Romanitas….we hear that word often in conjunction with Louis Tofari but what does that word mean exactly.
When we are trying to discern between the Eastern and Western Liturgical Rites the simplest way to characterize it would be the word Romanitas which means to be Roman.
Romanitas is actually a universal component of Holy Mother Church since Rome is her head and her Primatial See. All Christians then should be united to the Bishop of Rome, who is Peter, the Supreme Pontiff, The Pope. We can truly say that the Church is not only One, Holy and Apostolic and Catholic, but also Roman, for it is upon Peter, the Rock, that the Church is built and it was in Rome that he providentially established his chair, or see.
While there exist a spiritual characteristic of Romanitas between the Western and Eastern Rites when it comes to liturgical matters it is the Latin Rite that best represents the spirit of Romanitas. The characteristic of Romanitas has been impressed particularly upon its namesake Roman Rite, so the ceremonies are done in a logical and practical manner.
All of the Catholic Church’s liturgical rites share universal elements, yet they also differ in many ways. One of the main differences between the liturgical rites of the West and East is the overall spirit or emphasis in which they were formed. The liturgies of the West are heavily influenced by the Roman mindset and tend to be more scholastic in nature which means the Roman Mass is known for its concise brevity, restraint of expression, and a systematic, juridical sense of order.
On the other hand, the liturgies of the East are characterized by a mystical or symbolic charism that often possesses a poetic and dramatic character. There’s also a difference in liturgical and sacramental practices or customs as well. For instance, in the East, the rite of baptism tends to be given by immersion, while in the West, pouring water over the forehead is practiced. Another example in the East is the rite of baptism. In the East it usually includes giving the sacraments of confirmation and even Communion, while in the West these are administered separately and over the course of the child’s development.
To learn more about Romanitas listen to Learning about the Roman Liturgy with Louis Tofari on Magnificat Radio at www.magnificatmedia.com at 10am, 1pm, 6:30pm, and 10pm, CDT USA. To purchase books and materials mentioned on Learning about the Roman Liturgy with Louis Tofari visit this link: Romanitas Press
Listen to the music examples below of the St. Benedict’s Introit: Gaudeamus, Troparion from Russian Rite: Epiphany.