Now That’s a Church Festival!

St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Parish runs its Lebanese Festival every year. And every year that cute little kid who’s second from left gets taller. I remember when she was about three, and already eager to dance, and now she’s ten! (Where does the time go?) You can also see some crowd participation.

The food was good, as always. This year, I also made it to 10 AM Mass.

Now, I know a lot of people are really overwhelmed by Eastern stuff. I sympathize. I mean, there are always going to be some things that speak more to our individual souls than other things. All dogs are nice, but I like Irish wolfhounds. I got that honestly; my dad confided in my mom when they married that he really wanted one. But my brother loves salukis and spent years infiltrating the saluki breeding world, striving without success for years to prove himself worthy, and finally forced to rescue an oppressed runt by buying from a shady breeder. (And this was American saluki fanciers. Let’s not even think about infiltrating the Middle Eastern saluki world!)

Obviously, aesthetics and feelings are not the most important thing. But they can be valuable guides to what God wants for us. So I think it’s interesting that I feel pretty much exactly the same about the Maronite Mass as I do the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. And that’s this:

It was interesting, of course, but mostly it was Mass.

I mean, sure a lot of the prayers were different, and so were a lot of the rubrics and gestures. But the basic structure was the same, and I felt that I was just seeing the same Sacrament from another direction. So what if we danced between English, Arabic, and Aramaic? I was not more at home; I was just at home, albeit with the side of the family I didn’t see very often.

Still, I will say that the prayers were exceedingly beautiful. The hymn sequences were simple, but memorable and strong. The priest’s chanting was simple but lovely, and lifted one’s mind to God. I found it very easy to pray and worship.

I encourage folks to visit the Maronite side of the family. :)

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Now That’s a Church Festival!

  1. Lucia Rosa

    “It was interesting, of course, but mostly it was Mass.”

    Meaning that there was more of what was familiar than what was different? And therefore that what God really wants for us is the Mass, no matter in what rite? (I was confused by your train of thought here).

  2. Well, we don’t go to Mass because it’s interesting. It is interesting, but that’s not why we go.

    Similarly, it’s interesting to go to Mass in another Rite; but once you’re there, you realize that the graces of it as a Mass are much more powerful than the interest of it as something different.

    Maybe this impressed me more than it should, but I’ve been forced to do a lot of worrying about liturgy and music and stuff in my own parish. So it was a great relief to have my rubbernecker tendencies overpowered by just plain going to Mass. Now I need to get my head back into plain old worship when I’m at my own parish, too.

  3. Lucia Rosa

    Oh, I see! That is really great, that different externals help you focus more on the essentials of Mass rather than distracting you. I guess it comes of being a mystic:) I have the same problem with worrying too much about music in my parish, so I will gladly pray for yours!

  4. We’ll pray for each other’s parishes, then! :)

    The thing to remember is that every Mass has the choirs of angels and saints in attendance. So there’s lots of good music; we just don’t hear it.

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