By Mary Sayad
Byzantine Rite may celebrate Saints' feasts days during different liturgical seasons and although the celebration of the Liturgy may seem different, the consecration of the Holy Eucharist is identical in both Rites. In addition, the Byzantine Rite is very ethnic and the language of the various cultures is used during their Liturgy. For example, the Melkite Byzantine Church is the Middle Eastern culture where the Arabic language is used. In the Russian Byzantine Church, the Russian language is used during Liturgy, and the Ruthenian Byzantine Church is essentially a Slovic-Ukranian culture. In terms of ethnicity, Ruthenian Catholics prefer to be called Rusyns. The traditional Rusyn homeland extends beyond Transcarpathia into northeast Slovakia and the Lemko region of extreme southeast Poland.
Colorful and expertly painted icons of Jesus and Mary, the Apostles, saints and angels line the various Byzantine churches and domes. You may often see these icons skillfully finished in mosaic art.
Although unplanned, I have given you a brief description of "another" Catholic Rite. It would be an unforgettable spiritual experience for you to visit their churches and attend one of their Liturgies.
That being said, I wish to return to the 3rd lesson of the Psalms. I am including parts of Psalms 31 and 33.
Psalm 31 - Prayer in Distress and Thanksgiving for Escape
In you, Lord, I take refuge;
Let me never be put to shame
In your justice deliver me;
Incline your ear to me
Make haste to rescue me!
Be my rock of refuge,
A stronghold to save me.
You are my rock and my fortress;
For your name's sake lead and guide me.
Free from the net they have set for me,
For you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit,
You will redeem me Lord, faithful God.
You hate those who serve worthless idols,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your love,
Once you have seen my misery,
Observed my distress.
In the above, "Into your hands I commend my spirit" , Luke 23, 46, Jesus breathes his last with this verse. This verse is used as an antiphon in the Divine Office at Compline, the last prayer of the day. Anthiphon are the words or verse prefixed to and following psalms or canticles in liturgical prayer. In the Mass the verses suggested for singing at the entrance, preparation of the gifts, and communion are called antiphons. When the psalms or canticles are sung or recited by two sides of the choir, each chanting alternately, they are said to be sung antiphonally. Antiphons are meant to be sung; reciting them is a substitute.
Psalm 33 -Praise of God's Power and Providence
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all who dwell in the world show reverence
For he spoke, and it came to be,
Commanded, and it stood in place.
The Lord foils the plan of nations,
Frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the Lord stands forever,
Wise designs through all generations.
Happy the nation whose God is the Lord
The people chosen as his very own.
From heaven the Lord looks down
And observes the whole human race,
Surveying from the royal throne
All who dwell on earth.
The one who fashioned the hearts of them all
Knows all their works.
A sobering thought is knowing that God is always trying to reach us. He has created a most wondrous world filled with the stars, the moon, the sun, grass, an assortment of trees and an array of colorful flowers, animals, fish and of course humans. He gave us dominion over all the animals and loves us beyond our limited imaginations. Our world was perfect until the first sin, known as original sin was committed.
We should be grateful and filled with joy and peace knowing the goodness of the Lord. Yet, there are individuals and various groups that consistently undermine basic human morals and especially religious beliefs. Their arrogance belies their dependence upon a Creator that is loving. These people seek pleasure but they never find joy. They deny God's existence and their philosophy assaults human dignity via abortion, euthanasia and other unspeakable sins. Political correctness has surreptitiously replaced God's Commandments in our government and sectors in our society. Even Satan believes in God.
God did not create us as mere puppets. He created us body, mind and spirit and gave us freedom; freedom to choose and love Him.
Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Pray for the conversion of sinners and non-believers. What can be more appropriate than praying for the conversion of sinners and unbelievers during this penitential season.
Your companion in prayer,