“Pope John Paul II talks about how there are two lungs of the church: the East and the West,” Byzantine club president Nicholas Resuta said. “They each have their own traditions, liturgies and devotions, but both are crucial to the life of the church.”
The Byzantine club focuses on promoting the Eastern lung of the Church through Byzantine spirituality, liturgies and traditions on campus.
“We are here to raise awareness of the Eastern traditions of the Catholic faith which are in communion with Rome and the Magisterium,” Resuta said. “We usually do that in forms of prayer services, different talks, and hopefully, by next semester, we’ll also have Divine Liturgy on campus, which is Mass in the Byzantine tradition.”
The Byzantine club is integral for many Byzantine students.
“We don’t have a large Byzantine population,” Resuta explained. “But the club gives the Byzantines who do come to campus a place to express their traditions and devotions and share this aspect of their faith which is very crucial to their lives.”
Resuta himself only began exploring the Byzantine rite after a friend encouraged him to come to Byzantine club.
“I really knew nothing about the Byzantine Church, and I just casually mentioned that my dad was baptized in the Byzantine rite, and he was like, ‘Oh, you may be canonically Byzantine,’” Resuta said. “I avoided it for my first semester, but my spring semester, I just gave in. Ever since then, I started exploring my Byzantine roots and Byzantine traditions and liturgy, and I eventually fell in love with the rite as a whole.”
There are definite differences between the left and right lungs of the Church, but the two still have the same purpose.
“A lot of things between the East and the West are the same — it’s just that our approaches can be different: We celebrate our liturgies differently, and different prayers are used,” Resuta said. “For example, all the sacraments are given at baptism in the Eastern rite, whereas in the West, there are various stages. I think that resonates a lot in the way we approach things in the East and West: The theology is the same; we just approach it differently.”
The Byzantine club helps students view the Church with a greater sense of fullness.
“Knowing that there could be so many different ways of looking at the faith, knowing the faith and celebrating the faith can help you appreciate the church as a whole,” Resuta said. “Since the church is Catholic, it’s supposed to be universal and whole.”
The Byzantine club’s unique identity also means it has a unique atmosphere with a blend of seriousness and fun.
“There’s a lot of joking around: lots of Byzantine jokes and jokes in jest of both sides. The meetings themselves focus on business, but there’s a lot of fun stuff involved as well,” Resuta said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for Byzantines on campus to share in their traditions and also to bring awareness to the rest of the campus.”
The Byzantine club meets every Monday at 6 p.m. in the St. Margaret’s Room in the J.C. Williams Center.