Ukrainian Byzantine Rite

ECCLESIASTICAL ROOTS

By the middle of the 3rd century, several major centres of Christianity had emerged, namely Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch, the most prestigious cities of the Roman Empire. The Church in each of these cities had its own liturgical customs, which influenced the smaller centres around them. Early in the fourth century, the Church of Constantinople, built on the site of an ancient Greek town called ‘’Byzantium”, became the new capital of the Roman Empire and joined the ranks of these leading churches. These five Christian centres became known as the Pentarchy. When missionaries of this Byzantium Church brought Christianity to eastern Europe they spread to their new converts the tradition which they were familiar with, and this has remained the liturgical tradition of these Churches to this day.

THE LITURGY

The essential elements of public worship in the Catholic Church, the administration of the Seven Sacraments, are the same in all Catholic churches. What is called “The "Mass" in the West is called "Divine Liturgy" in the Eastern Churches.

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom consists of three main parts: The Preparation, during which the priest prepares the bread and chalice for Communion; The Liturgy of the Word, which includes, an epistle reading, the gospel of the day, prayers and a homily; The Liturgy of Sacrifice, the apex of our worship when the Creed is recited, the Holy Gifts are Consecrated and Communion is received.

INCENSE

Incense is used often as it was a part of the worship described in both the Old and New Testament and honours God's presence. It has a pleasing aroma and shows our prayers ascending before God (Ps. 141:2).

SIGN OF THE CROSS

The sign of the cross is made especially at all invocations of the Holy Trinity and when receiving a blessing. This reminds us of God's ultimate act of love for us, the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. We do this by holding the thumb and 1st two fingers together, (the three-in one representing the Trinity), with the remaining two touching the centre of our hand (representing the two natures of Christ). By touching our forehead, heart, right shoulder, then left shoulder, we show the dedication of our mind, heart, and strength to God. This way of blessing oneself is very ancient.

THE ICONOSTAS:

This large screen, symbolizing the veil of the Temple in the Old Testament, conceals the sanctuary but is fitted with doors that open during the service and is adorned with sacred images or icons. It is meant to reveal in a mystical way, the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven. The content and the design of these images, and the materials and methods used in their production, are drawn from the Scriptures, the liturgy, the lives of the saints, and the whole of Christian Tradition. They express both the events and the profound spiritual meaning of our Salvation.

SINGING:

There is a strong tradition of congregational singing without instrumentation. The Divine Liturgy generally is sung as a sign of our joyfulness in God’s presence. Musical instruments are omitted so that the beauty of the human voice lifted in prayer can be heard.

HOLY COMMUNION:

Holy Communion may be received by the faithful of the Catholic Church according to the proscribed conditions. In the Ukrainian Catholic Church, leaven bread is consecrated and the faithful receive Holy Communion under both species, Bread and Wine together. When receiving, please stand close to the Priest. Open your mouth wide and tilt your head back slightly. Please do not extend your tongue nor say “Amen”. The priest will gently place the Eucharist into your mouth. Wait until he withdraws his hand, then return to your place.

 
 

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