This morning, Sunday morning, I, along with two of my priest friends, attended an Eastern Rite Mass. I hadn’t been to an Eastern Rite Mass since the seminary.
The little Church of San Anastasio on Via Balbuina between the Piazza D’ Espana and the Piazza del Populo is not only the church for Greek speaking community of the Byzantine rite but also serves as the church of the eparchy of the Hungarian Comnmunity in Rome. The bulletin was in Greek, Hungarian and Italian!
The liturgy was beautiful with the eparch processing in after the three processional crosses, icons and all assisting priests had entered the sanctuary. The choir of mostly seminarians and young priests sang in reverent harmony as the solemn Eucharist continued. Soon we were all enveloped in whispy clouds of incense which perfumed the air and lifted our spirits toward the presence of God. “Holy, Holy, Holy,” chanted the deacon as the bishop celebrant bowed profoundly to the altar, now flanked by solemn icons on pedestals.
I must admit I got lost in the ritual at times but the focus on worshiping God in his majesty touched me even though it was all Greek to me (sorry). There are so many ways of being Catholic, so many Catholic expressions of liturgy. Here I was a Latin Rite Catholic sharing with my brothers and sisters in a Catholic Oriental rite. Then, of course, sharing Holy Communion with them, one with them at the altar, one with them in spirit and body.
St. Anastasio’s is close to the generalate of my Community so after the Mass the three of us walked over to the Piazza D’Spagna to share in Sunday dinner with the priests and seminarians of my religious community. The community of fifteen members includes two Brazilians, one German , one Canadian, nine Poles and two Americans. We had a great dinner with these men and also sang Happy Birthday to one of the nuns associated with the generalate (There are three sisters residing there.)
Communion with St. Anastasio Eastern Rite community and then my Congregation’s Sunday Dinner. We three were blessed with two communions with two different communities on the same day. What a Sunday!