My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflection on Eastern Rite Churches



Dear Blog Visitors:

A few friends have inquired as to whether or not I have intentions of moving to an Eastern Rite church. In retrospect, I can certainly understand why an assumption might be made, considering that many of my Facebook friends are indeed Eastern Rite bishops and priests. In addition, married priests are plentiful in the eastern church, whereas celibacy remains normative in the western church – namely, within Roman Catholicism.

At present, I remain a member of Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester, New York. Spiritus Christi, which is independent of the Diocese of Rochester, is known for its inclusiveness and multi-faceted outreach ministries. However, considering that I have very little time to myself, due to my high-pressure secular job and weekend activities that occupy my time, I have been utilizing many Sunday mornings to spend some time alone in spiritual reflection. During this time alone, I often focus on liturgical matters.

Whenever I think about what makes worship meaningful to me, ritual comes into play. When ritual is celebrated correctly within Roman Catholicism, it can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience. Likewise, it would be an understatement to articulate the fact that Eastern Rite churches are indeed endowed with very rich liturgical rites and rituals. I therefore am very grateful to priests and bishops of eastern churches who have linked with me in cyberspace.

Despite my liberal tendencies, which have been most prominent in reform initiatives geared toward a more inclusive priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, I am also somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to my liturgical tastes. So, while I love the inclusive atmosphere at Spiritus Christi Church, I am also drawn to the elaborate rites celebrated in Eastern Rite churches. In this regard, I tend to favor medieval chants over the gospel music that is commonplace at Spiritus Christi.

I am encouraged by the fact that dialogue continues between western and eastern churches. I also appreciate the fact that I have experienced some wonderful interchanges with priests and bishops of Eastern Rite churches, whereas certain segments of the Roman Catholic Church continue to consider me an outcast because of my ordination as a married priest in 2006 by a married archbishop.

As I move toward retirement from my secular job (hopefully in 18 months), it will be my hope to situate myself in a worship community within my immediate neighborhood. Presently, I drive several miles on Sundays I attend liturgies at Spiritus Christi Church. So, I have been examining worship possibilities in close proximity. In this regard, it is interesting to note that there is a Coptic (eastern) community within walking distance of my home. This coincides with the study I have been undertaking in assorted eastern rites.

This has been a rather long answer to the question I am occasionally asked – specifically, whether or not I am moving toward membership in an Eastern Rite church. In the final analysis, the mystery of God can be experienced anywhere within the vastness of the universe. Communities we are drawn to are part of this sacred mystery. No particular institution can claim to have an exclusive claim to God, so I continue to embrace the vast assortment of religious communities that dot the landscape. In the meantime, I continue to minister to those who seek my services as an independent priest, whether it be as an officiant for a wedding, funeral or baptism. I simply hope that at least in some way, I am helping to bring the sacred mystery of God into the lives of others.

Let us all pray that 2010 is a year filled with abundant blessings.

Peace to all,
Ray

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