Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catechumens depart

"All ye catechumens, depart! Depart, ye catechumens! All ye that are catechumens, depart! Let no catechumens remain! But let us who are of the faithful, again and again, in peace pray to the Lord."
~Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

Most churches either don't do this or don't make the uninitiated leave the service at this point just before the Eucharistic part of the service.  Most have a prayer for catechumens, often by name, followed by a prayer of the faithful.  Our particular parish doesn't have either.  (That's not really here or there as far as this posting is concerned.)  Once upon a time, though, true converts to the faith (those coming from paganism) were kept from seeing the entire Divine Liturgy until they had been properly initiated through baptism and chrismation.  These days, some parishes keep this command to the catechumens in order to remember the tradition we came from.

It's usually about this time in the service that one of the girls (or both of the girls) need special attention.  Felicity needs to nurse Christine and I take the toddler by the hand and either read stories, color, feed, or otherwise distract her from her desire to run, jump, toddle, climb, open, shut, pound, etc. (Truly, she's hilarious during church.  Today she started saying, "Marytokos" as a melding of Mary and Theotokos.  Melts your heart, it's so cute, right?)  No one really minds her little interruptions, but we are trying to make her aware of others who are trying to listen, sing, pray, and meditate around her.  During this portion of the service we make our way to the nuns' sacristy and sit quietly while the Eucharistic portion of the service happens in the main chapel.

I realize that we're not alone in this moment of removing ourselves when a child becomes a little bit crazy.  I used to try and fight it, staying in the service come hell or high water.  A few weeks ago it dawned on me that I'm not part of what's happening in the other room.  I know that I have some place there, but not the way the others do.  I'm not part of that communion going on.  I'm not partaking of our Lord's body and blood.  Maybe the best place for me is just outside, listening, praying, singing along to the communion hymns with my little girl in my lap reading, snuggling, drinking juice.  My wife and I with our two little girls in the little side room while the faithful partake of the Eucharist and invite everyone to "receive the body of Christ, taste the fountain of immortality".  Someday.

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