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Byzantine Catholic Tradition

Mr. Pablo Cuadra

Religion Class
• This presentation is the follow up for the
presentation titled “Eastern Christianity,”
also found on slideshare.

• This presentation will deal with the Byzantine

Catholic Churches also known as Greek
Catholic Churches, the largest and perhaps
the best known group of Eastern Catholics
Churches in the United States and North

• Byzantine Churches are Catholic Churches in

full communion with the bishop of Rome or
Pope. Byzantine Catholics Churches profess
the same Creed (beliefs) and have the same
“Holy Mysteries” or “Sacraments” as any
other Catholic Church.

• Byzantine Churches are unique in the sense

that they follow the spiritual patrimony,
liturgical customs, and theological language,
and nuances particular of the Christian East.
Eastern Christianity is heavily influenced by
the Patristic writings of the Greek Fathers.
Why are Byzantine Churches called
• The Byzantine Catholic Churches are called this • Byzantine Catholics are for the most part
way because they are the spiritual heirs of the Eastern Orthodox Christians that broke away
See of Byzantium (Constantinople), founded by St.
Andrew the Apostle. The term Byzantine is from the see of Constantinople and returned to
derived from Byzantium, the city that, in the year full communion with the See of Rome and its
325 A.D., became the political, cultural, and bishop, the Pope, after the great Schism of
commercial center for the eastern, Greek speaking 1054. The return to Rome took place gradually
part of the Roman empire.
in subsequent reunions.
• Emperor Constantine I, the first “Christian Roman
emperor”, renamed Byzantium the “New Rome” • Two of the most notable reunions are the Union
and thus transformed the city into his new imperial of Brest in 1595 and the Union of Uzhhorod in
capital and residence. The city was later renamed
Constantinople after Constantine’s death and is 1646.
now modern Istanbul, Turkey.

• The region known as Byzantium was evangelized

by St. Andrew the apostle also known as the
Protocletos or the “First called”; St. Andrew was
the brother of St. Peter and like Peter was crucified
a martyr. According to tradition St. Andrew founded
the see of Byzantium in the year 38 A.D; installing
Stachys as the first bishop. This apostolic see will
later become the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

• After the Great Schism of 1054 that split

Christendom into East and West, the patriarchate of
Constantinople became the Spiritual See of Eastern
Orthodox Christianity.
What group of Churches make up the
Byzantine Churches?
• The Byzantine Churches or Greek Catholic
Churches are “Sui Juris” Churches (self-
governing Churches), they are constituted by
the following Churches:

• A. The Melkite Catholic Church

• B. The Ukrainian Catholic Church
• C. The Ruthenian Catholic Church
• D. The Romanian Catholic Church
• E. The Greek Catholic Church
• F. The Greek Catholic Church, Eparchy of
Krizevci (former Yugoslavia)
• G. The Bulgarian Catholic Church
• H. The Slovak Catholic Church
• I. The Hungarian Catholic Church
• J. The Russian Byzantine Catholic Church
• K. The Belarussian Greek Catholic Church
• L . The Albanian Greek Catholic Church
• M. The Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

• Source (CNEWA)
Who is a Byzantine Catholic?
• A. A Byzantine Catholic or Greek Catholic is an Eastern
Catholic and a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic Church by reason of his or her baptism, and
Christmation (Confirmation), and his or her participation in the
Holy Mysteries (sacraments) and the Divine Liturgy
(Eucharist), the central aspect of worship .

• The Catholic Church headed by the bishop of Rome or Pope

is a communion of 23 Sister Churches all equal in dignity. One
Western (Roman Catholic or Latin Church) and 22 Eastern

• B. Byzantine Catholics are not Roman Catholics; however, like

Roman Catholics are under the Spiritual and temporal
Jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome or Pope.

• C. Byzantine Catholics together with Roman Catholics profess

the same Creed (faith) and practice the same seven Holy
Mysteries or Sacraments, each according to their own liturgical
traditions, spirituality, and apostolic heritage. Hence, that
Eastern Catholics and Roman Catholics, use different words,
expressions, or formulas to speak about the same realities,
beliefs, devotions, or practices of faith.

• D. Byzantine Catholics are headed either by a Patriarch or by

a Metropolitan bishop in charge of the local bishops. Eastern
and Roman Catholics can fulfill their Sunday obligation in
each other’s Church. Praying before the Holy Icons
How are Sui Juris, Byzantine Catholic Churches structured?
• Byzantine Catholic Churches are organized into:

• A. Patriarchal Churches: these are Sui Juris Churches led by a high-ranking bishop known as Patriarch
(father). The Patriarch is elected by a patriarchal synod, also known as a holy synod. He has authority
over the metropolitan bishops and clergy of the patriarchal territory; this is known as supra-metropolitan
authority. The Patriarch has the power to convoke a synod, the ability to ordain bishops, and spiritual
authority over all the catholic faithful inside his territory.

• B. Major Archiepiscopal Churches: These are Sui Juris Churches led by a major Archbishop who has
the same dignity and authority as a Patriarch, except he does not enjoy the dignity of title. He is elected by
a synod of bishops, who must notify the Holy See for the confirmation of the major Archbishop. Major
Archbishops like Patriarchs enjoy supra-metropolitan authority over the clergy and the faithful in their

• C. Metropolitan Churches: These are Sui Juris Churches led by a Metropolitan Archbishop. Unlike
Patriarchs and major archbishops, who are elected by a synod, the Metropolitan is not elected by the
council of hierarchs (the equivalent of a synod of bishops, but enjoying less legislative authority). The
council of hierarchs proposes three names to the Holy Father who eventually makes the final decision in
the selection of the Metropolitan. A metropolitan does not enjoy his authority until he makes a formal
request for his palliun (a sign of authority and communion with the Pope). Unlike Patriarchs and major
Archbishops, the Metropolitan Archbishop only enjoys supra-episcopal authority over the clergy and
faithful of his territory.

• D. Other Churches: These are Churches Sui Juris that are neither Patriarchal, major archiepiscopal, or
metropolitan. These churches are usually very small in number and lack proper hierarchical structures.
These Churches are governed by an exarch (oridary bishop) who is directly dependant of the Holy See.
What are some common terms used to describe the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of the particular Byzantine Churches?

• Archeparchy: the Byzantine equivalent of an

Archdiocese. It is led by a Metropolitan
Archbishop also known as Archeparch. The
Archbishop also oversees the suffragan
eparchies under his jurisdiction.

• Eparchy: the Byzantine equivalent of a

diocese. It is led by a bishop also known as an
eparch who oversees all the parishes and
ministries in his eparchy.

• Exarchy: the Byzantine equivalent of an

apostolic vicariate. It is led by an Exarch
(ordinary or bishop). An exarchy is a church
jurisdiction, similar to a diocese, established for
Eastern-rite Catholics living outside their native

• Parishes: local churches led by a parish priest;

sometimes with the assistance of a deacon or
How do Byzantine Catholics celebrate the Paschal
• Byzantine Catholics celebrate
the Paschal Mystery (the life,
death and resurrection of our
Lord) through five important

• A. The great cycle of a

Christian’s life.
• B. The Daily cycle.
• C. The Weekly cycle.
• D. The Annual cycle of movable
• E. The Annual cycle of fixed
The Five Cycles
“The Cycle of a Christian’s Life”
• The Great cycle of a Christian’s life:
from birth to death, the life of a Christian is
infused with the grace of God through the
Holy Mysteries (sacraments) and prayer.

• In this cycle of life men and women

journey towards union with God
(Theosis) and his promise of eternal life.
This journey towards God’s Kingdom
begins at Baptism and Christmation and
ends with death.

• In the course of this journey men and

women are strengthened by the
Eucharistic meal, the body and blood of
our Lord, received in holy communion at
each Divine Liturgy, the central aspect of
Byzantine Catholic worship.

• Also in the course of this journey the

Christian person receives many other
sacramental blessings to help him or her
fulfill his or her earthly human vocation
and spread the love of God and the light
of faith to all.
The Five Cycles
“The Daily Cycle”
• The Daily cycle: also known as the “divine praises”, are the prayers offered by the Church all day long.
Through the recitations of these prayers the Church sanctifies the day while at the same time directing our
attention to God, at specific times during the day. These prayers are offered in monasteries and in
parishes where the clergy and Christian faithful gather to pray. Technically, only Vespers and Orthros
(matins) are celebrated in the parishes with the exception of the midnight office celebrated in the parish
on Holy Saturday. In the Byzantine liturgical tradition the Church’s day begins at evening, following the
Jewish customs of counting the days. The daily cycle or divine praises is compose of the following:

• A. Vespers: is the solemn evening prayer of the Church which begins the liturgical day. We thank God for
the blessing of creation, especially for the gift of light both corporal and spiritual, and ask for pardon for our
sins and offenses, and protection throughout the night.
• B. Compline: is a communal prayer before bedtime also known as Apodeipnon.
• C. The Midnight Office: is a nocturnal vigil, in which we meditate upon the unexpected coming of Christ.
It is also known as the Mesonyktikon.
• D. Matins (Orthros): is the solemn morning prayer of the Church, an office of supplication, repentance
and praise.
• E. The First Hour, celebrated after Matins, is the first of the four daytime Hours; it is followed by:
The Third Hour, celebrated at mid-morning.
The Sixth Hour, celebrated at noon.
The Ninth Hour, celebrated between mid-afternoon and Vespers of the new day.

Typika: is a service of psalms and prayers appointed for the Liturgy of the day, which is held when the
Divine Liturgy is not celebrated.

(source: Metropolitan Cantor Institute)

The Five Cycles
“The Weekly Cycle”
• Each day of the Weekly Cycle is devoted to specific
individual memorials. Sunday is dedicated to Christ's
Resurrection. Monday honors the Holy Bodiless Powers
(Angels, Archangels, etc.). Tuesday is dedicated to the
prophets and especially the greatest of the Prophets, St.
John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord; Wednesday is
consecrated to the Cross and recalls Judas' betrayal.

• Thursday honors the Holy Apostles and Hierarchs,

especially St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Lycia. Friday is also
consecrated to the Cross and recalls the day of the
Crucifixion and Saturday is dedicated to All Saints, especially
the Mother of God (Theotokos), and to the memory of all
those who have departed this life in the hope of resurrection
and eternal life.

• Each week, of the Weekly Cycle, is centered around the

Eight Tones (the basis for Byzantine Church music), and
each week has its appointed Tone. On Saturday Evening of
Bright Week (the Eve of St. Thomas Sunday), the cycle of
Tones begins with Tone One, and week by week, the
sequence continues through the successive Tones, One to
Eight, changing to a new Tone every Saturday Evening,
throughout the year.

• (source: St. Melany Byzantine Catholic Church)

The Five Cycles
“The Annual Cycle of Movable Feasts”
• The annual cycle or liturgical year brings to our
attention the principal events in the life of Our Lord
Jesus, and his Mother, the Holy Theotokos, the
accomplishments of the Saints, and the theological
doctrines of the Faith through special feasts, fasts
and commemorations.

• The annual cycle is divided into movable and fixed

feasts. The movable feasts are also known as the
Paschal cycle because the date of their celebration
is dependant on the central feast of the liturgical
cycle which is Pascha (Easter). The liturgical year or
annual cycle begins in the Byzantine Catholic
tradition on September 1 (indiction).

• The feasts associated with the annual cycle of

movable feasts are: Palm Sunday, Holy
Ascension (the fortieth day after Pascha) and Holy
Pentecost (the Descent of the Holy Spirit the fiftieth
day after Pascha).
The Five Cycles
The Annual cycle of Fixed Feast
• The fixed annual cycle is composed
of memorials celebrated each year on
the same date.

• Each day of the year is dedicated to

the memory of particular Christian
events or Saints, their particular feast
or memorial is celebrated always on
the same Calendar date each year.

• Thus, in honor of each event or

Saint(s), special hymns have been
composed which are added to the
usual hymns and prayers of the day.

• May 13, for instance, is the feast of St.

Cyril and Methodious, apostles to the

• (source: St. Tikhon’s seminary press)

The Great Feasts of the Church
• Pascha (Easter) is the “Feast of feasts” having • Great Feasts of the Mother of God:
a central and unique place in the Byzantine
liturgical year. Next in importance come the • 8. The Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos
“Twelve Great Feasts” of the Church. These (Sept. 8)
feasts can be divided into two groups. Feasts of • 9. The Entrance (or Presentation) of the
the Lord and Feasts of the Mother of God Theotokos into the Temple (Nov. 21)
(Theotokos). • 10. The Meeting of Our Lord Jesus Christ in
the Temple (Feb. 2)
• These feasts are: • 11. The Annunciation to the Most-Holy
Theotokos (Mar. 25)
Great Feasts of the Lord • 12. The Falling-Asleep (or Dormition) of the
Most-Holy Theotokos (Aug. 15)
1. The Universal Exaltation (or Elevation) of the
Life-creating Cross (Sept. 14)
2. The Nativity of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus • All of the Feasts listed above, with the
Christ (Christmas Dec. 25) exception of Palm Sunday and Holy
Pentecost are preceded by a period of
3. The Theophany (or Epiphany) of Our Lord God preparation known as the Forefeast or pre-
and Savior Jesus Christ (Jan. 6) feast. In addition, The Nativity of Christ
4. The Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into and the Dormition are preceded by a
Jerusalem (Palm Sunday before Pascha) special fasting period (the Nativity Fast or
5. The Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Philip fast begins on November 15 and
Christ (40 days after Pascha) the Dormition Fast begins on August 1).
6. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Holy Pentecost
50 days after Pascha) • (source: Tikhon’s seminary press)
7. The Transfiguration of Our Lord God and
Savior Jesus Christ (Aug. 6)
Did you know?
• Synaxis is a gathering of the Christian faithful for
liturgical purposes, generally through the celebration
of Vespers, Matins, Little Hours, or the Divine

• In the Byzantine tradition major feasts are followed

by a Synaxis, the next day, in honor of a saint that
participated in the event celebrated by the major
feast. For instance, The Nativity of Christ is followed,
on December 26, by the Synaxis of the Most-Holy
Theotokos; the Theophany is followed, on January 7,
by the Synaxis of St. John the Baptist; and the
Annunciation is followed, on March 26, by the
Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel.

• Major feasts can also be preceded by a forefeast. A

forefeast or prefeast is a liturgical period prior to a
major feast that anticipates and foreshadows the
major feast in the services of the divine liturgy. Most
major feasts that have a forefeast also have an
afterfeast or postfeast and a leavetaking also
known as apodosis.

• An afterfeast is an extension of the major feast that

starts the day after the major feast, for instance
Pascha is celebrated for 39 days in the Byzantine

• A leavetaking or Apodosis is the final day of a major

feast. The last day of Pascha is the Wednesday (39th
The Penitential Seasons of the
Byzantine Liturgical year
• Fasting is an important discipline in the Christian
East. Major portions of the Liturgical cycle are taken
up by periods of fasting. In the Byzantine tradition
observed by Greek Catholics or Byzantine Catholics
(and Orthodox Christians) there are four major
penitential seasons, these are:

• A. Great Lent also known as the Great Fast (40

• B. The Apostles Fast also known as the Peter and
Paul fast. (Length varies from jurisdiction to
• C. The Nativity Fast also known as The Philip Fast
(40 days).
• D. The Dormition Fast ( Two weeks)

• In addition to these periods of fasting Greek Catholics

or Byzantine Catholics are to observe simple fasting
on all Fridays throughout the year and strict fasting on
the first day of the Great Fast and on Great Friday
(Good Friday). The particular law of each jurisdiction
is to be observed by the faithful regarding Fasting.
Did you Know?
• The Byzantine Liturgical year is very different
from the Latin Church’s Liturgical year used by
Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic
Liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of
Advent, the Byzantine Liturgical year, on the
other hand, begins on September 1.

• The Byzantine Liturgical year does not use the

Roman Catholic structure and terminology for
certain seasons, for instance, Greek Catholics
do not have Advent or Ordinary time. In the
Byzantine tradition the season prior to
Christmas, known in the Latin Church as
Advent, is call the Nativity Fast. There is no
ordinary time in the Byzantine tradition, all
Sundays are numbered after Pentecost.

• Greek Catholics or Byzantine Catholics like

Roman Catholics consider Pascha (Easter), the
most important season of the Church Year. Like
Roman Catholics, Byzantines have a Lenten
season known as the Great Fast or Great Lent.
Byzantine Catholics like Roman Catholics also
celebrate the season of Christmas, known as
the Nativity.
Great Lent or The Great Fast
• In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition or Greek Catholic tradition, Great Lent or the Great Fast begins
seven weeks prior to Pascha (Easter) on Clean Monday also known as Pure Monday. Lent is
preceded by the services of the Triodion. Byzantines Catholics or Greek Catholics unlike Roman
Catholics do not observe Ash Wednesday. The Great Fast or Great Lent lasts 40 days, unlike the
Roman Catholic season of Lent, the Byzantine Great fast includes Sundays.

• The Great Fast comes to an end on Friday of the sixth week, before Lazarus Saturday, which is the
Saturday before Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday the Great entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem is
celebrated, this is one of the major feasts of the Byzantine liturgical year. Palm Sunday is followed by
the first three days of Holy week known in the Greek Catholic tradition as “the end”.

• These days are Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday, during these days the
Bridegroom services are celebrated . Holy Monday begins with the Orthros (matins) on Palm Sunday
evening (the beginning of the liturgical day) and the celebration of bride groom services. These
services portray Jesus as the bridegroom who give his life for his bride, the last bridegroom service
culminate on Holy Wednesday evening. During holy week the services are reversed, the orthros
(matins) is celebrated in the evening and Vespers are celebrated in the morning.

• Each day during Holy Week has a theme. The theme for Monday is Joseph’s virtue, and the withering
of the fig tree; Tuesday is the Ten Virgins; Wednesday is the anointing of Jesus at Bethany,
Thursday is the Mystical Supper, Great Friday is the Passion, and Holy Saturday also known as the
Great Sabbath is the burial of our Lord. On Holy Wednesday the sacrament of anointing (Holy
Unction) takes place, healing is intimately connected with repentance in Byzantine spirituality.
Did you Know?
• The Triodion is a three week period prior
to the beginning of Great Lent named
after the liturgical book used for this pre-
Lenten period, Great Lent and Holy
• The Sunday of the Publican and the
Pharisee is the first Sunday of this three
week period. It marks the beginning of a
time of preparation for the spiritual
journey of Lent. In the Byzantine
Tradition this period is marked by
worship, prayer, fasting, and acts of
charity. The Sundays of the Triodion are:

• 1. Sunday of the Publican and

Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14),
• 2. Sunday of the Prodigal Son (Luke
• 3. Sunday of the Last Judgment (also
called Meatfare Sunday; Matt 25:31-46).
• 4. Sunday of Forgiveness (also called
Cheesefare Sunday).
Holy Thursday
• On this Holy day, the Byzantine
Catholic Tradition commemorates four
important events in the life of Jesus
and his disciples leading up to his
passion. These events are:

• A. The washing of the Feet

• B. The institution of the Eucharist
• C. The agony at Gethsemane
• D. The betrayal by Judas

• On Holy Thursday, the Liturgy of St.

Basil the Great is celebrated. The
Holy Chrism also known as Holy
Myron is consecrated for the use in
the administration of the Holy
Mysteries, especially: Baptism,
Christmation, Holy Orders and Holy
Unction. In some Byzantine traditions
a foot-washing rite follows the divine
Great and Holy Friday
• Byzantine tradition calls Good Friday, Holy and Great Friday, or just simply Great Friday.
On this day the service of the four Royal hours, is celebrated in the morning. This service
consist of Hymns, psalms and readings from the Scriptures related to Christ’s passion.
There is no Divine Liturgy (Eucharist) celebrated on this day.

• In the afternoon, around three o’clock, the great Vespers are celebrated, the accounts from
the Gospels regarding the the crucifixion and death of Jesus is read, special attention is
given to role of Joseph of Arimatea in securing the body of Jesus for burial. During the
readings of the passion at the moment when Jesus body is taken from the cross, the priest
removes the icon of Jesus body (soma) from the cross, this liturgical action is called
Apokathelosis which means “taking down from the cross” and carries the icon of Jesus
body to the sanctuary wrapped in a white cloth and places it on the holy table.

• After the reading of the Passion the priest accompanied by the deacon and acolytes brings
out the epitaphios an carries it around the church and places the epitaphios in the
sepulcher (tomb) decorated with flowers also known as (the kouvouklion). The epitaphios
is an embroidered cloth with the icon of Jesus body, after being taken down from the cross,
depicting the body of Christ ready for burial.

• On Friday evening the orthros (matins) of Holy Saturday are celebrated. This service consist
of the Lamentations (hymns of praise intercalated with psalm118 used during funerals)
sung by the congregation. During this service the Epitaphios icon is carried in procession
around the church. In some parishes the entire flower-bedecked Sepulcher, symbolizing the
Tomb, is carried in the procession.

• Source: Greek Archdiocese of America

Holy Saturday or Great Sabbath
• In the Byzantine tradition Holy Saturday begins with the
Orthros (Matins) on the evening of Great Friday. This is
the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. On
this day Byzantine spirituality reflects on Jesus descent
into Hades, the dwelling of the dead.

• The Liturgy of St. Basil, celebrated on this day, reminds

us that Jesus descended into Hades to loose the bond of
death. Death has no power, it has been defeated from
within, by the power of Christ. This is the longest liturgy of
the liturgical year.

• In the Byzantine Catholic tradition Holy Saturday is a day

of vigilant anticipation. On this day the liturgy focuses
on Jesus’ rest on the tomb. Jesus observes the Great
Sabbath, but his rest is not inert, mourning is radically
being transformed into joy. Jesus’ tomb is not an ordinary
grave. It is not a place of corruption, decay and defeat. It
is life-giving, a source of power, victory and liberation.

• Later, just before midnight, Pascha is celebrated

beginning with the Midnight office, the first part of the
paschal vigil in the Byzantine tradition.
Did you know?
• In the Byzantine tradition, the
liturgy which corresponds
structurally to the Easter Vigil
of the Latin Church is the
Vesperal Liturgy of Holy
Saturday, celebrated on
Saturday afternoon.

• This is the service which

includes the lengthy series of
Old Testament readings and
the rites of Baptism and
Chrismation, as in the Western
The Byzantine Celebration of Pascha
• A. Pascha is the most important feast in the
Byzantine liturgical year. It celebrates the
resurrection of our Lord and his victory over the
power of death.

• B. In Byzantine Catholic spirituality Pascha

reveals the day without evening also known as
the eight day or the day of a new and everlasting

• C.The celebration of Pascha begins just prior to

midnight with the celebration of the midnight
office. This service is sometimes called “Before
the Tomb” in the slavic tradition.

• D. During the service, The odes of the

Lamentations from the previous night are
repeated. During the ninth ode of the canon, the
epitaphios is transferred from the tomb in the
middle of the Church to the Holy table, where it
will remain until the leavetaking of Pascha.
The Byzantine Celebration of Pascha
• E. After the transfer of the epitaphios to the
holy table, all the lights of the church are
extinguished and the orthrox (matins) of the
resurrection (anastasis) begins in
darkness. The priest light his candle from
the vigil light and exits through the Royal
doors and pass on the light to the faithful,
who are holding candles.

• F. The priest sings, “Come, receive light

from the unfading light, and glorify Christ,
who arose from the dead.” Then, the priest
reads the resurrection story from the Gospel
of Mark (16:1-8).

• G. After the Gospel reading, the celebrant

leads the people in singing the Resurrection
hymn. At the end of the orthros the Divine
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is
celebrated as usual.
Agape Vespers
• On Sunday afternoon the festivity of
Pascha continues, as the faithful gathers
for Vespers. This particular Vesper
service is known as Agape Vespers.
The faithful sing “Christ is Risen” with
their candles lit. The paschal greeting is
exchanged, “ Christ is Risen, Truly He is
Risen.” The after feast of Pascha begins.
Did you know?
• In the Byzantine tradition the first week following
the celebration of Pascha is called bright week.
Bright Week begins on the Sunday of Pascha
and ends on the second Sunday of Pascha
called Thomas Sunday. This entire week is
considered a continuous day of celebration and
joy for the Resurrection of our Lord.

• Thomas Sunday commemorates the

appearances of Christ following the
resurrection. Specially the appearance to
Thomas, the doubting disciple.

• This Sunday (Thomas Sunday) is also called

Antipascha (meaning “in the stead of Pascha,”
not “in opposition to Pascha”) because with this
day, the first Sunday after Pascha, the Church
consecrates every Sunday of the year to the
commemoration of Pascha, that is, the

• Source: Greek Archdiocese of America

What is the Divine Liturgy?
• In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition, Divine Liturgy is
the name used to refer to the celebration of the
Eucharist, the central aspect of Catholic Byzantine
worship. The Byzantine Tradition has several liturgies
for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The most
common are:

• A. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (5th

Century A.D.), used on most days of the year.

• B. The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (4th

Century A.D.), used on the 5 Sundays of Great Lent,
and on Saint Basil's feast day (January 1). On the eves
of the Nativity and Theophany, and on Holy Thursday
and Holy Saturday, it is celebrated as a vesperal liturgy
in most cases. All together, St. Basil's liturgy is
celebrated 10 or 11 days out of the liturgical year.

• C. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (6th

Century A.D.), served on Wednesdays and Fridays
during Great Lent and on the first three days of Holy
Week. It is essentially the office of vespers with a
communion service added, the Holy Gifts having been
consecrated and reserved the previous Sunday. It is
traditionally attributed to St. Gregory the Dialogist.
Parts of the Byzantine Liturgy
• The Divine Liturgy is composed of
three main parts:

• A. The Prothesis (or proskomedia),

the service of preparing the holy gifts.

• B. The Liturgy of the Catechumens

or Liturgy of the word.

• C. The Liturgy of the faithful or Liturgy

of the Eucharist.

The “Prothesis” (preparation of the gifts)

Did you know?
• In the Byzantine Catholic tradition, the antidoron
is the blessed bread distributed by the priest at the
end of the Divine Liturgy. It comes from the
prosphora, the loaf of bread that is used for Holy

• On top of the prosphora the Christogram is

written: IC XC NI KA (Jesus Christ Conquers).
During the prothesis, the prosphora is cut, but
only the center of the prosphora is used for the
Eucharist; this part of the prosphora is called the

• The remaining part of the prosphora that is not use

for consecration becomes the antidoron. The
antidoron is cut into pieces and kept in a bowl or
salver. It is important to remember that the
antidoron is blessed bread, it is not sacramental (it
is not consecrated into the body of Christ).

• The antidoron may also be taken home for use

during the week. It is a pious custom for Byzantine
Christians to begin the day, after their morning
prayers and before eating, by consuming a particle
of antidoron and drinking agiasmos, or blessed
The Holy Mysteries
• In Byzantine Catholic terminology, the word
“Holy Mysteries” is used to refer to the seven
sacraments that communicates the very life of
God (grace) to those who receive them. These
Holy Mysteries are:

• A. Baptism: The sacrament of baptism is

administered in the Byzantine Catholic tradition
by a threefold immersion in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

• Baptism takes place in the Kolymbethra a

basin containing the baptismal water. After the
immersion the Godparents bring the baptismal
garments to dress the infant. The garments are
considered sacred.

• B. Chrismation: In the Byzantine Catholic

Tradition Chrimation (confirmation) is not
delayed to the age of reason. It follows
Immediately after baptism, the infant is
Chrismated with Holy Chrism also known as
Holy Myron. The Holy Chrism is blessed
during the liturgy of Holy Thursday. In the
Byzantine tradition, unlike the Latin tradition, the
priest can confer Christmation (confirmation).
Baptism by immersion
The Holy Mysteries
• C. Eucharist: In the Byzantine Catholic
tradition Holy Communion, the reception of
the body and blood of Christ, is not delayed to
the age of reason. Infants received Holy
Communion after Baptism. The precious
blood is given to the infant through a
liturgical spoon.

• D. Confession: In the Byzantine catholic

tradition confession does not take place in the
confessional, but in front of the Icon of
Christ. After the confession the priest covers
the head of the penitent with the
Epitrachelion (priest’s stole) and says the
prayer of absolution.

• E. Holy Unction: According to Byzantine

practice, this service is to be celebrated in the
presence of seven priest. However, pastoral
circumstances sometimes do not allow for the
full expression of this rite. Anyone that is ill
can receive this sacrament. On Holy
Wednesday evening there is a special
celebration of anointing in Byzantine Byzantine Confession
The Holy Mysteries
• F. Marriage: In the Byzantine tradition the sacrament of
marriage is referred to as the Crowning. Marriage is
considered in Byzantine spirituality an icon of the
relationship between Jesus and His Church. According to
Byzantine practice the wedding is to take place on Sunday.

• The first part of the wedding is the service of solemn

betrothal, followed by prayers, and the granting and
blessing of the rings. Then the ceremony continues with the
crowning the main ritual of the wedding, and the liturgy of
the word. After the readings the couple share the common
cup containing blessed wine.

• After the couples share the cup, a litany is recited followed

by a procession around the marriage table. After the
procession the crowns are removed and a final blessing is

• G. Ordination: Ordination or Holy Orders is known in the

Byzantine Catholic tradition as cheirotonia. In the
Byzantine tradition there are minor orders and major
orders. The minor orders (cheirothesia) are: subdeacon,
reader, acolyte or candle bearer and cantor. The major
orders (cheirotonia) are diaconate, presbyter (priest) and
bishop. The Crowning
Did you Know?
• In the Byzantine Catholic tradition priests can be
from the celibate or from the married states.
Byzantine Catholics monastics (monks and
nuns) belong to the celibate state. In the
Byzantine Catholic Tradition, bishops are
selected from the monastic ranks.

• Until recently, in the United States, Byzantine

married men were not allowed to be ordained
priests, like they do in Eastern Europe. A priest
that has been ordained cannot marry. However,
a married man who wants to become a
Byzantine priest in the United States now can
do so.

• The old restriction (banning married clergy)

imposed by the Latin Hierarchy in the USA has
changed, the Holy See has granted permission,
to the local metropolias in the U.S., to ordain
married men to the priesthood, on case by case
basis. This new development is in accord with
the Eastern Code of Law and the decree of Christmation of Infant after baptism
Vatican II regarding the Eastern Churches and
their practices.
The Clergy
• In the Byzantine tradition priests, deacons and
monks are greeted as fathers. A monk who is
also a deacon is called Hierodeacon, and a
monk who is a priest is called heiromonk. The
chancellor of an eparchy (diocese) is usually
called protsyngellos.

• Titles of distinction, for clergy in the Byzantine

tradition, carrying a certain degree of dignity are:

• A. Archpriest : an honorific titled given to a priest.

His symbols are the mitre (liturgical hat) and the
epigonation. Archpriests are also known as

• B. Archimandrite: is a celibate priest, and head

and father (abbot) of a monastic community (he is
the equivalent of an Archpriest), his symbols are
the crozier (pastoral staff) and the mitre.

• C. Hegoumenoi: is a priest- monk just below the

rank of Archimandrite. His symbol is the
Liturgical Vestments
Epitrachelion (Priest’s stole) Sticharion (Alb)
Phelonion (Chasuble)



Orarion (deacon’s stole) Omophorion


Bishop’s Vestment
Liturgical Colors
In the Byzantine Catholic tradition the following liturgical
colors are used:

A. White: is the symbol of God’s uncreated light. White

vestments are worn on the great feasts of Easter, Christmas,
Epiphany, Ascension and Transfiguration.

B. Red: is used on the Sundays of Great Lent, during

Christmas Fast, on the feast day of the Elevation of the Lord’s
Cross, and sometimes on the feast days of great martyrs.

C. Gold: is the color of glory, greatness and virtue. It is

assigned to Sundays, as the days of the Lord — the King of
Glory; in addition, the Church in golden vestments notes the
days of His special anointed ones — the prophets, apostles
and hierarchal saints.

D. Green: is the color of plants and a symbol of new life — it is

used on Palm Sunday and throughout the feast of the Holy
Trinity (until its end).

E. Light blue or blue — is the color of the feast days of the

Most Holy Mother of God. It is the color of the sky, and it
conforms to the teaching about the Mother of God, who held
the Resident of the Heavens in Her Most Pure Body.

F. Black: is nearest in spirit to the weekdays of Great Lent. It

is the symbol of renunciation from worldly strife, It is the color
of repentance and strictness to oneself.
Bishop’s Insignias

Crozier or
Miter Paterissa
Bishop’s staff


Bizantine Cross

Engolpion or
Holy Theotokos
• A. In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition, the Virgin Mary has
an exalted place of honor as the Theotokos (God’s
bearer), the Mother of God. St. Theodoret an early
Christian theologian wrote that calling Mary Theotokos is
an Apostolic tradition.

• B. The council of Ephesus in 431 defended the practice

of calling Mary the Theotokos, stating that she was the
mother of Jesus who was both human and divine.

• C. In the Byzantine tradition one of the many titles Mary is

given is that of Panagia – All Holy. The liturgical calendar
of the Byzantine tradition celebrates five major feasts
dedicated to Mary. The feast of the Nativity of the
Theotokos is celebrated on September 8th.

• D. The feast of the Dormition (falling asleep): is a major

feast in the Byzantine Tradition that commemorates the
falling asleep ( natural death) of our Holy and blessed

• E. This feast is preceded by a two week fast called the

dormition’s fast. According to tradition her body was
resurrected on the third day and taken up to heaven.
Many Byzantine Churches honor the Holy Theotokos, Icon of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos
mother of God, by naming Churches after her name.
The Three Holy Hierarchs
• In Byzantine Catholic Tradition the Feast of the Holy
Hierarchs, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian;
and St. John Chrysostom is celebrated on Janurary 30th.

• The Byzantine tradition venerates these three staunch

pillars and defenders of our Church Doctrine against the
heresies that sought to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.
St Basil was born in Cappodocia in Asia Minor in
330A.D, He was the Archbishop of Caesarea.

• St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who is called the Theologian,

was born in Nazianzus in Cappodocia in 325 A D. He was
the Archbishop of Constantinople.

• St. John Chrysostom was born at Antioch in the year

347 A.D. He was renowned for his eloquence, and was
thus termed “Chrysostom”, which means “Golden
Mouthed” in Greek, He was the Archbishop of
Constantinople, and he revised the Divine Liturgy which
we still use today.

• St. John Chrysostom is recorded in historical annals as

the most eloquent preachers of the Byzantine Church his
homilies are classics even to this day. These three Holy
Hierarchs are considered doctors of the Church in the
West. St. Basil, and St. Gregory are known as the
Capadoccian fathers.
Byzantine Architecture
• A. The Church building is divided into three
main parts: the narthex (vestibule), the
nave (the temple proper) and the
sanctuary (also called the altar or holy
place). The altar (sanctuary) is situated in
the eastern part of the church, behind the
iconostasis or Templon, regardless of its

• B. A bell tower is attached to (or built
separately by the western part of the
church. The church building has many
symbolic meanings; perhaps the oldest and
most prominent is the concept that the
Church is the Ark of Salvation (as in
Noah's Ark) in which the world is saved
from the flood of temptations.

• C. The cupola instead of a flat ceiling

symbolizes the sky. In Russian churches,
cupolas are often topped by an onion-
shaped domes, where crosses are
The Byzantine Sanctuary
• The Sanctuary is the Holiest place in a Byzantine Catholic Church. It is located behind the altar screen
called iconostasis or templon. It contains the following:

• A. Altar table: It is located in the center, just behind the Holy doors or Beautiful gate. On top of the altar
is the tabernacle, the book of the Gospel and the antimension are placed. Behind the altar a
candelabra containing seven candles is found. (See graphic # 1 –next slide)

• B. Tabernacle or artophorion: is the sacred vessel used to reserve the Eucharist used to bring
communion for the sick; it is usually shaped in the form of a Church. The presence of the Christ in the
tabernacle is signaled by a vigil lamp. (See graphic # 8 –next slide)

• C. Table of Preparation or Prothesis: This table is also known as the table of oblation; it is found in the
sanctuary left to the altar. This is the table used for the service of preparing the the prosphora (bread)
and wine; this service is known as proskomedia or office of oblation. On top of the prothesis rest the
chalice (cup) the diskos (paten = round plate), the spear (liturgical knife), a liturgical spoon (for the
distribution of holy communion), the asterisk or star ( a metal stand that holds the cover for the
Eucharistic bread or prosphora). (See graphic #2- next slide)

• D. Antimension: a rectangular piece of silk or linen decorated with the image of Christ’s entombment
and the image of the four Evangelists. A small relic of a martyr is sewn into it. During the Divine Liturgy
(Eucharist), the antimension is placed on the center of the altar. The antimension serves as an altar in
case of pastoral necessity and the Eucharist cannot be celebrated without it. Only the priest, deacon or
bishop can touch the antimension when fully vested.
Inside a Byzantine Catholic Church
The Iconostasis
• A. In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition, the
Iconostasis (Greek for icon stand) or Templon,
is a screen (wall), consisting of one or more rows
of icons, separating the nave from the sanctuary.

• B. In Byzantine spirituality the iconostasis is a

boundary between two worlds, the divine and the
human. In some small Byzantine churches the
iconostasis may be completely absent and may
be replaced by small icons. The Iconostasis has
three sets of doors.

• C. The central doors are call Holy doors or

beautiful gate and contain an icon of the
annunciation. The doors to the left and to the right
of the Holy doors are called the north and south
doors, also known as the deacon or angel doors.

• D The Icons of the Savior, the Theotokos, The

Archangels and the Saints, featured on the
iconostasis, represent the reconciliation taking
place between the human and the divine.

Iconostasis or Templon
Byzantine Symbols
Byzantine Cross Icons – “Christ Pantocrator”

Christogram – “Jesus Christ Conquers” Holy Candles

Holy Icons
• In the Byzantine tradition Icons (holy images) are considered
windows to heaven. Icons are never painted they are written by
iconographers. Icons have been used in the devotion of the
Christian East from the very beginning.

• St. John Damascene wrote, “anyone who seeks to destroy the

Icons of Christ or His Mother, the Blessed Theotokos, or any of
the Saints, is the enemy of Christ, the Holy Mother of God, and
the Saints, and is the defender of the Devil and his demons.

• An icon coud be an image of Christ, the Holy Theotokos, The

Saints, Angels, or important aspects in the life of Jesus or the
Church. Byzantine Catholics pray in the presence of Icon (not
to the icon itself). Byzantine Catholics venerate the Holy Icons
to show respect for the sacred. In the Byzantine tradition Icons
are venerated the the following way:

• 1. Approach the icon and make two metania (bows)

• 2. Kiss the icon on feet or hands (never the face)
• 3. A candle may placed before the icon at this time
• 4. Make an additional metania and then depart

• During Lent, a complete prostration to the ground is made

instead of the metania bow. Before entering the pew, the custom
is normally to bow to the altar and make the Sign of the Cross .
Byzantine Liturgical Postures and Gestures
• In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition there are several
liturgical postures and gestures, the most common are:

• A. Standing: It is the official posture of the Church. In

the Byzantine Catholic Tradition, standing is a symbol
of the resurrection. Byzantine Catholics stand for most
of the service (Europe), in America, however, seating is
permitted as a cultural adaptation.

• B. Prostration: There are two basic kinds of

prostrations, known as Great Metania, and Small
Metania. Both are preceded by the sign of the Cross.

Great Metania: the worshipper prostrates the whole

body, throwing the weight forwards onto the hands and
touching the ground with the forehead.

Small Metania: The worshipper bows from the waist,

touching the ground with the fingers of the right hand.

• D. Bows (reverance): At certain times the worshipper

merely bows the head; sometimes this is accompanied
by the Sign of the Cross.
The Byzantine Sign of the Cross
• A. In the Byzantine Catholic Tradition, the Sign
of the Cross is made with the thumb and the
first two fingers of the right hand joined at the
tips (the third and fourth fingers being closed on
the palm).

• B. By joining the thumb and the first two fingers,

we express our belief in the Most-Holy Trinity.

• C. The two fingers closed on the palm represent

the two natures of Christ divine and human.

• D. With the thumb and first two fingers joined,

we touch first the brow, then the breast, the
right shoulder and then the left, making on
ourselves the Sign of the Cross and signifying
by the four points that the Holy Trinity has
sanctified our thoughts (mind), feelings (heart),
desires (soul) and acts (strength) to service of

• C. By making the Sign of the Cross on

ourselves we also signify that Christ has saved
us by His sufferings on the Cross.

• D. The Byzantine way of making the sign of the

cross pre-dates the Latin style used by Roman
The Prayer Rope
• A prayer rope is a devotional instrument of
prayer, in the form of a loop made up of complex
knots, usually out of wool or silk, that is used by
Byzantine Catholics to count the number of times
they have prayed the Jesus’ Prayer: "Lord
Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a
sinner.” This prayer is the most mystical prayer in
Eastern Christianity according to some of the
Fathers of the Church.

• To learn more about the prayer rope click on the title


• Prayer Rope or go to the following link:

St. Cyril and Methodius
• Saints Cyril and Methodius were Byzantine
Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th
century, who became missionaries of Christianity
among the Slavic peoples of Great Moravia and

• Through their work they influenced the cultural

development of all Slavs, for which they received
the title "Apostles to the Slavs". They are
credited with devising the Cyrillic alphabet, the
first alphabet used to transcribe the Old Church
Slavonic language.

• After their deaths, their pupils continued their

missionary work among other Slavs. Both
brothers are venerated in the Byzantine Catholic
and Eastern Orthodox Churches as saints with
the title of "Equals to the Apostles".

• In 1880, Pope Leo XIII introduced their feast into

the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. In
1980, Pope John Paul II declared them co-
patrons of Europe, together with Saint
Benedict of Nursia. The feast of St. Cyril and Icon of St. Cyril and Methodius
Methodius is celebrated on May 11th.
Vatican II
Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum

“All members of the Eastern Rite should know and be

convinced that they can and should always preserve
their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of
life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain
for themselves an organic improvement. All these, then,
must be observed by the members of the Eastern rites
themselves. Besides, they should attain to on ever
greater knowledge and a more exact use of them, and, if
in their regard they have fallen short owing to
contingencies of times and persons, they should take
steps to return to their ancestral traditions.”
The Nicene Creed- Our Faith
I believe in one God, the Father
Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all things
visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, the only-begotten, born of the Father
before all ages. Light of light, true God of true God,
begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things were made. Who for us men, and
for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was
incarnate from the Holy Spirit and Mary the virgin, and
became man. He was also crucified for us under Pontius
Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And He rose again
on the third day, according to the Scriptures. And He
ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the
Father. And He will come again with glory, to judge the
living and the dead, and of His kingdom there will be
no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of
life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with
the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who
spoke through the prophets. In one holy catholic, and
apostolic Church. I profess one Baptism for the
remission of sins. I expect the resurrection of the
dead; and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The End


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