Couple of questions, someone help me out

I have been studying Eastern Catholicism and I keep trying to understand how they are related to each other and to the Latin Rite. (please note that I am not talking about the parts of the the churches that are not in communion with Rome so if you want to bash Catholics or Eastern Catholic “bugger off” as a friend of mine would say)

I really want Latin Rite Catholics to learn more about the Eastern Rites as I think it will help us to appreciate our Rite even more. I have even proposed that we all sit down and do a bit of bible study in the different languages but I can’t seem to get a system worked out.

Anyway, my questions are in regards to the liturgical languages that are in use. I know that the option to use the vernacular is avaliable but I want to know about the real liturgical language base. For instance, in the Latin rite, even though the vernacular is the most common form, it must always be a direct translation from the original Latin. Latin is the base language that is our history and patrimony.

I know that the Coptic Catholics use Coptic, but then I found out that there were two different dialects, and upon trying to learn how to read a little of it, I found out that they are not 100 percent mutually intelligable. Which one is the one that Coptic Catholics use? I want to learn the one that my fellow Catholics use.

Also, with the Syrian, Maronite, and Chaldean Catholics: Do they use the same dialects of Syrian (Aramaic) as each other or not? Can they understand each other or not? Do they use the same writting system? I have here in front of me four different writting systems for writting this language(s) and don’t know which one to memorize. As far as liturgy is concerned, do they differ greatly or only in minor matters? Who uses leaven bread and who uses unleaven bread?

Learning Armenean or Ge’ez seems difficult for me right now and I find the writting system really difficult so my appologies.

As far as the Byzantines go, who uses Greek still, who uses Old Church Slavonic and who uses Church Slavonic? Are their any differences in ritual or liturgy that are great enough for you all to not be one Byzantine rite church that has different use language or do you really need to be entirely different sui juris churches? I am asking because I don’t know so please don’t take this as an insult. To me, in the Latin Rite, it just seems natural that all the Churches of the same Rite would join together and have some ritual unity and it seems to me that Byzantines are far more conservative when it comes to liturgy then the Latin Rite but if their are any major differences, what are they?

On a side question, this one please don’t take too seriously, it is just a hypothetical for speculation and gage of emotion: How would any of you react if there were a Latin Language version of your liturgy? I ask this really just in the idea of looking at a text. I like reading the liturgy in Latin because that language seems to speak to me at a greater depth then I have achieved with any other language, even English which I use everyday. An offshoot of this also is the idea that perhaps someone in the Romanian Church (only in that they use a Romance Language) might find a Latin Language version of the Byzantine liturgy meaningful. I don’t know this of course which is why I just threw that out there but I don’t expect much from it of course.

Anyway, please help me out if you can.

You brought up several pointed in your positng. I will confine myself to just one of them.

There are Latin translations of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The EVCHOLOGION SIVE RITUALE GRAECORUM by the Dominican bishop Jacob Goar is probably the best known, but such would have no interest to anyone but liturgical scholars. I cannot imagine it being actually used in a celebration.

Russians use Russian Church Slavonic, Ukrainians and Ruthenians use Church Slavonic (but note: the current BCC DL is translated from Greek, not Slavonic).

Church Slavonic & Russian Church Slavonic are very VERY close… and Old Church Slavonic is equally close to both… and all three are close to most Slavic languages.

The issue with unification is that you’re dealing with a source culture of autocephaly, and turning that into sui iuris churches. Plus, you have several major “traditions” within the Byzantine Rite: Byzantine Greek, Muscovite Slavonic, Byzantine Slavonic, Byzantine-Antiocene/Melkite… each with differences in liturgy from centuries of independence. And, once in union, each Patriarchate and each Autonomous Church is to maintain its traditions, and its status.

Now, a few of the Byzantine churches sui-iuris are likely to be absorbed into others, not due to any formal move, but due to a lack of vocations… the faithful will wind up in whichever church provides priests…

Also, with the Syrian, Maronite, and Chaldean Catholics: Do they use the same dialects of Syrian (Aramaic) as each other or not? Can they understand each other or not? Do they use the same writting system? I have here in front of me four different writting systems for writting this language(s) and don’t know which one to memorize. As far as liturgy is concerned, do they differ greatly or only in minor matters? Who uses leaven bread and who uses unleaven bread?

The Chaldeans are east Syriac(corresponding to the Church of the east) and the Syrian Catholics are west Syriac(corresponding to the Syrian Orthodox). They have slightly different pronunciations of words. But I think that if a person who knew the east Syriac were to hear west Syriac he could follow. They have different scripts. From what I know there are three different scripts of Syriac; Estrangella, the east Syriac(or Nestorian), and the west Syriac(or Jacobite). Estrangella is not really used by either. I think it is just an ancient script which was used before the schisms in Syriac Christianity. The Syrian Catholics use the west Syriac script and the Chaldeans use the east Syriac script.

The Maronite form is probably that of the west Syriacs since they have been more closely related to the west Syriacs for the last 1000 or 1500 years.

Syriac is only a spoken language in some small communities. It is largely only liturgical. If you want to learn to pray with the middle eastern churches you might also want to learn the Arabic forms of the prayers because I think a lot of times the Chaldeans use Arabic interspersed throughout their liturgy and us Maronites use Arabic in most of the hymns. Syriac is the language which we use for the institution narrative and for some other prayers within the liturgy. A lot of the prayers are said or sung in English.

As I understand it (when I asked my priest), the tradition in the Eastern Church is for the service to be said/sung in the language “of the people”.

Therefore, if you are in America and attend a Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic church such as mine, the Liturgy is in English. Occasionally the priest may say a phrase in Slavonic (such as Slava Isusu Christu!–Glory to Jesus Christ!)) in a nod to the heritage of the church, but everybody there speaks English, so the rest is in English.

Until recently the Greek Orthodox church in my town was holding all their Liturgies in Greek, because everybody spoke Greek AND it was part of their heritage…then they realized they were losing the younger people to the OCA. So now they have one liturgy in Greek, one in English.

If you attended a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy in, say, Hungary, it would be said in Hungarian, most likely. :slight_smile:

Considering the history of eastern Catholicism I would reject the idea of the liturgy of the Syriac churches or the Byzantine churches into latin. Our traditions have been desicrated by overzelous latin prelates who thought it their job to make the eastern churches conform to the Roman church in every way possible. It happened so much that the Roman canon was given a pre-eminent place over the anaphoras which were actually Maronite in the last edition of the Maronite missal before the Vatican II council brought about a change in attitude toward the eastern churches. Since the council we have been trying to go back to our own traditions.

I know that the Coptic Catholics use Coptic,

Actually, they tend to use more Arabic.

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