Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some plans for Holy Week...

This is one of the few times I'll post online some plans for parish liturgy that I haven't put in the bulletin yet; but nothing here will be controversial (I hope!) and I won't be able to write about it, in the bulletin, for another week, and even then, rather briefly.

Also, more of my parishioners are reading this blog, so this will "get the word out."

And there may be folks who find this interesting--and you can feel free to give me suggestions if you like...

Palm Sunday

Each parish will have a procession at one of the Masses. Processions are a great idea that are both "old school" but still popular, and yet have fallen out of use in particular places. One of their charms is they tap into the kinetic part of us--some of us learn, not by reading or hearing, but by doing; and for youngsters, moving about is often more fun than sitting still.

For the Passion narrative, we still do it the new "old" way: the people are given a part. My understanding is that this isn't really how we're supposed to do it, but rather, have three readers, one of whom is a deacon or priest. But for now, we'll keep this familiar way in place. Changing this practice won't be easy.

"Spy Wednesday" is when the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle in St. Boniface, after the evening Mass--since the tabernacle is to be empty for Holy Thursday evening Mass, and we will have the Blessed Sacrament in our perpetual chapel. (I.e., the Sacrament has to be moved, so why not after the Wednesday evening Mass?)

So we'll have Wednesday evening Mass at 7--an hour later, both to allow more confessions before, and also to accommodate folks for whom 6 pm is too early--then, after Mass, I'll lead a simple procession around to the chapel (in the basement below the church). The Eucharist will be removed from the monstrance, placed in the ciborium, and that will be replaced on the throne for exposition. (It is permissible to have exposition with a ciborium rather than a monstrance; and the reason for doing this is that the ciborium is being brought from the tabernacle.) The monstrance will be returned, right after the Vigil, with a host consecrated at the Vigil.

Holy Thursday, we'll have Morning Prayer, no morning Mass, in St. Clare Chapel at St. Boniface. Additionally, I'm going to try leading Office of Readings beforehand; it'll take about the same time, altogether, as Mass would have. Plus, the norms for the Liturgy of the Hours especially recommend Office of Readings during the triduum (yes, I know Holy Thursday day is not part of the Triduum...). Our music director is working on some musical resources, which are not as readily available for Liturgy of the Hours.

At 3 pm, at St. Mary, I'll be welcoming the priests of the area for dinner; we'll begin with None, which is the old name for what is insipidly called "mid-afternoon prayer." After that, the Eucharist will be removed from the tabernacle, and moved to a secure place of reposition in the sacristy. Then the church will be "stripped." The Mass of the Lord's Supper will be at St. Boniface, so St. Mary's will be made ready for Good Friday at this point.

At St. Mary, we'll have Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, for whoever is interested, on Good Friday, followed by confessions, other prayers, leading up to the solemn liturgy (not Mass) of Good Friday at 2 pm. We'll have more confessions later, followed by the Good Friday liturgy at 7, at St. Boniface.

On Holy Saturday morning, I'll lead Office of Readings and Morning Prayer for the catechumens and candidates, after which I'll rehearse the Vigil liturgy for the sponsors and servers, while the catechumens and candidates go home. Based on how I'm told they did in the early church (talk about "old school"!), they simply show up, and their sponsors get them through it; it's worked fine the past few years I've done it this way.

The Vigil will be an extravaganza, as well it ought to be; I really hope many parishioners will come, both to support those to enter into the Church, or into full communion, and for a beautiful and especially meaningful liturgy. I've been telling folks: if for no other reason, come because it won't be so crowded as Easter Day!

One of the things I've considered is having someone chant one or more of the readings, something that rarely happens, yet is entirely proper to do. We'll see if that happens this year... I do plan on chanting the Gospel. God willing, I won't have a vocal "blowout" before the last Mass of Easter, as almost everything will be sung for Easter!

Thankfully, our fine music director has done a good job leading our choir, which is growing (especially when both parish choirs come together), and we aim to continue to grow; plus, it is deepening its repertoire, and the members seem to enjoy both the challenge of some of what we've done, and the thrill of pulling off harder pieces. I don't know what music is planned, but I know it will be good; I heard glowing reports about the Midnight Mass I was too sick to attend at Christmas.

Now, I just have to find out who knows how to turn off the bells between the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and the Vigil...


Anonymous said...

Are there times on Good Friday when
people can be in church, yet practice comtemplative prayer?
When I was much younger I recall when the entire three hours were silent and without liturgical finesse. People simply kept watch and prayed their own prayer.
It was a beautiful silence, a transcendent time.
Does this ever happen anymore?
Sometimes it seems like the Catholic rituals are oppressively omnipresent! So much group activity! (Spoken in good humor, not complainingly.) Down time with God can be good too. Maybe that is provided for in your parish.
What you have planned sounds good too!

Fr Martin Fox said...


You raise a good point.

Well, we'll actually have two churches open on Good Friday (1/2 mile apart), and different plans for each. In addition, the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament will be reserved, will be open -- but not exposed. So there should be plenty of such opportunities.

That said, at St. Mary, during the three hours, we are planning several forms of prayer, with silent periods in between.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very fine, Father. You have thriving and prayerful parishes there! You're doing a fantastic job from what I see. Gee, aren't you glad you have the approval of an old lady? : - )

MomLady said...

I was surprised by your remark urging parishioners to attend the Easter vigil because it would be less crowded than the Easter Sunday Masses.

Is this a regional quirk?

In our neck of the woods Easter vigil, like Christmas midnight Mass, is waaaaaaaaay crowded.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the children's Masses should not be in Latin. The children,for the most part, understand only English, and if they don't understand what is being said in the Mass, they will quickly lose interest.
I apologize for any offense I may commit in saying this.

Anonymous said...

For the past several years, the annual May Crowning ceremony has been primarily "the school's thing".
Is there any way, under the direction of Father Fox, that we can reinstill the old way of holding this beautiful honored tradition at Fountain Park in the pavilion?

Fr Martin Fox said...


To answer your question, I don't know; if someone wants to call me, and propose something, we can talk about it.