WHEN METROPOLITAN John of Pergamon met with Blessed John Paul II on June 28, 1998, he said, “As Your Holiness has aptly put it some years ago, East and West are the two lungs by which the Church breathes; their unity is essential to the healthy life of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
On June 24, 2001, Pope John Paul II, in a meeting with members of the Ukrainian Catholic episcopate, reiterated this: “Here there is a fraternal meeting between those who draw from the sources of Byzantine spirituality and those who are nourished by Latin spirituality. Here the deep sense of mystery which suffused the holy liturgy of the Eastern Churches and the mystical succinctness of the Latin Rite come face to face and mutually enrich each other.”
Having been adopted into a Western (Roman) Catholic family, having received the Sacraments of Initiation in that Church, and later having participated in its various ministries (religious education, lectoring, music ministry, youth ministry, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, etc.), I have a fondness in my heart for the Church of my youth.
However, in 1992 at the age of 33, after six months of preparation with my pastor, I officially changed from Roman Catholic to Eastern Catholic and became a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, one of the Byzantine Particular Churches, as a way to increase my own spirituality. Today I enjoy worshiping in my Eastern and Western traditions.
This article illustrates the beauty and richness and diversity of both Churches, without detracting anything from either. The focus here is on the Ukrainian Catholic Church.