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Friday, August 15, 2008

A Blessed Dormition to you All

I usually don't get to attend Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Church too often. Normally my work schedule conflicts with the Mass times there during the week - and Sunday I go to my regular parish. But today I was able to make it. This photo is taken of the royal doors just after Mass.

There is a beautiful custom of blessing flowers and plants that people have brought to church after the Mass. There is a table set up in church at the front to the right of the iconostasis. My own flowers were the ones on the far right corner.

The priest, in this case Fr. Robert Pipta, also anoints foreheads with oil after Mass - a bit of olive oil and rose admixture. Couldn't quite get the shot, as I'd waited until the end, but Father "paints" the sign of the cross on you after dipping the small brush in the oil. Who says blue isn't a liturgical color? :-D

The also had Matins before the Mass, which I didn't attend, but I caught the tail end. The video is taken after Mass. And I put it here just so you can see the full beauty of this small church.

There are many more "entrances" and processions and blessing during the liturgy than in the Latin Rite. And the Eastern rites have it all over their western cousins regards the use of incense. There's a lot of chanting by the people as well. They used the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom today. I particularly enjoyed this bit:

"Priest: It is proper and just to sing hymns to You, to bless You, to praise You, to thank You, to worship You in every place of Your kingdom; for You are God ineffable inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing, yet ever the same, You, and Your only-begotten Son, and Your Holy Spirit; You brought us forth from non-existence into being, and raised us up again when we had fallen, and left nothing undone, until You brought us to heaven and bestowed upon us Your future kingdom. For all this we give thanks to You, and to Your only-begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit, for all that we know and that we do not know, the manifest and the hidden benefits bestowed upon us. We thank You also for this ministry, which You have willed to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of archangels, myriads of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft on their wings."

In some places the priest says the prayer quietly - not so this parish. Not one person reeled away saying "what does 'ineffable' mean?" :-D [Mahony should catch a clue, huh?] And I've always loved the references to that myriad of angels, six winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft of their wings. Probably a tad too "triumphalistic" for the likes of some! Suits me fine. As long as I get to hear it, and the priest doesn't keep it to himself!

Here is a better picture of Fr. Pipta after Mass.

This particular parish also makes many eastern European goodies. The guys will be making up some kielbasa tomorrow. And they usually stock perogies, halupkies, home made bread and butter lambs (in Easter for the latter.) Their parish social hall is beneath the church, and if you go there on a Mon., Tues, Fri, or Sat. between 10-2 you should be able to score some goodies of some kind at a reasonable price. I'd call ahead to the number given on the website to the social hall though to be on the safe side before you go. The parish website is here.

This church is quite centrally located in San Diego, just on the northeastern hill where the 805 crosses the 8 - you can easily see it from the 805 as you head north just after you cross over the 8 - it's the white church with the onion domes. As you go north on the 805, hang a right on Murray Ridge, then the 1st right, and another right and go down to the end of the street...and left into the parking lot. Plenty of parking and a great view of Mission Valley. Sunday Divine Liturgy at 9 a.m. So if you're in the area, and want a break from "Fr. Overly Creative" this is a refreshing break. And you may find a home!


Father John Boyle said...

What beautiful pictures. Thanks.

You say on Father Blake's blog that technically you are of the Byzantine rite. Well, if I were you, I know which church I'd be attending - I bet you don't get any liturgical messing around in this very lovely church. And if you are Eastern rite, then you come under a slightly different Code of Canon Law of course.

gemoftheocean said...

Yeah, but I keep missing the right fast days. ;-D

Dad wasn't Catholic when I was born, mom was raised and baptized Eastern Rite, and even though I was baptized in a Western Rite church, I'm technically eastern rite. When I was growing up we moved around a lot and other than my first 3 years or so, we seldom lived near an Eastern Rite church. (I was glad to be able to pick a confirmation name too! I'd have been gypped out of that one had I been baptized and confirmed in the Eastern rite.)

I love the liturgy overall *except* that ad orientem business! [And I really like serving Mass, personally.] I have been privileged to be invited to read during Lent weekday Masses when I've gone during the week (when I had a different work schedule.) They'd give me the old testament passage (which they weren't chanting at the time) and it was a pleasure to read without a mic and be able to fill that little church. [I have a good church speaking voice, if I do say so myself, and I had a lot of nice compliments.] They have a woman cantor who is very sweet and she must be in her late 60s, early 70s The church just turned 50. I like the eastern liturgy in that the people do get to respond a lot more than the EF - it is a real give and take in simple chant between people and priest.

The liturgy is in English, except for small bits of slavonic on occasion (especially @ Easter time.) This church has a slightly more closed iconostasis than the church that my uncle goes to - very pretty but much more open - so you can see, at my uncle's church, for instance when the priest prepares the bread for the Mass.

The customs are very homey with my mom's side of the family eastern European background. And the very first memories I have of being in church were of my mother's church where she grew up. We lived next door to my grandmother when I was about 1.4-3 years old, and we could walk to Mass on Sunday. I can remember all the stupid coats I couldn't see through, but at least I got the smell of the incense and was able to look at a similarly adorned ceiling.

I think the eastern rite folks still LIVE the church calendar year in a more personal way overall than *present day* Latin Rites. [I think Latin rite folks USED to be that way too.] I can't ever remember NOT having a church calendar in the home and looking forward to saints days coming up, etc.

But when I was 4 we lived in a suburb of Philly, and though there were eastern rite churches there too, they were a little more out of the way, and then when I was almost 8 my dad converted to the faith, and then we moved to other states which didn't have any eastern rite churches within any kind of reasonable distance.

When I was 4-5 my mother would let me go up to the altar rail (latin rite) and kneel at an oblique angle during Mass as long as I was quiet. So I'd kneel during a low Mass and stay very still so I could see as much as I could. So help me, if I could have stood under the priest's armpit I would have. [This was still, of course the LAtin Mass.] I've already told you about my "first" first Communion. Really the "ad orientem" is the biggest stick point for me about the EF.

and hey, a canon said so I can hear it is fabulous. :-D Can't you ad orientem folks just put a tilted mirror over the altar and make me thrilled to bits? :-D

But if a certain pastor eventually retires *me* I'd be sorely tempted.

I had moved so many times in my growing up years with everything changing, when I went to this little parish I'm in right now I fell in love with it because it was something I picked when I was 15 and it's been the one stable thing in my life from teenage years to present day. But a change of pace is always nice.

My parish is right in the heart of the "Old town" area and it's got a definitely mix of socio-economic backgrounds, plus a lot of tourists. There are also a fair amount of single people along with elderly and young families. It suits me in that way. I'd get "lost" in a big parish. For sure not an "our lady of the Cadillacs" kind of place. It's kind of nice going to church with people who've known you for 37 years! [And you pretty much know where all the bodies are buried. I've outlasted a few pastors, and I don't want this one to do me in!]

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