insights from lebanon

thoughts from my two months abroad and other personal reflections

Posts tagged catholicism

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first mass.

i arrived late to church today. i didn’t really anticipate going to mass, but was more intent on just finding my way to church so i knew for the future and on taking a walk and grabbing something quick to eat before studying. i also didn’t know what time mass started and i couldn’t find the exact street it was on (no surprise), so it took a bit longer to get there than i expected.

i had passed st. francis catholic church several times while driving to aub the week before classes started when i was trying to get everything handled before the start of the semester. i thought i’d have to give it a try sometime.

i walked in about halfway through mass. but that wasn’t the issue. i stepped in through a small door on the side, which when opened, hit someone because the church was so full and some were forced to stand. upon entering, i could hear a multitude of female voices singing in highly accented english. i looked up from my spot in the back of the church, and even though i’m not tall at all, i was towering over most of the congregation with a perfect view of the altar (something not always possible back home), seeing the long black hair of mostly women directly in front of me and in the pews. the whole church was filled with filipinos and others of southeast asian descent.  

i immediately knew who most of these women were. in lebanon, san3as, or maids, are popular with the local population, especially those who can afford the assistance or who could use extra help with their big families. here they were, gathered for sunday mass with their community in this foreign land, along with a few lebanese and other catholics in the congregation. i stood quietly in the back with the rest of those who could not find seats, and participated in mass. i joined hands with those next to me for the ‘our father,’ just as i do back home, and i turned to those around me saying ”peace be with you” when the time came for that.

so there i was, in lebanon, a country with a culture familiar to me and where i blend in on the streets, and in a church of a religion i know very well and am a part of, feeling like i was in a completely unfamiliar and different part of the world — a giant, sharing a room with mostly small female filipino maids singing and responding to the priest in accented english. and yet somehow, i still felt at home.

Filed under aub beirut hamra catholic mass church catholicism travel filipino