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.