Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Holy Land Pilgrimage Day 45

Iconostasis
The Iconostasis and Sanctuary, Greek Patriarchate Church

Today we attended liturgy at the Greek Catholic Patriarchate church. This was our third trip to a Melkite church, so I’m getting accustomed to the Divine Liturgy (their term for the Mass) as they celebrate it. They celebrate what is known as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The liturgy was again in Arabic and when we got there, all the books in English were taken. So, I followed along in French this time. I actually really enjoy the Eastern liturgy. If you want to understand what the role of music is supposed to be in the liturgy, attending an Eastern rite celebration would be a good introduction. In the West we have basically reduced music to the role of filling gaps between other parts of the Mass or as some kind of break for a song at various points in the liturgy. For the Eastern rites there is no singing “at” liturgy, rather, the liturgy itself is sung. There is a constant singing back and forth between the priest, deacon, and assembly. If you read the documents of the church on sacred music, this is supposed to be how it is for the Latin rite as well, but we kind of lost this in the last few decades. The other thing I enjoyed about the liturgy today was the church building itself. Everywhere I looked there were pictures of saints and scenes depicting the heavenly Jerusalem. It really helped me to feel like I was in heaven for that hour. That is after all what the Mass is supposed to be; for one hour, it’s heaven on earth…not a bad place to be.

Dome
The Dome, Showing Angels in Procession as in the Liturgy 

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