Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

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.

Lights From the East, Pray For Us!

James Michael Thompson has a new book, Lights From the East, Pray For Us!  This is his second.

Published by Liguori Publications, so pre-order now.

The book provides a brief biography, a scripture reading, a reflection, a prayer, and a hymn for fifteen saints from the Eastern Churches. Lights From the East presents the Church’s incredible riches of some of the saints to English speakers, by giving the reader icons, biographies, Scripture, reflections, translated quotations from the service that honors the saint, prayers, and original hymns set to Rusyn or Galician melodies.

Thompson covers saints of the Old and New Testaments, Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths, the First-Martyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla, Martyr Barbara, Macrina the Younger, Sabbas, Xenophon & Mary, and their sons, Arcadius & John, Cyril & Methodius, Theodosius of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, David of Thessalonica, Maximus the Confessor John Chrysostom, John of Damascus, Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.

The forward is by the Rev. Dr. Peter Galadza of the Sheptytsky Institue for Eastern Christian Studies.

J. Michael Thompson of Pittsburgh is a well-known choral director, liturgical scholar and practioner. One of his major works has been the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle of which he is the founder and artistic director. Thompson has served as professor of ecclesiastical chant at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh and was the cantor/ director of music at the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Munhall, Pennsylvania.

Russian Patriarch losing popularity at home, and in the Ukraine

One doesn’t point to the failures of others in a mean-spirited way. No one likes it done to himself, but more importantly, it isn’t Christian. Nevertheless, we need to get to the heart of certain issues.

An article by Andriy Skumin, “Mission: Impossible” published today online on the international edition of  The Ukrainian Week raises a lot of questions about how the Orthodox see themselves as they observe 1025 years since receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Patriarch Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is facing lots of difficulties these days in places like the Ukraine, some of his own making, and some he’s been made to face from outside the Church.

Whether Skumin’s article is completely objective may be debated. But what needs to be studied are the ways by which the Christian Church’s ability to proclaim the gospel is effective today given certain cultural, political and religious factors. Also, whether the Christian Church is Orthodox or Catholic, both ecclesial communities face similar issues in their milieu; reality is crucial to acknowledge and work within. Hopefully, Patriarch Kirill will be able to service the Gospel and not his own ideology. And I would say the say for the Catholic Major Archbishop in the Ukraine.

At this time Christians are celebrating 1025 years of the reception of sacrament of Baptism of the Rus; and in particular, the Kyian Rus. I happen to think that the Russian Orthodox Church is a bit too imperialistic in their own circles but also in forcing others to follow them. They are often economical with the truth when it comes to common history.

Locally, the Catholic bishop of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainians, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, had a Moleben in thanksgiving to God for the gift of baptism.

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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