Posts Tagged With: Byzantine

A Domestic Schism

In a conversation over dinner with someone earlier in the week they asked what was the attraction of the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox churches.

It was a good question but not one I could have answered without my soup going cold so I had to be quick and say what came to mind.

I said what attracted me was the balanced masculinity and femininity of the services. The reverence was also on top of the agenda. It just suits my personality and I’ve a very masculine kind of persona where the Roman Church just can’t satisfy that and its more a church that used to have this but no longer has mans attention.

The Roman Mass today with its few faults is still a nice one when done appropriately (which I’ve never seen happen except on EWTN) but even so my heart really is in the eastern churches.

Then tonight I read something in my Ukrainian Greek Catholic Catechism which really brings it home. In it, the Envoy of prince Vladimir is sent to find a religion suitable for Ukraine and lo and behold they stumble into the Hagia Sophia. They wrote back saying:

‘“And we went into the Greek lands, and we were led into a place where they serve their God, and we did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth; and do not know how to tell about this. All we know is that God lives there with people and their service is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty since each person, if he eats something sweet, will not take something bitter afterwards; so we cannot remain any more in paganism.”

It sounds almost cruel and I don’t want it to sound cruel out of respect for the mass but to me all I taste when I’m at a Roman Liturgy is bitterness now that I’ve tasted the sweetness of both Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches.

When I came back to the Church there was only one Church which was your local roman church. I even got involved with my guitars and thought this is great this will do.

Then one day I stumble across a you tube video of Orthodox chanting and choral singing both in Russian and Greek. I then experienced via you tube an Orthodox service and I was totally lifted off the ground by the reverence and presence, beauty and majesty of God I felt there.

Things go even worse when I went to Greece and visited just your average Orthodox parish. I was thrown back by the intensity of all I’d seen, heard and smelled. It woke me up to realize that they may be the truth.

However I have decided to remain in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for now because I can’t bring myself to the Orthodox churches just yet. But to say I’m obsessed would be an understatement.

I still go to adoration here and confession in the roman churches but once a week I’m determined to make it to Dublin for Divine Liturgy. It’s the only thing keeping me alive in the Catholic Church and if it wasn’t for it I’d crumble under pressure and become Orthodox.

After so many falls in the Roman Catholic church and clashes with the faithless clergy there and having to forfeit so many theological classes  because they’re full of twisted theology, I decided I’d had enough. Got my boys baptised into the UGCC and never looked back.

The only sad thing is that my wife doesn’t share the same enthusiasm and wants to remain going to her local RC church. So we are split. I take Christian to the UGCC and she takes Joseph to her church on Sunday.

I used to go with my wife every sunday to the roman church because I felt pressure that we should be together as a family which we definitely should be but recently I’ve had enough. I need to take care of my mental and spiritual health and if that means a sort of mini schism occurring in my own household then so be it.

This is it, once you’ve tasted the sweetness of Orthodoxy it’s very difficult to make a return to the bitter.

 

 

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Catholicism And Modern Art

It’s not that I dislike it as the headline suggests but what it has transformed into. The only way I can describe Modern Catholicism is how I’d describe modern art. It’s just a stroke of paint on the wall, it’s not art its way too simple to be art. You can’t just put a pair of glasses on the ground and call it art.

Catholicism like modern art has become void of all substance, meaning and the mystical. In its quest of compromise with the secular/pagan world in order to help bring about an easier conversion by making life easier for us all, it has become further disconnected from a world that already despises it.

Today I revisited this pain when I went to my local church at 3pm. They spent 10 minutes saying prayers for Good friday which consisted of the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3pm and then they all went home. I got back in the car and said to my wife ”You know down in the Greek Catholic and Orthodox parishes in Dublin they’re only getting started and ours is over already?”

Afterwards there’s no community. No coffee or chance to socialize like in Orthodox parishes. Everyone just makes a dash for the door and it’s considered to be an end to the obligation.

I almost felt like I should have just stayed at home and lit some candles to have our own 3pm Holy Hour.

Tomorrow I plan to go to my Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish an hour away in Dublin. I just can’t go through easter without experiencing some kind of closeness to God. The Roman Catholic Church just fails miserably at any attempt to lift a soul off the ground and bring it to God via the Divine Liturgy. They don’t even call it Divine Liturgy which has a much better ring to it than ”Mass”. The word Mass means nothing it’s mad.

I know it sounds mad, even Jesus I bet thinks it sounds mad when we say this is the church that’s the true Church.

Tomorrow I will be greeted by the smell of incense, singing, chant, imagery and tradition in which body language also plays a part in our prayer towards Christ in the tomb.

 

 

 

 

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Finding A Spiritual Confessor

People write books about how to find a spiritual confessor. I’ve never found one but here’s a very short tip on how you know you’re not quite there yet:

If you go into confession with a priest and you ( a terrible unholy sinner that ye are ) end up giving him spiritual advice its time to move on.

The times are hard as most priests are only interested in playing Golf and watching the GAA.  If you go to confession sometimes you will hear ”Ah you’re a good lad really and there’s no badness in you, say an Our Father for your penance and now you’re act of contrition please ”. This is another sign you’re in with the wrong kind of priest.

Anyone who praises you in confession and overlooks the bad things you’ve done and doesn’t in gentleness discuss this with you is more blind than you are and you should probably pack your breadcrumbs and move on. If you cannot move on and he’s the only priest in the village, then you should by all means keep going to confession. BUT……… keep praying God will send you someone decent. priests like this are just evidence that many are called but few are actually chosen.

There’s also this new age thing going on where they meditate like the Hindus and introduce Chinese or Japanese meditation techniques at retreats.

I remember going to a prayer group one night where the priest talked about Eastern meditation ( no…not the Eastern Christian kind ) and instructed us to breath in and out.

It wasn’t really going anywhere other than breathing in and out and getting light headed. I was left wondering at what point will all the ladies throw their gold rings and necklaces into the center of the group so we can all make a golden calf out of it but to my surprise it never happened.

Look….Life in the western church is hard but if you buy the right kind of wine its made that little bit easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My First Real Icon.

From Romania

I was in Dublin for a few days and happened to come upon this Icon of St.Paul in a Christian bookstore known as ”Veritas” on Lower Abbey Street. We had planned to take a few days off in the city with booking a hotel. I was already aware that this icon existed as I was in Dublin before for some reason and happened to come across it. So it was on my mind for a long time to buy it as I have a certain closeness I do believe with St.Paul. I tend to think of him a lot and this is surely no coincidence. There are times when saints follow us around and make their presence known either through thought or visual icons or in the sermons we hear at the Divine Liturgy.

I never had an Icon of my own. One that was painted in the traditional sense on wood. This particular icon I had in mind was later found out to be from Romania but came through an Italian person/company that delivers them to Ireland so that was interesting. It was 72 euros to purchase so I thought, ”wow a lot of cash” but the woman behind the counter decided to give me 20% off ( with no protest about the original price on my behalf ) which made it come to around 57 euros in total. ”Ah”, I thought to myself, ”Saint Paul must me looking over my wretched little financially broke self”.

So having arrived home yesterday I braved my tiredness to get over across the road to the Redemptorist community where Fr.Tony Rice came to Bless my Icon and he told me some interesting stuff about Icons, some of which I was aware already but some of which I wasn’t. He explained how Icons are not ”Painted” but are ”written”. This would make sense because a few days prior to my trip I saw a woman’s collection of Icons online and she would say beneath each Icon ”This Icon was written in 2002”. I had no idea at the time what exactly she meant by ”written” but Fr.Tony Rice explained that the scriptures tell us a story and like the scriptures, the icon too tells a theological story also. This is why we use the word ”written” instead of ”painted”. The Iconographer writes us a story on wood, isn’t that interesting? He went on to explain how in ancient times of Ireland people would carve out theological stories in the Crosses they made ( for example you could google the Cross of Clonmacnois ). They did this because they were illiterate and unable to ”write” in the ABC sense of things. So they would tell a story with their art of carving.

That explanation was interesting because after our talk my father told me a story about a priest who was a friend of the family but fell asleep in the Lord not so long ago. Basically the priest was at the bed of a dying man. The man kept pointing saying ”Book, Book”. Fr.John had not a clue and so he asked people around him to get the book he wanted and that he is looking or a book. So the man kept pointing saying ”book book”. It turned out he was looking at the Crucifix on the wall which was his ”Book” and that the man was illiterate and could not read or write. So the Crucifix told this illiterate man ( along with anything else he had learned through Mass and the oral tradition ) the story of Jesus. So Icons and statues and paintings tell us a story and I felt that was a nice story to illustrate just how Icons are important for all walks of life in the Christian community.

But back to the explanation of Fr.Tony, ”The Icon”, Fr Tony continued, ” acts as a window between heaven ( the Divine ) and earth. The presence of the Saint in the icon is there, so when you are looking at him/her, he/she is looking back at you.” Yes that’s it, the actual saint is looking back at you through the Icon. How interesting. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Russian Orthodox Church makes us aware of this but said he prefers to call it ”The Door to the Kingdom of Heaven” in which we not just look at the icon as if through a window, but enter therein when looking at it.

What about the Iconographer? Fr.Tony Rice explained to me that each Iconographer takes a two-week retreat and fasts with prayer before going ahead and beginning the work of each Icon. How interesting to know that somebody did that just before writing this icon. Fr.Tony did ask me why I felt drawn to this one and no other. I was too tired to think about why but blurted out what I felt was possible at the time and explained I picked it because I felt a closeness with St.Paul but that was it. However if given the time I could go on to say that I picked him because of his conversion experience. I too experienced a great conversion and felt I held something in common with St.Paul. I feel that he is a great saint to invoke for our daily conversion to the Lord as well as for the conversion of others. He was a loving Saint with a fire inside of him for Christ. He took no messing and was not afraid even to inform the first Bishop of Rome ( St.Peter ) of his faults and mistakes so that we could all remain united and come to be of the same mind in Christ Jesus.

He is a great Saint to invoke against laziness and slothfulness and despair. Because he was such a great Saint of Faith, Hope and Charity. He worked his butt off and took the most horrid beatings and stoning for the sake of The Name. If there is a Saint I desire to be like and model myself upon I only wish it could be St.Paul. To imitate him in his imitation of Christ. To have him as a great role model of what a Christian should be is a wonderful gift of God that we should all make well use of.

So what about the Theology behind the Icon that I bought? Well . . . I will go ahead and admit I have not a clue and would appreciate others thoughts but in my own private opinion is: He is bald because he cut his hair in the acts of the Apostles. The reason he did this was because he was under the Nazarite vow, the same vow Samson was under. He is wearing a red garment which to me tells the story of his ”Martyrdom” as red is the color vestments priests wear on the feast of a Martyr. His thumb and index are close together and his three fingers are separate and close together, the former indicating the two natures of Christ and the latter indicating the Holy Trinity. He is of course holding the scriptures too but that’s all I know. If there are any good Iconographer’s out there who would like to explain please do I’d be interested in hearing from you.

I pray that this Icon will last a very long time and that it will be handed down to my son and his children and then his children’s children and so on. It will be a sort of Icon and Patron Saint of the Family and I would like that very much so.

God bless

Domestic Monk

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