Emmanuelle del Castillo, one of our journalism practicum students this semester, has submitted this short story on a recent event of the MAS Ecumenical Committee.
The Maronite Rite
by Emmanuelle del Castillo
On March 18, 2012, a group of seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary attended an almost crowded Mass in the Maronite rite at Saint Sharbel's Church in Portland. The priest that celebrated the Mass was Abouna (Arabic for "Our Father") Jonathan Decker. Not to be confused with the Marianists, which is a religious group, as some seminarians did at first, the Maronite rite is one of seven rites that are currently present in the Catholic Church.
This trip was planned by the Ecumenical Committee of Mount Angel Seminary. Ecumenism is involvement with Christians either in communion with Rome or not. Seminarians interested in the Maronite Mass were to sign-up about a month in advance. A total of seven seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary had attended the Mass, but only three were not familiar with the Maronite rite.
Though obviously an unfamiliar Mass setting for some, it was a fruitful event for the seminarians. This Maronite Mass is said in three different languages; most of the hymns were in Lebanese and certain parts of the Mass were said in English and Aramaic (Syriac).
Another difference of the liturgy of the Maronite rite Mass is the sign of peace. In the Roman rite, the sign of peace is given to one another by the form of shaking hands or even going for a hug, while in the Maronite rite, the sign of peace begins at the altar with the Abouna passing the sign of peace on to the altar servers who then pass it on to the congregation.
Romple Emwalu of the Diocese of Honolulu said in an interview that he was lost most of the time and wished to be more focused on the Mass. Romple also felt that he had lost the tendency to talk during the Mass as it is more participatory than the Latin rite.
The Maronite Church originates in the Fertile Crescent in the East which is known today as the countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. The spiritual founder of the Maronite Church is Saint Maron (also known as Maroun or Maro). Saint Sharbel is a Maronite monk from Lebanon.