Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Byzantine Adventure - Edited

Yesterday, a friend and I made an exploratory trip in search of a Ruthenian Rite (Catholic) Postenia, which I think is a term for a proto-monastery – a small community in the initial stages, but on its way to becoming a full-fledged monastery. But I’m not positive about that word!

I had heard about this little monastery from a priest friend who has spent some time there. Knowing that the monks had no internet presence, he gave me their physical address and phone number, and suggested I write or call and arrange a visit.  I did write, expecting an answer within a week or two…but I heard nothing.

That was months ago. But my friend and I decided to go and find the place anyway. Interestingly, we had never met face-to-face! We’ve been emailing for a couple of years or so, and we only live about a 3-hour drive apart, but had never arranged a face-to-face visit before. We met at the half-way point between our respective towns, and that “just happened” to be about a 30-minute drive from the “postenia” – according to Google maps. So off we went!

The monastery is in a rural area, just heading up into the mountains. Fortunately, there were quite a few properties with signs announcing their addresses, so we knew when we were in the right vicinity. We missed the monastery driveway on the first pass, though, and had to turn around and come back to it.

We pulled in, and saw no activity – no humans, but there were a couple of sheep and some chickens, as well as a very healthy-garden. We parked rather awkwardly behind two cars that were already there, since there really wasn’t much in the way of a parking lot.

There was a large house with a bright red front door, but there was no doorbell, and for some reason we decided knocking there wouldn’t do. Around the side of the building we saw a little bell rack – you couldn’t really call it a bell tower – with a couple of bells mounted on it.  And there was another door right there.

I am really a rather shy person, and having not met the monks, nor heard from them in response to my letter, I was hesitant to knock. But my friend wasn’t nearly as reticent, and when I said, “Should we knock?”, she said, “Sure, why not?” So I did – rather timidly.
There was some indication of activity behind the door, and after a few seconds, the door opened to reveal a gray-bearded monk. He smiled as I stammered out some sort of introduction, and then opened the door wider to invite us in.

“We’re just about to start the Divine Liturgy,” he said.

WOW!!! My friend and I were ecstatic! Who would have dreamed that we would show up announced – not even knowing if we would be able to find this place – just in time for the Divine Liturgy! Well…God knew, of course. But we were amazed. I asked if we could attend, and he said yes. We weren’t dressed for the occasion at all, but in we went.

[Edit/Addition:]Before the Liturgy began, the priest asked us where we were from. When I mentioned my city, he said, "I wrote to you!" I told him I had never received anything from him, and he said he had included some literature with his letter. God only knows where that envelope went on its journey through the postal system!

The monk provided us with books so we could follow along. Almost everything was in English, but it was all sung/chanted. There was plenty of incense, too!

After the Liturgy, the priest and the two brothers insisted that we come into their parlor and visit for a bit, and then they insisted that we stay for lunch. We had a wonderful time with them, and left with each of us carrying a large packet of literature about “Byzantine Christianity”.

And my friend and I felt like we’d known each other forever. Well, after all, there's nothing like going to Mass together to cement a friendship, eh?

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

No comments:

Post a Comment