Monday, November 21, 2016

ten ways to destroy your child's love for Jesus & Church: Eastern Christian edition

1. Take the Lord's name in vain and do not reprimand your children when they take the Lord's name in vain. Tolerate media, music and movies that use our Lord's name as a swear word. 
2. Do not set Sunday aside as a day for Church and family. Don't prepare for a peaceful Sunday by filling the van up with gas the day before and tidying up said van for a peaceful trip to church. Don't set out appropriate church clothes the night before the Divine Liturgy so that the children know that Sunday is a day set apart by God. If you have a Saturday vigil at your church, make sure to just 'get church out of the way' Saturday evening so that you can be really busy all Sunday. Ignore the commandment that the Lord gave to Moses and the people of Israel- "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God." That was the old days! Moses and then Jesus lived in must simpler times when all people had to do was farm and occasionally attend a wedding. 
Now we enlightened ones in the 21st century have homework, shopping, soccer. Make sports a top priority. Nothing could be more important in 2016. We must keep our children busy with activities like sports if we want them to be successful, normal people.Your children might become professional sports stars. Even on the off chance they do not become pros, sports teach kids sportsmanship, dedication and team work. Church is a distraction from such important sports virtues and the worst might happen if your family dedicates them to Jesus and the Church- they might become monastics- monks or nuns! Is outrage! 
the most important thing in life- best played on Sundays before lunchtime!
3. Plan to get to church late- sometime in the middle or even later in the service. Only Latin Catholics are concerned with time! It is so Roman to consider being purposefully late to church a sin! We Eastern Christians are above such concepts. We are not about sin; we are about love. Come to the service at least a half hour late, but also be certain to smugly sigh when Latin Catholics are shocked that our services can be so much longer than theirs. We stand for about three hours during church (well- if matins are offered and if we get to church and well- the priest stands for three hours. We get there when we get there) 
4. When receiving Holy Communion and leaving the church building after kissing the cross, be certain to wave, talk and guffaw to acquaintances and friends. It doesn't matter that a few Latins are trying to pray a bit in thanksgiving for the Eucharist and that you will see everyone in ten seconds outside the church and then spend an hour or more together in the coffee room; if you do not loudly greet them during the church service, they will be put out that you are not friendly. Being Christian is all about being really friendly- especially in the church building during prayer time. It is also helpful to talk with friends during the homily, most especially if your church has two homilies- in an 'old country' language and in English. Talk to your friends during the homily in the language that you do not understand. How can you be expected to be silent for five minutes! Your children certainly should not be expected to either! 
Don't be distracted by prayer in church; Hyacinth is inviting you to a candlelight supper!
5. Be sure to bring lots of toys (preferably hard plastic) and books (secular- they must be interesting- not 'fanatical' as a saint book would be) to entertain your small children. If your children are under 11 years old or so, make sure to bring lots of snacks and juice so that they do not get hungry during the hour long church service. Be sure to not demand that children go potty before church so that- even if some of the children are engaged in the service- there is constant distraction and each child eventually needing to go potty during the long hour and a bit service. 
6. If your young children are making any noise at all in church, be sure to take them out of the service and berate them angrily and do not return to the service because they might start talking again and it is just easier not to be in the building- or- take no notice that your children are loudly singing the theme to Sponge Bob during the homily. Anyway, it is the 'old country' language homily, so no one understands it except the old country immigrants. 
7. Do not forget this key way to destroy your children's faith- judge priests and religious and discuss the priest's failings frequently with your kids. Did he leave the confessional at 9:30 PM (when confessions were scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30)? Ask your kids- "what else does he have to do but minister to us?" If you see a priest on the golf course on Monday morning, ask your kids- "shouldn't he be ministering to people?" If you see your priest's grocery cart with some non-fasting items, point them out to your kids-"see, even Father doesn't fast!" Be sure to make fun of your priest's accent- Romanian, Mexican, Indian, Ghanan, Ugandan, Nigerian, Chilean- do not point out that the local mega parish of 5,000 families has not had a priestly vocation in thirty years of a 'native born' man. All the priests and deacons have funny accents. 
Complain about any money that is paid the priest. Do not give him a stipend if he administers a sacrament or comes to bless the house- he didn't get into the priesthood to get rich, right? Point out to your kids every time the priest makes a mistake in the service. If he makes a grammatical error during the homily, snort and roll your eyes so the children will notice the mistake. It is for their good; you wouldn't want them to make the same mistake! Grammar is important! 
The opportunities to judge a priest or deacon are even greater when he is married. Did his wife forget to smile? Did the children act up during church? Did any of the family drop the ball when it came to ministry? Point out their shortcomings to your children so they feel superior to those clergy family people who spend too much time in church. 
look at the chubby friar! he can't fast! What a hypocrite! 
8. What about fasting? Do not bother! Only monks and nuns fast! Well...maybe they do. Who knows! The Church is so out of touch. It is so complicated to not eat meat. We Westerners are so busy with other activities and grocery shopping is so difficult. I sometimes have to cross the street in my Honda to get to a second grocery store when I want to buy my vegan items. Such a struggle. Those in developing countries have it easier; they just have to choose between sweet potatoes and grains. 
Anyway, only liberal atheists go vegetarian. I suppose to hedge your bets, fast when in public and then eat meat when at home or in a restaurant if you think you won't bump into a fellow Eastern Christian. You wouldn't want to scandalize them. If you do decide to try and fast according to traditional guidelines, be sure to emphasize the weight you hope to lose, not the virtues you hope to strengthen. If your family does decide to fast, make sure your children feel superior to Latin Catholics with their non-existent fast.  Also, talk behind the backs of those not fasting for health or other reasons. 
9. Have no prayer life in the home. You do not want your children to be fanatics! Never talk about Jesus outside a church service. Never read the Bible in the home. Do not let the children catch you going to confession, reading the Bible or praying. Do not have an icon corner. If you do have an icon corner, use it for pretty decor (like Cher having a crucifix collection or the singer Madonna wearing rosaries in the old days) and never use it to inspire prayer. If your television is next to the icon corner, this will help keep it secular space. Do not forget to keep the television on at all times to keep the home filled with noise. 
But if you do decide to pray in the home, be certain to emphasize fire and brimstone-style theology with no talk of God's love and mercy and demand family prayer when children are tired, hungry, and thirsty and dad is busy in the garage or with video games.  
10. What to do about the ethnic 'problem' in the Eastern Churches in the US and Canada? To destroy your child's love of Jesus and the Church- you should decide to only attend a service where the priest and community are from your old country- preferably the same county. God and Church are only important because He speaks the same language, eats the same food, and wears the same national folk dress that you do. If Romanian was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for my kids! Be certain never to attend a service of a different ethnicity even if it is the same rite. The most important part of church is hearing our old country language NOT receiving Christ in the Eucharist or being able to worship in the same rite (but different sui  juris church) in communion with Rome. 
Allow and encourage your children to use a 'smart' phone at all times. If your children are not hooked up to internet content at all times, they will be out of step. The world is changing so swiftly, your children need to have unfettered access. Under no circumstances keep tabs on your children's internet usage. They need to know that you trust them. In addition, have a computer and television in your child's bedroom. Under no circumstances should you have standards for media usage- they need to know that you trust them to make good choices.
Very importantly, never control when they use the smart phone provided for them. They need to stay connected to friends, celebrities, and the day's viral videos. And so do you. As a mom or dad, it is important to stay your own person. Show your children that your life is important and answer every notification, text and call immediately. This is your 'me time.' A great place to use phones for the entire family is at the dinner table. Just be careful not to spill milk on the phones because getting a new phone can take a while and it is very stressful to be unconnected. 
Church services are the perfect time for your children to use their smart phone. They will be certain to stay quiet and sit still if they are watching the latest  viral video (use subtitles when possible!) or keeping tabs on their favorite boy band. Scrolling through their instagram feed so they can 'keep up with the kardashians' will keep them in the pew so grandma is satisfied having the family together for the Easter service. Writing emails can be a little too distracting to fanatics who actually try to pray during church, but teens these days usually text and IM- easier to disguise and using less movement. For younger children, keep it simple by handing them your phone to play games like candy crush and grumpy birds. Children must be entertained! They will thank you for protecting them from a bit of boredom and the fancy language and theology that is so out of date in 2016. Gotta stay with the times! 
this post was inspired by my mistakes, others' mistakes, and the book below
if you cannot keep your children from religious life or if you want retreat information for yourself, I hesitate to encourage you. It could keep you from your goal of destroying your children's faith... but here are some communities to check out if you really must....

Monday, November 14, 2016

fast, pray, give: free printable for the Christmas fast

"The Shopping Season is at hand. Some people will spend it jostling for bargains; others will pass the time lamenting the commercialization of Christmas. The Eastern Churches, on the other hand, encourage their faithful to prepare for this feast by increasing their involvement with the things of God.

fast, pray, give: Saint Philip's Fast begins tomorrow, November 15th

The Nativity/Christmas Fast begins tomorrow for Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians on the Gregorian and revised Julian calendars. We prepare for the nativity of Our Lord by fasting, praying and almsgiving. it might not feel as rigorous as Great Lent before Pascha (Easter), but we do try and live a quiet, repentant season of preparation and save the Christmas parties for the Christmas season that begins on December 25th. 
"In anticipation of the advent or “coming” of the Messiah that we celebrate during the feast of the Nativity on December 25, Byzantine Christians enter into a time of preparation known as the “Nativity Fast” (“St. Philip’s Fast” or “Pilipiwka” since it begins each year on November 15, the day after the Feast of St. Philip the Apostle).

As with most periods of fast before the great feasts, the Nativity Fast is a time for a deeper interior conversion to Christ by embracing the four forms of Christian praxis. Below we offer some suggestions for ways to put into practice the four forms of Christian praxis or asceticism during the Nativity fast.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes in the morning and evening in prayer each day.
  • Pray the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” 100 times a day.
  • Display an icon of the Nativity in the prayer corner of your house or room and spend 10 minutes each day meditating on the saving mysteries surrounding the story of Christ’s Birth.
  • Receive the Mystery of Repentance (Confession) at least once during the fast.
  • Use the prayer guide with family or friends.

  • Abstain from meat and dairy products on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Dairy is allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but still no meat.
  • Fast from certain foods, such as soda, alcoholic beverages or candy.
  • With each meal, eat only an amount that is sufficient for nutritional needs, without feeling full.
  • Fast from select forms of entertainment (television, movies, radio, internet, novels, etc.).

  • Give your time, talent and/or treasure to a parish outreach or a special charity.
  • Increase your parish tithe for the season.
  • Clean out your house of any excessive items or possessions and share them with the poor and needy.
  • Purchase gifts for homeless or needy children or families.

  • Meditate on the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes and identify one or two of these to put into practice each week.
  • Examine your conscience each night, asking for forgiveness from God or others as needed.
  • Find opportunities to share your faith with others." 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

don't let perfection be an enemy of the good: a day retreat with my daughter

I'd love to be able to take my children on frequent overnight retreats. It just does not happen. We are too busy, and so are my teens. We, my oldest and I, decided to spend a full Sunday together in prayer after our Saturday late evening vigil at our Byzantine Catholic mission. We started with a reflection on gratitude given by our family priest- husband and father. Then, we were off an hour away to visit a Melkite Catholic church we had never seen before.
We appreciated the beautiful mosaic-style icons that covered all the walls. We stayed for the Divine Liturgy, but left early to get to a Ruthenian Catholic church to go to confession- the only sacrament that we cannot get from priest-father! 
We were blessed to go to confession and then stayed for the Divine Liturgy with our Romanian Byzantine Catholic community. 
(this photo is from a previous Sunday with our Romanian Catholic community)
We ended our day with a rosary at the San Fernando Mission. It was a beautiful experience seeing the diversity of the Catholic Church this past Sunday. Now, we need to find the Syrians, Copts, Armenians, and Chaldeans! My oldest is a senior in high school. She was accepted to her first choice of university on October 1st. It is time to be more intentional with spending time with my two teens before they fly the nest!