Some background about Byzantine Catholics
We are Catholics in union with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, whom we recognize as the visible Head of our Catholic Church. We are recognized as being “Catholic” by the local Roman Catholic Archbishop of Anchorage as well as the Bishops of the United States and throughout the whole world.
We are “Catholics”, but NOT Roman Catholics. We are Eastern Catholics. As Catholics, we Eastern and Roman Catholics share the same faith and have the same seven Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). The difference is that we Eastern Catholics have a different way or rite of expressing our Faith through our Liturgy and Traditions. Our Church is blessed with the richness of Eastern spirituality.
Most people, especially Catholics, are unaware that the Catholic Church is a communion of twenty-two ritual Churches, each with its own particular customs, laws, traditions and liturgy, united by the same Faith. The Roman Catholic Church, which is by far the largest of these twenty-two Churches, is the most prominent. Unfortunately the other twenty-one ritual Churches being significantly smaller live in the shadow of the Roman Catholic Church and consequently are not as well known. Our Church is one of these twenty-one ritual Churches.
Interior of the Annunciation church
When the emissaries of the Great Russian Prince Vladimir returned to give an accounting of which Faith would be the best for the Prince and his people to follow they explained that they could not direct him in that, but they did exclaim about the worship they experienced in the Byzantine Cathedral of Hagia Sophia inConstantinople, “We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.”
The parishioners and Monsignor George Vida have successfully captured this feeling in this gorgeous temple dedicated in 2006.
Behind the Holy Altar, the icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), dressed as a Byzantine Princess lifts her hands in prayer – directing her children to worship and adore her Divine Son depicted in the magnificent golden dome. Our prayers rise like incense to the dome 42 feet above. Christ, the supreme Ruler of all, (Pantocrator) loving looks down open His people assembled below. The icon is to remind the people that Christ hears and answers the prayers of all who implore him in faith.
MOSAIC OF CHRIST THE TEACHER (PANTOCRATOR).
In the ancient world, kings, emperors, judges and teachers would sit as they exercised their duties. The Scriptures, in general, see Christ as the promised successor of King David seated on his throne, and specifically, the book of Revelation sees Him and the Father as occupying thrones in heaven.
This dazzling mosaic, made of thousands of pieces of miniature glass tessera, depicts Christ in His glory blessings with His right hand, while holding an ornate Gospel Book in His left. His Holy Gospel contains His words of eternal life that he bequeaths to his Faithful with the instruction, “Go therefore into all nations baptizing them, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We have been saved for a purpose: to be collaborators with our Lord Christ in the salvation of the world.