Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visiting a local Chaldean Catholic Church, and thoughts on their Divine Liturgy

I've been trying to make it around to some parishes near my home with Call to Holiness Conference flyers.  Lower prices are in effect through August 15th and I'm trying to get the word out.  There is a youth conference attached to it, and Chaldean Catholic priest, Fr. Anthony Kathawa, is MC'ing that.  He was quite popular with the young people at the last Call to Holiness Conference.  

As I walked in, the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Warren was about to get underway at 10:00.  I ran up to Fr. Fadi Philip and asked him for permission to put out the flyers, which he granted.  Having already satisfied my Sunday obligation, I almost left, but decided to stay for the Divine Liturgy.  I had been to their Thursday evening Divine Liturgy a few times, which follows a period of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament starting at 5:00 p.m.  However, I had never witnessed it on Sunday.  More on the Liturgy in a moment. 

Our Lady of Perpetual Help was established in 2013 when the Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit bought the St. Sylvester site in Warren.  It closed last year and it's members merged with those of the former St. Edmund's, under the new name, St. Faustina.  Given how some shuttered Catholic parishes in the U.S. have ended up vandalized, or sold off to non-Catholic christians, or even non-Christian or secular groups, I was very glad to see the church remain in Catholic hands. They had been renting the parish for some time before that, as a mission.  I got somewhat attached to them the way fellow blogger, Terry Nelson got attached to the Ethiopian Catholics near his home.  I agree with him - we could use to learn so much from those in other rites. Here in southeast Michigan, there are no shortage of other rites to visit.  

Having Chaldean Catholics so close, and having prayed with them in the Divine Liturgy, is a constant reminder of the pain and suffering our Catholic brethren have endured through persecution.  I look around at the faces of these people and wonder what they gone through, what they have witnessed, the concerns they have for family and friends back home.  My heart breaks as I consider what has happened now in Mosul.  Yet, I saw no signs of bitterness or anger or despair.  I saw people coming to worship God and lay their fears and concerns on the altar. 

Each time I have stopped in at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I have felt a warm welcome, not only by a friendly glance, but by the fact that someone will come up to me in the vestibule to chat.  The very first time I went there, I must have looked like a deer in headlights.  I had gotten out of work late and was very tired - too tired to go to Assumption Grotto for the 7:00 p.m. Mass and Holy Hour that followed.  I noticed cars in the parking lot as I drove by the old St. Sylvester site and realized a Divine Liturgy was probably going to happen.  I thought: Why not?  A woman, seeing it was my first time, introduced me to the priest, Fr. Fadi.  He was very encouraging, and the woman said she would sit with me in the back and explain what was happening as it went along.  It was nice to have such a guide.  Fr. Fadi gave me Communion in english.  

Some thoughts on the Divine Liturgy

This first part of the Divine Liturgy here was in Arabic, and much of what we would call the canon was done in Aramaic. Hearing the words of consecration in the language used by Jesus is a rather profound feeling.  

There is nothing casual about this Liturgy.  The chanting makes it all the more solemn, as do the gestures, like the bells ringing each time the Persons of the Trinity were mentioned, and people crossing themselves.  I could have listened to the chant all day long, even though I could understand none of it.  I was glad to see they had booklets in the pews with some English. I was able to follow along. My only regret is not knowing what Fr. Fadi was saying in his homily. 

The Divine Liturgy is structured different from the Roman rite, but certain parts are still recognizable.  This appeared to be reformed in some ways, but not knowing the history of the rite, I cannot be certain.  In contrast to the Roman rite, some things are arranged in different places, and there are some prayers that, quite frankly, would be beneficial.  Similar prayers attracted me to the extraordinary form, and I didn't think there were others that would enable me to enter worship of God more deeply, but I found some today.  There is no doubt that whether it is the ordinary form of the Roman rite, or the extraordinary form, or one of many variations of Divine Liturgy in the Catholic Church - it is a valid form of worship.   But, I find certain prayers in the EF Mass and, in the Divine Liturgy, more helpful to me.  

The way the sign of peace was handled was nothing at all like what we see in the ordinary form Mass.  I liked that it was placed after the Creed and before the Sanctus.  The priest touches the altar, then gives a sign of peace to a man I believed was a deacon. His hands appeared to be clasped and the priest appeared to clasp over them. This was done in a reserved manner.  He, then, passed it along the same way to about five or six young servers who then went to the pews behind them making the same hand gesture to those in the front pews. It worked it's way from the front to the back like a wave, everyone waiting quietly to receive it from someone in front of them. Through it all, one could hear a pin drop, such was the silence and reverence.  But, this needs to be taken into context of what was prayed directly before (source):


Peace be with you.


And also with you.


Let us give peace to one another in the love of Christ; Let us praise and beseech the Lord in purity and penance. Reverently look at what is taking place before you, the consecration of these sacred mysteries. The priest has approached to pray that through his mediation, peace may increase among you. Cast down your pride and lift up your thoughts to heaven and attentively pray in your hearts. (Sit)


Be attentive and pray that peace be with us.


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever.




Lift up your hearts….

The prayer of the servers that I've emboldened includes a gentle admonishment to be attentive in our hearts. Consider that in a mere moment, at the hands of the priest, ordinary bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.   That prayer sets the proper mood for what is about to happen on the Altar. 

This part follows the Consecration during the Invocation of the Holy Spirit:

PriestMay Your Holy Spirit come, our Lord, and rest upon this our sacrifice. May it be blessed and hallowed to become for us the forgiveness of our offenses, the hope of our resurrection from the dead, and the new life in the kingdom of Heaven with all who have pleased You. For Your wondrous graces toward us, we praise and glorify You in Your church, redeemed by the precious blood of Your Son Jesus Christ.
ServerRemain silent and with respect. Pray that peace be with us.
PriestWith pride and delight let us give praise, honor, glory, and worship to Your life giving and holy name now and forever.
PeopleAmen. In Your goodness O Lord, have mercy on us. In the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out our offenses. For we acknowledge our offenses and our sins are always before us. Let us hear the sound of joy and gladness. Turn away Your face from our sins and blot out all our guilt. A clear heart create for us O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within us. Cast us not from Your presence, and Your Holy Spirit take not from us. Give us back the joy of Your salvation and a willing spirit sustain in us.

Once again, a server admonishes the people to "remain silent and with respect."  I can tell you, it already was silent and respectful, but this, to me, is a good reminder that Jesus is on the Altar. Note again, how the prayer of the people acknowledges sinfulness and seeks the help of God.  We don't have too much of this kind of thing in the ordinary form of the Mass, as we do in the extraordinary form.  But, I think there is even more in this Divine Liturgy.  I like it. 

Our Lady of Perpetual Help getting not a few petitions after Divine Liturgy

Further Reading

Take a look at the growth of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the activities there.

Here is an article from the Michigan Catholic, also from last year.

To follow what is happening with Chaldean Catholics, follow the Chaldean News site online. Note the social media options for following.

Comments are closed. 

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.