Each Sunday a member from the Novitiate group chooses which parish we visit for Sunday Liturgy. This is done as a way to get out into the community and meet people who are attending Mass in the Pittsburgh area.
This week, Br. Kieran chose for us to go to Holy Ghost Church, a Byzantine church located in McKnees Rocks, PA. I was a little hesitatant about going; I've never been to a different Rite before, and when I hear the term "Eastern," it pretty much tells me I'll have the darkest skin color in the building!
Putting these thoughts aside, we attended Mass and received Eucharist after participating with a wonderful group of people. Entering the church was amazing; the artwork and the iconography were simply amazing! I wish I'd had brought my camera to take pictures of the inside of the church, if I thought I could get away with it.
After the Mass people were wonderful to see us and were willing to talk. There is something unique about a smaller faith community: the people seem to be closer-knit and more invested in the service taking place. Outside after the Mass, we talked with a number of people who wanted to know who we were and where we were from. I remember talking to a lady for whom I promised to pay for, as she is currently dealing with a brain tumor.
There were a few things that were new to me (the other way of signing the cross, the iconostatis, and the reception of the Eucharist) however I learned to adapt and enjoy the Mass...especially the singing. If you've never had the chance to attend a Byzantine mass, I'd highly encouragement.
If you're worried that you wouldn't know what to do at a Byzantine Mass, this guide might help the transition.