1. Is there an American Eastern rite?

    "Eastern Rites" are, by definition, from the East, and the US is a "Western" country, so it has no indigenous Eastern Rite.  Many Eastern Catholic Churches have eparchies and parishes in the US to serve immigrant communities.  But these churches do not actually constitute an American Eastern Rite.

    The closest thing we have to that is the Ruthenian Rite in America.  Though still part of the Ruthenian Rite, it has become so ethnically mixed that it now just calls itself "The Byzantine Catholic Church".  Its Liturgy is celebrated in English, and it is basically as close as any Eastern Catholic church in America gets to being an "American Eastern Rite".

  2. Do Eastern Catholics pray the Rosary?

    Some do. The Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is technically a Western Catholic prayer, but some Eastern Catholics choose to include it in their personal devotions.

    Eastern Christians also have their own "rosary", sometimes called the "Byzantine Rosary".  This devotion involves the meditative recitation of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!) one hundred times, along with some other prayers.  The Jesus Prayers are counted on a prayer rope, called a komboschoinia in Greek or a chotki in Russian.  It is made out of wool and has either 33, 50 or 100 special knots in it, each tied in a cross-like form.  Sometimes, the prayers are said on a string of 100 beads.

    The Byzantine Rosary is much older than the Western Rosary, dating back to the fourth century AD!  It is an ancient and venerable Christian practice.

  3. I'm a Roman Catholic; can I attend an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy?

    Absolutely!  We are all the same Catholic Church, so we have complete intercommunion with them.

  4. I recently I visited a "Byzantine Catholic" church. Their Liturgy is so different; how can they be Catholic?

    They are!  Many Roman Rite Catholics grew up with little exposure to other aspects of Catholicism.  When they discover the Eastern rites, it causes a kind of "culture shock", since they are so used to only one kind of Catholicism.  But the Eastern rites are just as Catholic as the Roman Rite: no more, no less!  And worshipping with ones Eastern brothers and sisters can be a wonderful way to expand ones understanding of the universality of the Catholic Church.

  5. But they have married priests, and the Catholic Church doesn't allow that!

    The Roman Rite doesn't generally allow it (except by special dispensation for some converts from Anglicanism), but most of the Eastern Rites do routinely allow married men to become priests.  That's their ancient tradition, and it is perfectly legitimate and valid for them.  The tradition of a celibate clergy in the West is also legitimate for the Roman Rite.

    We have to broaden our understanding of what is "Catholic".  Married Catholic priests do exist, mainly in the Eastern Rites, and they are just as "Catholic" as their celibate counterparts!

  6. What is Latinization and why is it wrong?

    Latinization is the wrongheaded practice of forcing Eastern Catholics to conform to the practices of the Roman Rite.  It is rooted in a certain cultural arrogance; the attitude that "My form of Catholicism is the only 'correct' form".  Latinizers have a lack of respect for the ancient Eastern rites. They can neither appreciate their beauty and uniqueness, nor perceive how the Holy Spirit has formed them, distinct from the Roman Rite in policy and practice yet united to it in the one Mystical Body of Christ!

    Latinization is rare today, but has had tragic results in the past.  It has caused resentment among Eastern Catholics, who (understandably) don't like being told that their Catholicism is "wrong" or "deficient" - when it isn't!  This has sadly led to schisms and defections to Eastern Orthodoxy, where the Eastern ways are always preserved.

    The irony is that this foolish attempt to enforce unity through conformity just leads to more disunity!  If a tree is known by its fruits (Matthew 7:16-20) then the bad fruits of Latinization are a strong testimony against it!  The Vatican officially condemns Latinization and encourages Eastern Catholics to preserve their own traditions and customs.

  7. So if an Eastern Catholic adopts a Western practice like the Rosary (as you mentioned above), is that Latinization?

    Latinization is essentially coercive, and it is usually forced on Eastern Catholics by Roman Catholics.  If an individual Eastern Catholic feels an affinity with a certain Western devotion and wants to adopt it in his personal prayer life, there's nothing wrong with that.  But the Vatican also encourages Eastern Catholics to maintain and appreciate their own unique and beautiful customs.

    Now, if a Roman Rite Catholic tried to force Eastern Catholics to pray the Western Rosary and throw away their Eastern forms of devotion, that would be Latinization!  See the difference?  Choice -vs- coersion.

  8. Can Latin Rite Catholics adopt customs and practices of the Eastern rites?

    Certainly! Many Roman Rite Catholics have discovered the spiritual benefits of ikons and the Jesus Prayer.

  9. Can a Catholic switch from one rite to another, and how is that done?

    Yes, a Catholic can switch rites. Canon Law's regulations on that can be found here.

  10. I see there are lots of Eastern Catholic Rites, but is the Roman Rite the only Western Catholic Rite in the Church?

    This isn't exactly a question about Eastern Catholicism, but I guess it's related. So here goes:

    The Roman Rite has been the primary rite in the Western Church for a long time.  During the Middle Ages, the Church had numerous smaller "sub-rites", which were essentially local alternate liturgies, not full-blown cultural expressions of Catholicism with their own canon law, traditions, etc.  Most of these disappeared during the time of the Protestant revolt.  Among the few that still exist are the Ambrosian rite, celebrated in Milan, Italy, and the Mozarabic rite in Toledo, Spain.  But these are part of the Roman Rite, not distinct like the Melkites, Maronites, or other Eastern Rites.

    Some religious orders have also had distinct liturgies, but I'm not clear on which ones or whether they still use them.

    In recent years, two more sub-rites (of sorts) have arisen in the Roman Rite.  The first is called "Anglican-Usage".  In 1980, Pope John Paul II issued a Pastoral Provision, allowing Episcopalian converts to use modified portions of the Book of Common Prayer as their liturgy.  (For any who might not know, the Book of Common Prayer contains the liturgy of the Anglican and Episcopalian churches).  Last I heard, there were only six Anglican-Usage parishes in the United States.  They are each under the juristdiction of the local Roman Catholic bishop, and so do not constitute a distinct "Anglican Catholic Rite".  Thus they more resemble a "sub-rite", like the Mozarabic.

    The second "sub-rite" is the Indult Tridentine Mass.  Once the primary Mass of the Roman Rite, it was replaced by the Paul VI Mass (the so-called "Novus Ordo") in 1969.  Yet many traditionalist Catholics remained loyal to the Tridentine Mass, so the Holy Father gave special permission for its celebration in the encyclical Ecclesia Dei.  Many bishops have established regular Indult Masses in their dioceses, and entire orders like the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter are dedicated to celebrating it, making the Indult Tridentine Mass perhaps the most widespread sub-rite in the Roman Catholic Church.

    Will any of these sub-rites ever become distinct Western Rites, like the various Eastern Rites?  It is highly doubtful.  Some traditionalists wish the Indult Masses would develop into a "Latin Rite" distinct from the Roman Rite, but this is very unlikely to occur.  I don't know enough about the Anglican-Usage liturgy to say whether it has that potential.

Have any more questions about Eastern Catholicism? Feel free to email me.

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