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.