Sunday, December 31, 2006

http://ironiccatholic.blogspot.com/2006/12/top-ten-ironic-catholic-discoveries-of.html

I have to go back and see nos. 3 through 11, since I laughed so hard at #2 I had to come post this.
Today is the feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople. Seems he was a wealthy Roman who surrendered his title to become a priest, moving to Constantinople along with Constantine when the latter moved from Rome. He is called 'feeder of orphans' in iconography because he built a hospital for them and the poor. Contantine's son Constantius had him dragged behind an ass until he died in around 350 A.D.

Hope everyone is having a happy and blessed post-festive season of the Nativity....I for one can't wait until the Great Fast, then maybe I can undo some of the overdoing I did over the past week!

Monday, December 25, 2006

I videotaped the Midnight Mass for Christmas from St. Joseph's Cathedral in Wheeling, and just a few minutes ago finished watching it. I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised. Here in the liturgical backwater that is Morgantown, there is not a single NO parish where Mass is celebrated licitly. They're all valid, but every single parish adds or takes away something. I had come to the conclusion that this was the result of some sort of weird 'trickle-down' effect, that our Bishop was wishy-washy on the rubrics, or some sort of flaming liberal/progressive, but I now believe that there is hope for our diocese, even if I don't see any change in these parts in my lifetime.

There was incense, there were traditional carols, there were properly vested altar BOYS, there were concelebrating priests! There was also too much hugging at the sign of peace :-(

There were no extraordinary ministers. There was no Latin. There was no chant (except for the vernacular chanted Our Father). BUT there was no inclusive language, and Bishop Bransfield used the Roman Canon - the long version - and it was all there, word for word.

The most extraordinary thing I noticed was that Bishop Bransfield, the concelebrating priests, the MC and most of the others in the sanctuary actually DID genuflect at the proper place in the Credo.....and at that point the camera angle was a wide shot from the upper back of the nave, and I didn't see any of the congregation kneel; some bowed, but most remained standing :-(

Now, with that as an introduction, I noticed something else odd. While I understood (even better now) all the parts of the Mass, and would have had a beautiful worship experience had I been personally present at this Mass, I didn't feel as if I had missed anything by joining my new parish family - the Byzantine Catholics - for Great Compline and Liturgy on Christmas Eve. I didn't feel very 'connected' to any of it at all.

I thought about this for a while, and wonder if, for the past nearly 16 years, I've been in some kind of RC 'foster faith' or 'faith incubator,' and just recently due to my becoming VERY SERIOUS about living an authentically Christian life, I've been discharged, as it were, to where I really belong. My Protestant background, as I've mentioned before, is a pre-Martin Luther schism from the VERY SAME COUNTRIES evangelized by the Holy Saints Cyril and Methodius. I grew up celebrating Advent; fasting during Lent was never strange to me. Some of my earliest memories of Easter include Holy Week services every night at the Moravian church where I was baptized, including a (I now realize) Protestantized Stations of the Cross, a Memorial of Our Lord's Passion, and the Tenebrae (service of darkness). Hymns sung by the Moravians aren't sung in any other denomination; this year I learned carols of the Slav tradition that brought tears to my eyes with their theological density (meatiness, I like to say).

One of the traditions that I grew up with as a child was that, on Christmas morning, we would all gather at the Nativity scene and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before we ate our breakfast or opened any presents....in all my years as an adult I have kept that tradition with my own kids, but whenever I mentioned it, most often the reaction was "oh, neat, maybe we will start doing that too." Last night after Divine Liturgy we all gathered in the social hall, where there was a BIRTHDAY CAKE for Jesus and we all sang Happy Birthday before sharing it around. My Byzantine parish thinks it perfectly normal to do this, in fact they wonder why don't more people do it.....

I didn't have to endure watching the same kids of the wealthiest family in the parish bring in the Baby Jesus to the Nativity....instead, I bowed low along with my fellow worshippers and priest, in adoration and love after Father placed the Infant in the creche and incensed Him and sprinkled Him with holy water. After he placed the Babe in His place, Father knelt before Him on the floor and gave Him a kiss.

I have, truly, wrapped the Byzantine tradition around my heart like a comfortable sweater that once belonged to a favorite relative....it's not a perfect fit, but it's warm and I can feel the love in it from generations before me who have tried to do just as I am doing - "love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." I'm not Slav by any stretch of the imagination, but that strong-woman tradition is just as active in us Irish as it is in Eastern Europe. I've had to mostly find family in friends, but I'm doing that, having no plethora of blood relatives to walk with me this way (actually most of my blood relatives would probably be horrified to find I'm on my way to becoming a Byzantine Catholic - they already think I'm not Christian and not saved because I'm Catholic).

As I celebrate the days of the Feast of the Nativity, I am praying that as Christ is born in me, I can bring Christ to birth in my little corner of the world in some way every day. We are the ones who will rebuild His house, for as everyone can see, it is falling into ruin.

Morning Star, O cheering sight,
Ere Thou cam'st how dark earth's night!
Jesus mine, in me shine,
In me shine, Jesus mine.
Fill my heart with Light divine.
(Johann Scheffer, 1657; tr. Benent Harvey Jr., 1885; melody HAGEN 7.7.3.3.7)

Merry Christmas, all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Poem, with apologies to Clement C. Moore:

It was sometime near Christmas, and in the 'community'
They had butchered the Mass and its prayers with impunity.
No longer a 'parish,' for that term, you see,
Was deemed too old-fashioned - just like "Him" and "He"!

Since Vatican II and the diocesan studies,
They'd decided that devotions were for fuddy-duddies.
No more Adoration or traditional Stations,
Instead there were posted photos of war-torn, starving nations.

No Vespers, no Compline, no Lauds, Sext or None,
If you want those devotions you'll pray them alone!

The pastor had locked all the doors, and no lights
Were to be left burning to illumine the night.

Father strolled past the classrooms and through the church hall
And turned on his voice mail so that all the calls
Asking 'what are the Mass times?' and 'when is confession?'
Wouldn't disturb his pre-Christmas Zen Yoga session.

He opened the door to the rectory, sighing....
And slammed it, astonished - for out the door, flying
Came angels majestic, with glowering faces
And following closely behind, a few paces,
Was a tall, mitred figure in red robes trimmed in gold,
A most dignified shepherd from days ancient and old.

He sternly regarded the trembling priest
And thundered, 'How dare you! How could you! The least
Little child knows better than you:
We don't worship each other, we Honor the True!
You have mangled the Mass, you have diluted the Faith
And discouraged holiness - is nothing left safe?
You don't preach on doctrine or sins great and small,
Instead you host parties with wine and cheese balls!
You're really no better than a modernist Luther,
And Arius, Manicheus, - you're a "there-is-no-Truth"-er!
You really deserve a sound punch in the nose
Like I gave to old Arius so long, long ago.
Get into the church, and get down on your knees
And pray for forgiveness with sorrowful pleas!'

The priest stumbled backwards through the doors to the nave
And fell on his face, crying tears full of shame.
'Forgive me!' he cried, 'I have forgotten my call!
I have failed in my duty; I have caused souls to fall
Into indifference, modernism, error and sin!
Give me mercy, O God! I won't fail You again!'

Escorted by angels, the saintly Bishop drew near,
And softly he whispered into Father's listening ear:
'Our Lord in His mercy has heard you tonight.
You're forgiven, my son - see the angels' delight!'

And surrounding the altar in that dark, holy place
Were hosts of the seraphim with joy on each face.

His mission accomplished, the saint turned to go
With this final advice: 'you must preach the Truth, so
Your flock will be holy and reverent again.
Merry Christmas,' said Saint Nicholas. 'With your help, Truth will win.'

Friday, December 22, 2006

Today was our first day of homeschooling! We only did a little bit, just to give the kiddos a taste of how wonderfully different it is from SITTING IN A CROWDED CLASSROOM FOR SIX HOURS A DAY.

Daughter actually asked for more schoolwork after supper, and chose to do a science lesson.

Earlier, while supper was cooking, I overheard this exchange:

(three children lying on sofa covered with blanket, watching Nativity DVD):

girl child, looking at shot of Baby Jesus in the manger: "Does God really have a nose?"

older boy child, raising one eyebrow like Mr. Spock: "look there. Of course He does. You can't be a real baby without a nose!"

younger boy child, having the last word: "I wonder if Mary kissed Baby Jesus' nose the way mom kisses our noses."

BTW the DVD in question is part of the New Testament on DVD that I got at the DOLLAR STORE, of all places. It's actually quite good.

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which'>http://www.tomorrowland.us/sportscar">Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Here is my menu for Christmas dinner:

Ham with glaze and chutney
Steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
Mashed sweet potatoes
Creamed onions
Homemade bread
Cheese ball and crackers - Ritz, Captain's Wafers, water crackers and Triscuit
Fresh fruit - apples, kumquats, persimmons and bananas
Homemade applesauce
Mincemeat stuff
Chess pie
Pecan pie
Nut roll
Apricot roll
Cream cheese bread
Biscotti
Eggnog
Apple cider
Assorted tea
Coffee
Moravian Sugar Cake

A couple of years ago I decided that it was OK to 'cheat' on Thnksgiving dinner by buying most of the meal in an easy-to-prepare form - frozen pies and all that. But I make everything but the pie crust from scratch for Christmas. Leave a comment if you would care to have a recipe for anything listed on the menu, and I'll post it here. I'd do that anyway, but then I'd have to change the title of the blog to "Eat, Catholic Soldiers!"

What a wonderful thing Christmas is....imagine: God became flesh and blood, in the form of a tiny, helpless infant, for love of us. The Rule of the Universe, on whom we can depend to supply all our needs, became completely dependent on human parents to supply all His human needs. How can we express our gratitude, the depth of emotion that must flow through each of us when contemplating this most wondrous of miracles? How to get across to others the peace and joy that love of God brings to those who truly try to follow in His footsteps?

All of us have followed Him....we all were once helpless babies. We, like Jesus, depended on our parents for comfort, food, warmth, and love. Jesus was obedient to His earthly father and His Blessed Mother - we too can be models of that same obedience. From the respect we show to our own parents, to courtesy to those in positions of authority or otherwise superior to our own state, to obedience to God, these also are a following of Jesus. Joseph and Mary were guided by the Holy Spirit to train the young Jesus to be a good and Godly young man, a faithful and devout Jew. We must ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as well - in temporal things as well as in spiritual disciplines.

Christmas Day - the Solemn Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - is fast approaching. Has He been born anew in you this Advent? Are you preparing for His coming - both your home and your heart? Are you following the Star, to come before Him in silent, prayerful adoration? What gift will you lay at the manger for Him, this Christmas?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Time to explain the title of the blog. First of all it's a pun on "Onward, Christian Soldiers!" think about the words for just a minute:

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war
With the Cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Christ the royal Master
Leads against the foe:
Forward into battle,
See, His banners go.

Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God,
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod.
We are not divided,
All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus
Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never
'Gainst that Church prevail;
We have Christ's own promist,
And that cannot fail.

Well! It would be pretty difficult to retain the meaning while using inclusive language, yes? And there's no denying we are engaged in a spiritual battle of grand proportions. So, it's a battle cry.

I'm a big fan of the 'armor of God.' There's no way to get through this life with any hope of the next, without the help of the Holy Spirit!

It's also a nod to my Protestant roots, although the more I ruminate on the words of the hymn, I wonder how any Protestant could have been so vain to have written them. I mean, it's got 'Catholic' written in every line!

It's also a sad commentary that the NO has pretty much, at least in my neck of the woods, abandoned the idea of celebrating the Mass facing the East - whether litugical or otherwise. Believe it or not, the sanctuary at my parish ACTUALLY faces East! Whoo-hoo! Light dawns in the east - Christ is the Light of the world.

Soldiers - aren't we the Church Militant? We ought to be on our knees (figuratively if not literally) every day asking for our marching orders. And it's not easy being a soldier of any sort (I know, I was one). Sometimes you're told to do something that you KNOW is right, but takes you WAY OUT of you comfort zone. Oh well, do it anyway. Like me homeschooling my kids. Like I really have time to school them, what with being a single parent, running my own business, and so on. But believe me, I knew it was time, so I just have to trust my God that He will provide - time, energy, whatever I lack He will supply!

So there you have it. Now you know, if you were an inquiring mind. Maybe I've made some of you think - or stop thinking, as the case may be.

Remember, Jesus is the Good Shepherd - he won't leave you out in the cold all alone! He will take care of you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Homeschooler?

Now you can know for sure, thanks to Mama Says....

I will be, officially, in two more school days!

YAY!!!

Let the children say - AMEN!
http://shop.moravianbookshop.com/browse.cfm/2,30.html

The Moravian Star

When I was growing up, in Indianapolis, Indiana, we had one of the parchment stars in the front window of our home every Advent and Christmas. When I grew up I had the star for a few years, then it got pretty ratty, being paper and having been assembled and disassembled umpty-billion times, so I discarded it and got another one, this one plastic that once put together didn't come apart. It lasted 2 years and then a mean person ran over it with his car.

this year I found these, which I didn't think were available any more....ha ha! So as soon as I get the roll of film developed that's in my camera (no I don't have a digital camera except the one that's in my phone) I will post a photo so you can see how pretty it is.

I am firmly entenched in my belief that in Catholicism under the Pope I have found the True Faith, but this is one tradition from my Protestant childhood that I am proud to share with my children. To me the Star of Bethlehem is like the desire for closeness with God that glows and burns in our hearts from the day of our Baptism....we follow or not, as we are creatures with free will, but still the star is there, gently shining and beckoning, its promise ever faithful, a tender foreshadowing of the Voice we all hear in our deepest heart if we will only become still enough to hear: "Come and See."

What do people see when they see you and me? Wouldn't it be nice to know? What do we want people to see? Love, Joy (I almost got unloosed and listed the fruit of the Holy Spirit there, which I guess would have been perfectly apropos)?

BTW the Moravians were founded on a bunch of heresies, the first of which being that the Pope is not the head of the Church on earth. They separated from Rome in 1457 (years before Luther's vandalism of the Wittenberg door), and are theologically cousins to the Methodists.

Monday, December 18, 2006

http://tcrnews2.com/priestsreparation.html

Have you prayed for at least two priests today? ByzCat sent me the above link - meditations on each of the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary in reparation for priests.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Something else that aggravates me: yesterday in the mail I got my gas bill. The cost per mcf of gas on the bill is $16.0080. Here is a quote from the December 2006 Dominion "Customer Connection" insert that came with my gas bill:

...Prices are down from a year ago, and natural gas is again the least expensive way to keep warm,....

I looked at the gas bill from a year ago, and the price per mcf on THAT bill was $14.6737.

I did the math. Prices are UP. By $1.3343 per mcf.

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!!!!!
http://remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2006-pope_and_the_blue_mosque.htm

Fr. De Cacqueray is pretty upset. Papa Ben is 'the Pope who took off his shoes in a mosque'.

Hey Fr. de Cacqueray, I lived right outside Istanbul for a year...I saw many of the historic sites of the entire country of Turkey, both religious (Christian and Islam) and secular. I visited both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. When I entered the outer porch of the Blue Mosque, there are placards there for all to see, in English and Turkish (and with pictures also) directing EVERYONE to remove their shoes, for women to cover their heads, shoulders and knees, and to not engage in loud conversation in case there is anyone praying.

It's a rule. The Holy Father was just following the rules.

I wonder if Fr. de Cacqueray was this upset by JPII praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem? After all, that's not a Christian holy site either, by the strict definition of the term. It's a Jewish site, and while we as Catholics are 'completed Jews' as I like to call myself to my Jewish friends, the vast majority of Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Incarnate Word of God.

Yes, yes, yes, I know that there are MUCH BIGGER differences between Islam and Christianity than between Judaism and Christianity, but here's what the Holy Father said himself about his visit to the Blue Mosque:

"In the ambit of interreligious dialogue, Divine Providence allowed me to carry out, almost at the end of my trip, a gesture that initially was not foreseen and which revealed itself extremely significant: the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Remaining recollected for a few minutes in that place of prayer, I turned to the only Lord of Heaven and earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity, and implored that all believers might recognize themselves as creatures and give witness of authentic fraternity!" (tr. by ZENIT, printed in the Wanderer of December 14, 2006 - the address Benedict XVI gave at the general audience 12/6/06 - emphases mine).

Show some authentic fraternity, Fr. de Cacqueray. My son has attended services in his friend's synagogue, and while there wears a kippah out of respect for Jewish custom. It doesn't in any way mean he is denying the truth of the Catholic faith, any more than my occasional wearing of a saree is denying the fact that I am Irish as shamrocks!

And besides which, the Pope didn't tell us we must all go to a mosque to pray. If this makes for more open dialogue between the Holy See and Islam, well fine. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


This is Father Kevin Marks celebrating Divine Liturgy at my parish. Photo credit: ByzCat.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2006/12/excommuncations-in-diocese-of-lincoln.html

Moneybags is talking about good Bp. Bruskewitz and CTA as well!

The GMSCP is complete, except for distribution of same. Just doing my part to raise blood sugar and clog arteries here in my part of the world!
While reading a review of The Defender (here) on PetersNet, I noticed that they noted that it was suspected that Call to Action had "hijacked" the Ninth Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. That particular editorial having vanished from the Defender's pages, I emailed the editor and asked if he could try to find it for me. It interests me because a lot of the stuff going on in my former parish (St. Luke the Evangelist in Morgantown) is right up CTA's alley. More on that later. And Mr. Fitz is trying to find that editorial for me. Meanwhile, ByzCat wrote to Bob Heineman, the CTA Resources Developer, and said: "Hi! Could you please let me know of anyone in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV who can link me to local Call to Action groups/activities?? Thanks! (here she put her real name).

Mr. Heineman kindly responded: "Two wonderful folks for you to talk with. Pat Obenauf (address, phone and email provided in original email) and Daniel Caron (same contact info listed for him). We do not have a formal chapter in the area. The two above folks can help you to 'plug in' to activities. There are a number of members in your area. Would you consider being one of the organizers of a new WV branch or chapter? There is a chapter in Pittsburgh. - Bob H.

Well, you all should know that ByzCat is definitely NOT CTA material! She and her family rescued me from the modernist sea that is St. Luke the Evangelist - she homeschools, practices attachment parenting, is married to a REALLY WONDERFUL and GODLY man, has five (so far) beautiful children, is active in all kinds of prolife activities including the Face the Truth Tour, and is the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman.

So I guess instead of trying to tear apart the Church in West Virginia from the outside, openly, as they have tried in other places, CTA is attempting to be the 'rotten apple' and spoil it subversively from the inside.

Shame on you, Mr. Heineman! Shame on you too, Ms Obenauf and Mr. Caron! Ms Obenauf is very active in her parish, St. John's (the RC presence at WVU). I Googled Mr. Caron but no luck.

http://lifestyle.monstersandcritics.com/religion/news/article_1232681.php/Cardinal_Dissidents_worse_than_atheists

Papa Ben's Secretary of State is on record as saying that dissidents are worse than atheists!

And with Cardinal Re recently upholding Bp. Bruskewitz' excommunication of CTA and other dissident groups, their daring in not only admitting to a presence in another diocese but in actually promoting invovement is nothing short of galling.

I personally would love to see other bishops follow the lead of Bishop Bruskewitz and do some serious temple-cleansing. Folks, the Church (at least the NO) is in a SORRY state! One bishop willing to fully live out his role as 'chief pastor and shepherd' is NOT enough! Our Lord warned us that, not only would the faithful be persecuted and reviled because of Him, but that some would come after Him 'teaching false doctrines' and perversions of the Truth. St. Paul and St. John both wrote such in their canonical letters.

Further updates as they come in.....

Remember, pray for at least two priests today - I'm praying for Fr. John DiBacco, of St. Mary's RC Church in Star City, WV (needs intercession of St. John Vianney), and Fr. Pete Giannamore of St. Mary's in Petersburg, WV (one of my favorite priests).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Saint Teresa of Avila has chosen me and my blog for 2007 - I chose to put up this particular image for a number of reasons: first, it's in iconographic style; second, the tambourine reminds me that she once taught her nuns to dance in the cloister on feast days; and third, I just liked it better than a lot of the sappy images out there.

the dancing-in-the-cloister I can really identify with - a while back I remember thinking if David did it, why can't I? It's a personal prayer style (and I am absolutely NOT advocating litugical dancing here, NO HOW NO WAY!!) and once I remember to do it I will post the talk I gave at the CFP 2007 retreat on "Bodily Prayer".

And if I wasn't such a silly Franciscan I'd be a discalced Carmelite, just like Teresa.
While I wait for my mom to call and let me know whether she's coming for dinner or not, here's an update on the crabs -

All three are buried in the Forest Bedding....a new stuff we put in the crabitat that retains humidity better than sand....it's also lighter. Drawbacks are, you can't scoop leftover food out of it as easily as you can sand, and the moisture condenses on the walls of the crabarium and makes it hard to see the little boogers (which I guess doesn't matter much if they are buried, right?)

And a limerick I composed:

I don't think that girls should be priests,
Which is fine with the folks of the East!
So I've gone Byzantine -
Who on Pentecost, wear Green...
(And I love the abundance of feasts!)

It's true....the Byzantine Rite has umpty-billion feasts, one for every day of the year. And lots and lots of them are 'solemn' feasts, meaning that there is probably Divine Liturgy in honor of the saint in question. Today, f'r instance, is the feast of St. Spiridon, Bishop and Wonderworker in addition to being the feast of OL of Guadalupe - so says my Byzantine wall calendar, courtesy of my parish, which you can visit HERE. (I hope did that right - if the link doesn't work let me know, OK?)
http://warmandfuzzytrads.blogspot.com/2006/12/introducing-more-fuzz.html


I feel as if I have, in some fashion, ARRIVED.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Here's a really great post about the Real St. Nicholas:

http://regularthoughts.blogspot.com/2005/11/yes-virginia-why-i-believe-in-santa.html

enjoy.
Of course, this probably goes without saying, but (see previous post) if I DID find all that I wrote about in the Byzantine Rite, it logically follows that I DIDN'T find it in the NO. I also found it in the Tridentine Mass, but the nearest Tridentine parish is in Pittsburgh, and with gasoline prices being what they are, and having young children to support, assisting at Mass there is only an occasional option, at best.
Herewith, for your perusal and amusement, and hopefully your comments, is a ditty I composed regarding the quest to switch to the Byzantine Rite (of myself and children, and my friend ByzCat and her family) - followed by the letter I wrote to the Metropolitan Archbishop, Basil M. Schott, OFM, requesting said switch:

(Sing to "Go Down, Moses")

When we were down in NO land,
Let my people go.
Masses so bad we could hardly stand,
Let my people go.

(Chorus) You go, Basil,
Let my people go.
Tell ol' Michael,
Let my people go.

No more should they abuse endure,
Let my people go.
Let them go where the Faith is pure,
Let my people go.

(Chorus)

Who cares about ethnicity,
Let my people go.
They want to worship with dignity,
Let my people go.

(Chorus)

A "Light in the East" they now have seen,
Let my people go.
They were born to be Byzantine!'
Let my people go!

(Chorus)

BTW Michael is Bp. Michael J. Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, formerly Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The 'ethnicity' line is in reference to a letter Bp. Bransfield sent to my friends about their request to switch - it seemed like he was concerned that they weren't the right ethnic heritage to appreciate or be at home in the Byzantine Church.

OK, enough with the humor, here's my letter to His Eminence:

(Nov. 21, 2006)


My children and I are Latin rite Catholics attending St. Mary's Holy Protection Church in Morgantown. I was received into full communion with Rome in 1991; my children are aged 9, 7 and 5 and were baptized in the Latin Rite as infants. My 9-year-old son has also received the sacraments of First Confession and First Holy Communion according to the Latin rite, and the younger two have made their First confession. I would like to transfer from the Latin Rite to the Byzantine Rite, along with my children, for the following reasons:

My personal spiritual journey includes a realization that in order to advance in holiness, a person must have a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ. "Without Him, I can do nothing." Jesus calls me, my children, and all who have been baptized into Christ, to "be perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect." God has given me these shildren to raise. According to Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church, I have the duty and the right to instill in my children the knowledge that will help them have this same personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Byzantine Rite I have found that this need for a personal realtionship with Jesus is taught from earliest childhood, and the Byzantine Catholics I have come to know in St. Mary's parish are good examples of the living-out of this teaching.

I am a life-pledged member of a private association of Catholics, the Confraternity of Penitents. Its members strive to live the Gospel in today's world by following the Franciscan Rule of 1221, with constitutions amending it to be able to be lived in modern times. We are especially called to be witnesses to Christ through continual conversion of life, service to tohers, and membership in a community of Christians. In the Light for Life series of adult instructional books, published by the Byzantine Seminary Press, these three elements of an authentically Christian life are presented in a very clear way, as metanoia (conversion), diakonia (service or ministry), and koinonia (community or fellowship).

By participation in the liturgical life of St. Mary's parish, I am contiually reminded of my smallness before God and His indescribable Love in calling me and my children to be a part of His Kingdom on Earth. We as a family are united with both our fellow worshippers and the choirs of angels in an incomprehensible way during the divine Liturgy. The Sacred and Holy Mysteries are just that - mysteries - and we will only fully understand what they signify when we are called to our heavenly Home to be with Him Who loved us "even before we were formed in the womb."

I am also inspired to a greater devotion to the Theotokos,m the Mother of God, In a mysterious and special way she was sanctified from her conception to be worthy to bearing in her womb the Savior of the world, and through her intercession both I and my children can be led to a greater closeness to Jesus. My devotion to Mary will naturally transfer to my children.

Finally, on a purely temporal note, I find I am very comfortable with the spirituality of the Byzantine Rite in general, and of St. Mary's parish in particualr. I find my fellow parishioners to be friendly, approachable, and eager to help me and my children learn about our new church home and family. I understand that a transfer of Rite is permanent, and I mke this request freely in the belief and hope that it is a part of God's plan for me and my children. I would be honored and pleased to be accepted as a Byzantine Catholic, and look forward to your response.

In trusting supplication, through Our Precious Lord and Mary, the Holy theotokos, I am your humble and obedient servant,

/s/
Oh, ha ha!
Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.
You Are a Traditional Christmas Tree
For a good Christmas, you don't have to re-invent the wheel.You already have traditions, foods, and special things you bring out every year.
Here's a picture of my children's Chrismation on December 3, 2006 at St. Mary's Holy Protection Byzantine Church. If you follow their line of sight you can see that, as Father is giving them the final blessing at the end of the Sacrament, their eyes are not on him, but on the Cross he holds in his hand.

When we assisted at Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we went forward to receive Jesus in Communion....my younger son was directly in front of me in line, as we do when we assist at NO Masses, in case I have to reassure the minister that he does receive. When he reached the Extraordinary Minister - a grandmotherly-looking lady who was administering Communion with more-than-common reverence - he made a profound bow, at which point she looked at me and asked "does he receive?" I assured her that he does, whereupon she elevated the Host and said "The Body of Christ" and my son responded "AMEN!" and opened his mouth to receive his Lord. She gave him the Body and then touched his cheek and said sotto voce "how beautiful!"
Even little children are called to be witnesses to the power and grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God.
Hermit crab update - none of them are AWOL now; I found the 'missing' crab last night while straightening up their crabitat. I have film in the camera now so I will post pics when available. I realized if I'm going to talk about them on this blog, they should really have names, so...

small crab in American flag painted shell: George

medium crab in green striped shell: Teresa

large crab in gray/brown striped shell: Patrick

One of the other things that happened at that Holy Day Mass I mentioned in a previous post was that at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the celebrant said: .....Benedict, the Bishop of Rome,...
I am currently trying to find out what's up with this, and if it's permitted to say that, rather than ...Benedict our Pope.... will let you know when I know.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Last night at Mass, in addition to inclusive language, not-quite-purple candles in the Advent wreath, and other things about which I will rant later, the celebrant ended the general intercessions with the phrase "that He may answer our petitions if He thinks us worthy."

Am I the only person who sees a problem with this? Our worthiness is not the reason our prayers are answered (that's justification by works, if I'm not gravely mistaken). And besides, our prayers are ALWAYS answered! Sometimes the answer is 'no,' sometimes it is 'yes,' and sometimes it is 'wait.' Additionally, if it all depended on worthiness, none of our prayers would ever be answered, for due to our concupiscience we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. We can NEVER earn the immeasurable Gift that is Jesus' dying on the cross for us.

Comments?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have you ever noticed that some priests are "Father Firstname" and others are "Father Lastname"? For instance, the pastor at the church where I formally became Catholic was Father Larry, but the priest at the other parish in town was Father Donohue. My pastor was never Father Kowalski, just like the other priest was never Father John. Most recently, in my former parish we've had Father McSweeney (not Father Jerry or Father Jeremiah), Father Pete (not Father Giannamore), Father Giles (not Father LeVasseur), Father Ditillo (not Father Jim or Father James), and Father Teufel (I have to admit I don't even know his first name!). At my parish now we have Father Julian (that's his first name, his last name is Anthony and I don't think anyone calls him that) and the pastor when I first joined was Father Kevin (not Father Marks).

Why is this? In my experience the first-name Fathers were/are generally more approachable, while the last-name Fathers tended/tend to be more dignified and reserved.

This, BTW, comes under 'things that make me go hmmmm' up there at the top of the page.

GMSCP installment #3 proceeding nicely - they are almost ready to go into the oven!

Medium crab still AWOL.

Snowing here!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas' Day! From the St. Paul Daily Missal, published 1960 by the Daughters of St. Paul (Imprimatur 6/30/59, Richard Cardinal Cushing):

Born in Asia Minor, St. Nicholas was known for his great charity, and for the
innumerable miracles he performed. He was an ardent apostle and preacher
of truth, and took part on the Council of Nicea which condemned the Arian
heresy. Because of his devout care of the young, he is looked upon as the
patron of children. Seven hundred years after his death, his holy remains
were translated to Bari, Italy. Let us imitate St. Nicholas' charity and
love for truth.

I think if I hear the word community one more time I will scream. What makes a community, anyway? The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as, among other things, 'a group of people living in the same locality and under the same government,' 'a group of people having common interests,' and 'sharing, participation, and fellowship.'

OK, I'm a member of several communities, then. My neighborhood, my city, county, state, and country; the Confraternity of Penitents is a community of which I am a member; and I get plenty of the third part of the definition when I either (a) eat a meal with my family, (b) go to a friend's home to eat or socialize, or (c) have donuts and coffee with my fellow parishioners after Divine Liturgy.

So why the NO emphasis on community? This is just the opinion of one person, but it seems that over the past several years the TRUTH has been watered down, and without the TRUTH to hold members of a parish firmly in place together as a light 'shining in the darkness,' some are looking for other ways to give people a sense of belonging. But I think that's just wrong. We're supposed to be 'in the world, yet not of the world.' Right? So it follows naturally to me that when one goes about trying to impose worldly attributes on something that's beyond this world by its very definition (the Catholic Faith), then only chaos and havoc can result.

Something I have discovered lately, as I try to become more educated about my Faith and the issues facing the Church: the more closely one tries to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and to live an authentically Christian life, the smaller one's world becomes. If you're really serious about it, of course. One just has to decide how serious one is.

We're currently missing one hermit crab - I hope it's molting and hasn't escaped! (Small crab molted successfully; the medium-sized one is the one who is AWOL at the moment).

The Great Moravian Sugar Cake Project is proceeding as scheduled - 24 pieces in the freezer now!

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how you can put together the most basic things, such as the ingredients in sugar cake, and have them end up as something beautiful and tasty, to share with others! Just like our faith. Flour, an ingredient in many foods; the Holy Scriptures, the basic foundation of many Christians' faith. Butter, eggs and sugar: basic foods once again, but they serve to make the flour into dough for the cake as well as improving the taste; Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, along with the writings of the Church Fathers and Councils give us understanding of the Scriptures and help us 'digest' it into our hearts and lives; the potato, a vegetable of immense nutritional value that grows hidden underground; the sacraments, whose action through the Holy Spirit is hidden but whose 'nutritional value' for our souls can never be fully comprehended. The sweetness of brown sugar and warmth of cinnamon are like the sweetness and warmth of the Blessed Mother as she watches over us from heaven. And finally the most important ingredient of all, the yeast - we are called to be a 'leaven in the world' - to change the world by first changing ourselves, the members of our families, then overflowing through the action of the Holy Spirit to change all with whom we come into contact.

Pax et bonum, and remember to pray for at least two priests today!