Friday, September 2, 2011

East Meets West, Two Become One: Our Heavenly Catholic Church

It’s interesting to learn about other religions, but what about the different “rites” of our own Catholic Church.  Below is information, taken in part, from Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church in San Francisco.  We have acres of diamonds in our own backyard.

Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. The Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the Pope of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity. 

At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective. Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. 

The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. 

The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental (Eastern) Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches. 

While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church.

"From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them... Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC no. 814). 

Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments.

The Western Rite and Eastern Rites are sometimes referred to as the “two lungs” of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15). 

A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Rite Liturgy and fulfill Sunday obligation.  We have three choices to learn about our other half.  In Portland, St. Sharbel Maronite Rite, 503-231-3853 & St. Irene Byzantine Catholic, 503-543-2188. In Springfield, Nativity of the Mother of God, 541-726-7309.  It can make old things new.


I. said...

Interesting & informative, Carolyn. Thank you for sharing the info! Blessings.

VOCAL said...

I hope to "fine tune" this information. There's so much to learn.

D. said...

Thank you, Carolyn. This was interesting! I have not understood the differences before and so it was helpful.
God bless.

VOCAL said...

It's like spreading things on a table to see, instead of a jumbled up desk with piles. :-)

Shirley said...

Thanks so much! One of our grandsons is marrying an Eastern Orthodox girl in her Church and thought that we could just march up and receive communion. Their Eucharist is perfectly valid BUT courtesy demands that we get permission first.

VOCAL said...

Make sure it's an Eastern Catholic rite. Like a protestant being allowed to take Communion in a Catholic Church is can be done, but it shouldn't. The same is with an Eastern "Orthodox" Communion. These are things I don't like to say, but it would be wrong for me not too.

There Holy Communion is different from ours. Don't worry it is easy once you get the hang of it. :-)
God Bless,


Patty said...

Thanks Carolyn,
This beautiful information is timely.God bless you,patty

Steve said...

That's an interesting concept that I'm sure not many of us knew about.


Dave said...

Thanks for the email, Carolyn. I took a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year. The Eastern rites are very visible there especially in Jerusalem. It was a wonderful experience and I would encourage everyone, particularly Catholics, to go. You might find this web site from the Holy Land interesting:

God bless

VOCAL said...

That would be a trip of a lifetime. Thanks for the link too.