamation, something that was part of my undergraduate work.

We, Latins, have been putting people in front of a book and asking them to be "lectors" or "readers" or some such thing and that's what we get. It's akin to the time whe we were in the first three grades of primary school and were called on to "read aloud." It's run together; it's poorly articulated; it's read too fast; it's too low to be heard beyond the third pew; sometimes w get someone whose native language is not English and they literally stumble through it and it's like finernails scratching the blackboard; it's a disaster. And yet we continue to do it, murdering the Word of God and doing violence to its power to move souls.

And what can be said for laymen can be said for the clergy. The only difference is that when exposed to some sort of training period the average layman not only comes away a far better proclaimer but also conscious of the vast difference between "mouthing the words" and making the text come alive. The clergy, by and large, may begin to imitate once the laymen suddenly begin to show marked improvement, but won't listen to any layman offering to help him improve his speech skills. After all, they've had seminary training and are above anything that can be brought to them from mere laymen.

The basic approach of being a proclaimer is to bring to life the text, remembering that if one is using a microphone one needs to consciously slow ones delivery by about one third--since a microphone can only reproduce the human voice at about 66%. Then there's enunciation and pronunciation and studying the text to bring the meaning to life.

The anaphora is probably the most intimate prayer I can imagine and done poorly is akin to violent, physical crime IMHO. Here is the priest, in the person of Christ Himself, addressing the Father. As the whole of liturgy itself, IMHO, there is nothing on earth more important to do or utter than the anaphora. And I mean that whether it is taken aloud or silently. This is no mere ritual. It's a beautiful offering of a profund prayer to the Father Creator. Racing through it--wow. You know, I always ask those I train what answer they will give to God on Judgment Day when He asks, "What were you trying to do? What was the hurry? I was trying to use your voice to speak to the people in the back row with poor hearing. They needed to hear what I had to say loud and clear."

The Byzantine Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom sweeps me away. "With these blessed Powers, O Master Who lovest all men, we also cry aloud and say . . ." To me, when I read this prayer as a private devotion, it makes me feel like being on the top of a mountain. I realize how small, mean, and insignificant I really am. I'm not the center of it all. It evokes the scene in Revelation where St. John speaks of the crowd so vast that no one can number it. And yet, this awesome God has somehow found me and decided He wants me to be part of all this.

So rushing through prayers taken aloud in speech, whether they should be or not, is a terrible injustice on too many levels for me. Ditto rushing through the readings from Scripture, whether they are chanted or not. Forgive me if I compare it to sloppy lovemaking and cringe at the thought.

My two cents.

BOB
"So rushing through prayers taken aloud in speech, whether they should be or not, is a terrible injustice on too many levels for me. Ditto rushing through the readings from Scripture, whether they are chanted or not."

That's the whole point of chanting. It's rhythmic, so it is rather difficult to rush. That is why, once upon a time, all liturgy was chanted, in both the East and the West. Even for the Latin rite today, chanting is still normative.
Stuart:

I get your message. But have you ever been in a place where they chanted so fast that nothing got through but a whirr of words? I have. And then I wondered what the point was.

BOB
Justice was served!

Actually, it helps if you understand Church-Slavonic. It helps even more if you bring along the appropriate text(s).

Fr. Serge
Father Serge:

Father bless!!

While I don't understand Church Slavonic, I have been to beautiful Slavonic DLs where the cadence has been other-worldly and the reverence was something that could be felt even when the language was completely lost on me. I also have a Church Slavonic recording of the funeral service and it's absoltuely wonderful.

On the other hand, I've been to DLs where there seemed to be such a hurry to "get it done" that the whole feeling was like being in a compactor.

BOB
There certainly can be rushed liturgies. On the other hand, I am not an adherent of the theory that holiness is proportional to how slowly one sings. In fact, different parts of the liturgy are meant to be sung at different tempi. To sing everything adagio or lento is just as bad as singing everything allegro or presto.
Thank you! Do learn Church-Slavonic; it's well worth the effort.

I once arranged for someone whom I knew only slightly to meet me at the Russicum after the Vigil and we would go to dinner. I knew the timing of the service, and gave the gentleman an accurate estimate of when he should get there. He turned up a full hour early, and I was not about to leave the service.

But I did have the courtesy to apologize when the service ended and we were walking to the restaurant. The gentleman asked me not to apologize. He had had a difficult week and he found the prayerful, solemn, yet restful experience of the Vigil just what he needed. This from someone who knew not a word of Church Slavonic and had little or no idea of the content of what we were doing!

Fr. Serge
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