Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk offers Liturgy at St Peter’s

Sviatoslav offering Divine LiturgyPatriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainians offered the Divine Liturgy on 25 November with the special permission of Pope Francis at the altar of the Vatican Basilica. The Ukrainian Church is observing the 50th anniversary of the laying of the relics of Saint Josaphat, martyr for Church unity.

The praying of the Liturgy in Saint Peter’s is a terrific sign of diversity and unity of the Catholic Church. The Byzantine Church exists in Rome, Catholic and Orthodox. The beauty of the faith in all its specificities.

This week another group of Byzantine Catholics are meeting in Rome with their Patriarch and some bishops, that of the Melkites. A delegation from the USA just arrived in Rome today. The eternal city is being overrun with the Eastern Church.

Sviatoslav offering Liturgy at St Peter'sTwo notes: 1) it is a rare circumstance that a bishop other than the Bishop of Rome offer Mass on the altar of Saint Peter’s because it is a reserved altar. When John Paul was ailing we saw designated cardinals offering Mass at this altar. Recall that Major Basilicas belong to the Pope and have certain privileges; 2) In Church law and ecclesiastical custom (at the moment) the Ukrainian Church has a leader who does not officially carry the title of “Patriarch”; he holds the title of Major Archbishop —and there is no canonical difference in titles, but…— yet in a variety of places the Ukrainian faithful rightly use the term Patriarch as a few Vatican news agencies did today to relate the event. I hope that Sviatoslav will be granted the official use of the title of Patriarch, as he ought to have.

Saint Josaphat, pray for us.

Ecumenism from the bottom up, Svjatoslav Shevchuk advocates

Svjatoslav ShevchukYou will think I am silly for saying this, but who cares: I think that Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk is a good man for Christ’s Church.

Who is Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk you ask? Please recall that he is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (a major archbishop is the equivalent of a patriarch in church law without the title of patriarch).

He’s now 43 and he’s been a priest for nearly 20 years, a bishop for nearly 5 years and he’s been the head of the largest Eastern Catholic Church for the since March 2011. Shevchuk is a man to watch. I just hope he’s not going to cave the to bourgeois mentality which afflicts many ecclesiastics.

The archbishop is in Rome now for a month for a series of meeting, not least was the recent meeting of the Plenary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and a meeting with the Holy Father and other Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. Using his time wisely, the archbishop spoke with Andrea Tornielli of the Vatican Insider (who is a friend of Pope Francis); Tornielli’s interview, “Ecumenism from the bottom up: Now Vatican II is coming into effect.”

In the Tornielli interview you’ll read about his connection with Pope Francis, the desire of the faithful for a deeper unity (a ecumenism that’s full & visible) and note of contrast on marriage between the churches. Perhaps you’ll learn something. I did. You don’t have to agree with everything the interview reveals, but you would be wise to read carefully and between the lines.

To get a flavor of this young Father of the Church, please read and watch the following:

Pope meets Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Major Archbishops

Eastern Catholic PatriarchsAs the Roman Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, the Pope meets with the Fathers of the Churches who are in communion with him to be updated on the life of particular churches. The Patriarchs and Major Archbishops from the Eastern Churches are in Rome this week for a plenary meeting of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

Who are these bishops? The current (2013) patriarchs and major archbishops are:

  • Patriarch Gregory of the Melkites
  • Patriarch Bechara of the Maronites
  • Patriarch Ignatius of Syrians
  • Patriarch Louis of the Chaldeans
  • Patriarch Nerses of the Armenians
  • Patriarch Ibrahim of the Copts
  • Major Archbishop Sviatoslav of the Ukrainians
  • Major Archbishop Lucian of the Romanians
  • Major Archbishop George of the Syro-Malabars
  • Major Archbishop Baselios of the Syro-Malankars
  • Archbishop Fouad, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

This year’s meeting centered around the theme of religious liberty, an issue that is at crisis proportions around the world, even in the Western nations.

From Vatican Radio, “Citing the words of his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the post-Synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in medio oriente (nn. 39-40), Pope Francis said, “[You are] watchful guardians of communion and servants of Ecclesial unity,” adding, “that union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome’.” Pope Francis went on to say, “In order that our witness be credible, we are called ever to seek justice, mercy, faith, charity, patience and meekness.”

As you know, the current Pope and the previous one has had a deep appreciation for the patrimony of Eastern Christianity. They are brothers.

The Vatican Radio report can be heard here.

Rome Reports has filed a report here.

How well do you know Eastern Christianity?

Eastern Christianity confuses some very faithful Christians, Catholics and Orthodox people especially.

I recommend this brief essay by Jesuit Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples, “Eastern Christians and Their Churches” (Catholic Information Service, Knights of Columbus)

From the Catholic perspective, here are some videos to watch:

Eastern Catholic Church – An Introduction by Father Thomas Loya

Eastern Catholic Theology – Part I by Abbot Nicholas of Holy Resurrection Monastery

Eastern Catholic Theology – Part II by Abbot Nicholas of Holy Resurrection Monastery


Why be a Byzantine Catholic

Father David Petras, an archpriest priest of the Reuthenian eparchy of Parma, OH, and now a retired professor the sacred Liturgy at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary (Pittsburgh, PA).

Petras gave his a witness to his Byzantine faith, Why be a Byzantine Catholic, at the Parma Assembly 2013. Listen to what Father David says.

What I like about Father David’s witness is that he speaks about his experience of faith refracted through a Byzantine lens, a message of love, an experience of God who deifies us; he communicates in a real way that faith is a recognition of God who takes the initiative in calling us to Himself. Hence, the conversion that Petras speaks of is a commitment to the Church to which you belong, the decision to know, love and serve the church; the conversion Father David emphasizes so beautifully means being in love with God!!!

What is important to hear in this presentation is that Father Petras had a felt presence of the Holy Spirit, a direct experience of the Divine Majesty. Every Christian, in fact, has an experience of God and ought to reflect upon the ways in which the Spirit talks to you. But you have to listen carefully. It is true that our faith depends on how we personally engage the process of being a mature Christian seeking transfiguration into being a new creation. This is what it means to be a disciple of the Lord: to live in the graces of the Transfiguration on the mount. How will we work out the demands of being good students (disciples) of the Lord depends on our cooperating with Grace.

How do we cooperate with Grace? We cooperate with Grace by living in the heart of the Church: faithfully receiving the sacraments of confession and Eucharist, Lectio Divina, study of the faith, being a part of the community of faith in an active way, by being of service to those in need, and by having a healthy humanity. This is a robust faith.

Father David sets an agenda item for all of us: to work on a renewed theology of Holy Communion, because through communion we are united with God. He’s not advocating a theology that merely talks about the reception of Holy Communion but a manner of living in communion (Communio) with God, the Church, the self and others.

You may want to read his book, Time for the Lord to Act: A Catechetical Commentary on the Divine Liturgy.

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]yahoo.com.
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