The Eastern Catholic Church

We welcome you to discover the well-kept secret of the Christian world: the Eastern Catholic Church. Although we are an ancient church who has maintained Scriptural Traditions, we may be unknown to you. Yet, we are in tune with the problems and spiritual needs of today.

We are not your traditional normal dead and dry Church: you do not have to cut off your head not turn off your brain in order to become a Christian. We believe that you and I need to work out our salvation daily. The church is here to assist and support you prayerfully - -not dominate you and your life.

We believe that each one of us have God given unique given talents, abilities, and gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up the growing Body of Christ. You are needed and wanted!

1. History
2. Beliefs
3. Purpose
4. Membership
5. Organization
6. Worship
History


This Aramaic speaking remnant of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church came into existence immediately after the Resurrection and the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and on the Feast of Pentecost…through the missionary efforts of the Apostle Saint Thomas (Mar Toma) and the Apostle Saint Jude Thaddeus (Mar Addai), the church was brought to the city of Edessa which is located in the north-west of Mesopotamia and established in Persia in 35 A.D. There many believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the efforts of these Chaldean and Assyrian converts, the Gospel spread among the Persians. Later, both Saint Thomas and the Apostle Saint Peter (Mar Patros) came there. You shall find the reference of this Church in Saint Peter’s epistle “…I give my regards to the Church which is in Babylon…” (1 Peter 5:13).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church began to grow and to flourish. Travelling from Edessa, the Apostle Saint Thomas (Mar Toma) continued to preach the Gospel in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the capitol of the Parthian Empire and later the Persian Empire. In about 52 A.D., Saint Thomas reached India. In 72 A.D., Saint Thomas the Apostle, having established the church in India suffered martyrdom for the Holy Faith. This Church in India has always been considered an Apostolic Church, having been established by one of the Twelve Apostles. His spiritual descendants eventually brought the Christian Faith and Church into China, Burma, Tibet, Korea, and Japan. At one time in its history, the church was the largest church of all of the Christian churches in the world with over 500 dioceses in China alone. Then there were subsequent periods of great persecutions that led to its near destruction. It gave more martyrs to the Christian church than all other branches of the Christian churches combined (49 million martyrs).

It has been known by various names throughout its long history: The Church of the East (hence: Eastern Catholic –since the 7th Century), the Persian Church, the Indian Church, the Mar Toma (Thoma) Church, The Mar Thoma Christian Church, the East Syrian Church, the Holy Apostolic-Catholic Church of the East (Chaldean-Syrian), the Chaldean-Syrian Church of the East, etc.

Throughout its long history, the Church has remained orthodox and patriarchal (in its worship, ecclesiastical form of government, polity, etc. not Papal (not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarch of the West in Rome). This jurisdiction remains autocephalous (self-governing) to this day.

In 1902, the Metropolitan of India, with the encouragement of the Anglican Church missionaries from England, desired to bring this ancient church heritage into the west. A metropolitan was consecrated to do so. Through these efforts, in 1934, the Eastern Catholic Church came to these United States in the ministry of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Dr. Mar David of Edessa, O.H.S. (nee: Seine Durchlaucht, Prinz Stanislaus, Graf von Czernowitz). The present Metropolitan is His Beatitude, Metropolitan Dr. Mar Mikhael of Edessa, O.S.J. (Seine Durchlaucht, Fürst Heinrich XXVI Reuß).

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Beliefs

The beliefs and practice of the church is Orthodox. The theology of the church is identical to the early Church Fathers. She holds to the doctrines of the First two Ecumenical Councils and its Creeds, affirms the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His incarnation, and sacrificial atonement on the cross, His death, His resurrection, and ascension into heaven, and the Holy Trinity. Since the church was in the Persian Empire, it was not notified of the next five ecumenical councils. However, in 1952, the Synod of Bishops accepted the spirit of the theological decrees of the third through the seventh ecumenical councils providing these decrees did not violate Holy Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures of the First and Second Covenants (the Old and the New Testaments) or the Bible are the highest authority for the Church. The Holy Scriptures are translated directly from Aramaic and are commonly referred to as “The Peshitta” or “the Simple Truth.” The Peshitta is still the standard Holy Scriptures for millions of Chaldean-Syrian (parent church), Maronite, Chaldean Roman Catholic, Jacobite, and Assyrian Christians. The Oral and Sacred Traditions of the Church as well as the Apostolic Fathers are utilised to properly interpret the Holy Scriptures.

As part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, we stand on the Faith in Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God, on the Holy Scriptures as the divinely inspired Word of God, written by holy men under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, containing all things necessary for salvation.

We stand for the worship of God as He commanded through Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

We believe we offer through our Eastern Catholic heritage to all who are looking for Salvation through Christ, who desire to participate in the historic Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), and who desire to hear, believe, and walk in the Gospel of Salvation, the opportunity to do so in the fullness of joy and the freedom of the Holy Spirit.

We believe that the primary objective of the Church is to glorify God and His Scriptural Teachings, not the private opinions of men.

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Purpose


Our purpose is to celebrate the joy and the power of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ by participating in the Holy Eucharist (in making joyful praise and worship unto God, by preaching the Word of God, by administering the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), by praying for one another, by visiting the sick, by giving Christian charity, by studying the Holy Scriptures, and by promulgating the Christian Faith for the molding of godly lives in ourselves, our families, our society, and our country. We believe in the Charismatic Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit, as they were manifested in the Apostolic Church and that they should be practised, developed, and encouraged in our congregations today. This jurisdiction entered the Charismatic Renewal in 1941.

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Membership


When the autocephalous or self-governing ecclesiastical jurisdiction was established, its ecclesiastical provincial boundaries included: North, Central, and South America, and the Far East (Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan). In 1987, the Vicar-diocese of Germany requested to become apart of and was accepted into this Metropolia (province). His Beatitude, Metropolitan Dr. Mar David of Edessa, O.H.S. chose not to limit this church to its ethnic origins but to open the church to all Christian peoples seeking the historic faith, sacraments, traditions, and the move of the Holy Spirit.

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Organization


The Eastern Catholic Church is governed according to the Holy Scriptures in the Apostolic model: bishops, priests, and deacons. There is only one bishop who holds the authority within the church, i.e.: the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan, as the Primate of Chief Hierarch, governs the Synod of Bishops. All bishops are vicar-bishops to the Office of the Metropolitan See. Together, they comprise the Holy Synod of Bishops. The Metropolitan in an autocephalous jurisdiction is the “Holder of All” as is the Catholicos-Patriarch is within his own jurisdiction. The church throughout its long history has maintained the Order of Deaconess (which at one times existed in the Roman Catholic and all of the Eastern Orthodox Churches).

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Worship


The Eastern Catholic Church is sacramental in its worship, which resembles the other Eastern Orthodox Churches (Antiochian, Greek, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, etc.). The centre of its liturgical life is the Quiddisha Qurbana or the Holy and Divine Liturgy. We utilise the oldest liturgy in the Christian Church: the Liturgy of Saint James the Apostle, historically referred to as the Liturgy of Mar Mari and Mar Addai. It contains three different Canons which are utilised during the yearly calendar. It is based, as all liturgy is based, upon the Tabernacle Worship, prescribed by God the Father to Moses. In the Quiddisha Qurbana, there is the Liturgy of the Word (Catechumens) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Leavened bread and wine are utilised for the Holy Communion. The faithful receive, in Holy Communion, the divine presence of Christ’s body and blood, under the appearances of bread and wine. The Holy Liturgy can only be celebrated by an ordained priest in canonical relationship with his vicar-bishop and metropolitan.

Both the traditional Quiddisha Qurbana and the Charismatic Liturgy are celebrated in most parishes of this jurisdiction. In numerous locations, joint parishes (both traditional and charismatic parishes) share the same physical location, i.e. sanctuary).

The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) include the following: Holy Baptism and Chrismation (Confirmation) – these two mysteries are never separated, Holy Confession or Absolution (which also occurs during the Holy Liturgy and individually in cases of serious sin), Holy Orders which effects all the other Holy Mysteries, Holy Matrimony, and Holy Unction (Anointing of the Sick). The Sign of the Cross has also historically been considered a Holy Mystery or Sacrament.

Marriages are usually celebrated within the Quiddisha Qurbana of Holy Matrimony. The Anointing of the sick may occur after the Quiddisha Qurbana or at any scheduled service, as well as in hospitals or in the sick person’s home.

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All rights are reserved. Last modified March 2010.