At the Thanksgiving gathering, my wife, my children, my parents and I gathered with some friends, Mr. and Mrs. G., and their children, at another friend’s house. These friends are Catholic, and aware that I’ve returned to Byzantine-Ruthenian Praxis. (I took a four year hiatus to see if I could go back to being Roman. I can’t.)
Mrs. G., the matron of the other family, asked, “So, looking forward to turkey and ham tomorrow?”
“I can’t,” I replied. “Fasting.”
“But it isn’t advent or lent!” she replied.
“Phillips fast. Byzantine Advent. Started last week.”
She goggles. She’s a recent convert, having been through RCIA, and baptized, chrismated, and communed last Easter. The Roman parish we both were attending last year dunked her quite well. She was even taught about the Eastern Catholics in her RCIA program, in a vague and “you’ll never meet one” kind of way. She’s a former Lutheran, and possessed of one gift I really wish I had: easy simple faith.
Her husband, who met me during my previous decade-plus stretch as a parishioner at St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Parish, is slightly better informed. He knows where three Byzantine parishes are… two in Florida, and St. Nick’s… but he’s never set foot in one. He’s a cradle Roman Catholic, has outlived his first wife, and is from Florida. His response was milder, “Wow, you start early.”
For me, the Byzantine path has made my faith far easier, tho’ not simple. I still find I need to delve, to seek exactly where and how God wants me to go. For now, it seems, He wants me to be unabashedly Catholic, and definitely Eastern, and to teach Roman Catholics about that other lung Pope John Paul II spoke of. I am able to sing the praises of God in a manner that makes sense to all my senses. And while I’ve not experienced Roman “Liturgical Abuse” and neither has Mrs. G., for me, I can still go through the Motions as a Roman, but find myself feeling a lack. I’m jealous of Mrs. G.’s simple ease with the Roman Church, and thankful for the most successful failure in the Metropolia of Pittsburgh.