Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Are you guys seminarians?"

That's a question I had to field twice this weekend, posed in precisely the same words at Denver's Holy Protection Byzantine Catholic Church and Spirit of Christ Catholic Church in suburban Arvada. As questions go, this one made a lot of sense, as most parishes probably aren't accustomed to seeing several unattached young men arrive in a group to attend Sunday liturgy. On another note, both of the parishes I attended this weekend offered end-of-liturgy blessings to married couples celebrating notable anniversaries - 25 years of marriage in one case and 40 in the other. The two blessings were a study in contrasts, illustrating the different though complementary liturgical values of the Christian East and West. At Holy Protection, the blessing of the couple took over five minutes and incorporated a series of richly elaborate prayers as well as a rite of sprinkling with holy water; at Spirit of Christ, the blessing was limited to a twenty second-long, apparently extemporaneous prayer delivered by the priest while the congregation extended their hands in blessing. As I wrote above, the different approaches represented by the two blessings are complementary: even if different in form, the liturgies of Eastern and Western Christians nonetheless represent two equally appealing routes to the same destination.

In other news, on Friday afternoon I took the bus downtown with fellow novices Justin Kopa (Maryland) and Shane Courville (New Orleans). On foot we explored much of the heart of the city, glimpsing such sights as the 16th Street Mall, the Colorado State Capitol and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The 16th Street Mall struck me as a well-conceived and successful downtown development which serves as an important anchor for business and helps keep the center of Denver vibrant. The Capitol and the Cathedral were suitably impressive, though the latter was surprisingly small. The trip confirmed the positive impression of downtown Denver I got when I ventured down there last weekend. I don't expect Denver to join the ranks of my favorite cities, but based on my experiences so far I'd say it's a fine place to spend a month in summer. AMDG.


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