- "Don't say anything or wave!" Last year I dared set foot in the Orthodox parish where I did something 21 years prior I'm not proud of, leaving the church. They're slowly dying, in a dying city neighborhood (like a lot of Catholic parishes); their yearly festival keeps them afloat. I was there only to be quietly ecumenical, as our churchmen encourage. Doctrinally and in practice we give born Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. I was there to have some holupki and pierogi and wish them well, not give the Sermon on the Mount or get into a knife fight. In a way the Slavs there are perennial, exactly like when I first visited 25 years ago: as a friend put it, a less cordial version of the Greek Catholics I knew then and now. (Their founding stock were Galicians who left the church 100 years ago; they think they're Russian.) True enough this time; one Slav recognized me and was polite but reserved, which was understandable. Then: "Don't say anything or wave!" This was after I had noticed a man in a festival-crew T-shirt glaring at me across the entrance table so I half-waved. Not a Slav, unsurprisingly. An Italian ex-Catholic I'd been friends with for 15 years; he's changed parishes many times. We used to commiserate about the whole church mess, East and West. But I went back so he hates me. His loss.
- "I wouldn't take advice from you if you were the last man on earth!" You'd think Catholics who worship in an Eastern rite are more likely to be sound but there are some bad apples. This one was a particularly obnoxious woman in her 70s (old enough to know better) who was a big wheel online, a sort of self-taught theologian into spirituality who apparently wanted to be Eastern but there was no Eastern Catholic parish close by. So she came up with the idea to join the local Russian Orthodox parish with her fingers crossed, not going through the usual denunciations of Catholicism. I said of course don't leave, and that the plan was dishonest and disrespectful to both sides so it hurts us: it says to the Orthodox that we can't be trusted. The venom I got from her obviously wasn't from God. Well, her will be done. God have mercy on them both.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Two anti-convert vignettes
Religious Greeks and Russians tend to be nice. (I see a Greek immigrant just about every week.) They have nothing to prove. Often they're involved with church because they're homesick, not to spite you.