207 Tompkins Street Syracuse, NY 13204

Two Different Traditions - One Catholic Church



Western Church Today

The priest faces people across the altar.
Gathering around the Lord's table here and now.

Church buildings and services use things from the present day, everyday life. We like things that are new and modern, and we use them in worship, too.
Prayers are kept simple, not repeated. Great care is taken to give the whole text of the service in programs or missals so that the mind can grasp things clearly.

Eastern Church Today

The Priest faces East, towards the altar, along with the people, leading the people to the Heavenly Liturgy in God's Kingdom.
Church buildings and services use things from everyday life that have been used for centuries. We like to use things that we received from our ancestors.
Prayers are repeated and sung. There is a lot of movement; many senses are used to get the whole self (mind and body) involved in worshipping God.

The faith is the same, but we express it differently.

There is a more relaxed feeling, very down to earth.
Services use contemporary music. Liturgy has the feel of a shared meal.

Emphasis: God is here with us, so go and live this out in the world.

New churches are usually built in a very simple style with little adornment and only a few pieces of art. They fit into the modern world and reflect modern tastes.

Emphasis: God loves us the way we are, and our current styles and fashions can give glory to God, just as past styled did.

Contemporary artists are encouraged to let their individual experiences of God come through their art.

Emphasis: Many people have their own understanding of God and what God's love means for us.

The use of dramatic music and actions tries to lift people up to experience a "taste of heaven".

Emphasis: This is what God has in store for us in heaven, so go and live this out in the world right now.

Even new churches with modern lines usually have domes and many icons, emphasizing that traditions developed over the centuries are still meaningful in the modern world.

Emphasis: God has been with us through the centuries.

Even though things change, God's love and our response are always the same, yesterday and today.

Icons express the public teaching of the Church. The individual artist's ideas are secondary. Iconographers have a somewhat limited freedom, but the basic message of salvation in the icon is more easily grasped by others. 

Emphasis: There are things about God's love which we have all experienced and understand together.

Eastern and Western Catholics have different mentalities. They emphasize different aspects, but we all hold the same Catholic faith.

The differences do not contradict one another, but complement each other.

Western Catholics (Roman/Latin) Focus on Eastern Catholics (Byzantine/Ukrainian)
God as One but also Three Trinity God as three persons but also One
Jesus as Human (who is also Divine) Christ Jesus as a Divine person (who is also human)
Unity. Direct connection with the Pope Church Diversity. Connection with the Pope through intermediate structures such as Synods.
Mary as Virgin. We relate to her human experiences. Mary Mary as Theotokos, or Mother of God. We stand in awe before the cosmic implication.
Lord's Supper; down to earth atmosphere; rational, clear messages; more use of reason; very frugal use of symbols; focus on the here and now; social justice issues; beauty in simplicity; use of various musical instruments in the liturgy. Liturgy Heavenly liturgy; cosmic realities; mystery; awe; subconscious, holistic, more use of the senses; repetition as a way into the deeper self; focus on eschatology (heaven on earth); beauty in its fullness; liturgies sung in their entirety without instruments.
More linear; either-or; philosophical clarity to poetic synthesis. Thinking More symbolic; more paradoxical; both-and; prefer poetic wholeness to philosophical clarity.