Gratitude abounds —
To begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades concelebrated and preached a homily during the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom of the Melkite Greek Catholic Usage with Father Khaled Anatolios and the Byzantine Catholic community of the University of Notre Dame Sunday, Jan. 19.
Remembering that Jesus Himself prayed to God the Father, that “they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,” the Divine Liturgy was one of thanksgiving. Father Anatolios thanked Bishop Rhoades for joining them, calling his presence a “powerful sign reminding us of the unity of the Church, back to the time of the apostles and Christ Himself.”
The Byzantine Catholic church is in communion with Rome and Pope Francis. All Roman Catholic, or Latin rite, worshippers may receive holy Communion. The Melkite Greek rite is just one of 23 liturgical rites in the Catholic Church today, 15 of which follow the Byzantine Liturgical Tradition.
Both the Latin and Eastern rites have a unique set of cultural traditions, hierarchy and legal systems, developing from the different countries in which they originated.
For this reason, it is common in many Eastern Rite churches, such as in Middle Eastern countries that speak Arabic or Greek and worship in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy to have parish priests who are married with a family. Melkite Catholic men, married or not, may be ordained to the priesthood, but once ordained, may not marry. Bishops in both rites are unmarried.
Bishop Rhoades preached about living a life of gratitude during the liturgy. Following the Gospel story of Jesus curing the 10 lepers, only one of whom returned to offer thanks, Bishop Rhoades explained: “Gratitude is one of the most important virtues, intimately connected to the virtue of humility and also to holiness. The word, ‘humility’ comes from the Latin word for earth, ‘humus.’ A humble person is grounded in reality. He or she has a true and realistic knowledge of self as a creature, a sinner, dependent on God the Creator and His grace. To be humble is to understand that one is not totally self-sufficient, that one depends on God and on others. A humble person is, therefore, a grateful person … capable to give thanks.”
Gratitude is really an expression of love, the bishop told the many families with small children who were present. That’s “so very important, for example in marriage and family life. The more gratitude there is, the more love there is. Pope Francis speaks a lot to families about the importance of saying ‘thank you’ and not being stingy about it.”
After sharing how one can follow the Fourth Commandment, being grateful to parents and spiritual family members who have helped guide them in ways of faith, Bishop Rhoades concluded with the reminder that “what we are doing now in this chapel is all about gratitude. The word ‘Eucharist,’ from the Greek literally means ‘thanksgiving.’ It’s no coincidence that this is the greatest prayer of thanksgiving we can offer to God. We give thanks for the fruits of Our Lord’s passion and death, and we celebrate with thanksgiving the new life we receive through His Resurrection.”
Anatolios family ‘entirely drawn into’ ministry
For Meredith Anatolios, M.Div., wife of Father Khaled Anatolios, it is a joy and privilege to serve the Byzantine Catholic community alongside her husband. Originally from outside Detroit, Michigan, she clearly remembers the first time she worshipped in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. “From that very first time, I have been drawn to the sense of the transcendence that I find in the Divine Liturgy. Now, 16 years later, I feel very at home at both (Catholic and Byzantine) liturgies.”
The autumn after Father Anatolios’ ordination in 2015, the family moved to Indiana from a large Melkite cathedral. In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Anatolioses have supported one another in their service and ministry to the flourishing Byzantine Catholic community.
Father Anatolios is most grateful for his wife’s strength and support. Meredith focuses on a lot of the administrative, behind-the-scenes work, like the email list and sending reminders. She also sets up the chapel and prepares for a social hour that takes place after the liturgy.
“Perhaps the most unusual thing I do is bake the bread we use for our Eucharist,” Meredith explained. “Unlike the Roman rite, many Eastern Rite churches use a leavened bread for Eucharist. … Because our community is so small, one batch of bread lasts us a lot longer, so I bake some every other month or so. I feel the magnitude of that work — to be baking the bread that will become the Body of Christ for our community. Over time, I have learned that I need to carve out dedicated time to do it, so that I can be wholly attentive to that work alone for a while. I like to pray for the various members of our community while I do it.”
With obvious respect for her husband’s calling, Meredith shared, “I see the other big part of my role as just to support Father Khaled in whatever way necessary. I think it is the role of every married person to support his or her spouse in their vocation — it just so happens that my husband’s vocation is to be a priest.
“I have experienced profound moments of deep love for him while watching him celebrate the Divine Liturgy. There is a great blessing in watching your husband live out his vocation and know that others are being drawn closer to God through his work. My part of that is often very mundane: taking more responsibility for our children or work around the house so he can write a homily or visit a sick community member. Other times it is tending to his vestments or making sure we have the right color altar cloths. But we also spend a lot of time talking about our community and how we can meet their needs. Our married life, well, really, our family life, is entirely drawn into this ministry.”
— Jennifer Miller
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