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Hello Everyone,

This is my first post here. Thank you for having this wonderful online community. I have learned much from my time lurking and looking through old topics. I have debated whether or not it was a good idea to make this post; and I am still not sure if it is. I do sincerely apologise if this forum is not the place, and if my content is inappropriate.

I am in a very spiritually confusing place at the moment. I am a Traditional Roman Catholic who has recently discerned out of the Monastery that I was part of, with spiritual direction from the Prior leading me to discern the Priesthood in one of the Byzantine Catholic Churches in my home country. Despite my initial discomfort, this has proven to be the most on point direction I have ever had. I cannot even begin to detail the spiritual wonderment and devotion that have come from my delving into Byzantine Catholicism. I have been intellectually illuminated, spiritually fulfilled and - most integrally - prayerfully devoted beyond which I could previously say in my 11 years as a Catholic, inclusive of my time in the Monastery.

My discernment has found me at a wonderful Ukrainian Catholic Parish in a neighboring city that is very Liturgically and spiritually conservative, and I absolutely love being part of the community there. To the best of my knowledge, it is one of the only Ukrainian Catholic Churches in the diaspora that does not have pews, and keeps to all Vigils and daily offices in the Liturgy (all of which, they are constantly at ends with Bishops about). In speaking with various clergy, it was recommended that I look into other Byzantine Churches (and parishes) in order to get a better picture of things as a whole. What I have found is that most other Byzantine parishes around me (and in my country as a whole) are exceptionally liberal, with liturgies not unlike to the Roman Novus Ordo (which have henceforth and continue to avoid like the plague), complete with irreverence, milquetoast homilies and garish architecture and iconography - the worst of this being some Priests only allowing for the Eucharist under one species, and in the hand. This being in staunch contrast to what I have become accustomed to at the aforementioned new "home" Parish that I am attending, and has left me very distraught and scandalised.

In following the same advice from clerics, I was recommended to attend a Russian Orthodox Liturgy, on the grounds that the Liturgical approach there would be the "most traditionally Roman" and, therefore, comfortable for me. I followed said advice, and attended the Feast of the Dormition at the closest ROCOR parish to me. What I found was a beauty and piety that reduced me to tears: I truly felt I was among fellow pilgrims approaching the Divine Mysteries. The reverence of the Priests and Deacons, the piety of the congregation, the iconography: it was all so magnificent. I was left amazed and shocked: where is such a Liturgy in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? To clarify, I am at this point not calling into question *any* Catholic dogmas whatsoever. I am still a loyal son of the Church, who humbly assents to the Magisterium, without question. I understand that Schism is an abominable sin to Charity, and would not even consider it - and this very conviction kept me away from ever attending a Sedevacantist Church in the past. With that being said, I feel that attending that said Russian Liturgy was a horrible mistake for me, as I have not been able to stop thinking about it, as despairing about my potential clerical future. The tipping point to get me to craft this post here was a conversation I had with a Seminarian, who is a covert from Orthodoxy. When I asked him for his motive to become Catholic, he said it was because the Orthodox church was too conservative and not ecumenical enough. Would that be my future, if I was to become a Priest? To grin and bear through liberalism?

Why am I taking this to strangers on the internet, and not my Priest? Simply because I cannot find a single (Catholic) Byzantine priest who is willing to be my spiritual director. Either due to business, language barrier or not offering spiritual direction at all (?!), the "spiritual direction" I have been privy to has been passing conversations, primarily with Deacons and Subdeacons, who have recommended that I "only go to [the aforementioned Parish]". Despite being closer to Our Lord and the Theotokos than ever before in my prayer life, the fore-running issues have me questioning my very vocation itself. Anyone have any input, or advice they would be willing to extend?

Thank you all for your time. If it is not too much to ask, please pray for this miserable sinner.

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Christ is in our midst!!

fewchosen1985,

Welcome to the forum. There are many issues that you have expressed in this, your first post. While I hope your time here will be spiritually fruitful, I am rather sure that intent fora are not the place to find the answers to the questions you pose and hint at.

I would, if I were you, approach the clergy at the Ukrainian Catholic parish you first mention and press the issue of having that pastor--or another if there is more than one--give you some spiritual direction and advice. This is serious business and internet opinions are that--internet opinions.

Bob
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Originally Posted by fewchosen1985
To clarify, I am at this point not calling into question *any* Catholic dogmas whatsoever.... The tipping point to get me to craft this post here was a conversation I had with a Seminarian, who is a covert from Orthodoxy. When I asked him for his motive to become Catholic, he said it was because the Orthodox church was too conservative and not ecumenical enough.

If you do not call "into question *any* Catholic dogmas whatsoever" then Orthodoxy and especially ROCOR are not for you, no matter how beautiful their liturgy. There are elements in Orthodoxy, especially some at the extreme, that are "too conservative and not ecumenical enough," and have sufficient clout to skew the norm to a significant degree.

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Originally Posted by theophan
Christ is in our midst!!

fewchosen1985,

Welcome to the forum. There are many issues that you have expressed in this, your first post. While I hope your time here will be spiritually fruitful, I am rather sure that intent fora are not the place to find the answers to the questions you pose and hint at.

I would, if I were you, approach the clergy at the Ukrainian Catholic parish you first mention and press the issue of having that pastor--or another if there is more than one--give you some spiritual direction and advice. This is serious business and internet opinions are that--internet opinions.

Thank you for the warm welcome, Bob. I do apologise for the manner of my post. I suppose I am not looking for any definitive answers, but rather see if anyone has experienced anything similar and could share some perspective. Unfortunately, the Pastor of the parish I had initially mentioned falls into the category of being busy, and outright told me that he does not give spiritual direction anymore (he is quite advanced in age) and put me in touch with the other clergy, who gave me the advice mentioned in my previous post. I respect his decision, and I am not comfortable pushing the issue.

Originally Posted by ajk
If you do not call "into question *any* Catholic dogmas whatsoever" then Orthodoxy and especially ROCOR are not for you, no matter how beautiful their liturgy. There are elements in Orthodoxy, especially some at the extreme, that are "too conservative and not ecumenical enough," and have sufficient clout to skew the norm to a significant degree.

Thank you, ajk, for your response. I respect a pious and traditional Liturgy, most certainly, and understand your point. I try not to entertain ideas of becoming Orthodox, but the alternative of that I have seen in my local Byzantine Catholic churches is one of the same liberalism that I openly strive to avoid - lex orandi, lex credendi; lex vivendi. The primary divisions between the Churches are those that are far above my pay grade, and I respectfully leave to those who have the appropriate authority to deal with. I really just want to live a pious life, and be close to Our Lord and the Theotokos, and genuinely am discerning the priesthood. This is where my personal conundrum comes from.

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Seems to me you need to learn humility. You have set St Elias parish on a pedestal and condemned the rest as not meeting your criteria for a proper Byzantine parish. I also wonder how you discerned a calling to serve in a Byzantine Catholic Church when you haven’t spent time in one as a parishioner. Until you’ve done that for 5 or so years you have no business seeking orders in a Byzantine Eparchy.

Fr Deacon Lance


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Originally Posted by Fr. Deacon Lance
Seems to me you need to learn humility. You have set St Elias parish on a pedestal and condemned the rest as not meeting your criteria for a proper Byzantine parish. I also wonder how you discerned a calling to serve in a Byzantine Catholic Church when you haven’t spent time in one as a parishioner. Until you’ve done that for 5 or so years you have no business seeking orders in a Byzantine Eparchy.

Fr Deacon Lance

Hello Father,

Thank you for your reply and guidance. I certainly do need to work on my humility: thank you for that. To answer your question, I have been put on my path of discernment by my spiritual director and Prior when I was in the Monastery, and am doing my best to fulfill what they have asked. I apologise for in any way implying that said discernment would be in a short time frame, please do know that I had no intention of putting forward that impression. In fact, the very same period of 5 years has been communicated to me, and is the model that I am working from.

I did not make my post here to condemn anyone, nor would I ever wish to combative or divisive with my inquiry. If I have done this, it was mistaken and unintentional. You are more than welcome to remove this thread in that case. I truly meant no harm.

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Christ is in our midst!!

fewchosen1985,

May I suggest that you find and read the book "With God in Russia," by Fr. Walter Ciszek. He was an American of the Latin Church who volunteered to study the Byzantine tradition and be ordained for service if and when Russia would ever open up for missionary work. (The book is dated because he entered the Soviet Union when WW2 began and the border with Poland was opened by the armies.) In it, he describes his difficulty as a Latin with the Byzantine liturgy. My point is that you must, like Fr. Walter, accept the Byzantine Churches AS THEY ARE. Learn to accept what these Churches are living, not what one would like them to be.

I am a funeral director who has encountered numerous families who have left the Latin Catholic Church during the post-Vatican 2 era because of the shock of the changes. I have privately mentioned to clergy that sometimes it is best to meet people where they are and try to gently coax them toward the place they think the people ought to be. I saw many clergy during that period take a meat ax approach to people and their hesitation to the changes. Needless to say I have encountered many dozens of families who have gone unchurched for generations now since that period.

Meet people where they are. Some are more strict than others; some more devout; some put off by both of the former. I have had a ministry to many of these people, burying their dead--as they say, "because of the way you live your life." Judge not, welcome more, encourage more, love more, complain less.

Not every parish has the same "culture," though they may be in the same diocese or eparchy. Some are put off by short liturgies; some by long ones. There are all kinds of people; all kinds of reactions; and we're all trying to get it right with Christ.

Bob

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Originally Posted by theophan
Christ is in our midst!!

fewchosen1985,

May I suggest that you find and read the book "With God in Russia," by Fr. Walter Ciszek. He was an American of the Latin Church who volunteered to study the Byzantine tradition and be ordained for service if and when Russia would ever open up for missionary work. (The book is dated because he entered the Soviet Union when WW2 began and the border with Poland was opened by the armies.) In it, he describes his difficulty as a Latin with the Byzantine liturgy. My point is that you must, like Fr. Walter, accept the Byzantine Churches AS THEY ARE. Learn to accept what these Churches are living, not what one would like them to be.

I am a funeral director who has encountered numerous families who have left the Latin Catholic Church during the post-Vatican 2 era because of the shock of the changes. I have privately mentioned to clergy that sometimes it is best to meet people where they are and try to gently coax them toward the place they think the people ought to be. I saw many clergy during that period take a meat ax approach to people and their hesitation to the changes. Needless to say I have encountered many dozens of families who have gone unchurched for generations now since that period.

Meet people where they are. Some are more strict than others; some more devout; some put off by both of the former. I have had a ministry to many of these people, burying their dead--as they say, "because of the way you live your life." Judge not, welcome more, encourage more, love more, complain less.

Not every parish has the same "culture," though they may be in the same diocese or eparchy. Some are put off by short liturgies; some by long ones. There are all kinds of people; all kinds of reactions; and we're all trying to get it right with Christ.

Bob

Hello Bob,

Thank you, once again, for your perspective and advice. I sincerely appreciate it. I have added that book to my reading list, and do look forward to delving into it.

The Liturgical reforms in the last 70 years of the Roman Church have been a self-perpetuating disaster, that is certainly the case. Volumes could be written on the extent of this horror, but I know this is not the place for such. I am so very thankful to Our Lord for calling me from the abyss to return to His Church, that which my parents had completely abandoned in the early 70's. I need to certainly work on myself more than anything else, and for that I thank you particularly for your input. It is exceptionally difficult for me to participate in a Liturgy that has conformed itself to the world, and this is why I suppose I have always found the 'safe haven' in the Traditional Latin Rite. I guess this also why I found abject depression resulting from seeing protestantisations in the Majesty of the Divine Liturgy. I am the problem factor in this equation though: how is one supposed to fulfill the Third Commandment while their mind is engulfed in pugilistic thought? I wish I had a spiritual director.

I apologise for this entire thread. From my despair leading me to make the initial post, to all of the self-justification in my replies. I sincerely hope I have not scandalised anyone through my ignorance and pride.

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I have a young cousin who is Lutheran. He is having difficulty with bland sermons and liberal clergy in the churches he has grown up in and those he has tried to join in the city he now lives. My advice to him is not to jump ship but to be the leaven in his parish. We are all called to be the light we have seen and been given. It is not up to the clergy to be that light and inspiration alone. We are called by our Baptism to grow and help others grow where we are placed. There is no perfect parish; there is no perfect Liturgy; there is no perfect anything in this fallen world. We are called to do the best we can. Some mornings we may go to Liturgy and be totally distracted by what we have upcoming in the week. Some mornings we will have laid it all aside and be focused on the Lord and what he is doing for us. Some mornings we will be in between.

Some days we will be good examples and shining lights to those around us. Some days we will be poor examples and cranky. The point is that running from place to place is not the way to go. And it is not all about us. It is said that we will take 12 people to Heaven with us by our example; or we will take 12 people to Hell with us for the same reason. May I suggest that you take a step back and decide whether this is all about pride and ego.

I have been to Orthodox parishes where the Liturgy has been cut down so far that it is over before I fully understand what has happened. I have also been in parishes where the Liturgy is served with everything being taken. In each case, the Lord comes in the Mystery of both Word and Sacrament. The same is true in Latin Catholic parishes. I have heard from relatives of daily Liturgies done in six minutes flat; I have been in Liturgies that last an hour and a quarter. Again, the Lord nourishes His People with Word and Sacrament. I occurred to me not to let my ego make judgments about anything, but to allow the Lord to work in the time I am given to meet Him in the Liturgy.

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Originally Posted by theophan
... We are all called to be the light we have seen and been given. It is not up to the clergy to be that light and inspiration alone. We are called by our Baptism to grow and help others grow where we are placed. There is no perfect parish; there is no perfect Liturgy; there is no perfect anything in this fallen world. We are called to do the best we can.

Bob, my brother,

So eloquently put!!!

Many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
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Originally Posted by theophan
Christ is in our midst!!

I have a young cousin who is Lutheran. He is having difficulty with bland sermons and liberal clergy in the churches he has grown up in and those he has tried to join in the city he now lives. My advice to him is not to jump ship but to be the leaven in his parish. We are all called to be the light we have seen and been given. It is not up to the clergy to be that light and inspiration alone. We are called by our Baptism to grow and help others grow where we are placed. There is no perfect parish; there is no perfect Liturgy; there is no perfect anything in this fallen world. We are called to do the best we can. Some mornings we may go to Liturgy and be totally distracted by what we have upcoming in the week. Some mornings we will have laid it all aside and be focused on the Lord and what he is doing for us. Some mornings we will be in between.

Some days we will be good examples and shining lights to those around us. Some days we will be poor examples and cranky. The point is that running from place to place is not the way to go. And it is not all about us. It is said that we will take 12 people to Heaven with us by our example; or we will take 12 people to Hell with us for the same reason. May I suggest that you take a step back and decide whether this is all about pride and ego.

I have been to Orthodox parishes where the Liturgy has been cut down so far that it is over before I fully understand what has happened. I have also been in parishes where the Liturgy is served with everything being taken. In each case, the Lord comes in the Mystery of both Word and Sacrament. The same is true in Latin Catholic parishes. I have heard from relatives of daily Liturgies done in six minutes flat; I have been in Liturgies that last an hour and a quarter. Again, the Lord nourishes His People with Word and Sacrament. I occurred to me not to let my ego make judgments about anything, but to allow the Lord to work in the time I am given to meet Him in the Liturgy.

Hello Bob,

Thank you, once again, for your wonderful wisdom and insight. I do truly appreciate it. I shall work to apply all that you have said, through the help of Our Lady, in my life.

I am embarrassed that I came out of a 3+ year internet/social media hiatus to make such a self-serving and pointless thread. I'll just go back to being a lurker here. Thank you everyone who has replied and given advice!

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Originally Posted by theophan
I have a young cousin who is Lutheran. He is having difficulty with bland sermons and liberal clergy in the churches he has grown up in and those he has tried to join in the city he now lives. My advice to him is not to mump ship but to be the leaven in his parish.
Does he have the fullness of the faith as a Lutheran?

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Christ is in ou rmidst!!

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a self-serving and pointless thread

It's not "self serving" and not "pointless." You reached out; we replied. OTOH, I hope that I did not come across in too gruff a fashion. We all need to put down roots in the place the Lord plants us and grow. We also need to help others grow. So you have our prayers and support.

Bob

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ajk,

That is something I would have replied to in the negative in years past. However, I have come to the point where I would rather be an example than a sermonizer. My father's family is virulently anti-Catholic so trying to point this young man to us would be futile and probably drive a wedge between him and that whole side of the family. It's always been a touchy subject which we have resolved by not touching it. We support each other as family.

I think I would rather see my young cousin as a Lutheran than as one of the Evangelical groups that reject sacraments altogether. That is the direction he thought might be the way to go--fiery sermons, but no sacraments.

Bob

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There is a new "wrinkle" for my cousin to wrestle with. His church has had a "historic" event recently. Their synod in San Francisco has elected its first transgender bishop to be the leader for Northern CA and Northern CO. I am waiting to hear from him his reaction and that of the rest of the family.

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Neil when I took a second look at this, I think I should have said, "We are called to do the best we can with the Grace we are given." This is so we do not think it is all about us.

Bob

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fewchosen1985,

Quote
only allowing for the Eucharist under one species, and in the hand

I suspect that what you are seeing in Byzantine Catholic parishes--if this is truly the present case--is a modification of traditional practice in response to the Covid pandemic. I would not take such practices as being any kind of norm. We have had discussions about parishes in the United States modifying their practices in response to the pandemic, as well as some of our Orthodox brethren describing modifications to their practice. We have a dangerous virus loose and the practice of putting a single spoon into everyone's mouth has brought serious questions and reflection about Byzantine practice both in the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches. A temporary measure should not be something that puts you off. The alternative might be suspending the distribution of the Mysteries--a measure no one wants or would even consider.

Bob

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