Many say to me, "I know you're busy during Holy Week!" That's only half-true.
What keeps me busy is gearing up for Holy Week, and -- while I'm still new here -- trying to anticipate everything so nothing important gets forgotten.
So today, a bunch of parishioners showed up for a "spring cleaning" of the church, which was great. I'm nursing a cold, which isn't that big a deal, except I really don't want to get any sicker or lose my voice tomorrow or later this week. So I took it easy yesterday and today.
But I did spend an hour at church, helping get things set up. I went looking for a red altar cloth; the only thing I found was kind of minimal, but it'll do. Then I found some other cloths to put on the side altars, and they looked nice. One of the men of the parish was moving a ladder, and I got an idea -- could he help me drape a cloth on the crucifix? Sure -- so we draped a red cloth around the shoulders of the Lord, which is an option for Palm Sunday.
Back home, I resume my phone calls. I'm still lining up men to have their feet washed for Thursday. I had two turn me down; I didn't ask why. I have several who I'm waiting to call me back.
One of my calls was to a mother and daughter who help with RCIA. The mother volunteered to be sacristan for Holy Thursday, Good Friday evening, and the Vigil (God bless her!). So we talked about what's special, that the sacristan has to attend to. I told her she wouldn't have too many extra things to worry about; the servers might, however! I'm meeting with the servers tomorrow immediately following 11:30 Mass, to prepare for Holy Thursday. But I already know they can't all be there, so this practice is almost irrelevant, as I'll have to go over it again on Thursday evening.
There are many details -- and since these liturgies come up only once a year, this is only my third Triduum as a priest, and my first as a pastor, and in this parish. So I'm still on the shallow part of the learning curve.
I still need to talk to the guys who usually build the Easter Fire -- I will call one of them shortly -- and I was hoping to have some folks bring the new oils forward on Holy Thursday evening, and I haven't figured out who will ring the church bells during the gloria then and on the Vigil.
And, I'm going to try something a little ambitious for the Vigil: having the servers light the candles at various points. You see, the liturgy calls for the candles at the altar to be lit during the Gloria. Well, we have six there; that'll take a bit for the servers to do. But we also have two candles at the ambo, and we have six tall candles on the high altar, on either side of the tabernacle. When should they (as well as the candles on the side altars) be lit?
I was thinking of doing it this way:
1. After the Exsultet, the candles in front of the ambo are lit, in anticipation of the Liturgy of the Word.
2. During the Gloria, the candles at the altar are lit.
3. During the Litany of the Saints, the candles on the side altars, and any other candles I put around the sanctuary, are lit.
4. During communion, the candles on the high altar are lit.
5. When the Eucharist is reposed in the tabernacle, the sanctuary lamp is lit.
I'll let you know if this works!
Of course, we will have incense for Palm Sunday, for Holy Thursday and for Easter; that can be a challenge for servers. I hope to have the servers do the incense throughout -- i.e., including for the Gospel and during the elevation of the Body and Blood.
One question remains -- shall I wear a cope in the Palm Sunday procession? The thing is, if I do that, I have to change into a chasuble when I get to the sanctuary, and I haven't decided if I want to do that.