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. 😂 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!
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Monday, May 15, 2023
|We've been doing lots of gardening these days!|
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. 🙏 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
Hello everyone, and isn't it lovely that spring has finally sprung? 😀 At least around here, it's been Second Winter and then Mud Season for quite some time, spring has been hiding, to be sure. 😂 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
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:
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
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. 😂 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
Thursday, April 6, 2023
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. 😂
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
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!
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
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! 🤗
Friday, March 17, 2023
This past Sunday in the Byzantine rite was themed after the Veneration of the Cross. This is an additional contemplation of this particular meditation, as it is also on the Byzantine Church calendar for mid-September. Father was wearing beautiful red vestments for the occasion, and there was a special litany following Divine Liturgy in which we all venerated the cross. It was a beautiful addition to the liturgy. We're still praying along with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, though I know many churches use the Liturgy of St. Basil during Great Lent. I have never attended that particular liturgy. :)
We lit our 3 candles though Easter still seems a bit off, Lent is feeling settled in in the best possible way. I added a few new additions to our family icon library. St. Patrick, of course!
Friday, March 10, 2023
Speaking of such, we lit the second candle on our Lenten festal wreath on Sunday! Our Byzantine rite parish also hosted the first coffee hour of the new year (we brought some danish!), and we're really feeling more and more at home there. Everyone who attends the 9 am English language liturgy knows us know, and we feel a lovely kinship with them. It was nice to socialize and unwind with everyone for a spell after liturgy. Planning is in high gear for the Easter Bazaar, and I'm looking forward to helping out and becoming more immersed in parish life. Thus, when I found out that the parish was having a meeting on Thursday evening for all interested parishoners, I put that into my calendar.
Thursday evening found me knitting at a table surrounded by icons and learning more about the challenging financial place that the parish is in. At this particular parish, it's difficult to get any kind of influx of new members outside of family members of existing members, and as the parish ages, there are less and less active members. Less active members means less income in the form of donations, and of course, the pandemic meant less events in the past few years from which quite a bit of fundraising usually resulted. So we spent some time strategizing events for the remainder of the calendar year, which was a great feeling. I'm currently praying a novena to St. Patrick that the parish is able to raise the funds that it needs to pay its' debts and stay afloat financially. 🙏 The Easter Bazaar is Palm Sunday weekend and we're all looking forward to it.
How is your Great Lent progressing, friends? I need to get started on some of my spiritual reading, but I do feel like it's been quite a spiritual fruitful season for me so far!
Friday, March 3, 2023
|Lit the first candle on Ash Wednesday in our bi-rite family!|
First of all, the fabulous Legacy Icons has added Lenten candles that will work in the festal wreath I acquired for the 6 week season of Christmas preparation/St. Philip's Fast in the Eastern rites. I was SO EXCITED for this idea, and acquired them forthwith. 😂 There are also candles for Easter and Pentecost seasons, but we'll save that excitement for another time. ;-)
The First Sunday of Great Lent at Divine Liturgy found us focusing on iconography. I love the themed weeks in the Byzantine rite, and the lead up to Lent and then Great Lent itself has some great ones. This particular Sunday is called the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and I had no idea what that even meant, and come to find out via our handy theme, that it indicates the triumph over the iconoclasts in the ninth century. So our theme for the Sunday of Orthodoxy is the Commemoration of Holy Images. Awesome, right?!
In that same vein on themes, within our Byzantine rite parish, one of the things I'm enjoying is the bigger-picture-at-a-glance monthly bulletin. As a Latin rite Catholic, I was very used to the weekly variety, which included not only information on liturgies for the week, but also parish, Catholic schools and diocesan activities. I *think* this is common in Latin rite parishes, though I'm sure that it can vary. Our Byzantine rite parish is so small (and indeed, the entire regional eparchy, which from what I understand is the Eastern rites version of dioceses), that a monthly bulletin definitely makes much more sense. At first, I missed the weekly influx of new churchy news, but this monthly style has really grown on me. The focus is almost entirely liturgical, unless there is a big parish event coming up, like one of the seasonal bazaars, or a Ukrainian fundraiser, and then that will be printed on the front or back as well. And I like how you can see what is coming up more fully in the liturgical calendar, for instance, in March we have:
- Second Sunday of the Great Fast: St. Gregory of Palamas
- Third Sunday of the Great Fast: Veneration of the Holy Cross
- Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast: St. John Climacus
- Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast: Our Venerable Mother, Mary of Egypt
St. Mary of Egypt marks the anniversay of the very first Divine Liturgy that I ever attended, and that was with Anne! This all feels so special. 🥰
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Hello all! I was teaching yesterday, so our post this week is slightly askew in the usual calendar, but here we are to continue our Lenten journey together! Indeed Lent has already begun, but we still need to chronicle the final Sunday prior to Lent, Cheesefare Sunday!
Sadly, there was no Feast Of All Cheeses happening at our parish on this particular Sunday 🤣 It serves as a reminder of the Great Fast that is to come, and all of the sacrifice that is involved. We're following (my family, that is) the Western Church fast, rather than the Eastern one, so we're still consuming dairy, but still, the point is quite impressive.
Friday, February 17, 2023
|The Byzantine rite does *not* have Ash Wednesday, I'm just still a Latin rite gal at heart!|
This past Sunday found us with much anticipation at our Byzantine rite parish, where it was Meatfare Sunday. I knew that this involved a celebration of eating meat prior to giving it up for all of Lent until Easter/Pascha, and wondered if this would involve a parish meal with vats of meat served about? Nope. 😂 Just a reminder that the Great Fast is approaching!
This particular Sunday also featured the Gospel reading of the Last Judgment, which is a precursor to next Sunday, with it's focus on it being Cheesefare (Eastern Christians give up dairy for Lent, too 😬) as well as Forgiveness Sunday. I read about Forgiveness Sunday in a memoir I read recently about an Orthodox congregation. I'll be excited to report in on this next week!
For my part, I have my Lenten devotions, books and icons all planned out, and am rearing to go! I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you here on this blog. Despite my happy exploration of the Byzantine rite, I am still very much a Latin rite Catholic, and thus I will be procuring ashes next week on Ash Wednesday. As I mention in the image caption, the Byzantine rite does not have a tradition of Ash Wednesday. Lent begins for them this coming Monday following Cheesefare Sunday. This day is called Clean Monday, and is officially the start of the Great Fast.
I'm going to be honest and admit that I will not be participating in the full great fasting experience. I just know that it will not be possible to make such a dramatic shift with regards to family meals! However, we will as ever be abstaining from meat on all Fridays of Lent, as well as on Ash Wednesday, and fasting on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (in the Latin rite sense of 1 full meal and 2 smaller ones). I'm also going to try and do my best to incorporate abstaining from meat on all Wednesdays of Lent, so wish me luck on this! My family are meat lovers, to be sure.
What are your plans for this upcoming Ash Wednesday and first week of Lent? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Friday, February 10, 2023
This past Sunday was another themed on in the leadup to Great Lent in the Byzantine rite, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. We went old school though, if you will, in that we attended Mass at our Latin rite parish. Our Byzantine rite priest was out of town, so the only Divine Liturgy offered was in Ukrainian. The kids and I agreed it was a good week to visit back with our registered parish.
And it was lovely. We've gotten so used to going to church earlier on Sundays (9 am Divine Liturgy) that we got up and went to the 8 am Mass rather than our habit of 11 am. I mean, the children actually advocated for the earlier timeslot, I was in disbelief. :-0 This coming weekend we're looking forward to heading back to Divine Liturgy, and it's Meatfare Sunday!
In the meantime, I've been making my plans for Lent. I am planning to make my way through "Set the World on Fire" a personal retreat featuring writings from the female doctors of the Church, and I am STOKED. It should take about a month to work through, so I'm planning on starting early on in Lent to free up space to prepare for and participate fully in Holy Week. Interestingly, in the Eastern rites, there is no Ash Wednesday tradition, Great Lent starts the Monday after Cheesefare Sunday (so this year, that is February 20th in the Gregorian Calendar). So I'll likely begin the retreat either that Monday the 20th, or the following week of the 27th. I'll keep you posted in case anybody else wants to read along! And we'll talk all about these Byzantine rite Great Lent tidbits more in the coming weeks as this all comes to pass!
How are all of your Lenten plans coming along?
Friday, February 3, 2023
Friday, January 27, 2023
This past Sunday we were back at Divine Liturgy armed with our new parish envelopes, and really feeling like we belonged.
Christmas decorations were down, and I saw this week somewhere the time between Theophany and upcoming Candlemas referred to as "long Christmas season." Not sure if this is a defined thing or just someone's way of articulating a larger phenomena, but I got the feeling that Christmas decor stays up through Theophany, and then comes down sometime shortly after that, although the season doesn't officially end until Candlemas on February 2nd. This week had a theme of the Gospel story regarding Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and Father's homily focused on our faith, especially as we journey towards what he called Great Lent.
Our first sighting of the phrase Great Lent!
I AM SO EXCITED. Yes, I get excited about Lent! And how much better when the word Great is added to it!! 😂 This coming Sunday is officially our first pre-Lenten preparation Sunday, and I'm simpering with delight! Our first focus is on the Publican and the Pharisee, and I'll be reporting in alllll the details to you next week!
Friday, January 20, 2023
*selects favorite rosary themed coffee mug*
Divine Liturgy this past week was, as ever, a de-LIGHT. I've been noticing that the call and response after liturgy has been changed up for the Christmas season. Usually, after Divine Liturgy concludes, Father says in Ukrainian something that I once looked up, and determined meant something akin to:
"Glory Be to Jesus Christ."
And the congregation answers:
"Glory to Him forever."
But now, since Christmas, he says something else, and a few people in the English language liturgy crowd known the response, but I am not one of those people. 😂 I will keep researching on this one. Back out in the gathering space outside of the sanctuary, parish envelopes for the year as well as calendars with all of the feast days of the Byzantine rite were awaiting us. These were both eagerly scooped up forthwith by your Catholic Librarian.
This week, after the Ukrainian liturgy, I came back for the annual Christmas lunch and parish meeting. Apparently, this used to be a dinner and a regular big deal, but it hasn't been held since before the pandemic. Everyone was excited to have it back, and it combines the attendees of both the English and Ukrainian liturgies. I had baked some cookies in anticipation of the event, as baked good were requested for donation, but the parish provided a delicious catered lunch. I located a few fellow attendees of the English liturgy whose faces I recognized, and sat at their table. I chatted happily with all of them until it was time for Father to give the parish financial report.
And that part of the story isn't quite as rosy, unfortunately. 😬 The facilities for this parish, the church itself, the parish hall, and the rectory, are large and gorgeous. But as you can image, such large spaces are expensive to maintain. Complicating matters is that the number of attending families has plummeted over time. The population has been aging for some time, and in the past 10 years, there have been a lot of deaths of faithful members. Another Byzantine rite parish in the area closing and merging with ours brought over a few faithful families, but not nearly as many as had passed away during that same time period.
So, the longterm financial prognosis for our little parish is unknown. We're back to in-person events and fundraisers, and that should help, but the parish needs more members for it to be a sustainable situation going into the longterm future. I am praying very much for this to come to pass.
I have to say, participating in the lunch and parish meeting brought about a new sense of belonging in me. I felt a part of the group, and I could feel the group's warmth and their very much wanting us to be there as a part of them. I don't know many of the attendees of the Ukrainian language liturgy, but those that I have met *actually remembered my name* 😮 and always greet and welcome me. I worried about not feeling as much a part of the community because I am not Ukrainian, but none of the Ukrainian members feel that way at all. They want me to be there, and are happy that have been coming and attending Divine Liturgy at the parish. For the first time, I could see myself as a part of this little parish-that-could.
So it was an interesting week. I'm excited to be back next week with my envelopes in tow like I really belong there, and to see what is coming up next as we journey towards Lent. I think our preparation is soon to begin, and I cannot wait! Only Catholics would have a Time of Preparation for the Big Upcoming Time of Preparation. 😂I love it so much. 😍
Friday, January 13, 2023
My little blending of East and West is going well. How was your Epiphany/Theophany last weekend? 😀
Friday, January 6, 2023
Last weekend we were happily able to return to Divine Liturgy, and New Year's Day this year heralded a focus on the coming feast of Theophany (Baptism of the Lord) and the circumcision of Our Lord. Father's homily addressed how circumcision was a sign of faith, and now that sign is baptism. We should all celebrate our baptism as a constant sign of the reality of our faith. It was all quite lovely. 😊
It was nice to be back with the small congregation again, and everyone seemed pleased to see us again. The kids have expressed to me that they do prefer attending the Divine Liturgy, for a myriad of reasons that are not exactly theological, but I do appreciate them talking to me about spiritual things in any capacity, and I want to do what is best for all of us. Mostly, they're better able to pay attention at Divine Liturgy because it is shorter (the English language liturgy is spoken and not chanted at this parish) and it, plus the Eastern style art and surroundings, engage them more. So for the time being, we're going to keep focusing our attending on attending here on Sundays as often as we can
This week, I have enjoyed using our Eastern style Advent wreath (6 tapers with one white pillar for Christmas day) with the Epiphany candles that came with it. All are white, and I surmised that we would light one every other day between Christmas and Epiphany, with the large pillar also being lit on the Epiphany itself (which as I type this, is today!). In the Eastern Church, Epiphany is always celebrated on January 6th, whereas the Latin rite celebrates it on the Sunday immediately following. You can see from my mid-week photo how we were moving through lighting the candles, and I think the entire family enjoyed this devotion, especially since we light the candles pretty much every evening now while we eat dinner, adding a new one every other day, whereas during Advent, we just light the candles on Sundays. This wreath has truly been a delight, and I'll be sad to put it away after tonight. I'll have a photo of the entire wreath lit up for next week's post!