Worship in the Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church

       The worship of the Church gradually evolved over the centuries. Both the Eastern and Western jurisdictions of the early Church started from the same common root - the practices of the Jewish Temple and the instructions of Our Lord. Thus in the first year or so of the Church after Pentecost, the core liturgical form and hours of worship were in place ( e.g. Mark 14:22-26, Acts 2:42, 3:1, 10:9, 20:7, 1 Cor 11:23-28).

      In  the early centuries, worship in the Church assumed distinct forms in the major centres: Rome, Alexandria (Liturgy of S. Mark) Antioch and Jerusalem (of S. James) and Constantinople (of S. Basil and S.John Chrysostom). A variety of Latin rites were used across Western Europe, and there was some mutual influence. It is interesting to note that there was no dispute over the external forms of worship. All held the same faith and respected each other's expressions of that faith.

     The separation of what are now called the Oriental Churches, and the Mohamedan invasions,  weakened the position of the Eastern Orthodox communities in Syria and Egypt,  and the missions in Russia and other Slavic lands adopted the rite of Constantinople in Slavonic. As a result, the rites other than that of Constantinople eventually survived only among separated Churches; but over  the succeeding centuries, minor differences of ceremonial and musical style evolved among in the Orthodox
nations. The form of service however retained its coherence and came to be thought of as "the Orthodox Liturgy".

     On the eve of the Great Schism (1054) between the Eastern and Western Patriarchs the Roman Rite held sway over most of Western (Catholic) Europe, while. Increasingly the Eastern (Orthodox)  Churches used what we today call the Byzantine Rite (of Byzantium, called Constantinople by the Christians). After that schism, two rites came to characterize two separate churches; although each continued to admit the legitimacy of the other's rite, and first Rome, and later Orthodoxy, came to include people of the other rite - although under rather different circumstances. The "Uniate" Churches were created by considerable pressure, and, perhaps as a result,  Orthodox authorities accepted western communities much later, and with some caution. 

Divine Service                  Byzantine Rite                     Western Rite

back to home page