A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, July 21, 2017

Today we went to the funeral mass at Our Lady of Lebanon church for our neighbor's girl, Elizabeth, who was only 12. It was a sad affair. The grandmother broke down when they came to close the lid on the casket and began to wail. Not a few others came close to it, as well.

There were five priests concelebrating, including a couple of Latin-rite priests from up the hill. The deacon was a guy I went to high school with -- Tony Koury. 

This was the first time I had ever attended an Antiochene-rite mass. The Mass of the Holy Angels was sung using the Anaphora of Pope Sixtus. (The Anaphora is like the Eucharistic Prayer in the Latin rite, but more extensive.) Our Lady of Lebanon is a Maronite parish and falls under the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. Unlike other Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, the Maronite rite was never out of communion with Rome. 
Much of the mass was sung in antiphon and response with the choir (a practice that I had seen (and heard) at the Basilica of St. Thomas the Apostle in Chennai, India, which is also under Antioch). The words of the consecration were in Syriac, which is modern Aramaic, and the Kyrie was in Greek. The readings were translated from the Peshitta (Syriac text) rather than from the Septuagint (Greek text). My daughter explained that Syriac had a lot of "koosh-koosh" while Arabic had a lot of phlegm. The word for "God" was "aloho," clearly related to both "elohim" and "allah." The missal was in English on the left-hand page (with occasional transliterations of the Arabic or Syriac texts when the congregation was called upon to respond in these languages) and Arabic or Syriac script on the right hand pages. With the variety of different liturgies and anaphora, this resulted in a book as thick as a brick.

The overall effect was that of the old Latin mass: more ceremonial, more ritual, and more affecting than the post-Vatican II revisions to the western rubrics. Although some things were different -- the offertory came at the beginning, for example; and the celebrant held a cross in his hand the whole time, and wore a cope rather than a chasuble -- it was recognizably the same mass as the Roman rite. Or for that matter even the Alexandrian rite.

1 comment:

  1. I very much like the Maronite liturgy. The sedro -- that's the doctrinal part of Hoosooyoo (prayer of forgiveness) prayer right after the preliminary part -- is also worth attention.

    The priest at the Maronite church here, because he's always tired of Catholics coming up to him before and after and asking if it's actually a Catholic Mass for their Sunday obligation, has gotten into the habit of saying, "Yes, it's a Catholic Mass. In fact, because it's Maronite, it's like going to the Latin Mass five times in a Sunday!"


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