I apologize for the lack of content lately. I have been working overtime again, and it's anyone's guess how long this will last. I may be posting infrequently still for the next few weeks. In the meantime, I finally finished up my series on the eastern Catholic Churches over at Catholic365.com. I had to end up separating the long essay into three parts, and they are linked below, with a preview of the first part after the jump:
Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: The Byzantine Rite and Its History
Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: The Byzantine Churches Today and Its Liturgical Traditions
Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: Great Byzantine Saints
The Byzantine Rite is made up of 14 particular Churches, the most of any of the six distinct liturgical rites, with the Alexandrian and West Syrian Rites trailing far behind in numbers with three particular sui iuris Churches each. These 14 Churches are all joined together by a common liturgical tradition with roots stretching back to the time of St. John Chrysostom, whose Divine Liturgy is most often used in these particular Churches. Over time, many “Latinizations”, or Latin liturgical traditions crept into the life of Byzantine Catholics, but many popes in the last century have called for a return to the wonderful liturgical traditions of these Churches. St. John Paul II was probably foremost among these popes. In an Apostolic Letter to the faithful of the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church in 1995 on the fourth centenary of the Union of Brest, St. John Paul made clear how rich the traditions of Byzanine Catholics were and how they benefited the universal Church:
“The Union of Brest opened a new page in the history of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Today that Church wishes to sing with joy a hymn of thanksgiving and praise to the One who, once more, has brought it back from death to life, and it wishes to set forth with renewed enthusiasm on the path marked out by the Second Vatican Council. Joining the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in this thanksgiving and petition are the Greek Catholic Churches of the diaspora which date back to the Union of Brest, together with the other Eastern Catholic Churches and the entire Church.
“As the Bishop of Rome, I too wish to unite myself to the Catholics of the Byzantine tradition in those lands. For many years, during my pastoral ministry in Poland, I sensed a physical as well as a spiritual closeness with that Church, which was then undergoing such difficult trials. After my election to the See of Peter, I considered it a pressing duty, following the example of my Predecessors, to speak out in defense of its right to exist and freely to profess its faith, at a time when both these rights were being denied…
“Mary, who has inspired in their trials fathers and mothers, young people, the sick and the aged; Mary, the column of fire capable of guiding so many martyrs of the faith, is certainly at work in preparing the hoped-for union of all Christians: in the light of this, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church certainly has its own role to play.”
The role that the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church, and the other Churches of the Byzantine Rite, have to play cannot be understated, and the following will serve to give testament to how important these Churches and their faithful are to the life of the universal Church.
History of the Byzantine Rite
The 14 particular Churches of the Byzantine Rite have all followed a similar lineage from ancient times, before they start to diverge a bit with the creation of their particular Churches around the time of the Reformation. The Byzantine Rite, or the Rite of Constantinople, developed as a kind of amalgamation of the Alexandrian and Antiochene Rites. But by the fourth century, the Byzantine Rite had become a distinct liturgical expression which spread throughout the Eastern Roman Empire. As we’ll see in more detail in the section on “Liturgy and Traditions”, the Divine Liturgy used in the Byzantine Rite derives from the ancient Liturgy of St. James, thanks to reforms by both St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom. Several contemporaries of St. Basil confirm the reforms that he had carried out during his time as Metropolitan Caesarea. St. Basil also reformed the lives of the clergy as he revitalized the Byzantine Church, and his reforms were continued on by St. John as patriarch of Constantinople.
Find the rest HERE.