Origin and Identity
The Maronite Church is one of many churches which are from Eastern and Western Catholic traditions.
Catholic: Member of one holy apostolic church.
Western: Originating in the ancient see of Rome
Eastern: Originating in ancient sees of Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople
As Jesus commissioned the apostles to go into the world and make disciples of all nations, the early church grew and spread out from Jerusalem. It experienced other traditions, cultures, customs, languages, art forms, architecture and music. Eastern and Western Christians expressed the same basic truths of their Catholic faith in unique ways and worshiped differently.
There are over 750 million Catholics (Eastern and Western) in the world. Nearly 2 million Catholics of the Eastern Churches live in the United States.
All Catholics share three important things:
- Apostolic Faith
- Unity with Pope (Successor of Peter)
A Church is not the same as a rite. Within the Catholic Church there are 22 autonomous churches, each of which follows one of the 6 major rites.
Each Church has its own:
Liturgy: Activity for accomplishing God’s work of salvation
Theology: Study of relations between God and humans
Spirituality: The living out of a faith experience
Law: The principle for ordering church life
A church is a universal community of faith having a distinct tradition founded by an apostle or successor and guided by an autonomous hierarchy by which various nations and peoples have been converted to and nurtured by the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Each church encompasses a unique liturgy, theology, spirituality and law, and is characterized by its own cultural and linguistic influences. Each church enjoys an autonomy from its sister churches and is guided by its patriarch and bishops in unity with the Successor of Peter.
All the churches of the Catholic Church are one by their unity in faith, mysteries (Sacraments) and hierarchy. Each church of the Catholic Church has its own specific form of liturgy, theology, spirituality and law.