Our Lady of Perpetual Help > Annunciation Byzantine<br /> Romanian Catholic Mission

Annunciation Byzantine
Romanian Catholic Mission

The Annunciation Byzantine Romanian Catholic Mission (www.bunavestire.org) celebrates The Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass) every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation at 12:30 PM at Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. Ionel Maier, Pastor of Annunciation Byzantine Romanian Catholic Mission

Fr. Ionel Maier, Pastor of
Romanian Catholic Mission

Who We Are

We are Catholics in communion with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, whom we recognize as the visible Head of the Catholic Church. Our Mission was established in 2001 under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. In June 2010, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI transferred the existing Romanian Catholic Missions under the jurisdiction of Most Rev. John Michael Botean, Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton in USA (www.romaniancatholic.org/2013/04/364/"). Bishop John Michael Botean is now the Bishop of all Romanian Catholics of Byzantine Rite in USA and Canada. As part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we are identified as Eastern Catholics and share the same faith and we have the same seven Sacraments. The difference is that as Eastern Catholics, we have a different way, or Rite, of expressing our Faith in regards to Liturgy, customs and theology.

The Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy, the offering (sacrifice) of the Body and Blood of Christ, is the central act of worship. The Byzantine Liturgy is one of the most widely celebrated in Canadian Eastern Catholic Churches. It has several different forms, but the principal one used daily by most Eastern Catholics is the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. St. John Chrysostom (349-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople and a renowned preacher and biblical scholar. The liturgy was adapted from the Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem.

The Divine Liturgy can be divided into three main parts and can also be explained as a mystical approach to the life of our Lord. The Life of Jesus Christ is usually divided into three periods, namely: 1) The hidden life; 2) the public life; and, 3) the salvific life, or Christ's work of salvation. Corresponding to these three periods of Christ's life, the Divine Liturgy can also be divided into three consecutive parts:

Fr. Emil Jude, Weekend Assistant of Romanian Catholic Mission

Fr. Emil Jude, Weekend Assistant of
Romanian Catholic Mission

  1. The Preparation (proskomedia), the rite of preparing the holy gifts (bread and wine) at the side altar, which enacts the sacrificial life of Jesus;
  2. Liturgy of the Word, with the readings of the Holy Scriptures and the sermon, which celebrates and teaches the public life of Jesus;
  3. Liturgy of the Eucharist, which communicates our Lord's salvific work: His passion, death on the cross, His glorious resurrection, and His ascension.

Hints for Participating

As Eastern Catholics, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy according to the Romanian tradition of the Byzantine Rite. This Liturgy will have familiar parts - Scripture readings, Eucharistic Prayer, and Holy Communion - but the ceremonies surrounding them will be different. The following are some comments that may be helpful in participating in today's Liturgy.

Byzantine Sign of the Cross

Blessing oneself with two fingers brought to the thumb represents the Trinity. The last two fingers held to the palm represent the two natures of Jesus - God and man. For the first 1,200 years of the Church, in making the Sign of the Cross, the hand was typically brought from the right to the left shoulder. In the East this is still the practice, to signify Christ enthroned at the right hand of the Father. According to tradition and in the words of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), the Sign of the Cross is made with three fingers because it is impressed upon us in the name of the Holy Trinity. From the forehead we pass to the breast, then from the right to the left. (Quoted in Gasparri: Catholic Catechism, p. 248).

Icons

Icons are revelation in pigment and paint. In front of the altar, usually on an iconostasis, which is the screen partition that unites the mystical heavenly (sanctuary or Holy of Holies) to the earthly (nave), you see two icons flanking the altar. The icon of Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms reminds us of the first coming of Jesus, the God-man. The icon of Jesus by Himself represents His Second Coming at the end of time. The altar beckons us to enter into Gods presence and to put aside all earthly distractions. Icons make us remember: not a passive recollection of a past person or event, but a remembrance that transforms. This is one of the foundation stones of Christian liturgy - that the remembrance makes present the reality.

Bishop's visit

Bishop John Michael Botean making pastoral visit to the
Romanian Catholic Mission< on April 6, 2014

Incense

We use incense as a sign of reverence for the sacred place and the sacredness of the people who are made in God's image and as a sign of preparing for something important about to happen in the Liturgy. It is our prayer ascending like the smoke of incense before the throne of God.

Bows and Blessings

We bow and make the Sign of the Cross many times during the Liturgy, as a sign of our faith, and the receiving and accepting of Gods blessings. Following the making of the Sign of the Cross, reverence to God is further expressed by bowing the head. We bless ourselves every time we mention the Persons of the Trinity by name, or whenever the priest blesses the congregation. We also bow and sign ourselves whenever we enter or leave the church.

Altar Bread

Our altar bread is made with yeast (leavened) to symbolize that Christ is risen! At the beginning of the Liturgy, the priest will cut a loaf of specially baked prosphora and prepare cubed particles that will be used for distribution of Holy Communion.

Bishop's visit

Bishop John Michael Botean with Fr. Emil and Fr. Ionel

The Iconostasis

This is a barrier that divides the holy altar, in the sanctuary, from the body of the church. The screen has three openings: the royal doors in the centre and two smaller doors called deacon doors. There can be one icon on the screen, or many, but all are hung according to an established order. The royal doors are flanked by the icons of Christ and the Mother of God (with Christ) on the viewer's right and left, respectively. It is the Lord as He came in history, and the Lord as He will come again when history is no more. Its opposite is the patron saint of the Byzantine Church, St. Nicholas. If the altar is the highest heaven and the nave the place of transfiguration, the iconostasis is both a window and a mirror. It reveals to us glimpses of the glory of heaven, those transfigured by the divine life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is the Byzantine Catholic Church really Catholic?
  2. Does the Byzantine Divine Liturgy fulfill the Sunday obligation?
  3. Does the Byzantine Liturgy use musical instruments?
  4. Other than English, what language is used in the Liturgy?
  5. Why does the priest have his back to the congregation?
  6. How is the Divine Liturgy Divided?
  7. What is the difference between the Divine Liturgy and the Mass?
  1. Is the Byzantine Catholic Church really Catholic?
    Emphatically, yes! The Byzantine Church is in complete communion and allegiance with the Pope in Rome and has all of the same valid sacraments as the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. Does the Byzantine Divine Liturgy fulfill the Sunday obligation?
    Yes. The Byzantine Divine Liturgy is the same re-creation of the Last Supper as the Roman Rite Mass. The Divine Liturgy is offered in our church by a validly ordained priest recognized by and in union with Rome.
  3. Bishop's visit

    Bishop John Michael Botean with Fr. Emil and Fr. Ionel

  4. Does the Byzantine Liturgy use musical instruments?
    No, Byzantine liturgical tradition emphasizes that we offer ourselves to God as we are. We bring only ourselves and stand before the Creator and we worship with our God-given voices without any man-made instruments. All liturgical prayer, therefore, is sung a capella (without accompaniment).
  5. Other than English, what language is used in the Liturgy?
    St. John Chrysostom originally recorded the Divine Liturgy in Greek. Later, as SS. Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to the Slavs, they translated the services into Slavonic, a language closely related to Russian. In Romania, one may hear Catholics and Orthodox worshipping in Romanian, a language related to Italian. In Canada and the United States today, many Byzantine Catholic churches use English.
  6. Why does the priest have his back to the congregation?
    Actually, he is facing to pray in the same direction as the worshipping faithful. The priest is the representative of the congregation. The sanctuary and tabernacle are the heavenly throne of God, so the priest faces God, the object of our prayers, and he speaks to God on our behalf.
  7. How is the Divine Liturgy Divided?
    The whole action of the Divine Liturgy falls into three main divisions: 1) The Proskomedia 2) The Liturgy of the Catechumens 3) The Liturgy of the Faithful
  8. What is the difference between the Divine Liturgy and the Mass?
    There is no theological difference; that is, both are the same event, Sacrifice and Eucharist. The word liturgy came from the Greek "leitourgia," which means a "public gathering." The term mass comes from the Latin "ite, missa est;" "go, you are dismissed," from the dismissal at the end of the Mass. Both terms, however, are synonymous in meaning and describe the same event.

The Divine Liturgy of our Holy Father, St. John Chrysostom

  1. Proskomedia
    Before the Divine Liturgy begins at the altar or Holy Table, the bread (prosphora) and wine for the Holy Sacrifice are prepared by the priest at the Table of Preparation. This is called the Proskomedia - or rite of preparation. When he has completed this rite, the priest goes to the Altar; the prepared chalice and paten are left upon the Table of Preparation.
  2. The Liturgy of the Catechumens
    The Liturgy begins with the priest singing "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever," to which the congregation and/or choir sing "Amen". Then begins one of the many "litanies" of the Byzantine Liturgy - a list of things and people to pray for. Chances are the first words of the Byzantine Rite a visitor will learn are the responses to the petitions in the litanies - "Lord, have mercy."

    Then there is a small procession as the priest carries the Gospel book, the prayer "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us," and then the reading of the lesson and Gospel for the day. The priest may preach a sermon after reading the Gospel or wait until the end of the service to give his sermon.
  3. The Liturgy of the Faithful
    Then there are more litanies, the singing of "The Cherubic Hymn", then a dramatic procession as the priest carries the prepared bread and wine from the Table of Preparation to the Holy Table or altar.

    The Nicene Creed is sung. Although we are Catholics, we say the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father," not "from the Father and the Son" as Roman Catholics do, because the original version of the Creed, accepted by the Catholic Church and used in the Byzantine Rite, does not have this addition to it.

    The consecration begins like the Roman Catholic Mass with "Lift up your hearts", the response "We have lifted them up unto the Lord" and "Holy, holy, holy." After each prayer of the priest sung aloud over the bread and the wine, the congregation and/or choir sing "Amen." Then there is a hymn to Mary, "It is truly proper to glorify you, who have borne God." There are still more litanies, then the Lord's Prayer or Our Father, the priest's Communion, then the congregation receives Communion, followed by some closing prayers.
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