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.