Hello, Eastern friends and friends of the East,
I have in mind our Eastern Orthodox friends as I write this, but any Eastern person is surely much better prepared to interpret the following than I, so…
I would like to know your opinions on this article written by Protopresbyter Alexander Schememann in Vol. 2, No. 4 of St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly. While it obviously something more than a little beyond what affects me in my day to day life, being non-Orthodox (:() as I currently am, I am nonetheless intrigued by some of the distinctions made in the article. For instance, Orthodoxy of content vs. Orthodoxy of form:
I consider this growing interpretation of conversion in terms of a mere jurisdictional belonging to some Orthodox Diocese, of a “mimimum” of doctrinal and liturgical requirements and of an almost mechanical understanding of the “Apostolic Succession” as a very real danger to Orthodoxy. This means the replacement of Orthodoxy of “content” by Orthodoxy of “form”, which certainly is not an Orthodox idea.
Or on the estrangement of East and West:
[H]ave we not proclaimed time and again in all our encounters with our Western brothers that it is this “East” precisely that constitutes the common and the catholic heritage of the Church and can supply us with a common language which has been lost or distorted? The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or the Easter Canon of St. John of Damascus, are, I believe, much closer to that common and Catholic language of the Church than anything else in any Christian tradition. And I cannot think of any word or phrase in these services that would be “foreign” to a Western Christian and would not be capable of expressing his faith and his experience, if the latter would be genuinely Orthodox . . .
What do you all think? This article was published in 1958. What are the current issues involved in the reception of Western Christian faithful into Orthodoxy? Is “Orthodoxy of form (only)” an enduring problem? Is this “Western Rite” even considered a large enough factor within Orthodoxy as a whole to create problems/issues? Unfortunately, the nearest Western Rite (Antiochian) Church is no less than 460 miles to the south of where I currently am, so any interest in Orthodoxy for me or anyone in my area must be satisfied by the local OCA parish, which (understandably and correctly) retains its Slavic identity, at least as much as is possible when the majority of its members are now non-Slavic converts. It is undeniably very beautiful, but as someone of Latin (as in Latin America) cultural background, this prospect of Latin Orthodoxy is perhaps uniquely compelling.
Thank you in advance for any interest, comments, corrections…