Until this past Sunday it had been over a year since I had entered a Byzantine Catholic Church to take part in the Divine Liturgy. But I wanted to use the summer off from choir and organ playing at my regular parish to attend one. A part of me feels drawn to stay in tune with the East as I continue to grow in my spirituality. So I made my way early Sunday morning to St. Mary of the Assumption (Dormition) in Scranton.
Well, what a spiritual refresh. The love for Christ was so thick in the air that it was intoxicating. Once again the people and the priest were just phenomenal examples of Christian love. Do you know that I attended my parish for almost a year before anyone even said boo to me? For my part I didn't exactly stay after go out of me way to introduce myself. In fact I was so nervous being a non-Catholic that I hoped nobody would notice me. Running out after Mass became standard practice. However, at this Byzantine parish I wasn't there 5 minutes and already 2 people had said "good morning" to me like I had been there 20 years. Not only that but the priest mentioned in his homily (sermon) that there were no strangers in the Church, only brothers in Christ. He also mentioned that people had been coming in off the streets to join the parish. I can see why.
Its no secret that the Byzantines aren't doing so well (number wise) these days. I think that more people only have to go and see for themselves how amazing these places are. We also all have to get over the idea that they are ethnic churches. That really isn't the case any longer. It is such a treasure to go and worship with them from time to time. The music is warm and thoughtful. In fact I might be so bold to say that this is how the Mass in English should always be.
Yesterday (Monday) I had the opportunity to attend another (2 in one week!) Divine Liturgy at St. Ann's Basilica with the Byzantine bishop celebrating. They probably had 10 other eastern priests and deacons as well. The congregation was a mix from around the area. It took place in a Latin Rite basilica in conjunction with the annual St. Ann's Novena. (St. Ann's is the place where they broadcast "The Mass" all over the country on INSP.) The chant filled the absolutely packed basilica. It was tremendous.
If I had walked into a Divine Liturgy 10 years ago then I would probably be celebrating my 9th year as a Catholic right now.