Visited Three Hierarchs Byzantine Melkite Catholic Mission Here in San Antonio
Another Sunday, another trip to a local church for Sunday Mass while down here in San Antonio for Spanish Immersion at the Mexican American Catholic College (or should I say Divine Liturgy for the one we checked out last Sunday). This time me and the other Nashville guys went to Three Hierarchs Byzantine Melkite Catholic Mission. This church is an Eastern Catholic mission church serving mainly Melkite and other Eastern Catholics in the San Antonio area under the Melkite Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Newton. The mission is situated in what was an Roman/Latin rite Catholic parish (St. Stephen’s) some time back. The Divine Liturgy was absolutely awesome. The beauty, tradition, the chanting, the copious incense, the many signs of the cross and bows, the vibrant energetic flow of the liturgy, the reverence, the “Easterness”, all of it, was such a wonder time worshiping the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with my Melkite brothers and sisters. The pastor, the resident subdeacon-seminarian, and the people of the mission were all so welcoming and eager to show us around. They were also eager to make sure we visiting Latins had all we need to be able to follow along. After the liturgy we even got a tour of the altar and everything else behind the iconostasis from the subdeacon.
For me at least this was not my first Divine Liturgy. As I have wrote before here on my website, the president-rector of my seminary St. Meinrad is bi-ritual, and since I came to seminary in 2018 I have had the good fortune of being able to attend and serve multiple Divine Liturgies each semester I’ve been there so far. Before I get to the pictures I took let me say again what I said in a previous post concerning the Eastern Catholic churches for the rest of you Latins out there. Know your rites! The one Catholic Church is both East and West, Eastern Catholic AND Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church breathes with two lungs as St. JP2 put it – Western (Latin/Roman) Rite Catholics and Eastern Rite Catholics of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the Pope each with their own beautiful liturgies, traditions, devotions, patrimonies, and histories! These Eastern Churches are in total communion with the Pope and so they are truly Catholic, just as much Catholic as the Roman Catholic Church. They are not Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox, both of whom are not in communion with the Pope. Don’t live in a cloudy bubble regarding this and never know anything about the other Churches within the One Church. Most of my audience is no doubt Latin Rite Catholics (Westside all day!), so I want to greatly encourage you fellow Latins to take the chance to learn a little more about the other equally venerable and equally Catholic parts of the Church on the Eastside. Check out Wikipedia’s article on the Eastern Catholic Churches as a good basic source to start with. You can go church with ANY Eastern Catholic parish on Sunday and still fulfill that Sunday Obligation. And you wouldn’t have also to go to Mass at your usual Roman Catholic parish a second time for that Sunday, either. You have done your duty. And you can receive the Eucharist at ANY Eastern Catholic parish as well, no problem, just abide by the Eastern custom/way of receiving Jesus of that Church. Ask the pastor/another member of that parish there for how to receive in that Eastern church.
Lastly, in a world where there are a lot of sub-standard examples of Mass liturgically and a lack of the Ordinary Form done one right with the fullness of Roman Rite heritage and tradition, it was really refreshing to come to worship and be a part of a Divine Liturgy done right and in accordance with its own traditions and heritage. Whenever I see Eastern liturgy done right with its own traditions intact and on full display it makes me proud of my own Latin Rite traditions and heritage and patrimony and makes me want to see mass done with excellence and informed by our own venerable Roman’s traditions, not the bland stuff we see too often today.
But anyway – here are the pictures!
Now for individual shots of the icons.
And I wanted to get a great shot of the detail on the iconostasis.
The stained glass windows were still in the Western style, most likely a hold over from when the church was a Roman Catholic parish. To see East and West sharing the spotlight in harmony in the church-structure is a beautiful thing – in itself it is a great icon of the one Catholic Church that Christ established and sent to gather all nations into her fold.
Lastly, some actions shots of the Divine Liturgy itself. This was when the holy gifts were processed around the pews and brought back into the sanctuary.
Big thanks to Three Hierarchs Byzantine Melkite Catholic Mission in San Antonio for welcoming us and for such a beautiful liturgy!