Monday, April 10, 2006

Palm Sunday (another 'day in the life')

Many visitors really seem to like these "my day" entries, so here you go!

Here's how Palm Sunday went.

Thanks to our retired priest, who took the 7 am Mass, I was able to sleep a little, which helped as I have a head cold. Alas, I lingered too long over coffee, and then under the hot water in the shower, and I arrived to the sacristy just 15 minutes before Mass!

But we got everything ready in time: the thurible for one of the servers -- a third-grader who had never handled incense before, what a trooper! (Unfortunately, he burned his fingers a little bit, which was my fault.)

"Father, which candles do we light?" "Light 'em all -- except that one, big one..." meaning the Easter Candle. (Some of my fellow priests mock me for the terminology I sometimes use with the servers, but when you're in a hurry before Mass, terms like "sacramentary," "lectionary," "thurible," "incense boat," and the blank stares they elicit, are unhelpful. "Big red book," "smoke pot," "powder container" seem to work better. Mock if you like.)

Well, anyway, 10 am Mass started well, with a good number of folks out on the steps of church -- it was a brilliant day -- for a short procession. I was using the wireless mic, which I seldom use, because I can never remember if its off or on; so I think my sotto voce comments to the server got broadcast through the church, oh-well; and in this case, I really couldn't tell if anyone inside heard me. Oh well.

I noted on Saturday (see below if you like) one liturgial-sartorial question: would I wear a cope, then switch to a chasuble in the sanctuary? I decided against it, because I didn't want to have the hymn run out while I was still doing the incensation. However, turns out I goofed on the procession: on this occasion, the priest precedes the people! So in that case, the priest has time to do a switcheroo (another of my special liturgical terms, along with "traveling music," i.e., what I tell our Music Director I need plenty of when I do incensation at the opening of Mass, at the Gospel, and at the preparation of the gifts). Don't kid yourself -- the reason the priest precedes the people in this procession could just be related to such practical concerns. Yesterday, I discovered another one: when the people precede the priest in the procession, they naturally wonder how they are to get back to their seats; or, if they just walked in, finding a seat. Result? I almost collided with some folks who started for one pew, only to double back for another one. So I know what we'll do next year...

Anyway, 10 am Mass went well, but it was race against the clock. (I hear you tsk-tsking; but we had several hundred folks heading for Mass at 11:30, and they have to park somewhere; I can't make them come to Mass, so I might at least not make them very sorry they came.) I resisted the temptation to use Eucharistic Prayer II; I used III, although I wanted to use the Roman Canon. Next year, when a new Mass schedule will take the pressure off.

But with that Mass concluding at 11:15, and my needing to dash over to the office to print out some notes I'd need immediately after 11:30 Mass, it felt like one Mass rolled right into the other. No time to give the servers any instructions for the second Mass, only: "who knows how to do the incense?" One intrepid fifth-grade girl shot her hand up; unfortunately, she forgot a couple of things, such as bringing the incense boat with her in the opening procession--so no smoke going up the aisle! Ah, well...

This was the last Mass, so no time-pressure, right? Wrong. I had an appointment at 1:45 pm; and the best time for a rehearsal for the servers for Holy Thursday was immediately following this 11:30 Mass, meaning I had to squeeze that rehearsal inbetween. Fortunately, lots of servers showed up -- seven, I think!--so we did some sorting of jobs, and we reviewed the three major complications of the liturgy: the foot-washing, the conclusion with its procession around the church to our chapel in the rear, where the Eucharist will be reposed, and the incensing we'll do, including at the elevation. We had to take a trip down to the chapel, so the servers could see the layout and how they'd line up when we arrived.

Fortunately, I had the smarts to recruit an older gentleman, who serves Mass, and he will "shepherd" the younger servers. Big help! But I have one or two other, older boys who said they wanted to serve, but couldn't make this rehearsal. I said okay, not expecting so many to sign up. So now, I have to figure out (a) what jobs to give them and (b) do I want to broach the possibility that they can focus on the Vigil? We'll see...

Well, the young lady who will be thurifer ("smoker") was a little unsure; we'll go over it again on Thursday evening, before Mass. Plus, the new, four-chain thurible chose to jam while she was practicing. (This is why parishes don't use multiple-chain thuribles. But those one-chain thuribles are usually butt-ugly.)

I owe a thanks to some parishioners who stayed for the rehearsal, because they kindly locked things up as I had to race to the next appointment. A couple, moving to the area from where I'd last been assigned, asked me if I'd come bless a piece of land they were trying to sell. After several emails, this was the best time for them to make the trip up; but they had someplace to go shortly thereafter, so they were waiting on me. So I drove out, jumped out of the car, we walked along the property and I offered an extemporaneous prayer while I doused the property with what holy water I had.

Then, back to town. I had time to pick up some lunch, on the go, and eat it back at the office before my next engagement, at 3: a Protestant church was celebrating the 150th anniversary of its "chancel choir," and I had decided to attend. I wasn't expected, but I am going to be working with these other pastors, and I think building good relations makes sense, and I don't like admitting I've never been in these other churches. A nice church, older than ours by 10 years, and a nice program that finished around 4.

Now I headed home to put my feet up for awhile; except that I would head over to St. Mary, our sister parish in town, just before 6, when the youth minister the two parishes share was having a special event. He arranged to show Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, and then have a period of exposition, with opportunities for confession, following. The other pastor and I, along with one of the retired priests, were there. Not a large turnout, but no problem -- it was a good idea, and I like to see our staff thinking that way, and I wanted to see the film again (this must have been the "producer's cut," because it had scenes I am sure I hadn't seen).

We were putting things away a little after 9, and I started thinking about what I'd have for dinner. (I don't mind eating late--please save the tsk-tsking, because you got to do that earlier.) Plus, I needed to pick up something at the store anyway, so I ran by Krogers. One item became four or five; but I didn't see anything I wanted to eat for dinner, so I headed home, and ordered a pizza. I ended up staying up late, as I discovered the Hallmark Channel was replaying one of the films about our late, beloved holy father--and I hadn't seen all of it.

This morning--my off day!--I got to sleep late. Just after 9 am, the phone rang. I groaned: would it be the funeral home? The office?

Because the telephone number at my house led a promiscuous life before I acquired it, with the result that I get calls for "Piqua Exchange" or "Roadway" from time to time. This time it was "Piqua Exchange." Ten minutes later, it rang again: "Roadway." Time to get out of bed!

When I got to the kitchen, I remembered the one thing I needed to get at the! (Fortunately, I had a little!)


Ellen said...

You certainly lead an interesting life. The more I get to know our pastor and what his day is like, the more I think his life is like being a parish "mother." It certainly seems like yours is like one too.

I enjoy reading your blog. It is both interesting and humorous. Keep on blogging!

Anonymous said...

Awsome post Fr. Martin!! I enjoy reading your "Days in the life of..." I would love to see you continue to occasionally post these. It helps people see what priest do all day, and helps those discern.