March 16, 2007

The Family Tree of the Eucharistic Liturgy

Click on the chart for a larger version.


(I first published the following last year. The Holy Father's new exhortation concerning the Eucharist contains a passing reference to the historical development of the rites of the Eucharist. I think it is a good occasion for me to republish the following.)


Development of the Rites of the Eucharist

The Catholic Church acknowledges basically six great liturgical rites of the valid Eucharist in Christianity. Each of these rites is tied to a great city of antiquity. From these cities the rites traveled elsewhere, and gave rise to the development of variations within the individual rites.

In the Western half of the former Roman empire, we have Rome as the cradle of the LATIN (or Roman) Liturgy, the Mass.

In the Eastern half of the former Roman Empire, three rites arose. The city of Constantinople (Byzantium) is the home of the BYZANTINE Liturgy. The ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy developed in the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria. The city of Antioch (in what is now modern Syria) gave the world the ANTIOCHENE (or West Syrian) Liturgy.

Outside the borders of the Roman Empire, two places developed authentic Eucharistic liturgies. In Persia or Chaldea (modern-day Iran and Iraq) the East Syrian or CHALDEAN Liturgy evolved. The ARMENIAN Liturgy developed independently in the Church of Armenia.

All six of these Liturgies for celebrating the authentic Eucharist have roots or are connected to roots in the city of Antioch.

Here is a streamlined history of the growth of the Eucharistic Family Tree.

Sometime around A.D. 33, outside the walls of Jerusalem, Christ Jesus dies, rises and ascends.

In the years that follow, St. Peter transfers to the city of Antioch where he serves as its first bishop and patriarch.

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, 11:26, tells us “in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.”

Rites and prayers for celebrating the Eucharist evolve in Antioch. This is the genesis of the ANTIOCHENE Liturgy. These usages pass to other Christian communities, including in Rome, giving rise there to the LATIN (or Roman) Liturgy.

St. Peter dies a martyr in Rome about A.D. 69.

The Romans destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The city of Alexandria, Egypt, received Antiochene Eucharistic usages, and developed the ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy.

Christianity developed in Edessa (today’s Urfa in southeastern Turkey) within the city’s Jewish population. Eucharistic usages from Antioch evolved in Edessa into the CHALDEAN Liturgy.

Antiochene rites made their way to both the city of Constantinople (or Byzantium) and the region of Cappadocia (and its “Liturgy of St. Basil”). The BYZANTINE Liturgy is the child of both the Cappadocian and Constantinopolitan rites.

The Church in Armenia began to use the “Liturgy of St. Basil” from Cappadocia. However, Armenia borrowed further from the BYZANTINE Liturgy, and developed the distinctive ARMENIAN Liturgy.

- - -

Doctrinal Subdivisions within the Eucharistic Rites

Within the individual Rites there are doctrinal subdivisions.
ANTIOCHENE Catholics versus ANTIOCHENE Monophysites

ALEXANDRIAN Catholics versus ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites

CHALDEAN Catholics versus CHALDEAN Assyrians and Indian Mellusians

ARMENIAN Catholics versus ARMENIAN Monophysites

BYZANTINE Catholics versus BYZANTINE Orthodox

Put simply (perhaps too simply), Catholics and Orthodox differ in the degree of emphasis they each give to various points of doctrine. Both Catholics and Orthodox see Monophysite and some other beliefs as erroneous (heretical).

- - -

Ethnic Subdivisions within the Doctrinal Subdivisions

The BYZANTINE Liturgy has adherents who profess Catholic doctrine and are Greek: Greek Catholic BYZANTINES. However, there is also the Greek Orthodox BYZANTINE Liturgy or Greek Orthodox Church.

Besides the Greeks, other ethnic groups have members on both sides of the BYZANTINE Catholic versus BYZANTINE Orthodox divide:
Albanians, Bulgarians, Georgian, Greeks, Hungarians, Italo-Albanians, Melkites, Romanians, Russians and Ruthenians.

The following ethnic groups have self-governing BYZANTINE Orthodox Churches (and no corresponding BYZANTINE Catholics):
Chinese, Estonians, Finnish, Japanese, Latvians, Ugandans.

Three ethnic groups are BYZANTINE Catholics, with no corresponding BYZANTINE Orthodox:
Ukrainians, White Russians, Yugoslavians.

Under the umbrella of the ALEXANDRIAN Liturgy, the doctrinal opposition is between ALEXANDRIAN Catholics and ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites. ALEXANDRIAN Catholics are either ethnically Coptic or ethnically Ethiopian. ALEXANDRIAN Monophysites are also either ethnically Coptic or ethnically Ethiopian.

The doctrinal divide among adherents of the ANTIOCHENE Liturgy is between Catholic doctrine and Monophysite doctrine. ANTIOCHENE Catholics fall into three ethnic groups: Malankars, Syrians and Maronites. ANTIOCHENE Monophysites fall into only two: Malankars and Syrians.

Those who observe the CHALDEAN Liturgy are divided doctrinally between Catholics on one side and, on the other side, Assyrians and Indian Mellusians. Among CHALDEAN Catholics there are ethnic Chaldeans (Iraqis) and ethnic Malabars (Indians). Though both are liturgically CHALDEAN, and both are doctrinally Catholic, they are usually terminologically distinguished as Chaldean Catholics and Malabar Catholics. The non-Catholic CHALDEANS are in two ethnic groups, the Assyrians and the Indian Mellusians.

Ethnic Armenians all use the ARMENIAN Liturgy. However, they are divided doctrinally between ARMENIAN Catholics and ARMENIAN Monophysites.

- - -

Confused?

G. O. K.

GOD ONLY KNOWS


11 Comments:

Blogger dilexitprior said...

Thanks for the clear and concise explanation of the different rites. I always get confused with the East. Once again, a very helpful post.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Of course, there are further subdivisions (doctrinal subdivisions and ethnic subdivisions) within those Eucharistic Rites.

THE DOCTRINAL DIVISIONS

Antiochene Catholics and Antiochene Monophysites

Alexandrian Catholics and Alexandrian Monophysites

Chaldean Catholics and Chaldean Nestorians

Byzantine Catholics and Byzantine Orthodox

Armenian Catholis and Armenian Monophysites

7:14 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

This is great! I didn't realize there's so much history on Eucharistic Liturgy. Are all of the doctrinal divisions of Catholics still existing and are they all in union with Rome?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The Catholics are all DOCTRINALLY Catholic and in union with Rome--though they are LITURGICALLY distinct from Rome and from each other.

I've now added more on the subdivisions to the blogpost.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

Thanks Father S. Yep, GNK - God now knows! :)

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Zouheir Mansourati said...

It's good to see the history of the Eucharistic Liturgy briefly, yet clearly, described and made available to the "masses".

As a Syrian Catholic and native of the Middle East, it is especially important for me that people understand the eastern origins of the western church and to realize that these churches are alive and working hard to survive... Therefore, when Catholics in the US think of Irak, Syria, or Lebanon, they should keep in mind that they have brothers and sisters there in need of their prayers and support.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

+ + +

Dear Anonymous Brother in the Assyrian Church of the East,

In a few minutes I will be putting up a new and separate blogpost about our two Churches. I will copy all of the above comments we have exchanged so far to the comments box of that new blogpost. After I move them, I will delete them from this comment box, and ask that all your further comments along these lines take place there.

For the moment, I borrow the words of the Patriarch of your Church, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, by addressing to you and all in the Assyrian Church of the East the same words your Patriarch addressed to us Roman Catholics on November 8, 1994.”
“To you our brothers we offer the hand of fellowship and our unfeigned fraternal affection, and to the Holy Trinity. Amen."

+ + +

9:40 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

+ + +

Dear Anonymous Brother (or Sister) in the Assyrian Church of the East,

My new and separate blogpost about our two Churches is now up. I have copy all of the above comments we have exchanged so far to the comments box of that new blogpost. So now I will delete them from this comment box, and ask that all your further comments along these lines take place there.

“To you our brothers we offer the hand of fellowship and our unfeigned fraternal affection, and to the Holy Trinity. Amen."

+ + +

10:01 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

+ + +

Dear Anonymous Brother (or Sister) in the Assyrian Church of the East!
Click HERE for my new and separate blogpost about our two Churches.
"To you our brothers we offer the hand of fellowship and our unfeigned fraternal affection, and to the Holy Trinity. Amen."

+ + +

11:58 AM  
Blogger studycatholic said...

A non-catholic friend of my wife's attended a Catholic funeral mass today and asked about the bells at consecration, which my wife could answer. What my wife couldn't answer, and I cann't remember is why in the ancient past there was a screen up between the people and the celebrant. I was told many years ago, but can not recall why. Thanks for your help.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Some of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches still have a "screen" between the people and the altar.

The screen always has gates in it.

The screen symbolizes the "border" between the present world and heaven. However, it has gates to show that through the sacraments of Christ heaven comes to us even here on earth.

1:01 PM  

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