Posted by: Fr Chris | March 8, 2019

1st Friday of Lent, 2019

My first dog was a spaniel named Princess. Soon after I got her, I came home to discover that she had unrolled an entire toilet paper roll through the entire house. As soon as she saw me, she put her head down, covered it with a paw and rolled over. She had more sense of responsibility and guilt than those two in Genesis tonight.

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Adam blames God: you gave her to me. Eve blames the serpent: he tricked me. Neither says, I’m sorry, I know what I did was wrong. Neither one takes responsibility for their actions. That is the core of sin: avoiding responsibility and ignoring the effects of what I have done wrong.  Sin upends the original plan of God’s creation. The rib God used to make Eve, according to Jewish midrash, is the one closest to Adam’s heart. Adam and Eve, Man and Woman, are complementary to each other, they complete each other, they are made to be together. Original sin messed that up, and so we have damaged people as a result. We were meant to walk with God here on earth – Genesis 3 makes that very clear, as God comes to walk in the garden in the cool of the evening; after Original Sin that connection is broken.

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Lent is the opportunity to open ourselves up to God’s grace in a different way. We are walking with Christ in the last weeks of His life on earth. In the Byzantine tradition, we are reading from Genesis and Proverbs at night, and Isaiah during the day. In all of these, we hear about God’s Wisdom, God’s Love for wandering humanity, and the history of our salvation. God did not abandon humanity after the Original Sin was created. The Holy Spirit raised up prophets to speak God’s Wisdom to the nations, but even God’s Chosen People went astray over and over again. And we are not ones to brag: the current mess in the Catholic Church of bishops who willfully protected the institution rather than their people is a classic sign of going astray.

What is happening now today in the Church is a result of men who refused to take full responsiblity for protecting souls, and it is still happening around the world. It happened in a terrible way 1,000 years ago, and it is back, and both times it is due to a failure to be honest about the damage being done to souls.  There have been bad bishops before: Judas Iscariot walked away from the Last Supper with the Body of Christ in him and accomplished his betrayal of Jesus. But the apostles replaced him with Saint Mathias.

Sinners can become saints: Judas did not try. We do try. That is why we are here tonight, to walk with Jesus despite our imperfections and difficulties, to walk with Him holding on to His pierced hand. To put our fingers into the wound of His side from which flowed blood and water from His pierced heart. That blood and water represents Baptism and  Eucharist, the two foundational sacraments of the Faith. Christ remains with His wounded  Church, just as He remains with wounded sinners. Christ weeps over each sinners as do the angels in heaven. But Jesus tells us how much the angels rejoice when a sinner comes home, when the lost are found.

The Church faces an internal crisis, but it is not the end. We have had bad bishops, priests, nuns, laity, popes and patriarchs. Some patriarchs of Constantinople were  even heretics. But the Body of Christ, the Church, continued on its way. There have always been new prophets raised up by the Holy Spirit to lead everyone back on to the narrow road to heaven.  We are here to be transformed by grace, to be deified by grace, to experience theosis here and now. We are here to become saints, not to follow the latest new teaching from some self-appointed messiah or to flow with the latest goofy idea to come from the media. We are here to follow Jesus Christ, so that we can restore the original order of life: to walk with God. We must take hold of Jesus’ pierced hand, and walk with Him, and all will be well.

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Posted by: Fr Chris | March 4, 2019

Beginning of Great Lent 2019

Meditation on Genesis 1 and Proverbs 1

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We begin Lent with the beginning of Genesis, first book of the bible, and the voice of Wisdom as recorded in the book of Proverbs. Wisdom here is not only the wisdom of King Solomon and sayings collected from various people, it is the voice of God. Solomon asked for wisdom as God’s gift to him, and all through Lent we will read what Wisdom has to offer us.

 

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As for Genesis, creation stories in the ancient Near East were stories of battles and chaos caused by gods who wanted to enslave human beings. The Jewish text is much different. It is a peaceful creation, one achieved by God alone, through His Word – the Word which will become incarnate to save us from our sins. He speaks: results happen. It is a steady progression, from making the universe to the world, to the elements, to the animals. Then God stops the process and makes a new creation: us. Human beings, God says, are to be “in our image”, the voice of the Trinity. The humans are made not to be slaves, but to love God, to walk with God, to know God. The world is made for the humans to live in, not as a prison, but as a wonderful creation filled with life. It is presented as a peaceful place, a place of serenity.

One of the key elements in Genesis is this: Original Sin cannot destroy God’s creation, nor can all the sins that flow from it. Our destiny remains, which is to be with Him. God will triumph over the damage caused by sin, through the sending of the Logos, the Word, Who will take flesh as one of us.

That same Word gives us teachings to live by, as we will read in Proverbs every day of Great Lent. That Word will suffer incredibly for us, so that we can again walk on the path laid out by God in the beginning. We are made to be with Him, to know Him, to love Him. In this time when so many people are rejecting God, turning aside from God, and doing their best to cause harm to others, let us make this Great Lent, this Great Fast, a season in which to renew our connection with God: through participating in the services, through our reading, through our prayers outside of church. Let us offer our penances to this loving God for the return of those who have tossed Him and His Church aside, for the salvation of those who have damaged His Church, and for the redemption of this world that God so loved that He sent His only-begotten Son to suffer and die for us at the end of this Great Lent. Then we can have a truly joyous Easter Sunday in April. Christ is among us.

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Posted by: Fr Chris | February 20, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Evangelization 8

 

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First published in 1968 and republished in 1993, this handy book goes over the liturgical year; feasts; Paschal cycle including Great Lent and its preparation; the preparation and festive days of the  major holy days; All Souls’ Days; and the fasts as they were modified after Vatican II. While the current fasting rules are not there, overall it is a solid, readable presentation. It is not sold at the Seminary Press anymore, but you can find it on used book sites including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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This Ukrainian Catholic catechism book is another good resource text. While published for the Ukrainian Church and therefore quoting Ukrainian writers and with references to Ukrainian martyrs and Ukraine itself,  it  is a comprehensive Eastern catechism using traditional Byzantine language, spirituality, and Church Fathers. Its setup reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and begins with the Holy Trinity. Then it covers the Holy Mysteries, spiritual life in the Church, theosis and divine economy, and our responsibilities to creation and our place in the cosmos. $29.95 from the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma: http://stjosaphateparchy.com/product/christ-our-pascha/

The complete Divine Office including the calendar of saints’ days, the Lenten cycle, and the daily prayers. It is in a new English translation, but it is not the one used by the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh.

$50 from http://stjosaphateparchy.com/product/divine-office/

For the daily prayers using the 2004 translation of the Pittsburgh Metropolia:

Eastern Christian Publications has an app for the daily Hours and Vespers, listed as BDO, or Byzantine Daily Office – https://ecpubs.com/product-category/subscription_electronic/    The owner, Jack Figel, asks for donations to help support this as it comes out daily with all the texts needed for each day of the year, including daily Vespers and Great Vespers for feasts and Sundays. A lot is packed into this app.

 

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App for Daily Readings, Hours, Vespers, Saints’ lives, along with videos and a news feed connected to Horizons newspaper, from the Eparchy of Parma; it includes pages for posting prayer requests.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bf.appd580cf

Metropolitan Cantor Institute of Pittsburgh posts new texts, with music, of services throughout the year. For instance, a new Cheesefare Vespers with Forgiveness Ceremony is available. There is a lot of material to be found herehttps://mci.archpitt.org/     that applies to living out our Faith according to our spiritual heritage well.

 

 

 

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Martyrs of the Byzantine Catholic Church

The establishment of  Communism in Central Europe, 1945-1990, produced many martyrs from the Catholic Churches, both Latin and Byzantine.  These martyrs from our Church have been beatified by the universal Catholic  Church:

Blessed Theodore Romzha, the last public bishop of the Eparchy of Mukachevo until 1991, assassinated in 1947.

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$25, 340 pages,  a detailed biography of our first bishop-martyr. Survivors of communist prisons told me that without him, there would be no Greek Catholic  Church today in the territory of the Eparchy of Mukachevo. https://ecpubs.com/product/theodore-romzha-his-life-times-and-martyrdom/

Our Martyred Bishop Romzha by A. Pekar, O.S.B.M.

Booklet of 30 pages, $1.50 http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/search.php?search_query=romzha&x=0&y=0

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Pamphlet, $0.25 each, http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/39-bishop-theodore-g-romzha/

 

Blessed Paul Peter Gojdich, Bishop of Presov, died in prison, 1960. He had no desire to become a bishop, but the Holy Spirit decided otherwise. Pope Pius XI prophesied to him that he would carry a heavy cross. He was persecuted in the First Slovak Republic for his defense of the Jews and Rusyns, and by the communists of Czechoslovakia for refusing to convert our Church to Russian Orthodoxy. In prison, God gave him the stigmata and the gift of bilocation, being present to dying prisoners in one place even though the guards saw him in another cell.

Bishop Paul P. Gojdich Confessor of Our Times by Anthansius B. Pekar, O.S.B.M.

$2, 40 pages, by Fr. Athanasius Pekar, OSBM. http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/search.php?search_query=gojdic

Holy card with prayer, $0.13 each Seminary Press

10″ x 8″ icon, $45 , http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/icon-bishop-confessor-paul-p-gojdich-large/

Blessed Methodius Dominic Trcka 

Born a Roman Catholic, he fell in love with the Byzantine Church as a young priest, and founded the Byzantine Catholic Redemptorists in Czechoslovakia. He died in prison of pneumonia in 1959, contracted after he was put into a freezing cell for the “crime” of humming a Christmas carol in the hearing of a communist guard. The icon shows the title of the carol which resulted in his death.

https://redemptorists.net/features/blessed-methodius-dominic-trcka/

Icon- Blessed Metod Dominik Trčka

7″ x 9″ icon, $15, http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/search.php?search_query=trcka+&x=0&y=0

Blessed Basil Hopko 

 

Pamphlet, $0.25, http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/41-bishop-basil-hopko/

Read his heroic life of suffering here: https://www.eparchyofpassaic.com/hopko.html

or here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_Hopko   OR  here:

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/martyrology_entry.php?n=3384

For his refusal to abandon our Church for Russian Orthodoxy, the communists subjected him to 122 days of unending torture, but he never yielded. In 1968 our Church was partly restored, but he was not allowed to serve as the bishop because he was of the “wrong” nationality. He died in 1976, and is a heavenly advocate for those who are victims of nationalism or of depression. Tests conducted on his relics showed that he had been slowly poisoned by someone who stealthily put arsenic into his food over time, meaning someone close to him had killed him for the communist regime.

Venerable Petro Oros, shot in 1953 

He was a secret bishop, consecrated by Bl. Theodore Romzha in 1944. A communist policeman executed him in the main street of Irshava in 1953. He had successfully conducted an underground ministry for four years until his capture.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petro_Oros

Venerable Alexander Chira, +1983 in Soviet Kazakhstan 

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Photo taken in Karaganda, Kazakhstan 

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Booklet, $1, with photos,  http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/bishop-alexander-chira-prisoner-of-christ-by-a-pekar-o-s-b-m/

A fascinating life of priest secretly consecrated as a bishop in 1944 by Bl. Theodore Romzha, who spent years in the Gulag, then served as a missionary in Soviet Central Asia ministering to both Byzantine and Latin Catholic exiles.

http://www.carpatho-rusyn.org/spirit/chira.htm

http://www.regi.mindszenty.katolikus.hu/koszoru/chira_sandor.html  – in Hungarian but Google Translate does a pretty good job of putting it into English.

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Byzantine Evangelization 7: Prayer & Liturgy

At this time, there is no prayer book available using the translations found in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh. However, the Melkite Eparchy has continued to print and update their popular Publican’s Prayer Book! This beautiful prayer book, designed for personal use, contains over 700 pages of the traditional prayers of the Eastern Churches offered by generations of Christians — spiritual publicans — who heeded the Lord’s call to repent and “seek, first, the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Features of the 3rd edition:

  • All the beautiful treasury of prayers from the 1st and 2nd editions, plus over 100 additional pages, including…
  • A Small Horologion, simplified and abbreviated for personal use in the “domestic church” of the home (like the Book of Hours published by Sophia Pressin 2013) for those who desire to pray the canonical hours (Divine Office). Ideal for family prayer
  • The Akathist of Thanksgiving, known under the title, Glory to God for All Things, a magnificent testament of praise to God for His loving care and guiding providence in our lives
  • An expanded Table of Contents, making it easier to find the special prayers you wish to pray
  • Additional texts of the Holy Fathers including… St. Athanasios’ On Praying the Psalms, and the famous homily of St. Proclus of Constantinople, friend and disciple of St. John Chrysostom, On the Theotokos, delivered in Hagia Sophia in the presence of the heretic Nestorius
  • New classic graphics from ancient liturgical books

Also includes all the features of the 2nd edition:

  • the traditional Morning Prayers and Prayers Before Sleep
  • prayers for use throughout the day
  • and prayers for various needs, such as: prayers for the dead, for the sick, for married couples, for travelers, for deliverance from addiction, for the clergy, for purity, for healing from cancer, for aborted children, and many others
  • Prayers of preparation/thanksgiving for Holy Communion and Confession
  • Calendar of Saints and Feasts, with troparia, for every day of the year
  • Nine Canons and Akathists
  • The Wisdom of the East: selected writings of the Church Fathers on prayer and related topics;
  • and spiritual guidance for living always in the presence of God
  • Glossary of terms and bibliography of selected texts on Eastern Christian spirituality

The Publicans Prayer Book is a valuable help for Eastern Christians who seek to sanctify their daily lives by responding to the Lord’s call to “pray at all times” (Luke 21:34).

Richly leather-bound with gold embossing, sewn binding, fine quality paper, gilt edges, silk ribbons, two_color printing throughout, in a practical 5×7 size, with lovely reproductions of woodcuts from antique Byzantine liturgical books.

The Year of Grace of the Lord: a Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church. A Monk of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1992). This work, by the famous Father Lev Gillet, is exactly what the title says. It goes through the whole year, both the fixed calendar of feast days and the moveable one of Great Lent-Pascha-Pentecost. Thoughtful essays are written for each day.

https://www.amazon.com/Year-Grace-Lord-Scriptural-Liturgical/dp/0913836680

This is a book well worth the $5 being charged for it. While published in 1970, it is a good overview of the Divine Liturgy in a readable format. http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/the-divine-liturgy-of-saint-john-chrysostom-by-basil-shereghy/

 

Time for the Lord to Act by David M. Petras

This book is by the eminent Fr. David Petras, the best liturgical scholar of the Byzantine Catholic Church. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Oriental Institute and has served in numerous capacities for our Church He goes over the history of the  Divine Liturgy, the updating that took place in 2004 and why, and unpacks the power of our worship beautifully.

http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/search.php?search_query=petras+&x=0&y=0

A Year With the Church Fathers – In A Year with the Church Fathers, popular Patristic expert Mike Aquilina gathers the wisest, most practical teachings and exhortations from the Fathers of the Church, and presents them in a format perfect for daily meditation and inspiration. The Fathers were the immediate inheritors of the riches of the Apostolic Age, and their intimacy with the revelation of Jesus Christ is beautifully evident throughout their theological and pastoral writings: a profound patrimony that is ours to read and cherish and profit from.

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DVD AN INTRO AND EXPLANATION

Introduction to Eastern Churches, and Explanation of Eastern Catholic Churches $14.95 

https://store.godwithusbooks.org/the-eastern-church/dvd-an-intro-and-explanation/

 

 

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Evangelization 6

WORSHIP AIDS

The Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great. Every adult and teenager in the household should have their own pew book!

Byzantine Catholic prayer books – as opposed to the Orthodox ones in use before – have printed for our faithful since 1773, because it is so important that every believer should be able to reference the correct prayers for the Tones, feast days, and communion meditations . By purchasing and using this book, you are part of a centuries tradition! This has the responses, proper prayers, and music for the Liturgies, feast days, ranks of saints for ordinary days, and special intentions. Besides all that, there are the traditional – and very beautiful – Prayers Before Communion and Prayers of Thanksgiving which can be read either in church or at home. Complete with ribbons for marking the pages. Available from Byzantine Seminary Press:  http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/the-divine-liturgies-of-our-holy-fathers-john-chrysostom-and-basil-the-great-hardcover/  $10

Byzantine Daily Office – the daily prayers of Matins, the Hours, and Vespers, with the correct Proper Prayers (Troparion, Kontakion), for each day of the year, sent directly to your smart phone, computer, or pad, from Eastern Christian Publications.

ALSO NEW: Audio CD for Vespers, Morning Prayer and Sixth Hour (Noon Prayer). For more information go to

http://ecpubs.com/byzantine-daily-office-bdo/   Donations requested

Theosis is a monthly print or electronic magazine with articles on theology, liturgy, and
Sacred Scripture; information on the month’s saints’ days; and photographs of ancient churches.

http://ecpubs.com/theosis-monthly-magazine/   $6 monthly

A self-standing display of icons for the major feasts of the liturgical year.  Summary bullet points for education on each feast.  Pocket-size 4″X6″ in full color.  $15.00  http://ecpubs.com/product/table-tent-icons/

Come Bless the Lord Icon Packet, $10

Beautiful set of 39 icon prints, size 8 ½ x 11. Familiarize learners with Christ, the Mother of God, saints and the major feasts through icons. Display an icon relevant to a feast, gospel or parable. Teach children to reverence the icon and pray before an icon, set up an icon corner. Icons have descriptions on back of pages. Find this at

https://store.godwithusbooks.org/icon-prints-books-dvds/come-bless-the-lord-icon-packet/

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Evangelization 5: Bookshelf

Basic Byzantine Bookshelf for Busy Byzantines

The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.
                                                              -Pope Benedict XVI to American Bishops, 2012

These titles of books and DVDs should be on your bookshelf, and read frequently, so as to deepen your understanding of the gift we have been given in the Byzantine Catholic Church, and to help develop laity who will fulfill the wishes of the Our Lord that we be strong in Faith and that we proclaim this Faith!

Books to Answer “Are You Really a Catholic?”

 

101 Questions on Eastern Catholic Churches. This book is exactly what it claims to be, and does a good job of providing good answers to all those questions that arise about just what an Eastern Catholic is, how we pray, and how we fit into the Universal Church.

http://www.paulistpress.com/Products/4441-9/101-questions–answers-on-eastern-catholic-churches.aspx

https://www.amazon.com/Questions-Answers-Eastern-Catholic-Churches/dp/0809144417

The Catholic Eastern Churches – The main page has a short history of how most of the Churches were formed by various Unions, and the left hand side has a complete list of links that give the history of each individual Church (ours is “Ruthenian”), and locations today.    http://www.cnewa.org/default.aspx?ID=54&pagetypeID=9&sitecode=HQ&pageno=1

Eastern Catholics in the United States of America This little (32 pp) book comes from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops: who could ask for a better reference to answer the eternal question: “Are you really Catholic?” It’s a good booklet to give to the relatives, co-workers, neighbors.

Eastern Catholics in the United States

Provides an overview of the four dominant Eastern Catholic traditions in the US: Antiochian, Alexandrian, Armenian, and Byzantine. Uses the encyclical Orientale Lumen as its building block “to promote a greater understanding of the experience of Eastern Catholics in this country.” This book is inexpensive but attractive enough to both put into parish vestibules or provide for parishioners to keep a few on hand at home for those inevitable questions.

Available at http://store.usccb.org/eastern-catholics-in-the-united-states-p/5-287.htm.

One of the classic works explaining Byzantine Catholic spirituality, written by the famous Archbishop Joseph Raya. A book to read over and over again.

https://ecpubs.com/product/face-of-god-by-archbishop-joseph-raya/

DVD ON ICONS – THE MAIN ART FORM OF THE BYZANTINE CHURCHES 

Reflection of Glory

The spiritual and cultural dynamics of early Christianity which eventually gave rise to the art of the Byzantine Icon are presented in this DVD. Offers the viewer a more mature understanding of Byzantine Icons by providing the foundation upon which the terminology, concepts, and theology of iconography are based.

https://store.godwithusbooks.org/icon-prints-books-dvds/reflection-of-glory/

THE MOTHER OF GOD IN THE CATHOLIC EAST

Mother of God

The Icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir graces this booklet with an elegantly written meditation. By, Gaetano Passarelli •Gloss, Full Color, 24 pg  https://store.godwithusbooks.org/icon-prints-books-dvds/mother-of-god/

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST 

Christ The Savior

he renowned and beloved Icon of Christ graces the cover of this booklet while the words within provide an inspiring meditation. An excellent addition to your personal prayer and reflection time. Consider for use in a prayer or study group; purchase as gifts. Excellent gift to parishioners for Pascha, First Sunday of the Great Fast, Parish patronal Feast Day, a Feast of Christ Incarnate, Father’s Day, parishioner anniversaries, purchase the set—Christ the Savior (GW158152) and Mother of God (GW018169) as a gift for a couple at Crowning, etc.

https://store.godwithusbooks.org/icon-prints-books-dvds/christ-the-savior/

Exactly what it says it is – a handy, easy to read, but thorough exploration of Eastern Catholic worship, liturgical life and prayer life. https://www.amazon.com/Eastern-Catholic-Churches-Introduction-Spirituality/dp/0814620477

A little outdated, but still a good overview of Eastern Catholicism in the USA, covering the main Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.

https://ecpubs.com/product/eastern-catholic-churches-in-america/

 

A great overview of the different Eastern Catholic Churches which are flourishing in America, with history, explanations of origins, and the challenges of being Eastern and Catholic in the United States. $18.95

https://store.godwithusbooks.org/the-eastern-church/american-eastern-catholics/

MORE TITLES AND LINKS WILL BE PROVIDED SOON! 

 

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Evangelization 4

Internet Radio Inside the House / Office / Car

Check out Father Thomas Loya’s stock of programs “Light of the East. ”

Radio is not outdated. It remains a primary vehicle for evangelization in the Southern Hemisphere, and via the internet everywhere. The internet, of course, is not just for streaming live programs, but for listening at anytime, anywhere. And Father Loya’s show is one of the best there is, not just among Byzantine Catholics, but all Catholics.

You can access it here: http://byzantinecatholic.com/podcast/ as part of the Annunciation (Homer Glen, Illinois) parish’s website, which has an archive of past programs.

Father’s Apple podcasts can be found here  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/light-of-the-east/id910354650?mt=2.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know

This podcast is put together by priests of the Archdiocese of Denver and our own  Father Michael O’Loughlin, of Holy Protection parish in Denver. He brings in the Byzantine perspective on a regular basis. Go to http://catholicstuffpodcast.com

Catholic Under the Hood is a Franciscan broadcast, but it carries a number of shows with a distinctly Eastern Catholic flavor. Find more at  https://catholicunderthehood.com/category/eastern-catholic.

How to Speak in Evangelization1

Defending the Faith is always a challenge. Conversations with co-workers, friends, and relatives can become difficult or awkward. This is where three things come into play:

Prayer – we must pray daily to the Holy Spirit to ask His guidance! Recite the “Heavenly King” slowly and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you. If you have roommates, workmates, friends, and relatives who ask about our Church, our Byzantine Tradition, and the Catholic Faith, this is an invitation to speak well. If this is a regular occurrence, then pray this often to ask for help!

Education – Get books for yourself: see the Byzantine Basic Bookshelf in the next posts for ideas.  Our Byzantine Tradition has so many practices and rituals which speak to the soul, but we have to know what they mean! And the basics of the Catholic Faith are so important: read, attend Catholic Bible study, check out Catholic websites, and learn so as to teach. Samples are given on the Bookshelf page.

Patience – One of the great virtues. Be patient: you do not know what seeds you have planted. One day, by grace, those seeds will grow and flourish in the souls of others. You may see it from Heaven, but it will happen!

Look for the positive intention behind the criticism.
Rather than arguments, consider the value that those arguments appeal to. Look for the Christian ethic. Which other values is the critic ignoring, or has not properly taken into account? Consider how, very early in the discussion you can appeal to the value your critic is upholding. Even when up against an individualistic or utilitarian viewpoint, it is important to understand the value involved, name it, and s how that there are underlying principles to be agreed upon.

Be charitable. People won’t remember what you said as much as how you made them feel.
We are there to serve the truth – not by trying to defeat people or overwhelm them. Charity must be the key element always. The danger is that you will win the argument but lose the souls.

Be positive.
An important principle when making the Church’s case against something is to be positive. Almost everything the Church says is because she wants to call people to the fullness of life, health, and sustainable prosperity.
Being positive is not being “nice”. It is about bringing the discussion back to the positive vision of the Church. We invite society to a better way. We are against abortion because we are campaigning like the anti-slavery people did. Be the angel that point to the brighter horizon! The Church has answers to the moral questions of today! 

Think in triangles. Hone your thoughts down to the three important points you want to make. If you get two out of the three into the discussion you’ll be doing well. It’s important to marshal your thoughts into three points. 
Make a triangle of them. When in the discussion, think how does it relate to the triangles – then bring in your point. At least one point should address the positive intention behind the criticism.

Show, don’t tell.
Know your facts, but don’t bounce statistics. It’s not 33% but one out of three; not 25% but one-fourth. Use those kinds of statistics only when needed.

Go to the sources of the person’s criticism: is it accurate or is it misquoted? Attention spans today are short: focus on what’s most important. Check out some resources here re: Catholicism in general – https://shop.catholic.com/

 

St Mary of the Holy Protection Proto-Cathedral, Sherman Oaks, CA 

First Byzantine Catholic church on the West Coast 

 

Looking Beyond the New “Old Country”: A New Expansion

The immigrants who came from Austria-Hungary left behind their homes which quickly became the “stary krai”, or Old Country. Then Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio became the new Old Country as people moved south and west, beginning in the 1950s.

Father Eugene Chromoga was sent to Los Angeles with the names of two families. When he got off in Union Station, he found out that one family had moved. With the foundation of that one family, Father Chromoga went to work. From their work, Saint Mary of the Holy Protection Church was established, and from that base missions and outreach stations grew to become parishes across the whole state of California. Saint Mary became the first  cathedral of the new eparchy in the Western States founded in 1982.

The mission experience in the Western States, which gave birth to our eparchy of the Holy Protection of Mary in Phoenix, was accomplished by the initiatives of laity who wrote to the bishop of the Parma Eparchy, which then had jurisdiction, and asking for priests to come to their towns and serve them.  This is very much the role of the baptized: to work for the Kingdom of God!

By 1985, parishes had been founded in the major cities of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. The expansion into these regions was successful. Now we need both a new expansion into new areas, as people continue to beg for priests in other locations,  and an internal expansion of vision and fervor in existing parishes so as to reach out into the larger population.

A Guide for the Domestic Church

Vatican II teaches clearly that the Catholic home is a domestic church.[1] The Christian family must be the family that prays together, so that it stays together.[2] This is possible by having an active prayer life as a single person, a married couple, or a family. Ancient customs still speak to the modern soul! Ancient prayers awaken us to the living presence of God in each of our lives! People who are in love with God will be in love with each other and with their neighbor.

But how do I introduce my spouse and children to an active life of prayer and living out the rituals and customs of our Church?

Widely used by Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians since its original publication in 1986, A GUIDE FOR THE DOMESTIC CHURCH   has been reissued in a full-color updated version for another generation of Eastern Christian families. A kind of cookbook for Christian family life,  A GUIDE FOR THE DOMESTIC CHURCH  is an easy to read presentation of the Eastern Churches’ vision for the Christian home along with specific  directions for those wishing to incorporate Byzantine  spirituality into their home lives throughout the Church year.

This book contains step-by-step directions for family prayer, hints for keeping the fasts, setting up an icon corner, celebrating saints’ name days and participating in the Church’s special moments of encounter with God (baptisms, marriages, funeral and memorial services.)

The second edition includes newly-available resources and recipes as well as links to online distributors and manufacturers of religious supplies. A GUIDE FOR THE DOMESTIC CHURCH does a wonderful job of explaining both the whys and the hows of Eastern Christian family practice, telling you where to find icons, lamps, incense, and so forth, and what to do with them.

Paper, 116 pages. Only $15.00 Available from the Melkite Eparchy of Newton via this site:

https://melkite.org/products-page/oes-general-interest/a-guide-for-the-domestic-church-2nd-edition

 

Go here for other suggestions on transforming your home into a domestic church: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/parents/tools-for-building-a-domestic-church.cfm

[1] Lumen Gentium, no. 11.

[2] To paraphrase the famous phrase of Father Patrick Peyton, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Evangelization 2

Some Simple Basics

Here are suggestions to help in preparing for visitors.

Welcoming

Within the first 30 seconds of entering a church, visitors will know if they are going to return or not.  How you welcome guests in the entryway, and what you put there, is absolutely critical.  Walking in to a new church can be intimidating. Have a person there. Greeting is so important. A greeter can welcome the visitor, give the parish handout material, and point them in the right direction. Ideally, a greeter knows certain parishioners who will be happy to have a guest seated with them, parishioners who are proud of their parish and willing to “show the ropes” regarding using the book, when to sit and stand, and how to receive Holy Communion.

  1. What the Greeter Gives: Above all else, a smile and an extended hand with a warm “Welcome to our Parish!”
  1. If the pastor welcomes guests at the close of the Divine Liturgy during parish announcements, then greeters can ask guests to sign their name on the paper going up to the altar. If the visitor does not want to be greeted, a good greeter will respect that wish instantly. This is no time to be pushy!
  2. Greeters should give to each guest:
    1. An Icon Holy Card with parish name, address, website, phone number of the office stamped or printed on the back.
    2. Copy of the  Divine Liturgy for visitors to use during the Liturgy. If giving out the green pew book, then make sure that the ribbon marking the day/ Tone is pointed out to them. If using the Byzantine Seminary Press paperback, point out that the music for the texts reflects common melodies, but not all of them.
    3. Now they’re in the door, and what should they do? Ask in advance for parishioners who are happy to host guests in their pew. Special note here: those parishioners should plan to be at the church 15 minutes before the Liturgy begins, not as the priest and servers enter the sanctuary!
  3. Greeters should be responsible and if they cannot serve on a particular weekend, they arrange for a substitute, or else inform the office a week in advance. An empty vestibule/ narthex is a dead one!
  1. Available for Visitor:
    Visitors come any day of the week, and if your church is open, here are suggestions to keep on hand. Bright, attractive handouts will do wonders!
  1. Eastern Catholics in the United States of America. Available from USCCB Publications http://store.usccb.org/eastern-catholics-in-the-united-states-p/5-287.htm      $3.95

    You can have it available for free in your pamphlet rack or on a table, while selling copies in your parish store. A Roman Catholic visitor is immediately assured that the church is indeed a Catholic one!

  2. Byzantine Seminary Press Leaflets. http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/Byzantine-Leaflet-Series/ The Press has over 50 fold-out titles available. Ones appropriate to the season or holy day can be placed in a rack or on a table, such as “Blessing of Easter Foods” #2. If the parish patron is a title from the series, such as SS. Peter and Paul or Our Lady of Perpetual Help, then the pamphlet can be left out all year. Non-seasonal ones can also be kept out, such as “Veneration of Icons” (#16), “The Anointing with Holy Oil” (#10), “The Observance of Sunday” (#38), and “Prayers to the Blessed Mother of God”(#27).
  3. Holy Cards.Attractive holy cards can be purchased from the Seminary Press and imprinting done, or they can be made locally. During Great Lent, cards with the Prayer of Saint Ephrem; during Pascha Resurrection cards; at Christmas Nativity cards, etc.

Newspapers. Every eparchy has its own publication. Buy extra copies which can be placed in the narthex. No more than three different issues should be kept, to avoid clutter.

Registration Forms. Make it easy for someone to join the parish: put these forms right where everyone can find them!

  1. WELCOME TO OUR CHURCH folders – Easy to read folders about life in an Eastern: available at  https://store.godwithusbooks.org/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_str=welcome+to+parish+

 

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