|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!