I always have to laugh whenever I read a Protestant attacking the “Roman Catholic Church” saying “Roman Catholics do this! Roman Catholics do that!” However, what they fail to understand is that Roman Catholic is not the only kind of Catholic there is. In fact, Roman is just one of the many rites in the Church. It is the largest, and the head of the Roman Church is also head of the Catholic Church, but there are many other rites: Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, and Chaldean just to name a few.
Yet, because of Rome’s political structure, there always seems to be a push for “Latinization” of the East. All Catholic churches believe the same doctrine and dogma, even if it is in a different perspective. Latinization refers to the attempts to Romanize the liturgy. The Church herself says that these rites have the right to exist (4th Lateran Council, Council of Trent, Quo Primum) so it isn’t the Church. It is people within the Church.
However, today’s topic is not about the Latinizations or bad people within the hierarchy. It’s rather about the traditions that the East has and the traditions that the West has. We are blessed in an age where we have the ability to learn anything by a simple internet search. We can buy books on Amazon about things that in years past, only rich people or monastic vocations could ever read.
Pope St. John Paul II was not my favorite Pope by any means, but he was had his good moments. In Ut Unum Sint, the Holy Father explains how the West and the East are the two lungs of the church and how the Church must “breath with her two lungs!” I will post on Western devotions later (seeing how this page is for the Roman Rite in general).
THE EASTERN DEVOTIONS
Like the rosary, the Eastern Catholics have a traditional prayer on prayer beads. But it isn’t an Eastern Rosary as some erroneously believe. It is called a “Chotki.”
There is a great deal of history about it, as there is the rosary, and I would encourage you to research it. On every knot, the Jesus prayer is said. “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The goal behind this is to pray without ceasing, so that this prayer becomes a part of one’s breathing. It’s a very effective prayer at battling temptations.
The East also employs Canons, which are like Western prayer devotions. One of my favorite is the Canon of Repentance. There are a few others, but their theological richness is very deep.
The Eastern rites are more than a beautiful side altar in the Roman Church. Rather than being secondary to the Roman Rite, they are equal in all rights and precedents, each having its own rich patrimony and theological history/devotions. This post is just a primer for you. I hope that you will seek the devotions that the East uses because they are different, but just as good, as the West.