Sunday, November 29, 2009

Western Catholics need to know their Eastern extended Family

My sister heard about someone with the same first and last name today and that totally weirds us both out. We have a pretty rare last name to start with. I'm used to having a very uncommon first AND last name. In my life I've fielded hundreds of comments about my first name, hopefully in a charitable manner.

What is your reaction when you meet somebody with the same last name or even full name? When I hear of someone with the same last name, it makes me glad! I have lots of extended family, but only one living grandmother with my last name and I don't think anyone else outside of my immediate family. We didn't grow up with any extended family living in the same STATE and very few (I think less than a dozen) opportunities to go to Oregon meet extended family.

It's my nature to see a tie between the way things make me feel. Maybe having very little family growing up is why I was so excited to learn about the Eastern Catholic churches when I was a high schooler. It was something I learned about on my own and it was like finding out I had long-lost family in my own city. Most Catholics are Roman, and most Romans never have an experience of the divine liturgy outside of their own parishes, or even know that the Roman Church is one of almost two dozen (much smaller) Churches in the Catholic Church, most of which were spin-offs from Orthodox Churches. They have distincive liturgical rites descending from about half a dozen non-Roman traditions, but all holding the same Catholic beliefs about what takes place in the Mass/Divine Liturgy.

If you are Catholic, please check them out! Pope Benedict XVI is going down in history as the Pope of Christian Unity, and it really behooves us to be knowledgeable about Eastern Christianity in order to grow closer to the still-separated Eastern ORTHODOX by learning more about the Eastern CATHOLIC Churches that centuries ago came back to us from them.

While we profess the same faith and doctrines, the Second Vatican Council urged Eastern Catholics to return to their distinctive traditions, as some had been coerced into adopting some Roman traditions. Roman rite Catholicism isn't supposed to become Eastern or vice versa in order for us to have more unity but it's good for us to know more about Eastern Catholicism, as they know a lot about their more widely known Roman sister church. It's only polite.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When Lenten Penances Are Too Light

From Matthew Kelly's book, "Rediscovering Catholicism":
The forty days of Lent are an ideal period for renewal. Lent is the perfect span of time to form new life-giving habits and abandon old self-destructive habits. But most of us just give up candy and, when Easter arrives, we are no further advanced spiritually than we were at the beginning of Lent.
In the interest of full disclosure, my only formally avowed Lenten penance was to drive exactly the speed limit. For some people, that might be huge, but for me, I already never drove more than 5 mph over. Kudos to those who caught the faulty self-justification in my italicized words there. So anyway, my Lenten discipline brings me more peace on the road, but as I told some friends, I didn't feel that it was sufficiently "Lenty" enough when I resolved to do it.

I post this quote because it hit be right between the eyes when I read it. If I'd had more presence of mind I'm sure I would have told myself "aw snap, me!" but as I said I was stunned, and thus introspective at that moment. Ah, opportunity: missed.

My knee-jerk reflex when reading a passage like the Matthew Kelly above is to self-justify. Ex: Sure my Lenten discipline is meager but "I'm doing more spiritual reading this year" and "I'm planning on entering a theology undergraduate program" blah blah. But I do enough self-justifying...and it's endemic to the culture.

Anyway, I love this book of his but I've been listening to some of his talks online and I don't like them at all. It's really weird because the other day I just about came to blows (figuratively, internet-style) with somebody who was knocking this book. I took it as a personal affront. (The guy is clearly still wrong, by the way :^)

But I'm going to be honest, if I ever meet Mr. Kelly and he utters one of his buzz-phrases such as "best version of yourself" and "Spiritual North Star", I'd beg him to never, ever use those phrases ever again. I've become aware that I'm not the only one who finds his overuse of those phrases tiresome. For the love, Mr. Kelly, please: think of the children.