Worship And Liturgy

The public acts of worship that Catholics and Orthodox Christians perform together are called the liturgy. For Catholics and Orthodox the central act of the liturgy is the Eucharist, generally referred to as "Mass" in the Roman Catholic tradition and "Divine Liturgy" in the Orthodox tradition. The liturgy of most of the Eastern Catholic churches is also referred to as the "Byzantine Liturgy," because it originated in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, called Byzantium. It is also known as the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, who was a saint and bishop of the early church and is thought to have composed many of the prayers of this liturgy.

Weekly attendance at Sunday liturgy and attendance on special feast days such as Christmas is required of all church members. These are called holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church. In addition Catholics carry out acts of devotion to Mary and the saints, such as novenas—devotions consisting of prayers or services held on nine consecutive days or weeks. Orthodox Christians also have special services honoring Mary and her role in Christ's work of salvation. These are called Akathist, which is a Greek word meaning "standing," referring to the fact

A Special Relationship to Christ

For Catholics and Orthodox Christians devotion to Mary is always in the context of her special relationship to Christ. The following prayer expresses the joyous affirmation of this special relationship:

Inyou, Virgin, full of grace, all creation does rejoice, all the orders of angels and all of the human race. God who lives eternally took his human flesh from thee. And he made your womb a throne wider than the heavenly places...

that the congregation traditionally stands while chanting the praises of Mary.

In the Orthodox Church there is a tradition of sacred icons, which are painted or enamelled representations of holy figures such as Christ, Mary and the saints. The icons are considered sacred because they are a means by which the worshipper can communicate in prayer and spirit with the religious figures represented in the icon.

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