Eastern & RC Hold Meeting


#1

The Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches has organized a two-day seminar in Rome, November 18- 19, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II directive on Eastern Catholicism, Orientalum Ecclesiarum .

The meeting-- co-sponsored by the Pontifical Oriental Institute-- brings together a dozen specialists on the Eastern churches. Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, will chair the sessions…

The practical problems facing the Eastern churches have changes considerably in the years since the Vatican Council, Msgr. Nitkiewicz observed. In 1964, Ukrainian and Romanian Catholics were still facing brutal Communist persecution; today they are thriving under their newfound freedom. At the same time, the immigration of Eastern-rite Catholics into the Western world has caused new challenges, as the Eastern churches struggle to maintain their traditions in countries where they comprise only a small minority of the Catholic population.

cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=33524


#2

At the same time, the immigration of Eastern-rite Catholics into the Western world has caused new challenges, as the Eastern churches struggle to maintain their traditions in countries where they comprise only a small minority of the Catholic population.

This is a problem that I don’t think it Latin rites fault. Although past latinization of the eastern rites was the overt influence of the dominant latin rite. Here the easterns need to look in the mirror. Many of the eastern rites I visit have liturgies that cater to the grandparents and those who have immigrated from their former land the dominant language used whould be the native tongue of the former home of the transplanted parishoners.
The under 30 crowd main tongue is English and just don’t understand what the heck is going on. When a lot of their friends are attending a latin rite which has more flexible times for mass and an easier to understand liturgy. I think the eastern rites need to have more than one mass on Sunday and one of them should be done exclusively in English so those who are not aquainted in Russian, Arabic, Greek etc wouldn’t be intimidated. I am sure there are other big issues but that’s the main one I see as a Latin.


#3

Greetings Maccabees!

[quote=Maccabees]This is a problem that I don’t think it Latin rites fault. …Here the easterns need to look in the mirror. Many of the eastern rites I visit have liturgies that cater to the grandparents and those who have immigrated from their former land the dominant language used whould be the native tongue of the former home of the transplanted parishoners.
The under 30 crowd main tongue is English and just don’t understand what the heck is going on. When a lot of their friends are attending a latin rite which has more flexible times for mass and an easier to understand liturgy. I think the eastern rites need to have more than one mass on Sunday and one of them should be done exclusively in English so those who are not aquainted in Russian, Arabic, Greek etc wouldn’t be intimidated. I am sure there are other big issues but that’s the main one I see as a Latin.
[/quote]

I agree, it’s just the reality of being a minority group.

I don’t think the point of the article is merely that they are losing members in the West, but how to adapt culturally and also serve the scattered flock, I believe they want to address all of the issues confronting them.

But as to your points (which sound like suggestions) to make the church more appealing to visitors and potential new members, I’d say you are pretty observant.

Most of the Byzantine churches I have attended around Chicago have more than one liturgy (contrary to the Canons) and at least one of them is English. (For the moment I will restrict my comments to the Byzantine churches because I know them better.) But that hasn’t really helped much apparently.

To be honest about it the Eastern churches lose their young people at an alarming rate. Often the Byzantine parish is too small to afford a school and the Byzantine family has to send their kids to the Roman Catholic school, and pay extra charges for the privilage. Some parishes also require the parents to attend and that takes them right out of the Byzantine orbit.

As people escape to the suburbs the old neighborhood parishes go into decline, and there aren’t resources to build new parishes in the suburbs in all directions, so the city parish building will be sold at a loss and some members will be royally bummed out and angry.

I agree that the Slavonic (or Ukrainian or Arabic) liturgy can be discouraging to all but the most animated visitors. If the membership is not out there knocking on doors, how will they grow?

Many of the older parishes have a lot of empty spaces in the pews, and you’ll see a lot of silver hair with few children. These are real issues that need to be confronted. On any given Sunday most Byzantine Catholics attend Roman Catholic parishes,( and a few will attend Orthodox parishes). There are more Byzantines in the USA in Roman parishes than in their own.

Then there is that same problem with the young that the Roman church is afflicted with, except in the most traditional immigrant cultures the church is losing young people to indifference and secularism.

The Eastern (Byzantine-Ruthenian) parish I belong to has only one liturgy on Sunday and it is totally in English, done very well with a lot of chanting and singing.

The parish is relocated to the suburbs, looks beautiful, and attracts a lot of visitors. We are returning to our traditions and growing. For a small parish (just 180 families) we have a lot of children, a good choir, more cantors than we can use and two deacons. Volunteerism is high, the place is hopping!

We have a lot of new members (myself included), two years ago we had 159 families, today it’s 180 families. That’s progress, even if on a small scale :slight_smile:

So there is hope for the Eastern churches in the new world. We should pray for the success of the conference, and encourage the Eastern churches to be all they were meant to be. It’s good for the church as a whole.


#4

Michael,

I thought I’d address this post to you, as a Byzantine Catholic. It may seem a little off the wall, but what is the state of religious orders in the Eastern Churches? Are there any? I’m probably typical of a Latin Catholic, but I really have no idea about this aspect of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The reason I ask is because you mentioned there were no schools available to the members of Eastern parishes. Back in the day, that was basically how the Latin parishes were able to provide schools. Most parishes had their own convent, with the nuns acting as teachers. Thus a quality education could be provided at a low cost.

Is there any structure for this in the Eatern Rite parishes, or in the Churches in general? Do you think there are parishoners interested in the consecrated life that would be in favor of something like this?

Also, I think an Eastern religious order would also increase visibilty of the Churches, and might help to retain existing parishoners while attracting new ones. What do you think?

As an aside, I’d like to learn more about the Eastern Catholic Churches, but unfortunately there isn’t alot of mainstream information out there…do you know of an good books that provide an introduction to the Churches (touching on history, theology, liturgy, etc)?


#5

My understanding is that the Eastern Churches do not really have religious orders with an active apostolate, except to the degree it has been introduced from the West. Am I correct that the Byzantine tradition is monastics and secular priests only?


#6

Among the Eastern Orthodox there are no religious orders as are known in the Catholic church. katherine2 is correct about that.

Monastics are directly responsible to the bishop, we are trying to restore this tradition in our Eastern Catholic churches so we have three monasteries that I know of attached to Eparchs (bishops) in the USA.

But the Eastern Catholic churches most certainly do have religious orders, again as katherine wrote they have been introduced. The problem is many (but not all) of our parishes are just too small to support a school. In fact there are still some schools, but none near me, we shut ours down years ago before we moved to the sticks :wink:

My parish is located in the center of a very nice upscale suburb of Chicago, it has been there since 1999. The developers are still tearing up the farmland and building these huge houses on them. The only problem is, we mostly drive great distances to reach it. I drive 16 miles one way, a friend of mine drives 42 miles each way across town every Sunday regardless of weather with his wife and daughters. We have many families that will drive more than 30 miles.

The kind of people we attract are willing to make the trip. The locals mostly are cutting their grass or watching us from their pools when we pile into the church parking lot. They think we’re foreigners :smiley:

Ours is the only Ruthenian parish between Chicago and Minneapolis, we have parishioners in Wisconsin I have only met once (for a recent baptism).

We had one family that drove across the state from Iowa about once a month (they moved to Indiana, I think) and another family comes up from Champaign Illinois and I have no idea how far that is, but it’s a couple of hours by expressway…

So a school is impractical.

In the Byzantine churches (I will speak of the Ruthenians and Ukrainians mostly, but probably also the Romanians) we have Basilians (both men and women) and Studites as Eastern religious orders. Both of these started out as traditional Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe and morphed into religious orders after the Unions.

We also have Franciscans, Carmelites, two Benedictine monasteries and some Jesuits. I am sure I left some out. They are all in need of vocations, but we are a small group comparatively.

To give an idea of how small we are, my diocese encompasses nine states and we have 12,000 members altogether.

I have only been with them for 2-1/2 years and I have already met my bishop three times! And his See is 300 miles away.

My church is like a large extended family, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


#7

[quote=mtr01]Michael,

As an aside, I’d like to learn more about the Eastern Catholic Churches, but unfortunately there isn’t alot of mainstream information out there…do you know of an good books that provide an introduction to the Churches (touching on history, theology, liturgy, etc)?
[/quote]

Hello mtr01,

If you are interested in some decent books to intrduce you to the eastern churches I have a few recommendations:

THE BYZANTINE RITE: A SHORT HISTORY by Robert Taft, SJ
Essay offering up-to-date liturgical scholarship

LIGHT OF THE EAST by George Appleyard
A guide to Eastern Catholicism for Western Catholics

EASTERN CATHOLICS IN THE USA - USCCB Publication
Providing an overview of the four original Eastern Catholic Traditions (Antiochian, Alexandrian, Byzantine and Armenian), this book explores the similarities and differences betweeen the Roman and Eastern Churches.

Either one of the above three should be a good start. For a deeper understanding of the spirituality of Byzantines (and by extension, most Eastern Catholics) I could recommend a couple of others:

The FACE OF GOD, by Archbisop Joseph Raya, A masterwork by an Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic church, now retired at Madonna House in Canada.

THE ORTHODOX WAY by Bishop Kallistos Ware
A classic account of the belief, worship and life of the Orthodox Church

EASTERN CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY by Tomas Spidlik SJ, aging but recently made a Cardinal by His Holiness the Pope.

I would also like to say that if you want to dig into the heart and soul of Eastern Christianity, you might like to study the Christological controversies, you would learn a lot. Any good Catholic or Orthodox author would do.

One book I am enjoying at the moment is The MYSTICAL THEOLOGY OF THE EASTERN CHURCH by Vladimir Lossky. It’s pretty good.

Good luck and God bless. http://www.archeparchy.org/grfx/LG-OVALCROSS.gif


#8

Michael and Katherine,

Thank you for your answers to my questions. Again, I am very uneducated (as I expect most Latins to be) when it comes to the Eastern Churches in this country. It is a shame that many Catholics of the Eastern Churches don’t have “convenient” access to their parishes (and I can see how there could be a danger of losing members to Latin Rite parishes because of their easy access). Here in Latin Archdiocese of Baltimore, there is only one Eastern (Ruthenian, I believe) church. Hopefully this new dialogue will help the Eastern Churches flourish. By the way, is it proper to use the term “Eastern” as distinguished from Western or Latin?

Also, thank you for the book recommendations. As we are all of the same body of Christ, I have a strong desire to learn more about my brothers and sisters in the different Catholic Churches.


#9

Glory to Jesus Christ!
Yes, quite appropriate.


#10

[quote=Hesychios]Glory to Jesus Christ!
Yes, quite appropriate.
[/quote]

Ok, whew. Not that I’m the PC police or anything, but with all the terms being bandied about, I thought I’d make sure I was using the preferred terminology :slight_smile:


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