I got a letter from our LR bishop, and since I’ll never have the opportunity to personally discuss with him the series of events that led to my request to switch rites, I’ll do it here, for the boredom/edification of anyone who may be wondering ‘why in the world would anyone want to do that’?
Paragraphs of his letter to me in italics; my response/explanation in regular type:
As I am certain you know, it is the Church’s desire that individuals remain in and preserve the connection with the Ritual Church to which they belong by baptism.
Well, actually, I’m a Moravian by baptism, if you’re going to pick nits. And as I was confirmed in the Presbyterian church as a teen, I was a Protestant up till the time, at Easter Vigil 1991, I was received into the Church under the Roman Rite. I have spent considerable time meditating on whether I would have chosen the Roman Rite, had I known about the Byzantine Rites at that time. I think I would have been VERY drawn to the Eastern Churches. It is interesting to note that the current pastor of the parish where I became Catholic (Holy Family in Lawton, OK) is also the administrator of the Byzantine community in Oklahoma City – he’s a bi-ritual priest. I really think (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, of course), that I was done a real disservice in RCIA in that NO MENTION was made of there even being other Rites besides the LR. We did touch briefly on the fact that the Orthodox have the same sacraments but that Catholics can’t go to Orthodox liturgies unless there is no Catholic Mass available, but that’s as far as it went.
While the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is certainly theologically profound and deeply beautiful, the distinction between the Ritual Churches is not merely liturgical. Indeed, a distinct spirituality and, in many cases, an ethnic or national character identifies the Ritual Churches.
You’re not kidding! I’d have to say that, at the present time and in this diocese, the differences in spirituality devolve from differences in liturgy. The universal reverence that EVERYONE at my Byzantine parish displays during the Divine Liturgy naturally flows from the intense and deep spiritual meaning and ‘non-ordinary’ terminology and language used during worship. As I have witnessed personally in several local parishes, the more ‘everyday’ the language used in the Mass, the more it appears that the worshippers are casual about posture and attitude – and the more amazed they are when someone displays true reverence/piety – see my previous post about my youngest chec receiving the Body of Christ at a NO parish on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Comception.
In your own case, with three children under the age of 14, the request is even more momentous since the children will be transferred with you, though they will have the right to return freely to the Latin Rite when each celebrates his or her fourteenth birthday (can. 112 sec. 3). This is a great deal to explain to your children. There is also the question of how transfer will affect your member ship in a Latin Rite Confraternity.
HELLO!!!! The checs started referring to themselves as Byzantine Catholics within a week of my registering at the parish. Before I even applied to switch. They no longer whine about going to church or Sunday School. They know the Truth when they experience it. And as for it affecting my membership in a Latin Rite Confraternity, our foundress is thrilled that I’m at a parish where the words ‘penance’ and ‘conversion’ are part of regular catechesis. She knows that at my previous parish I was viewed as a total wierdo for being in the CFP. And she hopes that my witness at my new parish will help spread the word to Byzantines that the CFP exists. The CFP even has several spiritual advisors who are Byzantine priests and religious.
In the meantime, I ask you to recall that you are free to continue celebrating the sacraments in the Byzantine Catholic Church, no matter what decision you eventually make. And I thank you for your devotion to the liturgical life of our Catholic Church.
Um, well, I’ve already decided. That’s why I wrote Metropolitan Basil and you, Bishop Bransfield. And it is precisely that devotion to the liturgical life of the Church that drove me to that decision.