Where did your journey begin?
... efforts by Vatican bureaucrats to extend the blessings of the Vatican II liturgical reform to the Eastern Rite churches have not gone unnoticed though so far they have not enjoyed much success.
? Can you be more specific?
Again, I am limited in my response to only the Maronite Church and then, with limited experience.
In the beginning of their stay in Lebanon, isolated by the mountains and worried about the political unrest in the Near East, the Maronites faithfully adhered to the creed of the Catholic Church. But here is a paradox. Because the tradition of Antioch always preferred biblical expressions over dogmatic formulations the creed they professed did not contain the "new" formulations of the councils regarding the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Hesitations to accept these formulations, belonged to the sphere of theological terminology; they did not lessen the unshakable attachment of the Maronites to the Catholic faith. They did, however, become harmful to the reputation of the Maronites. No council condemned them, but in many publications, for example the article "Maronites" in the first edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia (vol. 9, 683-688), the Maronites are accused of the heresy of monothelitism which taught that there is only one will in Christ. In our day, as we experience once again the difficulty of translating into human language the mystery of the Ineffable, we can better understand the complexity of the theological situation in which the Maronites had to find their way.
In the Lebanon of the 11th and 12th centuries, the Maronites found themselves once more between two worlds; the Latin Church of the West and the churches of the East. The Latin missionaries found warm welcome in the Maronite community. They did not, however, understand or appreciate the profound value and the riches of the oriental traditions, and tried to impose, often with success, the juridical and liturgical structures of the Latin Church as the "only true Catholic"' structures. The Maronites, in turn, with their traditional spirit of moderation and openness, enjoyed enriching their oriental patrimony with the richness of Christian dogmas as it had developed in the West. They also introduced into the Oriental churches such expressions of Western devotional life as the rosary and the stations of the cross.
It would be easy to assume the Maronites of being responsible for the "Latinization" of the Eastern churches. but such would be an unfair accusation. The Maronites always kept and jealously guarded their Oriental traditions. They were convinced, however, and still are, that their own traditions can grow only in the always challenging contact with the universal church.
This contact with the Latin Church enriched the intellectual world of Europe in the Middle Ages. Maronites taught Oriental languages and literature at the universities of Italy and France. Thanks to their position between East and West, and to their knowledge of the occidental theological tradition, they successfully started the dialogue with the Orthodox churches of the Near East. The history of the Melkites and Chaldeans, of Catholic Armenians and Syrians, shows the important role of the Maronites in the foundation of these communities.
Insofar as restoration of liturgy, the ongoing wars in Lebanon have severely impacted the Church. In 2003, Patriarch Sfeir convened a 2 year Synod to decide on what changes should be made and how these would be implemented. In a recent interview (July 2006) with Fr. Mitch Pacwa (telecast on EWTN), the Patriarch spoke of these changes. As Maronites have fled Lebaonon, they have brought their liturgy to all parts of the world. This has resulted in an explosive growth of the Maronite Church, especially in North America, Australia, South America, Mexico, Europe and Africa. As a result of this expansion, the liturgy has attracted peoples residing in those parts of the world, who are not Lebanese. The liturgy, once limited to Arabic, now required translation into other languages. Some of those translations were hastily written. The Synod members have now formed committees to study those translations to improve upon and establish standardized texts to be used throughout the world. Initially, liturgical texts will be limited to Arabic, English, Spanish and French. In ALL Maronite churches, certain aspects of the liturgy will retain the authentic Aramaic/Syriac texts.
There are no Anglo-Catholic seminaries or bishops and there is no one training priests in the Anglican liturgical rites.
This may be true for the Anglican Use Rite (I wouldn't know), but not for the Eastern Catholic Churches which all have seminaries for the formation of their priests.
What parts of our liturgy do you anticipate will need to be updated? It has worked quite well for us I think.
All Catholics share three important things:
A Church is not the same as a rite. Within the Catholic Church there are 22 autonomous churches, each of which follows one of the 6 major rites. In these Churches, we recite a universal Creed and include the pope in our prayers. That is one area where a change would need to be made.
I think that the word "former" in front of the word "Orthodox" is quite telling about where we are both coming from.
The words "Orthodox Church" and "Catholic Church" are generally understood to represent our separate churches. When we eventually join together, some agreement will be made as to a proper terminology but until then, I could not come up with a better expression.
But we believe that we are the Church. We don't see ourselves as a part of two halves. Orthodox Christianity is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ whole and complete. And you believe the same thing to be true of your church. That creates a problem.
"Where Peter is, there is the Church".
There are for the first time in a thousand years honest people in both churches who are looking at each other and saying "How did this happen? This is not what God wanted." But the reality I think is that it has gone beyond the point of no return.
We are all entitled to our own opinions but here is where Fr. Hopko gets it right when he says:
We will never be one unless we desire it with all our hearts, and are ready to put away everything that we can to have it . Everything that doesnt belong to the essence of the faith. Language doesnt belong to the essence of the faith. Calendars dont belong to the essence of the faith. Certain liturgical customs dont belong to the essence of the faith. Even the Byzantine Rite Liturgy for us does not belong to the essence of the faith.
We must unite because that is the will of God!
It's really just that simple.
I think you picked out the right quote from Hopko! The "essence of the faith" says it all.
"The Maronites, in turn, with their traditional spirit of moderation and openness...."
Oh, that's rich! The Maronites are just about the toughest bunch of cookies ever. Centuries of suspicious isolation in their mountains surrounded by Mohammadens and earlier Orthodox Christians who thought them heretics, made them the antithesis of of an open and moderate people. But that has served them well for rather more than 1000 years. Its only in our lifetimes that the Mohammaden wave has pretty much overwhelmed them and they have left Lebanon in droves. Just this weekend a Maronite buddy of mine came to our festival. He commented as he stood by the grills I was supervising that the Maronites, like the Orthodox and the Melkites in Lebanon are finished. They are quite simply being and have been outbred. As he put it, when Mustapha can have 4 wives and 20 kids, its not much of a contest. In the meantime when the Mohammadens get mad at the Israelis, the Christians get whacked, and when the Israelis get mad at the Mohammadens, the Christians get whacked. Not much of a future for people in that sort of situation.