Another question from e-mail:
First allow me to say how much I, as a young convert, have enjoyed and learned a great deal from your blog. My question is, what is the status on Latin Rite Catholics participating in Masses according to the forms of other Catholic rites. For example, there is a Byzantine Rite parish not to far from where I live and I would like to go there one Sunday and see what it is like. I assume that I am allowed to receive communion but does it also count as my Sunday obligation? This is probably a very stupid question and my gut reaction is that it is acceptable to do so. However, I don’t want to commit a blunder through ignorance.
Also, while discussing Eastern Rites. When at an Eastern Orthodox church (say on a tour or something), should I still genuflect to the altar? It is, of course, Christ within but I don’t know if that is acceptable form in Eastern Rite churches.
First, I should say that I, too, am a convert. And when I started exploring the Church I also was interested in the Eastern Rites and sought them out. Happily, in my home town the main Churches were represented. It was fascinating. Also, for a couple summers I live with Ukrainian Catholics in Rome on the Aventine Hill and got to know their Divine Liturgy quite well. They liked me: I have a big bass voice and there was plenty to do with it.
Yes, as a Catholic you can go to Mass or Divine Liturgy at any of those Eastern Catholic Churches with their own Rites. You can participate in the proper ways (you are a baptized Christian and a Catholic, after all) and receive Holy Communion.
Also, according to the 1983 Code of Canon for Latin Church Catholics you fulfill your Sunday or Holy Day obligations by attending the Divine Liturgy because they are also celebrating, obviously, in Catholic Rite.
Remember that they will have their own customs. You want to be respectful and careful. I don’t think anyone would look at you cross-eyed if you genuflected: that’s how we Latins do it, after all. If you prefer, you could bow deeply as the Easterners tend to do. As you please.
Sometimes their Divine Liturgies can be rather long, so figure that into your morning.
BTW… when you receive Communion, you will probably receive under both kinds administered by the priest with a small spoon. Small pieces of the Host, sometimes like little "croutons" will be in the chalice with the Precious Blood. The priest will put a small amount of the Precious Blood into your mouth together with Eucharistic Body. If this is how you see Communion is being distributed, just tilt your head back with your mouth open, the priest will do the rest. Do NOT close your mouth around the spoon, as some Latins do the first time.
I suggest that you go to participate in as many different Catholic Churches as possible, noting the similarities and differences. They will only help you understand better your own Latin Catholic heritage.
If after Mass you talk to the priest, feel free to ask him questions. Sometimes they will use terms you are not familiar with, but they are familiar enough with dealing with Latins to know how to put things.
So, go and breath from both your Catholic lungs, Eastern and Western. And enjoy the incense.