Saturday, October 04, 2008

How I turned St. Francis Day into a two-day liturgical oddity

Thursday night, I prayed the Office of Readings for the following day, which is an option, and then getting up Friday, I thought, whoops, I forgot about Saint Francis! So I read the second reading from St. Francis and figured, well that'll have to do; then I offered Mass with the older schoolchildren, and told them that they couldn't understand Francis without reference to poverty--and along the way, challenged them to follow his example and make a fundamental choice to follow the Lord no matter what they might have to give up--and citing the great theologian Janis Joplin (that was for the grownups present), "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Then, last evening around 11, I finished my office for the day; and as I prayed the closing prayer for Vespers, using the prayer for St. Francis, it finally dawned on me: is October 3--not the 4th! Oops!

Well, I wonder now if all the folks in church thought I'd lost it, or did they even notice? I really thought yesterday was October 4, I'm sure I put it on every document! Then I thought: well, now I have to pray the same office over again for Saturday? I decided, oh well, I'll just reflect that much more on Saint Francis! So, I then prayed the Office of Readings (i.e., "Matins") for Saint Francis again, and will pray morning prayer for him shortly.

You may wonder if I committed a liturgical faux pas; well, not really. When you have a "ferial" day--meaning, a day on the calendar with no obligatory memorial or feast, a priest is free to choose any Mass, and any set of prayers for the office. So what I did, unwittingly, was offer a votive Mass and votive offices for St. Francis.

If any priests care to comment, have you done anything like this?


Anonymous said...

Though not a priest, I can assure you that all human beings do things like this all the time, whether it be in their priestly or "laic" lives. Call it momentary absentmindness - or to glamorise it, how about, "A brief sojourn to an alternate reality." Har, har! So don't worry. You're just normal.


pdt said...

Also not a priest, but I coordinate our monthly First Friday at the parish of St Francis of Assisi!

We chose to use the prayers for St Francis of Assisi last evening and have no qualms about doing so.

Of course as "civilians" we could probably pray anything we like, but both our pastor and associate signed off on the plan.

It was a wonderful, slow-paced liturgy and with about 80 people in the congregation was the greatest participation we've had since we started monthly Vespers some 6 months ago.

Bailey Walker said...


Since St. Francis is the principal patron of your parish, I believe it proper that the observance is raised to the level of a solemnity. Therefore, it was entirely proper to celebrate "First Vespers" of St. Francis on Friday evening before the observance of the feast on Saturday. God bless.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

I can identify with this lapse, entirely, and I have fumbled like this many times. Priestly work carries with it a ton of distractions.

Anonymous said...

Um, I'm still not a priest, but I do wonder why there is so much concern about when different prayers or rituals are ecclesiastically permissable.

It is hard for me to grasp that Christ would be obsessed with liturgical nitpicking when so many terrible things are going on in the world that need address.

Outspoken Annie

Lisa, sfo said...

>> Second Anonymous: "It is hard for me to grasp that Christ would be obsessed with liturgical nitpicking when so many terrible things are going on in the world that need address."

The Mass is the source and summit of our faith; it is not a personal plaything, and what happens in the Mass matters -- Save the liturgy, save the world. It is not "obsessive" to try to treat the center of our faith with as much respect, care, and reverence as possible.

Also, giving attention to one issue does not in any way detract from addressing other "terrible things" in the world; there is no finite amount of "care cards" that get used up in the process, leaving other issues languishing without redress.

Anonymous said...

Throttle down, friend. No need to get so defensive.

Why are so many Catholics so defensive? I just don't know.


Anonymous said...

Why are Catholics defensive? I suppose because people like you like to attack.

Anonymous said...

No one is being attacked. Rather, someone has expressed an opinion.

It's normal among thinking people for a variety of opinions to exist on a variety of topics or circumstances.

I'm not at all sure if it's normal to feel personally attacked when another individual expresses an opinion.

It's definitely eerie when people imagine that others within their own religion are attacking them when an opinion is expressed.

But...if that's your opinion on how you wish to react, I respect it. Go for it, and feel as attacked as you wish! You have my support!

Hee, hee. Just joshin' with ya!

Anonymous said...

I once knew an older priest whose mind was not as sharp as it once was. In his retirement, without pastoral responsibilities, he spent days sleeping and nights awake. He awoke at 11:30 PM one night and realized that it was Pentecost Sunday. He rushed to the chapel to say Mass, not wishing to miss a Sunday Mass, and Pentecost at that. Only when he began the readings did they seem familiar. He then realized that he had indeed said Mass that morning, in the long sleepless hours before dawn

As a priest, I have sometimes been befuddled. But my senior colleague has me beat - but hey, I'm only in my 50s. There is still time........