I did not think my way into the Byzantine Church as many do having left their previous churches seeking more. There could be no other explanation than I was like a loyal dog, on a leash, led by God. At the time I was a lost little college student. I had dumped my engineering major and was seeking out a new major. I landed on philosophy a short time later. One might think being a learned individual, I was searching more in faith, a thinking man's worship—deeper theology, greater reverence, greater tradition. Let’s be honest, who isn’t looking for deeper faith. But, at the time I felt quite sound in my faith and confident in the Roman Catholic Church. Seeking theology, reverence and tradition were decidedly not what brought me to the doorstep of a Byzantine church.
I had a boyfriend whom I had actually tried not to date. I had told him I had sworn off dating and I was just praying for God to guide me to my future husband or religious vocation. But, he said that was okay, because he did not want to date either. He wanted to court with the intention to marry. Whoa! I was not ready for that. But in truth, there were a lot of signs, not lost on either of us, that God was bringing us together. With courtship in mind, we fell hopelessly in love.
I was Catholic and he was Orthodox. We were very much in favor of our own particular denominations. Where he saw trouble, I saw reconcilability and vice versa. We came to an impasse, either we find commonality in faith and worship or split ways, and neither of us was budging. Finally, he told me there was a way, but he was not keen on leaving his church, which had nurtured him into true faith. We visited a Byzantine Catholic church--a church of ancient Eastern theology, under the umbrella of Rome. I was startled by the Liturgy. I was unlike any Liturgy I had ever experienced. It was long, chanted, everything was said three times; there was lots of incense and some language I had never heard before. However, during the Liturgy I naively identified all the parts of the Roman Liturgy within the Byzantine; and later told my boyfriend that it was acceptable in my eyes.
Everyone at the church was friendly and coached us along. The cantor told us how when she entered the Byzantine church the priest had told her that soon she would be chanting the hymns and prayers throughout her day. She was sweet, but I thought it would be a while before I got the hang of the chanting. In actuality, it was about four Sundays and my boyfriend and I were chanting in the car to each other.
In time I became more knowledgeable of the deep theology behind the most ancient Christian Liturgy (I am still a novice). But, immediately I enjoyed the deeper reverence and greater tradition. And best of all, I was able to worship with my best friend and soon to be husband. Within the doors of the Byzantine Church, we determined that we did see eye to eye in matters of faith. We were crowned in the marriage crowning in the Byzantine Church. We remain Byzantine today. We raise our children in the Byzantine tradition. It will be nine years this January that we first celebrated the Lamb’s Supper in the Byzantine Church.
We used to live just 25 minutes from that Byzantine church. I grew up in a small town. To me, that was a long way to go for church. Little did I know that later I would need to drive 1h45 to get to a Byzantine church. In my opinion, the drive is worth it. We have been trying to get to the Byzantine Liturgy more often this year. Especially since our children can receive the Eucharist there. Last Sunday, after being away for about six weeks we made the trek to the Byzantine church. As we rounded the corner and the church was in view, tears welled up in my eyes. It was a total rush of relief like when you come home after being away. As I gathered my emotions, I realized I am hopelessly in love--Byzantine style.
On the day of our betrothal in the Byzantine church.