I’m Roman Catholic but I’ve felt more called to the east over the last two years. From the vestments to the liturgy I think it’s all so beautiful. I’ve been attending mass at a ruthenian church every once in a while. I know there’s a big cultural significance to eastern Catholicism so is it bad or frowned upon for a Roman Catholic to switch?
Totally understandable. It’s not really a conversion as you aren’t leaving the faith. I had a similar experience where I left the Roman Rite as it is for the Roman Rite as it was. Not technically leaving Western Catholicism but the motivations were similar. Style of worship, vestments, etc.
It’s not unusual or frowned upon for a Roman Catholic to switch to one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. I’ve known a good number of people who have done so, and am in the process myself.
That being said, those seeking a transfer of canonical status are typically expected to belong to an Eastern Catholic parish and attend Divine Liturgy there regularly before switching. Also, if you’re going to officially switch, you’d need more of a reason than beautiful vestments and beautiful liturgies. Eastern Catholics aren’t just Roman Catholics who “celebrate Mass funny.” We have our own history, our own saints, our own approach to theology, our own spirituality, our own traditions. You’d have to ask yourself if you’re willing to adopt all of those as your own as well before making the switch.
Also, there’s no pressure. Make sure, as mentioned above, that you try to live the life of an Eastern Catholic.
There is a different Canon Law and different Holy Days of Obligation, obviously. But most of it is EXTRA compared to the relatively lax rules of the Roman Catholics. So most of it could just be added on top while you try it out.
It is not bad or frowned up on. You say it is the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church. They are Catholics so there is no issue. You can go to the Ruthenian church as often as you like. However, to ‘switch’ would involve you applying for and receiving permission to canonically transfer sui iuris church. Permission is required for this and unlikely to be given if you do not have a satisfactory reason. The aesthetics is insufficient reason. I commend @Philip_Rolfes advice: get to know more about the Ruthenian Church. For example, I believe they call the Eucharist the Divine Liturgy rather than the Mass.
If you switch, you go all the way (no need to canonically change). Byzantine Catholics have their own theological expressions and spirituality which is different from the West. I went from Latin to Byzantine several years ago. I went “native” if you will and it was the best move my family and I made. Good luck!
Amen @ziapueblo. I went from Latin to Byzantine (never made the canonical switch) and immediately tried to adopt all the practices, spirituality, theology, etc. of the Melkite Church I was attending. When my family moved and we started attending a Maronite parish, I immediately started diving into the Syriac-Maronite approach to the Faith. Now that we’re working on our official canonical change to the Maronite Church, I’m really diving into the Maronite-Syriac tradition (with the help of a few very knowledgeable friends).
I switched to Greek Orthodox. I enjoy the divine liturgy
Welcome to the Eastern Catholicism forums @Pea! I’d love to hear your story of journeying from Catholicism to Greek Orthodox some time.
Where is it found?
It looks like the traditional Mass is the focal point of much renewal in the Catholic Church… I had been under the impression that there were only a few ‘throwback’ places where Catholics could worship in the Latin Liturgy, and that the Church generally marginalized the few that still existed… My impressions, of course, and $5, will get you no change back at Starbucks! It does look like they are making a comeback, at least with some of the Carmelites, and a fair number of women are seeking contemplative lives…
How did we get on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite when the OP was asking about switching to one of the Eastern Catholic Churches?
The only caution I would give is to emphasize what someone else already mentioned: Canon law and related holy days, fasts, etc.
You can register at and belong to a Ruthenian Church and attend there full time, however you would still be required to attend liturgy or mass on Holy Days of Obligation according to the Latin Rite calendar, not the Ruthenian calendar. Also, things like marriage, annulments, and canonical services will still go to the Latin diocese.
In other words, you may attend a Ruthenian parish exclusively for the rest of your life without canonically changing ascription, but you remain subject to your Roman Catholic canon law, Bishop and Diocese.
Not really. Leaving the Latin Rite for the East due to the liturgy is specifically discouraged as not a valid reason. And I will almost guarantee if you submit a letter of request to an Eastern Eparch citing that as the reason your transfer will be denied.
I will agree with you that if it is the liturgy that’s the main issue, the OP should look for a TLM as an alternative. But dislike of the liturgy alone doesn’t merit switching canonical churches.
Please don’t take my previous post as being discouraging. I’m just trying to give some advice based on the comments.
It really comes down to why you want to switch. If you have the right reasons, then no, it is absolutely not discouraged! You’ll find that most Eastern parishes are very welcoming and helpful.
I would recommend that you call the Ruthenian parish and ask for a meeting with the priest. Explain to him your thoughts, and tell him you would like to attend the parish (even if just occasionally for now) and that in the future you may want to change canonical churches. I’m sure he’ll work with you and guide you.
The differences between East & West include differences of tradition, spirituality, liturgy, theology, and in many cases ethnicity and culture.
In the meantime, perhaps someone here can recommend a good book that explains the theological and tradition differences between Roman & Byzantine (I’m Maronite, not Byzantine). Perhaps @Phillip_Rolfes could recommend something?
I hope no one reads this post as even the least bit negative towards the Eastern rites or towards those who have switched rights. On if the strengths of the Latin Church, imo, is the wide spectrum of various spiritualities and means to aid us on our path to holiness. It seems that some people see it as simply their local parish and the Sunday OF mass. Then they come upon a mass in a different rite and they immediately say " this is what I have been looking for". Yet in reality, they had not been looking at all. There are so many movements, certainly not all my cup of tea, from various Third Orders, Opus Dei, charismatic, Jesuit spirituality, the EF, etc where the Church is obviously saying, one size does not fit all. And while there is nothing wrong about attending Eastern Rites, switching is a major move, and the Church treats it as such.
It’s just an impression I have, I could be off base. Certainly not disparaging the OP or others. But sometimes it almost sounds the same as people I have know who went to some protestant church and fell in love with that. I know it’s not near the same, it’s just that I wonder if people who switch understand what all is out there being offered to them at their current home.
The TLM is closer to the Divine Liturgy than the modern Mass. Example: The propers for the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste are either identical or very close to the Byzantine propers (and if I remember right the Alleluia [in the TLM it’s called the Gradual] is the same) but the TL calendar has the Feast a day later (March 10 vs. March 9 on the Byzantine calendar).
The priest’s prayer before Holy Communion is almost identical to the prayer before Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy (and in the TLM missal it’s acutally listed as "the prayer of St. John Chrysostom ).
As I’ve posted before , If I couldn’t attend Divine Liturgy I’d go to the TLM in a heartbeat.
Forgive me, for I am no expert on the various rites - But I understand the Divine Liturgy (Sts. Basil and Chrysostom) of the Eastern Churches as being a liturgical enactment [re-creation] of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both pre- and post-Crucifixion, first for the faithful plus the catechumens, then for the faithful minus catechumens…
Is this a feature of the current post-Vatican II masses?
And if not, might not this account for the appeal of the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Churches to some who encounter the “Eastern Rite” (esthetic) and feel like they are finding a ‘new’ home?
I would hope it is not accounted as merely something new…
The Maronite church’s divine liturgy is of St. James, not St. Basil or Chrysostom like the Byzantine Liturgy.
As far as I know, there is no mass/liturgy of the catechumens in any rite, post VII, where non-Catholics are excluded from the liturgy of the Eucharist.
As our EC priest put it a few weeks ago, the focus of the Mass is the Last Supper, while the byzantine Divine Liturgy focuses on the Kingdom of God–and this is found in the opening words of each . . . (and like so many things, both are present in both; neither negates or invalidates the other; the focus is just different).
I ended up at my first Divine Liturgy quite by accident. I went to a different RC church for the different time due to juggling Masses with my wife when kids were sick, had the time wrong, and saw that the BC church behind was about to start.
It all but knocked me off my feet in awe . . .