I recently moved and was delighted to find that there is a Catholic Church a couple hundred meters from my apartment, which means sleeping in on Sundays and still getting to mass on time, especially since there’s an 11:30am mass. This Sunday was the first Sunday since we’ve moved that we were able to attend mass, and I was really excited.
As we walked passed the church yesterday afternoon on our way home from the grocery store, my boyfriend noticed something about the sign saying “Maronite,” but we had already walked passed before I was able to see what he was referring to. I had never heard that word (and I’m also not the most well-read Catholic), so I didn’t think much of it, and he’s French so I thought he was just asking me what that meant.
With about 7 minutes to go before mass begun this morning, we walked quickly to church, and as we walked towards the doors, I noticed what he was referring to. The sign on the church had a schedule for “Roman Catholic Mass” and “Maronite Catholic Mass.” As we made our way to the pews something felt off to me, though I wasn’t quite sure yet. I quickly put all the pieces together though, and realized we were in a Lebanese church. With 3 minutes to go before mass was to begin, I quickly googled Maronite to make sure we weren’t about to make complete fools of ourselves. From what I gathered, 1) the Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Sees of Rome; and 2) we were still allowed to take communion here.
Well, alright then, I’m always open for new experiences. It was a lovely church after all. When they started speaking Arabic (or according to Wikipedia, it may have been Syriac) I looked up at the Frenchman and he just looked at me like, “Really? This would happen to you.” I laughed. Every now and then throughout mass he’d turn to me and give me the same look and laugh, but I think I fell even more in love, because he just went along with it. I don’t know many people who would’ve stayed there with me. Sure, 80% of it was conducted in Arabic or Syriac (I’m not really sure), and there was a lot more sitting and standing, and some of the mass was done differently, but a lot of it was the same as well, even some of the songs.
As I was taking it all in, I couldn’t help but smile and think what a lovely little piece of divine intervention. With everything going on in the Middle East, it was a good reminder that no matter where we come from, we’re not so different. And for where we are different, we must accept those differences if we want to be able live harmoniously together in this world, because we’re not all going to sing the same note or even the same tune all the time; but that doesn’t mean we can’t sing together.
I just think, how beautiful is it that different people from different walks of life can come together under the same roof with the same purpose, same faith, and same noble desires. I’ve attended mass in many different countries and in many different languages. No matter what minor differences there are, in the end we’re all there for our love of God, Jesus Christ, Mary, our families, communities, and faith that what we learn here we can share with others in hopes to build a more harmonious world for our children to live in. When I look around the Church to see who else is here, I can’t help but smile and think, these are my neighbours.
Love thy neighbour and be excellent to one another.
Next week, I’ll try to wake up early and attend the Roman Catholic mass at 9am, but at least now when I’m looking for someone to go belly-dancing with, I know where to look!
BIG LOVE & HUGS