Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eastern Rite Parishes and the Middle East

Many of us have probably not thought much about the phrase in the Apostles Creed which refers to the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Many may think that what is meant by the word "catholic" is the Roman Catholic Church, headed by Pope Benedict XVI and based in the Vatican City State. Actually, "catholic" comes from the Greek work meaning "universal."

There are actually 22 churches within the Catholic Church, all swearing allegiance to the Pope in Rome. But they have their own Patriarchs as their head, their own canon law, their own languages and their own ordination processes. They are often referred to as the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church and the Church in Rome is referred to as the Latin Rite.

There are five Eastern Rite Catholic Churches located within the area of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: The Byzantine Church of St. John in Minneapolis, (of the Byzantine Eparchy of Peoria, Illinois); St. Maron in Minneapolis and Holy Family in St. Paul of the Maronite Catholic Church (based in Lebanon); and St. Constantine in Minneapolis and St. Stephen in St. Paul of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

These parishes are often included in archdiocesan events. In the recent Corpus Christi procession in Northeast Minneapolis, St. Maron and St. Constantine were among the seven parishes that were on the procession route and St. Maron's hosted the hospitality reception after the event.

It is permitted for Roman Catholics to attend a Mass in an Eastern Rite parish. You might want to do a little research before you do go as their liturgies are much different and sometimes much longer than those of the Roman Catholic Church.

Last month, Monsignor Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron's, was interviewed by Father Mitch Pacwa on his EWTN Live program (airing on Wednesday nights 8:00 p.m.; I don't know how I missed it; I watch EWTN almost exclusively when I'm not staring at a monitor).

Msgr. Maroun is the president of Telelumiere USA, part of an organization that broadcasts to the Middle East and around the world in Arabic and other languages bring their message love, hope and reconciliation. There are 400 milliion people in the Middle East who speak Arabic.

St. Maron's website, has a seven part video of Msgr. Maroon's interview.

Telelumiere ("TV of Light") and Noursat "light satellite" have a webpage in which you might also be interested. There is some history Here. [DAF News]

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