Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year of Posting Non-Dangerously

Fellow bloggers will probably agree with me when I say that the most time-consuming aspect of writing a blog post is thinking up and formulating an idea. Most of my posts don't reveal the writer that I would like to become because I am distracted by the obligations of my life (drat those family, church and work obligations! Just kidding). So my 'blogging resolution' this year is not to even try to write amazing, interesting, and totally independent posts. I am just going to tag along with some of my favorite blogs.

So, if you see me writing a post not attached to the following memes more than once a week (I'm giving myself a bit of wiggle room for inspiration), write me an email and yell at me for using too much brain space for this blog instead of my family!

You'll see me tagging along at:

pretty happy funny real at Like Mother, Like Daughter
seven quick takes at Conversion Diary
yarn along (if I start knitting again!) at small things

I wish all of you a very blessed 2012 filled with health and happiness and the fulfillment of all your dreams & FAITHFULNESS- NOT SUCCESS!

A Favorite Post from 2011

The Challenge of Celibacy

The past few days around here have been interesting, to say the least. I still believe what I wrote 2 days ago, and I pray that Rome directly answers the questions raised by canon lawyer Ed Peters about Western Canon 277. In any case...what is so challenging about celibacy and- therefore- continence?

Is it the lack of marital contact? Is the most challenging aspect of celibacy loneliness? I can't give a theological or psychological opinion- just a practical and personal one. I was celibate and continent until I was 27. Being a virgin was no problem (maybe because I am a female?) and any loneliness I felt was lessened by time with friends and family.

My major challenge as a single person was a tendency to selfishness.

When one is celibate and- therefore- continent, it is a major challenge to be self-giving. It takes heroic virtue not to be selfish. During high school, university and four years after graduation, this was my life: the beautiful, independent single life where I would serve others to a point. I could fool myself into thinking I was a giver. I lived at home during college, taking classes full-time and working various jobs about 35 hours a week to pay for tuition. I was really busy. I was a 'giver'- leading music at the 7:30 Mass and joining my family for the 9:00. I was involved in the Newman Center and did the dishes at home. But I would go to the movies during a break in the school day and watch the latest tearjerker (Steel Magnolias, anyone?). After college, I was teaching English in Slovakia for $100 a month plus rent- how is that selfish?! But, I could take a train to Rome without calling anyone, walk around for 12 hours, and then get on the next train north. Being poor, I debated between spending my money on green leather mittens or lunch in Krakow. Being married, sometimes a mom has to choose between lunch for herself or the kids. And she chooses the kids.

When I was single, I never had to always think of another person. If a younger sister was visiting, of course I would buy her favorite flavor of party pizza and make brownies while we watched Labyrinth. But that was an aberration. Normally, I went into a store and bought my favorite things, took a shower when it was convenient for me, watched only the movies that I preferred, and even prayed when it was a good time for me. The food was cooked to my liking, the music was at the volume I preferred, the thermostat temperature was perfect for me. The furniture could be just where I wanted it, I could work the hours I wanted, I could go on retreat and not be beholden to anyone. Are any of these things sinful? Not really, but living alone makes it very easy to think of oneself- in the same way that having only one child makes it easy to cook just the foods that child prefers. Why not? It is easy, but it is not very virtuous.

We all know amazing celibate priests who are always thinking of the other person. He might golf on Monday morning as a hobby, but his cell phone is open to calls and he doesn't allow a gate keeper secretary to be a barrier to contact with his parishioners. Celibacy and continence are challenges, but Roman-rite priests know what they are getting into and, I suspect, focus on protecting themselves from sin in these serious matters. Selfishness is a much smaller sin, but it tends to creep in and make itself at home. A selfish person who is also a giver- like I was- work, work, working for God but then ignoring that call that they know is a hospital call. A selfish person insists on his hamburger super-rare (just pass it over a lit candle) even when the waitress says the health board won't let her sell it rare. A selfish person needs, even while complaining of burn-out, to choose all the music selections and flower arrangements so that things will be perfect (for him/her).

Marriage and children force us sinners to constantly think of others. We might intentionally decide to buy sharp cheddar or listen to opera even though our spouse prefers something different. We don't always have to choose what the other wants, but we always have to consider it. Marriage is a great aid to man's natural tendencies to selfishness. It seems (please note my qualification!) that the glories of celibacy and continence are emphasized as a gift for the kingdom of Heaven, but celibate priests are only warned to not be alone with people and are not trained in anticipation of other problems. Perhaps the monastic tradition (again, in only my little opinion) is the best way to live a life of celibacy and continence. The monk lives in community and is supported in living a selfless life. With his vows (not promises) of poverty, chastity and obedience, he is given tools to faithfully live a life of celibacy and perfect continence.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Most Commented Post from 2011

My blog doesn't get many comments, but this was the most commented on post of 2011- I don't know how to 'import' the comments- but it was basically another blogger who disagrees strongly with the possibility of a married priesthood in any rite. My comments just focused on my rite because I have no right (yes- pun intended) to have an opinion on another rite. here goes...

You know you are a priest's wife when...

  • your husband leaves at 7 AM to do annointings at the hospital Sunday morning and comes home just in time to drive to church.
  • you are the chauffer so that your priest-husband can go over his homily and be available for phone calls. You pray your 'rosary for the bishop' between calls.
  • your kids ask why they are listening to monk-sung Russian Orthodox chant during breakfast....because it is very relaxing
  • you have to just grit your teeth when someone asks to take your baby/give a lollipop to your 4-year old who is behaving/talk fashion with your 12-year old while the distribution of the Holy Eucharist is happening.
  • you have to smile when others are so kind and loving to you and your children (some parishioners got me a Kindle for my birthday!)
  • your voice hurts a little after the Divine Liturgy because the cantor was stuck in traffic and you had to take over until the cantor got there.
  • you have to shout at yourself internally to stop making plans for church while the Divine Liturgy is happening.
  • you eat 'only' three cabbage rolls after the memorial service so you have time to greet everyone- and you try to get over your shyness so you don't appear rude to your generally sanguine parishioners.
  • you get home at 8:00 PM on Sunday after a full day of church and fellowship with some sort-of parishioners a little peeved that you didn't stay at their home for late-evening hamburgers. It doesn't matter that you begin your part-time college teaching job the next day or that the boy was throwing up yesterday; you should be at their service just in case they decide to be actual parishioners. You marvel at the one-year old walking and sort of talking. The last time you saw him was at his infant baptism.
  • you read blog posts critical of married priests (the latest I saw was at Creative Minority Report, a blog I like a lot) and take it personally. Never, ever do as I do and read the commments. Those are always worse than the actual blog post
Anonymous said... I once went to a talk given by a married priest who was refreshingly honest. He said that he doesn't work on weekends or after 8PM. If you call his house after that time you better be almost dead because his wife will be mad.

All I have to say to 'anonymous' is WHAT?! You MUST be a troll! Putting everything aside- vocation, small 't' tradition, practical matters, etc- WHAT priest doesn't work weekends or take phone calls after 8? Even as a job...this is like a person being educated for and asking to be a party planner. Then, this person refuses to work weekends and nights. So- all the parties need to be on weekdays during the day? What utter nonsense! In the Eastern churches with the priesthood and the Roman-rite with the diaconate, the wives are part of the equation and realize his schedule might be different than the past when he had a 'normal' job.
Of course, occassionally one might find a crazy wife that changes the 'rules' on her husband just as there are some celibate priests making vows of poverty who own small airplanes. A rotten apple doesn't have to ruin the entire barrel if it is thrown out quickly enough. With a 'bad' priest's or deacon's wife, (I have never met one- just wives with different ministries and talents and maybe a few shy ones) counseling is in order. And a priest who is married does have the dual challenges of being the head of his domestic church (as any husband) and of his parish. A lot of balance and juggling is needed.
Personally, I don't see where this life could be successful on both fronts (domestic church and parish church) if the husband and wife are not of the same rite. Mixed marriages (Orthodox/Catholic, Byzantine Catholic/Roman-rite Catholic) can be tricky enough, but if my husband were consumed with his parish and the kids and I were always at the local Roman-rite parish, I do see where there would be a problem of unity and also not having any family time together.
As it is, the big girls help with child care at Bible study and they are part of the choir. I hope that the little guy will be at the altar next year. We are always looking for ways to combine family and church time. Because we are at church with priest-husband, the only time we aren't participating in his ministry is during counseling and confession times and his hospital work because we have school to do! We also try to be a part of the hospital by going to Mass there and the girls singing in the hospital talent show and the like. I think we actually spend a lot of time together- much more than a surgeon's family...but then I think that the 'a priest can never be a married man because he won't balance his responsibilities- someone will lose out' argument is a straw argument. I don't think that many people would caution their daughter from marrying a surgeon. He might never be home (and the family cannot be in the surgery theater of course like a priest's family is in the church), but he will bring home a lot of money to soften the blow.

But in any case: another commenter posted this and is much more realistic and thoughtful: Now, MAYBE this turns out to be an argument in favor of the discipline of celibacy if this guy is having trouble meeting his PRE-EXISTING sacramental commitment to his family while also meeting his sacramental commitment to the priesthood. Or MAYBE it's just an argument against this doofus ever being admitted to the Catholic priesthood and the Church instead finding people in this situation who can do a better job of multi-tasking. In the end, as others have stated, celibacy is a matter of discipline, and is NOT the teaching of "the Church" for all priests.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas with Old Country Flavor

Merry almost-Christmas! This is a guest post today at thanks Elia for inviting me to your virtual Christmas party! Be sure to check out all the other guest posts on Christmas traditions. 

Our Christmas is probably quite similar to most middle-class American homes, but with a few aspects that might set it apart from the pack. We retain quite a few of the traditions important to my childhood with other activities inspired by my husband's culture and our faith tradition.

Advent (St Philip's fast beginning November 15th for Byzantine Catholics) is a time of fasting, penance and preparation. We do our best to keep parties to a minimum; even our songs have an Advent focus. We fast from meat as much as possible to emphasize the anticipation of the season. Christmas Eve will be light foods; most likely cheese broccoli soup with homemade bread. Because we spent Advent preparing for the Christmas season, we celebrate the entire season and we don't stop on December 25th. Did you know that the 'twelve days of Christmas' begins with Christmas Day and then goes from there? So, we begin by delaying decorating the tree as long as the kids let us and we don't take it down before January 6th. 

Christmas morning begins like this...the children come down and open stockings at about seven o'clock. Then, they eat some breakfast, usually something easy like sausage, toast and fruit. Eggnog is always on the menu. If I have a cup of black tea and Christmas music playing, I am fulfilled. The kids will look through the goodies in their stockings while they eat. In our house, Saint Nicholas has already been here on the 6th and filled their shoes. He comes back to fill the stockings, but all other presents are received from family and friends. 

Then, it's time for church. It can be a challenge for the children to wait to open the presents under the tree, but every year they are glad that the gift-portion of the day is stretched out.

Your birth, O Christ our God
Has shed upon the world the light of knowledge;
For through it, those who worship the stars
Have learned from a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice
And to recognize You as the Orient From On High.
Glory be to You, O Lord
Troparian for the Nativity 

Dressed in our best, we'll celebrate Christ's birth with Liturgy and song. After the service, my girls will offer the parishioners the cookies they baked (chocolate chip, cranberry/white chocolate/pecan, coconut snowballs) before everyone goes their separate ways for the rest of the day. We'll sing along to Christmas carols on the radio during our hour long drive home. usually, we get home around four in the afternoon. You can imagine that the children are looking forward to finally opening presents! I try to make them wait so I can get dinner started. 

One aspect of our Christmas celebrations which is very important is to wait for everybody. I remember being horrified as a child when friends talked about how their parents would put each child's presents in a separate pile and everyone would just go to town and open them without waiting turns! We start youngest to oldest, and everyone looks at the present-opener and then admires the gift. If the gift-giver is present, the receiver gives them a kiss or hug. We don't go so far as to play a new game during the gift-opening, but a new piece of clothing might be modeled. Because we start gift-opening so late, we might even skype with my family on the West coast or my husband's family in Europe at this time. 

Christmas dinner is British- a nod to some of my family's heritage. The menu is roast beef, turkey, plenty of gravy, mashed potatoes made with butter and sour cream, homemade cranberry sauce, popovers, Brussels sprouts (parboil them, then pan roast with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon- I'll make some carrots the same way) and homemade bread made by the girls. Dessert will be individual trifles (very easy because they can be made ahead except for the whipped cream) plus pumpkin and chocolate pies. Luckily, this year will have some family visiting to help us eat all this food!

On the second day of Christmas, we will again celebrate Christ's birth with church celebrations and lots of food. We'll make time to play with the new games (nope- nothing of the 'video' game variety- we are old school here). We'll take advantage of Dad's relative downtime from work and go play at the park. This year, we are taking the cousins to a rollerskating party with our homeschooling group. And we will Christmas carol as much as possible. It's not like the old country where you walk up and down the streets with many other caroling families. We sometimes drive hours to go Christmas caroling at a parishioner's home. But this is the most important social aspect of the holiday for us. All the homes that welcome us to carol will also have a full spread of holiday appetizers and sweets. Sometimes, it is hard to eat anything at the last home of the day!

Before the season is over, we will eat all the essential foods from my husband's country, Romania. Stuffed cabbage rolls ("sarmale") are probably the most popular food. And yes, we will be served one of my husband's favorites food- calves' foot jelly- while we go to different people's homes to carol during the days between Christmas and New Year's Day. Desserts can vary, but we will eat nut and poppyseed cakes as well as lots of different cookies- Just in time for New Year's resolutions.

An Easy Recipe from the Old Country

Mamaliga (polenta) is a perfect food to make for a large group of people. Boil 4 parts salted water (add 2 spoons of butter to water), then add 1 part corn meal. Use a wire whisk and beat constantly while it boils. Watch out for flying mamaliga! This is not a task for the youngsters. When the mamaliga is thick, turn it on the lowest setting and make the salad. I like to make a salad from peeled Persian cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, chopped Italian parsley, a bit of fresh dill, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil. Serve the mamaliga in bowls with feta cheese, sour cream, grated cheese such as Monterey Jack, European-style bacon and Hungarian/Romanian sausage. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

‎1 Corinthians:13 --- Christmas version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned mealtime, but do not show love, I'm just another cook. If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing. If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata...but do not focus on Christ,I have missed the point. Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Inspiration via Youtube

I really should be cleaning, cooking, organizing, wrapping gifts, painting a door, going to Target for a fourth time to get the photo cards, washing the shoe polish from the two-year old's bare feet (I exaggerate- I did that yesterday)- so I will just share a few Youtube links that were sent my way via my personal facebook page. I don't surf Youtube without direction from trusted friends; there is just too much junk there. If a friend recommends a video, I'll watch it. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Consecration & Epiclesis- Divine Liturgy Series

Continuing the series on the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom- You might be surprised at the short Eucharistic prayer. Depending on the priest, the silent prayers might be not-so-silent, but there is only one choice for the Eucharist prayer with the exception of the Liturgy of St Basil the Great which is prayed during the Great Lent before Easter. And if I haven't made it clear- this (like the entire Liturgy) is sung unless it is a daily Liturgy and the priest decides to speed it up a bit. We always sing the Liturgy.

PEOPLE: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.

Priest (silently): With these blessed powers we also, O Master, Lover of men cry and say: Holy are You and all holy, You, and You; only-begotten Son, and Your Holy Spirit; holy are You and all holy and magnificent is Your glory, who so loved Your world that You gave Your only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but should have life everlasting; Who, having come and having fulfilled the whole Divine plan concerning us, on the night when He was betrayed, or rather, when He surrendered Himself for the life of the world, He took bread into His holy and all pure and Immaculate hands, gave thanks and blessed,   (priest blesses bread) sanctified, broke and gave it to His holy disciples and apostles, saying:

PRIEST: Take, eat, THIS IS MY BODY, which is broken for you for the remission of sins.


Priest (silently): In like manner (priest blesses chalice) also the chalice, after the supper, saying:

PRIEST: Drink of this all, THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.


Priest (silently): Remembering, therefore, this salutary command, and all that was done in our behalf: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven the sitting at the right hand, the second and glorious coming.

The priest lifts the chalice and diskos up and makes the sign of the cross with them, saying:

PRIEST: Thine own of Thine own, we offer You, in behalf of all, and for all.

PEOPLE: We praise You, we bless You, we thank You, O Lord, and we pray to You, our God.

Priest (silently): Again we offer to You this spiritual and unbloody sacrifice, and we implore and pray, and entreat You, send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here present. (Blessing the bread) And make this bread   the precious body of Your Christ. (Blessing the chalice) And that which is in this chalice,   the precious blood of your Christ. (Blessing both) Having changed them   by Your Holy Spirit:

Priest (silently): So that to those who partake of them, they may be for the purification of the soul, for the remission of sins, for the communion in Your Holy Spirit, for the fullness of the heavenly kingdom, for confidence in You, not for judgment or condemnation.

Priest (silently): Moreover, we offer to You this spiritual sacrifice for those who departed in the faith; the forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics and for every righteous spirit who has died in the faith.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal- Terribly Terrific Twos

Isn't she pretty, happy, funny and real? Pretty, happy and funny are obvious- the real part is baby girl deciding to toilet-train herself with very messy results, getting into anything and everything (more than her three older siblings ever did), and desperately needing to eat or drink anything that happens to be on the kitchen counters. It hasn't been a walk in the park- but she's worth it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Keep Christ in Christmas

The Nicene Creed- series on the Divine Liturgy

PEOPLE: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And He became flesh by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And of His kingdom there will be no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And I await the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRIEST: Let us stand well, let us stand with fear, let us be attentive, to offer the holy oblation in peace.

PEOPLE: The mercy of peace, the sacrifice of praise.

PRIEST: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with   all of you.

PEOPLE: And with your spirit.

PRIEST: Let us lift up our hearts.

PEOPLE: We have lifted them up to the Lord.

PRIEST: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

PEOPLE: It is proper and just to worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in substance and undivided.

Priest (silently): It is proper and just to sing hymns to You, to bless You, to praise You, to thank You, to worship You in every place of Your kingdom; for You are God ineffable inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing, yet ever the same, You, and Your only-begotten Son, and Your Holy Spirit; You brought us forth from non-existence into being, and raised us up again when we had fallen, and left nothing undone, until You brought us to heaven and bestowed upon us Your future kingdom. For all this we give thanks to You, and to Your only-begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit, for all that we know and that we do not know, the manifest and the hidden benefits bestowed upon us. We thank You also for this ministry, which You have willed to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of archangels, myriads of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft on their wings

I love the silent prayer that the priest prays at this time- but I have to say a bit about the Nicene Creed and the inclusion or exclusion of the Filioque (Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son). Some Byzantine Catholics include the Filioque; others do not. This is yet another place the Byzantines are stuck in the middle. Two different perspectives can be found at Orthodoxwiki and Catholic Answers.

This quotation from the Eastern theologian Fr Patrick Reardon might explain why we have theological debates between Catholic and Orthodox (do the Orthodox really dismiss the Immaculate Conception? I don't think so- but they were not part of the discussion when the Pope declared it dogma)--- "I believe that the filioque controversy is not about the composition of the Holy Trinity. It is a controversy about authority in the Church. The East’s objection to the filioque is formal, not material. The East’s objection has to do with a canon of the Council of Ephesus in 431, which anathematizes anyone who adds to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed." Even though I think practical matters are barriers to unity more than these lofty theological problems, the filioque-problem will be with us for a long time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Just a little reminder to consider those 'less fourtunate' this Christmas season. yes, "the poor will always be with us," but it is still part of our faith to look out for others. 

Remember 1984? Remember trying to "Feed the World" during the Ethiopian famine and drought? We donated money to the cause, and never got our commemorative t-shirts. The song brings back very fond memories- a time of innocence when Bono didn't wear sunglasses indoors, Sting had a foppish bob and both Boy George and George Michael sang to girls. 

Some of the lyrics are silly and Western-centered, "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime" "where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow" - really?! In all of Africa? They do realize that Ethiopia is just one country in a huge continent? Have they seen photos of the lush, green landscapes that are a part of some parts of the  African continent? So all these super-rich singers in this super-group could have donated their monthly paycheck to the charity and they would have collected more than from us simple people. And yes, I never got my t-shirt, Sir Bib Geldof. But I still love the song. Turn it up!

Friday, December 9, 2011

We're on a Mission from God

What's wrong with this picture? As Blessed Pope John Paul II said, "The Church must breath with two lungs." Here the West is represented by dancers as they might have looked when Saint Juan Diego received the visions of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531. The East is represented by Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (in today's Turkey) and an important father of the Church who was at the Council of Nicea in 325. 

Some 'quick takes' on how building a small Byzantine Catholic mission community into a viable parish is not easy in today's world.

We are blessed to be able to celebrate Divine Liturgy for the 'small' mission at a large Roman-rite chapel on Saturday evenings. They also allow us to have fellowship afterwards in their small hall. They even allow us to store our portable icons for the icon screen. But last Easter vigil, we couldn't use the space because the main community wanted a vigil. Imagine if you went to church every week except Easter! (we had the Liturgy in a different place, but most members simply went to the local Roman-rite Mass) Not a good way to build a community.

We were going to celebrate the Liturgy as usual last Saturday evening and we planned an early St Nicholas celebration. But a few days before, we were informed that it would be a Spanish language, Roman-rite Mass to begin the novena for Our Lady of Guadalupe and my husband would be the only priest celebrant (he has bi-ritual faculties for this archdiocese) along with two Roman-rite married deacons.

So, Byzantine St Nicholas still visited and we served old country poppy seed and nut rolls along with the Mexican sweet bread and horchata, but the majority of our tiny group didn't attend because they don't speak Spanish. Myself, I was a little disappointed that the Roman-rite Mass wasn't in English because I wanted to hear the corrected translation! The Spanish was correct all along. 

Our eparchy (diocese) is small enough to be a mission itself and the old country does not sponsor Byzantine Catholic endeavors as they do for the state religion of Orthodoxy- so we are on our own. This is one reason why it has been so amazing to have the help of places to celebrate the Liturgy even when we have to make changes because it isn't our own 'house.'

We borrow the space late Sunday mornings for our 'large' mission from a Byzantine church with a different jurisdiction. It is a blessing, but does using a rented space limit our outreach and growth? Perhaps- but that's reality.

Yes, the title of this blog is "fear not little flock"- we'll stay little. We have no choice.This is the way of the world. I just hope and pray we will exist enough to remain at least "little" and not gone completely.

Yes, with God all things are possible. His will be done. 

Santa Silliness

These made me smirk- yes, it is a bit irreverent, but Jesus is talking to  'Santa,' not Saint Nicholas

I've never been that big on the whole 'Santa' thing- Saint Nicholas brings chocolate (usually more courtesy of Father) on his feast day and comes back to fill the stockings on Christmas Eve. Big ticket items are given by the people who actually purchased them. I do love giving surprises; presents are fun even when a minimalist life might be easier. Renee, Byzantine Catholic mother and iconographer extraordinaire, blogged on the whole St Nicholas/ Santa/lying to kids dilemma. What do you think?

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Pretty- I think green is a very pretty color, and tea time makes me...

Funny- My four and a half year old son decided to label my mug with my name with a wayward Sharpie. 

Real- notice the fingerprints on the television and the tape that is securing the cord to the book shelf. Just keeping it real...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saint Nicholas versus Santa Claus

I was going to write a nice long post but the 'Bad Catholic' beat me to it. I hope Saint Nicholas left everyone something fun in their shoes yesterday!

You were revealed to your flock as a measure of faith. 
You were the image of humility and a teacher of self-control.
Because of your humble life, heaven was opened to you. 
Because of your poverty, 
spiritual riches were granted to you. 
O holy Bishop Nicholas we cry out to you: 
Pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

Singing with St Nick- replay

Jolly old Saint Nicholas, lean your ear this way
Don't you tell a single soul (except the Theotokos and Her Son) what I'm going to say
Christmas Eve is coming soon. Now you dear holy man,
this is what I ask of you; tell me if you can:

Grandma wants the CCHD stopped
I'd like a Douay Rheims
Bunicu wants an easy visa
so he can finally see the States

Father wants the monsignor
to return his calls
The kids should practice Latin-n-Greek
not run around the halls

Big Girl 1 would like a poodle
Big Girl 2 wants another cat
Boy would like more, more cars
who can argue with that?

Big Baby Girl would like a new
wooden kitchen from family far away
She'll have to wait for now
Uncle needs to hit the hay

Bishop & Saint Nicholas
We Byzantines adore
you were a champion of the Faith
We praise your works all the more

Although you're used for commercial gain
we remember your great life
through your intercession now
please help end this world's strife
(my apologies...try to sing to the tune of Jolly Old St Nicholas)

Kontakion of St. Nicholas

...You were truly a priestly worker in Myra,
for zealously living the Gospel of Christ,
you dedicated your life to your people;
you saved the innocent from death.
Therefore you have been sanctified
as one who has entered the mystery of God's grace.

The Great Entrance- Divine Liturgy Series

The priest goes to the Table of Preparation and takes the diskos and chalice and makes the Great Entrance, processing with altar servants.

Priest: May the Lord God remember in His kingdom, Our Holy universal Supreme Pontiff N . . ., the Pope of Rome, our most reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan N . . ., and our God loving Bishop N . . ., and the entire priestly, diaconal, and monastic order, our civil authorities, and all our armed forces, the noble and ever memorable founders and benefactors of this holy Church, (our suffering brethren), and all you Christians of the true faith, always, now and ever, and forever.

People: Amen. That we may now receive the King of all, invisibly escorted by angelic hosts. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Priest (silently): The noble Joseph took down Your most pure body from the cross, wrapped it in a clean shroud, and with fragrant spices laid it in burial in a new tomb. In Your goodness, show favor to Sion: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, (burnt offerings wholly consumed), then You will be offered young bulls on Your Altar.

Again, the Liturgy is using 'royal' vocabulary to describe the action. We are preparing to receive the king; he is surrounded by an angelic host. The priest is wearing royal garments because of his office and that he is in persona Christi. We bring offerings and decorate the sacred space as well as we can. We give our best to God because He is King of all and worthy of all respect and honor.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

St Andrew Prayer in Anticipation of the Nativity

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

a video link- scary food for thought

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Litany of Supplication & the Cherubimic Hymn

continuing the series on the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom:

After the Sermon, the priest begins the litany:
PRIEST: Let us all say with our whole soul, and with our whole mind, let us say:
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST: Lord Almighty, God of our fathers, we pray You, hear us and have mercy.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST: Have mercy on us, O God, according to Your great mercy; we pray You, hear us and have mercy.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times).

PRIEST (silently): Accept, O Lord our God, this fervent prayer from Your servants and have mercy on us according to Your great mercy, and send down Your benefits upon us and upon all Your people, who expect from You abundant mercies

PRIEST: Again we pray for His Holiness, our universal Pontiff N . . . Pope of Rome, and for our most reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan N . . . , for our God-loving Bishop N . . ., for those who serve and have served in this holy church, for our spiritual fathers, and for all our brethren in Christ.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

PRIEST: We also pray for our civil authorities and for all the armed forces.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

Special intentions may be added here.

PRIEST: We also pray for the people here present who await Your great and abundant mercy, for those who showed us charity, and for all Christians of the true faith.

PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

PRIEST: For You are a merciful and gracious God, and we render glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

PRIEST: All we faithful, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

Priest (silently): We thank You, O Lord God of Powers, for having deemed us worthy to stand, at this time, before Your holy Altar, and to prostrate ourselves before Your mercy, for our sins and for the people's misgivings. Accept our prayer, O God, and make us worthy to offer to You prayers and supplications, and unbloody sacrifices for all Your people, and enable us, whom You have placed in this Your ministry through the power of Your Holy Spirit, to call upon You at all times and in all places, without condemnation and offense, with a pure testimony of our conscience, that hearing us, You may be merciful to us according to the magnitude of Your goodness.

Priest (silently): Again, as so many times before, we fall down before You and entreat You, O gracious Lover of mankind, that You may regard our supplication, cleanse our souls and bodies from every defilement of flesh and spirit, and grant that we may stand blameless and without condemnation before Your Holy Altar. Grant also, O God, to those who are praying with us, betterment of life, faith, and spiritual understanding. Grant that they may serve You always with fear and love, that they may blamelessly and without condemnation partake of Your Holy Mysteries, and become worthy of Your heavenly kingdom.

PRIEST: That being ever protected by Your power, we may render glory to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

Priest (silently): No one who is bound by carnal desires and pleasures is worthy to come to You, to approach You, or to minister to You, the King of glory, for to minister to You is great and awesome, even to the heavenly powers themselves. Yet, because of Your ineffable and boundless love for mankind, though in nature unchanged and unchangeable, You became man and were made our high priest and, as Master of all, gave Into our keeping the holy office of this liturgical and unbloody sacrifice. For You alone, O Lord our God, rule over all things in heaven and on earth, and are borne on the cherubic throne, and are the Lord of the Seraphim and King of Israel, Who alone are holy and dwell in the saints. Therefore, I beseech You, Who alone are gracious and ready to hear me; look favorably upon me, Your sinful and unprofitable servant, and cleanse my heart and soul of an evil conscience, and by power of Your Holy Spirit, enable me, clothed with the grace of the priesthood, to stand before this Your holy altar, and offer the sacrifice of Your sacred and most pure body and precious blood. With bowed head, I approach You and implore You, turn not Your face away from me, nor exclude me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant; for it is You, O Christ, our God, Who offer and are offered, who receive and are received, and to You we render glory, with Your eternal Father, and Your all holy, gracious and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and for ever. Amen.

Priest raises up his hands and silently says the Cherubimic Hymn 3 times.


PEOPLE: Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now set aside every earthly cares...

The Cherubimic Hymn is what prepares us for the portion of the Liturgy dedicated to the consecration of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. We sing the hymn to remind ourselves to set aside all worldly cares because we are about to witness an act that is other-worldly. Like the 'Holy, Mighty and Immortal' hymn earlier in the Liturgy, this is also a time when most of the people will sing. But what does it mean?

We "represent the cherubim"?  Aren't we only human? Isn't it too much to say that we believers are acting the role of the Cherubim during the Liturgy? What are cherubim anyway? As angels, they were created to praise God; specifically, cherubim were the guardians. So, if we "represent the cherubim" we are to praise God during the Liturgy and always and also stand guard or stand witness. This can be a very tall order when the little ones are wiggling by this point, but this is the goal.