Who are Byzantine Catholics?
Put simply, we are similar to Eastern Orthodox Christians, but we are in full communion with the Catholic Church and our Holy Father, Francis, the Pope of Rome. We share the same Catholic Faith, but we express our common Faith differently in our Liturgy and theology. We celebrate the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), and we observe the Byzantine liturgical calendar of feasts and fasts like our Orthodox brothers and sisters, (with whom, sadly, we are not in full communion). We encourage you to visit our parish, meet us, and experience our beautiful liturgy for yourself!
Can I attend Mass at your church?
Of course! We celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and on major Holy Days. Although, we don’t call it Mass. We call it the Divine Liturgy. And, like the Mass, it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist where we receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Does attending a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy fulfill my Mass obligation?
Yes! Attending the Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy fulfills your obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation.
Can I receive the Holy Eucharist at your church?
All Catholics who are properly prepared to receive the Eucharist (i.e, those who are in a state of grace), may do so at our church. Receiving the Eucharist is a little different than what you may be used to in that the Holy Bread (which is leavened) is placed in the Holy Chalice, and the priest or deacon distributes Holy Communion by means of a special spoon.
Can I go to Confession at your church?
Of course! The Holy Mystery of Confession is offered every Sunday at 8:30am or by appointment.
How are Some of the other Sacraments Celebrated in your church?
When a person is baptized in the Byzantine Rite, including infants and children, they also receive the sacraments of Confirmation (which we call Chrismation) and First Holy Communion. So, infants and children regularly receive Holy Communion at Liturgy. Then, when children are around seven years of age, they have their First Reconciliation, which is sometimes followed by a First Solemn Communion celebration.
Anointing of the Sick is administered to those who are in need of healing, and for those who are approaching the end of their earthly life. But, it is also given to all the faithful who wish to receive it on Great and Holy Wednesday.
Marriage, the indissoluble union of life and love between a man and a woman, is also called “Crowning,” because after the exchange of vows, the newlyweds are “crowned” in marriage. In our tradition, only priests and bishops can serve as the ministers of the Holy Mystery of Matrimony.
Holy Orders (the Ordination of Deacons, Priests, and Bishops) is similar to that in the Roman Rite. Although our priests are the Ordinary Ministers of Chrismation (Confirmation). And we do ordain married men to the priesthood, though we do not ordain married men as bishops.
How is the Byzantine Divine Liturgy different from the Roman Catholic Mass?
Like the Mass, the Divine Liturgy is a celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist. Both have the same basic structure: the Liturgy of the Word followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both have some of the same prayers, (e.g, “Alleluia,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Our Father”). But the Divine Liturgy itself is substantially different. Most of the prayers are different. Most of the Liturgy is chanted. We have different vestments, a different altar arrangement, and we also give Holy Communion to our infants and children, (who are confirmed immediately after they are baptized, though we call the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Mystery of Chrismation).
How is the Byzantine liturgical year different from the Roman Catholic liturgical year?
We have the same basic seasons, Advent (which we also call the Christmas Fast or Philipovka) and Lent (which we also call the Great Fast). We don’t use the term “Ordinary Time,” but instead refer to those periods as the days and weeks after Pentecost. Some Byzantine Catholic Churches celebrate using the Julian Calendar (like the Orthodox do), but our Church uses the Gregorian Calendar like Roman Catholics do. We have many of the same feasts, but sometimes we use different names for them, (e.g. we call the Assumption the Dormition and the Immaculate Conception the Maternity of Holy Anna).
Our liturgical year starts on September 1st, instead of the First Sunday of Advent. Our Christmas Fast (Advent) is forty days rather than four weeks, and our Great Fast (Lent) begins the Monday before Ash Wednesday, which we call Clean Monday. We celebrate All Saints on the First Sunday after Pentecost instead of on November 1st. And we celebrate five All Souls Saturdays before and during the Season of Lent.
We also have two “minor” fasting periods: The Apostles Fast before the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 and the Dormition Fast before the Dormition of the Theotokos. (Oh, we also refer to Mary, the Mother of God, as Theotokos, which in Greek means “God-bearer”).
Do you belong to a different diocese than Roman Catholics?
Yes. We call our dioceses eparchies. St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church is part of the Eparchy of Passaic, which is governed by our God-loving Bishop +Kurt Burnette. The Byzantine Catholic Church is one of more than twenty Eastern Catholic Churches. Each of us is a Church in its own right within the Catholic Church, (a canonical Sui Iuris Church as we are called). Other Eastern Catholic Churches like us include the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Coptic Catholic Church, The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, the Syro-Malankar Catholic Church, etc. While we have different bishops and eparchies, we are all Catholic.
Is it true that your priests are able to be married?
Our priests are not permitted to get married, but we do allow married men to be ordained as priests. We have many married clergy with families, including our own Father Andriy and his family. However, we do not permit married clergy to be ordained bishops. Our bishops, (and all Roman Catholic and Eastern Christian Bishops), are celibate.
Have other questions?
Check out, Christ Our Pascha: Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Like us, Ukrainian Catholics are Byzantine, and although we are different Churches within the Catholic Church, we have very similar beliefs and practices. We also encourage you to visit us and experience the Byzantine Catholic Faith firsthand. Check our Calendar for Liturgy times.