One Christian Faith, many Forms of expression

We got an email from an Orthodox Christian that said:

Before I came to Canada, an Orthodox priest told me that there is no problem for Orthodox Christians living abroad, if they cannot go to an Orthodox Church, [they can get communion in a Catholic church]...I started going to an Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, some of the Orthodox Christians... deny ..the holyness of the Catholic Church. Having lived for a few years now in Quebec, I started seeing more clearly that the differences between Orthodox and Catholics are more cultural, as you say, than dogmatic.

Orthodox can receive Catholic Eucharist, but Catholics are forbidden to receive Orthodox Communion

Eastern Orthodox members may receive the Eucharist with Catholics, if there is no Orthodox Church available, since Catholics recognize no substantial barrier to communion between the two. Most Eastern Orthodox bishops will not permit Roman Catholics to receive the Eucharist at your Divine Liturgies; and we of course must respect this and not receive at Orthodox Divine Liturgies. I pray that this will change some day soon. For, we both -- East and West --clearly possess the true priesthood and true Sacraments.  There has been no interruption of this, as was the case when the Protestants denied the priesthood and the Sacraments.  And so, Christ is truly Present on the altars of both our Churches; and it is a great pity that we cannot receive Him together.  

Is there only one way to celebrate the Eucharist?

While native and regional expressions are important, it is even more important to have a universal concept of the Church and to realize that not all parts of the universal Church express themselves in the same way. In the 390's, St. Ambrose of Milan was asked a question by his flock. Ambrose was of course the bishop of Milan (in northern Italy); and the city of Milan (both then as well as now) did not subscribe to the Roman rite, but had its own Gallican rite, which is today called the Ambrosian rite. However, since the Milanese were still Italians and Roman citizens, they of course frequently traveled down to Rome on government and commercial business; and they soon noticed that the Romans worshipped in different ways than they did. So, when they returned to Milan, they asked St. Ambrose (their bishop) what the proper way to worship was. And St. Ambrose responded with the now-famous saying: 

"When in Rome, do as the Romans"  

In this, St. Ambrose showed himself to be a true Catholic. For, what he recognized was that the one Apostolic Faith has many different expressions, but only one substantial body of doctrine. So, when in Rome, we should worship as the Romans; when in Byzantium, we should worship as the Byzantines; when in Moscow, we should worship as the Russians; and when in Sofia, we should worship as the Bulgarians. For, while the modes of worship may be different, we all hold to the one Apostolic Faith --the same Apostolic substance. When all Roman Catholics and all Eastern Orthodox can appreciate this, we will indeed be one Church again. As on the day of Pentecost, we must learn to "speak in many different tongues" and not become distracted by the various cultures within our universal (Catholic) Church. 

Hugh thanks Mark Bonocore writing this response.

Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.

Show all Catholic/Orthodox topics
  1. Home
  2. Orthodox/Catholic Timeline
  3. Discussion on the Pope, the Bishop of Rome
  4. Filioque
  5. Married Priests
  6. Why more books in the Orthodox Bible than the Catholic Bible?
  7. Holy Fire
  8. Decomposed bodies of Saints
  9. Mary's Assumption
  10. Immaculate Conception
  11. Was Peter the Rock?
  12. Nicene Creed Text
  13. Purgatory
  14. Purgatory dialogue with an Orthodox Christian
  15. Does the Orthodox Church predate the Catholic Church?
  16. The Orthodox Bible. Did the Council of Nicea II confirm the Council of Carthage
  17. The 1054 Split between Catholic and Orthodox
  18. Orthodox position on divorce
  19. Orthodox position on Contraception
  20. The Crusade sack of Constantinople
  21. Did the Apostle Andrew establish the Church in Constantinople?
  22. Why can't babies receive communion in the Catholic Church?
  23. Why can Orthodox Christians receive Catholic Communion but Catholics can't receive Orthodox Communion?
  24. The history of the Church in Bulgaria
  25. Protestant Reformation
  26. Heresies - listed
  27. Has the Orthodox Church changed on significant issues?
  28. If Peter had primacy, why did James make decision (Acts 15)?
  29. Is Papal infallibility a "one man council"?
  30. Is Peter the Rock of Matthew 16:18?
  31. Are the other Patriarchs dependent on Rome?
  32. Did Rome force Latin on the Eastern Churches?
  33. Why did the Pope have a Kingdom?
  34. Evangelicals becoming Orthodox
  35. Did Catholics force "Mortal Sin" on eastern churches?