Apostolic Tradition of the Orthodox West
Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must be Eastern. The west was fully Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.
- St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco
Western Rite Orthodox Christians worship according to the ancient liturgical practises of the West, which pre-date the events of the Great Schism. Today, the Western Rite within the Orthodox Church is seeing significant growth, providing Christians from mainly Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions an Apostolic home within the Orthodox Church.
Toward the end of the 19th Century a movement amongst traditional Anglicans and Catholics took full force and approached the Synod of Moscow, to enquire after the use of western forms of worship within the Orthodox Church. The Synod responded favourably, in theory, but conceded that further work would need to be done in establishing suitable liturgical norms. Over the course of the next several decades, such work was undertaken and championed by one of the Western Rite's greatest supporters amongst the Orthodox hierarchy, St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and worship in this style was permitted in particular parishes and circumstances. In 1962 a group of Christian clergy and laity was received into the Orthodox Church under the auspices of the Patriarchate of Moscow, at the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in New York City, to form the new Exarchate for the Western Rite. The Exarchate for the Western Rite was subsequently granted a Tomos of Autonomy, and has produced by far the most substantial body of work concerning the Orthodox western tradition.
Western Rite Orthodoxy Today
Today, Western Rite Orthodoxy is thriving, particularly in North America and Australia. In Britain too, people are beginning to rediscover the authentic Orthodox traditions of the west against a backdrop of general disillusionment with modernism and loss of tradition in other ecclesial bodies. Western Rite Orthodoxy stands as a beacon of the timeless beauty of traditional liturgy, offering to all a firm place in the Apostolic Church where their venerable liturgical and aesthetic patrimony is alive and well. Our Abbey is currently the only Orthodox Abbey to worship according to the Western Rite in Britain.
The Saints of Britain
'The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when She begins to again venerate Her own Saints' - Saint Arsenios of Paros †1877)
From St. Aristobulus to St. Alban to the present day, the great witness of Britain's Saints to Orthodoxy continues to inspire the Church. Western Orthodoxy pays particular devotion to the holy sites and relics of these saints which have survived the ravages of time and persecution. The Orthodox Church proclaims the glory of all Her saints, and, in the British Isles, especially those who have shone forth here while the great Churches of east and west were in unity. The sad reality of the Great Schism precludes public veneration of later western figures who are venerated in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, although all Orthodox Christians are exhorted to pray for our forebears, especially those who have laboured in the spread of the message of the Gospel of Christ in these lands, and to hope that, through God's abundant mercy, they find rest in the bosom of Abraham.