Thursday, July 05, 2012

Things I like about our local Melkite Catholic Parish

  1. The Royal Doors in the Iconostasis. They open at moments in the Liturgy that symbolize revelation. Having the doors open when the Gospel is read (among other times) is a beautiful reminder that the barriers between Heaven and Earth have been removed. The annunciation on the doors is a further reminder that the Incarnation has united Heaven and Earth like Jacob's ladder prefigured.
  2. Divine Liturgy. The name blows my mind every time I think about it. The emphasis is not on the sending, but on the union of Heaven and Earth in that time and space, a constant reminder that the Incarnation bound the two together.
  3. Incense. The angels in Heaven are said in Revelation to worship before the Throne of God with incense, so why are Latin Catholic parishes so shy about using it.
  4. Everything is sung. As it was explained to me, the Human voice is the only musical instrument given to us by God so we put it to good use. There's no guitars or organs, just the wonderful sound of all the faithful singing. When I say that everything is sung I also mean that only the homily and a small handful of prayers are spoken.
  5. Hospitality of Abraham. Like just about every Byzantine Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church there is a depiction of this prefiguring of the trinity. I find that it is a beautiful reminder that our Christian faith is laid on a Jewish foundation.
  6. The Trisagion. In the last two years that has become my absolute favorite prayer ever.
  7. Icons everywhere. They're on the iconostasis, the ceiling, the walls, the archways. Its so hard to find sacred art in Catholic churches these days. Its great that I have the privilege of being part of a parish that still has artwork everywhere.
  8. The icons around the altar. The first thing you see when the Royal Doors are opened is the giant platytera directly behind the altar. On the left and right are icons of Abraham's almost-sacrifice of Isaac and Abel's sacrifice of first fruits. There is no doubt left in the Christian mind what the altar is for.
  9. Small parish. Its not one of those parishes where there's hundreds to about a thousand people present for every Mass or Divine Liturgy. There might be a hundred people on any given Sunday. It has a small town familial feeling. Everyone knows your name and you know theirs.
  10. Priests face the altar. There is no question of the priest facing the people or the altar. He faces the altar. His attention is focused on the Holy Sacrifice that is the climax of every Mass and Divine Liturgy.

May God bless all who read my ramblings,

Adopt A Catholic Blog


Barbara Schoeneberger said...

Contra, you'll be please to know that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite uses incense voluminously at every High Mass, that our churches are typically full of stained glass windows, statues, and occasionally icons, too (due to the fact that bishops gave us their old, failing closed parish churches in the worst parts of town to keep up and have Mass there prior to Summorum Pontificum). We can't touch the Eastern Churches on congregational singing yet, but we're working on it.

The things you mention about your parish are really attractive and I wish we had Eastern rite Masses where I live, but we don't. Anyway, you'd be welcome and find the Extraordinary Form, while different from the Melkite, a holy and reverent offering.

Collin Michael Nunis said...

Hi Athanasius,

I am very pleased to have stumbled upon your blog, and your two posts relating to the Melkite Church. I would like to seek your permission to post them up on our Melkite resource website Please let me know if this is alright. Thank you.

Subdeacon Collin Nunis

Athanasis Contra Mundum said...

Of course, post away!