Eastern Catholics

Rev. Clement C. Englert, C.S.S.R., The Paulist Press, 401 West 59th Street, New York 19, N.Y.

Nihil Obstat: Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D., Censor Librorum
Imprimatur: Francis J. Spellman, D.D., Archbishop of New York. New York, October 26, 1940.

©1940 The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle
In The State of New York.

© 2004 & E-Transcription Lúcio Mascarenhas
T A B L E   O F   C O N T E N T S
  1. Introduction
  2. Ch. I: Origin of the Eastern Rites
    1. § Why Many Rites?
    2. § The Influence of the Patriarchs
    3. § The Nestorians
    4. § Monophysites
    5. § The Eastern Schism
    6. § Other Catholic Rites
  3. Ch. II: The Clergy and Marriage
  4. Ch. III: Differences of Custom
  5. Ch. IV: Ceremonies of the Mass
  6. Ch. V: The Mass of the Catechumens
  7. Ch. VI: The Mass of the Faithful
  8. Conclusion
  9. A Small Bibliography
  10. Schema of the Eastern Catholic Rites
  11. Some Churches of the Eastern Rites in the Immediate Vicinity of New York City


Interest in the Eastern Churches has been growing steadily in the past few years. A regular feature of the recent Eucharistic Congresses has been a solemn Pontifical Liturgy (Mass) celebrated in one of the Eastern Catholic Rites. In accordance with the earnest wish expressed by Pope Pius XI, of sacred memory, in his great Encyclical Rerum Orientalium of September 8, 1928, many seminaries are observing the annual Oriental Day, with lectures on the Eastern Rites, and Mass celebrated by some Eastern priest. Every year many fine articles on things Eastern appear in our ecclesiastical magazines and papers. Students of Church History are finding out,—to their pleasure and surprise,—that the Eastern Churches of glorious tradition are a living Catholic reality today; that they are not all dead or dying because of the lamentable schism of 1054.

There are in existence excellent books on the Eastern Churches. At the end of this pamphlet we shall list the best ones. But nowadays many people who would not willingly take the time to read a book will readily read a pamphlet.

It is the aim of this pamphlet to present clearly, briefly, and as simply as the very complicated subject permits, a first earnest glimpse at the Oriental Catholic Churches and their rites, laws and ceremonies.

Although this treatise of necessity can only skim the surface of the great seas of history and liturgy involved, yet it aims at presenting a fairly complete picture to one who approaches the subject for the first time. Those whose interest is sufficiently aroused by the perusal of this pamphlet to desire additional matter on the subjects treated, can easily find it by turning to the list of books at the end.

Today, August 9th, is the Octave-Day of the feast of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Ligouri. During his life he longed to send missionaries to the East to convert the Nestorians. His most illustrious son, St. Clement Hofbauer, C.S.S.R., heard confessions for years in the Armenian Church of the Mechitarist Fathers in Vienna. And he sent Redemptorists to Philippopolis to work for the conversion of the Bulgarians. Today the sons of St. Alphonsus, the Redemptorists, have ten monasteries of the Slav-Byzantine Rite in former Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and in Canada. may his powerful intercession in heaven prosper their work.

And may the "Redemptorist Madonna," the all-holy Mother of Perpetual Help (her picture is an Oriental eikon), for whom all Easterners have a most tender devotion, soon bring our separated brethren back to the Church, so that there may be but one flock and shepherd.

Octave-Day of St. Alphonsus, August 9, 1940.
Annapolis, Md.

O R I G I N   O F   T H E   E A S T E R N   R I T E S

ABOUT nine millions of the three hundred million Catholics in the world belong to what we call the Oriental or Eastern Rites. That means that their priests say Mass and administer the sacraments with languages and ceremonies different from the Roman-Latin ones, and they are ruled by their own set of Church laws.

Now you will naturally ask: "How is this possible? I always though that the Church was the same all over the world." Your question is a perfectly legitimate one and I answer: the Church is the same all over the world in faith and morals. All Catholics, no matter to what rite they belong, believe the same truths of Faith, receive the same sacraments, observe the same moral law as we Catholics of the Roman Rite. But the Church is not everywhere the same ceremonially; that is, though all rites have the Mass and the sacraments, different ceremonies are used to enhance the beauty of their celebration and administration.

The next question that you will naturally ask will be: "Since these people are such a small minority in comparison with the rest of the Catholics of the world,—nine million to our three hundred million—why don't they join our own Roman Rite and so yield to the majority?"

Because their rites are just as old and beautiful as our own. Because the Holy See has commanded in the severest manner that Eastern Catholics continue to follow the ancient rites of their ancestors. Because it would be a grave injustice for us to force them to adopt our rite just because our rite had the opportunity of spreading itself over the entire world while theirs did not.

Why Many Rites?

How many such Eastern Rites are there? About fourteen.

"Fourteen!" you exclaim in amazement. "How did that come about?"

After the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, the Apostles separated to preach the Gospel in many different lands. Everywhere they preached the truths of faith and morals such as they heard them from our Lord. They administered all the seven sacraments instituted by Him. For the Mass they all adhered to the essential points of offering and consecrating bread and wine, and receiving them in Holy Communion. But the manner in which they administered the sacraments and celebrated Mass, that is, the prayers they said and the ceremonies they used differed according to the place in which they were. The language they used was the language of the people of that region.

And for each city or region, the Apostles consecrated bishops to carry on their work of preaching, instructing, celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments. There was a great deal of freedom regarding the manner of doing this. A pious and eloquent bishop would pray long and eloquently. A pious but not so eloquent bishop would pray earnestly but very simply and shortly, and so on.

But each would bless and offer the bread and wine; each would say the words of consecration; each would receive and distribute Holy Communion. So, too, each would use the water and say the words our Lord commanded for the administration of Baptism, but each would follow his own ability in saying other prayers and performing the extra ceremonies to impress upon his people the meaning and majesty of the sacred rite he was performing. Hence many different rites arose.

The Influence of the Patriarchs

In the very earliest ages of the Church, several different sees (bishops' residential cities) became very much more important than others. These were the great metropolises of Antioch in Syria, of Alexandria in Egypt, of Rome in Italy. These were the great centers of culture and learning, immense centers of trade and commerce. To them converged all the great roads of the region. Hence it was from them that the early bishops of the Church sent out missionary bishops to the outlying districts to convert the people and care for them.

Naturally these missionary bishops carried with them the remembrance of how things were done in the mother Church and so molded their own conduct on that of the city they left. As the Church grew in numbers and influence, so did the prestige of the mother churches in the big cities, so that after awhile it was possible for the great central churches to impose their liturgy on all the surrounding and dependent local churches. Only those who were cut off from easy communication with the original church developed their own peculiar liturgical form or "rite." Such an isolated group were the East Syrians at Edessa, who politically and geographically were far away from Antioch.

At a early age the bishops in the great cities of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were called patriarchs. When discipline and church law, as well as liturgy (the form of worship) became consolidated and fixed, the Patriarch received the power to watch over all the churches in their district or "patriarchate."

When the bishops of some of the other large cities saw what honor and power and prestige accrued to the Patriarchs, they, too, wanted to become patriarchs and rule a territory. Such was Bishop Juvenal of Jerusalem, who felt that because Christ had died and founded the Church there, he ought to be a patriarch. Finally the other bishops agreed to this. And when the Christian Emperor Constantine moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium or Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the bishops of that city decided that they also should be known as patriarchs and have a territory to rule. Of course all acknowledged that the Pope was the supreme head of the Church and gave eloquent testimony of this in the General Councils.

"But." you will say, "although that sounds clear enough, still I don't see hwy we should have fourteen Eastern rites today. From your description of the evolution of the patriarchates, I can only count five of them, namely, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople. And of those five, only the last four are Eastern ones!"

The Nestorians

In the course of time, as you remember from your study of Church history, heresies and all kinds of political troubles rose to harass and distress the Church in her work. Just as the Arian disputes were dying down, there came the Nestorians who said that there were two persons in Christ as well as two natures, and that our Lady therefore is only the Mother of the human Christ, not the Mother of the divine. The General Council of Ephesus in the year 431, condemned this error and proclaimed our Lady as truly the Mother of God, because in Christ there are two natures, the human and the divine, but only one Person, and that is divine. Our Lady is the Mother of the Divine Person Christ; hence she is rightly called "Mother of God."

The Nestorians refused to submit and separated from the Church. In the Middle Ages some of them returned to the Catholic fold, and from the sixteenth century on, thousands of them have been united with Rome, having a Patriarch of their own and preserving their ancient rite, namely that of Edessa, the city we spoke of before as being politically and geographically far away from Antioch. These people are now known as the Catholics of the Chaldean Rite, and their Patriarch is called the Patriarch of Babylon. He lives at Mosul in Iraq. The language used in their services (the liturgical language) is Syriac, the ancient language of their ancestors.


In the great reaction of the whole Catholic Church against the Nestorian heretics in the fifth century, some Easterners went too far and so emphasized the fact that there is only person in Christ and that Person divine, that they considered the human nature of Christ as practically swallowed up on the divine and so began to teach that there was only one nature in Christ too, the divine nature. Hence they were called Monophysites, "the one-nature-men." The General Council of Chalcedon in 451 condemned this doctrine after the letter of the Pope St. Leo, who had been appealed to, had been publicly read in the Council by the Pope's legates.

This new heresy, Monophysitism, was very widespread in the East. Its many followers in Armenia, Syria and Egypt were separated from the Church and started their own sects. From each of these sects, groups returned eventually to the Catholic Church. They acknowledged the supremacy of the Pope, professed the correct doctrine and became Catholics, but of Eastern Rite, as they retained the ancient rite they had before separation. Hence we have the Armenian Catholics whose liturgy is celebrated in the ancient Armenian language. Their head is called the "Patriarch of Cilicia." He lives at Beirut in Syria.

The Monophysites in Egypt who returned to the Catholic Church with their own rite formed the Coptic Rite, with their Patriarch bearing the title of Alexandria but resident in Cairo. They use chiefly the Arabic which one hears in that region today.

The Syrian Monophysites who returned to the true Church have the ancient rite of Antioch in the old Syriac language. The Patriarch has the title of Antioch but lives at Beirut, because the ancient city of Antioch is but a little hamlet today. This Patriarch of the Syrian Catholics is now a Cardinal, created such by Pope Pius XI to show his love for the Eastern Catholics. His name is Gabriel Cardinal Tappouni.

The Eastern Schism

We spoke before of the ambition of the bishops of Constantinople to be great Patriarchs. Eventually they began to abrogate the authority of the Pope himself, finally going so far as to separate the whole Eastern Church from the Pope's authority in the great schism of 1054. In this schism, Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Serbia, and some Syrians and Egyptians were eventually severed from the Catholic Church.

Since then, however, various holy and learned bishops and priests in these countries saw that to belong to Christ's Church, it was necessary to be in union with and submission to the Pope. Hence we had reunions of thousands, even millions of these people with the Catholic Church. They, too, retained their ancient rite of Constantinople (Byzantium). It is called Byzantine and is celebrated in the Old Slavonic language by the Russians and Slav peoples like the Ukrainians and Bulgars, in ancient Greek by the Greeks, in Rumanian by the Rumanians, in Arabic by the Byzantine Syrians and Egyptians (called Melchites).

Other Catholic Rites

Other Catholic Rites such as the Ethiopian, the Malabar, the Malankara, the Maronite, have too complicated a history to go into here. Suffice it to say that the Ethiopian Rite is a form of the Coptic or Egyptian Rite because Alexandria sent the first Christian missionaries to Ethiopia. The Malankara and Maronite Rites are variants of the Rite of Antioch, while the Malabar is a form of the Chaldean Rite. But the general history of the Eastern Rites is the same. Originally all were Catholics. Then heresy and schism tore large sections of the East away from the truth, just as Protestantism tore large portions away in the West. In the course of time, some members of all the ancient Eastern Rites recognized the error of their position and despite persecution and fierce national prejudices, heroically submitted themselves once more to the rule of the Pope. They are one with us in Catholic faith and life, though retaining their own ancient ceremonies and customs.

All the Eastern Catholic Rites, except one, still have a corresponding body of non-Catholics following the same liturgy, and usually the non-Catholic body is far more numerous than the Catholic one,—as in Greece and Russia and Rumania. These non-Catholics call themselves "Orthodox."

The only Eastern Rite that is completely Catholic in the sense of having no non-Catholic counterpart is the Maronite Rite. And its members claim that their ancestors were never in heresy or in schism:—that they were always Catholic, therefore, even though they had no communications with Rome for centuries.

T H E   C L E R G Y   A N D   M A R R I A G E

Oriental Catholics are one with us in faith and morals. But they have different ceremonies, different customs, different laws. In this chapter we shall speak of the difference of law.

Oriental Catholics, of course, have obligations very similar to ours. They are bound to church attendance on Sundays and holydays. They must receive the Sacraments at least once a year. They have to fast and abstain on the days appointed, though these days may differ considerably from our own.

But perhaps the most striking difference of law between the Eastern and Western Churches is the fact that married men may be ordained priests in the East. Now note well this statement: priests do not marry, but married men are ordained priests. That means that the marriage must have taken place before the reception of Holy Orders. Bishops, however, must always be celibate. And any priest is free to choose the celibate life, if he wishes, before ordination. When a priest's wife dies, there is no possibility of his ever marrying again.

Now how did this law come about? In the earliest ages of the Church the Apostles and their successors ordained married men even to the episcopate. St. Paul, for example, in his first Epistle to his disciple St. Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, tells him what qualities to look for in a man whom he wants to ordain a bishop. Among other things he says: "It behoveth therefore, a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife";—that is, he must not be a man who has married more than once, even though legitimately. But the point we are making here is that St. Paul allowed the consecration of married men as bishops.

That the Apostles often ordained married men is readily understandable, when we realize that in choosing one of their converts to be the head of a new church (or "diocese"), they would not pick some unmarried youth, but a man of mature years, prudent, and of holy life. Practically all such men were married, and fathers of families.

Yet the ideal of celibacy was always cherished in the Church. The Apostles themselves, all of whom were probably married (except perhaps St. John and St. Paul), left their wives when they became bishops in Christ's Church. St. Paul in one of his Epistles says that celibacy is the better thing for one who wishes to serve God; because if a man has a wife, he must be occupied to some extent, at least, with pleasing her, instead of being wholly intent on the things of God (1 Cor. vii. 32, 33).

This, then, was the condition in the early Church: both celibate and married clergy existed lawfully, but celibacy was held as the ideal. In the Western Church, celibacy became the rule and finally the law. In the Eastern Church, celibacy became the rule and finally the law only for the bishops, but not for the secular priests, who could be either celibate or married. Monks, of course, were always celibate. These laws have persisted right down to the present day.

Though a large number of the Oriental Catholic secular priests in Europe and Asia are married, the number of students for the priesthood voluntarily embracing celibacy is growing larger every year. In some rites, such as the Malabar, all the clergy are celibate. In other rites, such as the Rumanians, the majority are married. Among the Melchites in the Near East, the majority of the priests are celibate. Not a single graduate of St. Anne's Seminary in Jerusalem (conducted by the White Fathers for students of the Melchite Rite), during the past fifty years, has chosen to marry before ordination, though celibacy is optional in the Melchite Rite!

Celibacy, however, is now obligatory for the Oriental candidates for the priesthood in America, though the older married priests, who came from Europe years ago, are still in perfectly good standing. Hence, when once hears of such and such a boy as being the son of a Catholic priest in an Eastern Rite, there is no room for immediate thought of scandal and condemnation. On the contrary, the boy may be entitled to our highest respect that he should have had the privilege of having a priest for his father and for his first teacher in piety and holiness of life.

Of course, the idea of having a married clergy does not appeal to most of us Western Catholics. We have been educated to a different ideal and we do not wish to depart form it. But we must be tolerant of the very different viewpoint of the Orientals. Certainly celibacy in itself is the finer thing for him who handles Christ's sacred mysteries. And St. Paul says so expressly. Bu we must never forget that marriage, too, is a sacred institution of God. An Oriental priest has at least the advantage of receiving the grace of an additional sacrament, and receives all seven of the sacraments before he dies. And we must never forget that sanctity—even heroic sanctity—is possible in the married state, and especially in the lives of married priests. In 1929, St. Peter's, Rome, witnessed the beatification of Der Gomidas Keumurgian, a married Armenian secular priest of Constantinople, who was put to death by the schismatics because of his unflinching preaching of the necessity of union with the Holy See.

Just as we are attached to our celibacy of the clergy and would never want to change it, so, too, many of the Orientals are attached to their married priests and are very loathe to have them otherwise. We feel that our celibate priests are more ascetical; the Orientals feel that their married priests are more fatherly.

Occasionally you will meet a Western Catholic who thinks he would prefer to go to confession to a married priest. That privilege is his: Canon 905 of the Code of Canon Law says that a Catholic may go to confession to an approved priest of any rite he chooses. Similarly, any Oriental Catholic who feels that he would much rather confess to a celibate priest has a perfect right to come to a church of the Roman Rite and receive absolution in Latin from one of our priests.

Sometimes, too, you will hear people say that they would like to receive Holy Communion under both species. This, too, is allowed them by virtue of Canon 866, which allows the faithful to receive Holy Communion in any Catholic rite. People should be told these things and thus allowed to use the liberty that the Church laws provide for them.

From what has been said here it will be clear that people do a grave injustice to Oriental Catholic priest by shunning them and refusing to respect their Roman collar because they are married. They are entitled to full honor and veneration from all Catholics of whatever rite. Among their numbers are to be found many holy, zealous and learned men, who cannot help feeling hurt over the treatment they receive from their fellow Catholics of the Roman Rite, and who resent the suspicion of Catholics that they are only partially or not properly Catholic! And yet in their Byzantine Mass they give our Holy Father the Pope several solemn commemorations singing aloud for God's blessing on "Pii Papa Rimsky." In our own rite we only mention the Pope once, and that only in passing, and in a whisper in the first prayer of the Canon!

It should also be clear now how out of place it is for any Catholic to show himself shocked when he hears at some time or other of a married Catholic priest in the Eastern Rites. It shows how little such a one knows about Church history. True, we are perfectly entitled to our preference for celibate priests; but let us now condemn what after all is good in itself, but merely less perfect. It is well to cherish the ideal ourselves, but not to force it too zealously on all others.

In the past these married priests have had a great deal to suffer in America because of the ignorance and prejudices of Catholics themselves, who should have been the very first to help them. One poor priest for a long time found it impossible to get his daughter accepted into a convent school because the superioress though it would be too improper to have a priest's daughter among the pupils! At another time the Sisters in a hospital went on strike against the chaplain because he brought Communion to the very sick wife of a Catholic priest. The Sisters thought the poor lady was a reprobate soul, despite her very evident piety!

The sooner all Catholics take a brotherly interest in the Catholic churches and people and clergy of the Eastern Rites, the sooner the schismatics of the same rites will put away their anti-Catholic prejudices and submit to the gentle rule of the Pope. But we shall never persuade them to join a Church in which they are going to be made to feel that they are inferior and unwanted—a Church in which even their priests and deacons will be practically ostracized because they are the worthy fathers of devout Christian families!

D I F F E R E N C E S   O F   C U S T O M

In our preceding chapter we considered briefly the chief apparent difference between the law of the Eastern and Western Churches, namely, married secular clergy. In this article we will say a few words about some of the differences of custom.

If you were to attend a Byzantine service (for example, a service in a Ukrainian [Ruthenian], or a Russian Church), one of the first things that would impress you in the devotional customs of the people would be frequency with which they make the Sign of the Cross. At certain petitions of the liturgy, at the blessings of the priest, at the sight of the Gospel-book carried solemnly in procession, at the Communion time,—in short, at every more solemn moment of the service, all make the Sign of the Cross. We American Catholics are not accustomed to seeing the Cross made so often; but in other Catholic countries, even of our own rite, the Sign of the Cross is made much more frequently by the people than here.

However, besides making the Sign of the Cross more frequently, the Orientals make it differently than we do. We touch the middle fingers of the right hand to the forehead, breast, left, and right shoulders. The Byzantine Catholics join the thumb, index and middle fingers at the tips and touch the forehead, breast and shoulders with these three fingers, while the other two, the ring and little fingers, are kept joined against the palm of the hand.

Why do they dispose of the fingers in this way? Because of the Orientals' great love of symbolism. The three fingers that are joined and touch the forehead, breast and shoulders commemorate the Blessed Trinity,—three Persons in one God. The other two fingers that are joined against the palm of the hand symbolize the two natures in Christ united in His One Divine Person.

In making the Cross, we Western Catholics touch first the left shoulder and then the right. But the Byzantines touch first the right shoulder and then the left. It is amusing how many Western Catholics show themselves rather shocked the first time they hear or see this,—as if it makes any difference to the perfection of the Sign of the Cross, whether we start the cross-beam from the left or from the right side!

Another of the Eastern customs that appears to us strange at first sight is the profound bow instead of a genuflection. A very deep bow, accompanied by the Sign of the Cross, is made to the Blessed Sacrament. A somewhat lesser bow and Cross is made to the crucifix and images of the saints. The Russians and Greeks make merely the bow and the Cross; but the Ruthenians add a beautiful gesture with the right hand: palm up, they lower it almost to the floor while bowing, as if humbly offering their whole being to God in this gesture of magnificent surrender and adoration.

In all Byzantine Churches it is quite common to make three bows and three crosses when entering and three before leaving. During Byzantine services many bows are made together with the Sign of the Cross. This requires sacrifice and mortification,—entailing a bit of real penance if done well. Hence the name itself used to designate this gesture is "metania,"—the Greek word for penance.

Eastern Catholics stand in church much more than we do. In the East, their churches have no benches—at least no fixed ones. Even in our rite, this is also the case in many old European churches, especially in the basilicas of Rome. In this the Easterners are merely more traditional, more completely tenacious of the customs of old than we of the West.

The antiquity of standing at the liturgy is evident from the phrase in the very ancient Canon of our Roman Mass, "omnium circumstantium"—when the celebrant, in praying for all the faithful present, refers to them as "all those standing round."

Two years ago, I attended a mission being preached in the Redemptorist Church of the Ruthenian Rite in Lwów (in southeastern Poland), where the people stood every evening for over two hours of service, including the long mission sermon. It was touching to see even little children in the company of a pious old grandmother or grandfather, standing sturdily besides the ancients and learning to bow and make the crosses and help along with the singing.

Another custom that is much more prevalent among the Easterners than among us, is congregational singing. It is simply astonishing how much of the services the Ruthenians in Galicia (Poland), for example, know by heart, singing antiphons and responses and hymns with great piety and ability, and harmonizing the chants with considerable skill.

Now I do not mean to infer by this statement that all Oriental Churches, or even all Ruthenian Churches, have maintained this ancient ideal of corporate congregational worship. In some places where the custom was abandoned, reliance on choirs was probably necessary. Nor do I mean to say that this ideal is never achieved in the West. It is. But I repeat what I said above: the liturgical ideal of congregational singing is more prevalent among Orientals than among ourselves.

Upon entering a Byzantine church, Western Catholics are struck by the absence of statues, though there will always be a profusion of pictures of a specially grave and majestic style, called eikons (icons). The well-known picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a favorite Oriental icon. Byzantines do not, in any way, condemn the use of statues by their fellow Catholics of other rites; but it is the custom of their Church, to which they adhere very faithfully for the most part, to make use only of flat paintings or icons.

These icons receive extraordinary veneration from the people as being not only reminders of our Lady or the saint or anger represented, but in some sense an object particularly sacred to, and connected with, the one represented. Hence in the course of the liturgy, they are solemnly incensed after the altar itself. The people bow before them and kiss them in a manner much more ardent than that to which we are accustomed.

Separating the sanctuary from the body of the church is a great picture-screen, called eikonostasis, that extends almost to the ceiling. On it are icons of or Lord, our Lady and many angels and saints. This screen is an object of great veneration to the people, representing in a beautiful and concrete—though imperfect—way, the glory and greatness of the holy citizens of heaven. This screen is the most prominent and attractive thing in a Byzantine church.

It is pierced by three doors, all of which are used during the sacred functions of the liturgy, adding great solemnity and pomp to the processions that pass through them, and giving an air of holy mystery to the singing of the clergy behind the eikonostasis. The central doors are opened wide at the important parts of the service,—disclosing a vision of priest and altar wrapped in clouds of incense, a vision that appears like some majestic scene from the Apocalypse.

Because the eikonostasis is an object of great veneration to the people in Oriental countries like Russia, it is one of the first objects to be attacked and destroyed by the atheists. Just as in Spain altars and tabernacles were the first things to be profaned, so in Oriental territories the eikonostasis is singled out for abuse and destruction.

How God punished such profanation of an eikonostasis came to my notice while in Poland. When I was visiting the parish church of Zboiska, the pastor pointed out to me a small round hole in the left cheek of the sacred icon of our Lord that is found on every eikonostasis on the right side of the central doors. This hole, the pastor told me, was made by the bullet of an atheist soldier during the World War. Out of fanatical hatred, he had entered the church to desecrate the eikonostasis, but he contented himself with shooting at the main figure, Christ. He left the church, walked a few steps, and dropped dead not far from the door! As a solemn warning to men of God's vengeance on the unholy, the bullet hole has never been repaired. God grant that this incident will serve to restrain other vandal hands in Zboiska;—for it is now in the territory annexed by Soviet Russia!

In conclusion we may answer a question that may have arisen in your mind: "Why has this whole chapter been devoted to treating merely the customs of the Byzantine Rites? What about the others?" The reason is that the Catholics of the various Byzantine Rites are by far the majority of the Eastern Catholics. It is much more probable, therefore, that you will meet these people rather than the others; and if you want to have the most important points of information about the greatest number, you must know about the Byzantine Rites.

Moreover, in brief treatises like those in this pamphlet, there is space only for a limited treatment, and we have to be selective. Then, too, those Oriental Catholics, like the Maronites, who have many customs just like our own, as for example, the genuflection and the Western Sign of the Cross, do not need special explanation here, as they are immediately understandable to Western Catholics. And on the other hand, other Eastern Rites, like the Chaldean, also make use of the profound salaam or bow in place of the genuflection.

C E R E M O N I E S   O F   T H E   M A S S

In the preceding chapter we considered some of the things in an Eastern Byzantine Church that strike a Western Catholic as being strange. We saw how the great picture-screen or eikonostasis separating the sanctuary from the people, represents the citizenry of heaven. We considered the frequency with which Oriental Catholics make the Sign of the Cross and their different manner of making it. We analyzed their use of the profound bow in place of our genuflection.

In this chapter we will again concentrate our attention upon characteristics of Byzantine worship, but instead of studying the church and the people at worship, we will look more to the altar, the priest, the ceremonies, the sacred vestments.

The altar in a Byzantine church is a square table. It stands away from the wall, so that the priest can pass around it in the course of the liturgy. It is situated behind the central doors of the eikonostasis and is exposed to the view of the faithful when the doors are opened. This solemn opening and closing of the doors is a very dramatic gesture and enhances the air of sacred mystery in the services. One receives a profound impression of reverence before the Communion, when the doors are opened and the priest lifts up the chalice from the altar wreathed in clouds of sweet-smelling incense, and comes forth through the holy doors to give Communion to the people. One thinks of Moses coming down from the mountain, his face radiant from the vision of God's glory.

The vestments of the Byzantine priest correspond in general to those of the Roman priest, since they evolved from a common original tradition. The alb is generally decorated with embroidery rather than lace, as was the case in the West, too, until recent times. The stole is very long, the two pieces being joined in the front. The girdle is of the same material as the stole, made with a band of colored cloth,—instead of the Western cord.

The Byzantine priest wears no maniple, but has two ornamental cuffs of material to match the stole and girdle. The chasuble is an ample cape-like vestment, open in the front, but closed over the breast.

The Russian priests also wear a small pectoral cross over the chasuble and both the Greeks and Russians are very conservative about their ancient tradition of wearing beards. The beard looks very fine with the Byzantine vestments, giving the priest a dignified and venerable appearance.

While I was in Rome I made the acquaintance of a handsome young Austrian priest who has nobly volunteered for the Russian Rite. He is now a Jesuit and hopes to enter Russia as soon as possible. He has grown a beautifully shaped beard that makes him strongly resemble the usual pictures we see of our Lord. It is therefore an inspiring sight to see him celebrating the liturgy in the Russian Catholic Church in Rome,—taking our Lord's place, and looking like the One he represents!

All the Oriental Rites make a much more extensive use of incense than we do. To understand this properly we must remember that incense is not only used as a token of adoration and veneration, but also as a symbol of sanctification. The Blessed Sacrament is incensed in adoration; the altar and eikons are incensed in veneration; but the priest and ministers and people are incensed as a sanctification.

Hence, at the beginning of the liturgy, the prepared gifts of bread and wine, the altar, the sanctuary, the eikons, the people are all duly incensed. This is done again before the Gospel to prepare for Christ's coming in His holy Word. It is done again just before the Mass of the Faithful begins. (The Offertory in the Roman Rite; the Great Entrance in the Byzantine Rite).

During the course of the services, the priest and people are much more united in worship than is the case with us. The priest and deacon are constantly singing prayers of petition, praise, and thanksgiving to which the people respond with appropriate phrases.

The attention of the people is also attracted by the use of elaborate ceremonies. Twice during the Mass-Liturgy the clergy march in solemn procession through the doors of the eikonostasis: before the Gospel they carry the ornamental Book of the Gospels with great pomp and ceremony; at the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful they carry in procession the plate of bread and chalice of wine for the consecration. Lighted candles accompany the Gospel-book; incense accompanies the bread and wine.

Beautiful chants enhance the impressiveness of these processions. Frequently, too, during the service, the priest blesses the people, and the deacon,—if there be one,—sings out ritual commands of "Stand up! Wisdom! Let us attend!"

Needless to say, it is an inspiring experience to assist at a Byzantine Liturgy in which all the ceremonies are carried out fully: where the congregation does the singing; where a deacon forms the link between priest and people, where the holy doors of the eikonostasis are opened and closed in accordance with the rubrics; where the processions of the Little and Great Entrance are performed with the prescribed pomp; where they eikons are numerous, the people devout, the incense generously employed.

The Byzantine priest does not use a thin round piece of unfermented bread for the Host as does the Latin priest. The Byzantine priest uses a square piece of fermented bread,—that is, bread made with yeast.

For centuries controversy raged between Eastern and Western theologians over the use of fermented and unfermented bread for the Blessed Eucharist. The Church sanctions the use of either as valid, because both the one and the other are true wheaten bread; but she commands that all priests use the kind of bread proper to their own rites. Hence, Roman, Armenian, Maronite, Malabar priests use unfermented bread; all the Byzantine Rites insist on the use of fermented bread. Only in case of necessity can a priest use he form of bread proper to another rite.

A Byzantine Catholic does not receive Holy Communion kneeling. He receives It standing before the eikonostasis with his arms folded on his breast. He receives our Lord under both species: bread and wine.

The priest puts all the small cubes of consecrated bread (or Hosts) into the chalice before Communion. For the Communion of the Faithful he gives each communicant a particle steeped in the Precious Blood, administering It with a long-handled golden spoon.

Holy Communion can be distributed in this way without allowing the spoon to touch the mouth. The communicant, if properly instructed, puts his head back and opens his mouth well, keeping the tongue flat in his mouth. The priest inserts the spoon, overturns it, and removes it again without having touched tongue, teeth or lips of the communicant. This is the ideal, but it is not always attained.

Hence in the Greek and Russian Catholic Churches in Rome, where many Roman Rite Catholics attend Mass, Communion is sometimes given in a different way. To avoid the necessity of using a spoon, the priest consecrates oblong pieces of bread for the Hosts of the faithful. He holds one end of the bread in his fingers, and dipping the other end of it into the chalice, communicates each person. However, the use of the traditional spoon is still the most widely employed way of giving Communion in the Byzantine Rites.

T H E   M A S S   O F   T H E   C A T E C H U M E N S

A distinguished Protestant historian and architect once said that a Pontifical High Mass as celebrated in one of the great medieval cathedrals or abbey churches represents the highest peak of dramatic art ever reached by mankind. We are very much inclined to agree with this author. However, in the course of time, our Roman-rite Mass underwent many modifications—consisting mainly of abbreviations, adaptations, and omissions of ceremonies—and these changes made private and frequent celebration of Mass very convenient. But as a result some of our most beautiful ritual was lost, and is now retained only in a Pontifical or a Solemn Mass. The use of a throne, for example, is retained only in the Pontifical Mass; the use of incense only in Solemn Mass; and the use of processions at Mass is now almost completely lost.

The Eastern Rites have been much more conservative and "unpractical" in this respect that we; hence, although their Mass usually takes longer than ours, it comes nearer to the artistic ideal of former days. Even in a simple Byzantine High Mass the priest uses a cathedra or throne; he employs incense abundantly; he performs the ritual processions... The result is a service of sublimity and magnificence that remind one of the splendors of heaven.

In this chapter we will attempt a brief description of a Byzantine High Mass. We choose the Byzantine because it is the most usual and contains many of the ritual features of the other Eastern Rites. The High Mass as we describe it here, therefore, is the form of Mass-Liturgy that you will see if you attend a Greek or Russian or Ukrainian or Rumanian or Syrian-Melkite Church. There are churches of all these rites in America. They differ in language and some lesser ceremonies, but otherwise all follow the same "Byzantine" form of liturgy. The composition of the Mass that is usually celebrated is ascribed traditionally to St. John Chrysostom.

After the priest has vested and washed his hands, he goes to a small side altar and prepares the bread and wine with mystic prayers and incense. If a deacon is at hand for the Mass he assists here, too. The Byzantine deacon holds a very important place at High Mass, standing before the central doors to lead the prayers, and in general, functioning as the very active link between priest and people. When there is no deacon, the priest performs all the incensing, sings the deacon's litanies, and so forth.

When the bread and wine have been prepared, the altar, icons and whole sanctuary and people are incensed. Then the liturgy proper begins.

The central doors are opened, the priest stands at the altar, the deacon before the doors facing the altar. "Blessed be the empire of God the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, now and unto ages of ages, Amen." "In peace let us pray to the Lord..." "Lord have mercy," sing the people and choir to each petition of the Litany. "For the peace of the whole world... for the good estate of the holy churches of God... for our most holy Lord the Roman Pope... for all the clergy and people...."

The deacon sings the Petitions, the priest ends the Litany with a doxology. The prayer-portion of the Liturgy is under way. The choir sings an Antiphons (usually of psalm-verses) that varies with the day, the deacon chants a small Litany, the priest closes with a sung doxology the prayer that he has been saying quietly during the Antiphon. A second and third Antiphon are likewise sung, and after the second, a beautiful hymn praising the Incarnation is chanted. After the priest sings the doxology at the end of the third Antiphon, the most colorful part of the Mass of the Catechumens takes place, namely the "Little Entrance."

To honor the Holy Gospels, and to symbolize the fact that Christ still lives among us by His word, the Gospel book is now carried in solemn procession. The deacon, preceded by ministers carrying lighted candles and ripidia (staves surmounted with winged heads of angels) and followed by the celebrant, carries the ornamental book of the Gospels above his forehead. The procession passes around the altar (which stands free from the wall), comes out through the left doors, passes before the eikonostasis to the central doors.

The priest recites quietly an appropriate prayer, the deacon holds high the Sacred Book and sings "Wisdom! Stand!" The people bow low as they chant—"Come, let us approach and fall down before Christ. Save us, O Son of God, risen from the dead (save us) who sing to Thee, Alleluia!" The clergy pass on through the doors, the Book is replaced on the altar, the day's proper Troparia and Kontakia (like our Gradual chants) are sung.

Then follows the great hymn of the Eastern Churches: (Hagios ho Theos; Svyaty Bozhe) "Holy God, holy Strong One, holy Deathless One have mercy on us." The people have great reverence for this hymn, which is sung three times, a profound bow (metania) and a Sign of the Cross accompanying the words "Holy God" each time.

Then the Epistle is chanted by a cleric or lay-chanter while the priest sits on a throne-like chair behind or beside the altar, facing the people. Between the Epistle and Gospel the Alleluias and their accompanying verses are sung, and the altar, sanctuary and people are incensed to prepare them to hear the Word of God.

The Gospel is now sung solemnly. If no deacon is there, the priest sings the Gospel, coming out before the central doors and facing the people. The sermon—if there is to be one—follows the Gospel. A litany for the catechumens is sung, they are dismissed, and the Mass of the Catechumens is over.

Before we go ahead, let us compare what we have seen so far of the Byzantine Liturgy with our own Roman Mass. At first sight there seems to be a great deal of difference: in reality there is a surprising resemblance. A Roman-rite Catholic who attends his first Byzantine Mass is apt to be very much bewildered because too many accidental things crowd themselves upon his consciousness all at once: the eikonostasis, the severe pictures, the strange language, the different cut of the vestments, the bearded clergy, the bows and Sign of the Cross—all these little accidentals tend to confuse the mind. That is why we have prepared the way in these chapters by explaining all these things. But to one who understands the language and ceremonies, the Byzantine Liturgy seems but a celestially majestic enactment of something already familiar,—the Mass!

It will be seen from the sketch below that the differences between the two great rites of Christendom are not very great. The Byzantines have no prayers at the foot of the altar exactly corresponding to ours, though they have something equivalent in the private prayers said by the priest standing before the eikonostasis before he vests. Then, too, the rather long and complicated rite of preparation of the bread and wine precedes the liturgy.

The following schema will show the basic similarity between the Byzantine and Roman Liturgies.

Mass of the Catechumens
Introductory Prayers at foot of altar
Kyrie Eleison
Litany—(Kyrie Eleison)
Three Antiphons with petitions, doxology and Hymn of the Incarnation
Orations—(quietly by priest during Antiphons)
Little Entrance... Troparia... Trisagion
Gradual and Alleluias
Gospel (Sermon)
Dominus Vobiscum
Alleluias and Versicles
Gospel (Sermon)
Litany for the Catechumens
Dismissal of Catechumens

Some of the Oriental Rites, like the Armenian and Chaldean, have prayers of preparation and contrition at the foot of the altar similar to our own. The three Byzantine antiphons, that vary according to the feast, serve the same function as our Introit in striking the keynote of the day's liturgical spirit. The oft-repeated answer, Kyrie Eleison (Slavonic: Hospody pomilu; Rumanian: Doamne milueste-ne), which occurs in the opening litany and after each of the three antiphons, more than corresponds to our Kyrie Eleison. The hymn Monogenes, following the second antiphon, is a gem of lyric praise of the Incarnation and reminds us of our Gloria.

Our Collects are solemn prayers sung aloud by the priest to sum up our petitions for the day. The orations said by the Byzantine priest while the choir is singing the antiphons are invariable and ask for God's mercy and favor.

Some remnant of the Byzantine Little Entrance survives in our Solemn Mass when the deacon and subdeacon accompanied by acolytes, thurifer and master of ceremonies go in procession to the side of the sanctuary to sing the Gospel.

The Byzantine Troparia change with the feast and correspond somewhat to our Gradual. The solemn singing of the Trisagion which is so sacred a feature of the Byzantine Liturgy and of all Eastern Liturgies survives in our Roman Rite only on Good Friday.

The Byzantine Alleluias and their changeable verses are sung between the Epistle and Gospel. They are more numerous than ours; but then in the Roman Rite we sometimes have a sequence at this point.

The singing of the Gospel is readily recognizable in all rites by the solemnity and beauty of the ceremonies that accompany it.

We sing the Credo after the Gospel—to close the Mass of the Catechumens. The Byzantines reserve the Credo until after the Offertory. After the Gospel they sing a litany for the catechumens and then dismiss them. All that survives of our dismissal is the Dominus Vobiscum before the Offertory.

T H E   M A S S   O F   T H E   F A I T H F U L

After the catechumens have been dismissed, the priest prays for the faithful, and sings a small litany for them. Now follows one of the most solemn moments in the liturgy. The priest stretches out his arms in the form of a cross and reads the magnificent prayer of preparation to sacrifice: "No one bound by earthly desires and passions is worthy to come near to Thee.... O King of glory: for to serve Thee is something great and awesome even for the powers of heaven. Yet through Thy unspeakable love for men... Thou has given us the ministry of this unbloody sacrifice. And Thou only, O Lord our God, dost reign in heaven and on earth, Thou Who sittest upon the throne of the Cherubim, the Lord of the Seraphim... Who only are holy.... And so I ask Thee, Thou only gracious and merciful Lord, to look down upon me a sinner... cleanse my soul and my heart...."

While the priest is saying this sublime prayer to prepare his own soul, the choir or people are preparing theirs for the holy sacrifice by singing the famous "Cherubikon" or Song of the Cherubim: "Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim and who sing to the life-giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn, let us now put aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all things Who comes escorted by unseen armies of angels. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."

The deacon (or priest) incenses the altar, the sanctuary, the icons, the people to prepare them for the holy sacrifice. Going to the side-table, he picks up the prepared bread and chalice and carries them in solemn procession (called the "Great Entrance")—out through the left door, passes before the eikonostasis, through the central doors to the altar singing commemorations for the Pope, the bishops, the faithful, the church's benefactors. The gifts are arranged on the altar, incensed, and litany-prayers start again, while the priest quietly says the Offertory prayer. Then the kiss of peace is given, the Credo is sung, and the Canon of the Mass starts with the Preface.

The Byzantine Preface is short and invariable and is recited quietly by the priest. After he has sung the introductory "Sursum Corda" and "Gratias agamus," the choir prolongs the singing of the "Dignum et justum est" while the priest is reciting the Preface. However the last line of the Preface is sung aloud, introducing the "Sanctus." While the choir sings the "Sanctus" and "Benedictus," the priest continues with the single thanksgiving prayer of the Preface, which leads very gracefully to the Consecration—"The night on which He was betrayed...."

All is still. The people kneel, while the devout prostrate themselves on the floor. Slowly, solemnly, the priest bows over the altar and sings the sacred words of Consecration: "Take ye, eat, this is My Body, which is broken for you, unto the remission of sins."

The people sing "Amen" very slowly while the priest says the introductory words quietly for the chalice's consecration; then he sings: "Drink ye all of this, this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, unto the remission of sins."

The people sing "Amen" and the priest makes a profound bow to our Lord now present on the altar. Now follow quiet prayers similar in content to those of the Roman Mass—the remembrance of our Lord's Resurrection and Ascension, the Epiclesis or Invocation of the Holy Ghost, the Commemoration s. In the Roman Mass the Commemorations are divided, half coming before the Consecration, and half after it. In the Byzantine Mass, all follow the Consecration. As the priest sings aloud calling upon the people to remember our Lady, he takes the thurible and incenses the Blessed Sacrament, while the people sing the praises of God's Mother in the beautiful antiphon: "It is indeed just that we praise thee, O Theotókos, ever blessed and most sinless Mother of our God. We exalt thee, thou who are honored far above the Cherubim, thou who are infinitely more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who didst bear God the Word without stain—in truth the Mother of God!"

After the Commemorations, a litany is sung, and then the "Pater Noster" by the people, while all kneel in reverence for our Lord's own prayer. This is followed by the "Prayer of Inclination" while all bow their heads low before the Lord.

It is now time for Communion. Holding the paten and chalice in his hands, the priest raises them up from the altar towards heaven and sings the famous warning to the communicants: "Hágia hagiois" (Svjatája svjatim): "Holy things (are) for the holy!"

The priest washes his fingers at the side and then proceeds to break the host. One part of the large square host is put into the chalice, and the priest consumes the remaining three. Then receiving some of the Precious Blood, he puts all the small hosts into the chalice, and the people approach for Holy Communion while the choir sings the "Kinonikon" or Communion-antiphon. The priest turns to the people with the chalice and holding it before him sings the dramatic words: "With the fear of God and with faith, come ye nigh!"

The people receive, from a small golden spoon, one small cube of the consecrated Bread steeped in the Precious Blood. When all have received, the priest blesses the people with the Blessed Sacrament (hence, Benediction with two species!), and the deacon (or priest) carries what remains to the side-altar.

A litany of thanksgiving follows; the people are blessed; an elaborate formula of dismissal is sung and—the Liturgy is over. The deacon (or priest, usually because there is no deacon) consumes the remainder of the Blessed Sacrament and purifies the chalice with private prayers. The sketch on the following page will show the similarity of the two Mass-Liturgies:

Preparation, offering of gifts
Washing hands
Preface, Sanctus
Prayers for the Faithful
Cherubikon, Great Entrance
Offertory prayers
Litany, silent prayers
Kiss of Peace, Credo
Preface, Sanctus
(I offer)
Commemoration of Church triumphant, militant
Commemoration of Church suffering, triumphant
Continuation of Eucharistic prayer
Commemoration of Church triumphant, suffering, militant
Litany and Doxology
(I sacrifice)
Lord's Prayer
Embolism (Libera me)
Breaking Bread
Agnus Dei, Kiss of Peace
Lord's Prayer
Inclination Prayer
Washing hands
Breaking Bread
(I receive)
Formula of Dismissal
Last Gospel
Litany of Thanksgiving
Formula of Dismissal

From the opposite sketch it will be at once evident how much in common the two great Liturgies of Christendom have. Several corresponding features are merely placed at different parts of the Mass in the two rites. In the Roman Mass the Lavabo (washing of the priest's hands) takes place in the Offertory; in the Byzantine Mass, it takes place just before the priest touches the Blessed Sacrament before the Fraction (breaking the host). The Byzantine have the kiss of peace before the Preface. We have ours before the Communion. They have their Credo after the Offertory; we have ours before it. We have our Commemorations divided before and after the Consecration; the Byzantines have theirs all after the Consecration.

Despite the surface differences, which seem very great, we see how fundamentally the same the Eastern and Western Rites are, not only in the principal parts of the Mass, but also in the whole structure and sequence of their prayers and ceremonies. It shows Catholic Christianity's great unity. It demonstrates the great truth always to be borne in mind when thinking of the Eastern and Western Churches: the Catholic Church needs and has unity; it has not and does not need uniformity. As the great Pope Benedict XV of holy memory said: "The Church is not Latin, or Greek, or Slav: it is Catholic."


It might be well to mention here that by virtue of Church-law, a Catholic belongs to the rite in which he is baptized or should have been baptized (Can. 98, par. 1). If the father and mother are Catholics of different rites, the children are brought up in the rite of the father. To prevent domestic difficulties arising from difference of rite, the mother at the time of marriage may adopt the rite of her husband. After the husband's death, she may return to her own original rite if she wishes.

Regarding the marriage ceremony, it is to be noted that the jurisdiction belongs to the pastor of the groom, unless a particular law rules otherwise (Can. 1097, par. 2). To avoid confusion throughout the Catholic world, the Holy See made obligatory, in May 1949, a universal form of legislation for Oriental and mixed Catholic marriages, abolishing all particular laws. Hence the marriage should take place before the groom's pastor.

Regarding the form of the marriage ceremony: by virtue of Canon 1099, pars. 1, 3, any Orientals contracting marriage with Latins are bound by the Roman prescriptions of form.

Any dispensations required are to be obtained from the Bishop of the bride. Of the various Eastern Catholic Rites now found in the United States, only the Ruthenians and Ukrainians have their own Bishops. The Bishop of the Ukrainian Diocese (the whole United States is his territory) lives in Philadelphia, Pa.; the Ruthenian Bishop resides in Munhall, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa. The other Eastern Catholics are subject to the local Latin Ordinary.

*     *     *     *     *

It seems that at least a word ought to be said about the administration of the Sacraments in the Eastern Rites. The non-Byzantine Orientals (Maronites, Chaldeans, Copts, etc.) usually use the Roman formulae translated into their own liturgical languages for the administration of the Sacraments. The Byzantines (Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Melchites, etc.), however, usually keep their own ancient formulae. Byzantine priests usually confer the Sacrament of Confirmation immediately after Baptism which is usually given by immersion. Their wedding ceremony consists of a special Mass of the Catechumens in form (cfr. our own "Blessing of the Palms"), with litanies, Epistle, Gospel, Alleluia-chant, etc., and prayers for the contracting parties. They are crowned with ritually blessed crowns during the ceremony.

Byzantine Holy Orders are very impressive. The candidate kneels at the altar while the bishop imposes hands on his head and sings eloquent prayers of ordination. Then he clothes the new priest in the various vestments, holding up ach one first to show the people and singing "Axios" (Greek for "worthy"), to which the people all respond three times exultantly, "Axios, axios, axios!"

Confessions are heard without the screen prescribed by Roman law. At the time of absolution the priest puts the end of his stole on the penitent's head, and with his hand he traces the Sign of the Cross on the absolution on the stole. Then the penitent kisses the stole and the priest's hand....

There is much more that could be treated about the Eastern Churches which would be more interesting and profitable, such as their calendar, the Office, the music, etc. But space does not allow it here. We refer the interested reader to the bibliography which follows.

At the end of the bibliography there will be found a schema of all the Eastern Catholic Churches, telling approximately how many there are in each, and where they are chiefly found. They are grouped according to the great parent liturgies from which they sprang.

There are about nine million Catholics of Eastern Rites; but there are roughly about two hundred millions of non-Catholic Christians of the same rites, with true bishops and priests, with the Mass and the Sacraments. What a gigantic task still lies ahead of us,—to make all these people Catholics too! The indispensable first step in the process is mutual understanding. God and His holy Mother grant that this pamphlet may be instrumental in promoting that understanding!

It is said to realize that so many Eastern "Orthodox" Christians living outside the Catholic Church, who proclaim their faith in the first seven Councils of the undivided Catholic Church, overlook the fact that the Fathers of the early Councils all looked to Rome for the authoritative decisions needed by the Church.

The dominant figure of the Council of Ephesus (431) was St. Cyril of Alexandria, who had appealed to Pope St. Celestine for the authoritative definition of the Catholic doctrine. And at the Council of Chalcedon (451), after the dogmatic letter of Pope St. Leo had been read aloud, all the Bishops of the East cried out with loud enthusiasm: "Peter has spoken through Leo."

Whenever disputes or troubles arose in the East, to whom did the wronged or the doubtful always appeal? It was always to the Pope, the Patriarch of Rome, the successor of St. Peter, as we see, for example in the lives of the early Fathers like St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, etc. Even at the time of the Photian trouble, both contestants—St. Ignatius and Photius himself—appealed at once to the Pope.

May God soon grant, through the intercession of Our Lady, the prayer so often sung in both the Catholic and Dissident Churches of the East: "For the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the unity of all of them, let us pray to the Lord: Kyrie Eleison." (Byzantine Diaconal Litany.)

A    S M A L L    B I B L I O G R A P H Y

(More complete bibliographies will be found in the works here listed.)

  1. Attwater, The Catholic Eastern Churches, Milwaukee, 1935.
  2. Attwater, The Dissident Eastern Churches, Milwaukee, 1937.
  3. Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, 2 vols., Milwaukee, 1947-48.
  4. Duchesne, The Churches Separated From Rome, London, 1907.
  5. Englert, A Comparison of the Roman and Byzantine Mass, New York, Paulist Press, 1947.
  6. Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church, London, 1911.
  7. Fortescue, The Lesser Eastern Churches, London, 1913.
  8. Fortescue, The Uniate Eastern Churches, London, 1923.
  9. Hanssens, Institutiones Liturgicae, 2 vols., Rome, 1930-1932.
  10. Janin, Les Eglises Orientales et les Rites Orientaux, Paris, 1925.
  11. Janin, The Separated Eastern Churches, London, 1933.
  12. King, The Rites of Eastern Christendom, 2 vols., Rome, 1947-48.
  13. Rogosh, Rome and the Eastern Churches, New York, 1948.
  14. Salaville, Liturgies Orientales, Paris, 1932.
  15. Sacra Congregazione Orientale, Statistica Con Cenni Storici Della Gerarchia e dei Fedeli di Rito Orientale, Roma, 1932.
  16. Tyciak, Dei Liturgie als Quelle Östlicher Frömmigkeit, Freiburg im Br., 1937.


     Copts Egypt 60,000
     Ethiopians Italian East Africa 30,000
ANTIOCHENE: (West Antiochene)    
     Syrians Near East, U.S.A. 74,000
     Maronites Near East, U.S.A. 370,000
     Malankarese India 60,000
CHALDEAN: (East Antiochene)    
     Chaldeans Near East 96,000
     Malabarese India 600,000
     Armenian Near East, U.S.A. 100,000
     Bulgars Bulgaria 5,000
     Greeks Greece, Near East 3,000
     Hungarians Hungary 140,000
     Italo-Greeks Southern Italy, Sicily, U.S.A. 60,000
     Melchites Near East, U.S.A. 170,000
     Rumanians Rumania, U.S.A. 1,500,000
     Russians Poland, Russia, America, Far East 20,000
     Ruthenians & Ukrainians Western Ukraine (formerly part of Poland), Podkarpathia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), Slovakia, North and South America. 5,200,000
     Yugoslavs Yugoslavia 50,000

NOTE I: Seventeen rites are listed above. In Chapter I we said that there are fourteen. If we put together the Bulgars, the Russians, and the Yugoslavs as simply non-Ruthenian Slav-Byzantines, and if we join the Greeks and Italo-Greeks, we get fourteen rites. The actual number is disputed: it depends on the grouping.

NOTE II: Accurate statistics in this field are impossible. The numbers as listed here give us a total of about nine millions. Though we often hear people speak of the Oriental Catholics as comprising about ten millions, one can safely speak of "about nine millions."

NOTE III: The Ruthenians and Ukrainians are Catholics of Slav nationalities (chiefly), who belong to the Byzantine or "Greek" Rite.

In Canada there are three dioceses with an Archbishop at Winnipeg, Manitoba for Central Canada; a Bishop at Edmonton, Alberta for the West; a Bishop at Toronto, Ontario for the East.

Some Churches of the Eastern Rites in the Immediate Vicinity of New York City

  1. Pittsburgh: Greek Rite Diocese (Ruthenians-Hungarians)
    1. St. Elias, 147 Kent St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
    2. St. Mary's, 225 East 13th. St., New York, N.Y.
    3. St. Nicholas of Myra, 62 Ash St., Yonkers, N.Y.
    4. Holy Cross (Hungarian), 323 East 82nd. St., New York, N.Y.

  2. Philadelphia: Greek Rite Diocese (Ukrainians)
    1. Holy Ghost, 160 North 5th. St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
    2. St. George's, 24 East 7th. St., New York, N.Y.
    3. St. Mary's, 1745 Washington Ave., Bronx, N.Y.
    4. St. Michael's, 29 Chestnut St., Yonkers, N.Y.
    5. St. Nicholas, 262 19th. St., Brooklyn, N.Y.

  3. Maronite Rite (Syrians-Lebanese)
    1. Our Lady of Lebanon, Henry and Remsen Sts., Brooklyn, N.Y.
    2. St. Joseph's, West and Cedar Sts., New York, N.Y.

  4. Melchite Rite (Syrians)
    1. St. George's, 103 Washington St., New York, N.Y.
    2. Virgin Mary, Amity and Clinton Sts., Brooklyn, N.Y.

  5. Russian Rite (Russians)
    1. St. Michael's Chapel, 266 Mulberry St., New York, N.Y.

Eastern Catholics by Rev. Clement Englert, C.S.S.R.
© 2004 & E-Transcription Lúcio Mascarenhas
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