Friday, March 23, 2012

7 QuickTakes- What You Don't Know About Priest's Wife

1. Cardinal Levada confirmed me. I think my unconfirmed little brother was my proxy sponsor. My patron is St Anne.
2. I love science fiction books and movies like Minority Report, Brave New World and 1984- just about anything from Ray Bradbury. But I really don't like the concept of alien civilizations- even that horrid new Transformers movie gave me the willies. Oh- and I loved Lost (except Bai LIng- what was that about? Even Nikki and Paolo made sense compared to her.)

3. My favorite color is green, and my favorite scent is lavender.
4. I was an insufferable Anglophile growing up. I planned my trip across the pond hen I was 12. I have never been there. I lived in Austria and Slovakia for four years and now I am in central Europe every other summer. I don't think I am going to get there. 

5. I haven't watched Downton Abbey yet. See #4.
6. I've never been drunk and have never smoked a cigarette, tobacco or otherwise. I have had one boyfriend- now husband. Wow, I really am white bread. There was little to no rebellion in my teenage and early adult years. But I did marry a future priest with an accent. That was quite the surprise to my very Roman Roman Catholic family. They thought I would marry a fictional English animal doctor and live in the land of All Creatures Great and Small. Sorry, different accent.

7. I had absolutely no ideas written down for Quick Takes- can you tell? And I am foolishly trying to beat a few blogger friends to here's the last thing that you don't know about me- I can be quite silly! And, sometimes I am silly, talking mommy-things or foody-things- sometimes I can get quite serious (maybe depressing to some). 
Well- Ric Ballard, who writes at the blog Eastern Catholic Spiritual Renewal has given me permission to repost some of his posts which are far more theological than mine usually are. Here's one originally posted in January. Take a look at his blog if you interested in Byzantine spiritual practices. The blog is one man's opinions and experiences, but it gives a different insight into East/West conflicts and unity.

Which One is Right?
     by Ric Ballard- "My 11 year old brought a very challenging question to our daily faith discussions that we have as a family. In explaining to her that our Byzantine tradition on original sin is different then what she is being taught in her Roman Catholic school she asked, "which one is right?". What she asked was very serious and I had to be careful in how I responded because religious truth is essential in how we respond to God and others. I told her that the need for salvation through baptism is what's most important but how we understand the process is a great mystery. I then repeated the words of Blessed John Paul the Great when he said that one tradition can come closer to appreciating the mystery better then the other at times and as Byzantines we are called to uphold our understanding of the mystery.
     Questions like the one above are what we all ask ourselves when we find what is sacred to us being challenged by another truth. Historically, when our Byzantine traditions have been challenged in the past by the Latin tradition, at least in my own church, we threw them out in order not appear as heretics. This cycle of replacement has been very hard to break because we don't wish our unity with Rome to be threatened. In addition to compromising in the effort of trying to return to our roots, some have gone as far to say there are no differences in traditions rather it's a matter of wording. In my opinion, this is worse then compromising because it leads to confusion. For example, try telling an 11-year old that all babies are born pure and not separated from God's grace (as we are taught in the Byzantine tradition) means the same thing as babies are separated from grace and need to be cleansed from original sin (as it is in the Latin tradition). [this needs more clarification and references. I'll look around his blog for more on this important issue. We certainly do a lot of exorcisms during a Byzantine baptism! priest's wife]
     They emphasize the unique spiritualities that are proper to each tradition but are often misinterpreted as conflicting truths. Essentially instead of looking for how much truth one tradition has over the other, as we are sometimes inclined to do, we need to ask what part of the mystery is that particular tradition trying to address.
     By looking at the mysteries of our faith from the perspective  of another tradition,  we can become open to enriching our very own. In the previous century, the Latin tradition has been known for doing this very thing. By looking East, the Latin tradition has fine-tuned its doctrine of original sin. For example, the recent catechism as opposed to the Baltimore catechism gives a toned down understanding of inherited guilt, not to mention the divergence in the doctrine of limbo. Its obvious that we have a lot to offer each other when we become confident in the uniqueness of our tradition. Unfortunately, in those Eastern churches that lost their identity because of Latinization we are not able to have the same confidence as of yet.
     It is imperative that we recover our theological traditions without fear. Being afraid of being different then Rome continues to leave some of us crippled. As demonstrated being different in religious truth does not make us at odds. The divinely inspired diversity is for the good of the whole church for it leads to a better understand of the mysteries of our salvation. In the first 1000 years of Christianity, our churches learned to benefit from this diversity. Even though divisions had occurred in the historical churches, the theological diversity never diminished. We have inherited this diversity and need to be faithful to the gift that God has given us."

go to for more quick takes


  1. Fun to learn the fun facts about you. Is that last picture the gazebo/structure from Barsana? I think I saw the church on one of your other recent posts.

  2. yes- isn't that the most beautiful place! I have got to post more photos- the weather was beautiful when we were there

    1. We saw it on a pretty day also; it's quite the complex, and beautifully crafted.

  3. #7 I either do the same and make up something really quick or I have to start a week out to think of things to post.

  4. You stumped me on the LOST reference...I thought I'd watched the whole thing, but now i realize I missed an episode or a few somewhere in there! Time to hit the Netflix again...

  5. Kathleen- Bai Ling is a Chinese-British (I think) actress that had one episode- the only forgettable one of the series, in my opinion

  6. Ric ballard sent me a bit of info on the baptism issue-
    taken from the Book: “Life After Death”, By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos pg 101

    "Therefore orthodox theology does not teach what theology in the West says, that man inherits the guilt of the ancestral sin. For we believe that at birth a person has a pure nous: his nous is illuminated, which is the natural state. The inheritance of ancestral sin, as we said in another place, lies in the fact that the body inherits corruptibility and mortality, which, with the passsage of time, and as the child grows and passions develop, darkens the noetic part of his soul. Indeed the developed passions linked with corruptibility and mortality and darkness of the environment darken the noetic part of the souls of children.
    There is the problem of what happens at holy Baptism. That is to say, since infants have a pure nous which is in a state of illumination, and they have noetic prayer, then why do we baptise them?
    The answer, as we see in the whole patristic tradition, is that by holy Baptism we are not getting rid of guilt from ancestral sin, but we are being grafted on to the Body of Christ, the Church, and are acquiring the power to conquer death. This is how we understand the baptism of babies. We baptise them so that they may become members of the Church, members of the Body of Christ, that they may pass over death, overcome the garments of skin, decay and mortality. That is to say that as they grow, whenever the nous becomes darkened by passions and the darkness of the surroundings, they may have the ability to conquer death in Christ, to overcome the passions and to purify the noetic part of their souls once more."

    1. Just a quick question... I must confess that, as someone converting the the Catholic Church, prior to today I was largely ignorant of just exactly how far apart the dogma is in the Roman and Byzantine Traditions. I 'bought' the blithely-stated and oft-repeated refrain that "we hold the same Faith and the same Mystery but with different Liturgical traditions and theological perspectives" completely whole and entire, and in doing so fell in love with the Catholic Church which I came to see as utterly Universal and composed of the preeminent Roman Rite and some twenty-two other sacred, ancient, apostolic, and venerable Rites. It was precisely in this beautiful and idealistic, yet apparently terrible naive, vision of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that drew me away from my comfort zone and heart which resided in Lutheranism to the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, after giving Ric Ballard's blog a read-through, I can see that the blithe answer doesn't do anything like justice to the complexities, and, if reviewed with a neutral disposition, it's easy to see how one could reasonably be Orthodox rather than Catholic. To put the same thing in a different way, it's almost impossible to imagine how any true catholic unity between the theological traditions of the Romans and Byzantines is even possible. Some aspects wherein East and West differ are authentic in their purported complementarity, but many others, such as Latin Anathematizing dogmas that developed after the Great Schism, are absolutely mutually exclusive. Take original sin and the Holy Mystery of Baptism, for example. Either infants inherit original sin by natural generation and it has to be washed away by water and the Spirit, or they don't. The Bishop of Rome and the Bishops in communion with him throughout history have infallibly decided the former (not excluding the latter insofar as it means being joined to the Body of Christ and acquiring the power to conquer death), and the Byzantine Bishops throughout history who have not been in communion with the Bishop of Rome dissent *fallibly.* When mutually exclusive fallible and infallible confront, one's going to have to give, and I can tell that for many Byzantine Catholics, that's too steep a price to pay and many view it as Latinization. Where the line here is I have no idea. All I know is that there are a good many things that are mutually complementary in the two Traditions, such as the emphasis on the Death of Christ in the Roman Tradition and the emphasis on the Resurrection of Christ in the Byzantine, or the emphasis on the Unity of the Divine Nature of the Trinity in complementarity with the emphasis on the Triune Persons possessing the Divine Nature; I also know that there are certain outright contradictions.

      To understate it gravely, this has been extremely disheartening to this hopeful convert in love with the ancient and orthodox Catholic Faith.

    2. Jonathon- after I posted this portion of Ric's post, I couldn't sleep because it is so controversial- Ric is really trying to encourage Byzantine Catholics to be Byzantine ('orthodox') in their spirituality and Catholic only through jurisdiction.

      Whether Ric agrees or not- some of the problem IS vocabulary- and some of it is pride- in that the eastern orthodox were not a part of some defining dogmas like the Immaculate Conception- so some people say Orthodox don't believe in that- not true.

      Theology developed and is defined and explained, but if you have ever been to a Byzantine baptism, you would say- WOW! How many exorcisms does that cute little baby need? So- in our actions and our liturgical tradition, there is clearly a concept of 'original sin' however we explain it.

      I am going to ask our monks from Holy Resurrection Monastery to clarify this- they have the education (unlike me and I believe Ric) to explain the concept well.

      Jonathan- don't be discouraged- it is one, holy and apostolic. The dogma is the same even if we explain it differently or focus on different aspects of God.

    3. Hi, Jonathan, even if some Byzantines put forth that they believe children are born in an original justice, (that is not merely without personal sin, but also without original sin and the guilt attributed thereto) this does not mean that they are free to believe what they profess. The Council of Trent made it very clear what is to be believed regarding the original sin of Adam and how it is removed from the individual, which is bound on the universal Church, not merely the Latin Rite. Contrary to what this Mr. Ric Ballard says, this issue is not a mere matter of cultural shift toward Latinization amongst the Easterns, but a matter of salvation of souls. A contradiction cannot exist, and as was defined at the First Vatican Council, that which is of the faith cannot contradict reason. Therefore, only one tradition is correct in regard to the transmission of the truth of the original sin: either the universal Church as reflected in the teachings of the Council of Trent (sessions five and six), or the Byzantine tradition as reported by Mr. Ric Ballard.

      Please, don't be discouraged, and don't despair!

    4. Nicole- thanks for all of this-

      I just talked with my bishop John Michael Botean and he doesn't agree with the direction Ric Ballard (sorry Ric- I shouldn't have started with this post!) is going in- I'll have to get him to explain more and I'll post about it

    5. You're welcome, Priest's Wife - It is something that irks me when people come up with the notion that different rites mean different doctrines or dogmata. We're all supposed to be following rites which manifest our [hoped] communion with Rome (i.e., the Holy See); all under the same aegis, so to speak, professing the same faith, looking forward to the same hope and striving to preserve communion in the same charity.

      Mr. Ballard seems to be of the belief that Latinization (development toward the Latin Rite) and Romanization (development toward universality under the authority of the Supreme and Roman Pontiff) are the same thing. It's certain that the Byzantines, etc., do not have need of Latinization, but if they stray from Rome, then they certainly need Romanization! (and they should be glad to have it looking at the sad fate of those who call themselves "eastern orthodox")

      It is as our Holy Father, Ven. Pope Pius IX, stated in Singulari Quidem "The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman: unique, the Chair founded on Peter ...Outside her fold is to be found neither the true faith nor eternal salvation, for it is impossible to have God for a Father if one has not the Church for a Mother." Rome is part of the big picture!

  7. You might think you're white bread, but I think you're pretty interesting!

    Is it possible for a person to be both Eastern and Western Catholic? What I mean by that is, since both churches are Catholic, and both teach the whole truth but at times understand things differently, could a person who does not agree with or understand the teachings of his or her rite (over a particular issue, such as baptism), take on the teaching of the other rite? So if a Roman Catholic agreed more (understood more) the teachings of baptism in the Orthodox church, could that person remain a Roman Catholic and acknowledge the Orthodox understanding as the one he or she adheres to?

    1. Eastern and Western Catholics are both Catholic, meaning the belief is the same between the two; it is Catholic (i.e., universal). Baptism for a Maronite, Ruthenian, Byzantine, Copt, etc., in communion with Rome has the self-same doctrine. It may be celebrated with emphasis on different aspects of that doctrine as follows the tradition of each rite, however.

      Those who misappropriate the title "orthodox" to themselves may have various beliefs that are incongruent to the doctrines taught by true authority in the Catholic Church, which while appealing, they are yet false. It is not the same to favor an Eastern Rite as it is to favor the eastern schismatics. The Catholic Church is the only place in which orthodoxy really lies, whether one looks to the Eastern or Western Rites. To assent to the teaching of the eastern schismatics who call themselves "orthodox" in opposition to what has been authoritatively handed down to the faithful from Rome would be a pretty scary step (either toward heresy or schism) in my way of seeing things.

      If you're merely talking about appropriating the explanation of the doctrines and dogmata of the Church from either an Eastern or Western viewpoint, I do not see the issue (as long as the viewpoint does not stray from the authoritative substance of the doctrine). I think the fact that the Westerns do not shun the writings of the Eastern Fathers is a good case in point. The main issue at hand here is that all of us who truly strive to be loyal sons and daughters of the Supreme Pontiff are Roman Catholic whether of the Eastern or Western Rites. I think that the problem of identifying only the Latins as Roman has to stop, personally. We have to look at the Church as it really is: Universal, encompassing many rites.

  8. Kayla- hmmmm...that's a VERY complicated question: my quick answer is that unless a person wants to officially change rites, they should stay the way they are, perhaps 'supplementing' their understanding with theological knowledge from different rites. For example, Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox remember Mary the Theotokos with more liturgical actions (the song to her at every Divine Liturgy, the Akathist to the Theotokos, etc)- the rosary is not part of our tradition (a personal repetitive prayer we use is the Jesus prayer on a prayer rope)- so the rosary should be supplemental for us and not prayed to the neglect of other Byzantine prayers

  9. Mr. Ballard here. I'm just trying to be an obedient son of the church. I could list endless church documents on why it's ok to have a different theological expression but I'll leave you with this. The Vatican II council teaches this:
    "6. All members of the Eastern Rite should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain for themselves an organic improvement. All these, then, must be observed by the members of the Eastern rites themselves. Besides, they should attain to on ever greater knowledge and a more exact use of them, and, if in their regard they have fallen short owing to contingencies of times and persons, they should take steps to return to their ancestral traditions."
    The pope said this:
    "As has been many times repeated, the full union of the Eastern Catholic Churches with the Church of Rome that is already realized must not lead to a diminution of the consciousness of the unique authenticity and originality of those Churches For this reason it is the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches to conserve the common disciplinary patrimony and nourish their own traditions, which is a treasure for the whole Church."
    Blessed john Paul II said this:
    5. "In the study of revealed truth East and West have used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things. It is hardly surprising, then, if sometimes one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed them better. In such cases, these various theological formulations are often to be considered complementary rather than conflicting."(10)
    As the Patriarch Gregorios III said once,:”We are an Eastern Church in communion with Rome and faithfully so, yet which wants to remain faithful to the pure, Orthodox spiritual tradition. I make bold to say that we are an Orthodox Church with the little or big plus of communion with Rome, with the Pope and our Holy Father Benedict XVI who presides in primacy and charity. Treat us as a real Eastern Church, just as you would the Orthodox on the day when the much longed for union takes place!"

  10. Ric- Thanks for this comment-it was my fault to publish probably your most complex post! We will get to the bottom of this....and you won't like this- but I DO think sometimes it is a matter of vocabulary.

    I'm trying to get Fr Abbot Nicholas and my bishop John-Michael Botean to nail down some good commentary- they are both great examples of true Byzantines

  11. For those that referred to me as a heretic and schismatic today I had you in mind when I wrote my latest blog post. Hope you recognize I just a faithful catholic.:

  12. Ric- I think those words were used with their understanding of the dogma- not you personally. I am sorry for the hurt feelings- I think we Byzantine Catholics are in a nearly impossible situation- with Orthodox Liturgy and spirituality and Catholic jurisdiction


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