Monday, October 05, 2015

What We Saw in Philadelphia—Part II

Hey, if you're starting midstream, you might want to read this first (part I).

I saw my role as clergy on a diocesan pilgrimage as one of service to our diocese and my own parishioners. So I gave out my cell number to some of the families and tried to give people points of contact. Nonetheless, it was a chaotic couple of days, and it grew more so during the Holy Father's visit.

We had a bit of a side adventure on Friday. Originally, we were supposed to have mass with our bishop. That didn't pan out because he had obligations with the USCCB. However, after we finished with the conference, we made our way to the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Of course, it was beautiful. Here's the facade.


This is what we saw as we entered.


Here's Christ the Pantocrator under the dome.


This is their stunning iconostasis.


Aaaaa-nd I did not catch the names all the saints depicted. I assume this one is a priest given that his stole sits over both shoulders.


This one needs no explanation.


There was a side altar dedicated to the nativity, The Eastern rites tend to use mosaic a lot in their devotional art. This one was quite beautiful.



Our intention was to attend the Divine Liturgy. When we arrived, we were told that there wasn't a liturgy scheduled. However, we wound up celebrating both afternoon prayer and the Divine  Liturgy.

The liturgy was chanted (which I love), and it had some notable differences—mostly the inclusion of more intercessory prayer. However, the structure of the liturgy was very similar to the Latin rite.

A person who was active here in our diocese essentially crowd-sourced his STL through the International Theological Institute. While he was there, he fell in love with the Byzantine liturgy. He was a convert, and I can understand why he might make that decision. For myself, despite the beauty of the Byzantine rite, I have always lived in the Latin rite (well, always except for the years when I was away from the Church). If I changed rites, I might be able to be ordained as a priest, but it would be so foreign to the faith I've known all my life. I think I'm just Latin though and through. God, in His wisdom, put me where I am, I'll let him call the shots.

The priest gave a no-holds-barred homily on the theme of marriage and the family. I'd like to see more of our parish priests do this.

Oh, hey... I haven't even mentioned the environment at the WMF. There were kids running around in the aisles during the talks, babies and toddlers all over the place. I've never attended a conference where children raced up and down the aisles while the bigwigs did their bigwigging, Awesome.

Anyway, it was my first experience of the Byzantine rite. I love how the priests whip the censer around, and forget about staying dry when the aspergilium comes out. These guys are serious with their sacramentals.

We left the Ukrainian cathedral and went north of Temple University. The neighborhoods around Temple are pretty rough, and Temple is lit up as bright  as day at night. Our tour leader explained several times that there were place that are just too dangerous to go, and we were driving right into one of them for our evening meal and talk.

Our destination was the Mercy Family Home, run by the Mercy Neighborhood Ministries (http://www.mercyneighbors.org/about-us/our-mission/). The mission was started by a group from the Religious Sisters of Mercy. It looks like they downplay the religious affiliation, but the images of religious in the home itself were evident.

The catering company seemed to like pasta, so this was evening 2 of really good pasta. Unfortunately, my waistband does not respond well to it.

Anyway, we also got to hear a rousing presentation by this guy


I caught this live interview at the WMF on day three. He's there with Johnnette Benkovic and someone else I don't know. Deacon Harold is close with some friends of ours and is the godfather for one of their daughters. We had dinner with them a while back, and I reminded him of that (hard to forget fish tacos with my guacamole).

We piled into the bus and headed back to Chadds Ford, dropping Deacon Harold off somewhere around King of Prussia. Day 2 was over, and the conference came to an end.

Day 3 was going to be a completely different experience.
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