Category Archives: Eastern Church

The fate of Eastern Christianity to be discussed in October; but what about now?

The hard work of collaborating and witnessing to Jesus Christ for 14 million Eastern Christians is indeed a difficult task, but one that is only sustained by prayer, mutuality and study.

During his trip to Cyprus Pope Benedict released what he things is a reasonable agenda for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops for Christians in the Middle East. But don’t be fooled in thinking that this Synod is merely for those in funny hats doing the Liturgy in a different manner. On the contrary, this Synod, as all Synods, have a direct impact on our Christian lives here in the USA for those living outside of the Middle East. What happens to our brothers and sisters in the East impacts the life of the Church across the world whether we realize it or not. So often, we neglect our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world because there seems to be little identifiable connections between what and how they live there, and what and how we live here. Remember, Christ our Lord and Savior lived, died and resurrected in the Middle East. Why wouldn’t we be concerned with the Christians in the Holy Land and neighboring countries? You and I don’t have to be Melkite, Maronite, Coptic, Syriac or Hebrew Catholics to care for the other. Let’s not wait to later to do this caring, let’s do it now.
The Lineamenta (the agenda for the Synod of Bishops) is built under the title of “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.” Acts 4:32 sets the framework: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”
The heads (and assistants) of Eastern Churches in the Middle East have been preparing for the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome 10-24 October 2010.
An H2O News interview explores some themes.
The Holy Father in consultation with the bishops and many experts speaks of the point of the Synod in this manner, which sets the bar pretty high in my opinion:
1. to confirm and strengthen Christians in their identity through the Word of God and the sacraments;
2. to deepen ecclesial communion among the particular Churches, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an authentic, joyful and winsome manner.
In the Pope’s mind these 2 goals are only possible through an ecumenical approach “if Christian witness is to be genuine and credible.” For Pope Benedict, and I pray for all the bishops and religious orders and secular institutes in the Middle East, and for this blog dedicated to communion theology, that communion among Christians will lead to a unified Christian mind and heart which will in turn revitalize Christian life together. That is, that one day full, visible communion among the Churches and ecclesial communities will be a fact.
I urge you to read the working document (the lineamenta) noted above. Beg the Holy Spirit to guide your reading. Take the questions posed in the document with a degree of seriousness to see what can be done from your context to build a deeper bond of communion with Christians in the Middle East and with those who have immigrated to the West.
Let us all be united in prayer to the Holy Spirit and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, to assist the bishops and the experts in dealin with the critical issues being faced by Eastern Christians at this time.

Liturgical New Year for the Byzantine Church

Happy New Liturgical Year for the Byzantine Church! Have a blessed 7519!!! The Byzantine Church understands this date to be the years since the creation of the world. A new liturgical year, a new beginning to give God glory, honor and praise!!!!

We bless God’s holy name with the singing of the Great Doxology

Vision of the Thorne of the Lord.jpg

Glory to God in the highest, and to people on earth peace and good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, Father almighty; Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit!
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. You take away the sin of the world, hear our prayer. You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are holy; you alone are the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
I will bless you day after day, and praise your name forever. Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept sinless this morning. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praiseworthy and glorious is your name forever. Amen.
May your mercy, O Lord, be upon us who have placed our hope in you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Master; make me understand your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Holy One; enlighten me with your commandments.
O Lord, you have been our refuge for one generation to the next.
I said: Lord have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
O Lord, I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will, for you, O Lord, are my God.
In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.
Extend your mercy to those who know you!

Fr Robert Taft advocates ecumenical scholarship & theology as a new approach to restore communion among the churches of East and West

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their
past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Archimandrite Robert F.
Taft, SJ.

Fr. Taft, a Jesuit priest of the New England Province and professor emeritus of the history of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was
sustained primarily by offensive actions–not theological differences.
He delivered “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations
Today,” on June 28 at Fordham University.

“The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical
dialogue is not doctrine but behavior,” Fr. Taft said. “The issue is
not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and
live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is
that we do not know how to act.”

pointed to Catholic “uniatism”–aggression against another church–as a
major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He
added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also
refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of “ecumenical scholarship and theology”–a
new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite,
rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic
and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic
sister churches, he said.

point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and
Orthodox never disagree. “What it does mean, is that at the official
level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously,
without invective, rudeness, and slander,” Fr. Taft said. [Fordham

Praying the Maronite Liturgy

Today, I was one of the acolytes at St Ann Melkite Church (Waterford, CT) for the Maronite Liturgy celebrated in the another Eastern Church, the Melkite Church. It is not typical for one Liturgy to be celebrated in a church of another Eastern Church but since there are a number of Maronite Catholics who live in southeastern Connecticut it was judged rightly to have the Maronite Liturgy this weekend. The Liturgy was done in both English and Arabic. My friend Archimandrite Edward Kakaty welcomed visiting Maronites with their priest from Our Lady of Lebanon Church, Waterbury, CT, to St Ann’s.

For nearly three years I served as acolyte for the Maronite Liturgy and frequently the Melkite Liturgy so today was like coming home.
Watch part I of the Diving Liturgy here, part II here and part III here.

Basil M. Schott, OFM, Ruthenian metropolitan archbishop RIP

BM Schott.jpgAfter struggling with Leukemia Metropolitan Basil Myron Schott, OFM, died this morning. He was 71. I have fond memories of meeting the archbishop and always found him to be a kind and holy man.

Since 2002, Archbishop Basil was the head of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church in the USA.
May his memory be eternal.
The funeral arrangements for His Eminence, Metropolitan Basil, Schott funeral arrangements.pdf.
A glimpse into the Metropolitan’s life here and here.
A Pittsburgh Tribune Obit is posted here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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