Sunday, June 23, 2013

How I got started: my first traditional Catholic liturgy







My first, not counting Anglo-Catholic Episcopal and highish but not A-C Episcopal services.

It was also my first Byzantine Rite Divine Liturgy (Fr Panasiuk called it ‘Holy Mass’) and first church experience with the first East Slavs (broadly speaking, the Russian tradition, but see below; watch it!) I knew, a high-school friend whose parents were refugees who came from the Ukraine right after the war, when the Soviets had invaded their part of the country, banned their church, and tried to force them into the Soviet-controlled Russian Orthodox Church.

St John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, Whippany, NJ, April 1985:

Sweet little parish church (at the time), not at all latinized in its furnishings (beautiful wooden and gilt iconostasis), with a clean-shaven priest (common in American Orthodox history) doing a Low Mass (no music or incense; congregational responses). Gold brocade chasuble, ‘priest’s back to the people’ (really, priest’s and congregation’s Godwardness), whispered/‘low voice’ parts: traditional. It was in English but Fr Panasiuk, from the Ukraine, did the whispered parts in the liturgical language. At the time I didn't know Slavonic from Ukrainian so I don’t know which; I’m guessing because of his age it was Slavonic. The faithful received Communion kneeling in a row on the step in front of the iconostasis, and they passed down the priest’s blessing cross to kiss (like the pax-brede in the Roman Rite) before receiving.

As you can see, it had a silver onion dome with a three-bar cross, but with the bottom bar flattened out, not slanted, I guess so it wouldn’t look Russian Orthodox. This building went up in ’49, right after the war; Fr Panasiuk became pastor in ’51.

The family I knew were fine with being called Ukrainian Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Greek Catholics, Uniates, or Roman Catholics, but not Russian or Orthodox even though they were obviously related.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church stood up to both the Soviets and the disaster in the church after the council, and in both cases barely won.

Дякую: thank you.

17 comments:

  1. Interesting choice of words, "barely won." I had always thought that from the Greek Catholic perspective, "Uniate" was always equivalent to the N-word for Blacks.

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    1. Re: 'barely won', before around 1989 nobody outside the Ukraine was sure if the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ukraine still existed; I think the only proof was stories from people who got out such as Josyp Terelya. They were almost wiped out. Then what happened after the revolutions starting in 1989 that overthrew the Soviets was even more astonishing than what happened in eastern Slovakia in the Prague Spring in '68, when all the Greek Catholic parishes, which the Communists had given to the 'Czechoslovak Orthodox Church' after the war, came back to the church, voluntarily. The underground Ukrainian Catholic Church surfaced, complete with acting Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sterniuk) running it, I think from his apartment, formerly all undercover. Then in their western Ukrainian homeland they took back the parishes the Soviets had stolen and given to the Orthodox; parishes nominally Orthodox declared their real allegiance like what happened in eastern Slovakia.

      (By the way, not one Greek Catholic bishop in any Eastern European country obeyed the Communist order to go into schism by 'returning to Orthodoxy'. They were jailed, exiled, or murdered.)

      Over here I mean, honestly, they're still around, and, thank God, not Novus, but not doing very well. Post-Soviet immigration doesn't seem to have given them a boost. They're slowly dying off, and they're compromised by the same problem affecting the Roman Rite/Latin Church, insidious liberalism (I've heard a Ukrainian Catholic priest 'apologize for sexist language' for example), plus the corrosion from the larger culture AND the problem of the younger generation, naturally less ethnic, going Novus when they move away and marry outside the group, instead of starting more Ukrainian Catholic parishes.

      Re: 'Uniate', to be fair I've heard one ethnic Greek Catholic object to it in 30 years of knowing them. But my impression is the objection is exaggerated, especially online.

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    2. I remember Joseph Terelya. Son of prominent Ukranian communist parents who rejected communism and became a Greek Catholic. Also is a mystic. While in captivity, the communist tried to kill him by letting him freeze to death in an unheated cell (in winter). The Holy Theotokos supposedly intervened and kept him warm. Interesting story. Moved to Canada eventually. I think he has an apocalyptic mind-set or POV of the modern world. (I can't say I disagree with him about this.) That's all I know of him.

      Other bishop the communists murdered: the Ruthenian Blessed Theodore Romzha (sp?). I read a biography of him. In translation--a horrible translation job--but I learned a lot about him. I very much admire Bp. R. Fully human being who managed to do his duty without equivocation or wimping out even though he would have preferred to do something else. The communists even offered him an Orthodox Metropolitanate and he told then where to go. Was a young bishop--in his early to mid 30s when he was murdered/martyred by the communists while in hospital after being nearly beaten to death by communist thugs.

      So sad to see that modernism (American insidious liberalism) is apparently more destructive of Catholicism, especially the Eastern Catholic Church, than the commies seem to have been, and they were pretty good at it! Ironic too.

      I learned in a local Ruthenian parish I used to attend that "uniate" is a bad word, at least to these local folks, the 20% of the parish who were ethnically Eastern European. 80% of the registered parishioners were Roman Catholic Novus Ordo Missae refusniks.

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  2. three barred cross with all bars parallel is a carpathian and especially a hungarian thing

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    1. Funny because in Philadelphia the few Ruthenians have the Russian cross on their church and the Ukrainian Catholics don't on theirs.

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    2. yeah, ironic, ive noticed same thing around me - i think the ruthenians are so thoroughly americanized they do the slanted to emphasize their easterness not knowing them using the slanted cross is as out of place (traditionally speaking) for european ruthenians as it would greeks using it

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    3. i think the ruthenians ... do the slanted to emphasize their easterness not knowing them using the slanted cross is as out of place (traditionally speaking) for european ruthenians as it would greeks using it

      I don't agree. There is a slight case for pan-Slavism even though it was mostly 19th-century Russian propaganda. The Russian cross belongs to all 'the Russias', including the Ukrainian and Ruthenian groups. In Philly, the Ruthenians' Holy Ghost Church building went up in the '20s and has always had that cross on its dome. In upstate Pennsylvania, century-old Ukrainian Catholic churches use it. I think reaction against the schisms in America, the Soviet occupation of their homeland, and the Cold War made the Ukes disown it. Also, born Ruthenian Catholics usually aren't self-consciously trying to be Eastern.

      Ruthenians are very American, more so than Ukrainians, because their immigration mostly stopped with WWI (there are next to no foreign-born Ruthenian-Americans anymore), and also because their homeland's not a political nation. Once talked to a rare exception, someone who grew up in Ruthenia (the part in Poland) in the '30s and immigrated; maybe a war refugee like the Ukes (and ROCOR): no church shopping there; 'we were all Greek Catholic'; the pious made pilgrimages on foot to local shrines. She ended up Orthodox; I didn't want to pry. Marriage? (The ONLY Orthodox-to-Catholic and vice versa converts of that generation I've known were marriage converts, one apiece.) Po-nashomu ('our way', the ethnic culture) trumped jurisdiction?

      One thing I've learned is 80-100 years ago and earlier, the Ruthenian laity didn't strongly identify as either Catholic or Orthodox even though they were Catholic. They had lots of Western Catholic stuff but to them that was po-nashomu, just how they had come to do things. Using the Russian cross was part of that laid-backness.

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  3. I think you're right with pan-slavism thing ( and being a slav myself im all for so long as it's not the russian version of it), i should of been more specific that's why i put "traditionally speaking" in brackets, meaning before relatively recent times the slanted cross would not have been found there.

    That leads me to think: Carpathian Ruthenia in the Kingdom of Hungary (from which the so called "Rusyns" and the Byzantine ((Ruth.)) Cath. Church in USA come from, as you are well aware of course) were under serious pro-Russian subversion on the eve to WWI with the principal target being the religious arena and Moscovite Russian nationalism and russophilia in general was very popular. I suspect that this is when the slanted cross began to more popular and accepted. Austrian Galizien (UGCC territory) for whatever reason, I guess the appeal of Ukrainian nationalism, wasnt successful to say the least... perhaps solidifying so to speak the parallel cross.

    The subversion thing was a perceived as a significant threat, Austrian authorities even set up internment camps in bohemia to ship off rusyn russophile subversives. Some of the prisoners who died there have actually been canonized as Orthodox saints (in ROC i think).

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    1. The immigrants who started Holy Ghost came here well before WWI so the Russian propaganda probably didn't mean anything to them and I doubt they would have liked it. I think they always used the slanted cross.

      I knew about the attempted Russian subversion, and popularity at the time of russophilism among the Ruthenians (ironically, the Communists later inadvertently killed that; the ONLY russophile Ruthenians today are the American descendants of converts to Orthodoxy, which most American Russian Orthodox are: the characters in The Deer Hunter), who then had a more fluid religious identity as I've said. And I know some Orthodox have canonized at least one prisoner (the priest Maxim Sandovich).

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    2. russophila and russian subversion was the the deal when those immigrants left hungary, by "eve" i meant the time leading up to the great war, not immediately before

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Ukrainian_Russophiles#Rise_and_development
      im pretty positive you wouldnt have seen a three barred cross in carpathia before this time

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  4. You never forget your first! For me (age 16) Hungarian Greek Catholic Parish in Toledo, OH (St. Michael's).

    FWIW, I am proud to be a Greek Catholic - you can save all other monikers ("Byzantine") etc. I am a "Greek Catholic".

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  5. and as to "uniate" - if you call me that - **** you! - I don't you polemic terms for your belief situation, show a little respect.

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    1. I don't use it. My points are apparently it wasn't always offensive to everyone (there are older Catholic writings about 'the Holy Unia') and the people I knew were relatively fine with it compared to being called Russian or Orthodox.

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  6. Perhaps the lesson to draw is liturgical worship is more faithful, and the inspired loyalty more fierce, where the Roman Church acts more like a "national" Church than a "universal" Church, which buttresses the Eastern thesis that when a nation's Church is all grown up, they should just get their own Patriarch.

    This may be the eventual outcome in places like France and Hungary, as orthodoxy disappears from the rest of Europe and the Roman See becomes an isolated redoubt surrounded by secular dysfunction and Muslim mosques, dependent on remittances from her Latin and North American dioceses. The decentralization could proceed further, as Anglophones segregate out of Hispanic parishes, in search of their beloved and traditional rites.

    (PS: capcha "Rosicrucian" - what the hell?)

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    1. As you and other regulars know, I largely agree with your first paragraph. But in the West this has often been a cover for liberals, who say they object to the Pope's authority when they really don't like that his office can't teach un-Catholic doctrine. For a while after the council, the liberals' zenith, some wondered if the American Catholic Church would subtly go into schism, continuing to give lip service to Rome but no longer answering to it, like the Old Catholics at first and the puppet church in Red China. What American Protestants have long wanted and what many liberal American Catholics wanted too: to assimilate, Americanize, Protestantize America's big Catholic minority by turning them into a mainline Protestant denomination. (The council came damn close but of course it's impossible.)

      What has really happened is the American church has shrunk and is still shrinking; many/most have just dropped out, the churchy liberals are dying off, and the trads are much diminished but will survive, because they don't contracept. (My parish: couples in their 30s with four or more kids.) It won't go into schism. In 50 years the church will be smaller but much more conservative than now.

      'The Rrrroman Church': that takes me back to my Episcopal background. (Because sometimes they want to claim to be Catholic too.) Hail, Caesar!

      As far as I know, the church in France and the rest of Western Europe (I don't know about Eastern) is dead. I can see your scenarios happening.

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    2. France is an interesting place. Recall the heroic Avignon youth who destroyed the blasphemous 'Piss Christ,' and the 1+ million people rallying against gay marriage.

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    3. Right. Reminds me of something old friend Mark Bonocore, an Italian-American, told me, and Arturo Vasquez once wrote something similar: Catholic countries have both extreme holiness and extreme evil; Protestant countries tend toward a kind of mediocrity. France is a Latin country so it's a place of extremes. No namby-pamby 'spiritual but not religious'. Either atheists or trad Catholics who are reactionaries (monarchists, and fascists, just a description, not a dirty word). I've gotten the impression that the trads, such as the SSPX, are the only significant number of French Catholics who still practice the faith.

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