The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fragments from Recent Correspondence

...I really enjoyed my time as an Anglican (if I could use that word). After the whole religious roller coaster ride of my youth, it let my mind air out a bit. But that is all that I really felt that I got: air. There was never anything really substantial there, and maybe I was doing all of it for the wrong reasons (a potential vocation, perhaps?) I just really needed a place where I could think things over, and distance myself from an institution (the Catholic Church) that I felt had "burned me" in a manner of speaking. Now I am fine with it. I suppose that if you're English, Anglicanism has a different feel. Since I was raised in a culturally Catholic enviorment, it was always going to be odd, so I "went home".

Truth be told, I enjoy now going into churches and knowing that whatever happens, the Church is no longer "my business". It must be that way for people who manage restaurants. If they go into another restaurant to eat, they might be too preoccupied about the running of the place to enjoy the dining experience. I used to feel that way about church, and maybe that is why I liked small venues. Now, however, I am comfortable just being a "pew warmer", one who merely gets what he needs out of church and then leaves...

Only once in a great while do I feel nostalgia for the religious life. Usually it's when I'm alone or riding the bus. I really can't connect any of those things to what my life is like now. I guess in a manner of speaking I just hide these things in my heart. I don't wish for such silly things as "more time for prayer" since having had periods in my life where I could pray for hours, I know that I will just squader them. I suppose even now all I wish for is a thankful and loving heart, and that can be obtained anywhere.

It is a funny creature, this eternity of ours. I used to wish that I would make an impact on history by becoming a great theologian, priest, or spiritual father. But now I realize how small everything is. And fleeting. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." This condition of creaturehood, this coldness, this helplessness, this searching for warmth and a kind smile in the sea of life is my only consolation now. If anything, in some small way, I wish to evoke this thankfulness in everything I write, say, and do. And I hope that when the sun sets on this little universe known as "Arturo Vasquez", I will be able to thank all who I have loved and who have loved me, and with a glimmer in my eye, to exit, until at last all of these little universes connect into the heart of the Most Holy Trinity.

Oh well, I just felt like being gushy...


At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you are presumably still a Byzantine Catholic (Ukrainian?)
you still could:
1. Marry AG (if she would have you)
2. apply to seminary
3. become ordained
You meet the 2 year requirement after changing of Churches (as they are actual "Churches" in a technical canon law sense) to apply to the priesthood.
I understand the St. Cyril and Methodious in Pittsburg is good.
If you are Melkite Byzantine the seminary is in Massacusettes.
Just get married 1st and you are a priest--BINGO

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Become a married priest?

Why would I want to do a silly thing like that?!

Besides, I don't practice as a Byzantine rite Catholic anymore, so why bother?

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is being a married priest silly? There are many good Ukrainian priests fully Catholic with Rome. Peter was married.
Some other Popes were married (legitimately married not mistresses like some of the Borgias)
Even in your ancestoral homeland there was common law marriage with priests that was fairly accepted.
Many Eastern Rite Catholics have or at least had married priests.
you are being dismissive and disrespectful to the many married priests in the Catholic Church and the venerable tradition of the Eastern Rite

You may not practice as a Byzantine Rite Catholic anymore BUT like the Eagles song in Hotel California: you can check out but you can never leave
You ARE Byzantine and governed by that Sui Juris Church (Ukrainian?)
Thus you could become a married priest.
You can go to Latin Masses but you are Byzantine Rite
I am not sure why you would not want to practice the beauty of the Divine Liturgy you even had a great post from a great Church in Canada

You would make a great married priest
some of the Byzantine Rite churches (albeit very small) have Spanish Speaking congregations
You could marry your beloved AG (by your own admission the most beautiful woman in the world)
and you could serve your loved Jesus as His priest
You could even serve your beloved Mexican people (and all people) as a married priest in the Byzantine Rite in a mission Church to the Spanish speaking peoples

The Divine Liturgy in Spanish is very beautiful
you can go on YouTube and find Spanish Byzantine Chant
(I am not sure about Nauhtl or Mayan or any Oaxacan dialects)

My vote is for you to marry AG and become a married Catholic priest.
You could even become bi-ritual and use your SSPX training and do some Tridentine (er Extraordinary)

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Gee, Alex, calm down! All I meant was that I know how tough their life is, and I wouldn't want to subject myself to it. I have jumped through enough hoops for the Church, and I am not prepared to jump through anymore.

I know many married priests, and I don't envy their lives. Balancing being a husband, father, bread-winner, priest, and pastor is something that is not for the faint of heart. And I wouldn't want to do something like that, because if I tried, I know that I would just be bad at all of them Maybe that just makes me a poor "multi-tasker".

Besides, the thought of my potential children going hungry for the sake of the Church is something I can't live with. Heck, if I was ever confronted with even giving up this blog so I could spend more with my kids or give them a better future, I would drop this blog like a bad habit. If the Church were prepared to support a man in the ministry so that his kids wouldn't have to be on the low end of the socio-economic totem pole, I would consider it. But most Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox priests who are married struggle to make ends meet. Or maybe some have a wife that has to slave away at a job and be their "sugar-mama". All I know is that this isn't a life for me. It was hard enough having the Church for a boss and being celibate. I wouldn't want the ones I love to be affected by all of the ecclesiastical backstabbing and penny-pinching.

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many Rabbis do well financially.

Some Protestant ministers do well in a entrepeneurial way. Some of the subset of African American pastors also do well--I have seen some with mansions, driving jaguars.

Some Catholic priests have a comfortable life depending on the parish.

The Uniate and Orthodox priests usually (but not always) have 2nd "normal"/"regular" daytime jobs.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger D. Benedict Andersen OSB said...


I have to say that it's always a pleasure to read your blog. I recently had the opportunity to go through the archives and re-read many of your posts.

It seems to me that we think a lot alike, but you're able to organize and explicate your thoughts a lot better than I've been able to (I used to run the blog Occidentalis).

There are very few blogs (especially Orthodox ones) that I have any stomach for any more. Yours is obviously one of them. All I can say is, keep up the good work. It's an important ministry. I know it keeps me more honest and sane, and I would not be surprised if others feel the same way.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Thanks Benjamin.

I really miss your blog. You should think about taking it up again.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

From Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966):
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion: the illusion that by making vows we become a different species of being, pseudo-angels, “spiritual men,” men of interior life, what have you.
I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

This changes nothing in the sense and value of my solitude, for it is in fact the function of solitude to make one realize such things with a clarity that would be impossible to anyone completely immersed in the other cares, the other illusions, and all the automatisms of a tightly collective existence. My solitude, however, is not my own, for I see now how much it belongs to them—and that I have a responsibility for it in their regard, not just in my own. It is because I am one with them that I owe it to them to be alone, and when I am alone, they are not “they” but my own self. There are no strangers!

Even the "separate" holy existence is consecrated to the mob, to the saeculum, to the tightly collective existence of the rest of the world. Perhaps Merton was just being "gushy" too, but Merton knew contemplation as well as anyone. And even he took more than a decade to realize that the calling of solitude was actually a call to be an ochlophile and not an ochlophobe! "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings" (Hos. 6:6). To know and love God is to know and love His Son, and to love His Son is to love humanity in Him.

For me, I didn't understand Merton until I had children. They know from the beginning what Merton sees here. And likewise, one wants to protect that innocence, that instinctive love of everyone, but to do that is to deprive them of the chance to exercise it, in that little time they have before original sin claims their experience like it does all of us.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...


It is arguable that for most, the most Christian thing to be is in a crowd. Crowds were some of the great protagonists in the Gospels. While there were times when Christ wanted to get away, and obviously times when the crowd was not exactly Christ's friend, the crowd was always there nonetheless.

This is not to diminish the great monastic tradition of stillness. But it is something to consider nonetheless. The normal habitat of Christianity is the crowd.

Thank you for that.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

The idea had been weighing on my mind of late, so I'm happy I found a good place to set it down! :-)

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you became an Anglican because you needed money

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "married priest" discussion demonstrates how Rome's conception of "sui juris Churches" is all messed up.

First, if Rome were really serious about "rite" as a matter of theology (using that term in the Orthodox sense of the word) as opposed to a matter of Canon Law, there would not be barriers put in place to switching from one to another (assuming here that it is necessary to categorise people into different rites in the first place).

More significantly, the idea that Arturo ought to become a married priest based upon what is essentially a Canon Law loophole when he in actual fact seems to be at home in the Latin tradition just seems wrong. Orthodoxy is not some sort of legal status of which one takes advantage as if it were the decision to file taxes jointly or separately. If one cannot be an Orthodox pastor of an Orthodox parish (even in communion with Rome), then the whole idea that one should be a married Byzantine priest should be dropped. Nobody benefits when the pastor is a Latin at heart pretending to be Orthodox so as to benefit from a disciplinary difference in the rites--neither the parish, nor the priest, nor the matushka, nor the Church as a whole. It is dishonest to both traditions and trivialises the very notion that Canon Law (or the Typikon) is a reflection of the spirituality of a particular Church.

Finally, we should abandon the idea that the highest form of service to God is the priesthood. Aside from knowing that it is actually monasticism :-), the priesthood is something to which one is called by God--not something one takes up in an overabundance of religious interest.


At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Arturo was a priest--I would go to his Church. Crowded or not.

He is my internet spiritual father.

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