Questions about the Byzantine Church

Hi I’m Roman Catholic and to be honsest I’m a bit fascinated by the Byzantine Church. I think it’s beautiful haha. I have some questions and was wondering if you all could give me some answers:

  1. Are there different saints in the Byzantine Church?
  2. This might be a broad question but how is the mass different than in the Roman Church?
  3. I’ve heard that priests in the Byzantine Church can get married is this true? If so why?
  4. If your Roman Catholic do you get baptized again when you join the Byzantine Church? Do you even need to join at all since it’s technically all Catholic?
  5. Is mass said in a different language in the Byzantine Church?
  6. Is there any major points of theology the Byzantine Church differs on?
  7. Are there any books/websites etc. I could go to for more info on the Byzantine Church?
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Hi! Welcome, and thanks for asking about the Byzantine tradition of the Catholic Church. I’ll answer your questions one by one.

  1. Yes, there are some different saints and some similar saints to the Roman Church.
  2. Mass is similar from a birds-eye view, and very different in the details. Best way to learn is to attend.
  3. Eastern Catholic priests cannot marry, but married men can be ordained to the priesthood in the East. It’s a fine distinction. The tradition of priestly celibacy is unique to the Roman West and has never been part of the Eastern (Byzantine) tradition.
  4. If you’re a Roman Catholic seeking to become a Byzantine Catholic, you do not get rebaptized. There is a process for changing one’s canonical status that simply involves letters to your local bishop and the bishop of the Byzantine church you’re entering.
  5. Mass in the East is traditionally celebrated in the vernacular, although we do incorporate other liturgical languages. Some Eastern Churches use Greek, some Syriac, some Church Slavonic, and a variety of other languages as well. My own parish (Maronite) celebrates Liturgy mostly in English, with a good amount of Arabic thrown in since most of our parishioners also speak Arabic. We also use Syriac and some Greek in each of our Liturgies.
  6. There are no major points of difference between the fundamental dogmas of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Roman Church. The primary difference is in how we approach theology.
  7. There are a ton of great books out there on the Eastern traditions of the Church. Where to begin?

There is a way that a Roman Catholic can transfer into the Byzantine Church, but its usually not necessary at all unless they are looking to enter the seminary or something. A Roman Catholic can start attending a Greek Catholic church and receive all of the sacraments there, participate in every way from day one. Many of your Byzantine churches would glad to have you. I was looking at the website of a couple of BC parishes here in Pittsburgh last week, and they estimate attendance each week, I was wondering how long they can struggle along with so few people.

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I am not an Eastern rite catholic but I have an appreciation for the rich and beautiful rites of the Church, here is a video of a Byzantine Catholic divine liturgy. Things that stick out to me is the service is a little longer than the OF mass I attend, there are a lot of antiphons and prayers that we don’t have in the OF Roman rite mass. The set up of the Church is different with a wall of icons separating the altar from the sanctuary with doors the priests, deacons & acolytes go through.

But, at it’s core we have the same basic mass (with the same Eucharist!) we have in the western rite!

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That is the “iconostasis”.

It’s origin is actually the same as the western altar rail: Christians were poor as a group, and couldn’t afford to leave their animals unattended. The barrier was to keep them from wandering into the Holy Place!

Also note that only higher clergy (deacon, priests, bishops) ever use the center Holy Doors (although in some, the priest may carry a freshly Chrysmated baby, or lead a freshly crowned couple, around it three times).

We don’t have “acolytes” like the west does. The lay men you see in there are filling in for the subdeacons that are so hard to find, and filling in this role is the only reason they, as non-clergy, should ever be in there. Those with barriers to ordination as subdeacons should not be filling in as such.


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Here’s one source of information for you:

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