Saturday, 30 July 2016

Russian Observations Upon the American Prayer Book

This was short book was the work of a Russian Orthodox commission, set up by St. Tikhon of Moscow, then ruling bishop of the Russian Orthodox American diocese, which examined whether the American 1892 edition of the Book of Common Prayer might be adapted for use by converts to Orthodoxy from Anglicanism. Their conclusions led to the Liturgy of Saint Tikhon, which is used by the Antiochian Western Orthodox Vicariate. It is therefore a fundamental text in in Western-Rite Orthodoxy.

The main conclusion of this text was that there was little in the Book of Common Prayer that was contrary to Orthodoxy, apart from the filioque, the catechism and the 39 Articles. It finds the sacramental rites deficient, as they do not present fundamental aspects of Orthodoxy, such as the Eucharistic sacrifice and the fullness of sacramental grace in ordination. The daily offices of morning and evening prayer are found to be worthy and edifying in what they contain, but deficient in their lack of prayers to the Blessed Mother of God, the saints and angels.

Western-Rite Orthodoxy is often associated with liturgical archaeology; attempts to recreate a long lost pre-schism western orthodoxy. This, however, was not at all what the Russian commission was engaged in. Instead of trying to revive an ancient rite like Sarum or the Gallican, they were looking at the western liturgy as a living tradition.

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