What draws you to the Eastern Church?

Greetings to the Eastern Catholicism Forum,

I just wanted to say that I am starting out to embark upon learning about the Eastern Churches and am excited to do so. I have a wonderful friend who is answering all of my basic questions and any other questions.

I wanted to let you guys know, that I wanted to start reading a bit more in this forum, and I may be asking questions that you guys might seem to know that they are basic and all, but it is going to be done out of sincerity and a desire to learn.

Now the first question I would like to ask is this. If you are a member of the Easter Churches, those in communion with Rome, or even the Orthodox, what draws you to that particular Church? Can you share with me some of the beauty and the things that mean the most to you in your traditions?

NOTE: I wish for this thread to be sharing of experiences and not a debating thread. I am not interested in learning who is right or wrong, or who’s way is better. I want to find out what’s common between the two Traditions and to learn more about my brothers and sisters in the Eastern Church.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit

My dear Eastern Christian (Catholic & Orthodox) brothers and sisters:

I’ve been corresponding and praying with Anathama Sit for some time now on CAF, and know that AS is genuinely interested in Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Christianity, more generally.

With the wealth of knowledge possessed by the terrific EC and EO contributors to this sub-forum, I’m sure we will have AS “breathing with both lungs” in no time flat.

I pray we can respond to questions as directly and charitably as possible.

To put it as simply as possible, the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite (UGCC and in Orthodox Churches as well). I love it. Smells, bells, singing, icons, standing, the manner of receiving the Eucharist.

The beauty of the Liturgy, the respect for tradition, and the fact that it actaully feels authentic.

Greetings ByzCathCantor,

Ahhh yes, I think it was Blessed Pope John Paul II that said something about the lungs. Do you have the saying?

God Bless,
Anathama Sit

Greetings to those who are reading this thread,

My quote feature does not work on this computer, so that is why I am not responding with the quotes and may respond doing multi-posts. Bear with me as this will be remedied once I can get to my other computer, it’s in the shop.

Okay really basic question here, what is UGCC?

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), among the largest of the Eastern Catholic sui juris churches with over 4 million faithful worldwide, organized as Major Archiepiscopal Church as defined in the Eastern Canons.

The Church is led by a Major Archbishop, also referred to as Patriarch and styled His Beatitude. The current leader of the UGCC is His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk. At age 41, he is one of the youngest and most dynamic of leaders of the sui juris churches in the Catholic Communion.

Greetings ByzCathCantor,

Is the Patriarch like the Pope in the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches? What level could a patriarch be compared with in the Roman Catholic Church if any, an Archbishop?

I am taking that sui juris means the same thing it does in Roman Code of Canon of Law?

I again am once indebted to the time you are taking in aswering these questions.

Greetings to those posting and or reading this thread,

This thread may also be used to answer questions. If I don’t know what it is or how something works, I’m gonnna ask because I don’t want to assume. That is a beauty of our Faith, we can ask questions. :smiley:

God Bless You All,
Anathama Sit

UGCC = Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. :thumbsup:

My initial draw to Eastern (Byzantine) Christianity was… You know, I don’t really know if I can put it into succinct words. I was spending a semester in Austria at Franciscan’s sister campus in Gaming. There was a Byzantine chapel there. It was very small, but very quiet. I spent more time in it than I did in the Perpetual Adoration chapel we Romans had. I never attended a Divine Liturgy while there because I wasn’t aware of any other Catholic traditions outside of Roman Catholicism. I thought the Byzantine chapel was for Orthodox Christians, and didn’t know that I was welcome to attend. But I enjoyed just sitting in the chapel, looking at all the icons painted on the walls, and soaking in the atmosphere. I felt very at home there.

Fast forward a few years later and I’m living in Ann Arbor, MI., preparing for my wedding. At the parish my wife belonged to there is a Perpetual Adoration chapel that has a HUGE icon of Christ the High Priest Enthroned right behind the monstrance. The icon is a copy of one of Rublev’s and is quite stunning. I used to go to that chapel to pray, and found myself just starring at the icon most of the time.

At that time I was working at the local Catholic bookstore, and a Byzantine priest would come in almost every Saturday, and without fail would always ask me when I was coming to visit his parish. I finally made it out and stood next to the deacon’s son, who was a friend of my wife and I. I loved the Liturgy and felt completely at home there. The deacon’s wife, upon visiting the bookstore a few weeks later, brought up my visit and started talking to me as though I were a Byzantine Catholic. I explained to her that that was my first time in a Byzantine parish. She was stunned and said that I looked so comfortable and so much like I knew what was going on that she just presumed I was Byzantine. :smiley: It was during this time too that I started learning about the Jesus Prayer and I learned to make prayer ropes.

When my wife and I moved to Virginia I was determined to belong to a Byzantine parish. We started by attending the local Ruthenian parish, but later ended up attending the Melkite parish. We are now parishioners at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church in McLean, VA. and absolutely love it.

One of the things I like most about the Melkites is their strong determination to live as authentic Byzantine/Orthodox Christians while at the same time maintaining communion with Rome. I love the fact that despite years of Latinization, they have made such huge strides towards reclaiming their identity. The Melkites here in the U.S. have especially been courageous in the struggle the maintain the Eastern identity in the face of a majority Western Catholic population. I love the fact that Orthodox Christians can read books by Melkite authors and find little to nothing in them with which they would disagree. I love the fact that our Melkite liturgical books are frequently used by the Orthodox as well because of the quality of the translations.

As far as what draws me to Eastern Christianity itself, it’s tough to say. It’s not really one thing, but an entire atmosphere. I think I like the emphasis experiential knowledge of the Faith over intellectual knowledge. This is especially good for me since I am often prone to focus too much on intellectual knowledge and forget that the Faith is something to be lived, an encounter to be experienced, not just knowledge to be retained in the head.

The Liturgy. For me its just better. But this is my perspective, don’t take it as an authoritative for-all statement. The singing, the theology of the Liturgy, it just works for me. I’ve been an RC for the first 33 years of my life, I’ve also explored Traditional Catholicism prior to going to an Eastern parish. The Divine Liturgy just speaks to me in a totally different way and a totally higher level.

The praxis. I like that the approach to the faith is less legalistic, more mysterious. Not saying that the East is totally non-legalistic, its “less”. And to me I appreciate it a lot. I love that when we discuss the faith, we don’t talk about whats in Canon Law, GIRM, etc. Its a theological discussion concentrating on what the Church Fathers taught.

  1. The community. Its a different sense of community. In my previous RC parishes, I feel so detached. I don’t know if its because of the larger congregation. I love that we can be involved in preparing the gifts such as the prosphora.

As far as the current Melkite Catholic Patriarch, Gregorios III, is concerned, the role of the Patriarch and that of the Pope are identical. Basically, one can say, a Patriarch is to a sui iuris Patriarchal Church as the Pope is to the Church Universal.

Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have Archbishops. The order of authority goes:


I am open to correction of the above is wrong. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen (Light of the East), is required reading for your journey Eastward …


Greetings Phillip Rolfes,

What a beautiful testimony that you shared. I know that this post took a long time to write and get submitted, I thank you from the bottom of my heart in sharing this with me.

So Melkite liturgy, I am now aware of the Liturgy of St. John C. [patience, it takes forever for me to learn to spell new names.] is it the same or a different Liturgy? How many different liturgies are there?

I like the Jesus prayer and I myself use a prayer rope for my short prayer and the Jesus Prayer.

Perhaps what I should do is share why I am wanting to learn about the Eastern Church.

God Bless,
Anathama Sit

There’s two main Liturgies used in the Byzantine Rite, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. St. Basil’s Liturgy is only used about 10 times a year. Its essentially the same Liturgy, St. Basil’s has more audible prayers from the priests, thus making it longer.

In the Churches of the Byzantine tradition there are at least four Liturgies in use, that I can think of.

Most Sundays you will hear the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

On Sundays of the Great Fast (Lent) and on Christmas the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is said. The St. Basil Liturgy is a slightly longer version of the DL of St. John Chrysostom - the length having mostly to do with the prayers that the priest says and not so much any change among the responses of the congregation.

On certain days of the week during the Great Fast the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is said. The Presanctified Liturgy is more-or-less Vespers with a Communion service tacked on to the end (sorry about the crude description, but it’s the best I can do).

I’m also told that the Divine Liturgy of St. James is celebrated on certain days (perhaps the feast of St. James?). I’ve never attended a DL of St. James, so I can’t really comment about it.

Greetings ConstantineTG,

Would these 10 times a year be somehow connected with the High Feast days of say like Christmas and or Easter?

Thanks for answering my last question.

God Bless,
Anathama Sit

The Great Fast - is this not akin to the Black Fast? When one does this do they abstain from all animal products and only eat after 1700 hrs? I know that serveral have tried to explain this, but sometimes there are different remarks.

What is the Great Fast? Is it observed during Advent?

From Wikipedia (easier to cut and paste than type :D)

The five Sundays of Great Lent (Palm Sunday is not considered by the Orthodox to be part of Lent)
On Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday
On the Eves of Nativity (Christmas) and Theophany (Epiphany). However, if the Great Feasts of Nativity or Theophany fall on a Sunday or Monday, the Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated on the day of the feast, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated on the Eve.
On the feast day of St. Basil, which in the Byzantine calendar occurs on the first of January (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, January 1 falls on January 14 of the Gregorian Calendar).

Oh, Anathema… I forgot to mention that the Melkites are a Church in the Byzantine tradition. They use the same Liturgy as the rest of the Churches of the Byzantine tradition. There are a large number of Churches in this tradition, but the main ones you will run into here in the U.S. are:

Ukrainian Greek Catholic
Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic
Melkite Greek Catholic
Romanian Greek Catholic
Russian Greek Catholic

It is important to remember, however, that these are not the only Eastern Churches. There are many others, commonly referred to as “Oriental” Churches. It’s funny to think that the Orientals actually consider the Byzantines to be “Western.” :smiley: The common Oriental Catholic Churches you may encounter are:


(Others are free to add to my lists).

The Orientals have completely different spiritual, theological, liturgical, disciplinary, etc. traditions from the Byzantines. Sometimes they appear to more closely represent the Latin West in their theology and spirituality than they do the Byzantines. It would be false to assume that this is thanks to Latinization. Although some of these Churches do suffer from a certain amount of Latinization, their thinking often does simply closely resemble that of the Latin West. Marduk would be much better at addressing this than I.


A couple of quick points …

Byzantine and Greek-Catholic are used roughly synonymously

There are several particular Eastern Catholic churches that follow the Byzantine Rite, but according to their own language and custom. Examples are some of the names you’ve heard: Melkite, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Russian, etc.

Our friend and regular contributor Vico has a chart that has been oft posted in the sub-forum, and he will likely post it again here as soon as he sees this thread (thanks in advance, Vico). This chart distinguishes the rites and particular churches in the Catholic Communion.

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the predominant Divine Liturgy used in the Byzantine Rite. The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is used on Sundays of Great Lent and on certain fest days.

I think you may have PM’d me on LOTH - the Divine Office of Byzantine custom and usage is similar, but of course with a fair degree of uniqueness that we can explore after you’ve experienced the Divine Liturgy. I’ll forward you a daily prayer sample later …

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