Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Lady of the Cedars

When we came back to NH 4 years ago now, we needed to find a home parish. We went to several of the local parishes, but for a long time didn't find anywhere we felt comfortable. We saw this as an important decision because this church would likely be the place where our children grow up. Matthew had been interested in visiting a Byzantine rite Catholic church and so we found Our Lady of the Cedars Melkite Catholic Church in Manchester. (It was founded by the Lebanese community in Manchester back in the 1950's.)

From the first time we attended liturgy there, I knew that was where I wanted to be. The liturgy is beautiful, the music almost haunting, and the community so warm and welcoming. One thing that struck me was how inclusive it was of children. At the time, we had Cecilia who was not yet 2 and Thomas who was just 3 months... Staying quiet for 1 hr 15 mins was, well, impossible. This community understood that, had lots of children, and didn't seem to mind all the noise kids make. During the Gospel reading, the children are all called to stand around the altar and listen to God's word. It's absolutely stunning to see so many children gathering as an important part of the church community.

Needless to say, we are still happily attending and I LOVE it there! The kids seem to love it too. There are so many visual and tactile aspects to the eastern liturgy that I think it really appeals to children. When Thomas was younger and couldn't sit through the entire liturgy, Matthew would take him around to look at the icons on the wall or light candles. There are several processions in which the clergy all process from the altar around the pews and back up to the altar. There is incense and recognizable music (virtually the same each week--no hymns).

Here are a couple pictures from liturgy this past week (Fr. Tom asked Matthew to take pictures during this special liturgy--He's our official church photographer). It was our big church Mahrajan (Arabic for festival) and we had 5 priests concelebrating, including Archbishop Cyril. (The Melkite church has its own diocese, separate from the Roman dioceses, but they are still all under the Pope.)

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

Very beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

We have an Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite parish here. I have always wanted to visit, but ours schedule has never allowed for it. Now we live pretty far away, too.