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The Temptation of Mardi Gras

Posted by Eric (February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm)

From the Vesperal Stichera of Forgiveness SundayToday is Mardi Gras—Fat Tuesday—the day of feasting before Lent begins in the the Western Church. For a Byzantine Catholic, whose Lenten fast began Sunday evening with Forgiveness Vespers, Mardi Gras presents a particular temptation. But not what you might think.

It is not that one is tempted by the indulgence of Mardi Gras going on in the rest of the culture, even among those who do not know that Fat Tuesday is followed Ash Wednesday.

In fact, it is the opposite temptation: the temptation to be like the Pharisee who, in the Byzantine Rite we recalled three weeks ago on the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, one of the Weeks of Preparation in advance of the Great Fast: “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men . . . (more…)

Posted in Byzantine, Catholicism, Culture & Society, Faith | 2 Comments »

Spirituality for Grown-Ups

Posted by Eric (March 22, 2007 at 12:22 pm)

Mary of Egypt, written by Eileen McGuckinToday we chant the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, one of those landmarks of Great Lent like last week’s observation of Mid-Lent. Of Mid-Lent, by the way, one might be tempted to say, “It’s all down hill from here!” but in fact it’s all very much uphill from here, with the air thinning at every step.

The fifth week of the Great Fast is difficult, I find. Somehow, it feels as if it’s the sixth week—as if Great and Holy Week is just upon us. But it is not; there is another whole week of Lent to go, after this one, before that week that, because of its intensity, is actually more endurable. Pascha is in view, and already in the midst of deeper prayer and more rigorous fasting the chords of paschal joy are beginning to vibrate softly within the soul.

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Fast Food Is Slow Food

Posted by Eric (March 16, 2007 at 2:03 pm)

VeggiesThis Lent I’ve been taking a lot more time with my food, eating more carefully—this at the urging of my wife, who has not liked to see me living primarily on almonds, dried fruit and Clif bars.

It may seem contradictory to the whole spirit of fasting to pay more attention to one’s food. Perhaps it would be better to be like St. Francis, who ate whatever stale hunk of brown bread might be dropped into his bowl. But even Francis would eat that hunk of bread with true pleasure.

In any case, I’ve been making an effort to eat well, even while eating less—to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and natural whole grains, and to take the time to prepare my own meals rather than packaged, prepared foods. It’s been a good experience, not only for me but for the whole family, since I’ve taken over some of the cooking (especially on Sundays), and left-overs mean more meals we can eat together.

I find that I have a much greater appreciation of food when I take the time to prepare things myself—which opens up the possibility of deeper gratitude to the

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A Long and Sustained Effort

Posted by Eric (March 5, 2007 at 1:00 pm)

Blessing Hand by Fr. Tom LoyaWe are now in the third week of the Great Fast. I wrote several posts about the Fast last year, but as yet I don’t feel called to write much about it this year. However, I do want to address the question of whether one ought to fast on Sundays during Lent.

My short answer is: Yes.

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Posted in Byzantine, Faith | 2 Comments »

A Gift of the West

Posted by Eric (October 18, 2006 at 10:02 am)

St Joseph Mary and Jesus

“And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”—Luke 2:40

Moving in Eastern Christian circles one hears much criticism of Roman Catholicism, almost to a point of disdaining all things Western, but this Saturday I saw a couple of statues at a Roman Catholic church that reminded me of one of the gifts of the West.

The statues were those of Mary and Joseph standing, in accord with tradition, at the left and right of the sanctuary at Sacred Heart Church in Lombard, Illinois, where I attended Mass before speaking to the parish pro-life group. I was seated on the left side of the church and the statue of Mary caught my eye—she holds a broom as the boy Jesus stands at her feet reaching up for her.

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Posted in Byzantine, Catholicism | 12 Comments »
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