Saturday, February 25, 2023

Cheesefare Sunday (Sunday of Forgiveness)

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. 

This Sunday also features a forgiveness ritual that I found quite moving. At the end of the liturgy, Father read a prayer on this theme, and asked forgiveness for anything he may have said or did, intentionally or unintentionally, that may have hurt or offended us. We then did the same, both to him and to each other. As a lead up to the holy season of Lent, I thought this was so beautiful. 

After Divine Liturgy, there was talk of the Easter Bazaar that will be happening the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend, and we're being recruited to come help make pierogi. :-0 I have no idea of how to make pierogi (or most things, to be honest!) but a willing heart is half the battle, yes? I can absolutely be told what to do and follow directions, and I'm excited to learn!

Great Lent began the next day on Clean Monday, where we focus on purifying our hearts. For my part, I did enjoy our Latin rite Ash Wednesday traditions, which the Eastern Churches do not include. So I'm indulging in all of the rites right now, and loving every moment. 


How is your Lent starting off, friends? 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)

The Byzantine rite does *not* have Ash Wednesday, I'm just still a Latin rite gal at heart! 
Hello everyone and holy cow, how is it nearly Lent?! Be the shock as it may, I am still quite excited about the upcoming change in liturgical season, and accompanying traditions. 

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

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

Hello friends and happy Friday! It's hard to believe that it's nearly mid-February already, and Great Lent is fast approaching! I know that many people dislike this post-holiday winter time of year more than any other, but I truly like it. I have a couple of enjoyable celebrations in January and February (my wedding anniversay, my birthday, Valentine's day) but I also treasure the start of Lent each year, and with few exceptions that also falls in Febuary! This in fact the case this year, and we have just over two weeks before all of the Lenten goodness will begin, hee hee, and my planning process is in full swing! I'll circle back to that in a moment.

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! 

*praise hands*

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

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Hello everyone and happy February! Yesterday was the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord (called Candlemas in the Western Church) and I eagerly swapped out my little icon. I've definitely taken a fancy to the 12 Great Feasts and following along with them throughout the liturgical year. This icon will stay out until the next feast, which is the Annunciation in March!

Meanwhile, we continue to move closer to the start of Great Lent, and given that this will be my first one more heavily immersed in the Byzantine rite, I'm pretty excited. This past Sunday was the first official one in this pre-Lenten period of themes that the Byzantine rite focuses on, and I was looking forward to examining this more closely. As I anticipated, the Gospel and homily at Divine Liturgy focused on the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, and Father spoke about the themes of faith and humility in our journey to Great Lent. It was wonderful! Talk in our social area after the liturgy focused on preparations for a pre-Easter bazaar and parish luncheon, so I will excitedly stay tuned for those. 

After I got home, I discovered this delightful graphic via my good friend, and Byzantine rite Catholic, Allison:

I mean 😍

I'm so excited to keep following along with these themes and liturgies! Our priest will be away this weekend, so I'm unfortunately not certain we'll be at Divine Liturgy since it will be in Ukrainian. We'll likely attend Mass instead, but either way I'll keep you posted. Lenten preparations should be underway for everyone right now, regardless of rite! If you'd like to share your Lenten plans, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. :)