Thursday, May 25, 2023

Taking a hiatus!

Hi all! I was doing so well keeping up with a post for every week in the liturgical year, but all good things inevitably come to an end. πŸ˜‚ My life right now is just not conducive to weekly blogging. It's all good stuff, but with my son starting college in the fall and other needs of my family, and me having a new job within my academic library world, I'm at full capacity. We're all doing GREAT though, and continuing on in our Byzantine rite journey. I'll check back in with updates when I can!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Fifth Sunday after Pascha - Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

We've been doing lots of gardening these days!
 Hello everyone! I'm running a little behind this week, sorry about that! I meant to get this post up last Friday, and only today realized that I never finished and published it. 


So I have a bit of catching up to do! But here we are, together again with our quick weekly update. Spring is really blossoming around here in WNY, and we're enjoying the sunshine and fresh air that it brings. Including Barney! 😁

Springtime in our Byzantine rite parish is dawning with lots of talk of bringing back more in person events to continue to try and recover from the financial damage the pandemic wrought. The parish is so small at this point in terms of active families that the future is a bit unknown, but we're all praying for the best. πŸ™ So that's really the big focus right now. 

For our part, we're continuing to enjoy the Divine Liturgy and our weekly ritual of attending there. The kids and I go out for coffee afterwards each week, and they also enjoy that quite a bit. This week, the parish hosted a coffee hour after liturgy, so we attended that. We had our baked goods donation in tow, and were warmly embraceed and welcomed. I'm hoping for many, many more of these to come in the future! 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Fourth Sunday after Pascha - Sunday of the Paralytic

Hello everyone, and isn't it lovely that spring has finally sprung? πŸ˜€ At least around here, it's been Second Winter and then Mud Season for quite some time, spring has been hiding, to be sure. πŸ˜‚ But finally, things are budding, the sun is out more, and Paschaltide feels absolutely sublime! As we continue our path towards the feast of the Ascension, we are enjoying these themed Sundays following Pascha. Next year I really need to consider the icon set commemorating these to add to my collection! I really enjoy displaying icons of the current and upcoming feasts. 

This past Sunday we arrived at Divine Liturgy right on time, and guess who forgot her little book for the inevitable situation when the sheets with the Propers were already all claimed?

Alas. :-0 So I did my best, but I simply MUST remember to look through that book and set the ribbons up accordingly *before* Divine Liturgy this weekend! We'll get there. But last Sunday, we learned about Jesus' healing powers, both in the Gospel and in the homily. After liturgy, we gathered to chat about the coffee klutch slated for the following week, and Anne and I plotted our baked good possibilities. I'm not much of a baker, so I ended up picking up a few pastries at the grocery store when we went yesterday, but Anne baked cupcakes this morning to bring! I'm really looking forward to it.

A quiet weekend, but things are going to be getting crazy with end-of-school-year ceremonies and milestones, and this mom is feeling pretty emotional about it. But I'm hanging in there! I'm truly looking forward to summer this year, and all of the lovliness, both spiritual and secular, that that season brings. 


Saturday, April 29, 2023

Third Sunday after Pascha - The Myrrh-bearing Women

Hello all and happy weekend! It's still the lovely Easter season, and we're all navigating along quite well and enjoying it all. My kids have lots going on as they get older and settle in to their hobbies and interests, and so family life has been very happily busy. Today alone we have Henry at a track invitational, and Anne earning her black belt in TaeKwon Do! 

But back to our churchy stuff. 😊 Last weekend, for the first time we had a chance to check out what is called the Typica in the Byzantine rite, which is the prescribed prayers and readings you can follow along with at home when you are unable to attend Divine Liturgy. Henry was a bit under the weather last Sunday morning, Anne was away at the camp for black belt candidates, and I woke up with a stiff neck and upper back that made it hard for me to physically get out of bed, let alone walk about with any level of comfort. 😬 So it was a staying in kind of Sunday for us last weekend!

I have a beautiful prayer book that includes the Typica, and I also have the book with the readings for every day of the year for those using the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. These are both must have for Catholic Nerds, you see. ;-) And so we did our best to navigate along with this beautiful at home liturgy for the first time:

I did pretty well, but I was unsure about some of the terminology (anybody know what a metany is? Also, I've been needing to understand what Kontakion refers to for some time now 😁). I *really* enjoyed having access to the readings:

And it was all quite lovely, and I'm really enjoying the Paschaltide themes. I love some of the traditions I've taken to in my Byzantine rite journey, such as candles and incense, that make home prayer time seem even more special and set aside. This weekend though, we're all healthy, and we'll be back at Divine Liturgy tomorrow!

How is your Easter season going, friends? *heart*

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Second Sunday after Pascha - Thomas Sunday

Hello everyone, and happy continuation of the Pascha season! 😎 I hope that you had a lovely week and are enjoying this special time of year! 

For our part, we enjoyed the week following Pascha which is called Bright Week, and our move into the season of Paschaltide. The first of these themed Sundays following Pascha is Thomas Sunday, and we were off to Divine Liturgy as usual. As you might imagine given the title, the Gospel on this particular Sunday focused on Jesus appearing to the disciples, and Thomas asking to touch the wound in His side. Once again, the sheets with the Propers for this season would have been absolutely CLUTCH, but were all spoken for by the time we arrived. πŸ˜‚ I'm going to break out the book I bought with the Divine Liturgy text in it, and which also includes the Propers as well as other related material. I have been daunted by it and don't yet know how to naviage it and it's ribbons, but I'm going to try! I am very much a gal who loves her missals, and not having access to the Propers is killing me inside. 🀣

After liturgy, we received more blessed bread (which I believe is called the antidoron; this bread is blessed but not consecrated) and we received another blessing with oil on our foreheads. I'm not sure if this is a thing that persists throughout the season of Pascha? Excited to find out. 😎 The blessed bread is quite delicious! It's leavened, as is the bread used at Communion in the Byzantine rite. The faithful consume the antidoron upon receiving it, either as they process back to their spot or upon arriving there. I watched everyone carefully to made sure I did it right (ha!) as this custom is totally new to me!

I'm slowly making my way with the Byzantine rite, but I'm definitely still learning. :) How was either your Thomas Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, April 14, 2023

Pascha - The Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

He is risen! Hello everyone, and happy Easter! We had such a joyful Easter weekend, and I hope that you did as well. This year I wasn't able to get to my usual Triduum liturgies in the Latin rite, though I did pray Stations of the Cross on Good Friday with my friend Irena who was visiting us for the holiday weekend. And rather than the Easter vigil this year, we attended Divine Liturgy on Pascha Sunday in our Byzantine rite parish for the very first time!


And it was LOVELY. We walked in to prayers ongoing with incense. The sheets with the Propers for the day were already gone and in use when we arrived, so we were a bit like fish out of water with regards to the special verses and other liturgical notes for this solemnity. But I'm used to that in my Byzantine rite journey. πŸ˜‚ There were LOTS of additional and substituted prayers in the Propers for Pascha, and I also noticed that we stood in a few places that we ordinarily kneel. It was all quite beautiful, but your resident Catholic Librarian likes to follow along in the book where she can. :-)

After communion, Father blessed some Easter bread, and we all were welcomed to take a cube after liturgy, and he also came around and blessed our foreheads with oil. It was sublime. We chatted with everyone out in the gathering space following liturgy, and the sense of community there is so strong. I'm looking forward to seeing what Paschaltide holds for us there as we journey to Pentecost!

For the remainder of the day, we enjoyed much Easter chocolate and ham. πŸ˜ƒ How was your Easter weekend, dear friends?

Thursday, April 6, 2023

6th Sunday of the Great Fast - Palm Sunday

Hello all, and a very blessed Holy Week to each of you! I'm getting this post out a bit earlier than usual this week so that I can focus on Triduum liturgies and preparing for our Easter weekend, which involves a visit from a good friend from out of town. So lovely! This past Sunday was our very first Palm Sunday in the Byzantine rite, and I was ever so excited to discover the similarities and differences between the two! At this point in the liturgical year (remembering that this begins September 1st in the Eastern Church) we have only rarely ventured to Mass outside of Divine Liturgy at our new Byzantine rite parish. So I'm very excited to relay all of the deets to you!

But speaking of our Byzantine rite parish, a quick diversion to say that we helped out at the Easter Bazaar this past weekend! It was so wonderful to get to know some of the parishoners of the Ukrainian language liturgy, and really feel a part of parish life. I manned the sausage and kraut table. 😎The event was quite successful, and yielded much needed funds for the parish's operational needs! The lack of events due to the pandemic really hurt this small parish, and I'm praying that these fundraising efforts continue to bear fruit and help the parish to begin to thrive and survive well into the future.

Then the next day, we headed back for our very first Palm Sunday in the Byzantine rite. We had our home icon hung out in our kitchen since the vigil the night before! We were all excited to experience Divine Liturgy on this special day.

So, Catholic Librarian Nerd piping in with the details: the readings of the day were from Philippians with the do not be anxious discourse, and the Gospel of John story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. There was no reading of the full Passion narrative the way that there is in the Latin rite, that was one major difference. But these readings were perfectly aligned with the theme of the day.

At the conclusion of liturgy, I was *dying* to know what the palm tradition would be, and it was willows! 😍

Father read a special blessing and showered them with holy water, which of course we're quite familiar with, and we were encouraged to take a few on our way out. I couldn't hurry to the front to scoop ours up fast enough. πŸ˜‚

It was a beautiful liturgy, and we are now incredibly excited for Holy Week!

We will be attending Divine Liturgy on Easter morning at our Byzantine rite parish and I can't wait to report in on that! I'll likely be attending other triduum liturgies in our Latin rite parish, which will be determined as Holy Week unfolds. How is your Holy Week progressing, friends? 


Friday, March 31, 2023

Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Mary of Egypt)

Hello friends, and welcome to our last post before Holy Week, WOW! This Great Lent absolutely flew by, and I've been trying to savor every moment. Holy Week is one of my favorite times of the entire liturgical year, so I'm gearing up for that big time. We have a busy weekend ahead with some enjoyable activities (plays and dance shows to see, the church Easter Bazaar) before launching into the stark splendor of Palm Sunday. This past weekend, we lit nearly all of the candles on our Lenten festal wreath, 5 purple candles. The final 6th candle will be swapped from purple into a special black candle just for Holy Week. 😍 Then the yellow candle for Easter day, and afterwards we'll move into a full set of white candles for the Easter season until Pentecost!


But first, we have some additional journeying to do this Great Lent. This past Sunday, the feast of St. Mary of Egypt, was the one year anniversary of attending my very first Divine Liturgy with my Anne. πŸ₯° I remember Father's homily about her quite well, detailing her life prior to finding Christ, and then her sojourning into the desert to live an isolated life of repentance and faith for many decades prior to her death. Not long before she died, she encountered Saint Zosimas of Palestine, who gave her the Eucharist, and promised to return the following Lent to give her communion again. But the next year when he looked for her, he found that she had died, seemingly soon after he left her the previous year, and thus soon after receiving the Eucharist. The story so made an impression on me that one of the first icons I ever purchased is of St. Mary of Egypt receiving communion from St. Zosimas of Palestine:

This past weekend also marked the closest Sunday to one of the 12 Great Feasts, the feast of the Annunciation, and Father was wearing his Marian blue vestments to mark the occasion. I invested in a bigger set of the Great Feasts icons to hang in our kitchen so that we can all see and learn from them much more easily when we sit down at mealtimes:

Well, I purchased the sets of the spring and summer feasts. I'll get fall and winter ones closer to September and the feast of the Veneration of the Cross, to divide up the cost a bit! Legacy Icons has a great system for that

My kids are both off from school for Holy Week, and thus this past week they had some liturgical activities and confession in lieu of that. I am very much looking forward to the special liturgies and prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours that are coming up!

How are you preparing for Holy Week? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Catholic Book Club: The Handy Little Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours

Hello friends! A little mid-week interjecture for us this Lent with a book review on one of my favorite Catholic topics of all time: the Liturgy of the Hours! This is part of a larger series from Our Sunday Visitor (other volumes include prayer, spiritual communion, adoration, confession and Lent; hark, I may need to pick that last one up!) and this one is written by our very own community member, Barb Szyszkiewicz

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the most meaningful parts of my spiritual life, and I've read a number of books discussing it and/or addressing how to pray it, as it does involve a bit of finessing to get used to how to find your place in the style of volume(s) you ultimately end up choosing. This little book has all the deets on the different options available for praying this treasure of the Church (both physical books and apps), and guidance on how to get started diving in and praying it. It also has a heartwarming SOS section addressing some of the major concerns people have as they navigate their way through the process of making the Hours part of their daily prayer routine. My personal favorite involved what to do if you pray Evening Prayer in the morning, or vice versa, or you pray the completely wrong day and set of prayers. Asking for a friend.


Because it happens to everybody! 

Barb also includes the story of her journey on how she came to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and how she taught her husband to do it, at his request, during the pandemic. I really enjoy personal faith testimonies, and I LOVED this chapter in the book!

As the title would indicate, this is a short book that you will zoom right through, especially if you devour books on your favorite topics like I do. And it does an absolutely marvelous job of both introducing you to this form of prayer if you're new to it/intimidated by it, and getting into some nerdy nitty gritty for those that are more familiar with praying the Hours. I will be referring back to this little gal frequently I can already see, when I have a question about solemnities, feasts or memorials, lol!

I LOVED this guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, and it is now a permanent part of my bookcase for easy reference! If you also read the Handy Little Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and if it inspired you to begin praying (or get back to praying) the Hours!

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. John Climacus)

 Hello everyone, and welcome back to our Lenten journey! 😁 We're really getting there, aren't we? We lit the 4th candle on our festal wreath this past weekend, and by now we're nearly done with the 5th week, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. We are indeed past the halfway point of this important liturgical season, and I always evaluate how my goals are going at that juncture. As is so often the case, they're not going nearly as well as I'd like. πŸ˜‚ I haven't been very consistent with my Liturgy of the Hours, and the book I planned to read this Lent hasn't even been cracked open. My brain has been pretty busy these days fretting over lots of changes with my kids. Totally normal growing up stuff, mind you, but very difficult for anxious mothers!

However, I'm not abandoning ship with Liturgy of the Hours! I'm getting it in when I can, and I just read a new booklet on this devotion that I will be sharing with you next week, stay tuned for that! Very excited about a book review post. And Holy Week will be here soon which always entails magical liturgical things and so many spiritual blessings, so soldier on we must.

This past weekend in the Byzantine rite was themed on St. John Climacus, who is known for describing the image of the Ladder of Divine Ascent in the spiritual life:

From the Orthodox Wiki:

The Ladder of Divine Ascent is an ascetical treatise on avoiding vice and practicing virtue so that at the end, salvation can be obtained. Written by Saint John Climacus initially for monastics, it has become one of the most highly influential and important works used by the Church as far as guiding the faithful to a God-centered life, second only to Holy Scripture.

There is also a related icon known by the same title. It depicts many people climbing a ladder; at the top is Jesus Christ, prepared to receive the climbers into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling.

Fascinating stuff! We gathered after liturgy to chat details about the upcoming Easter Bazaar, and Anne and I are putting together a basket for the raffle themed around gardening. We've had a fun time putting it together! More details on all of that next week.

How is your Lent going as we near Holy Week, friends? I love taking this journey together each year! πŸ€—