Technology in the Liturgy

If there is one thing that I cannot stand, it is the placement of projector screens in churches. This hasn’t really occurred in the East as much as it has in the West. But why is it an issue? Is it that we should be opposed to new technology? We have books, and some of us have pews, and those didn’t exactly exist when the Christ founded the Church, so that argument is out. (Plus, I would be hardpressed to find a Church that didn’t use a heater or A/C – or electric lighting). It isn’t technology that I dislike.

The issue is about what is in the front of the Church. In our Byzantine Catholic Churches, we have beautiful icon screens, which really convey the sacred nature of the place that we are in. Those images, along with the candles, really set a prayerful climate. It is a climate that is meant to put us into a different time period so that we can fully place ourselves into the liturgy. Church has always placed us in the past, even back in 33AD! The first liturgy, the Last Supper, celebrated by Christ Himself, occurred in concordance with a Passover Seder, which called its participants back to the Exodus. Every Liturgy looked to the past as well as forward to the Second Coming. That is why our Churches have maintained the same sacred architecture that it had since our victory over the Iconoclastic heresy.

In the West, after the Second Vatican Council, the architecture of their churches was changed to reflect their “meal theology.” Essentially, the Eucharist is a communal meal of “we and God” and so they changed the architecture of the Church to reflect this. Age old designs, such as the Church being shaped in the form of a cross, or the Church representing a ship on the way to heaven was thrown out to be replaced with a semi-circular concert hall to reflect the meal in the “here-and-now.” The Romans previously had too much of an emphasis on the Sacrifice of the Cross (to the detriment of the focus on the Resurrection – in my opinion. Others may say that you can never be too focused on the cross) but now the sacrifice is denied almost completely in this architecture. It becomes less about worshipping God and more about having a good time in God’s presence. You must acknowledge the Cross in the liturgy, but you must remember the resurrection as well.

With this change, there was a lot of empty space created. In one corner, tabernacles were stashed aside. Towards the front, there was nothing next to the sides of the crucifix. No icons, no paintings, not even statues. While in the past, Roman Churches would have side altars with statues, now there is nothing. With this, the Church also realized that they didn’t have much money left over after “renovations,” so things such as vestments and decent hymnals became something the local churches had no interest in investing in. And with technological advancements, they solved two of their problems. They could eliminate the blank space as well as the need to buy books by placing projector screens in the churches. While this may be a very utilitarian solution, imagine coming into a church to pray. Towards the front (which all the pews face), there is a very un-ornate altar table with a crucifix (if you’re lucky- if you’re unlucky you get one of those weird resurrection crucifixes). You might get some statues, but that’s about it. Then you see two blank projector screens. The tabernacle is off in the corner. If you are lucky, there are kneelers in front of the tabernacle. These new churches are not very prayer-friendly.

Thankfully, I do not anticipate this ever becoming an issue in our Eastern Catholic Churches. After all, where would they go? Icon screens cover up the majority of the front, if not all of it. They simply do not have a place to go in our worship – and that is a good thing.

We do have technology in our churches, and that is also a good thing. The air conditioning, the books (yes books are technology), the lights are all things that make it easier to focus on prayer. And that is what technology should do in the Church: focus us in our prayers to God.

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Need an Ark? I Noah Guy

Noah’s Ark is probably the most misunderstood Bible Story in the West. In fact, I am quite certain that if it is even considered by normal, everyday people, it is glossed over. Thus, we are left with this:noahs-beaver-problemThis here image is essentially how everyone sees the ark. A barely seaworthy vessel cruising along with a bunch of happy and cute animals. Oh, and Noah is shocked that the beavers are eating the boat apparently.

It doesn’t help that when Protestants write books to help explain it to children, we get this:

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When the flood is explained to children, quite often the story that is told is that the animals went on the boat two by two and Noah and his family got aboard. God warned Noah of the flood and Noah tried to warn the others, but they laughed at him. Then, when the flood happens, we don’t hear about people anymore. We just hear that the waters flooded the Earth.

The flood was God’s judgment and God had judged every other person other than Noah and his family of being unworthy of living due to their immense sins. This included small children and babies. As we know, the rains came for 40 days and 40 nights.

Where else do we see the number 40?

In Exodus, when the Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years for disobeying God’s commandments. We also see 40 in the New Testament when Jesus fasted before He began His public ministry.

Something we must keep in mind is that God is a God of order. He uses patterns to convey meaning to us. We hear 40 and we think about this:twelve_gospels

Great Lent. We see 40 days as a journey to Pascha. Some people view Lent as the “Catholic Season” like how a football player sees football season or a baseball player sees baseball season. Lent to them is the sport and Good Friday is the Super Bowl, with Pascha being the ring to crown their sufferings. Some other well-intentioned people see Pascha as the big event and think that the entirety of our Christian lives are for that feast. They think we live for Pascha. Pascha is indeed a very important feast. It is so important that we celebrate for 40 days. Wait. 40? I thought 40 was only for penitential actions. But Jesus was with the apostles for 40 days and ascended so surely that can’t mean 40 is for penance can it? 40 actually means something completely different but more on that later.

BACK TO THE ARK

This is where the fun begins. Everyone knows how long the flood lasted. 40 days and 40 nights, right? Well, as President Donald Trump famously said in his debate against Hillary Clinton, “WRONG!” It RAINED for 40 days and 40 nights. But after the rain stopped, it took 150 days for the waters to subside. 150 is an interesting number. That’s the number of Psalms in the Bible. 150 is only seen in the Bible in these two instances. Yet, if it is next to a prophetic number such as 40, then 150 must have meaning too. After all, if you divide it by 3 (number of persons in the Holy Trinity) you get 50. 50 is the Pentecost, which to the Jew is when they received the law on Mount Sinai and to the Christian is when they received the Holy Spirit. Add 100 days to the liturgical calendar from pentecost and you are roughly at the end of the year. But then again, performing math calculations on a number in the Bible isn’t the best evidence.

The only other evidence is the usage of the Psalter. In the monastic community, the Psalter is read either weekly or daily. At the end of an Eastern Christian’s life, the Psalter is read over them. A full chotki has 150 knots in representation of the Psalter and is prayed unceasingly until one’s death. Thus I have drawn the conclusion that 150 days represents the time until the second coming, when we receive our “promised land.”

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If you consider the story of the ark, you have Noah building and readying his ark for the day when the world is cleansed of sin. Those on the earth were either drowned in the waters or redeemed by them. Thus, the 40 days represent intense preparation. After the cleansing was completed, it took 150 days for the flood waters to subside. Although cleansed, the world was still a much dangerous place. It wasn’t until that time period ended that Noah was able to inherit his new world.

If you consider the Exodus, the Jews lived in slavery. Once they were freed, they were given the opportunity to enter the promised land. But they disobeyed God and turned back. Unlike Adam and Eve who took what they were commanded not to take, the Israelites did not take what they were commanded to take. Thus they were punished, and all those who had directly disobeyed God were not permitted to enter the land, not even Moses. They wandered for 40 years, but even though the time was up, the land was not ripe for the taking. They still had to suffer much before they could claim the land.

Now look at our Lord and Savior. He lived 30 years in secret. Other than His Nativity and the finding in the temple, there is no recorded history of Jesus. It is only after He begins His ministry with His Baptism that we see His actions. Jesus fasted for 40 days only to be presented with more temptation. Then after that was done, He suffered a brutal passion for our sins.

WE ARE AN EASTER PEOPLE

So how does this apply to us? I remember on the first day of Lent, back when I was a Roman Rite Catholic a priest saying “We are not a Lenten people, we are an EASTER people.” And I disagreed thinking to myself “nuh-uh we are a Lenten people because we are supposed to do penance.”

If you were to ask me why I thought that I would reply with “Because we are sinners, and sins are bad, so we do penance to show God we are sorry for our sins, because Christ died on the cross for us.” So for me, it ended at the cross, and for the priest, it ended at Easter. We forget that we are in that 150 days after the 40 days.

We were sinners before our baptism. If we converted as adults, we fasted for 40 days and were then raised to new life. We celebrated our baptism, chrismation, and first communion for a while, but then we got comfortable wearing our baptismal robe. It is no longer a new robe, but one we have worn for a long time, and we wear it to our deathbed. The goal is to make it to our deathbed with it being unstained. But, like all bright white garments, you can hardly sit down without even a tiny speck of dust blemishing it. That is why we have the Mystery of Repentance (Confession).

You see, we dont live for Pascha or Good Friday. Pentecost isn’t the afterparty. We live for the last Holy Day. The Second Coming. It is at the Second Coming that the waters finally recede and we can finally get off the boat of the Church without drowning. The Church on Earth is modeled after a ship and represents us sailing to heaven, which is the Church in Heaven. It is not a cruise ship. It is not a floating buffet outfitted with a casino and free drinks. It is an ark keeping us from the flood that will consume us in judgement.

We receive two baptisms. One is a baptism of water. The other is a baptism of fire. With Christ we have Baptism and Chrismation and are thus sanctified. But if we do not have God, the water drowns and the fire consumes. Let us always be wary.

The forgotten Russian Orthodox converts to the Catholic Church

“For Faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity. After these comes whatever else makes up a Christian gentleman.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch

A close friend and brother of our blog has recently asked us if there were any converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. After taking a look at history, we have found a significant amount of converts. That being said, we can only name a few because of the high percentage of converts to the Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. Considering that one of our admins are Russian Catholic, we would like to dedicate this post to him.  Let’s take a look at the inspiring souls that have even risked being persecuted for the Church because of their conversion.

1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Abrikosov

Vladimir Abrikosov, following his wife a year later, converted to the Catholic Church in 1909 after leaving the Russian Orthodox Church. On May 29th of 1917, Vladimir Abrikosov had taken part in the council of the Russian Greek Catholic Church and was ordained a priest of the Church in the Byzantine Rite by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. 

Following his ordination, he was appointed as the rector of the local Moscow Greek Catholic parish and the head of the Dominicans within the area. In 1920 – 1922, Father Abrikosov has held a meeting in which has taken place between both Catholic and Russian Orthodox representatives within his home.

 By the grace of God and the influence of Father Vladimir, he has converted former Russian Orthodox Dmitriy Vladimirovich Kuz’min-Karavaev to the Catholic Church, causing Father Vladimir to be arrested and threatened with a sentence to death by the Russian government due to it being “counter revolutionary” on the 17th of August, 1922. 

After the punishment has been examined by the government officials, it was later terminated and Father Vladimir was instead sentenced with perpetual exile, causing him to be expelled from Russia, his native land. Even though he was expelled from the land of Russia, he has built contacts with Russian Catholic officials within Rome due to the persecution of Greek Catholics within the Soviet Union. In the name year, Father Vladimir has obtained an audience within the presence of His Holiness Pope Pius XI to discuss the situation of the Russian Catholic Church in regards to its persecution. 

Later, Father Vladimir was recognized as an official member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and procurator of the Russian Exarchate. However, he was unfortunately slandered by a Russian officer, that being Baron Igor von der Launitz, in whom was hostile towards Roman Catholic Bishop Michel d’Herbigny.

 After Launitz’s extradition from Italy, Abrikosov continued his work to abolish the Russian Exarchate when he left Rome to establish himself in Paris. from the contacts with Russian immigrants, Abrikosov remained in solitude. He died on 22 July 1966. 

2. Igor Akulov
Ignor Akulov was born to a family of Russian orthodox peasant farmers in the year of 1897 on April 13th. He graduated from a technical high school and later became a telephone clerk at the Moscow Saint Petersburg’s Railway. During the Russian Civil War, he served the Red Army as a non combative soldier. On July 2, 1921 he was tonsured as a Russian orthodox monk with the name of Brother Epiphany. After meeting with Exarch Leonid Fyodorov, and under his influence Brother Epiphany Akulov began attending Eastern Rite Catholic Liturgies, and in the summer of 1922 was received into the Russian Catholic Church. In 1921, he was ordained as an Eastern Catholic priest by Archbishop Jan Cieplak. After August 1922 he was the Pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost in Petrograd. 

After the closings of the Catholic Churches within his area, he secretly served the church in his apartment. On November 23, he was arrested along with other priests, however, not within the same area. He was accused of the Catholic counter-revolutionary organization. 19 May 1924 was sentenced to 10 years in prison, was in political prison near the Irkutsk. In 1927 released early and sent into exile. In 1933 he was freed from exile, he served in various churches in St. Petersburg. Akulov was a good preacher, preached in Russian. 

In 1935, he was again arrested for a short time. On the 26th July, 1937 he was arrested, sentenced to death on August 25, 1937, and was later executed on August 27. He was buried at Levashovo Mass Grave in St. Petersburg.

3. Nikolai Alexandrov

Nikolai Alexandrov was born in 1884 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Technical School as an engineer-technologist. From 1912 he worked in Germany as an engineer in the company of Siemens-Schuckert. While in Germany Alexandrov converted to Catholicism from Russian Orthodoxy, his religion by birth. 

Since July 1913, after his return to Moscow he worked in city government, with the 1914 charge tramway workshops, with 1917 worked as an engineer. Nikolai Abrikosov joined to the Greek Catholic community, helped the abbot came to his father, Vladimir Abrikosov. In 1918 he was arrested “in the case of the White Guard organization”, but was released on December 27. After that he became a monk taken the name Peter.

 In August 1921, on the recommendation of Vladimir Abrikosov, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Jan Cieplak,[1] and was later appointed deputy by Exarch Leonid Fyodorov in the event of his arrest. Since September 1922 after his father, Vladimir Abrikosov was sent abroad, headed the Moscow community of Greek-Catholics.

 He was arrested in Moscow in the night from 12 to 13 November 1923 for grouping business of Russian Catholics. On May 19, 1924 he was sentenced under articles 61 and 66 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to 10 years in prison. Sent to Solovki prison camp, first on the island of Conde, in the summer of 1925 Abrikosov was transferred to the central island. 

In the spring of 1929, together with Leonid Fyodorov made Easter liturgy, which led to his transfer to the Anzer island. Soon he was sent to Belbaltlag the station Bear Mountain. In 1934 he was released but the ban stay in 6 major cities and border areas within 3 years. Settled in Dmitrov, Moscow region, Abrikosov worked as an engineer, however performed secret services in his apartment. In 1935 he was arrested in Dmitrov, and on December 29 was sentenced to 5 years in labor camps. Sent to the Solovki prison camp, Father Nikolai Abrikosov died here on 29 May 1936.

For more information on Russian orthodox converts to Catholicism: http://rumkatkilise.org/necplus.htm

Apologetics 1.9: Catholic teaching on idolatry, icons, and the True God!


It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?

1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.

Proof:

The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”

• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.

• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).

• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”

• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).

What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.

Proof:

• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)

“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:

“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”

• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

Apologetics 1.5: The doctrine and dogma of: ‘No salvation outside the Catholic Church’

The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?

These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)

It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”‬ ‭
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)

To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)


With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.

Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”

Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.


“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.”‭‭ (Acts‬ ‭27:30-31‬)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)

Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:

“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)

How to confess in the Byzantine Rite

With head uncovered, approach the priest.
Facing the icon of Christ or, if one is not available, the Gospel book and the cross:

Cross yourself twice.

Kiss the Gospel book and the cross.

Cross yourself a third time.

Penitent: I, a sinner, confess to Almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity; to the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God, to Saint N. my patron saint, to all the Saints, and to you, my spiritual father, all my sins:

Here list all your sins.

Penitent: For these sins, and for all my sins which I cannot remember, I am truly sorry because I have offended God who is good.
I sincerely repent and I promise, with the help of God, to better my way of life.

And so, I ask you, my spiritual father, for saving penance and absolution.

(If you are not already doing so, kneel.)
Prayer of Absolution
The priest may place his epitrachelion (stole) over your head and will make the sign of the cross on your head.

Priest: May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and mercies of His love for us, pardon you, my child, N., all your faults, and I, an unworthy priest, by His authority given me, pardon and absolve you of all your sins, in the name of the ✚Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
After the priest has spoken to you and given absolution,
get up and cross yourself twice;

kiss the Gospel book and cross;

cross yourself a third time and bow.

Then turn toward the priest, bow to him, saying, “Thank you, Father,”
kiss the end of the epitrachelion (stole) which he is wearing,

and go to your place.

There, kneel down, say your penance, and thank God in your own words for His great mercy.
Then, go in peace.

 Another Short Form of Confession in the Byzantine Churches

(For those who are familiar with the Roman Catholic rite)

Penitent: Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been [how long] since my last confession.
Here confess your sins.
Receive any counsel or penance offered.
Crossing yourself after each declaration, say:
Penitent: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. ✚
Penitent: God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. ✚
Penitent: I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord. ✚
The priest then says the prayer of absolution.

 – Text adapted with appreciation from The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship by the Met. Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa, 2004). 

Addressing False Ecumenism 1.2: False Ecumenism in the East: a betrayal to the martyrs


In the Catholic East, it is not uncommon to hear that we are the “Eastern Orthodox Church in communion with Rome” or “we are the voice of the Orthodox Church in communion with Rome.”

While it is true that we are the bridge between the Catholic Church and the many divided churches of the East in whom sadly happen to be in schism with Rome; and while it is also true that we are Orthodox (because of our profession of the Catholic Faith); it must be brought to our attention that there is a Catholic identity problem within the East just as there is within the West.

This is because there is a misconception of who we as Eastern Catholics are; whether we be Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, Syro Malabar etc.

Among many beloved Eastern Catholics of good will, there happens to be an emotional attachment to the Eastern Orthodox Church because of its similarities in regards to theology and liturgical rites.

Having encountered many Eastern Catholics, it is not uncommon to hear that the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches are equivalent to the Catholic Church because of the validity of the 7 sacraments, the veneration of saints etc.
Even though these separated churches have valid sacraments and many similarities with the Church, it must be remembered that they are separated for a reason – that is – because of their bitter rejection of the deposit of faith in regards to submission to Peter, the Pope.

“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

With that in mind, we here at HolySynergy must note that many Eastern Catholics have died at the hands of schismatics and communists because of this very key doctrine. Being that they are our ancestors as martyrs and saints of the church; insisting that the Orthodox are the same Church as the Catholic Church, or at least equivalent, is a slap in the face to these very saints.

Not only is it a slap in the face to these saints, it is also a heresy to insist that the true Church of Christ can be found in any other communion besides the Catholic Church.Let’s take a look at these very brave, pious, reverent, and holy martyrs of the Catholic East.

1. The Pratulin Martyrs.


“The Pratulin Martyrs were a group of 13 Greek Catholic believers killed by the Imperial Russian Army on January 24, 1874, in the village of Pratulin, near Biała Podlaska. Following the secularization and de-legalization of the Eparchy of Chełm, the Russian authorities forcibly subdued all Belorussian Catholics and their churches to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a protest against the Russification and confiscation of the church, the Greek Catholic community gathered in front of the church, but were fired upon by the Russian forces, killing 13 of the protesters. The Ruthenian Catholic Church has erected a shrine to their memory there.” (Wikipedia, The Pratulin Martyrs.)

These very soldiers of Christ were recognized by Pope John Paul II and beatified on October 6, 1996.

2. Bishop Hopko

Bishop Hopko was an eparch of the Greek Catholic Church. Since Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Communists, the Greek Catholic Church was persecuted and abolished.

As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church was granted permission to remain in existence within Czechoslovakia because of its previous affiliation with the Communist state.

Bishop Hopko was arrested on 28 April 1950 and kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome.

He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. His health, both physical and emotional later failed.

In 1964, he was transferred to an old age home. Unfortunately, he never recovered his health. Hopko died in Presov at age 72 on 23 July 1976. On 14 September 2003 Pope John Paul II beatified him at a ceremony in Bratislava, Slovakia.

3. Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky

Born in the year 1884 of Western Ukraine, Blessed Nicholas was the eldest of 9 children. Ever since he was very young, he had a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. At 18, he was sent to study by his bishop to study at the Ukrainian college of Rome. Four years after ordination, he had a desire to live as a monastic after the Latin Rite Redemptorists established a mission in Ukraine . Being attracted to the life of the Redemptorists, he entered the religious order in 1919.
In 1934 the Soviet army began to invade western Ukraine, causing the Redemptorists to flee to Lviv. In 1944, the Soviets invaded a second time. The following year all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops were placed under arrest as part of the Soviet plan to suppress the Church and transfer its property to the state-sanctioned Orthodox Church.
During his time in prison Bishop Mykolay endured frequent violent interrogations. He was charged with collaborating with being an agent of a foreign power i.e. the Vatican; as a result he was sentenced to hard labour.
Even though he was released in 1956, his health was very poor. The prison authorities released him in order that he die elsewhere. While he later recovered, he has entered heaven in 1959. On his pastoral visit to Ukraine, Pope John Paul II beatified him on October 27, 2001.

4. Bishop Nykyta Budka

Bishop Budka was appointed appointed bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada and titular bishop of Patara on July 15, 1912 by Pope Pius XI, and was consecrated (ordained a bishop) on October 14 of that year.

Bishop Budka was the first Eastern Catholic bishop with full jurisdiction within the New World, considering that he was born in Ukraine. After returning to the now Polish controlled Galicia (which was then Soviet territory), he bravely opposed the communist government because of its requirement that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church must separate from communion with the Pope.
On April 11 1945, he was sentenced to prison with many other bishops of the Church. He was charged with teaching in an underground seminary, conducting a memorial service for the victims of the Soviet occupation of Galicia in 1939, and campaigning for the secession of Ukraine for the Soviet Union.

Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, he was sent to Kazakhstan to serve his sentence. He died in the Gulag on September 28, 1949 form what Soviet officials said was a heart attack. martyr on June 27, 2001, in a Byzatine rite ceremony by Pope John Paul II in Lviv.

5. Eparch Theodore Romzha


Bishop Romzha was a bishop of the Ruthentian Greek Catholic Church. Because of his opposition to convert to the Orthodox Church and refuse schism with the Pope of Rome, the Soviet Red Army has martyred him after beating him, which later caused him to be hospitalized, and poisoning him after hiring a nurse to inject him with curare because of his quick recovery. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on July 27, 2001.

6. His Eminent Beatitude Josyf Slipyj


Patriarch Slipyj was the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a cardinal. Even though he was not a martyr, he along with the UGCC rejected to loose communion with the Pope regardless of what the communist party of Ukraine insisted. As a result, he was imprisoned with hard labour for eight years. The Soviets have later taken control of the UGCC within Lviv and later revoked the union breast with Rome and was forcibly “rejoined” to the schismatic Russian Orthodox Church.

7. Leonid Feodorov

Leonid Feodorov, a Catholic convert, was a Exarch (Patriarch) of the Russian Greek Catholic Church.

Although Leonid had originally promised to adopt the Latin Rite, while studying in the Jesuit seminary at Anagni, Leonid came to believe that it was his duty to remain faithful to the liturgy and customs of the Christian East. With the full permission and encouragement of Pope St. Pius X, Leonid transferred to the Russian Catholic Church.

Because of his pious submit to the Pope, the communist government has imprisoned him. On March 7, 1935, he died due to the rigorous of his imprisonment.

8. Pavel Peter Gojdič

Blessed Gohdič was a Basilian Monk and Bishop of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov, Slovakia. Because of his rejection to submit Greek Catholics to the Russian Orthodox Church, as insisted by the Communist party, he was tortured. Later, the Communists have given him the infamous offer that if he were to leave the church, they would appoint him the patriarch of the a Orthodox Church of Slovakia.

He piously rejected to loose communion with the Pope and to convert to the schismatic church, causing him to suffer even more persecution. He died of terminal cancer in the prison hospital of Leopoldov Prison in 1960, on his 72nd birthday. He was beatified on 4 November 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Let us close this post with a few quotes from the Popes.

“…for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”
-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical “Mortalium Animos”

The Chotki 


 While many people are familiar with the Roman Catholic Rosary, not as many are aware of the Eastern Christian Chotki. It is a very ancient form of prayer that predates the rosary dating back to at least the 5th century. Monks of old said the prayer all day long in this manner… 

“Lord, make haste to help me. Lord make speed to save me.”

The prayer rope, (Chotki/ Komboskini), consists of 25, 33, 50, 100 or 103 beads or knots and is used to focus one’s thoughts on the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart”. When not in use the chotki can be wrapped around the left wrist like a bracelet but never as a decoration, as a reminder to pray without ceasing.

In addition to private recitation, the Jesus Prayer may be said standing, with bows, or prostrations. The main focus is to pray without ceasing. When using the Chotki, it is customary to begin with making the sign of the cross.
The prayer ropes of 100 and 103 knots are carried with you. The idea of the Jesus Prayer comes from St. Paul’s admonition to … “pray always” or “pray without ceasing”. Many people who pray this prayer synchronize the phrases with their breathing and with practice; it becomes a constant prayer while awake.

The traditional prayer of the prayer beads is an adaptation of the prayer of the publican who cried out, “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (LK 18: 9-14) The Lord said that this man went home from the Temple justified.

Early Christians made several variations of this prayer, which became known as the Jesus Prayer. It has come down to us in three forms:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on me.

The Jesus Prayer is said on each bead.

For special intentions, you substitute the name of another who is ill or in need of special prayers. 
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on … (the intention) 

It is appropriate to add a prayer to the Mother of God while praying. (i.e., Through the Prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save us; Mother of God, intercede for us.)

When this prayer becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help.
The tassel at the end is to dry one’s tears.

 Source: http://www.prayerfulrosary.com/Jesusprayer.html