Wednesday, December 24, 2014

24/7 Shopping & Smart Phones are killing the Byzantine Catholic churches in the US

I haven't written a blog post in over a month. We have been very very busy with the end of the academic semester and moving ten miles away to a large rental house. All happy news that I hope to share.

But I have to share this thought first on a slightly gloomy Christmas Eve day: 24/7 shopping and 'smart' phones are killing the Byzantine Catholic churches in the US. Maybe they are killing all that is old and good, but my experience is with the Byzantine churches.

This thought has nothing to do with Black Friday or Christmas from China or Boxing Day shopping (click on those labels to your right if you are interested in previous rants on those topics). 

24/7 shopping is killing the rhythm of the week. There is no downtime, ever. 24/7 shopping causes all of us to want- no, need- a custom-made, just-for-me experience with anything we experience.Our internet-capable phones do the same thing.

I posted a Christmas vigil invitation on Facebook- 5:30 PM Divine Liturgy (Mass)...Christmas Eve. We are blessed to share space at a Roman-rite chapel. It is their chapel, not ours. We are too poor and small.The 5:30 slot is a great blessing even if our Byzantine tradition really calls for early matins and Divine Liturgy Christmas Day. We do what we can to survive in the 'Wild West.'

Well- the responses I got were interesting- a family would attend if we had a Christmas Day morning Divine Liturgy. Well, it is booked by the community that actually belongs to the chapel. Another family would attend if the Christmas vigil was earlier. Vigils really shouldn't be earlier than 5:30, I think....

So, we try. My girls help me with the finger food platters of cookies, fruit, sandwiches to share after the Divine Liturgy. We pack gift bags of goodies for the children, thinking we will need to just drop them off at a charity center if we don't have any children come. We practice the troparions and antiphons as best we can. We make copies of the changed holiday parts, hoping that attendees will feel comfortable and sing the all-sung Divine Liturgy.

But unlike 24/7 always-available shopping and customized  'smart' phones, the Church, specifically this tiny community of Byzantine Catholics, doesn't change (and shouldn't) with the ever-changing whims of the world. We don't have a advertising consultant that tells us to call the service "The Plex" or "Encounter" with no written reference to whose birthday it is. 

The Catholic Church is slow to change. I am grateful, but most people are not happy with that. Most people need church at their time, their style, their level of comfort- be it 'liberal' or 'traditional,' their preferred percentage of English-Romanian-Latin-etc used within church; it goes on and on. Heaven will prevail, but I am not confident that the Church while on Earth will.

So everyone needing a customized church 'experience' along with their 24/7 shopping and phone can have them. I'll have the old Church. And this is not to mention the supreme killer of churches: sports.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Married Men, The Byzantine Catholic Priesthood & Money

It always seems to come down to money, don't you think?

The personal reflections on this blog are completely anecdotal and are true only to my experience. Other Eastern Catholic clergy families might have a very different experience, and I am sure that celibate priests can be even more different.  How should I answer this:

"All these folks who want married priests
should be asked the following questions:
  • How much will you be increasing your weekly contributions to the Church to pay for the wife and kids, and their educations, and their medical and life insurance, and the large house and the second car and maybe third car? 
  • Will it be OK with you if your pastor gets four weeks vacation to be with his family?
  • Will he be able to charge overtime for sick calls and weddings on Saturdays, taking him away from his family?"
It always about money, isn't it? It is rather uncouth to discuss exact figures, so I will not share the exact amount that priests of my eparchy are supposed to be paid (my husband heads up two missions, so the guidelines don't apply to us in any case- he doesn't receive any compensation from the mission). The guidelines state that priests should receive an extra $100 monthly for each dependent that he has. That certainly wouldn't pay for four-week vacations, a third car (?!) and the children's educations. It covers groceries.

From our personal experience-
which is real and not some worst care scenario fantasy- there has never been a four-week vacation. The first time we were able to get the money together to visit the old country after five years of marriage, priest-husband stayed a week and the girls and I stayed for the summer. I will go with the kids to visit the US grandparents for two weeks between the summer semester and fall semester, and I don't see how he can fit it in. I am not throwing a pity party at all; this is the life we have chosen, but I am just gobsmacked by the attitude of so many people. As for the "second or third" car, we were just able to upgrade and donate our second small car- a Chevy with 250,000+ miles.

And since when has any priest "charged" for a sick call? That kind of activity would be worthy of Luther nailing his theses to the door of a cathedral. I suppose I was sensitive to this comment because as I was reading the post and following comments, my husband was going back to the hospital at night to anoint because no local priest was available....we do not live in a priest-lacking zone....Obviously certain liturgical activities will be private such as sick calls and confession. Does a surgeon bring his/her family into the operating room? But we participate in his life whenever it is appropriate. Weddings are family affairs and most clergy families will be helping as they can with whatever talents they have. Except for private counseling sessions, a wedding does not take time away from the family. I would say the problem is the opposite from what the commenter feared. The typical clergy family will be wedding coordinator, singer, florist if needed, and more- all for the 'price' of one- and that price is set by the bride and groom. They give nothing or a bit or a lot, depending on their ability and desire. But the priest and his family who have put multiple hours or days into the marriage preparation and wedding will never receive a stipend as large as the reception dj who is there for a few hours. It is what it is, but priests getting rich off of sacraments is a long-standing, false stereotype.

I just wonder, is 'time way from family' ever a common argument against a man becoming a doctor or a lawyer? I didn't think so, because he brings home a lot of money- after a few years of making virtually nothing as a resident or first-second year non-partner. But MD or Esq looks good after a last name, so the family can do without Dad as he works to bring home lots of bacon.

I just wonder, do Protestants or Orthodox look at their pastor's new baby and mutter under their breath that this baby is going to cost them money? Or is his family just part of 'doing (church) business' - also realizing that in his wife, they might have a 'free' secretary, cantor, wedding coordinator, lunch maker, coffee brewer, kid wrangler- as long as a different parishioner doesn't want to do those things? They might realize- he either needs to make more money (the worker is worth the wage) or the parishioners needs to be tolerant of time away from church  and help him with non-liturgical chores so he can make the 'big money' at a supplemental job.

I just wonder,
do Roman-rite parishioners fret over the cost of repaving the blacktop or taking care of the roof? Do they argue with the finance committee over the cost of weekly flowers and buying new banners? Could the money sent producing four-color brochures announcing a  new stewardship campaign and the subsequent mailings and four color outdoor banners on every Roman-rite parish be put to wiser use?

In my opinion, the only arguments to retain priestly celibacy in the Roman rite are theological and traditional. I am not here to disrespect celibacy. I do disrespect using money as an argument to retain celibacy. I could remind everyone that Fr John Corapi took a specific vow of poverty as a religious (not just a promise to live simply like a secular priest does) yet he owns two houses and had control over his ministry's financial dealings. Another worst case scenario- what happens when a celibate priest gets ill? The Church provides for him (as they should)! One person can become as expensive as many. At the wonderful Latin-rite parish where I  was the night phone and door person as a highschooler, the priests had  secretaries, cooks, housekeepers, cars provided, insurance provided, lay youth ministers, choir directors and more. Basically, everything was set up for them to do their priestly work. I do not discount their hard work and struggles, but I don't remember ever hearing comments like the ones above... just saying....

and another
"Dear Panyi Matka, As a Roman Catholic with an unending love and passion for Eastern Christianity, the Priesthood, and my girlfriend, I want to know if you could provide me with some guidance as to the possibility of moving into the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church and becoming a married priest. Thank you and may God be with you and your family always. In Christ, S---."
My first interior response was along the lines of- here is another Latin-rite Catholic 'using' us Byzantines for our traditional Liturgy/married priesthood possibility/opportunity to be a big fish in a very small pond instead of one in five thousand at the local Roman-rite church. He would put up with our smallness and different-ness for a year or two and then go back to his Latin roots (literally- I think the writer is Latino or Italian in origin) But then I got a hold of myself and re-read his question.
Father Maximos of Holy Resurrection Monastery has stated that a person's primary vocation is either celibacy or marriage. This might seem counter-intuitive because the priesthood is an eternal mark on the soul while marriage is not, but one should begin with discerning whether celibacy or marriage is God's plan for their life. The priesthood is a possibility with both a vocation to celibacy (a vocation to celibacy makes being a monk or priest monk possible) and marriage for a man.
But the Roman-rite has not had a married priesthood as a normal matter of course for hundreds of years. So what does this mean for a Latin-rite man's discernment process? Even if he likes Liturgy and theology and the Church and the idea of becoming a priest, if he has discerned marriage, the priesthood should be off the table. The diaconate is a distant possibility, but diocesan policies usually limit study for the diaconate to a man who has been married for many years. So as heartless as it sounds, a Latin-rite man who has discerned marriage (yes- even before he has found a future wife-possibility) should realize that the priesthood is not available to him. He should not attempt to finagle a way such as become Anglican and then attempt a change to Roman-rite Catholicism  or become Byzantine-rite and then really be Roman-rite with bi-ritual faculties. This is just not right or holy.
My husband- from the old country where most priests are married with children- discerned both marriage and a hoped-for call to the priesthood when he was seventeen. Everything education-wise and professionally has a connection to his priesthood and his obligation to support his family. When he was in seminary in his country, his bishop invited those seminarians who planned on remaining celibate to study for their Master's degree in Rome. He knew that he planned on getting married, so he declined the invitation. His integrity was more important than that. And I believe that God has rewarded his honorable interactions with his bishop. He was able to study in France for two summers and in Austria for a year. He was given permission to start a ministry in the United States. But he has never been to Rome.
So in a very roundabout way, I am advising the writer to be honorable. If you have discerned marriage, then that is what you must do. If you feel the Byzantine rite truly calling your heart, then  become involved with the closest church and begin the process to officially change your rite. I would hope that your girlfriend would change as well. You should change your rite with no thought to a future priesthood. You need to live about two years of being only Byzantine before you should contact the bishop. Practically, the Romanian and Ukrainian eparchies are more open to married men working towards the priesthood, but the Ruthenian eparchies are more pan-cultural and American. 

Be honorable and be honest with yourself. If your dream as a priest involves Ash Wednesday ash distribution, not singing Alleluia during Lent, preaching in front of a thousand people, rosaries and adoration, the Byzantine-rite will not fulfill the dream. This is why living a Byzantine life for about two years is important for you to discern if this is the life you want. In addition, every pre-seminarian and seminarian (of all rites) must realize that they will or won't be ordained at the bishop's pleasure. The priesthood is not a right even when one has all the education. In the Byzantine rite of ordination, the bishop asks the people- Is he worthy? and the candidate hopes and prays that the people will sing, "Axios!"
on a very practical note: a married man hoping to be ordained a (Byzantine-rite) priest should figure out how he will support himself and his family. Byzantine-Catholic churches are generally small and poor. If it is very small (like our two missions), he can plan to work an outside job. If grandma or auntie live close by and are willing and the church is too big to be away from, the wife might work outside the home. Different families have different solutions. The writer needs to prepare himself for a future with or without the priesthood.
....And maybe most importantly- the wife needs to be enthusiastic about a possible priesthood. She doesn't need to delude herself into thinking that all will be sunshine and roses. I knew that the day of my husband's priestly ordination was the day that satan really had the desire to destroy him and his family. But I was still game for the adventure. But if the girlfriend/wife is not hopeful and positive about it, stop. This may mean that he should not pursue this path. He was married first. As painful as it might be, he is called to be married first and then find a way to serve our Lord in His Church- just not with the priesthood.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

a good book a day- 7 favorite spiritual books

1. Introduction to a Devout Life- by St Francis de Sales
2. On Marriage and Family Life- by St John Chrysostom
3. 101 Questions & Answers on Eastern Catholic Churches by Edward Faulk
4. When the Church was Young: Voices of the Church Fathers by Marcellino d'Ambrosio
5. The Joy in Living- Mother Theresa of Calcutta
6. The Sunday Sermons of the Church Fathers
7. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt

check out the post below for my little ones announcing the winner of the 'Angel in the Waters' book giveaway!

& we have a winner! ~Angel in the Waters giveaway~

Friday, October 24, 2014

a good book a day and giveaway via Sophia Institute Press- Angel in the Waters

Angel in the Waters written by Regina Doman with illustrations by Ben Hatke is one of those read-aloud books. You, mama, will be innocently reading it as a bedtime story to your little ones and then get that lump in your throat. You cough a bit, hoping they don't notice. You continue reading. Then a little something in your eye makes you wipe it. You read on in a slightly wobbly voice.

And then the oldest little one, usually about seven, pipes up: "What's wrong, mama? Are you crying?"
Why yes, beloved son, I am.

"In its mother’s womb, a tiny baby grows, explores the waters, and talks with the angel who is there. These gentle illustrations and wise words tell the story of that baby and the angel in the waters — a story that will delight all young children because the journey from conception to birth is their story, too." (from SIPress)
buy it now from the above affiliate link, through Sophia Institute Press and/or enter the giveaway!
To enter giveaway- answer me this in the comment box below (anonymous comments are possible, but you will need a name to identify yourself and an email to contact you by):
Which book makes you laugh or cry aloud....really?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

a good book a day- seven really quick takes

1. We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) is a complete delight. Mo Willems is an amazing artist and writer. I promise you will not get tired of reading these. Be sure to use voices.
2.The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin is an engaging resource that every Christian home should have on their bookshelf. The Church Fathers really did (and do) know best! I am constantly amazed with how modern they seem, but I suppose the same evil then is here now.
3. The Tolkien Reader with The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight boxset will delight the LOTR and Hobbit fan in your home. 
4. Faeries, Elves and Goblins: The Old Stories is reminiscent of the Andrew Lang-edited fairy tales...beautiful and perfect for this time of the year when the nights get longer.
5.The Action Bible will keep a boy interested in what happens next. It is not for the faint of heart, but it really is full of 'action' that brings Bible history to life. Buy the hardbound version; I think that a Kindle version is not advisable. A not-so-young, not-too-visually-sensitve reader needs to see the pictures well and physically page by page.
6. Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! (Giant Little Golden Book) This is the 'best storybook ever!' I just adore the varying artistic styles and lengths of the stories included. You will have time to read three stories to the little ones before bedtime.
7. Black as Night: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman is part of her fairy tales retold series. My girls (15 and 14 now!) have enjoyed them and re-read them. They are holding off on the rapunzel book, but even the others have dark story lines. But good and bad are contrasted and following God's commandments is what saves the primary characters. I was reprimanded by my Catholic homeschooling group for recommending them- but I didn't tell teens to go out and buy them, I told the mothers they should consider the books.....and I certainly did not mention Harry Potter!
come back on Friday for another Sophia Institute Press giveaway! Write a comment- win a book!
fyi- these are affiliate links- if you click and then go on to buy something on amazon, you support this blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a silly song...

now, if we wrote a song from our texts, it wouldn't be half as fun!

Can u be home by 6:15 so I can take big girls to class?
so you can get A from tae kwan do at 545?
I guess you aren't coming home because you have a house blessing soon
yes- finished with first thing, then return to office and will call
R u coming home or staying
speaking with K and then I come home
Hi- how's work
fine- I keep moving
 Coming home yet?
yes right now
in meeting
meeting. home soon
where are you?
still in meeting. wrapping up soon
how was your eval?
meh. maybe okay.
can you get big girls after Shakespeare?
si claro
in meeting. Can you get girls from Shakespeare? sorry
that's ok- home for dinner?

and it goes on and on!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

giveaway winner- Pilgrims9!!!

....and uh-oh....your name doesn't click onto an email address.....I hope you check back here!...I am going to have to figure out this giveaway thing better

You won- 'A Mother's Rule of Life'
email me at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

being 'church sick,' cute kittens, precious puppies and other quick takes

1. What is 'church sick' you ask? It is the same as homesick. I miss our church, the mission my husband was pastor of for 12 years. We, poor and miniscule Romanian Byzantine Catholics, worshiped at the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic proto-cathedral. A new priest replaced my husband on Palm Sunday 2014, and two Sundays ago was the first time we went back to visit. The icon screen was a breath of fresh air for me.
2. Now, we have only one mission. We are blessed to have Divine Liturgy at a Roman-rite Catholic chapel; we also have four life-size portable icons to 'simulate' a proper icon screen. it is beautiful, and Jesus is there; it is still not the same.
3. Last Sunday, we visited a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic parish three hours away and witnessed the consecration of the icon screen and altar. As a visiting priest, my husband got to witness the ritual close-up. In almost 3 years as a deacon and 12 years as a priest, he had never seen it. It was beautiful, and I again felt comfortable. These are my people. (the photo below doesn't show the visiting priests or the bishop- and the 4 darling altar boys aren't there because I am not going to publish minors that aren't family on this blog- there were big boys of 4, 5 and 7 years old serving plus a 2 year old in a matching vestment sitting in the front with his mother)
 4. Too sad? here's a kitten...
5. Not a cat person and my 'church-sickness' is still depressing/confusing you? Here's a dog...look at those eyes!

6. If you read one blog post this week: read this one titled: "Why I am not going to take my own life." It is a story of a woman's battle with brain cancer and her faith in Christ and His Church.

7. Some may have noticed that I am doing a little series on books for the mega-link up 31 days from the Nester. Click on this blog post, write a comment answering "What book/books are you reading now?" and be in the running to win A Mother's Rule of Life from Sophia Institute Press. (Comment on yesterday's post for the giveaway)

a good book a day for 31 days and a giveaway - A Mother's Rule of Life

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul, published by Sophia Institute Press, inspires. Women are doing more and more these days. Many mothers work outside the home, have their children involved in outside activities, work in volunteer roles and even take responsibility for their children's education through homeschooling. If the reader is willing to be led and taught, this book will help bring order, peace, and happiness to the chaos. Sophia Institute Press' new printing of the book has a fresh new cover with an inviting illustration. It is a book that should be on every Catholic mother's bookshelf to be read and re-read for those days when we need inspiration, concrete help, and a glimpse of hope beyond diapers and dishes.
"On January 1, 2000, Holly Pierlot pounded her fist on the kitchen table and yelled at her husband, I can't take it anymore!
Motherhood and homeschooling had overwhelmed her. The house was dirty, the laundry undone. Holly felt frustrated, discouraged, and alone. She couldn't find time to snuggle and have fun with her five children or to go out with her husband. Yes, she loved Philip and she did love God, but she had come to resent Philip's freedom and she almost never found time for prayer.
Today, everything's better.
Holly still homeschools, but the house is cleaner, she gets more done, and the kids are happier. There's less stress, less strife, and less housework. Holly's been healed of past wounds that troubled her soul and her marriage. Best of all, she spends at least an hour each day in prayer and time each evening with Philip.
Holly brought about these changes with what she calls her Mother's Rule of Life, a pattern for living that combines the spiritual wisdom of the monastery with the practical wisdom of motherhood.
Her Rule is not just another set of schedules; it's a way for Christian mothers to answer God's call to holiness. With the help of your own Rule, you can get control of your own household, grow closer to God, come to love your husband more, and raise up good Christian children. In these wise and practical pages, Holly shows you how.
With your own Mother's Rule of Life, you ll transform motherhood and its burdens into the joyful vocation it's meant to be. Learn how to craft a Rule that's right for you and your family. Then use that Rule to help God draw you, your husband, and each of your children into Heaven!" (Sophia Institute Press) 
when to read this book: when you know you are juggling too much and need some concrete ides for peace at home
what is special about this book: even though the author says that every 'mother's rule' will look different, she gives her 'rule' and schedule- it is helpful to have specifics and not just philosophy
Win a copy of this book by leaving a comment below- The winner, who will need to email a mailing address via the blog's email, ( will be announced on this blog on Monday, October 13th.  
Comment to win: What book/books are you reading now? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

a good book a day for 31 days- The Thurber Carnival

...Do you ever actually 'LOL' when you type 'LOL'? Well...when I read James Thurber's Thurber Carnival I really LOL and even ROLFLMFannyO...he is brilliant. There are short stories on an old dog, the night the bed fell on grandpa, secret lives, hamburgers and mechanical failure, and my favorite short story ever, the catbird seat...there is something perfect with the manner Thurber develops characters primarily through the words they speak without a lot of specific physical description.
"Sitting in his apartment, drinking a glass of milk, Mr. Martin reviewed his case against Mrs. Ulgine Barrows, as he had every night for seven nights. He began at the beginning. Her quacking voice and braying laugh had first profaned the halls of F & S on March 7, 1941 (Mr. Martin had a head for dates). Old Roberts, the personnel chief, had introduced her as the newly appointed special adviser to the president of the firm, Mr. Fitweiler. The woman had appalled Mr. Martin instantly, but he hadn’t shown it. He had given her his dry hand, a look of studious concentration, and a faint smile.”Well,” she had said, looking at the papers on his desk, “are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch?” As Mr. Martin recalled that moment, over his milk, he squirmed slightly. He must keep his mind on her crimes as a special adviser, not on her peccadillos as a personality. This he found difficult to do, in spite of entering an objection and sustaining it. The faults of the woman as a woman kept chattering on in his mind like an unruly witness. She had, for almost two years now, baited him. In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was constantly shouting these silly questions at him.”Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat?” from full reads- The Catbird Seat
and then, hilarity ensues... just read it! If you love funny, dry, intelligent, and absurd, The Thurber Carnival is for you.
when to read this book: when you are down in the dumps; when you finished reading twain and Keillor and need more homey humor
why this book is special: it is a perfect collection of Thurber's lifetime of writing
coming soon...a book giveaway from Sophia Institute Press!
What's a favorite humor book of yours?