This past Saturday evening- We met at the Roman-rite chapel in which we have been given permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. I brought a big pan of lentils and pasta and some potato salad. There was Slavic-style cabbage and potatoes along with mushroom ravioli. Others brought some yummy Mexican food. Liturgy is about an hour and a half and then dinner will go on for about 2 hours. We hurried into the church to celebrate the Liturgy of St Basil.
Father was there as usual. He was going to bless four life-size icons written by a wonderful 85-year old woman who donated her talent to our mission. The icons make a portable icon screen to help the chapel achieve a more Byzantine 'flavor;' I am sure they will look less silly when the river rocks and empty clay pots are taken away from the center of the sanctuary space after Lent is finished. As guests we had a monk-priest who traveled far and a reader and two cantors who also traveled to be with us. We were about twenty people in total. 75 miles to the north and 60 miles to the south- this mission is the only Eastern Catholic church in a highly populated area. And we were twenty people total for this festive, reverent event.
Sunday evening- at the 'Last Chance Mass'- Father (having bi-ritual faculties for the Roman-rite archdiocese) substituted at the parish church that oversees the chapel in which we Byzantines meet on Saturday. This Mass is the 14th of the weekend for the combined church and chapel. There were at least 500 worshipers. The weekend will see a collection of about $20,000. Father had a challenging time 'wrangling' the three altar girls, but people were happy with his homily. Most likely because it is a late Mass, they don't have fellowship afterward, so he left after shaking a few hands.
So why the 'compare and contrast?' I see the final demise of the Eastern Catholic churches in this example. If I am able to do so charitably, I will continue this analysis of the disappearance of the Byzantine rite in a series.