by Jay Chin
The Vigil of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross marked the return of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for the 2013-14 academic year at Boston College. With about fifty faithful in attendance, Fr. Michael Moisin of the Romanian Catholic Church presided over the Vigil at St. William’s Chapel on the Brighton Campus. The Antiphons were sung in Romanian and Greek by Rev. Dcn. Michael Connolly, Archdeacon of the Armenian Catholic Church, and the responses were sung in Slavoric by Lyria, a four-man choice from St. Petersburg. Retired priest Rev. John McLaughlin of the Archdiocese of Boston gave the homily. He reminded the faithful that the Cross is a sign of conquering, blessing and a hope which, as the Pope said, we cannot let anyone rob us of. The cantor, Mr. Adrian Rosca, chanted the Psalm verses, and Mr. Todd Velianski chanted the Epistle. Fr. James Morris of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Rev. Dcn. John Moses, Protodeacon of the Melkite Catholic Church, also assisted in the Vigil.
The Roman Catholic Church has great difficulty with remembering that it is not the only Catholic Church. Along with the Roman church, about twenty independent, self-governing Churches are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, while still retaining their own traditions and liturgical heritage. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the hallmark for about fifteen of these Churches, for it is has remained greatly unchanged for more than sixteen hundred years. It is different than a Mass in many ways, in vestments, postures, and incense, but the way in which it has struck me more than anything else is how it truly brings down barriers between people of different races, nationalities and statuses and gives people hope amid an environment of heterodoxy, heteropraxy, and rejection. Roman Catholics gather in worship with the Catholic East and fully embrace all that it has to offer. This is both a sign of hope and sorrow, much like the Holy Cross. On the one hand, we see two largely divided groups come together to do as Christ commanded, to offer an Unbloody Sacrifice, as one Catholic, Universal, community. On the other hand, we see people who have been greatly discouraged by what they see and hear in the Roman Church both inside and outside the Liturgy. They simply want some peace of mind and joy in their hearts.
Thus the Divine Liturgy has a special place in the Boston College community. It exists not only to provide a means of worship for Eastern Catholics, but to raise awareness of the universality of the Church, not just one Roman Church, but as a Catholic Church, one made of many Churches, many Rites, many saints and sinners.