22 February 2017

Liturgical attitudes (Experiences from the Assyrian church of the East)

 I was blessed with the opportunity to experience Liturgy in Aramaic for the past few Sundays, while my parish had suspended Sunday Liturgy, I share my experiences to perhaps to bring a different perspective to some of the debates we see in western circles.

a. Attitude is everything.

The priests and deacons were in prayer before the Divine Liturgy, praying Orthos in Aramaic. (I was praying mine in Russian). None of this casual atmosphere as one finds in many of the western parishes.

Afterwards, the priest and I had a brief introduction, I stayed for Liturgy. it was quite nice to hear the language of Our Lord being used. Fortunately, there was a Latinised version of the Aramaic so I could somehow attempt to sing the Liturgy. It not being among the languages that I do speak, was a little hard to sing at first.

Everyone was attentive to the Liturgy and the various actions within the Liturgy, from the sign of peace to the incensations, and when the deacon went around with the incense. Seeing as the Liturgy was nearly 2 hours long, this non-Byzantine rite definitely had much motion, but there was plenty of genuflecting by the priest and deacons....it was very interesting to observe the various points. I think on a non-Sunday Liturgy, we would be kneeling with them. ...

Something that I've repeated on this blog and elsewhere, it's hard to take things seriously, when those that around us don't. This wasn't a problem. Everyone knew their piece and did what they were supposed to do.

b. Come time for Holy Communion....

As an Eastern, we really don't do Communion in the Hand...so needless to say that I was taken back when Our Lord was placed in my hand. However, it really wasn't so much in the hand, as our hands acting as a paten. Something that Bishop Schneider refers to in his book Dominus Est, and also on his interview on EWTN. We brought our palms to our mouths and did not touch the Host. I must say the external attitude made this much easier to deal with, it wasn't casual, with reverence to the cross on the tetrapod. If Communion in the Hand was done this way at parishes it'd be much less of a bother instead of the irreverence that's often shown elsewhere.

If you have the chance to visit them, by all means do so. It was definitely a different experience.

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