Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

It is the famous quote of Dante, most frequently translated as Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. It is a quotation I often remember when walking up some streets in London with the dark glass and steel office buildings that say nothing of humanity, just money, money and money.

This idea came back into my mind as I read Patrick Sheradon’s new article on Western Orthodoxy. Of course he may be right, as would John Bruce who converted to Roman Catholicism. If you convert to Roman Catholicism, you have no right to anything to which you were attached in the past. You submit and accept everything from the current Papacy and the local bishops. Why not? It all seems to make sense.

I was once interested in the idea of Western Orthodoxy, but I saw the reality before going anywhere near an Orthodox priest. For me, it simply didn’t happen. I saw Dr Ray Winch become ever more cynical and gravitate towards traditional Latin masses in the RC Church, and was buried when he died without any religious rites. I knew him well enough not to see him as an apostate, but someone whose faith and hope was pushed to the extreme.

I suppose it could be said that we Anglicans should use the 1662 Prayer Book or the new services and go along with the latest things coming from General Synod. What becomes of someone who has nowhere to go. That person just dries up, and I’m sure that Christ must be guffawing over the whole thing! Were I not a Christian or a priest, perhaps I would end up like Dr Winch – trust in God’s mercy, but alone. If the Church is where the person must abandon hope when he enters there, surely this is not heaven on earth – – – but the hell of Dante, lined with the skulls of bad bishops and priests.

Anglicanism is far from perfect, but it does allow a certain amount of diversity in questions of liturgy and other preferences in secondary matters. I have been allowed to use Sarum, not because I am some kind of “uniate”, but because I was already using it as a priest and it is an Anglican rite. It was used after the Henrican schism from 1534 and was only abolished in 1549. The rest of my Diocese uses the Anglican Missal, essentially the pre-1962 Roman rite using the Sunday Epistles, Gospels and Collects from the Prayer Book. It is another Anglican rite. A limited diversity doesn’t seem to be a problem for us Anglicans.

Many Orthodox and Roman Catholics will dismiss our Church as “dud” or “bogus” on the basis of their belief that our Sacraments are invalid. The moral of this story is simply to “stay put”, don’t let anyone manipulate us or make us believe that we have to convert to their Church. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves (Mt xxiii. 15).

I would be sad to see my old friend from Kent go the same way as John Bruce on opposite sides of the Tiber or the Volga, or whichever river going through a Patriarchal city. I am delighted to see him find his spiritual home – if it will be in the long term. Perhaps they are right, and we have nothing to hope for. I have a feeling that such zeal may well be short-lived and hides a deep dissatisfaction and inner turmoil.

I think Western Orthodoxy could have worked like the pre-Pauline Roman liturgy in the contemporary RC Church. Perhaps it does work in some places in the USA. I gave up on it thirty years ago. I have seen many empty promises, long waits and secrets being kept – and there was nothing there. Stay with Churches that are in the jar what it says on the label. I am sure there are good and sincere Roman Catholic and Orthodox local communities, but there are good Anglican ones too.

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33 Responses to Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

  1. J.D. says:

    I am sympathetic to Mr. Sheridan’s view of Western Rite Orthodoxy despite having a deep love for much of the Western Patrimony. For better or worse Orthodoxy has become the so called Byzantine Rite from Samarkand to San Francisco, from Jakarta to Detroit. The Western Rite does not really exist with any kind of integrity outside the chapels and bookcases of a few eccentric hobbyists, and it certainly doesn’t really exist within any of the mainstream churches. Neither the 1962 Missal and Calendar of the Roman Catholics or the cut and paste job of Western Rite Orthodox are actually living liturgies, they are more desperate attempts to cobble together something that fell by the wayside due to neglect or by papal fiat. In general neither Western Orthodoxy or Trad Catholicism are actually wanted by the hierarchy of their respective churches, so to pray according to either is to set oneself up against the institution you are trying to be a member of. That is not something that many can bear. It’s a huge cross to be that type of pariah.

    • I rather agree with him too. No one is obliged to become Orthodox or Roman Catholic for that matter. Uniatism is questioned to this day in the RC Church. I only “get away with” Sarum in the ACC because I’m on my own for all intents and purposes, and I am living outside England. Perhaps the Byzantine Liturgy (and other oriental rites) is all that is left as a living liturgy – but it is not for us westerners. I understand the Forward in Faith clergy whose liturgy is not always very traditional, but they are still in “normal” parishes.

      Some people convert to other churches and leave everything behind, others follow the changes their churches introduce. Most abandon religious practice altogether, and in the circumstances, I don’t really blame them. They will be in Abraham’s bosom whilst the bishops and priests of various churches crave the drops of water.

      Some of us are made to be marginal and we accept that predicament. Then who needs mainstream churches? You can’t have your pie and eat it.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I don’t understand the statement that “the 1962 Missal and Calendar of the Roman Catholics” is not an ‘actually living liturgy’, since there are all sorts of places where it has been in constant use since 1962 (even though one sometimes encounters expressions of regret for changes introduced by Pius XII in the 1950s). It does, however, usefully raise the question of what can and do constitute “actually living liturgies”. What is the Sarum Use as lived by Fr. Anthony if not an ‘actually living liturgy’? My experience (albeit as a sort of liturgy-loving lay vulgarian) of “Novus Ordo masses from the Latin missal” is very much of an ‘actually living liturgy’ – but I get the impression that that is Benedict XVI’s experience, too. I’ve never had the opportunity to experience a ‘Western Rite Orthodox’ liturgy, but can’t imagine that people familiar with (whatever varieties of) them, are not experiencing “actually living liturgies”, whomever that datum may dismay.

      • The “living liturgy” thing is usually a kind of ideology that eliminates everything and gives justification for the chosen radical agenda. When that is no longer tenable in a few years time, the criteria will change. I agree with you that “living” liturgies are those that are used whether by many, a few or one single priest. I haven’t been to an Orthodox western rite liturgy either. There is a very small ROCOR group in England, but I imagine that the “experience” would be fairly similar to Continuing Anglicanism with different conversations after Mass.

  2. J.D. says:

    Thanks for your input on this Father. Lately I’ve been pulled back into the Benedictine Office, but I actually feel more estranged from any Church in praying it than I did in praying the Old Rite Horologion since the latter is still tied to an actual church that doesn’t treat it as, for lack of a better term a ” red headed stepchild” . Maybe I ought to just pray according to the Russian praxis I’d been doing until I find myself living in a city with a ROCOR chapel, or maybe I ought to just keep praying the Benedictine Office but more in communion with all of us “New Goliards” on the margins. It’s crazy but I go through this weird crisis of rites almost once every year or two.

    • The important is to be yourself. We often go through these crises of which “true” Church we belong to and which rite we should use. The last time for me was in about 2008 when I was still with the TAC under Abp Hepworth. I continued using the early 20th century Tridentine missal until I definitively went Sarum in 2008. I celebrated a couple of Novus Ordo masses from the Latin missal and they left me cold.

      Perhaps you could reflect about the amount of contact you have with your “local” Orthodox parish or monastery, and how you relate to it rather than the Platonic “idea” of a Church. If you have no such relationship, then I suggest you feel free in the matter of your office book.

      I really can’t advise you very much as I know too little about your relationship with the modern secular world. Secularism on one side, “cultural” Roman Catholics and Protestants. Here in Europe, we have more “hard atheism” than you in the USA.

      It has to come from within yourself, and you’re probably as deeply in the desert as I am.

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I don’t know about Ray Winch’s burial, but understand from a mutual friend (who is an Orthodox Priest under the Ecumenical Patriarch) that he died in Communion with the Pope. While he was still in Communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch he prayed the Roman Breviary in a very lively fashion (though I don’t know what ‘version’ – if indeed he limited himself to a particular version). If I recall correctly (I’m not sure who-all I heard it from – perhaps you, Fr. Anthony, among others!), he became very disappointed by an experienced lack of unity among the Orthodox – I think between jurisdictions/autocephalous Churches, but more generally as well.

  4. Dale says:

    Oh dear. I was rather expecting this when Patrick announced that he was swimming the turgid waters of the Bosphorus. I am afraid that the same rigidity that he often expressed as a Roman has found fertile ground in Byzantium. It appears that he is well on the way to becoming a typical Konvertzi.

    I do think that someone needs to tell him that the little old Russian ladies did not find him unbearable because he attended Ennismore Gardens porting a, gasp, 1962 Roman Missal, he could have been heaving a full set of the Breviarium Romanum with him and the reaction would have been the same. I well remember, in about 1974, attending services at Ennismore with several friends from seminary on a visit from Paris, we were speaking in Russian and were well received; one little old lady mentioned that there were now so many of “Those People” at the Cathedral that it was not even like a real Russian Orthodox church any longer; and by “Those People” she meant the English. Patrick has much to learn about the ethnic fixations of the Byzantium, but he will learn. Dumping his own heritage as baggage, growing a beard, and perhaps dressing like a Russian peasant is not, for them, going to make him any more acceptable.

    I think that we also need a bit of honesty when it comes to the spiritual superiority of Byzantine countries as compared to those of us nasty, heretical, apostate Westerners. The revival of church life in Russia comes with a nationalistic price, the Church is often nothing more than the mouth-piece of the government and for the time being attachment has national as well as fashionable overtures. Les than 7% even bother to attend church on a monthly basis. The average Russian woman has about 10 abortions during her lifetime.

    Greece as the highest abortion rate of any nation in the EU.

    The liturgical life is indeed more traditional, but often Westerners do not realise that for many Byzantines the liturgical tradition is considered as a national antique, so making any changes is indeed difficult.

    One could also mention that institutional Orthodoxy is if anything more disagreeable with small break-away groups than either Rome or the Anglicans (actually the official Anglicans are often complete gentlemen in this regard); Byzantine treatment of the Old Calendarists and the Old Believers is often horrendous.

    My fear is that after what must be a recent conversion, Patrick is already teaching the Orthodox what their faith and tradition is or is not cannot bode well. I can well imagine that soon canonical groups will not be pure enough and he will wander off into the even more rigid underbelly of the Byzantine world.

    • One risk with any kind of convert (not necessarily to Islam) is radicalisation. It’s a temptation to any of us as soon as we have any kind of difference with mainstream secular society and liberal religion.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I remember Ray Winch being very critical of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (stacks of which they sent to the Russian Canterbury Road parish: Ray was a member of the Greek parish sharing the church), but quite friendly with their priest, Fr. Basil (later Bishop Basil: a convert American Classical archaeologist), who in turn got on quite well with George Gibbes, adopted son of the English tutor to the Imperial family, who became a priest in the Russian Church Outside of Russia and established a Chapel in his house in Oxford, where Fr. Basil cheerfully celebrated the liturgy from time to time.

      • Dale says:

        David, strange that you should mention the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (suppressed memories on my part). I remember this glossy publication. It was full of official pro-Soviet propaganda with numerous photos of Moscow Patriarchate churchmen visiting high-level communist functionaries. It was rather an embarrassment.

        But then the recent condolences sent by the Russian Orthodox Church upon the death of Fidel Castro seems to prove that perhaps things have not changed really all that much:

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Wow, among the plethora of fawning condolences (such as those of Pope Francis, and Messrs. Trudeau, Obama, and Corbyn) I somehow missed that one! Hmm, “one of the most famous and prominent public Figures of our time” – Patriarch Kirill is old enough to have counted Stalin among those, for his first eight-and-a-quarter years, though he missed Hitler by a couple months – and erred in omitting the “in-” in “infamous”.

        Dr. Winch had an very ‘traditional’ approach to that Journal (think, e.g., of Alexander Pope’s Dunciad on the fate of books, etc.).

    • Dale says:

      Did a closer reading of Patrick diatribe and notice that he mentions that his “baptism” has washed away any supposed love that he once had for Latin offices (“…I once entertained or that I enjoy Latin antiphons and Prayer Book psalms but my Baptism literally washed away all the cares and griefs that went with them”). Well, silly me, I thought that baptism washed away our sins; but it seems that he, by accepting Byzantine Baptism, has rejected that any western Sacraments have any grace whatsoever. I suppose that we are not only heretical and apostate, but graceless as well.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I have the impression that various of the Orthodox Churches down the ages have the least consistency about recognizing Trinitarian Baptisms: I don’t know how far conditional Baptism may come into it. On the other hand, I remember reading something of John Meyendorff’s about the extent of cheerful intercommunion in the Mediterranean over a number of centuries.

    • J.D. says:

      I hope he can avoid the konvertsi phenomenon as well, it’s just as toxic as the rad trad world he left behind.

      • I am afraid for him. Patrick suffers inner conflicts due to an all-or-nothing dialectic. I have only once met him in the flesh in London in the company of an old friend. He is talented at writing and many things are just intuitions, but there is an issue connected with Aspergers or perhaps some personality issue. As someone who has written a blog (Liturgiae Causa) that has attracted my attention, I feel disappointed by the drop of intellectual quality in his later postings in his Roman Catholic “incarnation”, and I now see only a difference of degree with that American blogger who trashes everything that is not novus ordo and deadpan American parish Catholicism (until he gets bored with it). This kind of thing can be a lesson to us all.

  5. Marko says:

    Speaking of diversity of theological thought, what is your view on what makes Eucharist a sacrifice? In other words, what is sacrificed and offered to God in the Eucharist?

    • Here is the teaching of the Church I belong to (the Anglican Catholic Church). In accordance with the Affirmation of St Louis:

      The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, as objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) — Baptism as incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the “seal of the Holy Spirit”), and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.

      • Marko says:

        “and the Eucharist as the sacrifice”. Now, that’s what i’m interested in. What is sacrificed and offered to God in the Eucharist?

      • I wrote Odo Casel and Liturgical Theology a good while ago. A simple answer to your question is that Christ offers himself in sacrifice in the Eucharist, but the Mystery of Christ perpetuated in the liturgy cannot be reduced to only suffering and death. It is the whole mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the acts of redemption, which the liturgy brings present for us thousands of years after Christ’s ascension. Would you like to give your point of view?

      • Marko says:

        I’m only interested in the sacrificial matter (and moment, but to a significantly lesser degree) of the Eucharist but I am very confused as to what it consists of.

        In celebration of Eucharist, a sacrifice is offered.

        Secrets (e.g. 7th after Pentecost) and ancient anaphoras point to the sacrificial matter offered our praises (consequently us) and bread and wine (the latter especially mentioned in the oblation parts of anaphoras and of course by the secrets). Reading the Fathers, secrets and anaphoras (save for the III and IV new Roman ones), my mind incessantly pulls me here, but I fear falling into heresy.

        I fear falling into heresy because the official Tridentine doctrine is that the sacrificial matter offered is Christ’s very Body and Blood, or rather Christ himself, but how that happens, no-one has fully explained, since no real change happens to Christ during the Eucharist neither in consecration nor in communion.

        No definition of sacrifice has been offered by Trent but there is a consensus among theologians (as far as I can see) that for a sacrifice to be offered (offered, mind you, not immolated) the sacrificial matter needs to be accepted by the one to whom it is offered.

        But Christ is always in the state of acceptance by the Father and never in the state of non-acceptance from which we would bring him into state of acceptance and thus accomplish the sacrifice. But if that happens to him in some way, or at least only to his Body and Blood, than there is some kind of a duality between heavenly Body and the Eucharistic one. Maybe the answer lies in the Eucharistic mode of presence and the fact of non-adduction, and some degree of “manipulation” over the Eucharistic Body and Blood we have.

        Be that as it may, some (Charles de Condren, Maurice de la Taille) have opted to Eucharist being a participatory rite in the eternal oblation of Christ in heaven, which is very tempting since it doesn’t make Christ do anything new to himself in relation to his Father every single time a Mass is celebrated, but that kind of rite seems not to be a sacrifice of itself and as per that system, a mere presence of Christ suffices for participation in his oblation (his Father eternally accepting Christ’s humanity by glorifying it with the fire of the Holy Spirit in eternity), and thus one could say that he’s assisting at the Sacrifice by going to Adoration.

        There is a third possibility and that is that both bread and wine and Christ are sacrificial matter but in different ways. But it would seem to me that the old anaphoras and secrets are oblivious to Christ or his Body and Blood being offered (some) but then, one could say that there is nothing contrary to Tradition and Scripture in the thought of Body and Blood being offered when one calls to mind the eternal oblation mentioned above.

      • Marko says:

        And also, about Odo Casel. I would like to think that the Revelation of God handed down to Apostles by Christ in Spirit doesn’t require one to have a basic grasp of theory of relativity and quantum entanglement.

      • Marko says:

        And also, the “opus nostrae redemptionis exercetur” doesn’t mean that the liturgy bends space-time and makes life of Christ really present, but that the fruits of redemption are reaped which is a fairly easy concept to grasp since that happens in any sacrament without making the events of Christ’s life present. So I would say that Casel has failed big time on understanding that famous secret.

  6. T Graham says:

    It’s interesting that Trent insisted on both the reality of sacrifice & also transubstantiation – but didn’t say anything about how the two fit together.

    As an aside, there’s a good philosophical book on sacrifice by Douglas Hedley (Sacrifice Imagined 2011).

    The work on the continuity of theology and liturgy between the Jewish temple and Christian worship by Margaret Barker have convinced me that the Eucharist is (in Marko’s words above) a “participatory rite in the eternal oblation”. I believe that the Eucharist was understood as such by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in which the passion, cross & ascension are presented as a single Act of Christ’s offering. The Athanasian creed is the key, I think – God became Man “not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by assumption of the Manhood into God”. If the Eucharist is the mystery of Christ enacted in the Church, then it involves both the downward “incarnational” movement (Christ’s body & blood gifted to us through our offering of bread and wine), but also, & in fact on account of, the upward movement – the assumption of the Eucharistic offering into the risen & ascended Son of God. I think to claim that our side of the Eucharistic offering is a sacrifice of Christ’s body & blood would fall foul of the Athanasian creed… He assumes what we offer into Himself (and becomes the substance and reality of our offering), but His ascended body is not converted or turned into the bread & wine that we offer.

    • Marko says:

      Yes, the continuity and equivalency between Jewish elements of sacrifice and Christ’s life point to that kind of theology.

      Christ, as a victim, has already been offered by coming into this world, has already been immolated on the cross, his sacrifice has been ratified by resurrection and accepted by ascension, and he is eternally and uninterruptedly consumed by glorification (the burning bush) and we can only participate in that sacrifice (understood in broader sense of the word, not only in death, suffering or immolation). But the way we participate in that which is not our own, is by our own which is our own only materially since consecration is done by the Holy Spirit.

      So in the heavenly sacrifice we participate by sacrifice of bread and wine with water in commemoration of Christ’s death. And that truly can be considered a sacrifice because, as you said it, Christ assumes it by his being, just as fire from above consumed sacrifices of the Jews.

      And there is a real commerce. We give our own to receive the Divine. And we give our own not because God would need it, but because we need it to be fruitful.

      Only thing is that theologians generally say that bread and wine aren’t the sacrifice, or are only apparently a sacrifice. That just goes to show how little attention there was lent to the lex orandi. When you’re confronted with language that equates the gifts with oblation and sacrifice, how can one ignore it?

      But, hey, I haven’t found any decree condemning the notion of their sacrificial value.

      Secret of the 7th Sunday after Pentecost:
      “O God, who by the perfection of the unique sacrifice hast sanctioned the various sacrifices of the law, accept this sacrifice from the servants devoted to thee, and sanctify it by the same/like blessing, as thou didst the offerings of Abel: so that what each hath offered to the honour of thy majesty may avail to the salvation of all.”

      I’m sorry I have derailed this comment section.

  7. William Tighe says:

    Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia on the Eucharist as Sacrifice:

    The first is his spoken lecture (at which I was present); the second a written summary of his views.

    • Marko says:

      Very sound. No time travel theories. I like it.

      • T Graham says:

        Thanks to Wm Tighe for the link. There is the sense of cosmic reconciliation too that carries over the theology of the Day of Atonement.

        Regarding Marko’s point about the primacy of the lex orandi, it was hearing the Roman Canon week in, week out that brought home to me the common sacrifice of priest and people – “my sacrifice and yours”, “or which they themselves offer unto thee” – which is a corrective to an over-the-top theology of the sacramental priesthood.

      • Marko says:

        In the older versions of the Roman Canon (like the one in the Gelasian Sacramentary) there even is no “pro quibus tibi offerimus vel” but only “qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis”.

  8. William Tighe says:

    Bishop Kallistos on “papal primacy,” which may be of interest to some:

  9. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Marko’s reference to Maurice de la Taille moves me to mention where I have (indirectly) made my acquaintance with his thought, via the works of David Jones, and (if I may so put it) their imaginative exploration of the relations of the liturgical and the (pre)historical. Jones gives as a quotation from de la Taille (I cite from memory), of Our Lord, “He placed Himself in the order of signs”.

    I wonder if Patrick (you, Patrick, if you are reading along) know(s) his work, and, if so, if some (sympathetic?) attention to it and Jones himself might be something for the new blog, sometime? Jones often seems to be correcting or apologizing in footnotes, and I imagine it would be easy for a liturgiologist to be harshly critical – and think being lucidly, even astringently critical, here, would probably be a boon (though much of it may have been done: I have not kept up with the scholarly literature).

    With apologies for the hobbyhorse, I am interested, among other things, in his tantalizing connections with major Inklings – e.g,, Jones acknowledges Tolkien when he was famous as a scholar (and not yet as the author of Lord of the Rings), we know Charles Williams read his first major work in proof (thanks to T.S. Eliot?) and Jones reviewed Williams’s Arthurian poetry, while Lewis mentions his second major publication, en passant, in his splendid Cambridge inaugural lecture. (Following on, I can’t recall the Inklings-loving Metropolitan Kallistos mentioning Jones anywhere – but perhaps others of you can: it would not surprise me.)

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