Vespers at an Eastern Orthodox church?


Hey all,

When I was in college, one of the things I enjoyed doing at the Catholic student center was praying liturgy of the hours morning and evening prayer with other students and the priests. Now I live in a different city, and I did a Google search for churches that pray vespers. There is only one in my area that does this (both in the mornings and evenings) and it is within walking distance from my house. But it isn’t a Catholic Church, it is Eastern Orthodox (Antiochian). I talked with the priest and he said I was more than welcome to join in prayer. What I am wondering is whether it is encouraged for a Roman Catholic to participate in vespers with the Eastern Orthodox in an Eastern Orthodox church? Especially if there aren’t any other churches around that do it.


You are able to attend any Eastern Orthodox service (Divine Liturgy, Vespers, Akathists, etc.) provided that you still a) fulfill your Sunday obligation at a Catholic Church and b) don’t receive the Eucharist or any other sacraments at an Eastern Orthodox Church. I frequent Vespers as much as possible at my nearby EO Churches. I also know some of my Roman Catholic priests have gone to nearby Eastern Orthodox Churches for Vespers specifically because of how beautiful of a service it is. As long as you feel comfortable with going and the EO priest is ok with you going, then the Catholic Church is fine with it. You may also feel free to venerate their icons, kiss the cross, receive blessed bread (not Eucharist), receive a priest’s blessing, etc. Best wishes on your visits…


Of course any priest is okay with anyone attending any service. The only places you could go and even be asked would be Mt Athos or a handful of Greek monasteries and even there you could attend but would possibly be asked to stand in the narthex.


Agreed - and that’s basically what I meant. It would be polite to ask to be sure. I know there are a handful of Churches and monasteries where you might be asked to stand in the narthex or at least near the back, so it’s best to be polite and talk with the priest ahead of time. In most cases, there won’t be an issue at all with where you are at when you attend.


Well just for accuracy there are no canonical parish churches in the US where that question would be asked or where anyone is asked to stand in the narthex. The only way you might encounter that would be to wander into a monastery. That being said there are some non-canonical groups that might ask and if you don’t know how to recognize them you could mistake them for a canonical parish. If you have a question you can consult this directory from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States. It lists every single canonical parish in the US.


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