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I've been researching Eastern Catholic churches, and have decided to visit a local Melkite parish for Divine Liturgy. Aside from the obvious differences in the liturgy between the Eastern and Latin churches, should I be aware of anything else? For example:

When I enter my Latin rite parish, I genuflect toward the tabernacle. Should I display a similar sign of reverence at the Melkite parish?

If I were to bring my 5-year old daughter with me, who's been baptized in the Latin rite, how would I make it clear that she wasn't eligible to receive the Eucharist?

Is there a particular manner in which priests should be addressed in the Melkite Church?

Generally, I'd like to avoid making mistakes that may offend my hosts. All advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks and God Bless,
Dan

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Welcome to Byzcath smile

Not being Melkite ,. I really can't help you - but I'd be inclined to say watch the Parishioners.

As to your 5 year old - could you trust her alone in the pew for a few minutes ? How about contacting the Priest beforehand and explaining to him - I'm sure it's not an unusual occurrence.

Anhelyna

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When I enter my Latin rite parish, I genuflect toward the tabernacle. Should I display a similar sign of reverence at the Melkite parish?

If I were to bring my 5-year old daughter with me, who's been baptized in the Latin rite, how would I make it clear that she wasn't eligible to receive the Eucharist?

Is there a particular manner in which priests should be addressed in the Melkite Church?

Generally, I'd like to avoid making mistakes that may offend my hosts. All advice is greatly appreciated.

>>Dan,
In the Melkite Church, we do not genuflect when we enter the church. In some parishes, the custom is to bow to the floor while making the sign of the Cross. We also kiss the priest's hand when we go to receive his blessing.
All Catholics, from infancy, are eligible to receive Holy Communion in the Melkite Church. The question for you would be, can your daughter benefit from the grace of baptism before reaching the age of reason? If not, then why not delay it? The same is true of Holy Communion. Your daughter can just as easily benefit from the grace of Holy Communion prior to achieving the age of reason, as she can benefit from the grace of Baptism.
We refer to our priests as father, and the Arabs sometimes call him Abouna, which means the same thing.

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Originally Posted by JohnRoss
Dan,
In the Melkite Church, we do not genuflect when we enter the church. In some parishes, the custom is to bow to the floor while making the sign of the Cross. We also kiss the priest's hand when we go to receive his blessing.

Thank you, John, this is exactly the type of advice I was seeking.

Originally Posted by JohnRoss
All Catholics, from infancy, are eligible to receive Holy Communion in the Melkite Church. The question for you would be, can your daughter benefit from the grace of baptism before reaching the age of reason? If not, then why not delay it? The same is true of Holy Communion. Your daughter can just as easily benefit from the grace of Holy Communion prior to achieving the age of reason, as she can benefit from the grace of Baptism.
We refer to our priests as father, and the Arabs sometimes call him Abouna, which means the same thing.

I understand and appreciate the logic of your explanation, but regardless, as Latin rite Catholics, we're bound by the canons of our own church. Since she hasn't received her first confession and first holy communion, she's not permitted, as I understand it, to receive it in an Eastern Catholic parish. Furthermore, as we're not yet committed to the idea of attending the Melkite parish regularly, I wouldn't want to cause confusion by allowing her to receive in the Melkite parish but not our Latin parish.

Thanks for your help, John, and God Bless!

Dan

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Dan

You are quite correct - your daughter is RC - Latin - and therefore though she is Catholic she has only Received the Sacrament of Baptism and since she is not yet of the age for the Reception of First Confession and First Communion - sadly so she cannot yet Receive Communion in any Catholic Church.

What will happen for you and your family in the future, whether you remain Latin or move East,is in God's hands.

Take her with you - she will enjoy it I'm sure - but see if she will stay in the pew for a few minutes on her own while you approach the Chalice - if you think she will not stay - then try and have a word with the Priest beforehand .

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As Anhelyna points out, you do not have the choice of communing your 5 year old daughter. The reason children receive the Eucharist in Eastern Catholic Churches is because they are Chrismated (Confirmed) at the time of their baptism. This order (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist) was only changed in the Latin Church quite recently historically speaking and it is slowly and intentionally being returned to in the West. Until then, those children who have been Chrismated (Confirmed) may receive the Eucharist at any age and those children who have not been Chrismated should receive their First Communion according to the standards of their own Church. Chrismation is the gateway to the other Mysteries (Sacraments).

As for visiting, in some Eastern Catholic parishes, it is customary to ask for a blessing from the priest. This practice has been lost in many places, so don't be surprised if you don't see it. If you do see it, this is what to do: cup your hands right over left and you may say, "Father, bless." Father will make the Sign of the Cross over them and then put his hand on top of yours, at which point you kiss his hand. This is done not to kiss the priest, but to kiss the hand of God who blesses you.

Kissing is common. If you don't see people doing that, you might see them kissing the Gospels, kissing the chalice after receiving the Eucharist, kissing each other, or kissing the priest's hand cross. You and any children you bring are welcome to do this as well. Obviously anyone not receiving the Eucharist would not kiss the chalice. As for what to do with your daughter, she can go up to Communion with you. Have her keep her hands at her side and when you get up there, steer her off to your side and gently push her head downward with your hand. When her head isn't up and waiting with an open mouth, they will know that she isn't receiving. Visitors from the Latin Church are common, so they won't be surprised.

Some other things you'll notice that are different from the Latin Church:

-There is a lot of congregational singing. Almost everything is sung. Join in as you can. I recommend not burying your face in a book and missing everything else. As someone above said, it is also common for this chanting to alternate between languages, most often Greek, Arabic, and English. Sometimes things are done twice like the Our Father, and sometimes they are done in rotation, like each verse of a litany being in a different language.

-There is a lot of incensing. Latins often panic saying they choke up from it, but I've never seen someone do so. I can only conclude the incense they choke up from is cheap. First, the priest incenses the church building. People aren't supposed to bow then but a lot do. Then the priest incenses the people directly. You are supposed to bow from the waist then. Some people also make the Sign of the Cross. That's a Russian custom, so you are less likely to see it in a Melkite church.

-In a Melkite parish, the faithful make the Sign of the Cross every time the Trinity and the Most Holy Theotokos (Mary) are mentioned.

-There is almost always a social hour afterwards, and you are strongly encouraged to attend. Take a few dollars and have the children drop them in the collection basket by the food if they have one, and enjoy the food and fraternity.

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Originally Posted by Wondering
As Anhelyna points out, you do not have the choice of communing your 5 year old daughter.

Thanks for offering this detailed explanation. That's precisely how I've come to understand it, as well.

Originally Posted by Wondering
As for visiting, in some Eastern Catholic parishes, it is customary to ask for a blessing from the priest. This practice has been lost in many places, so don't be surprised if you don't see it. If you do see it, this is what to do: cup your hands right over left and you may say, "Father, bless." Father will make the Sign of the Cross over them and then put his hand on top of yours, at which point you kiss his hand. This is done not to kiss the priest, but to kiss the hand of God who blesses you.

This sounds absolutely beautiful! It is this type of appreciation of the sacramental principle - that God has chosen to use the created order to communicate His grace - that has drawn me into an investigation of Eastern Christianity. Surely this principle is also lived out in the context of the Latin church, but often not as profoundly as in the Eastern churches.

Would it be appropriate for my children to ask for a blessing in this manner?

Thanks to you and everyone for the excellent advice I've received so far!

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But of course smile Teach them how to do it .

How many children do you have - and what ages are they ?

Inquiring minds want to know biggrin

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Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
But of course smile Teach them how to do it .

How many children do you have - and what ages are they ?

Inquiring minds want to know biggrin

Praise be to Jesus Christ, who has graced us with 4 beautiful children - two sons, ages 8 years and 14 months, and two daughters, ages 7 and 5. The 8-year old boy and 7-year old girl are profoundly affected by autism, and as a result, going to church presents significant challenges for them and our entire family. The 7-year old in particular is paralyzed with anxiety about places and experiences that are new, crowded and/or noisy. Our home parish is in the midst of a construction project, and until that's finished, we're holding Mass in the parish hall. She's not going to be able to join us for Mass until the expansion project is completed, as the parish hall is just too noisy for her to handle.

Thanks for asking wink

Dan

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Dan,

Many visiting Latins say the Divine Liturgy is noisy. It isn't noisy so much as it isn't quiet. Depending on your children's tolerances, they might do well with the rigidity of the Liturgy (there is less change from week to week and more consistency), but they also might be turned off by the congregational chanting. Many churches pray the hours before Liturgy, which sadly are not well attended. You might introduce your children to the Eastern Church by attending that. They'll be able to kiss the Gospel and join in the singing if they wish, and it will be relatively quiet and extremely consistent.

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Originally Posted by Wondering
Depending on your children's tolerances, they might do well with the rigidity of the Liturgy (there is less change from week to week and more consistency), but they also might be turned off by the congregational chanting.

I'll have to attend by myself a few times (or with only the youngest two children) to figure out which is more likely to be the case. I like the idea that the liturgy has fewer options in comparison to the Mass we celebrate in the Latin rite.

Originally Posted by Wondering
Many churches pray the hours before Liturgy, which sadly are not well attended. You might introduce your children to the Eastern Church by attending that. They'll be able to kiss the Gospel and join in the singing if they wish, and it will be relatively quiet and extremely consistent.

Good ideas... I'll speak with the priest and find out if they pray the hours before Liturgy.

Dan

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Sorry to contradict, but there is no canonical impediment whatever which would prevent your daughter from receiving Holy Communion in our Church. As to the issue of Chrismation, you may not have noticed it, but when she was baptized the Latin priest certainly anointed her with chrism (certainly, that is, if the Latin priest followed his service-book, which I don't guarantee).

Fr. Serge

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Father Serge,

You don't mean to say that the anointing with oil in the Latin baptismal rite takes the place of Chrismation, do you? While it is a hold over from the combined unity of the sacraments of initiation, there is zero intent to chrismate at the time and the priest does not pray for the child to receive the Holy Spirit. As I am sure you know this far better than I do, I wonder why you would imply otherwise to an inquiring Latin.

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Originally Posted by Serge Keleher
Sorry to contradict, but there is no canonical impediment whatever which would prevent your daughter from receiving Holy Communion in our Church. As to the issue of Chrismation, you may not have noticed it, but when she was baptized the Latin priest certainly anointed her with chrism (certainly, that is, if the Latin priest followed his service-book, which I don't guarantee).


Father,

I can guarantee you that my priest follows his service books 100% correctly in every circumstance. While it is true that many Latin church members observe many abuses in their liturgies, that's simply not the case in my parish, and it is somewhat unfair to assume otherwise without knowing my priest.

Furthermore, I believe Wondering is correct in describing the intention of the priest when anointing during the Baptismal rite in our church, but unfortunately, I can't find the text of the rite online.

And yes, I did notice the anointing - all 4 children received it last October when they were baptized, following the confirmation of myself and my wife in September. Having my children receive this sacrament was very meaningful, as we struggled long and hard with the decision to convert. Though I don't remember all of the words spoken by the priest in the rite, I certainly remember the anointing.

Dan

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I was not referring to an anointing with oil; I specified an anointing with CHRISM. I trust you know the difference.

And I prefer not to get involved in a discussion of the "intention"; that's too easily manipulated.

Fr. Serge

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