Posts Tagged With: Churches

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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Commentary on Modern Churches From A Very Modern Man.

My brother is a photographer who owns his own business and his approach to photography is always very modern and I guess it has to be taking into account the movability of art and keeping up with the times. His shops ( unlike some photographers) have always been very modern in decor and appearance. Even in his own personal lifestyle he likes to wear all the latest clothes and his house is quite modern too.

With all that in mind, nothing could have prepared me for what he was about to tell me in the car on the way home from leaving my wife off at the hospital last week. We drove past a very modern church built in my neighbourhood in 1995. I made my confirmation there too. As we drove by he shivered his body with discomfort and said ” I just don’t know about those modern churches, I can’t seem to get holy in them or feel holy or any holiness in them.”

According to my very modern brother with fine tastes he really didn’t like the modern churches at all. I was shocked and I kept silent as I didn’t know what to say except to smile a little and nod my head in agreement. Its interesting because he’s not the only one I bet. These modern churches mean well in the sense that they somehow have a desire to transmit the Gospel in a modern era and to try and adapt to modern culture in order to bring people in, but are these modern churches ( most of which are as blank as an A4 page and have little or no artwork in them except one or two statues ) actually having the opposite effect on modern young adults and their desire to be Christian or at least consider Christianity?

The physical appearance of the church is very important and people desire something different than the world. They don’t want to come into the church and see the world again but to worship The Lord and experience that otherness that is the kingdom of heaven, that contrast between the heavenly and the worldly is what we desire.

It is important to be modern in our transmission of the faith but have we gone too far so as to bring the world INTO the church rather than the church INTO the world and make some waves? Isn’t that the whole Christian Gospel message that we stand out on top of the hill and let our light be seen, to be seen to be different from the world so that the world may see us and follow our example?

I think those who are building these churches perhaps need to revisit the blueprint and start all over again. I’d love to see a survey or study of some sort in which people are brought into a modern church and an old baroque style church and asked to compare their experiences of each and all participants to be young and hip and non Christian even. Perhaps only then will the modernist church architect really get the point.

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The Reason For The Declining Numbers In Vocation To Be A Priest

Many in the Church of today view the decline in the number of young men signing up to be a Priest and have several theories as to why. At least in Ireland ( where I am situated ) many seem to put it down to the Roman Churches discipline of celibacy. Others seem to think it is the scandals within the Church that make young men shy away from the Priesthood. All of these reasons are not true at all.

In the Eastern Catholic Churches men are allowed to first marry and then become a priest. And even though married clergy exist, they are very few and there are more celibate eastern priests than married. Looking back at what Saint Paul said in scriptures one can see why.

The scandals may play a small part in it I must admit, but here is my 2 cents as to what my theory about it is.

A major part of the reason for the decline is the desire by the Church ( and it varies in different countries ) to have men who are of noble intellectual character. For example: to join the Jesuit order one has to at least have his high school leaving certificate ( not sure what they call it in the states ) and at least 2 years university behind him before they even at least consider him for their order. All other places desire that you at least have finished high school before they even consider you as a ”brother” of their order.

Wow . . . That is a far cry from Jesus who called St.Peter a fisherman and St.Matthew a tax collector isn’t it? There you have it, our first Pope was a fisherman who probably didn’t even know how to read or write. They were not chosen for their great ”minds” but for their great ”hearts”. It is the heart the Lord sees and nothing else. If the Church spent more time examining the prayerful and moral disposition of these men as opposed to being concerned with whether or not they are a scientist or spent 15 years studying psychology, then maybe we would have more priests than we do now and good ones too.

Don’t pick me up the wrong way here because I recognize education to be important and the intellectual formation of the individual potential priest into theology to be important also. But in the East the priest is given a little formation in theology and Liturgy and so on and then sent out to do the good work of the Lord. After years of discerning and proving his worth in the seminary, that was it, he was ready.

But most of these guys don’t even get to the seminary because they have not finished high-school. And what is the result of all this ”great mind” searching the Church has done over the centuries? I’ll tell you what its done, we have now ended up with Priests and theologians who are working for the Church and don’t even believe in most of the Faith and Morals of the Church, even whilst on their seminary journey to ordaination these potential priests and crying out for women to be ordained, something banned by the universal magisterium.

I met one such theologian ( a doctor with a PHD ) who said to me that he believed women could be priests. That most of the Bible is a myth and I heard also that he is a fan of contraception too. When I confronted him about it he said: ”I have studied for years and years in the pontifical academy of Rome, I know what I’m talking about”. I was like, ”Yeah and St.Peter was a fisherman.”

Have you ever heard of the term ”Intelligently Stupid”? Because it applies to most people around the world today. My father told me of this term when I tried to tell him that apparently all these scientists theories are good and they are more intelligent than us. He said ”son, have you never heard of the term ”Intelligently stupid?”. So. . . of the little priests and theologians we do have, most of them suffer from the ”know-it-all” disease. Too much ”know” and not enough ”Love”.  This is the big mistake the Church made in ordaining clergy. They went looking for the mastermind and not the Master ( Jesus ) himself in others who were most probably turned away because they lacked a MD or PHD in cookery or some rubbish like that.

Many vocational directors on the other hand are probably thinking. . . well . . . we have not got the funding to take a chance on someone who may not have a vocation after-all and then will dropout. That’s a rubbish excuse, because most of the guys you have taken on who were well educated dropped out in the last year and all the funding you gave them for their education went down the toilet.

And if funding is such a problem, you have a catechism, go find a room somewhere in a house or a garden shed. Give the priest this and teach him the Liturgy and what needs to be taught. Passing on knowledge costs nothing. Where there is a will there is a way and the Lord will provide. You don’t need to turn them into scholars. Christ is not looking for scholars and philosophers. He is looking for people to Love and contemplate him. True theology is not ”intellectual study” of the Lord, true theology is love and contemplation of him. Now as you all know . . . “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” But many are unwillingly grieving the Lord with the obstacles they place for those workers to be sent out into his harvest. Are you proving to be one of those obstacles?

God bless

Domestic Monk

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