Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Hello friends! We're steadily plugging along into the autumn, aren't we? I've noticed from the monthly bulletins we receive at our Byzantine rite parish that we're settling into this post-Pentecost period for a stretch before we get to the next Great Feast in November, so it does feel a bit like the Ordinary Time I'm used to at this time of year. 

This week, it finally wasn't raining, horray! The kids and I headed off to Divine Liturgy, and the first thing we noticed is that Father was wearing blue vestments this week rather than the gold ones he usually wears. I'm not certain of the significance...ok, quick research shows that blue is used for feasts of the Theotokos (which makes sense, blue is her color!), but I'm not sure why that was associated with this past Sunday...ok, I think I finally got it, hee hee! I see on the Byzantine calendar that Saturday October 1st is marked as Protection of the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, so it seems likely the blue would pervade the entire weekend. 

🙌

Liturgy was lovely, as usual. We're getting more and more used to the responses and cadence of things, and picking up on when to consult the sheet with the weekly Propers on it a bit more. After liturgy, we all gathered out in the hall/entryway to talk about the parish Christmas bazaar next month. They need some help with it, and so the kids and I are happily being roped in. There will be Ukrainian food, a basket raffle, and a "trash to treasure" sale. We'll need to come up with a basket idea, but that's a wonderful project to have! Henry can get some service hours towards what he needs at his Catholic high school, and it's just nice to feel more and more acclimated to the community. 

I've noticed that being around an Eastern liturgy and congregation so much has led to me becoming fairly ambidexterous with my Signs of the Cross. I hold my thumb and first two fingers in the little triangle/Trinity shape that I learned from my Byzantine rite research, and I have to say that I absolutely love that. But I also unconsciously switch between moving my hand from left to right and right to left fairly interchangably. At first, I thought I would stick with my Roman left to right, and later that when I'm attending Divine Liturgy I would switch exclusively to right to left. Neither of those has happened, and my hand moves as inspired each time I do it. 😂 I actually kind of like it, it symbolizes this multi-ritual gal quite well right now. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Wow, how is it already the end of September?! That FLEW by, our first month of living Byzantinely. ;-) I have some thoughts to share on how it's going, but let's build some anticipation and leave that for the end of the post. First, let's chronicle this past Sunday!

This weekend we went back to how the Eastern Church marks what we in the West would call Ordinary Time, and thus we were at the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Our Sunday once again dawned rainy (the new grass we planted is coming in great at least!) as we made our way to Divine Liturgy. Signs are up advertising the Christmas Bazaar that is to come right before Thanksgiving, and we're looking forward to it and feeling a bit more integrated into the parish now. We found our usual seats towards the back of the small worship space, and I let the opening words of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom wash over me:

"In peace, let us pray to the Lord."

"Lord have mercy."

"For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord."

"Lord have mercy."

The cadence and language of the Divine Liturgy really speaks to me. Obviously, there's this type of 'call and response', if you will, in all liturgies, including the post Vatican II one that most of us are used to. But there's something about the way it is arranged and verbalized in the Divine Liturgy that I find so spiritually nourishing. Add in the the scent and flicker of the real candles and the iconography covering the sanctuary, and this is why I feel called to come back to this style of worship week after week.

The Gospel this week featured the story of Jesus finding the fishermen and inviting them to become fishers of men. Father spoke about how we shouldn't be afraid to tackle the challenges that come our way in our daily lives, because God is always there, throughout, to support us and get us to where we need to be. 

After liturgy, we did our happy congregational chatting thing out in the entry area, accompanied by a nice sensation of being more settled and at home there. What I'm feeling at this point (very early on, to be sure) is that I may simply be a Roman Catholic who feels a pull to the Divine Liturgy and Eastern Christian spirituality; thus, I may never formally be a member of the Byzantine rite. Who knows, there are still 11 months to go, but as much as I love the liturgy and everything that I'm learning about the traditions, I'm still pretty attached to my Western ones. I also love daily Mass, as I discussed last week with regards to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. So while this all is definitely feeding my soul spiritually right now, I don't know that I see myself giving up my Roman Catholic roots. But hey. There is still quite a lot of the liturgical year to go, with the Catholic Nerd set loose with icon sprees and every Eastern prayer book imaginable each week. What could go wrong? 

😂

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross

Icon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Welcome back everyone, hope that you are well! It's getting decidedly fall-ish in my part of the world, and I do love this time of year, although I'm mourning the end of summer, for sure. I'm trying to see the positives in cozy fall weather and fun autumn activities like apple picking and pumpkin shopping, so keeping my spirits high! 

It was an interesting week in my little Byzantine adventure over here. Settle in with your coffee or tea and let's chat!

🍵

Last Wednesday, September 14th, was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and I happened to be off from work that day. I noted in our monthly parish bulletin that there was Divine Liturgy that day at 10 am, and excitedly I set off to attend. I had never attended a weekday Divine Liturgy (is it like daily Mass?) and I was ever so curious.


Well. 😂 I had an interesting experience, to be sure! I arrived at the church, and nearly didn't even go in, because there were no other cars in the parking lot and I was sure that I had made a mistake when I consulted the bulletin. But I figured I would try the door, and curiously, it was open. As soon as I entered that informal space at the back of the building, I could hear chanting, so I knew that somehow, I had in fact been right. When I entered the sanctuary though, I quickly tuned into the fact that it was a small crew for weekday Divine Liturgy. It was me, the lovely lady who was singing, and Father. That's it. 😬 I felt a little awkward, because I'm still so new to the Divine Liturgy, and the liturgy was taking place in Ukrainian (which I knew was likely to be the case), but I figured I would get what I could from context and just being present. I set myself up in the back and just breathed in being in that space, which I absolutely love.

In the spot before the iconostasis where the current seasonal icon is usually set up, there was a display with a cross and flowers. I was curious about liturgical colors in the Byzantine rite, so I did a little research:


Sure enough, the cloth surrounding the cross display was red. I'm already mourning the loss of rose pink for Advent, but we'll talk about that in a few months. 😅 

Quickly, Father became aware of my presence, and he *came down off the altar* to hand me a sheet with the readings and Propers on it in both Ukrainian and English, and pointed out where we were, telling me that they were so happy that I was there. After he went back to the altar, they switched to English so that I could follow along with them.

🥰

I felt very welcomed and at home. Occasionally, they switched back to Ukrainian for short stretches, but I easily followed along with the English side of my sheet. What wasn't on the sheet, I found in the Divine Liturgy missal book thingy. 😎 Slowly but surely, I'm figuring things out there.

At the end of the liturgy, there was a special session of bowing and recitations in front of the cross for both Father and our tiny congregation. 

Back out in the hallway after liturgy, Father greeted me and asked if I was able to follow along. I assured him that I was, and we chatted briefly about the kids and about how weekly envelopes work in that parish, which I had been wondering about.

It was LOVELY. The richness in that tradition is still keeping me entranced and engaged. In the future, I'm not sure how I'll handle weekday Divine Liturgy opportunities. They went out of their way to make me feel at home, which I appreciate more than I can ever fully express, but the thought did cross my mind that it may be a better fit for me to go to daily Mass, especially when the feast days overlap in both traditions, like this one does. Plus, the schedule for daily Mass often works better with my work schedule, as I'm not often fully off from work during the week (though usually working from home 1-2 days). So the jury is still out on that one, but this weekday jaunt with something new was a very enjoyable adventure. 

The following Sunday was officially the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross on the Byzantine calendar, but at my son's Catholic high school it was the day for his class liturgy, so we went to Mass over there this week. I missed the Divine Liturgy, for sure, but it felt comfortable being back at Mass, and I was happy to be with Henry for this special event. Later the same day, we did head to our Byzantine rite parish for the big Ukrainian festival/fundraiser they were hosting, and picked up pierogies, sauerkraut and sausage for dinner. This was a collaborative effort of the three Byzantine rite parishes in our region, and the church hall was PACKED! It was nice to see.

Next week we will be back at Divine Liturgy, and our march towards Advent continues! Do they do Advent in the Byzantine rite? 🤔 We're going to be finding out soon, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sunday Before the Exaltation of the Cross

My adorable icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos      
Hello friends! Hope you're doing well this lovely        September day. This past weekend fell between two of the Great Feasts in the Eastern tradition: The Nativity of the Theotokos (Mother of God) and the Exaltation of the Cross. The Exaltation of the Cross falls on September 14th in both the East and the West, actually. But in the East, it is considered one of the twelve Great Feasts.

I am enjoying my set of small icons of the Great Feasts. I keep the current one propped up on the kitchen table, so that we can all see it, and I can pray with it there on the days when I'm working from home. This tangible reminder of the liturgical calendar is really special to me.

I have yet to catch a weekday Divine Liturgy because of my work schedule, unfortunately, but I'm hoping that will change coming up here for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. More on that next week!

But this week dawned rainy again as the kids and I made our way to Divine Liturgy. I love seeing the same Great Feast icon up near the altar as the little one we have on our kitchen table. *heart* 

In the homily, Father talked about crosses, how Christ's was literal and ours figurative in the form of challenges that we face each day. He also spoke about how Jesus lives in each of our hearts as we navigate all of this, He is always there.

It was a lovely liturgy, and afterwards during the announcements, Father reminded us that next weekend is the big Ukrainian festival in our area. The three local Byzantine rite parishes are all contributing, but our parish hall will be the venue. There will be a raffle and theme baskets, plus plenty of delicious Ukrainian food for sale, all to benefit the Ukraine. We're planning on attending, and are very excited, our first parish festival! We stayed and chatted with everyone after the liturgy, as has become our custom, and we're slowly getting to know people there. It's a nice feeling. I still don't know exactly where this is all headed, but I'm very much enjoying the journey.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Some calendar nerdiness this week, enjoy! 😎

Happy September eveyone, and happy new liturgical year to those in the Byzantine rite! 😀 I'm used to the Latin Rite changing of the Church year being a fully new liturgical season with Advent, and that's not the case in the Eastern Church. There's a definite Happy New Year vibe, but the rotation of the liturgical weeks just chugs along as it organically does, and September 1st will fall where it may. This year, we're at the Thirteenth Week after Pentecost, horray! Most (all? still looking into this) of the Byzantine rite uses the Gregorian calendar to set the date of Easter, from which so much of the rest of the liturgical calendar ebbs and flows, and this is the same as the Western Church. Our Eastern Orthodox friends use the Julian calendar, and that's why the date for Easter is oftentimes different between their tradition and ours (but occasionally it syncs up, which is lovely!). 

I did a little research (as I am wont to do 🤓) and this being the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost syncs up with the old traditional calendar that the Western Church used to use (in the modern Latin rite this past Sunday was the Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time). There are some differences between East and West still in terms of calendar feasts (there is no Ash Wednesday in the Eastern tradition, for instance, but we'll come back to that early next year!), but those in both rites that follow the traditional calendar that is used in the Catholic Extraordinary Form count the weeks from Pentecost in this fashion. Does any of this make sense as I am hoping it does? 😂 I find calendar research so fascinating, but I may be in the minority on this one!

Our first Sunday in our Year of Byzantine rite Study dawned rainy, which we were actually glad for since we had just planted a yard full of grass seed! We had our front and back porches replaced this summer, and the construction equipment tore up both sections of the yard quite badly. So we felt blessed by the rain! 

It also dawned with quite a surprise: Mike casually mentioning to me that he would like to attend Divine Liturgy with us. So we attended Divine Liturgy as a full family together for the very first time!

*sobs*

It was very lovely. Anne and I lit a candle after liturgy for my mom, who hadn't been feeling well, and everyone congregated outside the worship space, curious about Mike. So he got some handshakes and greetings all around, and everyone chatted for a bit, including Father. Now that he's been initiated, I'm certain that Mike will be asked after each and every week. 😁 Asking about his impressions after we were back in the car, Mike reported in enjoying the liturgy, and said that he would be back. He's not a weekly church goer, but I'm very encouraged by his interest here! It was a definite blessing as we began our new year. 💗

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

...and where we're at now in our Byzantine adventure

Icons and beeswax...but I still pray the Latin rite Liturgy of the Hours

"So Sweetie, I've noticed that the icons about the house seem to be multiplying." 🤔😉

"Really? Are you sure?" 🤷 😳

🤣

Hello friends, and welcome back! We're nearly to the start of the Eastern liturgical year, and I'm here to finish up our family story of how we're embarking on a journey to explore the Byzantine rite for the next year. Settle in with the comforting beverage of your choice!

🥤

Once Anne and I had attended the Divine Liturgy a few times, she told me that she loved it there, and was interested in pursuing the Byzantine rite much more permanently. Anne isn't yet at the age that our diocese confers the Sacrament of Confirmation, and her growing into her faith and making it her own is something I take very seriously. I told her we could start attending sometimes, but that we were not yet in a position to fully leave our Latin rite parish. For one thing, we needed to do much more discernment, but also, our beloved pastor Fr. Joe was set to retire within the next few months, and I didn't want to miss out on the time we had remaining with him. The kids both adore him, and thus they agreed on that front. And so through Memorial Day weekend, which was Father's last before retiring, we were attending the 11 am Mass at our home parish. I was very sad as we left the church after that Mass, thinking that I felt, while very excited about the new energy in my faith life, a bit adrift spiritually. 

We started off the next week by taking Henry with us to Divine Liturgy for the first time, and I thought he would balk at the 9 am start time. Hard sell right there for a sleepy 16 year old. 😬 Well, promise of a caffeinated beverage at Dunkin' Donuts after liturgy fixed that little problem, and he willingly got up and came with us. I was anxious for his reaction afterwards, and he was pretty enthusiastic. You must understand, my son is extremely reserved and laid back, a real man of few words. His:

"Yeah, I liked it. I'm good with us coming here on Sundays."

...is pretty much a ringing endorsement of volcanic proportions. 🤣

And so followed a summer of Divine Liturgy. We attended Mass back at our Latin rite parish only twice, once when the priest was out of town and there was no English language Divine Liturgy, and once when Fr. Joe was back in our home parish to sub. On the first of those two times, it had been close to two months since we had last attended Mass, and I have to admit I was quite shocked to find that I felt...

Weird. The tide had turned. Instead of feeling out of sorts at the completely new-to-me Divine Liturgy, I now felt out of place at Mass and longed for the Byzantine rite style of worship. That definitely took me by surprise!

Since those initial weeks, the congregation at the English Divine Liturgy got curious about us, and suddenly we noticed signs in the entryway for an upcoming "koffee klutch" after liturgy. I had noticed people starting to greet us when we came and went at liturgy each week, and the congregation is so small that we were definitely noticable as newcomers! Attending the coffee hour brought everyone out of the woodwork, asking us how we liked the church and just about ourselves generally. I found out that just about all of them fell into one of two groups: (1) were raised in the Byzantine rite since childhood, or (2) were Latin rite, and rather fell into attending the Divine Liturgy and took a liking to it (these are my fellow left to right shoulder crossers). A few of them were from a Byzantine rite parish in a town about 20 miles north that had closed during the pandemic, and made the drive for a new Byzantine rite home. We were enthusiastically embraced and welcomed to the parish. 

So where am I at now? Well, I love the Divine Liturgy. I LOVE IT. I also love the Eastern style traditions and devotions that I am learning about, though I know that I still have so much to learn! I'm very much looking forward to this year of Byzantine rite exploration. I feel strange attending Mass. At the same time, I still pray the Liturgy of the Hours and the rosary, these are 2 Western devotions that I cannot see myself letting go of. There are liturgical Hours in the Byzantine tradition as well, but...I cannot for the life of me figure out how to pray them. 😂 I have countless Eastern prayer books and have watched many a YouTube video, but I'm still like a fish out of water, flopping around with ribbons and hardbound prayer books all akimbo. Maybe this will fall into place for me at some point? I don't know. I get the feeling this isn't as designed for personal devotion the way the Western style LotH is, but I'm truly coming at this from a place of ignorance, I know so little about it. For the time being, I don't think there's anything wrong with me being multi-rite and figuring out where God is leading me.

The kids are also quite content at the Byzantine rite parish, and it's so lovely to actually have them willingly talk to me about liturgical and other churchy matters. My cute husband Mike has also been quite intrigued by our adventures ("You're becoming Orthodox?" "Nope, still Catholic, just Eastern!" "Really? I've never heard of this. Tell me more!"). It feels like a real family affair with all of us growing in our respective spiritual places. 🥰

So that's where we're at. The kids and I will be at Divine Liturgy on this coming Sunday, the first of the new liturgical year,🥳 and it'll be... *consults bulletin* ...the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. That was a bit anti-climactic, wasn't it? 🤣 I believe the Extraordinary Form in the Latin rite is similar with all of this counting down from Pentecost. Your Catholic Librarian will be researching and reporting in!!! 👀 And I CAN'T.WAIT!!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

How our Byzantine rite adventure began...

             Budding icon wall in our kitchen <3                 
 So, I have to say...it's really good to be back!! I'm feeling  so excited about this project and about journaling it with all of you. I've gotten a very warm response about the topic and about my coming back, at least temporarily, to blogging. Thank you so much!

Since we have just over a week before the September 1st start to our new liturgical year, I thought I would dedicate this week's post to my introduction to the Byzantine rite and how I got started on this spiritual journey. The spark didn't happen all that long ago, which is why I'm looking forward to settling in for lots of good Catholic Nerd learning and prayer this upcoming year, but I thought it would be fun to share how this all got started.

A year or so ago, my good friend Allison and her family became members of a Catholic church that celebrates the liturgy in the Byzantine rite. They had been attending Divine Liturgy at this Ukrainian Catholic Church near their home for some time prior, and their journey caused me to become interested in learning about Eastern liturgies and traditions. After a solid 9 months of innocently collecting icons, beeswax candles, and Eastern prayer books, I figured there was something more to all of this than a passing curiosity. I was clearly drawn to this type of spirituality, so I figured it would be interesting to actually attend a Byzantine rite Divine Liturgy.

I did a little research, and found 3 Byzantine rite parishes in our area, one of which was a 5 minute drive from our home. A peek at their website revealed that it was several years out of date, so one day Anne and I did a quick drive by: the big sign outside let us know that liturgy celebrated in English was at 9 am on Sunday mornings, Ukrainian at 10:30 am. I knew that the start time would be a hard sell for my love-to-sleep-in preteen and teenaged children 😬, but after our little field trip, Anne was curious and game to try it out. Henry was feeling under the weather the next Sunday, so Anne and I set off as a twosome for the first installment in our Byzantine adventure.

I have to admit, while I was feeling excited, I was also quite nervous! As a lifelong Catholic, I wasn't used to feeling so utterly out of my element in attending church on Sunday. But I truly knew very little on what to expect; as in, we couldn't find the sanctuary right away after we entered the building, this is the level of cluelessness we're dealing wtih here. 😂 We entered from the back parking lot, and there was a nice entry area with a few hallways leading off in different directions, and no obvious door to the worship space. After exiting back outside, thinking that perhaps we needed to enter from the front, we saw an actual person slip into the back door. I not-so-discreetly jogged over to follow and spy on them. 🤣

And thus we found the door. And once we entered, well. I was transported. The icon screen (iconostasis), the flicker and scent of candles and incense, the absolute silence prior to the start of the liturgy, the additional imagery portrayed on beautiful icons scattered around the space...it all lifts the mind and heart to the Father using all of our senses.  

I could see the priest moving around behind the iconostasis and so we quickly hurried to find a seat. This church does have pews, though this is not always the case in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. We genuflected and crossed ourselves in our usual Latin rite style (left shoulder to right shoulder) likely making us stick out with big WESTERN signs above our heads, but it couldn't be helped. We were clearly visitors, and just eager to observe and learn. We grabbed the books that were provided in the pew (these look like missals to me, but almost certainly are not actually called missals) and prepared to fumble along. The priest opened the center doors of the iconostasis (called the Royal Doors, I later learned) and the liturgy began.

The first thing I noticed besides the beautiful prayers and language of the liturgy, was that in the Byzantine rite, one crosses oneself A LOT. Anytime the Trinity is invoked, the congregation crosses themselves, and even sometimes when it is not, there are Signs of the Cross then, too. The Sign of the Cross in the Eastern tradition is made from right shoulder to left shoulder, and one holds their thumb and first two fingers in a little triangle as they do it, in a manner that harkens the Trinity. So beautiful! But out of familiarity I kept to my usual way of doing it as I observed my surroundings, and I noticed that we were not the only ones in the small congregation who used the Western style of crossing. I was just trying to keep up with the frequency, and anytime I missed one, Anne elbowed me to scold me. 😂 Everything felt unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time, and just utterly, off-the-charts stunning. 

It was very early April, and the priest dedicated his homily to talking about St. Mary of Egypt, since her feast is celebrated in the Byzantine rite on April 1st. I had never heard of St. Mary of Egypt, and I was practically taking notes while he spoke, wild-eyed with excited interest. We now have her icon hanging in our little icon wall in the kitchen, it's the one in farthest left in the photo up at the top of this post. We then progressed through the beautiful liturgy until we got the part I was most nervous about: Communion. 

In the East, the Eucharist is prepared with leavened bread, and it is administered, soaked in the Precious Blood, via being spooned into your mouth by the priest. I wanted to sit and observe that first week, until we felt more comfortable, but I will say that my daughter is brave and fearless. She was goin' in, and so I was, too. We did wait until we watched most of the rest of the congregation receive (they opened their mouths wide and tipped their heads back a bit) before proceeding into the line. And it was GREAT. I love receiving in the mouth, which I haven't been able to do since the pandemic started. 

After the liturgy concluded, Father had a few announcements about upcoming fundraisers and other small events, and I could feel the warmth from the small congregation. They are a small but mighty crew. 

We went back again sometime within that month (and on a week when Henry had a track event and still wasn't with us, but I'll circle back to him next week, because he comes into play shortly!) and this time, Father came up to us after the liturgy to introduce himself and welcome us. Anne immediately informed him that she would like to switch rites and become Byzantine. 😳😂 She isn't shy, that child. I was enjoying our sessions at Divine Liturgy, for sure, but I still felt solidly attached to our Latin rite parish and to my Western devotions and traditions. 

OK, this story will be continued next week! We have Henry coming down the pike further into the spring, along with our beloved pastor Fr. Joe (in our Latin rite parish) retiring over Memorial Day weekend, and a gradual shift towards our becoming summer regulars and more comfortable at Divine Liturgy, including enthusiastic invitations to something called 'Koffee Klutch.' Talk to you then!

Friday, August 19, 2022

A journey East as I explore the Byzantine rite this upcoming liturgical year...

         Morning Prayer with your multi-rite-loving Catholic Librarian            
All! 😀 It's been a little while, hasn't it?! I have indeed missed you, but I have to say that the break from blogging served me well. Being back to teaching in person again at my job, as well as performing in person again in my dance side gig, combined with the busy ages that my kids are at right now (so much chauffering after school, SO MUCH) meant that I not only had less time, but less mental bandwidth with which to focus on this blog. I was also unsure of the place of blogs in our modern social media culture, and thought that the time was right to pause, discern and re-evaluate. I was content to just leave it be until (or even if) I ever felt strongly compelled to pick it back up again. All things have their season, and this past Lent I felt that maybe my blogging season had come to it's natural end. 

But then something interesting happened. This spring, my kids and I decided to check out an Eastern rite Divine Liturgy as something different to explore in our family faith life. I was hoping to spark some semblance of interest within my utterly lukewarm preteen and teenaged children for their faith ("MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM, why do we have to go to church AGAIN?! Didn't we just go last week?!") For myself, a tried and true Cradle Catholic Nerd, I just wanted to experience a liturgy that I had never witnessed before. My good friend Allison and her family had recently become members of the Byzantine rite, so I figured we'd look there. Lo and behold, our area held two local Ukranian Catholic Churches that are part of the Byzantine rite, one of which was five minutes from our home.

(☝ this is an important point. We're attending an Eastern Catholic church, not an Eastern Orthodox one. I very much love and admire our Orthodox kin, but I'm staying Catholic, I promise!)

And, well. It's a long story, but God is moving in my heart, and both me (AND THE CHILDREN 🙌) are falling completely head over heals in love with the Byzantine rite and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostym. I cannot even fully articulate how much it has captivated me and brightened my entire journey of faith. It's like I feel an actual burning in my heart as I discover and learn more about it. I'm not entirely sure if this is something that will come and go in my spiritual life, or if I'm being led more permanently towards the Eastern lung of our faith, but refreshingly, I'm not worried about it one way or another. I figure, God will fill me in, right? Regardless of which one it is, something good is happening in our family's faith life. Having my kids curious and interested in attending church, and talking to me in the car about the Eastern traditions and liturgy we are experiencing, rather than grumpily getting pulled along with me, has been such a blessing to me.

Thus, while I was at liturgy a few weeks ago, the thought came to me:

"Maybe I would enjoy journaling this experience on my blog."

Whoa. I hadn't even really thought about this blog in five months, aside from the ongoing prayer threads over in our private Facebook group. In the Eastern tradition, the new liturgical year doesn't start with Advent, like it does in our Latin rite. It starts on September 1st. And it's... mid-August. That just seems like providentially good timing, does it not?

And so for the next liturgical year, I will be blogging weekly (or at least, trying my best to do so weekly!) with my journey as a Roman Catholic falling in love with the Byzantine rite. I don't know where this is headed, but I can never resist a good Year Doing The Thing story. For a full liturgical year, I will be exploring the Byzantine rite, and we'll see where it takes me. And my precious children, whose souls have been entrusted to me by the Father. As their only practicing Catholic parent (my adorable husband Mike is very, very supportive of all of this, but as you all know, he's not personally religious) it's been an uphill battle getting the children interested in their faith, especially beyond the glory years of saint stories and rosaries before bed. Anne is 11 now, and Henry is 16. They are evolving, slowly but surely, into young adults, and my job as their mother doing her best to raise them Catholic must evolve too. Importantly, I have realized that I must pay attention. Both to God's leading, and to their signals. With both of them so enthused about attending Divine Liturgy, I knew that this was a sign.

What I'd like to do each week is reflect upon our experience at Divine Liturgy that previous Sunday, and work our way through the entire Byzantine liturgical calendar, September to September. I'll sprinkle in what we're learning about Eastern traditions as I go. Before we get to that, next week I'll post a bit more about our initial experiences with attending Divine Liturgy for the very first time as Roman Catholics (like fish out of water, I tell you, making all manner of Western gestures 😂) and our falling in love with the traditions we have encountered so far. That isn't all that much, since we've only been attending Divine Liturgy weekly since the pastor at our home parish retired over Memorial Day weekend. There is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF TO COME. Our first Christmas (see, I'm already doing this wrong, they call it the Nativity of Our Lord in the Eastern tradition, I think!), experiencing all of the 12 Great Feasts, our first Great Lent and Pascha! 

😍😍😍

All. I literally cannot wait! We're settling into our new Byzantine rite church with weekly liturgy and enthusiastic invitations to the monthly parish coffee hour, and we're learning and feeling more at home each week. I am so excited to share it all with you. 🤗

Importantly, one of the reasons I'm coming back to blogging (at least for the next year) is that I'm not putting pressure on myself. This is a self-journey of exploration, and though I'm so grateful to share this with whoever wishes to accompany me along the way, I'm really doing it for myself, and for my kids. I almost certainly won't post on a consistent day of the week from week-to-week, and there may even be weeks where I can't post at all for unforeseeable reasons. But all I can say is that I feel excited and motivated to write again, and that this budding flame in my heart is giving my spirit life right now. I don't know how many people regularly read blogs anymore, but I figure it really doesn't matter. Everything happens for a reason. In the end, I'll have a chronicle of this part of my love affair with my faith to reflect back on, and for my children to reflect back on, perhaps at a future point in their lives during which they really need a life buoy back home to Christ and His Church. 

I'll see you all next week. We'll talk a bit about our experiences being new to the Divine Liturgy ("does that thing he's swingin' around have incense in it?!"), about lighting real beeswax candles (*whispers* "where do I put it? is that what the sand is for?!") and about crossing ourselves ("MOM. You missed 3 Signs of the Cross, keep up!!"). See you then!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Discerning the future of the blog...

"pink rose" by Barbara is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Sooo, apparently for Lent I have given up posting on my blog. 😂 For quite some time now, I've been discerning how to move forward with my blog and/or whether to continue. Our landscape has changed so much technologically over the years, and people really aren't perusing the blogosphere the way they used to. I wonder to myself how relevant blogs are in our current world? In addition to that, between my job, my family, and my dancing projects, I haven't really had a lot of time to write. So that's what has been going on behind the scenes, if you will.

At the same time, I am still just as in love with my Catholic faith as ever, and I still feel that God is calling me to share it creatively in some fashion. I'm just figuring out exactly how. I've come to a place in my life wherein I know that I don't need to rush or push this, God will show me the path when He is ready for me to see it. So, I'm sure that something interesting is coming down the pike (have I told you about the new fascination I have with the Byzantine rite? No, I haven't, because I haven't had time to write a blog post, LOL! But there's some great fodder there!) and when I figure out what exactly God wants me to do, I will share it. In the meantime, I hope that everyone is having a beautiful and fruitful Lent!
This week, the mid-point of Lent, I'm challening myself to pray a Morning Offering each day. Do you have a favorite Morning Offering? Feel free to leave a link in the comments!

 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Lent in a Time of War

This Friday, our last before Lent (!!!), I have a post from my sister Shauna'h to share. 💜 I think we all have a lot on our hearts and minds as we approach Lent 2022, and Shauna'h has some beautiful resources to share with us. I'll be back with you soon as we journey through this pivotal season in our liturgical year. 


I had a much different piece planned for Life of a Catholic Librarian today. I was going to cheer you on as you plan your Lent and institute new prayer routines and visual reminders of your faith, just as Tiffany is. I was going to walk you through how my online program, Everyday Lenten Holiness, can help you form these routines and keep momentum with them to see you through until Easter Sunday and beyond. In some ways we will still talk about those things, but I couldn’t bear to cheerfully write to you while our collective hearts are shattered by the developing situation in Ukraine.

Lent is a time of drawing closer to God through prayer, sacrifice, and giving to the poor. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully.”


Lent has suddenly taken on a new focus for me. There are areas of my life that I would like to clean up with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Many of my plans for what I will add in and take out remain the same, although others are developing differently. Perhaps you feel the same way, particularly in light of the Holy Father’s call to a “Day of Fasting for Peace” on Ash Wednesday. I feel helpless and, at times, hopeless as I watch events unfold in Ukraine. And I know that means it’s time to sink deeply into prayer and fasting.


Here are some ideas for bringing Ukraine into your Lenten goals and routines:


  1. Prayer:

    1. Novena for Peace in Ukraine

    2. Daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy and/or Rosary

    3. Offer your daily joys and sufferings for peace in Ukraine with a Morning Offering

    4. Daily Prayer to the Mother of God

    5. Pray for the dead

  2. Fasting:

    1. Fast one day per week, perhaps on Fridays alongside your abstinence from meat

    2. Abstain from an idea of food that you love, such as sweets, alcohol, etc., and offer up that sacrifice for peace in Ukraine

    3. Fast from a habit that is drawing you closer to sin, such as excessive use of social media that elicits anger or despair, and offer up that sacrifice. Replace this with a habit that draws you closer to God, such as reading a spiritual classic, listening to sacred music, or even silence

  3. Almsgiving:

    1. Donate money or goods to your local Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement initiatives

    2. Donate blood to the Red Cross

    3. Donate directly to organizations assisting in Ukraine


These are just ideas to get your mental wheels turning, but I hope you bring Ukraine into your Lent somehow. It feels unnatural to advertise on a day like today, but I want to encourage you to learn more about Everyday Lenten Holiness if that is something that speaks to you. It will help you discern your Lenten goals in alignment with God’s will, and then translate those into realistic routines. Everyday Lenten Holiness includes:


  • Self-paced audio, video, and text-based lessons with simple and practical ways to integrate prayer into your days

  • Action Guides for tackling prayer in each core time of your days and weeks

  • Video crash course on how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours

  • Virtual prayer corner with various options for live-streamed Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, prayer, and ambiance for your prayer times

  • Community support and accountability through the process of changing your environment and mindset about making space for God

  • Three weekly accountability challenges to keep you on track with your Lenten goals: the first week of Lent, Laetare (4th week of Lent), and Holy Week

  • Holy Week intensive to end Lent on a high note

  • Easter Octave suggestions to keep and deepen your Lenten growth and habits through the Easter season and beyond


You will develop the confidence to trust God and to trust yourself to implement change. I want to help as many women as possible, particularly in light of world events. You can use coupon code UKRAINE for $30 off the course and lifetime access to the materials, so you can explore them outside of Lent, as well. Enroll by Ash Wednesday to kick start your Lent with the support of your fellow sisters in holiness. 


Thank you for the opportunity to share your space today. May God bless you, and may God bless the people of Ukraine.