Friday, April 8, 2011

Changes are afoot

I know I mentioned it before, and for those of you who are not religious, just hear me out...

But I am getting pretty excited about visiting the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Maronite Rite Church. (Both, by the way, are catholic - just with a middle eastern twist.)

In grand Nicole fashion, I emailed the Chorbishop at St. Elias, and yes - he and I sent emails back and forth today! Now, I had no idea what a Chorbishop is. I know what a Bishop is and a Monsignor - but not a Chorbishop. Apparently, it's one step down from Bishop in the Maronite Rite.

Are you following me?

Okay.. anyway - that's pretty high up the catholic totum pole. Soooo.. he and I were chatting about the differences and he told me I would not see any differences. Well, of course, I did my research and there ARE some differences, but so small. Like.. well.. Aramaic for one.

Finally, I said goodbye in the email and I assume curiosity got the best of him and he emails this:
"Where does that last name come from? It certainly sounds middle eastern." ~ Chorbishop Richard

I responded with my mini-story of how I am married to an egyptian, blah.. blah.. blah.. and I go on to share my husband's full name (the five names, not three).. etc.. etc.. and he replies:

"I believe this might be the church for you." LOL  He even goes on to tell me that his father is Lebanese (or was) and that his last name is the same as my husband's Last (Last) name. Long story on the name thing.

Very cool.

BUT - then I did a little research on the Melkite Rite...

I don't know if you guys even know why I am such a die-hard (more modern) catholic.. but I am a sucker for going straight to the source. If you are going to be a christian, in my mind - then do it the way it was laid out by Jesus's best friends...


The Melkite Rite is JUST that. Let's break it down Wikipedia style:

~Melkite, from the Syriac word malkā for "King", was originally a pejorative term for Middle-Eastern Christians who accepted the authority of the Council of Chalcedon (451) and the Byzantine Emperor, a term applied to them by non-Chalcedonians. Of the Chalcedonian churches, Greek Catholics continue to use the term, while Eastern Orthodox do not.
The Greek element signifies the Byzantine Rite heritage of the church, the liturgy used by all the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The term Catholic signifies the church's acknowledgment of the authority of the Pope and implies participation in the worldwide church. According to Church tradition, the Melkite Church of Antioch is the "oldest continuous Christian community in the world".

In Arabic, the official language of the church,  it is called ar-Rūm al-Kathūlīk (Arabic: الروم الكاثوليك‎). The Arabic word "Rūm" refers to the so-called "Second Rome", Constantinople (formerly Byzantium, now Istanbul). Though the name is sometimes incorrectly translated as "Roman Catholic", the more accurate translation is Byzantine or Greek Catholic, referring to the Byzantine heritage associated with the city of Constantinople. ~

WOW. Sounds like St. Pete himself worshipped this way. Sooo.. I am drawn to this one, for historical reasons. But drawn to the Maronite Rite - due to the sweet super-almost-bishop-priest.

More on Maronite (Wikipedia Style) -
~The Maronite Syriac Church of Antioch (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܡܪܘܢܝܬܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ‎ ʿīṯo suryaiṯo māronaiṯo d'anṭiokia, Arabic: الكنيسة الأنطاكية السريانية المارونية‎ al-kanīsa al-antākīyya al-seryānīyya al-mārwnīyya , Latin: Ecclesia Maronitarum) is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome (in other words, Maronites are Catholics). It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, an early 5th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th century. Although reduced in numbers today, Maronites remain one of the principal ethno-religious groups in Lebanon and they continue to represent the absolute majority of Lebanese people when the Lebanese diaspora is included. Unique amongst Eastern Christians, the Maronites remained in communion with the Bishop of Rome since the Great Schism.

Before the conquest by Arabian Muslims reached Lebanon, the Lebanese people including those who would become Muslim and the majority who would remain Christian, spoke a dialect of Aramaic.Syriac (Christian Aramaic) still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church.The members of the Maronite Church are a part of the Syriac people; though they have, over time, developed a distinctive Maronite character, this has not obscured their Antiochene and Syriac origin. ~

Decisions.. Decisions.

The most exciting piece of this - I get to keep worshipping in a way I connect with, learn a few new customs, and fuse the middle eastern atmosphere that is permeating my home (and life) - possibly learn more arabic (which I am desperately trying to do, so that I can converse with my in-laws) and find a new spiritual home.

Sooooooo many decisions. Luckily - there is not a "conversion" process - to quote Chorbishop Richard Saad - "We are Catholic, your obligation will be fulfilled.You are welcomed to worship here anytime."

He even went on to say, "You could come Saturday for a tour, we are cooking all that morning for our festival. "Come on down" I would be happy to give you a booklet about us."

Cooking for the Lebanese Food Festival? Join in the kitchen? Get a new book?

Where do I sign up?????!!!!!!! :-)


Anonymous said...

You have no idea how jealous I am of you religious folk. Wherever you go, you have a ready-made, instant, welcoming community to attach yourself to.

Agnostics don't really congregate.

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, how wonderful that you've been so welcomed!!! There are so many times in life where we feel as though we just don't quite fit in or belong, and yet here are these churches just waiting for you ... :)

Miel Abeille said...

Nicole, you live the richest life of anyone I've ever (virtually or IRL) met!

The church sounds amazing! Have a great time! Can't wait to hear how it turned out!

Nicole said...

Thanks everyone! - @Cassandra - come to the other side. ;-)

Robin said...

I haven't been doing much blog reading and am trying to catch up. This was a wonderful start with you. How awesome. What a wonderful blend, and yet nothing really changes for you in terms of your religion. You just get to learn a little bit more. It doesn't require that you change your FAITH at all. It sounds wonderful.


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