The Byzantine Catholic Church is comprised of followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who are in union with the Pope of Rome, yet whose religious patrimony, unlike that of Roman Catholics, took shape in fourth century Byzantium (Constantinople, present-day Istanbul). These Greek spiritual traditions were adapted from the rituals of Antioch, an ancient city evangelized by the apostles, who were sent forth by Our Lord to “make disciples of all the nations.” This religious tradition was then brought to the Slavic peoples of Europe, beginning in the ninth century. Emigrants from Eastern Europe brought their Byzantine faith to the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. That is why you may hear some prayers and hymns being sung in the traditional Slavonic or Ukrainian languages.
Divine Liturgy is the “summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.” For Byzantine Rite Catholics, the Divine Liturgy is the sublime form of spiritual worship, which fully engages all of our physical senses and draws us into the presence of the Holy, Almighty and Immortal God.
Icons are religious paintings or images. By contemplating icons of our Lord, of those holy ones who are with our Lord in heaven, and of those sacred events which are a part of Christian tradition, we strive to archives a powerful and prayerful meditative mood. We never worship the images themselves. Through the icons we direct our prayers to God, Who became visible and approachable in His Son, and Whom, alone, we praise, worship, and glorify.
Bowing and making the sign of the cross upon ourselves many times during the liturgy is a sign of our faith as we receive and accept God’s blessings through the church and the ministry of the priest-celebrant. We also bow slightly and bless ourselves ever time we refer to the Holy Trinity. We do not genuflect but rather bow and cross ourselves as we enter and leave the church.
Incense is used as a sign of reverence for the sacred place and for the people participating in the liturgy, who are made in the image and likeness of God. It is also a sign of purification and preparation for something important that is about to happen. It reminds us that our prayers ascend (like the incense itself) before the throne of God.
Singing is one of the great beauties of the Byzantine Liturgy. Almost all of our services are sung a cappella and are led by a cantor who stands behind the congregation.
Listening is an important activity during the liturgy, as the readings from the scriptures are not printed in our booklets. The priest always directs us to “be attentive” before each scripture is read.
Reception of Holy Communion, which is the reception of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, is also an external sign of our Catholic unity. The desire for, and reception of Holy Communion, is the greatest form of worship and thanksgiving to God. Therefore, those who have predisposed themselves and who share our Catholic faith are invited to approach the altar and receive the Divine Eucharist. When approaching the priest, quietly state your first name. Then TILT YOUR HEAD BACK SLIGHTLY and OPEN YOUR MOUTH WIDELY. DO NOT EXTEND YOUR TONGUE and DO NOT SAY “AMEN.” The priest will carefully drop the Eucharist into your mouth from a small spoon. Wait until the spoon is removed from your face before closing your mouth, step aside, bow, and return to your place
Thank you for visiting our site. Please join us for worship, and we hope that you will stay for fellowship after our service and join us again soon at Divine Liturgy.
Slava Isusu Christu! Glory to Jesus Christ!