I always wanted to live in the Holy Lands. In my mind, that meant Jerusalem. Even though I have never been to Jerusalem, I realized that my wish was fulfilled after moving here to Jordan, which is part of the Holy Lands, both historically and currently, as it continues to be part of the diocese of Jerusalem. Much of the Gospel, as well as Old Testament events, actually took place in Jordan, which was part of Ancient Palestine, along with Israel. Jesus was baptized on the Jordanian side of the river. John the Baptist was beheaded here in Jordan. It was here that the kings of Israel built their main road, Lot fled from his city, and his wife was turned to salt. It was from here that Moses overlooked Jerusalem and is most likely buried. Even though modern day Jordan is an Islamic country, there are also many native Christians, as well as Christian foreigners. The Catholics, Orthodox, and different Protestant denominations all have multiple churches in Amman.
I am a Latin rite Catholic; my husband, who is Lebanese, is a Maronite Catholic. The Maronites, like the other Eastern Catholic Rites, are in full communion with the Holy Father, and therefore fully a part of the Roman Catholic Church. These Catholic Rites, or Churches sui juris, shown on the chart below, are not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which split from the Church of Rome several centuries ago. Some of the Eastern rite Catholics had been Orthodox and later returned to the Church of Rome; others, including the Maronite rite, never split.
We would love to be part of the Maronite parish, St. Charbel’s, here in Amman. Both of us have a devotion to Mar (St.) Charbel, the patron saint of Lebanon, who was canonized a saint for the universal Church by Pope Paul VI in 1977, and is greatly revered in the Maronite rite. We named our first son Charbel in his honor.
Unfortunately, however, the Maronite Church is about 40 minutes away, so we actually go to St. Joseph’s Latin rite Church, which is in walking distance from our home and attached to a parochial grade school, run by an order of nuns locally called the “Rosary Sisters,” is right next to the Church. (Click on images to enlarge)
St. Joseph’s has a Saturday evening Mass and two Sunday Masses in Arabic. Hearing the liturgy, and especially Jesus’ own words in the Lord’s Prayer in a language similar to the Aramaic Our Lord would have spoken is an experience worth having. The liturgy is even richer, with traditional Christian chants and processions, on special feast days, like Christmas and Easter. Mass is also said in English each Sunday at 11:30, for people who prefer it or who, like us, enjoy sleeping in once in a while on Sunday morning!