Oct. 21-27, 2004
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
Eastern Rite Liturgy Celebrated at St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church
UTICA –– Father Julien Eliane, pastor of St. Basil’s Melkite Church, and Deacon Daniel Klockowski of St. Basil’s celebrated the liturgy at St. Joseph/St. Patrick Church on Oct. 12. The pair was pleased to be invited by Father Richard Dellos, pastor of St. Joseph/St. Patrick’s, to share their Byzantine Catholic tradition with members of the Roman Catholic rite. In the majestic setting of the 163-year-old St. Joseph/St. Patrick’s Church, more than 100 people joined in singing most of the liturgy, often bowing and making the sign of the cross as a sign of their faith and the receiving and accepting of God’s blessings.
In the Eastern tradition, the sign of the cross is made by joining the thumb and the first two fingers of the right hand and making the sign of the cross from the forehead to the breast, to the right shoulder and the left shoulder. The three fingers are held together as an expression of faith in the Trinity, while the two remaining fingers remind Catholics of the two natures of Christ –– both God and Man. This way of blessing was in use in the West until the Middle Ages. In the Byzantine liturgy, the Sign of the Cross is frequently used, particularly when the three persons of the Holy Trinity are mentioned. Incense is also used often throughout the liturgy as a sign of reverence for the sacredness of place and the people who are made in God’s image and likeness.
During his homily, Father Julien explained the history and culture of the Byzantine rite and spoke of the importance of bridging east and west. “Every true Catholic Church embraces east and west and west and east,” said Father Julien. “Faith came from the east and spread to the west,” he said, referring to early days of Christianity. The Melkites were originally part of the Apostolic Church of Antioch, founded in that city by St. Peter himself, before he journeyed to Rome. “It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time,” (Acts 11:19). The Council of Nicaea held in 325 decreed that Antioch should hold the third rank among the churches, preceded only by Rome and Alexandria.
Father Julien went on to explain that Melkites are Catholics in full union with the pope and by virtue of their communion with the Church of Rome; they are a Catholic Church who share the same beliefs, faith and sacraments of all Catholic peoples. “The church is neither Greek or Latin or Slavic,” said Father Julien. “It is Catholic.” Father Julien said that in documents dated May 25, 1995, Pope John Paul II called for both sides [east and west] to heed the call of Christ for union and become the universal church of Christ. “Two brothers are not alike but come from the same mother and father,” said Father Julien. “We are not alike but come from the same church.” Father Dellos invited Father Julien and Deacon Klockowski to his parish to educate his parishioners about the universal Catholic Church. “The eastern church is the origin of Catholicism,” said Father Dellos. “We wanted to give a universal perspective to every parishioner. It served as adult education and a very meaningful worship.” Father Dellos said that his parishioners were very honored to have clergy from the neighboring Eastern-rite church visit St. Joseph/St, Patrick’s. “Whenever they see the western church promulgate about the east, they are delighted because they know it’s kind of a secret to many western Catholics. The pope talks about the two lungs of the church. But many western Catholics don’t know about eastern rite,” he said.
Deacon Klockowski felt that the Eastern rite liturgy was well received by the congregation at St. Joseph/St. Patrick. “I think they were very happy to see another path of the liturgy. It opened their vision as far as the Catholic Church not just being a Roman Catholic rite.” Deacon Klockowski said that as a result of attending the Eastern rite liturgy at St. Joseph/St. Patrick’s, people expressed their interest in attending additional liturgies at St. Basil’s Church. “There are so many people who don’t realize that Melkites are part of the Catholic Church,” he said. “It’s up to the priests to spread the word, to educate the people. In the Nicene creed, it says, ‘We believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.’ The Catholic Church is universal,” he said.