by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Eastern Catholic churches must strengthen their liturgical identity, especially given ongoing conflicts in many of the homelands of those churches and the continuing migration of Eastern Catholics to countries where most Catholics belong to the Latin rite, said a Vatican official.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, spoke at the opening of a conference marking the 25th anniversary of an instruction from the congregation that urged Eastern Catholics to learn more about their liturgies and to exercise great care in translating the texts and modifying the liturgies. He said Eastern liturgies are a treasure belonging to the entire Catholic Church and bind it closely to the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches as well.

Cardinal Sandri told conference participants Feb. 16 that Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians "feel the wound of still not being able to sit around the one eucharistic table," but they also know that "we are heirs of a common treasure and very often of the same texts for celebrating the different liturgies."

So, he pleaded with the Eastern Catholic churches "to avoid solitary escapes in pursuit of reforms that do not take into account the heritage shared with the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches."

The cardinal repeated the instruction's call for Eastern Catholics belonging to the same ritual families — the Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Byzantine and Chaldean — to work together in studying their rites, developing educational programs for their faithful, translating texts and weighing any possible reforms before moving ahead with them.

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Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)