I can imagine what the title of this post is doing to some of you – what am I thinking of, contaminating the Byzantine Church with flimsily-dressed June Taylor-wannabes?
We, the checs and I and ByzCat and her family, just returned from and enormously fruitful Pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mt. St. Macrina in Uniontown, PA. On Sunday afternoon we had the great blessing to attend a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy (equivalent to a Pontifical High Mass in the Latin Church) at the Mother of God Shrine. Concelebrated by an Archbishop, three Bishops, and twelve priests/archpriests/monsignors, it included two deacons, four acolytes and close to thirty priests seated in choir in the front rows.
As most of you dear readers already know, there is no “sign of peace” among the people in the pews at Divine Liturgy – but the celebrants exchange the kiss of peace within the Sanctuary. At this Divine Liturgy, as at several others over the course of the weekend, the celebrants and ministers passed the kiss of peace, but it was in no way comparable to the disorganized jumble that takes place in many NO parishes. It was quite balletic. The Archbishop exchanged the kiss with the bishops to his immediate right and left, then took a step backward to allow those bishops to move around to the south of the altar; the concelebrating priests then approached the Archbishop and exchanged the kiss of peace with him, with each other, and moved around the altar, all at a very measured and orderly pace, until everyone in the sanctuary had been a part of the ritual. It was indescribably beautiful.
Words don’t really do it a great deal of justice, and it’s really something that must be experienced to be understood (although I can think of a few people who wouldn’t understand it, or think it was beautiful, even if they did experience it, unfortunately).
The checs are all thoroughly enthused about next year’s pilgrimage – already planning what they want to be sure not to miss! The checs had their first experience going to Confession outdoors, we all went to our first Parastas Service, and I slept better than I have in months. ByzCat would comment each morning on how some particular noise kept her awake, or awakened one of her checs, and I would just look at her blearily over my coffee mug and shrug in total ignorance.
I had a little banner on the radio antenna of my car this year, but I am already planning a bigger and better one for next year that will be mounted on an actual pole and stick in the ground, complete with streamers added from year to year as we accumulate pilgrimages.
I highly recommend going – I can’t think of a better way to spend Labor Day weekend than in Uniontown!