Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Visit a Byzantine Catholic Church? 7 QuickTakes

1. Get your fill of incense

2. Eat something yummy after Divine Liturgy- perhaps something ethnic (cabbage rolls, pierogi, sweet nut/poppy seed roll, nachos)

3. Celebrate the universality of the Church- In the magazine 'St Anthony Messenger,' there was a photo essay of a diversity Mass at a Western-rite cathedral. African tribal dancers, Mexican folklore singers and everyone in between were celebrated and represented as symbols of diversity within the Church. Visiting and understanding other rites also celebrate the differences and universality in the Church.

4. Understand what the Church means when we pray for unity- Let's pretend that the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople decided to place his church back under the authority of Rome (a girl can dream). Did you know that very little would change within his churches? In fact, his average lay person might only notice the addition of praying for the Pope during the Divine Liturgy (Mass). Could the average Western-rite Catholic accept and understand this?

5. Be an honored guest. We love visitors- especially semi-dedicated visitors. Perhaps you could supplement your liturgical life with a bonus Mass once a month at the closest Eastern-rite church? You might like their Bible study. Services like the 'Akathist' may be meaningful to participate in.

6. Make your kids smarter. An Eastern-rite church is a geography, history, and language lesson.

7. Appreciate what you have in the Western-rite (shorter Mass time, Liturgy of the Hours, Easter Vigil Mass, lots of supplemental activities and more)

---Thanks for reading this far! Please remember, this is all one woman's opinion! Maybe you visited an Eastern church filled with ethnocentric agoraphobics who didn't make you feel welcome in their 'house.' If so, I am truly sorry and in my experience, that is aberrational. Also, I have focused on the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church, but much of the same advice would go for visiting a Maronite, Coptic, or other Eastern church. My experience is from my rite, however, so we will have to wait for a Coptic priest's wife's blog (maybe it exists already) for specific advice on that rite.

40 comments:

  1. Perogies! I can hear my husband's Aunt saying that in polish. :)

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  2. All fantastic reasons. I really enjoy the Byzantine liturgy and the wonderful people I meet there.

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  3. I love the "Celebrate diversity" point-- a little tongue in cheek?

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  4. We Romans are trying to get it together with the new things going on. However, I feel like we get shortchanged by not having the beauty of the Byzantine rite.
    At my first one, I said to Father, "It seems like I had an out of body experience." "You Should", he said.
    It really is otherworldly...Heavenly.

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  5. I liked your invitation and I am grateful for it. Actually I liked it so much that I immediately asked myself why would I want to visit an Eastern Rite community myself. I was amazed how many good reasons I found. I will like to share only three with you, however the challenge is on for everybody to discover three personal reasons and if they will be so kind as to share them with us.

    1) It is a journey to find one's roots. Second, third generation in the USA and we are not aware of who we are, our roots. For example what is the meaning of some of our names- like Sofia, for example. I have met many who do not know it means Wisdom. In the Greek Catholic Rite of the Church, the priest uses that invocation several times.

    2) Art is my second reason, everything from iconography to architecture is there to feast on. Hagia Sofia as the first true Basilica of Christianity and an expression of the glory of the first Christian emperor. I still remember a Getty Museum show on iconography that presented amazing works of art- each one of them written with a wealth of theology.

    3) My last point of attraction is Tradition. It is not written in books; it is not thought much of in schools. However it is still very alive in any of the rites of our Mother Church. I remember befriending an Egyptian Coptic physician once who was sharing with me the most amazing stories from the life of our Savior that I heard of in all my life. All those stories were part of our Christian Tradition that exist only in that part of the world. In this case, it's very valuable considering the time the Holy Family spent in Egypt running away from Herod.

    What do you think? Do you have any other reasons?

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  6. Anonymous- I like your reasons!

    Faithemmanuel- maybe yes, maybe no

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  7. Why would I visit anything you suggest? Why would I want anything you have? You're a mean, shitty, petty, cruel, ugly-minded little hater who delights in making fun of other people, who denies God, denies the Holy Spirit, denies Christ with your actions and then pretends to be oh-so-holy with your words.

    You're disgusting and gross, and you're a complete fraud.

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  8. Wow anonymous- If I know you and have offended you- I am sorry. If you know me and I have done something so horrible as to deserve this outburst, you should communicate with me directly so that I can make amends for whatever I have done.

    If I don't know you and you object to my writing, I am sorry you see things this way. I hope that everyone can see that I am a sinner like everyone else who is striving to serve God and His Church, specifically in the Byzantine rite. I don't see my posts as cruel. I don't hate anyone. I was under the impression that I was welcoming and educational. Yes, I am human and have my disappointments as we all have.

    I am leaving up this post but this will be the last post I leave up that has personal taunts along with profanity.

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  9. Excerpt from the Pieta Prayer Book (Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel):

    "One should NEVER attack a priest, even when he's in error, rather one should ray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example!

    "When a Priest falls we should extend him a helping hand through prayer and not through attacks! I myself will be his judge, no one but I! Whoever voices judgment over a priest has voiced it over me; child, never let a Priest be attacked, take up his defense. Child, never judge your confessor, rather pray much for him and offer every Thursday, through the hands of My Blessed Mother, Holy Communion (for Him). Never again accept an out-of-the-way word about a priest, and speak no unkind word (about them). Even it were TRUE! Every Priest is My vicar and My Heart will be sickened and insulted because of it~ If you hear a judgment (against a Priest) pray a Hail Mary."

    "If you see a Priest who celebrates the Holy Mass unworthily then say nothing about him, rather tell it to Me alone! I stand beside Him on the altar! Oh pray much for my priests, that they'll love purity above all, that they'll celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with pure hands and heart. Certainly the Holy Sacrifice is one and the same even when it's celebrated by an unworthy priest, but the graces called down upon the people is not the same!"

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  10. Someone needs an exorcist! (Insert sing-song tone when reading the former).

    Don't let it get to you- it doesn't even sound like a real person wrote it.

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  11. Martha- that's nice of you to say :) No matter what- I don't want to be a true source of scandal for my fellow Christians. Sometimes others might misunderstand or be hypersensitive, but we all sin and I do want to be sincere in my walk with God. Does that make sense?

    It's funny because the Sunday before Lent is called Forgiveness Sunday in the Byzantine rite- there is a short service where we all personally ask forgiveness of each person- even the priest to us lay people. I always sort of wondered about that- what if that person didn't do anything to me? But the fact is- any sin is an offense to all. Not easy- that's why we always beg of God- LORD HAVE MERCY! So the good thing from that comment is- I understand Forgiveness Sunday- and I am moderated comments now- disagree with me strongly but no bad words and try to be charitable :)

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  12. moderating- not moderated- I should moderate myself for bad grammar! :)

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  13. To any person who is interested- I have experienced many faiths in my life. My family and I were Quaker for a few years where you sit in a circle and wait for inspiration. I was baptized Episcopalian; we were very involved. We also spent time at various Protestant denominations throughout my childhood. My mother was a part of a Hindu/New Age prayer group for a few year, practicing TM. WE all became Western-rite Catholic when I was 12. I sang in the folk choir and the traditional choir. In my adulthood, I worked for a more traditional Western-rite Catholic university. Now, by virtue of marriage, for 13 years, I have been Byzantine Catholic. For a few years, I taught at a Jewish adult school so I learned a lot there. I take all religion seriously and respect people's faith walks. There is truth in all spirituality- I do believe that the Catholic Church is ONE, HOLY, UNIVERSAL and APOSTOLIC- but I do not laugh at anyone's faith.

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  14. Your comments are very well worded and kind. Thank you for writing, I'll continue to read.

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  15. What a journey! I do have to say that the people who (I think) understand their faith the most are those who are either converts or have had a faith crisis at some point in their lives. That's not always the case, of course, but it sounds like you must have a wonderful bank of knowledge, and therefore sympathy/empathy/understanding all around.

    I attribute my (now) strong Catholic faith (born and raised), to my Lutheran husband (now in RCIA- yay!). If it hadn't been for him and his darn stubbornness, I'd have never looked into why I am a Catholic, and never would have come to appreciate and know what I have.

    Your journey must have taught you a lot more than just Protestant vs. Catholic! So interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Martha- Is your husband going to enter the Church this coming Easter? I have a soft spot in my heart for the Easter vigil- when I was 12- it was mom, dad and 5 kids- my dad even needed a provisional (that's not the word....) baptism because they couldn't find any paper work on him.

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  17. He is! I do love the Easter Vigil. I've sat through years of RCIA confirmations during that beautiful Mass, and practically cried because I was so happy for them, and because I wished my husband would've been among them. Every year I've prayed that the next would be it. All in God's time, I guess! ;)

    Must've been amazing to have your whole family joining at once!

    My husband jokes that if only he weren't already baptized... he'd be scot-free! Doesn't it wipe away all sin, and even the effects of sin, like a plenary indulgence? But, of course, he'll have First Reconciliation, and that's pretty amazing.

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  18. Martha- I looked at your profile info and see that you like Sting's Songs from the Labyrinth- you have got to get his album from 2 years ago (?)- On a Winter's Night- you will love it

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  19. I do love Sting. So mellow; such good background music. I don't think I've heard of that album- I'll definitely check it out. Thanks!

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  20. I still want to visit a Byzantine Parish.. When my dad converted, its what he wanted to convert too (but only Roman in the area). That plus a few other things led to me want to visit our Maronite Parish here when I found it... and I ended up staying/marrying there lol. Love it, but would love to see others too still. A lot of your reasons apply w/ us too :-)

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  21. Sorry that this comment is a little late, but I've been interested in visiting an Eastern Catholic rite church for a while, and I'm not quite sure how to go about finding one. Is there something like masstimes.org for Eastern rite churches?

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  22. Holy buckets, someone is angry! That's okay; I'll pray for him (her?). These same reasons, the beauty and richness of tradition are what draws me to the idea of attending our FSSP Parish in town; to hear the Mass in Latin according to what is now called the extraordinary form. Thank you for teaching! I love to learn!

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  23. You know, there's a Byzantine Parish down a few miles from us and in fact it is within a block of a Roman Catholic Church. It's a beautiful building with the gold domes right smack dab in the middle of a down town that has an old west feel to it. It definitely stands out and we've always been intrigued to go there and experience it but not sure what to do or how we should dress or how long will it be. We dress kind of casual at our parish.

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  24. Dress however you feel comfortable- one suggestion- make sure you have a book to follow along! You might have to look around and/or ask someone who is sitting in the front. I hope they will be welcoming- after all I have said...:)

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  25. When I was in the process of becoming Catholic and being led to the Byzantine rite one article that helped me was actually from an Orthodox priest's wife. It's called, 12 Things I Wish I'd Known... it's an article talking about things to know about visiting an Orthodox Church. The nice thing is that most of it applies to the Byzantine rite Catholic parishes. :)

    Here's the article link: http://www.frederica.com/12-things/

    In other amusing news, when the Mrs. and I moved to the East Coast, we ended up buying a house less than 5 miles from Presbytera Fredrica's parish! :D

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  26. Devin- Thanks for the link- pretty interesting... :)

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  27. Hi! I'm a Latin-rite Catholic, and I've been dying to go to a Divine Liturgy for awhile now, but I'm a bit nervous for some reason. I'm almost completely ignorant about what happens during the Divine Liturgy. Is it prayed in English? I don't mind if it's in another language (I love the TLM) as long as I can follow along somehow.

    Thank you so much for your blog! I really enjoy learning about Eastern Catholicism!

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  28. Jamie- I don't know where you live, so I don't know the closest Eastern-rite parish to you :)
    My husband has 2 missions- one Liturgy is almost all 'old-country' language, but the gospel and homily is in both languages- the other mission is almost all English. It just really depends on the community.
    My biggest advice- make sure you have a book to follow along and then just go with the flow- one thing to remember is that the Eucharist is given with both species together (Body and Blood)- also, if you have small children who have not received their First Communion, have them come up with their finger across their lips (like saying shhh)- then the priest will bless them and not give them Communion.

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  29. I discovered your blog yesterday and have been devouring your posts! My family is Roman Catholic, but after sharing what I learned, we agreed we would like to attend Divine Liturgy at our local Byzantine Catholic Cathedral (http://www.ststephenbyzantine.org).

    You've mentioned bringing "a book" along, but I was wondering if there was a specific title you would recommend? I've found a few online guides, but is there an equivalent of a Missal we should be on the look-out for?


    Thank you for your beautiful blog! :)

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  30. Chloe- I'm glad you are going to visit- usually they provide missals to use during the Divine Liturgy...if someone doesn't give you one, ask for one

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  31. Chloe- say hi to Fr Kurt Burnett- if he is there

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  32. Great, thanks! We've since decided to plan a field trip with my young adult group and are passing an EWTN video around for everyone to check out.

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  33. Chloe- if you are bringing a group- call ahead- maybe the priest can give a little talk after- you can tell them 'priest's wife' suggested it;)

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  34. Hi priest's wife,

    Thank you for your kind, welcoming tone. I feel drawn to convert to the Byzantine Catholic Church (from Anglicanism). I can't find any information about annulments in the Byzantine rite. My husband was previously married. He isn't interested in conversion. Where I can read more about the process of conversion to the Byzantine rite? Thanks very much.

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  35. Hello anonymous! I hope you come back to read this reply to your comment

    about conversion to the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church from a non-Catholic Christian denomination---most importantly, your Anglican baptism is valid (if you can't find paperwork, the priest would do a 'provisional' baptism)--then it depends on the eparchy (diocese)

    My suggestion- attend the closest Eastern rite parish to you for a year and live the liturgical year. This will be difficult because you cannot take the Eucharist and have confession. Please remember that you can participate in the 'sacramentals'- kissing the icon, getting your head annointed, partaking of the blessed (NOT consecrated Eucharist) bread at the end of the Liturgy....I'd like to say more- if you want, send me your email address at remnantofremnant@gmail.com

    about marriage annulments, it also depends on the size of the eparchy if they have their own tribunal or if they use the services of the nearest Roman rite diocese- I know that one of the priests for the Ruthenians out of Phoeniz Az was studying canon law.

    I'll be praying for you on your journey!...and be merciful when parishioners are insensitive ;)

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  36. Thank you, priest's wife. I feel encouraged. There is a Byzantine Catholic Church very near my home, so I guess the next step is to have a chat with the priest. I appreciate your good advice.

    blessings,
    Mary

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  37. God willing, you will have to wait just a few months more for that "Coptic priest's wife" blog. Pray for us.

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  38. Anonymous- you will be in our prayers- and I would love to learn more about the OTHER Eastern rites- that's the problem with being in church all the time- it is difficult to get to other places to visit

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  39. Thank you for writing your blog. I am interested in the Eastern Catholic rites.

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