Do Eastern Catholics have stations of the cross? rosary? adoration?


I saw this topic come up in two other threads. Many people don’t know that the Eastern Catholics do not, so I started this thread to share the devotional practices of the east.

I found these online. Since they aren’t there any more, I’m copying them from a cache.

Do you have Stations of the Cross? Do you pray the rosary together in church? Do you practice adoration of the Blessed Sacrament? Do you have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

No, we do not have Stations of the Cross, communal rosary services, adoration of the Eucharist, or devotions to the Sacred Heart. These devotions flourished from the spiritual, theological, and historical circumstances of the western church.


I’ve seen or heard of various Byzantine Churches which do have public recitation of the rosary, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, and devotions to the Sacred Heart. How do you explain that?

The 1900s in America brought a unique set of socio-political circumstances with them, the effects of which are still being felt by our church. Among them was the American heresy where uniformity was the ideal, the poverty of Eastern European immigrants, the lack of a hierarchal structure for Eastern Catholics in geographically western lands, and the misunderstandings over the theological and disciplinary differences between the churches which had previously not lived in such close proximity to each other. Because of these various circumstances, there was a push for the Eastern Catholics to have a unified theological and spiritual expression with the west. Sadly, the misunderstandings led to a number of theological, spiritual, and disciplinary guidelines which were outside of the eastern tradition being introduced to, and in some cases forced on, the Byzantine Church. One highly contentious point was an all-celibate clergy, which was mandated in 1929 with Cum data fuerit. These issues led to formal separations among the Byzantine people where parishes and families divided between the Catholic and Orthodox communions first around 1890 (led by Fr. Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre) and again around 1938 (led by Fr. Orestes Chornock). An entire Orthodox jurisdiction was created, the American Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Diocese, in order to care for the Eastern Catholics who re-joined the Orthodox communion over these deviations from their traditions and faith.

Through the years, the remaining Byzantines held onto and cherished their communion with Rome, which they had suffered greatly for. Some of them mistook communion for uniformity and introduced Latin theological constructs and devotions to the Byzantine Church. Some of this was to fill the void that was created by the removal of their Eastern practices, some out of a lack of ecclesiastical structure which meant they were brought up in the faith in Roman Catholic schools and churches, and some of it was out ignorance of their own traditions and what distinguished them from Roman Catholics. In some places, these changes were externally forced on Byzantine parishes, which were threatened with being shut-down otherwise.

Our church recently published a new official text of the Divine Liturgy which removes some of these liturgical deviations which were introduced during that time frame, such as the recitation of the filioque or kneeling during the anaphora on Sunday. Devotions not being official or necessary for one’s faith, the church has not and will not forbid their usage. There is a strong push to return to our own devotional practices which better reflect our theology and spirituality, such as the recitation of the liturgical hours, especially evening Vespers. Different parishes are at different stages of this renewal, so there is still a continuum of practices one might find between various Byzantine Catholic parishes. This in no way is a judgment about the popular piety found in some of our Byzantine parishes where parishioners find these devotions to be a nourishment to their spiritual lives.


Are you saying that Byzantine Catholics can’t say the rosary?

Absolutely not! Many Eastern Christians, and even non-Catholics, find the rosary to be beneficial to their spiritual life. There is no more a problem with a Byzantine Catholic praying the rosary than there is of a Roman Catholic praying with an icon. One wouldn’t expect to walk into a Latin Catholic church and to find no statues, an icon screen, and the people standing praying an Akathist, any more than one would expect to walk into a Byzantine Church and to find statues, no icon screen, and the people praying the Stations of the Cross. The difference is in the public liturgical cycle as opposed to the private devotions and popular piety of some members of the Byzantine Church.

It is typically believed that the rosary began as a practice by the laity to imitate the monastic office (Breviary or Liturgy of the Hours), by which Roman Catholic monks prayed the 150 Psalms each day. The laity, many of whom were illiterate, substituted Ave Marias for the Psalms. Sometimes a cord with counters on it was used to keep an accurate count. The first known reference to the rosary, however, is from the life of St. Dominic, who is said to have received it from Mary herself in a vision around the 13th Century.

While this is an admirable prayer, it is not one that is known in the Christian East. We acknowledge its beauty and piety, and share the same desire to conform our lives to the will of God through the saintly example of the Theotokos. We also share with the west a strong focus on praying a shortened version of the monastic office, with all of us generally expected to pray morning and evening prayers at a minimum. We also have prayer ropes called chotkis that are used to constantly pray the Jesus Prayer: "O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And we have many Marian shrines with weeping icons, myrrh-bearing icons, miraculous healings, and more. Some Byzantine Catholics also have a private devotion to the rosary, though the Byzantine Catholic Church does not officially promulgate it.


I think it’s only fair to point out that some Eastern Catholic churches have these Western practices.

Generally, the longer the Union has existed, the more likely you are to find them.

A lot of it was playing “me too” and trying to prove (frequently unsuccessfully) to Western Catholics just how Catholic they were, under the misapprehension held by both sides that “to Romanize is to Catholicize.”

The unfortunatle thing is that they frequently wound up pushing out the true Eastern devotions.

EG: There’s nothing wrong with May devotions to the Virgin. But should they push out the Paraklisis during the first 2 weeks of August, the true Byzantine practice?


I don’t think anything in manner of devotions should be “pushed” out by anyone except ones own faith and praxis should they decide to change. Prayer types are a perfect example. I have to vary them and find variety necessary.

I have heard of the Jesus prayer rope but can you or anyone please better explain this Paraklisis you speak of.

And, If I were to want to incorporate some form of Eastern devotional into my spiritual practices could you recommend what might be fitting or new to me from the East for a “Latinized” Catholic? Or point me to more resources where I can learn about specific devotions that have developed in Eastern Catholic praxis apart from the West?




In India both the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites pray the rosary. It is interesting that many Orthodox church book stores sell rosaries. When I asked them about it, they replied that the rosary was an easy way to pray.


Pope John Paul II through Orientale Lumen encourages the Eastern Catholics to reclaim their traditions. Many have. Many have not. Our local Church has reclaimed many of them. E.g., We do not use the rosary but some of our members still do in their private devotions. Father has encourage the use of the Chotki which is a legitimate help in our prayers. The Chotki precedes the rosary.

We don’t have kneelers and encourage our people to stand.

We don’t have stations of the cross but we have icons, a dome, and five domes. See

We sing the liturgy.

Sadly, many other Eastern Catholic Churches have ignored our Pope’s counsel. .



Shouldn’t people get to do whatever they want, at least in private devotions?

And if an entire parish wants Stations, say, or the Rosary…then why not?

If there’s any area in which you don’t want to straitjacket people, it’s their prayer life. And that works both ways. Some of us Latins love our icons and chotkis, too.

Anyway, I’m uncomfortable with an us-versus-them mentality. We’re all part of the same Church. Our praxes complement each other. We should respect both “lungs” and certainly respect both praxes. But must we always be absolutely rigid about the distinction between the two approaches? It’s a distinction, not a division.

Does that make any sense?


We won’t be complementary if we cease to exist and that is the issue. The pope recognized this and encouraged us to reclaim our patrimony.

We do not have public rosary service nor do we have the stations of the cross. Icons are not simply decoration. There are specific guidelines for their writing and their use which are quite different from the Roman use.



The Eparchy of Van Nuys definitely allows and encourages the Rosaries, both Jesus’ and Mary’s.

Stations of the cross are not so endorsed, but are allowed as individual devotions; we do not have them at St. Nicholas.

The rosary of Mary is often prayed before Divine Praises while awaiting the sunday morning DL.



Paraklisis comes from the Greek word “parakleo”–to call upon or entreat.

It’s a service of prayer, basically an abbreviated Matins, that in the particular case I had in m ind, is entreating the Theotokos “in every tribulation and in sorrow of soul,” as the heading says.

There are also Paraklises to the Savior and the Saints.


Chaldeans have all three.


Agreed. I’m just chary of trying to straitjacket people’s devotional lives. That’s all. If I attended an EC parish, I would still want my Sacred heart and Rosary devotions, too, at least in private. In the immortal words of the old Gershwin song, “No, no, they can’t take that away from me.”

We do not have public rosary service nor do we have the stations of the cross. Icons are not simply decoration. There are specific guidelines for their writing and their use which are quite different from the Roman use.


Yes, I’m aware that icons are not simply “decoration.” We Latins aren’t as dumb as we look. :wink:


Threepwood, may I ask a silly off-topic question?

What does your handle mean (if you don’t mind telling us)?

Is it actually your name? Or did you borrow it from P.G. Wodehouse’s character Freddie Threepwood? Or did you take it from Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate, the protagonist of the Monkey Island computer games?

(dying of curiosity)


If you read about the history of Latinizations, especially amongst the Maronites, and the flagrant disregard for Syriac theology and practice, you will find why there now has to be a separation.

Unleavened bread, Latin vestments, stations of the cross, changing the words of instiution, all means transplanted into the Maronite people by papal legates and decrees issuing missionaries to mold the Maronites into comformity. It was not a matter of “birth-pains” of the Maronite community, for many of these were finally forced (though they had been mandated by letter since union, though rarely followed) in the seventeenth century. Because of this, some Maronites will defend these as their time honored traditions, forgetting the Jesuits who burned their Syriac missals in the streets, or the monks forced to pray the rosary.

We like to think the Latinizations were an attempt at being helpful, or to secure to the enemies of the Maronites that they were under the protection of Rome. History says otherwise, least of all the papal letters themselves.

The point is that if we fully are going to follow Vatican II, we need to unilaterally remove what is not ours, be it if the traditions were forced or accepted by us as Maronites ourselves. This will take time, pastoral care, and eventually, yes, Stations of the Cross will be taken out of a church, the priest will face God and not his congregation, and the words of institution will be restored to their original, venerable, Syriac translation (amongst the entire list of Latin tradition that no longer has a place in the Syriac Maronite Church).

Peace and God Bless.


Yeshua…I can understand your frustration. But, at some point, can’t there be forgiveness and healing on both sides?

I think some of us Latins are very open to the East. But sometimes we get a sort of “us-versus-them” feeling from our EC brethren. It can be a bit disconcerting. After all, we’re not the ones (personally) who burned the missals in the streets!

Anyway…“can’t we all just get along?” :slight_smile:


Do you have a Knights of Columbus type group?

Male organization across the board assistaning your Eastern church.


Certainly! But a part of that healing is recognizing what happened in the past (which almost no Latin is aware of, let alone their awareness of the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches) and recognize that there shouldn’t be a place for Stations of the Cross, Adoration, statuary and such in the Syriac Maronite Church; this is not a critique of those Latin elements, but an adamant stand against their role in our particular flavor of Christianity.

I think some of us Latins are very open to the East. But sometimes we get a sort of “us-versus-them” feeling from our EC brethren. It can be a bit disconcerting. After all, we’re not the ones (personally) who burned the missals in the streets!

Right, but more often than not you (and I mean Latins, not you personally) are the ones to say that Latinizations are not that bad, or that it is unreasonable to remove them from our current practice. Allow us to be the gauge for what is best in our tradition, we have had over a fifteen hundred years of that occurring, and Rome finally recognized the need to stop and let us handle our traditions.

That same us-versus-them feeling is present when we are handed a doctrine or practice in Latin and it’s theological condition and told it is the truth and you are not Catholic if you don’t agree.

Anyway…“can’t we all just get along?” :slight_smile:

Always, so long as we are respectful of one another and their corresponding traditions.

Peace and God Bless!


Ah, thanks. This sounds like how the devotion to Mary but St. Louis DeMonfort recommends one to prapare for and recieve the Eucharist. (As well as some other devotions I recall).



If an entire Eastern Catholic parish wants Stations or the Rosary, the priest isn’t doing a very good job educating them about their faith.

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