Thursday, March 1, 2018

Melkite Musings: The problem with Catholics

"Let me tell you a small personal story. For years my spiritual father was trying to make me understand that I had doubt in my heart, that I had fear and wasn’t showing real faith in God. Of course, being spiritually blind as a mole, I could not understand what he was saying. I mean, I was a Catholic! I went to Liturgy, prayed, went to Confession, occasionally gave a few dollars to homeless people, and got outraged about all the right things to be outraged about on social media. WHAT is my spiritual father talking about?!
And then it happened. Crisis of faith. The biggest one I’ve had in years, probably actually the biggest I EVER had. However, even there God was waiting to open my eyes. In doubting His existence so painfully and strongly, I finally started to understand what real faith should look like… and that for years I have had almost none!"

Monday, February 26, 2018

more Magdalena: thoughts on being a Byzantine Catholic priest's daughter

How has being a Catholic Priest's kid affected/influenced your relationship with God?
Because I have never not been a priest kid it is a little difficult to say, but I think that it has brought me closer to God. I am in constant contact with faith-based things, so God is never far from my thoughts. 
A friend is the son of a minister-  they were watched regularly by the congregation, and their father was criticized for their behavior. I wonder if you also feel the same expectation? 
I would say yes. My actions reflect on my father, and my dad is well known enough in our community that there is always a chance that the person I am speaking with knows him, either through the hospital or the church. Not that I would ever misbehave… ahem…. We are very involved in my father’s ministry, so there is a pressure there to live up to him. Usually it s the old-country parishioners who would report any misbehavior and criticize, but as there are fewer and fewer of these fine people left, it hasn’t happened as much lately. 
What is the strangest thing you've learned about as a priest's kid?
Because I am a priest kid I have met very many strange people and have been in many strange situations (like the time a lady let my father know that her son was of a similar age to me and she would be happy to arrange a marriage between us. I was four at the time.) The strangest thing I have learned would have to be 
Do you feel any pressure being the child of a priest; and what have you, and the rest of your siblings done to ease whatever pressure may be felt, at times; and have you had to defend your father's vocation? 
There is pressure there, but I have felt it all my life, so it feels very normal. I can clearly see the value in what my father does so I am never ashamed of who I am. I do explain why it is ok for married men to become priests in the Byzantine tradition to help people out, but I try not to hang out with the kind of people who would attack me on this. If people are hostile about it I refer them to my dad for further explanations and then I leave. The people who are vehemently against the catholic church are difficult to handle sometimes (I usually meet with these people at my community college), and I feel like the ex-Catholics are worst of all. Usually they take the perspective that I am a naïve little girl who will wake up to the real world of science and truth, but then I enjoy flooring them in the next exam. Kindly, of course…. I don’t start religion-based arguements, but if someone else wants to discuss religion I don’t say no. I usually quote Maccabees or Tobit 😉. 
Do you have a funny story about being a priest's kid?
Sooooo many…. Many times I laugh at the blank look given by people to whom I tell I am a priest’s kid. They kind of double take and say “but you said you were Catholic…” In Romania it is always very nice because it is usual for the priests to be married. However, the priest families are VIPs, and because we are from America we are seen as very important and rich (they don’t seem to factor in the cultural difference). Whenever we went to our grandparents church in Romania people would help me with my coat, offer their seats, serve me food (I didn’t have to do the clean-up!), it was very fancy. 
Being a priest kid also puts me in weird situations. Sometimes when my dad is invited to dinner, we are invited too, but they kind of forget that there are six of us. This has resulted in a Thanksgiving spent inside the kitchen of our host, where the turkey leftovers, no mashed potatoes or stuffing, and one piece of pumpkin pie for me and my 3 siblings were our feast. People just don’t expect us. 
Would you prefer if your future husbands entered the priesthood after you are married? Why or why not?
If he did, it would mean that I would never be in a position where I would have to forsake my Byzantine traditions, something very important to me. I think hat I am pretty well-equipped to deal with being married to a priest because of my mother and other role models, so it wouldn’t be a shockingly different lifestyle. However, it is a huge commitment. Once a priest, always a priest, and never home on Sundays. There are so many difficulties, but also a huge joy in the vocation of priest family. I definitely want my husband involved in the liturgy, maybe as a deacon or even an acolyte. In other words, I am definitely open to it. 
Do Roman Catholic children with whom you are acquainted struggle with the fact that your dad is a priest?
Yes, but luckily my Catholic bubble is pretty well-educated. Most people definitely don’t hold it against me, but it does make events at my house very interesting. I was hosting a high school literature seminar not too long ago, and it was amazing to see my friends try to relate to my dad as a priest and as a normal man, and try not to call him Mr. It can get pretty funny. 
Do you have a favorite saint (Latin or Eastern)?
All the saints are inspirations to me in different ways, so it is difficult to tie it down. I think it depends on my situation. St Jude is for tests, St Anthony for everything that I lose, St. Mary Magdalene for her powerful conversion and holiness, Mother Mary for pretty much everything, and St. Irene for her virtue are just a few.  
What is your favorite feast day?
Easter is just incredible. The excitement is building up all through Lent, and it is such a beautiful Feast. I love the music, the service, the joy, and the symbolism of light. The food is also amazing, and I love how it doesn't end, just keeps on going for forty days, as well as every Sunday. It is the day when I am the most happy that I am Byzantine. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

dyslexic days: the real world bumps into our homeschool demi-paradise

This was a few days ago- Daughter 8 1/2, smiling in triumph because she successfully completed her work on a short vowel 'U' book. 
In glorious Finland, she might be just one year behind the majority. In the United States, she is two years behind the 'standards.' She has an IEP (finally- it took 2 years) which entitles her to 3 hours of tutoring per week, and we are meeting another tutor for an additional 2 hours per week. She dabbles in (love it!) every day as her only screen time. We read aloud (finishing up the original Pinocchio) and listen to audio books in the van (finishing up Anne of Green Gables).  And we work on sing spell read write  together (just like her siblings- just a year or two later). She was premature, she is left-handed and she has dyslexia going on. 

Today, her smile was wiped from her face when she was repeatedly accused of "lying"  and being a "liar" when she told someone that she couldn't read something that most 3rd graders can read. Now, she is taking a nap to gird herself for literature and choir with our homeschool group. And I am blogging, wondering how to get her spark back.
her home for the first 5 weeks...sometimes I still see her as this little, so forgive me for my mama bear-ness- actually- don't forgive me 

Monday, February 19, 2018

meet Magdalena: scholar, crafter, Byzantine Catholic priest's daughter

How does your faith inform your day-to-day life?
Being Catholic is the most important thing about me, and being a priest kid only emphasizes this. I am always ready to have a theological discussion, and I am usually singing a byzantine chant under my breath. I try not to flaunt my faith, but it seems to leak out pretty quickly… If I am smiling and daydreaming, it is probably about Divine Liturgy in the Hagia Sophia! Ahem…. So yes, my faith is important…. You were saying? 
What is your greatest challenge in practicing your faith?
There are so many challenges… I try to keep God before me at all times, but there is a definite need for a growth in virtue. Judgmental thoughts are an issue for me, but I am really trying to work on my mercy for others. 
Favorite Bible verse?
It depends on my mood, but I love the simple petition, “Remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy Kingdom,” from the good thief during the crucifixion. It reminds me of what I am constantly asking God and my need for His mercy. It is so simple and trusting, it brings tears to my eyes. 
Favorite spiritual writing besides the Bible?
I love me some Lewis! His essays on the evil of subjectivity and the essay “Men without Chests” are so amazing. I love Perelandra, it is my favorite interpretation of the Creation Story. I also really like Chesterton. 
Favorite saint and why?
I am close to St Mary Magdalene obviously, but I also turn to Saint Jude quite often (the SAT in particular, if you must know. Thanks again buddy 😊) St Anthony has helped me out so many times that it would be the height of indecency for me not to mention him. And, of course, my lovely Mother Mary is one of the most important influences on my life. 
What is your ministry in the church?
Everything….. Pretty much as long as it is not on the altar I had something to do with it. Of course I help arrange the altar. And make the bread. Most importantly though I am a cantor, the welcoming committee, and a catechist. 
Favorite movie, book, music, and why?
The Lord of the Rings will always hold a special place in my heart, both books and movies, because of the magic, wisdom, knowledge, and virtue inside. I also love Austen and Jane Eyre. I really like fantasy books, books with magic and mystery in them. For me, books are a good way to escape real life for a little, and I love the immersive qualities of a book about a magic land. Classics are generally really great as well, I feel better connected to the characters than I do in a lot of modern fiction. 
I started to crochet when I was 11, and it still captivates me today, though I am happy to say that my more recent projects have been a tad more professional than my first hat (I wonder why my mother never wears it?). More recent hobbies are peg doll painting, which is really fun. I recently finished a knight and his lady for my friend, and they look rather dashing, if I do say so myself. Other than that, I love dancing and singing and I never lose an opportunity to do either, despite the embarrassment it might cause my companions. 
If you had $20 and an hour, what would you do?
I must confess, I do like window shopping, but that would not necessarily use up my $20. If you put me in a used bookstore, however, I would be one happy person. Up in Oregon there is a store called the Book Bin, the perfect place to spend time and money. 
Thanks for sharing, Magdalena!

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