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Greetings all,
I am a member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, living in an area where all that is available to me are Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox parishes. I find myself so torn and deeply confused about "how to be" Byzantine Catholic. I put this phrase in quotations because I am not sure it makes sense, even to me.
I will try to explain.
I love the Christian East, and also believe in being in Communion with Rome. However where I currently live, to be Eastern seems to mean to be Orthodox, and to be in Communion with Rome, to be Latin. I have been attending a Latin Rite parish, which is fine...but I feel as though I am losing my Eastern identity!
It has gotten to the point where I feel like I do not even know what to believe...do I believe in Purgatory? Do I believe in this Council or that? Wait, what am I, Orthodox or Catholic or what?
I apologize for the rambling, and hope I have been clear. I intend to speak to a priest about this soon as well, I just wanted to see if any of y'all have some advice on living a Byzantine Catholic life in a primarily Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox area.

Blessings. smile
Thomas Guadalupe

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Dear Doubting Thomas,

I would like to respond to you as a Ukrainian Catholic myself.

To be Ukrainian Catholic is distinct from being, forgive me, a "generic Byzantine Catholic."

The latter term is, in and of itself, a kind of Latinization (when it doesn't refer specifically to the sui generis Church of that title). If we use "Byzantine Catholic" as we use "Roman Catholic," we overlook, I believe, the notion of "particularity" which is the hallmark of the East.

As Ukrainian Catholics, there is no question that we believe in the same Faith that all Catholics, of whatever Particular Church in union with Rome, believes.

Do we believe in Purgatory? Well, even the Ruthenian Orthodox of the Metropolia of Kyiv/Kiev during the period of the Kyivan Baroque did. St Peter Mohyla in his Catechism included Purgatory as an "article of faith" and when the Orthodox Patriarchs in Jassy ordered this dropped, Mohyla contiinued to keep it in his Metropolia.

As we are called to become "more Eastern" by Vatican II and the recent Popes of Rome, our theologians and lay thinkers make attempts (some successful, others not so successful) to "Easternize" the expression of our EC theology, liturgy etc.

Some will give Purgatory another name, others say that we accept the Orthodox teaching about the state of the soul after death and prayer for the dead. Frankly, if you understand what that teaching is, apart from the fact that prayer for the dead is assiduously made by the Orthodox Churches, please do let me know so I can understand it too . . .

As for the Councils, we accept all 21 of them, even though we would emphasize the first Seven Ecumenical Councils over the other 14. The argument against "fully accepting" the other 14 usually have to do with the idea that the EC Churches weren't present at them and/or they dealt solely with internal Latin Church theology, Western doctrinal crises that didn't obtain in the East and liturgical/canonical issues of the West.

But Councils such as Lyons and Florence did deal with Eastern Church matters and the Union of Brest itself is founded upon the Council of Florence. Vatican II itself addressed the Eastern Catholic Churches directly (some have said the Decree is a "Latin document about the EC Churches" but that doesn't change the fact that it is about the EC Churches and that EC hierarchs participated in that Council).

As for Western devotions and Saints in our Church, the fact is that there are also many Latinizations in the Eastern Orthodox Church and especially, once again, those that were "rampant" during the Kyivan Baroque era in the Ruthenian Orthodox Metropolia of Kyiv.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, since 1596, has had to maintain itself between a rock (RCism) and a hard place (the ROC). The result today is a Church that is more aware of its own sense of identity and Particularity based on her New Martyrs and also based on the continuing unfolding of events in Ukraine itself.

The UGCC is also about a church identity that includes a cultural and I will say a national one. That has always been the case with Churches, especially in the East. Some say that even the Russian Orthodox Church will, at times, defend Russian national identity and even political/state issues. (Have you heard that too?)

Your immedidate concern, however, is that you don't have ready access to a UGCC parish. I've never been in that situation myself, but let me make a suggestion.

Perhaps you could attend a long-distance UGCC parish once every so often and especially on important feast-days like the Nativity of our Lord and Pascha.

You could attend the Latin parish for Sunday Mass and then go to your local Orthodox parish for services (as they will not allow you to receive Communion). I would stay away from Orthodox parishes with a decidedly pro-Russian bent.

That is my best advice to you and may God bless.

Alex



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Dear Alex,

Thank you very much for your response, I appreciate your thoughts very much, particularly the notion of being Ukrainian Catholic as distinct from the term "Byzantine Catholic."

Your insights and advice are most helpful.

One difficulty I have encountered at times when I do have access to a UGCC parish is that I do not share the ethnic identity of many of my co-religionists. However, as the Latins say, I may just have to "offer it up." wink Being of a racially-mixed background not sharing the dominant ethnicity is kind of my M.O.

Thanks again, and God bless.

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Doubting Thomas - I think you will find that there are many of us in the diaspora, in the UGCC who are not Ukrainian - and indeed haven't a drop of Ukrainian blood in their veins .

We survive - some Parishes are more friendly to non-Ukrainians - some are just tolerant of them.

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Dear Lady,

Being Scottish means that you are also descended from Scythia . . . if King Robert the Bruce is to be believed . . . smile

Alex

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Dear Doubting Thomas,

It is very true that the UGCC has become rather, well, Ukrainian of late . . . smile .

Historically, of course, to be "Ukrainian" is to be of a mixed background. I count eight cultural backgrounds in my immediate pedigree . . .

The choir of Saints of the Kyivan Church is also quite the mixed cultural bag.

And there are parishes that are less Ukrainian in contemporary terms and others who are more - just as there are more Latinized parishes and more Easternized ones.

And the term "Ukrainian" is one that doesn't fit a particular historical context only.

I will probably be branded a "heretic" for having said all this . . .

You are a much better Ukrainian Catholic than me!

Cheers,

Alex

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Dear Alex and Our Lady's Slave,

Thank you both for the encouragement and kindness, I feel quite blessed to have received y'all's responses.

Be assured of my prayers.

Alex, are you anywhere near the famed St. Elias parish? I used to live but 3 hours from Brampton.


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I've been living a split life, a little, for the last set of months. I've predominantly been going to an OCA parish, but I visit a Roman parish to help out their youth group (high school level). I dialogue w/ one of the other helpers there. He and I would have pretty lengthy discussions and debates about churchy things. During the month, I would go to the local Ruthenian parish, too. The more in tune with your Eastern identity you can be, the more I think it'll help iron out things, if you're in a situation to discuss such matters with a fellow Roman Catholic.

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I was looking for some guidance with being "byzantine catholic" too.

I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church (in North America).
I was non practicing for a long time and married a non practicing a Roman Catholic woman.

Since our marriage we been have going to a Roman Catholic Church, been through convalidation and I have become a byzantine catholic. In my case it would literally be a Greek Catholic.

I talked with a Byzantine Catholic Priest prior to conversion and I do go to his church periodically to keep in touch.

I've read Orientale Lumen, Instruction for applying the Liturgical Perscriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Eastern Catholics in the United States (USCCB Publication), etc.

Now I need some help getting it all together and keeping it that way without calling the father all the time when I'm only a part-time member of his parish.


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Hi TXGreekCath. Are you looking for advice from others who converted from Orthodoxy to Catholicism, or what exactly?

P.S. Welcome to the forum!

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Yes, I guess I could use advice. I'll have questions.

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Interesting point; I've read similar stories. What if you are called to be an Eastern Catholic but there is no Eastern Catholic parish near you? Like most here I'd say if you're called to be Byzantine and there are Orthodox churches near you, it's a great opportunity to be ecumenical if you know Catholic doctrine. (All Catholics have the same doctrine; Eastern Catholics are called to express it in Eastern terms, showing the non-Catholic Christian East that Catholicism is compatible.) Go to the "Latin" parish for Mass and the sacraments, and supplement away with weekly Saturday Vespers at the friendliest local Orthodox one. Be polite, be discreet: say what you are if asked and leave it at that; don't preach. And many/most born Orthodox will welcome you.

Quote
I talked with a Byzantine Catholic priest prior to conversion and I do go to his church periodically to keep in touch.

Sounds just right — for you.

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I talked with a Byzantine Catholic Priest prior to conversion and I do go to his church periodically to keep in touch.


Is the priest in question, Fr. Elias of St. John Chrysostom in Houston? If yes or no, I would contact him. I see Magnolia, TX is about 40 miles from Houston. Fr. Elias is a wonderful priest.

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church



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Originally Posted by The young fogey
Interesting point; I've read similar stories. What if you are called to be an Eastern Catholic but there is no Eastern Catholic parish near you? Like most here I'd say if you're called to be Byzantine and there are Orthodox churches near you, it's a great opportunity to be ecumenical if you know Catholic doctrine. (All Catholics have the same doctrine; Eastern Catholics are called to express it in Eastern terms, showing the non-Catholic Christian East that Catholicism is compatible.) Go to the "Latin" parish for Mass and the sacraments, and supplement away with weekly Saturday Vespers at the friendliest local Orthodox one. Be polite, be discreet: say what you are if asked and leave it at that; don't preach. And many/most born Orthodox will welcome you.

Quote
I talked with a Byzantine Catholic priest prior to conversion and I do go to his church periodically to keep in touch.

Sounds just right — for you.


Very good YF!

Alex

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Originally Posted by The young fogey
... the non-Catholic Christian East ...

Reading this, for a second I thought you had developed an allergy to saying "Orthodox". wink Then I realized you were just being inclusive (no need to exclude the ACoE right?) smile


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