OLPH Church
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Byzantine Catholic Church

News From Tim Fariss

Appearing in the June Edition of Eastern Catholic Life

Routines, retreats and rallies
By: Timothy Fariss

As a seminarian, I have this wonderful opportunity every two weeks to spend with my vocational director, to see how I am doing in my studies, my social life, and my spiritual life. Often these three conflict with each other so we talk about them together. How often can we be enticed to focus solely on our work, or only how we spend our weekends.

Working Mon-Fri 8am to 4pm is a wonderful routine to many. It dictates that we can return home and spend evenings with family and friends, we can take care of our shopping lists and chores. My mother, God bless her, found that her routine of working 11pm to 7am allowed for her to take care of her children during the daytime. A constantly changing routine that catches us by surprise can wreak havoc on us. Many know the experience of almost finishing an eight hour shift only to be asked to pull a double. Same can be said when we are about to go to sleep at midnight and an old friend from college calls you for a “White Castle” run to catch up. Earning the overtime and spending time with friends are good things but we become exhausted. It takes from us this drive that is tough to recoup. We need to rally all of our energy, we need a retreat to get away, or we need an unfailing routine to persevere through the drought.

Bad routines can be dangerous. Out of college, my routine was 10 cups of coffee a day, a twelve hour day at work and studying for the CPA Exam. My routine for God was Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am. Bad routines are like ruts which we struggle to pull ourselves out. I was in and still fall into ruts. What does this mean for my relationship with God? I can make time for my friends, my work, my studies, but not for my God, my Creator, my Savior? This can happen without us even noticing, it is normal but it shouldn’t be.

Maybe you are like me and need a new routine. My vocational director told me it is time to set a prayer routine. Time for me and God, time for me to recharge and rest in Him, a time when the world slows down and my worries wilt in the wonder that is God’s glory. What is a prayer routine? Paul in 1Thes 5:17 says to pray unceasingly as our routine. Yeah, cause that is not too difficult, when there is so much to worry about. It is because of these worries that we NEED this time with God all the more. The world will slowly pull us away from God and into itself. We have to start small but be persistent. A two-minute morning prayer while the car warms up, a minute while your bread is toasting, or while you brush your teeth, asking for persistence for God to remain with you and keep you safe during the day. A minute prayer at dinner with the family thanking God for the ability to be together, for the food prepared, and for a house to live in protected from the elements. A prayer before bed, exhausted from a long day, that God has guided you and kept you, that we may have another day to grow in His love. 5 minutes where God permeates our worldly routine in a glorifying routine of communion with Himself.

It is time to retreat. After three weeks of preparing to leave the office, we say vacation but we mean exhaustion. Ziplining, cruising, driving, dining, late nights, and early morning hikes. Vacations are exciting and awesome but we end our vacations needing another vacation. The word we were looking for was retreat, a refreshment of ourselves with God. A prayer is a mini-retreat, but occasionally we need the full deal retreat. A weekend or a full day with God. Are we who we want to be in God? Can I improve myself as a Christian? Do I feel God’s love right… now, in its fullest? These are not one minute questions. A prayer routine is like a steering wheel, guiding us in little increments, almost unnoticeable, keeping us on the road. Retreats are pit stops, unload the trash from the cup holders, let the kids stretch their legs, refuel the tank, and keep going on the journey called life. But, It’s time to rally. Every Sunday we rally in the pews to witness God’s presence on Earth in the mystery of the sacraments. The pre-Liturgy prayer sets the tone and gathering up steam our churches’ chant is only maxed out when it is added to the choirs of heaven, singing Holy, Holy Holy. Last year, I got to witness my first rally at the Pilgrimage in Uniontown PA. Seeing some two thousand faithful praying in unison over a three day stint, it was a mix of rally of inspiration and a retreat of resting in prayer. As Catholics, we are called to rally together. We have a lot to rally for! God became man, died, and resurrected so that we may live for eternity in heaven. We rally as a Church on Sunday’s locally but also with our eparchy and all Catholics sacramentally. We are united through Christ’s one and final sacrifice.

Is it time for a new life routine, a new prayer routine or a retreat? Have you had trouble rallying a Sunday morning together to pray before our Divine Liturgy or to eparchial events? We can all start writing down our goals when we get a fresh (Byzantine) new year on September 1st or we can throw the cards down and start with today. I pray that we encourage one another to persevere in prayer and continue to grow in the love of God.


Previously FromTim

ECL April 2017

How often do we feel unprepared? I began to write an article on the Great Fast, because my favorite go-to topic of “discernment “was covered last month by my wonderful and esteemed colleague–I won’t name any names; let’s just call him “Paul”. Having never written anything for a newspaper, I finished only to realize by the time we go to print, the Great Fast will have run the final leg of the race. Writing for me doesn’t come naturally and I was so proud of what managed to pull together. But boy, do I feel unprepared for this.

Thinking back, I have felt unprepared for a lot of things, a lot of which can be attributed to hitting the snooze button one too many times, not leaving time for traffic, or flat out procrastinated on things that I thought for the moment were more important. Are we prepared? See what I did there, took what I’m experiencing and turned it around. In a few more days, Christ will have been crucified. In a few more days, Christ will have risen. It is that time to ready ourselves for the traffic-laden roads and the parking lots and the “standing room only. Last Christmas, this rang a little differently for me. The clattering and shuffling in the pews had different tone. In the seminary, we have almost a dozen kids floating around the chapel; every now and then one goes clunking off a pew followed by the wailing and gnashing of teeth. My feelings went out to the mother who immediately went into consolation mode but when an infant is born this wailing is a sign of life and vibrancy, it called for a sign of relief. It may interrupt our prayer but is our church’s life force, every creak of the pew, the scribblings of crayons, and occasional munching of Cheerios.

Pascha is a twice-yearly reprieve for many. Those who know that they belong in the Catholic Church but for one reason or another struggle to make it feel like home. I’ve been there, after a year and a half of bad Sunday habits at college, one invite brought me home. I didn’t need convincing, I knew I belonged but not that it was home. Are we prepared?... to offer up our parking spot by the front entrance, our favorite pew by the middle aisles that we can catch all the action, our patience for the toddler who ‘literally’ just lost their marbles; are we prepared to welcome guests as family leaving a place setting at the head of the table for them? Christ can take all these little offerings and work wonders. Lastly are we prepared for what Christ has offered to us? Every year we follow Christ through His mission, offering miracles to the sick, only to be taken away from us in the garden, and nailed for the sinews have committed. We take great solace in hearing the words, “I forgive you”, but it can be really challenging to ask for forgiveness. I say this, the hypocrite that I am, as I avoided confession the last two weeks. It is liberating, all of the weight that slowly piled up, gone. We hate admitting that we fell short, that we ‘missed the mark’. God knows this already, he wants us to hear those confirming, relieving, life-saving words, “You are forgiven. “

If you haven’t already, prepare yourself. The season can be overwhelming as the weather might decide to actually be spring. It’s a toss-up in Pittsburgh, yesterday was70 degrees, today it snowed. All I know is in a few short weeks we will celebrate that Christ conquered Death and it was well worth taking the time to prepare myself for the miracle that God would take on flesh and die so that we may have eternal life.

March 2017

I promise not to fill your inbox with misc things but this came up on my newsfeed and caught my attention.

With all the politicized news coverage focused on Trump, protests, riots, and the roads, I "liked" some pages on facebook to get the Christian perspective on events in the Middle East, South America Eastern Europe, and occasionally China. This page came up and immediately struck home. After the US occupation in the Middle East was withdrawn, ISIS took over swaths of territory where Syrian and Iraqi Christians had lived. With three of our seminarians being Melkite and another half Chaldean this subject still hits pretty close to home. A recent post photographed the retaking of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mosul in Northern Iraq. When towns are being retaken, the retreating terrorists waste to our churches, lest we pray to God in our sacred spaces. Often, the first thing the Christians do, even before the clean up begins, is put their cross back on top their church, ring the bells, and praise God. In all of the wreckage and suffering, I find their living witness truly inspirational.

Attached are some photos of OLPH and the Sacred Heart cross being fixed.

Feb 2017

Hello! It seems like just last week I was on my way out to Pittsburgh, they've been keeping us busy and with Lent beginning tonight we are bound to be wrapped up in liturgical services. This year we "have off" for Easter, which means I'll get to come home and join you for Holy and Bright Weeks. Unfortunately next year the seminarians will have to stay here next year to learn the step by step, colors, hymns and prayers of the services.

This week we are all going into mid-terms so extra prayers would be greatly appreciated. I just finished my essay on a sermon to Catechumens in time for Lent and have been preparing a few songs for our seminary recital for later in the spring; one from West Side Story and a Mexican folk song, "Yo Troubador". Too bad I never thought I would need that 7th grade Spanish again. I miss you all very much, I look forward to seeing you all soon!


Sept 2016

Greetings from Pittsburgh, where the temperature is the same but with no AlC Settling in has been tough but I really enjoyed reading all of your words of encouragement on my first night here. I have prayed for you all every night and as orientation closed today we will begin ramping up for the first semester.

I recently met my spiritual advisor, Fr. Will Rupp and I am really excited to have someone who has worked with college ministries who might be able to guide some of my energy. Monday's will almost entirely be dedicated to learning music and chant which will be an experience to show the course teacher how .much hard work will be in our future.

Next week, the entire seminary will be off to serve in Uniontown for the Pilgrimage and there is a lot to be excited for as the six 1st year seminarians will more than match the five of the other years. I miss you all greatly, I'm sure this semester will just breeze by.

About Tim

After being baptized at OLPH in April 1990, I moved to Richboro in 1994 and was in the care of Fr. McLaughlin at St. Vincent DePaul Roman Catholic Church. I attended West Chester University from 2008-'12, studying degrees in Business Management and Accounting.

I rejoined God's faithful my sophomore year on an invite to a bible study with those who belonged to the Catholic Newman Center on campus. After graduation, I spent three years working with Aramark. At the end of my second year I was promoted from assistant to a Unit Controller, helping La Salle University overcome a budget deficit. I began discerning a vocation to the priesthood over two years ago, spending much of the time assisting St. Vincent's high school youth group, leading and attending various retreats. It was during this time of discernment that I rediscovered the church of my baptism and returned to OLPH.

After attending the Divine Liturgy and serving at the altar I realized that I had come home and that God is calling me to serve His people in the Byzantine Catholic Church. The priestly example of Fr. Myron and the parish community of OLPH helped me so much in this 'process. I couldn't be more thankful to those who have helped me grow in my faith and love of God.

I don't know what God has in store for me in the next four years but I pray that no matter what that I will become the man He desires me to be. Our primary vocation is not Marriage, not Priesthood, not Religious Life, it's to one day be a saint in the Kingdom of Heaven and the glory of God. May God guide us all daily in our vocations to prepare us for sainthood.


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