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reikan Offline OP
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Hello and best wishes. I'm a Latin-rite Catholic, new to the forum, with a strong interest in Eastern Christianity. I first experienced Eastern Christianity about 20 years ago, when I was blown away with delight by attending Divine Liturgy at a Russian Catholic Church. Since then I have attended a number of Melkite liturgies (out of this world! superlative!) and a few Ukrainian and Byzantine liturgies. I have many questions and would be grateful for the thoughts of those in the forum.

1) As among the Byzantine, Ukrainian, and Melkite churches, are there key differences that would make a difference to someone considering transferring rites into the church? For example, is one more or less "conservative" than the others? Is one more or less Orthodox than the others? Is one more made up of converts/Western-transfers than the others? Is one more or less ethnically-based than the others? Is one better at evangelizing than the others? Is one growing more than the others? Is one more beholden to Rome and/or more focused on whatever the pope and US Conference of Catholic Bishops are doing or saying than the others?

2) I have recently seen a few things in Eastern Catholic churches that I didn't expect to see, and I wonder if anyone has thoughts. I saw girls holding lanterns in a Byzantine divine liturgy (I would have expected boys and young men to do this). I saw Amoris Laetitia, which is a controversial papal document in the West, being promoted on Melkite and Ukrainian web sites. I'm wondering whether, to leave behind all the controversies surrounding the pope (especially this pope) and the controversies between the left and right in the Latin-rite Catholic church, one really has to go all the way to Constantinople/Moscow (Eastern Orthodoxy), the Eastern Catholic Churches still being swept up in these controversies.

Thanks in advance for anyone's input.

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Hi brother, if you are in the US you'd have limited options for a Russian Catholic parish, so you'd be best suited wherever you can participate regularly. As to the second question, you can't escape the politics anywhere because it's an American situation so individuals with their own personal views will be present in every community, including priests and bishops who disagree on these matters. Papal documents might be less relevant in an Orthodox Church but people take as controversial documents from Metropolitan Hilarion or Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, so there's no escape this side of heaven from such things

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I was Latin-rite for years, attended a Byzantine Catholic parish for years, and eventually became Orthodox in an ACROD parish. The best parish for you to go to is the one you can attend regularly, feel spiritually nourished in, and in which you can grow in Christ. What tradition that happens to be doesn't really matter in the end, and various qualities can vary from parish to parish within the same jurisdiction, whether Catholic or Orthodox. Becoming Orthodox certainly will not free you from church squabbles and politics—the current situation between Constantinople and Moscow is evidence enough of that. It's a fallen world!

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I'm assuming that if you've been to Melkite liturgies and you live in Charlottesville, you've probably visited Holy Transfiguration in McLean (my home parish) once or twice. I think many of the things you are asking is more defined on a parish by parish level than on a eparchial or jurisdictional level. There are some very Orthodox-like parishes and some very Byzantinish Roman Catholic parishes. A lot of it depends on the age of the parish and if there are a lot of cradle Eastern Catholics or Western visitors/transfers. As far as what you're asking for, I think these are the main things that you can reliably differentiate between church jurisdictions:

Slavic recension - Ruthenian, Ukrainian and Russian
Greek recension - Melkite and, possibly, Italo-Greek (although the parish I have seen more about, in Las Vegas, is under the Ruthenian Eparchy of Phoenix, so I think they use prostopinije)
Romanian - kind of a mix between Slavic and Greek

Slavic recension will use prostopinije in the Ruthenian parishes and Galician chant in Ukrainian. Greek recension will use Byzantine chant.
During Lent, in parishes that have the full schedule of services, Slavic recension usually have presanctified liturgy on Weds and Friday, and the full Akathist is only prayed on the 5th Friday or Saturday of Lent. In the Melkite church, Akathist is divided into four parts, and prayed on each of the first four Fridays, with the full Akathist on the 5th Friday. Presanctified will be on Weds, and Mondays is usually Presanctifed or Compline.
I don't think this part is universal in either, but it seems to be more common for Melkites to celebrate the liturgies of Christmas and Pascha very late the night before, and the Slavic churches celebrate it the morning of. But I know there are Melkite parishes that have their Pascha liturgy on Sunday morning, and at least among the Orthodox, there are Slavic churches that celebrate it late Saturday night into Sunday morning. Some of the other Holy Week services occur the previous evening in the Melkites - Epitaphios service Friday evening vs very early Saturday morning, Vesperal liturgy Saturday in the morning for Melkites, late afternoon for Slavs. There may not even be a hard rule for this. It's just a pattern I've noticed in the various parishes I've attended or schedules I've seen on the websites of those I haven't visited.


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