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September 19, 2006



You gotta love a man who can quote Canon Law, and still comfortably use the word, "willy-nilly".

Byzantine Masses are SO beautiful! And studying the history of the different rites within the Church is very enlightening. There are some fringe "rad trad" Catholics who talk as though the '62 Latin Mass is the absolute, ONLY way the Mass has ever or ever should be celebrated. Attending a Byzantine Mass (especially one with an explanation before hand) would be very edifying for such a person.

Btw, if there isn't an Eastern liturgy in your area, a grass-roots movement can bring one there. This was recently accomplished in Peoria, Illinois, where they are now having a Byzantine Mass twice a month.


Check out the website from EWTN
east2west.com (it may be dot org)

Also if in Chicago area check out
Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church

The Eastern Churches have a lot of beauty

Fr. John Pecoraro

Very nice response Jimmy. I myself was seriously considering changing rites while a seminarian. I was involved with the a small Byzantine Catholic mission in New Orleans. I had the privilege to assist as a server at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. I do have perhaps a twinge of regret now and then, I really miss the beauty of the Liturgy. To the young man: after proper discernment go for it, but be prepared for the ethnic/cultural distinctiveness that is inherent to that rite. In my case the mission that I attended was a hodge podge of Italo-Greeks, Armenians, Ruthenians, Syrians and so on, I just fit right in.


There is a Byzantine Catholic Church nearby. It's origins are Slavic. Does anyone know what I might expect before I go? There web site says that they use the Ruthenian Rite.

Dr. Eric


The Ruthenians are like the Kurds in that they are an ethnic people who have no country of their own. The Ruthenians are from the area of Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine.

The Ruthenian Church (properly the Byzantine Catholic Church in America) is the largest Eastern Catholic Church in America and the Liturgy is in English. The Divine Liturgy will last from 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The Liturgy will be sung from start to finish.

Check out www.byzantinecatholic.com for Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Chicago.

Check out www.saintelias.com for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada.

And www.byzcath.org.


Barbara, My parents were members of a Ruthenian rite parish for many years and loved it. Lots of icons. The services are longer and possibly in Ruthenian rather than English and they receive communion differently (arms crossed over chest, and they feed you both species with a spoon, I think. Someone else please put in a better description.) Communion is the biggest adjustment. They also give communion to teensy weensy people.

It is really a beautiful service. I have mentioned it to our SSPX acquaintences on occasion, but they never acknowledged it as an option, which I find incomprehensible. I prefer it to the TLM, as you can attend without becoming immersed in the hostility to Vatican II and all those other elements that seem to accompany attendance of the traditional Mass.


To the original questioner: A friend of mine transferred to the Byzantine rite a few years ago, and was told that this was a once-in-a-lifetime deal - that in general the Church allows you to transfer rites one time in your life.

To Barbara: There are a lot of places that give you info on the Byzantine liturgy and how to act therein. This (http://www.byzcath.org/bboard/ultimatebb.php?ubb=forum;f=3) is an online forum of Byzantine Catholics; click the topic "Advice for visiting an Eastern church" for lots of input. Another place you could look is here: http://www.byzantines.net/liturgy/Liturgy%20Explanation.htm
They give a great, detailed description and explanation of the Byzantine liturgy.

It's a shame that AmChurch has made it so that we have to go to Eastern Rite parishes in order to properly worship. :(


I keep hoping that the Traditional Anglican Communion will be accepted as the second Western rite of the Catholic Church; Anglicans really are a distinct culture from Roman Catholics and should be recognized as such if they are doctrinally sound (the TAC has aligned its doctrines with that of Rome and stated that if Rome has opposition to any of them, they'll change them to be in accord).


>> The services are longer and possibly in Ruthenian rather than English and they receive communion differently (arms crossed over chest, and they feed you both species with a spoon, I think. Someone else please put in a better description.) Communion is the biggest adjustment. They also give communion to teensy weensy people.<<

Yup, they do give Holy Eucharist to VERY teensy weensy people...like to my sons when they were all baptized as babies in the Melkite Rite. Infants are baptized, receive First Communion (a teeny, tiny bit), and are Chrismated (confirmed) all in one fell swoop. Get as much grace into them as you can, right from the start!

My husband transferred from the Latin Rite in which he was raised into the Melkite Rite shortly before we met. As someone here described, he had to apply (by letter, I think) to the diocese in order to switch. I however, transferred in automatically when I married him. If you think the Divine Liturgy is beautiful, try a Melkite (or other Eastern Rite) wedding. It was a bit of a shock to the guests (especially the length: an hour and a half). Way different from the 10-minute long, "don't blink or you'll miss it" Protestant ceremonies!


Speaking of giving communion to teensy weensy people, I once read about an eastern Catholic who got into a dispute with a latin parish, because they wouldn't give his infant communion.


>>Speaking of giving communion to teensy weensy people, I once read about an eastern Catholic who got into a dispute with a latin parish, because they wouldn't give his infant communion.<<
Hmmmm, well, I'm not sure what the official rules on this are. I would imagine that if the situation is explained to the Latin Rite priest, he can't validly deny giving the infant communion. However, in the interests of not disrupting the liturgy, this should be done BEFORE Mass, not during. I guess I take a (literal!) "When in Rome..." point of view. My small sons do not receive Communion when we attend a Latin Rite Mass, because I imagine it would confuse and possibly scandalize the bulk of the congregation who do not understand the situation.

Susan F. Peterson

I have been attending a Ruthenian Rite parish since just after Christmas, and have joined that parish. I have been told that their bishops have decided that one ought to attend for two years before switching rites. Which is fine by me, because it is a big switch. As beautiful as their Easter celebration is...I missed the fire at the Easter vigil, and the Exultet.

Also, one has to consider WHICH Eastern Rite to join. The Ruthenians are in the process of adopting a new translation of the liturgy, somewhat abbreviating it, and employing some gender neutral words. It is as if they feel they have to play catch up with Rome, about 30 years behind, and feel compelled to repeat all of our mistakes. For instance, I am told that the new translation leaves "men" out of the creed. You know, "For us and for our salvation" instead of, "for us men and for our salvation" the way it was written. Brethren is going to be translated, brothers and sisters, which is unnecessary, but not too bad. But someone with a tin ear has decided that "For he is gracious, and loves mankind" will have to be translated "For he is gracious, and loves us all." Considering that this is chanted, and is a high conclusing point in the liturgy, it is very weak, not sonorous, and smacks suspiciously of "Luv, luv, luv."

So far the other rites are not considering such an atrocity, including the Ukrainian rite, whose other customs are quite similar.

There are long threads about this on the discussion forum at Byzcath. (Google "Byzantine Catholicism" and you will be there .)

Since I am lucky to live in an area where there are many Eastern rite churches, I have the option to go to the Ukrainians if the new translation turns out to be too unbearably bad...but I am beginning to meet people in this parish and don't want to turn into a dilettante of churches.

In many places the Eastern Rite churches (Ruthenian and Ukrainian;it seems as if the Melkites still have a young immigrant population) are made up mainly of old Slovaks, with a tiny smattering of young people. They don't evangelize very much. They don't have much of a sense of mission. My experience is that they welcome Roman rite Catholics, but they are not going to go out and try to get anyone else to join them. This is discouraging when you compare it to Orthodoxy. A block and a half down the street from my current parish is an Orthodox parish. The people have the same background; they were one Ruthenian Catholic church until 1938 or so, when slightly over half the parish decided to renounce their tie to Rome and become Orthodox. There was a lawsuit. The slight majority ruled. The founders of my parish left, worshipped at the Roman rite's church hall until they could build their own church, just up the street, larger and with two domes instead of one, and more Eastern besides. I don't know how they afforded it, as they were mostly factory workers. This whole situation split many families, most of whom now have members in each church. The Orthodox church is, confusingly, still named St.________'s Greek Catholic Church. As of right now, the liturgies are nearly identical except for which patriarch and bishop they pray for. When I first went there I actually thought I was going to a Catholic church; there is even a large painting--the standard one...of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. But, the difference is, this church was packed on Sunday, and was full of young people. Furthermore, their vestibule was full of pamphlets aimed at potential converts, including Protestant converts.

Once one is an Eastern Catholic, there is an awfully strong pull towards Orthodoxy. I have to remind myself almost daily, But, I believe in the Pope, but I believe in the Pope, I believe in the Pope, I swore on my knees that I believe in the Pope. I did, too, when I was received into the church in 1972, the profession of faith included "I believe that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the supreme visible head of the whole Church, who teaches infallibly what we must believe and do to be saved." I remind myself that I said that after a period of the most intense and earnest, and finally almost desperate prayer, and that I oughtn't to go back on it unless I receive a new blinding flash of divine guidance.

Eastern rite Catholics usually identify more strongly with the Orthodox than with other Catholics. In this area there are monthly meetings of clergy from all the Eastern churches, Catholic and Orthodox. There is an Eastern Christian baseball league for the kids, Ruthenian and Ukrainian Catholic, and Orthodox (of several jurisdictions as well.) They all go to each other's ethnic festivals and eat each others Piroghi.

I feel completely alienated from American suburban Catholicism (I live in a very "liberal" diocese) but Eastern Catholicism has the air of a very temporary halfway house. I am not sure what will become of it if all the old Slovaks die before we have reunion with Orthodoxy.

It may look somewhat different in places with new middle Eastern immigrants, where there are lots of young Melkites and Maronites. This is how it looks here.

Susan F. Peterson


Here is the website on the issue of children receiving communion.


Susan Peterson

Rereading my post I see that I wrote "conclusing" for concluding.

The issue of ethnicity is amazingly complicated and some people might not like the word "Slovak" which I used innocently. Carpatho-Rusyn? I haven't grasped all the subtleties of this issue. Apparently, they know who they are, and say "Our people." So far I have found them not unfriendly to one clearly not of "our people" though.

Susan Peterson


I've been to one Byzantine rite service. Wow. I have to take into account the bright-shiny-and-new factor, but still an experience I'd whole-heartedly recommend.

Maronites have become very latinized

The Ukrainian Orthodox liturgies are usually better than the Ukrainian Catholic

But as a sociological and political construct (besides Divine)the See of Peter is absolutely neccessary as we see with Islam and Communism in history and the serious error of Caesoro Papism

There were many Eastern Rite Popes

charles R. Williams

The Ruthenian chant is an especially attractive aspect of the Byzantine Church. In the old country the entire laity would sing all the responses. It is a plainchant which is harmonized in an informal way by the men's voices. If they have a good choir and if you can read a little music you can pick up the chant in no time. A man might want to stand in the men's section of the choir to pick up the harmonizations.

In the parish I attend, they alternate between English and Slavonic for the "ordinary" parts of the liturgy, sometimes singing in one language and then repeating in the other.

One interesting aspect of the liturgy is that the consecration can be prayed outloud or quietly while the choir sings.

The entire divine liturgy takes a long time and it is almost always abreviated in one way or another down to about 75 minutes or so.

The primary implications of switching rites are 1) different days of obligation 2) a maximalist approach to fasting and 3) confirmation/eucharist for baptised infants.

There is also an issue of married priests

Why is that an issue?

Susan Peterson

About the Maronites-

As a Maronite priest said to me, emphatically, when I asked why they cross themselves left to right, like Latin Rite Catholics, "WE ARE NOT BYZANTINES!"

Nor are they Uniates. They were never part of the Eastern Church, and there is no corresponding Orthodox rite.

This is what I have been told: The Maronites were the original Antiochians. They spoke Aramaic. When the area was first invaded by Muslims, they fled into the hills, led by the bishop/abbot of the Monastery of St. Maron. They stayed up in those hills for centuries, completely isolated, convinced that they were the only Christians left in the world. Their abbot/bishop and his successors therefore must be the Patriarchs of Antioch. Meanwhile, other, Arabic speaking Christians came to live in the area and coexisted uneasily with the Muslims, the great schism occurred, and these Christians became part of Orthodoxy. The first outsiders the Maronites met were Western Christians (perhaps Crusaders?) and they joyfully embraced them and declared themselves part of the Church these folks told them about. When they left their mountaintops, there was conflict between the Maronites and the Arabic speaking Christians, who had achieved some kind of detante with the Muslims, which included some sort of state supervision of or enforced cooperation with the Christian (Othodox) hierarchy. (Something like the Patriotic Catholic Church in China.) The Maronites, with their allegiance to a Patriarch-the Pope-not under their control, were considered a danger to the polis, (the government, society) and were persecuted. Arabic speaking Christians sometimes turned them in to authorities. Crossing themselves in the Western way was therefore an act of courage and a profession of their illegal allegience to Rome.

So before you say that they are "Westernized" you have to find out whether the elements you see as Western are really part of their history rather than alien to their tradition.

The descendents of those Arabic Christians are of course, Antiochian Orthodox, and Melkite Catholics.

I got some of this from a brief conversation with a Maronite priest, some from looking them up on the internet, and some from an Antiochian Orthodox priest I buttonholed at the reception after my son's wedding in that church, asking him to give me a history lesson. He was pretty fair to the Maronites, I thought, although he did refer to their bishop/abbot as " a mere country bishop."

Susan Peterson


One possible reason why the Eastern Catholic churches aren't trying to get people to join them, as Susan notes, is that such actions might be frowned on as "divisive" by RC parishes in the area. I attend an Indult Mass in the traditional Latin rite. Recently, when I suggested putting up a few notices advertising this Mass, I was warned by an older member of the congregation that other parishes don't approve of us "poaching" their faithful. (Though my own attitude is that it's surely right to tell people where they can get a good liturgy and sound teaching).

I've attended Ukranian Masses from time to time, and, like most of the people posting here, was very moved by the beauty of their liturgy. I'm also fascinated by the culture and the history of the Ukraine, particularly what her people had to put up with during the 20th century at the hands of Stalin et. al. All of which has meant that I have considered joining that Church. But it has such a distinctive spirituality (and physically arduous liturgy!) that this must be no light decision. And really, as a traditionalist Catholic in a place where the Roman rite is the norm, I feel that the best way I could both live my own Catholicism to the full AND evangelise my neighbours would be to stay with the TLM and encourage my fellow-Catholics to go to it (even if that gets up the noses of liberal parish priests!). I can't realistically see many Catholics in my city flocking to the Ukranian rite, but I CAN see the TLM getting stronger, if enough labourers go forth into the harvest. And that would be a great thing.

After all, the traditional Latin liturgy as it was before the 1960's is very beautiful too.

Susan Peterson


For me, the issue is being able to hear and understand what the priest is saying, and being able to make the responses myself.

In the Eastern Rite, I can.

Give me a Latin mass, a Tridentine mass, but with the priests part said aloud and the people making the responses that just the altar server makes now, and I would be very happy with it.
I just can't participate without interacting.
(Can't handle lecture classes either, always sat in the front row and asked lots of questions...)
For me, all Latin would be fine, took 4 years in high school, understand them pretty well when the do the Novus Ordo in Latin on EWTN. But if you want this to take over America, they will have to do what the Eastern Rites did, and celebrate their traditional rite mostly in English, with the people making the responses.

Teach us all Gregorian chant, too. From the few times I have heard it, I think it is the MOST beautiful chant. But I want to sing, not just listen.

The Ruthenian chant, I don't think, is as beautiful. But after 6 months or so in the parish, I can sing along. Even when I couldn't but still tried, no one cared.

Anyway, those of you working to get the traditional Latin liturgy more widely accepted are doing a great thing also. Even something towards the unity of East and West, as the Orthodox do not understand why we would ditch our ancient liturgy.

Must go, work is closing up, security guard is coming to ask when I am leaving,

I'm just curious... Do most Eastern Rite churches still retain Church Slavonic as the liturgical language? If so, how have you adapted to the language?

I was a catechumen in the ROCOR years ago, but I had 3 years of Russian language study under my belt, so Church Slavonic was at least familiar to my ears. Do you just memorize certain prayers and phrases such as "Slava ocu i synu... etc."?

charles R. Williams

"I'm just curious... Do most Eastern Rite churches still retain Church Slavonic as the liturgical language? If so, how have you adapted to the language?"

In the US Ruthenians use mostly English with occasional Slavonic. I think the Ukrainians do a lot of Ukrainian along with English and Slavonic. The Romanians, Melkites and Maronites use none at all (of course). There are other groups.

The Ruthenians - who, with very few recent immigrants, are the most Americanized - began switching to English in the fifties. Since their liturgy is sung, The switch took many years and much effort.

For me, knowing next to nothing about Slavic languages, the Slavonic is no big deal. Svyaty boh, svyaty kripky, svyaty bezsmertny, pomiluj nas. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. It's almost word for word and you sing it every Sunday. The Pater Noster is a little more complicated.

Between the Melkites and the Maronites, do they favor Greek, Aramaic, or Arabic?

Dr. Eric

The Ukrainians usually (at least at the parish I attend) have the Liturgy in half English and half in Ukrainian. The readings (which are chanted) will be in both languages too, one after the other. The Ukrainians don't use Slavonic very much, if at all anymore.

Another great tradition is the greetings.

In ordinary time every one is greeted with "Glory to Jesus Christ!" and the response is "Glory forever!" Or "Slava Isusu Khrystu!" and "Slava na viky!" in Ukrainian (they y being a short "ih" sound.)

During Eastertide the greeting is "Christ is Risen!" and the response is "He is truly Risen!" Or "Khrystos voskres!" and "Voistynnu voskres!" in Ukrainian.

And during Christmastime the greeting is "Christ is born!" and the repsonse is "Glorify Him" Or "Khrystos razhdayetsya!" and "Slavity Yoho!"

The last greeting is during the Theophany which is "Christ is Baptized!" which is responded with "In the Jordan!" In Ukrainian "Khrystos Khrystyayetsya!" and "V Yordanyi!"

Even on the streets people will greet each other this way.

I believe in Bavaria there is a similar practice among Latin Catholics of the region.

Dr. Eric

Also, when greeting a Priest one ALWAYS asks for his blessing!

"Father, Bless!" or "Blahoslovy!" one should say to a priest. And hold out your hands like a Latin who recieves Communion in the Novus Ordo.

The priest will then bless the parishioner with his hand in the form of ICXC and place his hand on your hands.

When greeting a Bishop we say "Master, Bless!" or "Blahoslovy, Vladyko!" and he will do the same.

Susan Peterson

The original language of the Melkites is Arabic, of the Maronites, Aramaic. Most of their liturgy is in English now. However the Maronites always have the words of conscration in Aramaic. That way, they feel, they are using the very words which Jesus used.

I went to a Holy Thursday service at a Maronite church. They used a lot of Aramaic. There were so many choices and variations in the liturgy book that it was very difficult to follow. The chant was very different, with a kind of driving and powerful rhythm to it.

My Ruthenian church uses mostly English, but will repeat some parts of the liturgy in Slavonic. The transliterated Slavonic (in ordinary letters, not Cyrillic) is on the other side of the page, so it is easy to follow. They did more in Slavonic during Holy Week and Easter.

The old people sing louder when it is in Slavonic. They sing hymns in Slavonic also. They never announce the hymn, the choir just starts singing and everyone joins in. I usually don't figure out which one they are singing until they are almost done. This is one of the things which tells me that they don't really expect visitors or converts. But, in a year or two I expect I will be able to sing Immaculate Mary in Slavonic. (This is called Westernization and is frowned on by the Eastern Christian cognoscenti...but the little old ladies get tears in their eyes..)

Susan Peterson


I am truly grateful to our Lord for the utter serendipity of this post. I have been praying and seeking God a long time about finding my place in His body and have recently begun attending a Byzantine Catholic parish for Sunday am Liturgy.

Thank you, Jimmy, for posting this and for all of you above for your insights and comments. I love being Catholic and love the Byzantine rite liturgy. There is definitely a more reverent atmosphere and I love the chanting and participation during the entire Liturgy. I also love the welcome I have received there and how more than anywhere to this point, it could possibly be a true church family / home.

A big part of my journey into the Catholic church was to do with my years spent in Eastern Europe / Turkey / Greece and Russia doing Protestant missionary work. I am just finding out how my time in monasteries and Orthodox churches, praying with believers and before icons is warmly attracting me to the Byzantine rite.

I appreciate your words of not rushing into anything and to take my time in worship experience and learning.

Stephen JPG

I don't think anyone has mentioned this, and I noticed that Jimmy did a nice job with it, but we really shouldn't refer to the divine liturgy of the Eastern rites as "mass." The word "mass," to my limited knowledge, comes from the Latin phrase "ite missa est" (which is directly translated as "Go it is the dismissal" and which has become, in English, "The mass is ended..." -- somewhat of a lingustic redundancy, but I digress).

Anyhow, as I believe that none of the Eastern Rite liturgies were ever celebrated in Latin, the term "mass" doesn't really apply to them. It's just one of those things. A hard habit to break, but worth getting used to, esspecially if you like to chat it up about litrgy with your Eastern rite breatheren.

The dismissal of the Eastern Liturgy begins with "Let us now depart in peace." The word "depart" is what is translated as "missa" or "mass" in Latin, so I really don't see how it is improper. They are practically the same phrase spoken at the same point in parallel liturgies. The only difference is Greek/Slavonic/Arabic vs. Latin.

Which brings me to something I have to get off my chest because it annoys me. The RadTrads have a habit of insisting that it be called the "Mass" instead of the "Liturgy" to emphasize that it is a sacrifice. How on earth is the word "mass" related to sacrifice? The word is derived from the word "missa" meaning "dismissed" in Latin. (You'd think that RadTrads would at least know Latin!)

Yet, the word "Liturgy" has been used pretty much ever since the Church had a liturgy.

Makes no sense!

Susan Peterson

Re Mass and Liturgy-

The meaning of the names to people has to do with their associations. For some people "liturgy" is associated with liturgists, and everything which has happened in the church since V2. In that context, it got to be a kind of trendy word, and was misappropriated to justify all sorts of hijinks, from silly to vapid to blasphemous. So for some people, "mass" refers to the was it was before V2, when the focus was on the priest offering sacrifice and everyone knew it. It isn't that the word mass in its origins means that, but in its associations it is connected to that time.
Furthermore "mass" is associated with the Latin liturgy in the form that it developed over many years in the West, and the use of that word signals loyalty to and devotion to, that tradition. Nothing wrong with that.

However in the Eastern tradition, Liturgy does not have the association with post V2 silliness, and is still connected with its own venerable tradition.

ps-You should be careful about the use of the term "Rad-Trads" for people who just want to attend the Tridentine Latin mass. If they attend a legitimate, indult mass, they are just Catholics like the rest of us. Rad-trads come in several stripes, but to generalize, will say that the Novus Ordo is invalid, believe that V2 taught heresy, even say that the last several Popes are not genuine popes. People who just prefer to attend the historic rite of the Western Church, ought not to be tarred with that brush.

Susan Peterson

No, I wasn't insinuating that those who prefer the Latin Mass are "RadTrads". I prefer it myself.

I was referring to those who nitpick over things like "Mass" vs. "Liturgy" and give reasons like "the Church is abandoning the fact that the Mass is a sacrifice by using words like 'Eucharist' and 'Liturgy' instead of 'Communion' and 'Mass'"... things that make no sense except in their own little heads.


I've long been fascinated by the Eastern liturgies, and I've participated in a number of different rites over the years.

I live in Metro Detroit, where there is a great diversity of rites--including Romanian, Ruthenian, Ukranian, Armenian, Syro-Malabar and Chaldean, to mention a few.

My first eastern liturgy was 1985, in the Syro-Malankar rite (an Antiochian liturgy not to be confused with the Syro-Malabar), presided over by the then Archbishop of Trivandrum, Mar Gregorios Thangalathil. Gorgeous vestments, embroidered with lotus blossoms.

Later,in 1987, I attended a Ukranian liturgy and received communion from Cardinal Lubachiwsky of Lviv. I still get goosebumps as I remember the chant.

I have also taken part in a Chaldean liturgy (the Chaldean Eparchy for the eastern US is HQ'ed in Southfield, MI). The liturgy was celebrated by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Mar Raphael I. The chant was awesome, as was the experience of passing the peace.

IMHO, every Latin Rite Catholic should experience at least one eastern liturgy in their lifetime. More if possible.


Just a reminder - it is not a 'Mass' - it is the 'Divine Liturgy' for us eastern people. There is no 'Byzantine Mass'. In fact, I think the Roman Catholic Mass might much better be termed a 'Divine Liturgy' also. I never liked the term 'Mass', which is a bad anglicization of a Latin word from the end of the liturgy, ite missa est, (the words of dismissal from the service).

A Simple Sinner

Speaking of giving communion to teensy weensy people, I once read about an eastern Catholic who got into a dispute with a latin parish, because they wouldn't give his infant communion.

I went to Catholic gradeschool with a Ruthenian Catholic classmate. Years before I knew what Byzantine Catholics were (although my grandmother was one) I remember when we went weekly Mass, he got to take communion before we did. (Back when we were 5 and he was in kindergarten. No one explained why to the rest of us at the time and I only figured it out years later when that same kid married my cousin! heheh)

I was pretty jealous.

Now that I too am a Byzantine Catholic, (its legal, I got the paperwork to prove it!) I have asked parents of small children how they handle it. It is simple: If you get there early and talk to the priest first to let him know to expect a small child for communion because you are Byzantine, it is not a problem. He cannot say no if he knows the situation. If he does not know, he may say "no" when you approach because he would first think you are a non-Catholic who does not understand the traditions.


Mr. Akin,

I find your reading of Canon Law helpful. My only quibble is where you say:

"Thus if you changed rites to join the Melkite Church, you would at that point no longer be a Roman Catholic but a Melkite Catholic and would be subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as the particular law of the Melkite Church."

I think the correct term is "Latin Catholic," not "Roman Catholic." I know this sounds odd to so many people, but the Code doesn't use the term "Roman Catholic." Furthermore, I haven't found it in the documents of Vatican II. In fact, where I have found the Magisterium using the term "Roman," it is always in reference to the WHOLE Catholic Church, i.e., Eastern Catholics included.

So, for instance, Pope Pius XII talks about the Roman Catholic Church being the Mystical Body of Christ, the one true church (in the Encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ). I don't think he meant to exclude the other 21 churches that make up the Catholic Church from being part of the Mystical Body. Same goes for the Credo of the Council of Trent. Also, the Annuario Pontificio--the Official Yearbook of the Holy See, lists the other 21 Eastern Churches as full members of the Catholic Church in communion with Rome. Finally, the Catholic Encyclopedia and the New Catholic Encyclopedia (both editions) state that "Roman" as attached to the title "Catholic Church," in the English-speaking world, is an invention of the Anglican Protestants. They coined the phrase "Roman Catholic" in derision of the Latin Church to imply that there are three branches of the Catholic Church: "Roman," Anglican," and Eastern or Orthodox. (Read the article "Roman.")

So stick with the Canonical term if you are describing canon law: there are Latin Catholics and there are Eastern Catholics. Together they make up the Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Church, which are synonymous, Rome being the source of unity of the Catholic Church.

Hersch Green

I am a Latin-Rite Catholic in the process of making the switch to the Ruthenian Catholic Church. The more formal term for this is a Change in Ritual Church. In addition to this the process of switching may only take one year not two. This however varies Catholic to Catholic as it depends on the parish priest, the Latin Rite Bishop, the Eastern Eparch, and of course the individual switching.

Christ With Us!


Sarah Mason

My husband and I are both Latin Rite, but are very drawn to the Eastern Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and to the Melkite understanding of the sacraments of initiation. We are expecting our first child in April of 2008 and want to have him/her baptized, chrismated, and given the Eucharist at the Melkite parish that we are attending. I know that we and the baby would remain Latin Rite, but I am wondering if we need a dispensation for the baby to receive the three sacraments in the Melkite Rite. Any suggestions on who I can talk to about this?


If one was Baptized a Latin Rite Catholic but was not confirmed, is it possible to join a Ruthenian Catholic parish and be Chrisomated there?

David B.


I think your question would get a swifter response over at Jimmy's place of work:


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