|Morning Prayer with your multi-rite-loving Catholic Librarian
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!