BRIEF INTRO TO THE RITES
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION


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Too many Catholics remain ignorant of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. It is true that Latin or Roman-Rite Catholics comprise the overwhelming majority of the 1 billion Catholics throughout the world, but the many Eastern rite Catholics (who belong to the spiritual traditions of the ancient patriarchal Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and a number of other centers of missionary expansion in the early Church) are as fully Catholics as Latin-Rite Catholics.

As the Second Vatican Council declared:

"The Catholic Church values highly the institutions of the Eastern Churches, their liturgical Rites, ecclesiastical traditions and their ordering of Christian life. For in those Churches, which are distinguished by their venarable antiquity, there is clearly evident the tradition which has come from the Apostles through the Fathers and which is part of the divinely revealed, undivided heritage of the Universal Church.

The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same Faith, the same sacraments and the same government. They combine into different groups, which are held together by their hierarchy, and to form particular Churches or Rites. Between those Churches there is such a wonderful bond of union that this variety in the Universal Church, far from diminishing its unity, rather serves to emphasize it. For the Catholic Church wishes the traditions of each particular Church or Rite to remain whole and entire, and it likewise wishes to adapt its own way of life to the needs of different times and places.

These individual Churches both Eastern and Western, while they differ somewhat among themselves in what is called 'rite', namely, in liturgy, in ecclesiastical discipline and in spiritual tradition, are none the less all equally entrusted to the pastoral guidance of the Roman Pontiff, who by God's appointment is successor to Blessed Peter in primacy over the Universal Church. Therefore these churches are of equal rank, so that none of them is superior to the others because of its rite. They have the same rights and obligations, even with regard to the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world (cf. Mk.16:15), under the direction of the Roman Pontiff."

( Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, nos. 1, 2 and 3 )

Thus, the Catholic Church comprises many Eastern rite Catholics who do not celebrate Mass according to the ritual and ceremonies of the Roman rite. The largest number of Eastern rite Catholics belong to the Byzantine tradition, that is, the liturgical system that developed in the Patriarchate of imperial Constantinople. Hellenic Greek Byzantine rite Catholics, Russian Slavonic rite Catholics, Rumanian Catholics of the Byzantine rite, Ukrainian rite Catholics (who constitute the numerically largest Eastern rite), and the Arabic-speaking Melkite Greek Catholics in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria are all the heirs of the Byzantine liturgical synthesis, renowned for the sumptuousness of its ceremonial. But there are also the heirs of the Alexandrian, Antiochian, and Jerusalem liturgical traditions: Coptic rite Catholics in Egypt, Ethiopian rite Catholics in that country, Armenian rite Catholics scattered in various countries, Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq and Iran (ancient Persia) and in India - and yet other groupings of Eastern rite faithful who retain liturgies, spiritual traditions, theology, and even canon law procedures, which are distinct from those found in Western Catholicism.

A "Rite" of the Church should be understood as marked by more than a distinctive ritual and ceremony used in worship; it also involves a particular spirituality, theology, and canonical discipline. Many of the Eastern churches now in communion with the See of Peter were at some time separated from the Holy See because of separatist movements following rejection of the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.), the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.), and the spread of the Byzantine Greek Schism after the unfortunate events of 1054 and 1204 A.D. Many Eastern Catholics who have sacrificed much over the centuries to maintain their communion with the Holy See now live in the United States and their churches can be easily attended by Roman-rite Catholics who wish to become better acquainted with their brethren in the Faith and who are the spiritual heirs of the great Greek and Syrian Fathers of the Church.


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For Listing of "THE RITES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH"   click-here
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The following is a listing of Eastern-Rite parish Churches in and around Buffalo NY:

St. Nicholas, Ukrainian Catholic Church
256 Oneida St., Buffalo (phone 716-852-7566)

St. John the Baptist, Ukrainian Catholic Church
3275 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore (phone 716-873-5011)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help,
Ukrainian Catholic Church
Ridge Rd. & S. Shore Blvd., Lackawanna (phone 716-823-6182)

St. Basil, Ukrainian Catholic Church
3657 Walden Ave., Lancaster (phone 716-683-0313)

St. Mary-Protection of Virgin Mary,
Ukrainian Catholic Church
2715 Ferry Ave., Niagara Falls (phone 716-284-7066)

St. Stephen the Protomartyr,
Byzantine Ruthenian-rite Catholic Church
575 Ayer Rd., Williamsville (phone 716-688-9290)

St. John Maron, Maronite Catholic Church
2040 Wehrle Dr., Williamsville (phone 716-634-0669)

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