Friday, May 3, 2013

Where exactly is "east" and why am I going there?

So, here we go. I've decided to start this off with a basic description of why I named my blog "The Journey East" (I know, how original) and then to go from there. The immediate source of the title is simple enough: I will be chronicling my journey from the western Roman Catholic Church to the Byzantine Catholic Church. Before everyone gets massively confused by the previous statement, or maybe shortly after, I really should give a short explanation of what the Byzantine Catholic Church is. First and foremost, it is not the same thing as any of the Orthodox Churches. The main meaning of this is that, although there are many similarities in ritual and tradition between the Byzantine Catholic Church and many Orthodox Churches, the Byzantine Catholic Church acknowledges the Bishop of Rome as their supreme pontiff, i.e., he's in charge. Second, the Byzantine Catholic Church is just as Catholic as the Roman Catholic Church. The sacraments are valid, the teachings are the same, and yes, going to Divine Liturgy can satisfy your Sunday obligation. Third, the traditions and rituals of the Byzantine Catholics flow from the eastern "lung," as Blessed John Paul II would put it, of the Church. This means, in the case of this Church (one of many Eastern Catholic Churches), that it traces its heritage to Constantinople rather than Rome. It also means that the most common Eucharistic Liturgy is the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom rather than the Latin rite Mass.  There is also the very frequent use of chant in liturgy and prayer and a wonderful love of icons.

See, it's a really cool icon called the Pantocrator. 
For more info on this icon, click on the picture, and you 
will be linked to a cool blogpost on that very topic.
The second meaning of the title of my blog has to do with a more theological meaning of the word East. There is a very old tradition that in the second coming Jesus will come from the east. The garden of Eden was also "in the east." In this sense, the east is a metaphor for my ultimate goal of heaven. This means that, even after I am Byzantine Catholic, I will be journeying east still. So, until next time, Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!