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.