Sacred Heart is a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church belonging to the Eparchy of Parma. As part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church headed by the pope, members of the Byzantine Church are brothers and sisters to Latin Rite (or Roman) Catholics, but have different traditions and practices which Latin Rite Catholics may find unusual or interesting. The Byzantine Church is broadly referred to as the Eastern Rite while the Latin Rite is also referred to as the Western Rite. This duality of the Catholic Church can be thought of as two lungs which work together to provide life to the Body of Christ. The view of the Eastern and Western Rites as two lungs was popularized in St. John Paul II’s ‘Ut Unum Sint’ where he stated that “the Church must breathe with her two lungs!" (Paragraph 54).Below is some information on Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics and the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church.
Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics
The Ruthenian faith began in the homeland of our ancestors, “the old country,” central Europe. Envision a map of the European continent. Our ancestral homeland known variously as Carpathian Rus’, Transcarpathia, Carpatho-Ruthenia, Carpatho-Russia, and Carpatho-Ukraine is the very heart of the picture, presently eastern Slovakia, southwest Ukraine, northeast Hungary and northwest Romania. The religious life of these people came from the East. Like the other East Slavs, the Carpatho-Rusins received Christianity from the Byzantine Empire.
In the year 863, two Byzantine Greek missionaries, the brothers Cyril and Methodius – “The Apostles to the Slavs” – introduced Christianity and the new Slavonic alphabet to Greater Moravia, the present Czech Republic and Western Slovakia. Thereafter, the followers of these Byzantine missionaries moved eastward, eventually converting the Ruthenian people.
Eastern Catholic Church
The Catholic Church is a communion of churches. It is made up of churches from the Eastern Tradition and the Western Tradition. Eastern Catholics are in union with Rome and Pope Francis. We share the same basic faith and the same mysteries (sacraments), however, our way of expressing them follows the same tradition as the Orthodox churches. In reality, there are many Eastern churches, each with its own heritage and theology, liturgy and discipline.
Jesus sent his disciples to the four corners of the world to spread the Gospel. Eventually, four great centers of Christianity emerged with distinctive Christian customs, but the same faith. These centers were Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome and Alexandria. A few centuries later when the capital of the Roman Empire was moved to the Eastern city of Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople, an adaptation of the Antioch celebration of the liturgy was made. From this powerful cultural center the Byzantine church emerged.