Eastern Catholic/Orthodox traditions and customs

Hello Catholics,

After attending a Divine Liturgy I have a few questions concerning the traditions of the Eastern Christians. Keep in mind I am a Roman Catholic so my perspective is different as a result. If someone could explain to me the following traditions I witnessed this past Sunday:

  1. Everyone is to receive communion…babes, children, adults (whether without sin or with sin even if guilty of mortal sin)

*The priest told me that I should receive communion always. Confession should be done but if I am unable to attend, as long as I made the effort I should still receive the Eucharist. As a Roman Catholic, I have always been taught that if there is even doubt, then I should not receive the Eucharist.

  1. Sign of the Cross from right to left instead of from left to right. Is this just a minor detail or is there more meaning?

  2. Standing up the entire Mass. No kneeling, not even during the consecration.

  3. Leavened bread instead of unleavened bread.

Some concerns are smaller than others. Some are just pure curiosity. Thanks in advance!

This is certainly not an Orthodox tradition, though I have heard of some priests making parishoners take the Eucharist. Everyone is supposed to examine their hearts before and decide if they can take it. I can’t speak for Eastern Catholics, but there is no concept of Mortal Sin in the Orthodox Church though.

*The priest told me that I should receive communion always. Confession should be done but if I am unable to attend, as long as I made the effort I should still receive the Eucharist. As a Roman Catholic, I have always been taught that if there is even doubt, then I should not receive the Eucharist. [/qupte]
Communion SHOULD be done always, but it should also only be given to those who have prepared themselves (meaning that one should always prepare oneself…), this priest seems quite liberal though.

[quote]
2) Sign of the Cross from right to left instead of from left to right. Is this just a minor detail or is there more meaning?

No, the switch is just something that happened. I forget if it was the West or the East the switched direction, at any rate it is of no theological importance. The way the fingers are held has theological importance, but again, it’s just a discipline.

  1. Standing up the entire Mass. No kneeling, not even during the consecration.

As decreed by the Council of Nicea. You get used to it.
[/quote]

Here’s a good read about leavened vs. unleavened:

prosphora.org/page27.html

Just to expand on this, the byzantine tradition is to hold your thumb, index finger, & middle finger together while your ring finger and pinkie finger are together touching your palm. The three fingers together represents the Trinity and the two fingers touching the palm represent the two natures of Christ.

I didn’t know this but it’s beautifull!

I’m not orthodox but I’m might start using this.

I agree. This is something I already adopted :wink:

With regard to standing up - if you look in old European churches, you will see many without pews. It used to be the norm for all but the nobility to stand in Catholic churches too. Pews were, I believe, adopted from Protestants.

  1. It’s an issue. It’s not orthodox (for Catholics, EO, nor OO) the way he describes. Babies, yes. The mentally unfit, yes. But those of age of reason and posessed of mental health should confess before liturgy if in doubt about grave sins.

Except for the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox… who, according to one of their Bishops’ public lament, have basically abandoned individual confession for general absolution on Sundays.

  1. it’s tradition, with a lower case T. Some EC and most OO churches left to right; other EC and most EO, Right to left. (The exception are some of the EO’s WRO.) It’s not an issue except for a few of the more polemical RC and EO types. For the RC, that polemicism tends to be grounded in ignorance.

  2. Kneeling during the consecration is almost exclusively a Roman thing.

  3. Leavened bread is used for several of the EC, all the EO, and some of the OO churches. It’s perfectly licit and normative in Byzantine rite and Alexandrian Rite (Coptic and Ethiopian), and optional for some of the syriac rite churches.

I remember during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines (1500s-1898) that only the front of the church had pews where the Spanish would sit, and the Filipinos stand at the back. It was more of social standing at that time

I’m reading my DL book and there are prayers for preparing one’s self for Communion. And it begins the night before DL. So surely its not something they take lightly. Lots of prayers and of course the usual making sure your soul is worthy and ready to receive Jesus.

In actual fact, this is also how Latin Catholics used to make the Sign of the Cross as we see in a letter by Pope Innocent III (who met St Francis) where the Pontiff describes the three-fingered sign of the Cross as the more ancient form which he recommends for the Latin Church.

The Sign of the Cross is a meditation on our Lord’s Life - when we place our fingers on our forehead, we signify Christ’s Divinity as the Son of God. Then we move down to our chest/stomach to signify that He bent the heavens and came down to earth, becoming Incarnate in the womb of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. He dwelt among us, was crucified, died and was buried.

Then we move to the right shoulder to signify that our Lord rose from the death and ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father.

Then we move to the left shoulder to signify our repentance of our sinfulness as we follow Christ in faith and obedience. Having completed the Sign of the Cross, we release our hand, let it go to our side and we then incline our heads in honour of the Holy Trinity and say, “Amen.”

Alex

I wasn’t aware of that, but I did some research and here is the canon:

“Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord’s Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.” - Canon 20, Council of Nicea I, AD 325

Hang on as catholics don’t we go left to right rather right to left?

No, there no exclusivity there. Many Eastern Catholics especially those belongong to the Byzantine Rite cross right-to-left.

Oh right, didn’t know that.

Well either way, the explanation given for the sign of the cross before was awesome!

My experience of “Kneeling Vespers” is that we are kneeling, standing, kneeling about a billion times. :slight_smile: (No, kneelers, just the floor.) And the “kneeling” is a full reverence each time AKA prostration done Eastern/Orthodox style, kneeling with forehead to the ground briefly.

Kneeling is forbidden during the whole season of Pascha which ends with Pentecost. “Kneeling Vespers” follows, AKA the Office of the Great Vespers of Pentecost,

Also, lots of kneeling during Great and Holy Week. From that fun list “You know you’re Orthodox if” … you have rug burns on your forehead at the end of Holy Week. :smiley:

I was using a smaller DL book yesterday and there was a part where we are to kneel before a prayer. Although we skipped that part, I’m thinking it may be proper at another time of the year. Although there are many (sit) and (stand). I notice we sit through all the litanies.

Sitting and standing being mandated by a book is another Latinization that has crept into the Byzantine church.

Sitting through the litanies is another pet peeve of mine. As the litinies are the prayers of the people the people should be standing and praying. A priest friend of mine says he would rather see the people sit through the anaphora then through the litanies. :wink:

Following the Divine Services in a book is another pet peeve of mine but we can save that for another time. :smiley:

lol why? I guess you would be bothered greatly in a TLM :stuck_out_tongue:

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