Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Holy Land Pilgrimage Day 52

Armenian Patriarchate Church
Armenian Catholic Patriarchate Church
Notice the Nativity Scene on the Right; Friday was Christmas

You might say today was an Armenian day for me. We were scheduled to go as a group to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate church for Divine Liturgy this morning. This is in keeping with what seems to be the idea of attending an Eastern Rite liturgy each Sunday. However, the great rainstorm had not really subsided by this morning, so the trip to the Armenian church was made optional. I decided to take the option and go. After all, I had my rain suit and was not going to let a little water get in my way (I’m an Eagle Scout, so this as it should be). Well, it turns out that I was the only one so adventurous in our group. In fact, I turned out to be more adventurous than the entire Armenian congregation. When I arrived just in time for the start of liturgy I was greeted by what turned out to be the organist and an empty church. At 9:00 sharp he started playing and chanting and out came the priest and a Franciscan to be his altar server. Eventually a couple other people showed up, but it was still a very intimate affair. This liturgy was of course the Armenian Rite and not the Byzantine liturgy of St. John Chrysostom I’ve gotten used to at the Greek churches. Still, I could follow along and participate mentally anyway. I still don’t get tired of the chanting. I talked to the organist and priest after Mass and found out the priest is 92 years old and the organist has played there every Sunday for the last 46 years. I figure that the Armenian Catholic population here is probably pretty small, but hopefully there are more of them at liturgy on a normal Sunday. I figure that it was raining today and it was Christmas on Friday, so maybe they felt like they had done their duty.

Armenian Orthodox Cathedral
Armenian Orthodox Cathedral

This evening I carried on the Armenian theme of the day by going to the Armenian Orthodox Cathedral for Vespers. This was an optional activity for us and only four of us went, but it was worth it. All the priests plus what would appear to be seminarians and some older school children came out in wonderful vestments and procession and chanted evening prayer. There was a lot of incensing and candles. I’m not familiar enough with the vestments to know, but I believe the head cleric there must have been the bishop. It was a nice end to the afternoon. Unfortunately, one thing that hasn’t really ended is the rain. It’s not raining as hard, but it’s still wet and windy. A good number of people are going out tonight to watch the Bears game at 10:00. I’m not sure if I have that much adventurousness left in me. Once again returning to Rudolph, in the words of Yukon Cornelius, “’Tis a night not fit for man nor beast.” Maybe I’ll just wait for the Superbowl.

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