A CATHOLIC CHURCH

     In the Catholic Church there are 22 different “Ritual Churches”, each having its own particular manner of glorifying God through Liturgy, Spirituality and Expressions of Faith; HOWEVER all proclaim the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith in full communion with the Bishop (Pope) of Rome, who is the final arbiter in settling matters of Christian Faith and Morals.

     Each of these “Ritual Churches” is named by the Rite to which it adheres, e.g. Roman Catholic (those Churches following the rituals of the Roman Rite); Byzantine Catholic (those following the rituals of the Byzantine Rite); Coptic Catholic (those following the rituals of the Coptic Rite), etc.

       How did these various “Ritual Churches” come into existence? When Christ commissioned His Apostles to go forth and build the Church and unite all peoples of every nation in a common bond of Faith, He simply gave them His teachings - as found in the four Gospels of the New Testament. He gave them no set pattern for prayers (except the Our Father); no set pattern of actions for proclaiming the “Good News” of the Gospels. It was a natural thing, therefore, when the Apostles went out into the world to teach all nations, that they kept the essence of the teachings of Christ, but left the external manifestations of this Faith to the language, culture and customs of the local people.

       When Christ sent the Apostles into the world, St. Peter traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch and then to Rome. St. Andrew, Peter’s brother, traveled to Byzantium (in present-day Turkey). The town was later to be called Constantinople, after the Roman Emperor Constantine. St. James went to Egypt, while St. Thomas traveled to India. The other Apostles established Churches in other parts of the world, ordaining Bishops to continue their mission.

       It is through the Eastern traditions of ancient Byzantium (hence the name Byzantine Catholic) that certain Slavic peoples received Christianity from Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these people immigrated to the United States and established the Catholic Parishes of the Byzantine Rite that we now find all across the US.

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