The Liturgy of Heaven

By | June 22, 2010

It was like being at Mass, but also like visiting an entirely different church.

The Byzantine rite’s Divine Liturgy (what we in the Latin rite call the Mass) held June 13 at St. Pius X Church in Appleton was a reminder of just how broad what some have called “the tent of the church” is spread.

The 90-minute liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Dennis Hrubiak, Chancellor of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma (Ohio).  The form of the Mass used dates back 1,500 years and is credited to St. John Chrysostom of Constantinople.

The familiar parts of the Mass – introduction, Gospel, homily, petitions and, of course, the Eucharist – were all there for the 120-150 people who attended. (There was even a collection.)

However, things were also very different.  Everything, except the announcements, was chanted – even scripture readings.  There were no musical instruments or familiar hymns. There were clouds of incense – meant to remind us that we were participating in the liturgy of heaven.  Praises to God the Trinity were very numerous.

And receiving Communion was quite different.  The bread used is leavened, a baked loaf. The wine is poured over it to soak in and everyone is fed a piece of this consecrated species from a gold spoon by the priest.

Yes, it counts as “going to Mass” for Latin rite Catholics as well as Byzantine Catholics.  The Byzantine rite is in union with Rome, unlike the Orthodox churches.

The hope is to have a regular Byzantine rite liturgy on a regular basis in Appleton. 

If you get a chance to attend one in the near future, try to do so.  It will broaden your horizons.

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