Learning Your Faith: Seven Major Rites in the Catholic Church

Did you know that there are seven major rites within the Catholic Church? A rite is an ecclesiastical tradition used to celebrate the sacraments. These rites developed in the early Church based upon major regions in which the Church spread. For example, the early Church tried to convert major cultural centers first therefore Rome, Antioch and Alexandria each had their own ecclesiastical rite. The essential form and matter always remained the same but the rite itself would have variations.

We are most familiar with the Roman rite which we use and it is the most widely used. The others would beĀ  Alexandrian, and the Antioch line of Byzantine, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean. Within these rites there are minor variations that are recognized. For example, the Roman rite has the Ambrosian Rite named after St. Ambrose and the Mozarabic rite which is from Spain.

The second largest rite is the Byzantine rite from the Eastern Churches of the Roman empire. These churches were founded by St. James the Apostle. The Syriac rite is also attributed to St. James. The Alexandrian rite is attributed to St. Mark the Evangelist. The Malankartese rite which is a smaller rite under the Syriac rite is attributable to St. Thomas and was founded in India. The Syro Malabar Church which was part of the Malankartese rite is currently the fastest growing church within the Catholic Church.

The sacraments for these churches are the same but how they are done may vary. For example, in the Byzantine Church you receive baptism, communion and confirmation as an infant. You start confession when you are old enough to understand sin and the sacrament of confession.

We as Catholics are able to attend mass at these churches. If you have an interest the Milwaukee Archdiocese has the following: St. George Melkite Catholic Church; St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church or St. Antony SyroMalabar Catholic Mission If you want to make a short trip you could go to Saint Sharbel Mission which serves the Maronite community and celebrates mass at St. Sebastian Church in Sturtevant or to The Holy Resurrection Monastery (Romanian) in St. Nazianz in Manitowoc County.

If you would like to learn more on the different rites of the Church, here are a few websites (of many) that you may wish to visit: https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/rites; https://media.ascensionpress.com; https://www.ewtn.com; and https://www.usccb.org.