I apologize for having mistakenly called it “Mass” at first. A generous Roman Catholic pointed out to me that the term “Mass” is actually a western term and that the proper name for Eastern Christian services are “divine liturgies” as opposed to masses. So thank you for that Brian.
Any way, I attended the liturgy and there were very friendly women outside greeting people with a mini prayer site that they had set up just outside St. Stephen’s Byzantine Cathedral. I found out that one was actually a convert from the Roman Rite to the Byzantine Rite which I found interesting. She was explaining the unique ways the Latins and the Easterners approached the issue and quoting Pope John Paul II about how the church must breathe with its two lungs. I was able to keep up pretty well with this.
The service included standing, sitting, standing, sitting. Quite an exercise but not really a new experience for one who’s been in a Protestant Church where we stand for the songs, then sit down. The procession was a unique experience. The only times I’ve ever seen a procession in Church was on really rare occasions. I could smell the incense when I walked in. It was definitely quite a lot different than the Protestant Churches I’ve been to in the past.
I found their position on Hell to be interesting. It is not the absence of God or God’s love but rather the standing in the presence of a loving God and rejecting that love and yet still receiving it. I can see how clearly this differs from the Latin Rite because it is the way at looking at God that is being concentrated on. It’s really not that radically different from Pope Benedict XVI’s view save for the emphasis. Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes the human’s rejection of the love and the Byzantines emphasize that even when the humans reject love, they still get love in return though for them, it seems as if God is absent.
After the service, I met the bishop and the parrish priest. I was glad to be able to have that experience.
That said, despite the distance from my home, I would definitely go again because I loved it. Even though the non-stop chanting and the babies crying in the service made things difficult to keep up with what was going on.