Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Two neat stories from the Christian East

Those who know me, know of my love for the Christian East. When in SC, I used to go occasionally to St. Igantios Melkite parish in Augusta. [And I am so blessed to have met with and conversed with the late Fr. Daniel Munn.] While in Washington DC,  Holy Transfiguration Melkite was an oasis of liturgical sanity during my novitiate with the CSPs. At the Mount, I was blessed to sing in the schola for the annual Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite, for my entire seminary career. I've attended an amazing Palm Sunday service at St. George's Syrian Orthodox Malankara parish in Bombay, and spent one Christmas with the (Knanaya) Syro-Malabar Archbishop of Kottayam, Kerala, and attended Midnight Qurbana in his Cathedral.

Two small articles that just came across my radar makes me reminisce of my experience of the Eastern Church. As a parish priest, it is impossible for me to go anywhere for Divine Liturgy on a Sunday, of course, since I have my commitments to my own people. They also involve places in the world close to my heart: Georgia, and India!

The latest issue of the Georgia Bulletin has a report on the ordination of a new Deacon at the Melkite parish in Atlanta, St. John Chrysostom (house in a unique building). Deacon Elie Hanna was ordained on August 10 in the parish. The description of the liturgy is lovely. This little bit made me chuckle.
"Melkite worship uses the Byzantine rite, where the liturgy is chanted, Communion is always given under the species of both bread and wine, and the celebrant traditionally faces east." 
 This is also the tradition of the Roman Rite, at least the chanting and the orientation. Would that we would remember it! It seems to harm no one in the East at all. In contrast, our own recent history is a sad tale of the deleterious effects of the abandonment of our own traditions. This is simply an aside, however. Read the whole piece

(Photo from the Georgia Bulletin)
The magazine ONE, a publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, always has interesting pieces on the lives of Christians from the far corners of the globe. The Summer 2014 issue is no exception. This piece ("Caste Aside") focuses on the lives of Dalit Catholics in a remote corner of Uttar Pradesh, who are served by a Syro-Malabar priest. India is perhaps one of the few places where  Eastern Catholic Churches are involved in huge missionary enterprises. For years, the Eastern Churches complained that new mission territory was only given to Roman Churches. Eventually the Bishops of India managed to agree. The Syro-Malabar church is now a missionary powerhouse. I was aware that in m y parents' home state of Gujarat, the region of Saurashtra has a missionary Syro-Malabar Eparchy, and the Holy Qurbana, in keeping with Eastern custom, is celebrated in the vernacular. The same is true of this part of eastern Uttar Pradesh, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Bijnor. The article is entirely worth a read -- a tale of deep faith and courage, as these poor Dalit villagers have found dignity, self-worth, healing and meaning in Prabhu Jisu. 
His entire family was baptized more than three years ago after prayers, he says, healed his elder brother. 
“We had spent lot of money for his treatment. But it was Prabhu Jisu (Lord Jesus) who cured my brother,” Mr. Masih says, adding that he had a vision of Jesus in a dream asking him to spend less time at work and more time in prayer. 
“We pray in the morning and evening,” he adds with a sonorous voice that can often be heard adding its color and vigor to the satsang.
If you are able, send a small donation to CNEWA for the amazing work that they support! (Also read the author's back story on how they ended up in this remote corner of Uttar Pradesh. The beautiful photos can be accessed in this format of the story.) 

(Photo from CNEWA ONE magazine)
These stories are a beautiful reminder of the catholicity of Christ's Church, and her mission to evangelize, here at home, and across the globe! 

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