Western Rite Liturgy and Worship

From the beginning of the idea of a 'Western Rite' within the Orthodox Church there has been debate about what form this worship will take. Some things, such as an unaltered Book of Common Prayer, were discounted by the Synod of Moscow, and the prevailing opinion amongst those involved in the movement was that only those Rites which were of sufficient antiquity as to have existed, or whose close antecedent existed, before the Great Schism of East and West would be undoubtedly suitable. On top of this, it seemed wise to only permit those rites which could be reasonably performed in a spirit of continuity. Therefore, Rites such as the Use of Sarum which was celebrated until quite a late date in Britain, and which shares many rubrics and customs with the later Church of England forms of worship seemed a good candidate. Likewise, the Mozarabic Rite, which has continued to be celebrated, albeit in a minimal way, in Spain, would also serve well. Conversely, the liturgical ceremonies of the Celtic Church, which fell completely out of use and whose remaining rubrics do not provide adequate information to extrapolate an entire range of liturgical actions, and others like it were generally deemed unsuitable on the grounds of practicality. For these reasons, it would  be more correct to deem such occurrences within the Orthodox Church 'Western Rites' in the plural, as several distinct variations have historically been permitted. 

On top of this, the Orthodox Church has permitted certain devotional practices and liturgical forms which post-date the schism but do not conflict with the Orthodox Faith to exist within Western Rite Orthodoxy. Such a devotion, for example, is the use of the image of Our Lady of Walsingham, which came about amongst the laity at a time so close to the Great Schism, and does not conflict with Orthodoxy at all. Another example would be permitting a devotion to St. Edward the Confessor, who died in 1061, around the time of the most precipitous event of the Schism in 1054, but whose life, and adherence to the Faith must surely account him amongst the righteous. Liturgically, the Church allows certain practices which are either Anglican or Tridentine in origin, but will not allow others, such as a devotion to the Sacred Heart, because of its theoretically characteristic conflict with Orthodoxy. Such a modus operandi has existed everywhere the Orthodox Church has sent missionaries, taking the best of that culture which accords with the Faith and bringing it into Orthodoxy. 

In the Benedictine Tradition, the Mass was typically celebrated according to the local custom, while the Canonical Hours were celebrated according to the form laid out in St. Benedict's Rule, in which he devotes 12 chapters of his 73 chapter work to the subject. Here at the Abbey, we maintain this tradition, celebrating the Mass according to the oldest manuscripts of the Use of Sarum, while celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours according to the Benedictine Rite stipulated in the Rule.

Diocese of Whithorn
Dumfries & the Marches

Abbey of Sts. Alban and Æthelwold

Buittle Castle

near Castle Douglas

Scotland, DG7 1PA

United Kingdom


01556 509072

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