Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where are they?

My priest asked me recently a challenging question. In talking about the work that I do for the church, he wanted to know one simple thing about the people that I speak to about my faith, “where are they?”. As a priest, who is in a service to the priestly people of God, it is only natural that he expects results from my service to the church. Each week he provides me the power to become what God is through Grace by his ordained ministry. However, this communication of Grace is not to be isolated within my personal experience. Just as my priest communicates it to me in the church I must also communicate it to others outside of the church. In essence, at some point the Grace that I receive must contribute to the growth of my church. If my church is by chance not growing it might be due to my lack of effort. Consequently, in some ways this makes the ministry of my priest to some degree in vain. The bottom line is, if we are not contributing to the growth of our churches we are in some ways diminishing the very purpose of having a church.

     Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has always grown primarily through sharing the message of Christ with other people. More specifically, a church will have its main growth from the proclamation of the Gospel, which is called evangelization. Despite what people sometimes think, evangelization is not being good at religion. Most often, there is a mistaken notion that we can just be good Christians and people will eventually want to join our churches. I often wonder, when people think this way, how many have actually joined their church by doing that. What is sad, is that I have met people who believe this, and some of them even think they are following a certain saying attributed to St. Francis that went, “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”. What these people don’t realize, in using the saints words, is that people came from all over the world to HEAR his teachings on Christ.  The truth is, there would be no Franciscans today if St. Francis went around and kept his faith to himself. 
     I don’t know about you but my personal testimony is not always the best. For me, I don’t put much stock in a saying like the one I mentioned above that seems actually to be missing from the teachings recorded about St. Francis. Nor do I believe that I have achieved a “spiritual peace” that allows everyone around me to be saved, that St. Seraphim spoke of, which sometimes people in my own church use as an excuse for not proclaiming their faith. On the other hand, I do know that God loves me and He has provided a way for me to continue to grow in my experience of Him. In knowing this ,I do believe that I have something to offer a person in terms of helping them to know God. There is only one obstacle in my life that prevents me sometimes from sharing this faith and it is fear.  You would think that after about 20years of going around and telling others about Christ I would be over my fear. The fact is, fear will never go away and each opportunity that I have to share my faith I must chose to overcome it. This is where that Grace communicated to me through the ministry of my priest plays a great role because through it I have the power to overcome anything.
     We have all been given something so precious through ministry of our priests. In sharing all this, I wish to challenge my readers to ask yourselves what my priest asked me about church growth. Each of us has the obligation to proclaim our faith in some form to others. You never know, that mailman that you see each day might be the next member of your church. The only thing stopping him from knowing this might be your own fear in sharing your faith. It might be natural to be afraid, but keep in mind, you have been given something not of this world, which is the very Grace to become what God is. To add to this teaching of our fathers about our deification, you become what God is through Grace, but also at the same time you become what God is in order to help others to do the same.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Because we belong both to the Christian East and West...

The schism between Catholicism and Orthodoxy remains a tragic reality of Christianity in the twentieth century and has been deeply felt in Ukraine: “Because we belong both to the Christian East and West, the schism goes through our whole being. Unfortunately, for the thousand years of the schism, we must state that the Roman Catholic Church has learned to cope without the Orthodox Church, just like the Orthodox Church has done so without the Roman Catholic Church. Each of them lives its life without needing the other. But we Greek Catholics need both the Christian East and West; the desire to find ways to unity has disappeared from our Church.” 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Featured Blog: Symposium, Priest of the Church

"Ultimately, the Liturgy has therapeutic power. This is because it is not a performance, but an effectual representation of heaven and what goes on before the throne of God. It is also, as our Lord himself promised, an extension not only of his act of Sacrifice, but of his own self for the sake of his people. And this means, in turn, that the entirety of his teaching ministry and the entirety of his healing ministry are manifest there, alongside everything else. It means that when the Liturgy is celebrated objectively and without the undo interference of personality and idiosyncracy, of ego and fleeting taste, then God’s people can be assured of meeting him there, and of receiving his grace and mercies. In light of this, priests and people alike need to pursue the improvement of their liturgies in greater conformity to Tradition with some urgency. The wellbeing of our souls depends on it."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Union with Rome- Quick Takes

Priest's Wife @ Fear Not Little Flock here- I'd love to introduce you to some websites and blogs that will inspire your Great Lent

"Why Do We Fast? I have been questioned at work lately about the purpose of our Lenten fasting. Why do we fast? Why is it so important. Why do Roman Catholics give up things for Lent? And why are Eastern Catholics restricted to certain foods? There are, of course, a number of answers. We have fasted from ancient times. Fasting helps us to take our attention from the things of this world in order to transfer that attention onto God. Fasting reminds us that the things of this world are good, but that as Christians we seek a higher good, a life transfigured by the indwelling of the Trinity." Continue at The Master Beadsman
"In the Byzantine tradition I believe there is a more complete understanding of the Lord’s death. In fact, each year we proclaim this during Holy Pascha when we say, “Christ is risen from the dead, By death He trampled death, And to those in the tombs He granted life”. From this perspective the Lord’s death becomes the means to end the problems with the human condition, which are the problems that keep us from God. Based on this, the guilt debt from sin is given a different position. Instead of our guilt being something that specifically makes God punish us with the fires of Hell it becomes more a power that leads us to our own self destruction. Being under the power of sin we are stuck in this cycle that leads to death, which is also a cycle that leads us to sin because we die. Finding ourselves in this impossible condition we are without a doubt in need of redemption. A redemption that not only just satisfies God’s wrath but one that gives us the freedom from our own condition." Continue at ECSR

3. The Nuns at Christ the Bridegroom
"Let us stress once more that the purpose of Lent is not to force on us a few formal obligations, but to "soften"our heart so that it may open itself to the realities of the spirit, to experience the hidden "thirst and hunger" for communion with God. This Lenten "atmosphere," this unique "state of mind," is brought about mainly by means of worship, by the various changes introduced during that season into the liturgical life.  Considered separately, these changes may appear as incomprehensible "rubrics," as formal prescriptions to be formally adhered to; but understood as a whole, they reveal and communicate the spirit of Lent, they make us see, feel, and experience that bright sadness which is the true message and gift of Lent." Continue at Christ the Bridegroom

"The Journey - I like to reflect upon how I am living out this penitential season.  But, I am always cautious to do so on the internet, because we are called to do so in privacy.  We are to "wash our face, anoint our heads" and partake of our Fast with joy and love of the Lord.  Lent is a great gift to us.  It is an opportunity to turn ourselves back to the way things ought to be.  It is a time to be less self-absorbed with the physical and balance the physical with the metaphysical.  Ah, Lent! It is a rich season of our faith.  It is the story of the creatures' life with the Creator.  Liturgically we journey from creation, fall, exile and to the Apex of our exile--Christ and our Salvation.  It's an amazing journey.  I have been partaking in Lent since I was a little girl and each year Lent grows into something bigger and more beautiful.  I learn new things about the tradition each year.  I wonder if there will ever be a year where I say, I think I have completed the full journey of Great Lent." Continue at Claytonopolis
5. This Lent, I have been enjoying the 'Lentcasts' of Fr Z, pray-as-you-go as usual and the radio programs of Light of the East. try it!
"The Holy Church gives us different ascetical practices that help us achieve a change of heart towards God. In my opinion, these Four ascetical practices take on a greater role during the Great Fast:
1. Realizing, repenting, and confessing ones transgressions before God and neighbor 2. Fasting from certain types of food 3. Increased prayer and alms giving 4. Increased scriptural spiritual readings
These are by no means the only four aspects of the spiritual life that can aid us during the fast, but I find that these four are what our Church stresses the most during this season. As with all things in the spiritual life, seeking the advice of one’s Spiritual Father is paramount to any Great Fast observance. (You wouldn’t start taking heart medicine without seeking the advice of a physician, would you? Same thing when it comes to spiritual medicine)" Continue at Ramblings of a Byzantine Catholic

7. and here are two videos...Learning the Liturgy and Cardinal Arinze...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Favorite Blog: Wake Up & Smell the Incense

Wake Up & Smell the Incense is a superb blog, a view of the world and the Church from a Byzantine Catholic lay person's perspective. Have you visited it lately?