What are some differences and similarities between the Maronite Catholic Church and the Latin (Roman Catholic) Church? In a very real sense the question is not phrased correctly. First, the question is too limited. There are more than just these two great Churches. There are in fact 20 other Eastern Catholic Churches, and one might accurately ask, “What are the differences between the Maronite Church and these others as well. People generally ask the question in this way (Maronite or Latin) for very good reason: The Roman Catholic Church is quite obviously the largest Catholic Church in the Catholic Communion. Of the one billion Catholics on earth today Eastern Catholics make up only 2%, or 20 million. When people think of Catholic, they most likely think: Roman Catholic. This brings up the added consideration. Namely, that since the Roman Catholic Church is the largest and the one that most people see, it is too easy to get the mistaken notion that the “normal” way of being Catholic is Roman Catholic. Of course this isn’t so. Eastern Catholics must learn how to promote themselves more effectively (one good example is this website). Latin Catholics must promise to learn more about the Eastern Traditions and to help in their way to promote them—in Churches, schools, parish schools of religion, the RCIA, etc. Having said all this, some similarities and differences are thus: Probably the best-known fact about the diversity Also, not all holy days are the same in all the within the Eastern Churches regards their liturgical Churches. traditions. This includes the form of the Eucharistic Service as well as those of the seven Mysteries and the Eastern Church theology differs from Western Divine Office. There are many different traditional theology. Even among Eastern Traditions themselves Eastern liturgical languages—such as Greek, Old there are differing theological differences. What is Slavonic, Syriac, Ge’ez, Coptic, and Armenian—many important to note here is that the elements of basic of which are still used, even though most are no longer Catholic theology cannot contradict each other. Rather, living vernaculars. Nevertheless, use of the vernacular what we are dealing with are particular emphases of has been and still is the rule. theology that each Tradition embraced in its initial evangelizing and subsequent development. Everyone Not unexpectedly, there are sacramental differences knows, for example, of the debates of the early Councils too. The forms of the seven sacramental Mysteries differ over questions of Christology. The liturgies, theologies greatly. and spiritualities that followed upon these emphases have lasted up to the present moment. Also, the administration of some of the Holy Mysteries differs. One obvious example is with the Eastern Christians favor the use of icons in sacred Mysteries of Initiation. Baptism given to infants is artistic expression. One may think of icons as theology immediately followed by the administration of in color. As with statues in the Western Church, it is not Chrismation (West: “Confirmation”) in all the Eastern the image that is worshiped or venerated, rather it is the Catholic Churches. Since Chrismation may only be sacred persons they depict. given once, care must be taken that Eastern Catholic children in Roman Catholic settings (such as schools) do Customs differ quite widely. Perhaps more than much not receive Chrismation again. Roman Catholic pastors else, this area is the practical expression of one’s as well as those catechetical persons in charge of particular Catholic Identity. Whether it is a particular sacramental programs must take care to observe this. In way to make the Sign of the Cross, or on what days the Byzantine Churches Eucharist is also given to the water is blessed, or what foods are prepared or avoided infant, who afterwards may receive Holy Communion at on a certain feast day, particular customs are what any time. The Maronite Patriarchal Liturgical distinguish one type of Catholic Christian from another. Commission has been studying the possibility of the Maronite Church returning to its proper tradition of Finally, the Eastern Churches have their own code of Communion at Baptism as well. canons (i.e., laws), separate from that of the Western Church, to govern the faithful. The Eastern code serves While all live by the Word of God in the Scriptures, general Eastern law, while at the same time allowing for the lectionaries of the Churches differ, reflecting the the individual discipline of each Eastern Church. genius, theology and liturgical understandings of the interpretation of the Word. Some Sundays accord in the Churches. For example, on the Sunday after Pascha (Easter), the Gospel about (Believing) Thomas is read. Christmas and Easter (therefore, Pentecost) are celebrated on the same days in the Catholic Churches, except where permission is given in some places to celebrate Orthodox Pascha with a contiguous Orthodox population.