At the gentle urging of Fr. DePaulo, the married Byzantine priest whom we helped move into his house, T and I attended the Melkite Cathedral again this Sunday. How we've missed Divine Liturgy! It's not that we don't like the Roman Mass. In fact, we love attending St. Clement's liturgy. A well-done Roman Mass is beautiful, satisfying, complete. But... the Roman Mass is only part of the story. We must "breathe with both lungs" as John Paul the Great said!
We arrived early for the service and had the good fortune to meet Fr. McLaughlin there. Fr. McLaughlin was one of the first priests we met at BC, more than a year ago when we visited in the summer to scope out the housing scene. He is a very knowledgable man and (if you let him) will talk forever. Don't get me wrong, though! Fr. McLaughlin is so widely read and so knowledgable about so many different things, he's bound to stumble onto something you enjoy hearing about. For us, of course, it's Eastern Catholicism. Father knows all the ins and outs of Boston Catholicism. He was attending the Melkite Liturgy yesterday because he just wanted to stay "in the loop" and know what was going on. We love to listen to Fr. McLaughlin, and we passed a happy 45 minutes (we were really early--we got the times for Liturgy confused) in the parking lot.
The Melkite Cathedral is beautiful. First of all, it's quite large (for a Byzantine church), with very high ceilings. There are, naturally, icons everywhere, and the stained glass windows, over the years, have been dedicated to the faithful departed, adding more and more light to the inside of the church. The sanctuary is a vast and open space, with a hole-y iconostasis :) That is, it's not solid and we can see through a lot of it.
And although we don't know the Greek tones as well as the Slavic tones for the Liturgy, we were able to follow along (mostly) in the Divine Liturgy book (I really miss singing everything on Sunday!). This Sunday was special, too. The patriarch [bishop] of the Melkite eparchy [diocese] celebrated Liturgy and gave out certificates of appreciate to the choir--which was in great form for the occasion! I can't describe the chant, really, except to say it was beautiful, and so... eastern. Not Eastern European, though--Middle Eastern. It's the kind of chant you would expect to hear as you walk through the street of Jerusalem. It's foreign to me. But it draws me in; it points me to Heaven. Which is just what Divine Liturgy is supposed to do :)