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