This has been an adventurous week, helped along by preparations for Lent, Ash Wednesday activities, and a special funeral Mass.
With Lent coming, we had to get some things together. The daily Mass moves an hour earlier, allowing schoolchildren to attend; and we have high school students serve as readers and altar servers. So we had some things to do with that this week. I dug out our supply of ashes -- enough for 20 years, I calculate.*
Ash Wednesday itself wasn't any great chore; in fact, I got to sleep in! I usually have a 5:45 am Mass each Wednesday, but since Ash Wednesday has two additional Masses, I drop the super-early Traditional Latin Mass. Maybe someday we'll have the 7 am Mass as a TLM, but we're not ready for that.
The first two Masses (7 and 11:45 am) had to be quick, given work and school schedules, so I used the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer, which I really don't like doing. The 7 pm Mass was a "high Mass" -- with incense and lots of servers and the Roman Canon, which is our default Eucharistic Prayer.
As the day went along, I was thinking about dinner, which I had after the 7 pm Mass. I had some shrimp left over from Monday, and I figured, I'll fry that up with some butter and garlic: Shrimp Scampi!
Well, when I finally got to the kitchen to get everything out, my stomach growling, I got a whiff of the shrimp. Eew! I tasted one (they were cooked) and spat it out. Now what? I didn't have any soup without meat; no other fish; no bread. Hmm.... Then I noticed a can of salmon. How about "Salmon Scampi"?
That's what I fixed up...but I wouldn't recommend it. The bones don't make it better.
But what really kept me on my toes this week was preparing for a funeral Mass, in the older form. While I offer the Traditional Latin Mass regularly, I've never offered a Requiem Mass; in addition, I wanted to do it as a sung Mass, because it's a funeral. Thankfully, I had some warning several weeks ago, and so I begun at that time to get things together.
This meant calling around for singers who could form the choir, and also to find someone to serve as a liturgical Master of Ceremonies -- that is, someone who could guide me through. Thankfully, I found some folks who could advise me, and we got everything together. Part of what I needed was a black cope and a black pall for the casket, which the TLM parish in Dayton kindly lent to me, along with a supply of books for those attending. A gentleman who has served as an MC for the older Mass was extremely helpful in providing advice, sending me sound files to listen to for practice, and many other helps. And he graciously offered to drive up the day of the Mass to serve as MC.
With all that, I was still stressed. I had wanted to practice more than I had. In addition, I'd had some difficulties rounding up the six servers we needed. The hard part was finding men who had experience with the older form. Thankfully, I saw one of our college men at the 7 am Mass, who had such experience, and he mentioned he was on Spring Break! So I asked if he'd be willing to come back for the funeral? He graciously agreed.
So, at 11, he showed along with the others I'd recruited, plus another gentleman who'd been recruited by a parishioner who'd told me she'd "put the word out." Everyone was on time and we were ready for the MC, who was due at that hour, and was going to put everyone's mind at ease.
We were still waiting for him at 11:15. And 11:30. The funeral was at Noon. I had been waiting on him to be sure we lit the right candles; at 11:40, I sent the boys to light six of them. I was going to let the MC decide where to stage the various things we'd need; I made my best guess about that. At 11:45, I looked at the college student, who I'd recruited that morning, and who I knew had the best experience, and said, "You know the old saying, 'No good deed goes unpunished!' Can you serve as the MC?" He didn't blink an eye (but he did gulp a little I think).
So, at Noon, we executed the first sung Requiem Mass at Saint Remy in about 50 years. God helped me a lot! It all seemed to go reasonably well -- having great servers makes a huge difference. There were a couple of flubs, but nothing major. By the time we got to the cemetery, I was unsure about which parts I was supposed to chant and recite, and ended up reciting the last bits, including some I think I was supposed to chant. The schola was great; they even walked out the cemetery, undeterred by the cold and blowing snow. The family was very happy.
The MC never made it, and now, a day later, I still haven't heard anything, which concerns me. I know he wouldn't just blow it off; but I don't know the man, and other than call him as I did afterward, I don't have any way to contact him or his family. I've been praying for him.
Would I do it again? In a minute! But there are two things we need. First, we need our own schola which can execute the music, and that takes dedication. Second, we need someone who can serve as the MC. If there are folks who are interested, let me know. I'd love to be able to do sung Latin Masses more often.
Now, with that behind me, I have to begin working on my Sunday homily; it's going to be part one of a series of sermons on the sacrament of confession. Back to work!
* Is it bad that we don't have new ashes every year? The strict tradition is to burn old palms each year, and these become the ashes for that year. But collecting and burning palms is a chore -- they have to be thoroughly burned, and then the clumps strained out -- and you end up with a pretty good supply of ashes; why not keep using them? Am I bad?