Continuing on from this morning’s post…
As the new school year begins, the Confirmation programme at Our Lady of the Rosary starts again. This Sunday will therefore be my last regular Sunday worshiping at an Eastern Rite parish .
However, this Sunday is going to be extra special as my Mum will be coming with me to experience the Byzantine Divine Liturgy for the first time . Several other friends will also be coming for the first time. So, in case they check my blog before Sunday, here’s a little introduction to the Eastern Catholic Church:
As part of my continued service to the students of Franciscan University of Steubenville , I have just recorded the audio for the document “Orientalium Ecclesiarum”.
This document was produced by the Second Vatican Council and concerns the Churches in the Catholic Church which follow an Eastern Rite. Given that I attend an Eastern Rite parish during the summers, it’s rather odd that I’ve never actually sat down and read this document before.
Still, better late than never I suppose…
A long time ago, when I first began this blog, I start producing a series entitled “V2 we love you!”. At the time, the JP2 Group was reading the document “Dei Verbum”. I anticipated that we would work through more of the Council’s documents. My hope was that the series of blog entries would provide a helpful accompaniment to our study.
We didn’t end up studying any more of the documents and so I never wrote the blog posts. However, a little while ago I signed up for a course on the Second Vatican Council at the Diocesan Institute which starts this October. Hopefully that’ll get me motivated and I will once again be renewing my efforts with the series.
Anyway, the text for the document is available here and the audio is available below:
Below is the text that we will be studying in JP2 on Thursday. It is an abridged form of the ancient Liturgy of St. James. This version of it comes from around the 4th Century.
This is the oldest Eucharistic liturgy still in use today. It was also the blueprint used for the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, both of which are regularly used among Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox today.
Priest: Peace be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: The Lord bless us all, and sanctify us for the…celebration of the divine and pure mysteries… Amen.
Deacon: In peace let us pray to the Lord. For the peace that is from on high, and for God’s love to man, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For peace in the whole world, for the unity of all the holy churches of God, let us pray to the Lord. For the remission of our sins, and forgiveness of our transgressions, and for our deliverance from all tribulation, wrath, … and distress…, let us pray to the Lord.
Singers: Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal, have mercy upon us.
Priest: O compassionate and merciful, patient, gracious, and true God…hear us. Deliver us from every temptation of the devil and man… For we are unable to overcome what is opposed to us. But you are able, Lord, to save us… Because you are holy, Lord our God, … we send up the praise and the thrice-holy hymn to you, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever, and for all eternity.
Priest: Peace be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
[The liturgy proceeds with readings from the Old and New Testaments]
Deacon: Let us all say: Lord, have mercy.
Lord Almighty, the God of our fathers: We beseech you, hear us. For peace from on high, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord… For the people standing and waiting for the rich and bountiful mercy that comes from you, we beseech you, be merciful and gracious.
Save your people, O Lord, and bless your inheritance. Visit your world with mercy and compassion. Exalt the horn of Christians by the power of the precious and life-giving cross. We beseech you, most merciful Lord, hear our prayer, and have mercy upon us.
People: Lord, have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Last Thursday I celebrated the Feast of Theophany at Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Parish with four of my Roman Rite friends. While we were there I attempted to explain how all the different rites of the Catholic Church relate to one another. I don’t think I did a very good job at explaining it, so I’m going to have another go now…
The Church began in Jerusalem (Acts 2) and, over time, major Christian centres developed in the cities of Rome, Antioch and Alexandria. It was from these cities that the major rites of the Church developed. This can be seen more clearly from the following diagram I found on a friend’s Facebook page:
The Second Vatican Council had this to say concerning the different rites of the Church:
“[In] faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way” - Sacrosanctum Concilium
Earlier this week it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a member of the Eastern Catholic parish I often visit. I mentioned the fact that I always feel more comfortable with Mary when I’m praying in the Eastern Rite, but I wasn’t sure why…
He then made the observation that in Eastern Christianity, when Mary is mentioned, Christ is almost always mentioned explicitly in the next breath, whereas in the West He is more often implied. I realised he was right! That’s exactly why I found it so much easier when praying in the Eastern liturgy! For example, this is the Eastern form of the Hail Mary:
“Theotokos (God-Bearer) and Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Saviour of our souls“
I have often thought that if we (Western) Catholics allowed our Christology to be seen more clearly in our Mariology, fewer non-Catholics to get upset by the honour we give to Mary. Just a thought.
Honour the art and you honour The Artist
I’m a big fan of lists.
Seriously, lists are brilliant!
A little while ago, there was a film released called The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In the movie, both characters are diagnosed with a terminal illness and, as a result, they decide to write a “bucket list” – a list of things which they want to do before “kicking the bucket”…
If you google “bucket lists”, you will find them on many blogs. If you read a lot of them (and I have), you start to notice some commonalities among them. As in the film, the common theme that runs through all of them is that they are attempts to really try and experience the depth and breadth that that the world has to offer and to truly suck the marrow out of life.
A little while ago I started thinking about a “Catholic bucket list”. What are the things I would suggest to fellow Catholics and non-Catholics that they should experience in this life in an attempt to fully appreciate the variety, beauty, depth and breadth of the Faith?
This post is the first in several I hope to write in the coming months. Each entry will look at a different item on my personal Catholic bucket list and will be an invitation to those who read this blog to engage some aspect of the Faith which they may have, until now, not experienced. If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.
Please let me be clear, I’m not saying that someone can’t be a good Christian without doing X, Y or Z. Not at all. Rather, in this endeavour I hope to display the richness of our Faith and the variety that can be found in devotion and worship. So often we assume that the only way to encounter God is the way in which we have encountered Him thus far. I hope that these posts will be invitations to step out of our boats, out of our comfort zones and to encounter Christ in a whole new way…
This week is Holy Week and as the LifeTeen band isn’t playing this weekend, it means I can spend Easter at my favourite church, an Eastern Rite (Byzantine) Catholic parish near to where I live.
One of the things I love about the Byzantine Rite is the standard set of greetings and responses which take place during the year.
For example, when I first attended the parish I got there very early on in the morning and heard the priest greet a parishioner with the exclamation: “Glory to Jesus Christ!”, to which the parishioner responded “Glory forever!”. This seems to me like a wonderful way to begin any conversation!
These responses change throughout the liturgical year. At “Nativity” (Christmas) it becomes:
“Christ is born!”
We will shortly be entering the “Pascha” (Easter) season when it will change to:
“Christ is Risen!”
“Indeed He is Risen!”
And at certain blessings, such as at the end of Great Vespers or at the Kiss of Peace:
“Christ is among us!”
“He is and will be!”
These all seem wonderful ways of proclaiming the faith! Feel free to practise in the “Comments” section below…
He opens the blog entry describing some of the awkwardness that routinely arises at the“Sign of Peace” in a typical parish.
For those unfamiliar with this moment of the Mass, it is when members of the congregation are encouraged to give “a sign of peace” to one another, usually in the form of a handshake, or sometimes a kiss or hug for family members or close friends. This takes place shortly before receiving communion, with the priest saying:
Priest: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: “I leave you peace, my peace I give you”. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.
Priest: The Peace of the Lord be with you always.
All: And also with you.
Deacon or Priest: Let us offer each other a sign of peace…
[Sign of Peace]
All: Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us…
As Fr. Hugh mentions, the Sign of Peace is actually an optional part of the Mass and I quite often go to a Mass here in San Diego where the priest omits it entirely which some people love and others hate. The Byzantine Rite parish I visit whenever I can has no general Sign of Peace.
Fr. Hugh traces the development of the Sign of Peace from New Testament times through the early centuries and into the modern Church. He argues that the Sign of Peace which takes place in most parishes today doesn’t really fulfill its intended liturgical purpose and is often more of a disturbance than anything else.
The other week I resumed a former “hobby” of mine. When I was living back in London I would often go and visit Eastern Rite Catholic churches…
A “Rite” in this context generally refers to a group within the wider Catholic Church which is associated with a particular liturgical tradition. The main Rite with which most people will be familiar is the “Latin Rite”. This is what is followed in most Catholic churches in Western Europe and the United States. However, what most people don’t know is that there are six other Rites in the Catholic Church. The Catechism in paragraph #1203 lists these other Rites as Byzantine, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite and Chaldean. The majority of married Catholic priests (yes, you heard me right) will be found in these Eastern Rite Catholic churches where the discipline of celibacy is not exercised in the same way.
I love visiting Eastern Rite churches – I get to explore an unfamiliar liturgy, but unlike when I visit Protestant churches, I also am able to receive communion because the churches which I visit are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. So far, I have participated in Maronite and Byzantine (Melkite & Ukrainian) liturgies.