THE HOLY CHURCH: UNDIVIDED NOT DIVIDED

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The Church, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, upon Simon the Rock, originated in Palestine., whence it spread to other regions of the world where certain places became key centers of Christian life with great influence on the local churches in their respective areas. These centers developed into the ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem in the East, and Rome in the West. The main lines of Eastern Church patriarchal organization and usages were drawn before the Roman Empire became two empires — the East (Byzantine) and West (Roman), in 292 AD. Other churches with distinctive traditions grew up beyond the boundaries of the Roman Empire in Persia, Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India.

The “nestorian” church in Persia, known today as the Assyrian Church of the East, broke communion with the rest of the undivided Church in the wake of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, whose teachings it did not accept. However, the “monophysite” churches of Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and India, known today as the Oriental Orthodox Churches, did not accept the christological teachings of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD and so broke away from the undivided Church. And finally, in the wake of the mutual excommunications of 1054 between the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, and the papal legate, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, the Church was divided into what would become the Catholic Church in the West and the Orthodox Church in the East (comprised of the churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem). This was a lengthy process of entrangement that culminated only in 1204 and the sack of Contantinople by the Latin Crusaders.

In the following centuries, attempts to overcome these divisions took place, and most notably at the second Ecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274 and the Ecumenical Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-1439. Both failed. Subsequently, the holy Catholic Church began to send missionaries to work with the separated Eastern Christians, and some groups within those churches spontaneously asked to enter into full communion with the church of Rome. Thus, began the formation of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which retained most of the liturgical, canonical, spiritual, and theological patrimony of their non-Catholic counterparts.

Below are the 23 Eastern churches (classified in liturgical rites) which entered into communion with the church of Rome; thus, constituting the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church:

ALEXANDRIAN RITE — divine liturgy contains elements from the liturgies of Saint Mark, who is traditionally regarded as the first bishop of Alexandria, Saint Basil the Great, Cyril the Great, and Saint Gregory Nazianzus. The Liturgy of Saint Cyril is a Coptic language version of the Liturgy of Saint Mark that was in Greek:

⚫ Coptic Catholic Church (patriarchate)
⚫ Eritrean Catholic Church (metropolia)
⚫ Ethiopian Catholic Church (metropolia)

ANTIOCHIAN OR WEST SYRIAN RITE — liturgies include the Apostolic Constitutions; then that of St. James in Greek, the Syriac Liturgy of St. James, and the other Syriac Anaphoras. The line may be further continued to the Byzantine Rite (the older Liturgy of St. Basil and the later and shorter one of St. John Chrysostom), and through it to the Armenian use:

⚫ Maronite Church (patriarchate)
⚫ Syriac Catholic Church (patriarchate)
⚫ Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (major archepiscopate)

ARMENIAN RITE — liturgy is patterned after the directives of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, founder and patron saint of the Armenian Church:

⚫ Armenian Catholic Church (patriarchate)

CHALDEAN OR EAST SYRIAN RITE — liturgy, also known as the Thomasine Rite, Assyrian-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian Rite and the Persian Rite, originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia. It was used historically in the Church of the East, and remains in use in churches descended from it:

⚫ Chaldean Catholic Church (patriarchate)
⚫ Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (Major Archepiscopate)

CONSTANTINOPOLITAN OR BYZANTINE RITE — has several forms of the Divine Liturgy (celebration of the Eucharist), three of which are in use everywhere that the Byzantine Rite is used: the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts:

⚫ Albanian Catholic Church (apostolic administration)
⚫ Belarusian Catholic Church (no established hierarchy at present)
⚫ Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic exarchate)
⚫ Byzantine Church of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate)
⚫ Greek Byzantine Catholic Church (two apostolic exarchates)
⚫ Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate)
⚫ Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (two eparchies and a territorial abbacy)
⚫ Macedonian Catholic Church (an apostolic exarchate)
⚫ Melkite Greek Catholic Church (patriarchate)
⚫ Romanian Church United with Rome (major archiepiscopate)
⚫ Russian Catholic Church (two apostolic exarchates, at present with no published hierarchs)
⚫ Ruthenian Catholic Church (a sui juris metropolia, an eparchy, and an apostolic exarchate)
⚫ Slovak Catholic Church (metropolia and an eparchy)
⚫ Ukrainian Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate)

Hence, the LATIN RITE, used by the Church of Rome (Roman Catholic Church), the Primatial See of the world and the Patriarchal See of Western Christianity which was founded by St. Peter in 42 AD and consecrated by the blood of Sts. Peter and Paul during the persecution of Nero (63-67 AD), has maintained a continual existence since then and is the source of a family of rites in the West:

⚫ Roman — most widespread liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, and its Eucharistic liturgy is divided into three stages: the Pre-Tridentine Mass, Tridentine Mass and Mass of Paul VI.

⚫ Mozarabic – The Rite of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) known from at least the 6th century, but probably with roots to the original evangelization. Beginning in the 11th century it was generally replaced by the Roman Rite, although it has remained the Rite of the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, and six parishes which sought permission to adhere to it. Its celebration today is generally semi-private.

⚫ Ambrosian – The Rite of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy, thought to be of early origin and probably consolidated, but not originated, by St. Ambrose. Pope Paul VI was from this Roman Rite. It continues to be celebrated in Milan, though not by all parishes.

⚫ Bragan – Rite of the Archdiocese of Braga, the Primatial See of Portugal, it derives from the 12th century or earlier. It continues to be of occasional use.

⚫ Dominican – Rite of the Order of Friars Preacher (OP), founded by St. Dominic in 1215.

⚫ Carmelite – Rite of the Order of Carmel, whose modern foundation was by St. Berthold c.1154.

⚫ Carthusian – Rite of the Carthusian Order founded by St. Bruno in 1084.

SUCH individual churches, whether of the East or of the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in what are called “rites” (that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage) are, nevertheless, equally entrusted to the pastoral guidance of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in supreme government over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others by reason of rite.

The Church, Holy and Catholic, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit through the same faith, the same sacraments, and the same govenment and who, combining into various groups held together by a heirarchy, form separate churches or rites.

—Vatican II: Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2-3—

AVE ECCLESIA VERA, ID EST UNA, SANCTA, CATHOLICA, ET APOSTOLICA!

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