Monday, November 24, 2008

My Byzantine Moment

One of the areas of my former marriage which survived the devastation, was my association with the Greek Catholic Church, through the mother of my son. The granddaughter of Slovak immigrants, it was the church in which her mother grew up. While ritual affiliation in the Church is actually passed through the father, she chose her mother's for her own. When we married, it was in such a church.

I have belonged to -- oh, maybe seven or eight Roman Rite parishes in the 28 years I've lived in the DC area. But the little Ruthenian church just outside the Beltway has carried me on its roster for virtually all that time. Even after his mother left, I would take Paul to the School of Religion on the weekends that I had him. I used to be in the Parish Talent Show every year. I used to work Bingo on Tuesday evenings, or at the annual Parish Festival.

When Paul became old enough to be an acolyte (and they use that term for the boys, so get over it), his mother said he wasn't interested. I had already learned to ignore her by that time. I admonished him to do it for one year for me, and if he wanted to quit after that, he would have no quarrel with me. He served for six years, and was one of the best before he retired.

I used to be welcome to serve as well, but stopped after Paul got to a certain age. There was another reason, too.

It is a small parish, and while not as "ethnic" as it used to be, is pretty much like a small town. The people who worship there are truly the salt of the earth, don't get me wrong. But at some point, you're either in, or you're out. Sooner or later, as I became more active, I would find out where I stood. No one ever said, you're not welcome here. It would only take one or two self-appointed Poobahs to get that message across in their own special way.

After a while, you long to tell a few people where to they can put their indignation. Until science finds a cure, some people are beyond fixing. Especially when they wear their papal honors on their sleeve (but that's another story...).

To this day, I am still haunted by the spiritual tradition of the East; so much so, that I considered becoming an Orthodox Christian in the mid-1990s. And until I became the Master of Ceremonies at the Roman parish where I work now, I was a "Christmas and Easter" Byzantine Catholic. That's been for over a year now. And so, when I came across this clip at New Liturgical Movement, showing St Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Brampton, Ontario, I was brought home again.

Were I ever to acquire a farm or an estate and build a private chapel there (and I would, you know), it would be a mix of East and West. This is why.

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