On Good Friday in an Arabic Church

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So I had the chance to go to a church service in Arabic.  My first experience ever with Arab-Christians… well, not my first ever, but the first time I was  the first Arab church service I’ve ever been to.

Well, the Church was actually just the Arabic Language Catholic church, one of the few (or many) denominations present in Qatar—- as officially recognized churches that is.  The  service was beautiful.  I remember being in Spain for Good Friday in 2008 and going to a Good Friday Service in Catalan… don’t remember if I blogged about it though.  And this was even more interesting and new than that.

I am surprised (although I don’t know why) at how different Catholic services can be, two of my friends here from Poland have had to point out to me that they don’t do this or that… at any rate, it was a beautiful service aesthetically and emotionally, and I’m not an emotional person. Best of all, I understood…. a good deal of it..lol

The service was in fusha, i.e. modern standard Arabic, but It was hard to hear the priest amidst the screams of children and murmurs of adult, but oh well. From what I understood there was a lengthy New testament reading of events leading to the crucifixion by two priests, one narrated and the other did the vices, then they brought out this ivory colored statue of Jesus on the cross and laid it on a grand floral arrangement and marched around the church with it.  I wanted to take pictures, I had brought my camera, but thought that it was inappropriate to do in the church…. well, boy was I wrong, everybody was whipping out cell phones and cameras and snapping away, apparently even one of the priests got on the pulpit to get a better shot from his camera!

Maybe he’s the church historian.  At any rate, the music I think was the most beautiful of all, very different from the Arabic pop mess I usually hear, and distinct from Quran recitations or Nasheeds… they had the words up on projectors, thank God, otherwise I wouldn’t have understood as much.  One of the songs about Mary moved me to tears… the choir, I guess was super on point.

I don’t remember much more, but I’m glad I went, what an experience to have for the first time in a place like Qatar….

I had no idea there were so many Arab Christians here! the sanctuary which was pretty big, was packed!…. it was like little Lebabnon…lol

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I wonder about myself, If an individual can appreciate the beauty of said experience without getting boggled down with details, innuendo and such.  What am I talking about?

a discussion we had in class one day about religious freedom, well it wasn’t a discussion, but it was headed in that direction… and then I think about what Tariq Ramadan said about human rights in Muslim-Majority (read— esp. Arab) countries and what Muslims in the West enjoy/face… then I think about an awesome discussion between Cornel West and Sherman Jackson that was filmed at Princeton last week and how Professor Jackson talked about the African-American community and  how cross-religious interaction was a common thing, because families don’t discriminate against family members of other faiths…. then I think about my family…and then I think about me. But that is for another blog entry.

Needless to say I am thinking about a lot of personal stuff, not that I have shut out the rest of the world, or no longer care about current events (like what is up with all the earthquakes? I hope the D.C. area is not on a fault line..) but Qatar has given me a lot of time to think and reflect on myself, on what I want, professionally, spiritually, and even emotionally to a lesser extent.  But these ideas aren’t flushed out… yet.

At any rate, Good Friday was pretty nice, school is about to be over… (I have to leave early if I’m going to start the next Arabic program on time…Al hamdullilah… 🙂

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