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(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.
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G. O. K.
GOD ONLY KNOWS