The “Antioch Chalice”, first half of 6th century
Byzantine; Made in Antioch or Kaper Koraon Silver, silver-gilt
7 1/2 x 5 7/8 in. (19 x 15 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1950 (50.4)
When it was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, this “chalice” was claimed to have been found in Antioch, a city so important to the early Christians that it was recognized with Rome and Alexandria as one of the great sees of the church. The chalice’s plain silver interior bowl was then ambitiously identified as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. The elaborate footed shell enclosing it was thought to have been made within a century after the death of Christ to encase and honor the Grail. The fruited grapevine forming the rinceau pattern of the gilded shell is inhabited by birds, including an eagle; animals, including a lamb and a rabbit; and twelve human figures holding scrolls and seated in high-backed chairs. Two of the figures are thought to be images of Christ. The other ten figures have been variously identified as ten of the twelve apostles, or philosophers of the classical age, who, like the prophets of the Old Testament, had foretold the coming of Christ. The sixth-century chronicler Malalas of Antioch was among those who sought to make such links between Christianity and classical philosophy.
The identification of the “Antioch Chalice” as the Holy Grail has not been sustained, and even its authenticity has at times been challenged. The work has usually been considered a sixth-century chalice for the Eucharist. Most recently, however, its shape has been recognized as more closely resembling sixth-century standing lamps, its decoration possibly in recognition of Christ’s words “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). It has been argued to be part of a treasure of liturgical objects found in 1908 belonging to the Church of Saint Sergios in the town of Kaper Koraon southeast of Antioch. If so, Saint Sergios’ parishioners might well have traveled to Antioch to purchase the object as a donation for their church. Or it may have been used in one of the churches in or near Antioch.
Be assured that we are Catholic…Eastern Catholic. Roman is not the only type of Catholic in history; nor are Roman rituals the only type that are followed. There are five main branches (the “pentarchy”) of the original Church of Christianity: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople and Alexandria. As Melkites, we are descendants of the Church of Antioch “where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians” (see Acts 25:11). Each Church of the pentarchy developed its own historical, valid and legitimate manner of theology and spirituality and lives it to this day. We are still one with each other. Unity does not require uniformity.
Yes, we believe in the seven Holy Mysteries (our terminology for the Sacraments) that were historically given by Christ Himself: Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation in the Western Church), Eucharist, Confession, Holy Orders, Marriage and Anointing (see the Holy Scriptures). They are all administered according to the ritual of the Byzantine tradition.
That term today is an archaic one, not even used by theologians. Properly speaking we are in communion with the Pope of Rome but, at the same time, we also have our own Patriarch (chief Bishop and head of our Church) and Synod of Bishops. The title of the head of the Melkite Church is “His Beatitude, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem”. Both Rome and the Melkite Catholic Church recognize each other as valid and Apostolic Churches. (see above)
Originally, it was one of the Holy Apostles who founded a community of believers. He was the one who preached and ministered to that community. The term is made up of two roots: father and leader. In the course of time, the title was attached to that person and was recognized as the founder of that particular community: James of Jerusalem, Peter, first of Antioch and later of Rome, Andrew of Constantinople and Mark of Alexandria. Therefore, in the early Church, these were the five original Patriarchs, one for each of the Churches that were part of the pentarchy. Their successors to this day are those who are the legitimate elected spiritual fathers and leaders of the five original Churches along with others who preached and founded other communities.
No, we do not worship them but rather venerate or give high devotion and special respect to them. Traditionally and theologically, worship is reserved only for God. There is only one God. At the same time, right from the recorded and oral tradition of the early Christian Community, special devotions developed for the Holy Virgin because she was the Mother of God and for the ones who bonded themselves so close to Christ that their lives reflected a holiness. Further, sometimes, miracles were attributed to the those who lived holy lives.
It is the name that was given to all those who accepted the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). There was a controversy regarding the two natures of Jesus: divine and human. Arius, a priest of the Church was beginning to teach that Jesus was not the Son of God, hence not divine but just a perfect man. Some bishops, clergy and lay people began to accept this new belief. The Fathers of that Council, both Eastern and Western, after much deliberation, reiterated the teaching of the Holy Apostles and the early Christian Community that Jesus was indeed divine and human. Because the king, Marcian, who also attended the Council, agreed with this Council declaration, the ones who followed him in assent were called “Melkites” (the king’s men or loyalists) from the old Syriac word for king: “melko”.
We are not Greek in nationality but we are called Greek Catholics because we follow and live the tradition of the Church of Constantinople. Because of history and the influence of the Byzantine Church of Constantinople, our liturgical rituals or expressions of worship are attuned to those rather than to the Roman Catholic tradition.
It means that we can trace ourselves in a historic and recorded line of succession back to the Holy Apostles.
It depends on the local community and how it is comprised. In this Parish, the majority of the services are in English. Some Arabic and Greek are also utilized. Anyone can follow the ritual from the Service Books. Any Arabic or Greek is written in transliterated phonetics for all to easily follow along and join in with the chanting of responses.
This depends on one’s perspective. The most ancient rubric for the priest is to face the East, where light comes from. In other words, we face God, Who is Light. We are praying to Him, not to the people. We are supposed to be leading the people in prayer, praise, glory, thanksgiving to Him. This is why the Priest and Deacon in the Eastern Churches face the Altar. The Melkite & other Byzantine Churches were under no obligation to follow the changes made by the Roman Church after Vatican II to turn around and face the people during the service. The Eastern Churches have their own legitimate traditions.
There are several ways: the internet, pamphlets in the narthex (entrance) of our church, books in our gift shop, attending the liturgical services of the parish, speaking with the Priest of the community, etc.
Not at all! Historically, the Parish was founded by a Middle Eastern Priest for the Middle Eastern Community back in the 1950’s but it has always welcomed everyone to be part of the Parish. Today, it is comprised of a good blend of those who have Near Eastern (the more proper term) heritage and those from other backgrounds. The entire Melkite Church worldwide historically began in the Near East but has always tended to be inclusive rather than exclusive. All are warmly welcomed to come and see and perhaps become part of our community.?
You can fill out a form located on the complimentary literature table in the narthex (entrance) of the church & drop it in the collection basket or mail it in.
Technically, you shouldn’t approach the chalice unless you believe that It is really the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that you are receiving. Rather than being symbolic, this is the faith of Catholics and Orthodox Christians regarding Holy Communion or Eucharist.
The line for Holy Communion or Eucharist is precisely for that…to receive. For a blessing only, it would be more proper for you to wait until the Liturgy is over and come up in the line when people venerate the Cross, an Icon or a Relic. That is where blessings are properly given in conjunction with the Liturgy. Sometimes, young children of other traditions, who, because of age or practices, have not received Holy Communion yet, also approach and are given a blessing only. This is simply a matter of provisional practicality because the child comes up with the parent. This is not the recommended or encouraged practice for others. (see receiving a blessing)
As any valid and apostolic Christian body of worshippers, our traditions have been historically developed and practiced. We do not view rules and regulations as obligations of law (“we have to do them”) but rather obligations of love (“we ought and want to do them”).
Ideally, we are supposed to. The traditional fasting period is from midnight on Saturday until the reception of the Eucharist. Water is always permitted. If physically & medically able, all should make the effort to maintain this as their respect for the receiving of the Body and Blood of Christ.
This term applies to several positions: 1) a man, who is the ordained and appointed spiritual leader of a local Christian community, 2) a man who is an ordained priest or deacon or professed monk of the Church, 3) a deeply religious layperson…all who have been recognized to offer sound spiritual guidance, advice & direction to those who come to them. All Christians ideally should have their own personal spiritual father to assist them in life’s journey on the way to the Kingdom. The relationship between a spiritual father and his spiritual children is one of importance, closeness, privacy and confidentiality. The calling of one a “one’s father or one’s children” alludes to this close and sacred relationship. Note: there has been and is the reality also of “spiritual mothers” who offer the same type of Christian wisdom to others.
If you approach with your arms crossed, in the Byzantine and Melkite Churches, that is the proper and more ancient manner to receive Holy Communion for Catholics and Orthodox. It is the personal recognition of the Holy Species that we are receiving and we cross our arms in submission to the King of all. (see above)
Yes, along with the acceptance of being celibate, it is the other choice in the ministry of our Church. If a man chooses to be married and apply to study for the Diaconate or Priesthood in the Melkite Church, he needs to be married before he is ordained.
Yes, we have a Church School, which is presently held on Sundays from11:35 am -12:20 pm; during Great Lent: 11:45 am – 12:40 pm). We use our own Byzantine catechetical series developed by the Eastern Catholic Catechetical Directors., representing all the Eastern Catholic Eparchies (Dioceses) in the U.S.
This term is made up of two Greek words (Theos =God and tokos = bearer). The term was given by the early Fathers of the Christian Church of the East to Mary, who was chosen by God to bear His Son.
In Greek, the word “eikon” means image or reflection. Hence, in church usage, it applies to being an image, reflection or representation of someone. It is called “theology in color” because, in artistic form, it reveals a deeper belief associated with the person or event portrayed. Therefore, in proper terminology, an icon is written not painted. It is the iconographer’s gift of the Christian Church’s faith to a reality held. Before any attempt to develop an icon, the person ought to fast and pray. It is not his/her personal work but that of the Holy Spirit. He/she will be guided by the Holy Spirit. It will be eventually blessed with the holy oils to set it apart from any other art form. One will see icons throughout any Eastern church. In the future, the icon can and will be venerated (not worshipped!) in a church, chapel, home or office. This is a valid and traditional practice as has been declared by the Council of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
In a proper Byzantine or Melkite church, this is not a historical tradition of ours. Icons are the more accepted form of religious art in our churches.
Technically, the Eastern Churches do not have the rosary as an original aspect of their spirituality. As with other Western practices, it came into several Eastern Churches or Eastern Christian habits by way of Western missionaries and/or mingling with other Christians. A similar custom, more proper to our tradition, is the “prayer rope”. It is comprised of several cloth or other material beads on which the “Jesus Prayer” (“Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) is said and repeated as a mantra of deep meditation. Usually, this is done in front of an icon of Christ but can also be recited anywhere.
We have a Patriarch (Chief Bishop/Hierarch), residing in Damascus, Syria, the Seat of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate and also Archbishops or Bishops in most countries around the world. In the U.S., we presently have an Archbishop who is the Eparch (the religious ordinary) of our Church. His jurisdiction is all of America as our Eparchy (Diocese) of Newton covers the entire country. We also have two retired Bishops residing in the States.
This is the terminology used for the head or chief Bishop of a Diocese.
This title is given to the one who represents the Patriarch or Eparch in another area. He holds no jurisdiction on his own except that he is the emissary or representative of one higher in authority.
This is a title of recognition and honor given to a celibate Priest by the Patriarch or Eparch. It can be given for several reasons deemed by the Church authorities. At his elevation to this rank, he is given the headdress consisting of an Eastern clerical hat with a monastic veil. He also is given the right to wear a pectoral cross.
A title of honor given to a celibate or married Priest. At his elevation, he is given the right to wear a pectoral cross.
This title is given to a Priest, celibate or married. At his elevation, he is given the right to wear the Byzantine mitre (crown) and a pectoral cross and also carry a pastoral staff.
This is the first recognized rank of Holy Orders in the Christian Church from the records of Scripture. Originally, chosen by the Apostles to assist with the poor, the widows and the needy, the modern function is that of assisting the Bishop or Priest at liturgical functions. He also may be given a special responsibility in the Eparchy or local church such as religious education, care of the needy, recording and accounting, etc.
They are both honorific titles. Historically, the Archdeacon was the chief Deacon of a Church. He may have served the Patriarch or a Bishop. “Proto” means first. Today, the titles are given for years of service.
This is the area behind the Iconostasis. It is also called the “sanctuary”. It is where the Altar is positioned and where the liturgical services take place. It represents heaven, the dwelling place of God and source of blessings and the goal of all Christians. Ideally, if one has no function in the service, he should not enter the Holy Place.
This is the screen of icons that joins the Holy Place to the rest of the church. It holds the icons of Christ, His Holy Mother and the Saints. It does not separate but rather offers a gateway to the heavenly dwelling place of the Holy One.