Thursday, February 2, 2012

We weren't always Byzantine Catholic, part 3

Back on track with part 3 of the story. If you missed the earlier parts, here you go: Part 1. Part 2.

We left Fr G's office at the rectory on a mission to find the answers about C's rite. We started with his dad. We were not sure how much he'd know or remember, since moms are usually the keepers of that sort of information. Since C's mom passed away right before we met, we had to go on what my father in law knew. And it wasn't much.

All he knew was that he never did anything to change his rite, and that there was nothing mentioned when C was a baby and my in laws took him to be baptized. That was the other thing. Fr. G wasn't sure if Chris was just baptized or if he had received other sacraments at the same time; he wasn't the parish priest when C was a baby, and the church records were not clear. C remembers receiving first communion when he was in second grade, while attending a Catholic school (Roman) but he wasn't sure if he was just doing it to follow the class or if he really never got it the first time around.

[In the Byzantine Rite, babies receive all three sacraments of initiation at once: baptism, first communion, and confirmation. However, in 1976, when C was born, some priests were not giving infants first communion, and were having ceremonies for it later, around seven, as is typical in the Roman Rite. This practice lasted for a long time, but since has reverted back to all three at once.]

The church records appeared as if C was baptized and chrismated (confirmed), but nothing about first communion. We needed proof of all three to show my parish priest, so we could have a wedding Mass. C called the parish that was connected to the school he attended and inquired about his records. They did have record of him making his first communion; he was able to get a copy to show the priest who would be marrying us.

In the meantime, his grandmother found out about this...discovery, and was extremely upset. Her English is fairly limited when it comes to speaking, but she understands a lot, even though she was not well-educated. While she came to this country when she was 20, her schooling stopped in elementary school. She learned English as she went, from people at her work and in the community; she never took formal classes. To this day, she needs a cheat sheet with numbers spelled out to help her pay her bills. She's a very smart lady, though, and very tough.

"What you mean, you not Greek Catholic????" she yelled over the phone, in her thick accent, loud enough that I could hear through the receiver. "I was there!!!!!! I see you baptized!!!! You mother Greek Catholic!!!! She good woman!!!" (If you read that and thought Borat, it's OK, because when I try to talk like her, I sound like him too. Great success. Not.)

[Greek Catholic is another way to say Byzantine Catholic, but since people get confused and think Greek Orthodox, it's not used as much anymore. It's more...old school.]

C shook his head. "GRANDMA," he shouted. "Please, just stop. I'll explain."

He explained. And explained some more, but she didn't get it. I don't think she still does, but I've since convinced C to stop arguing with her and just let it go. She's a stubborn old bird; I see where C gets it from. :-)

So, now we had tentative proof that C wasn't really Byzantine Catholic. We would get married at my parish and deal with it later, just to make things less confusing. We were married in September of 2007 in a Roman Rite ceremony that was not that great. Someday I'll write more about how I felt really underwhelmed by my marriage ceremony. To this day, I feel as if it was a joke; something not very important. C says it's because we got married in the Roman church; he's a funny one.

To be continued...

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