Sunday, April 01, 2007

A solemn Palm Sunday

Here's how Palm Sunday went here in Piqua--at least, at the Masses I offered.

The Missal has three options for how one begins Palm Sunday: at the principal Mass of the parish, a procession; where a procession is not possible, the "solemn" entrance, which is very similar to the procession, except everything happens inside church; and the "simple" entrance, which is theoretically to be used at all other Masses that don't use the procession...except that the solemn entrance can be repeated...Confused? So was I, but I think I figured it out.

Anyway, we had a procession at each parish this morning. I led it at 9 am, and Father Caserta, our retired priest, led it at St. Boniface. At the vigil Mass at St. Boniface last night, I did the "solemn" entrance--i.e., no procession, not even inside church (although we could have done that), but the palms were blessed, and the Gospel account of our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem was proclaimed, from the back of the church. Before that--and before the procession--the proper entrance antiphon, in English, was sung. Of course, I had incense both last night, and at the 9 am Mass with the procession, this morning.

The processional crosses at each parish were adorned with palms, which I read somewhere is proper; the crucifix displayed in the sanctuary of St. Boniface also had a red cloth draped around the body of the Lord -- not covering it, but adorning it. I read that in the Ordo, which is the little booklet that priests keep in the sacristy, that ostensibly digests various rubrics and customs for the priest and sacristan. It is usually reliable, but as someone rightly pointed out here once before, it isn't itself an official source, but conveys info from official sources. I thought the processional cross at St. Boniface looked especially good, not only with palm branches, but also a red ribbon.

I am blessed to have a really fine, all silk red vestment, in the traditional style with the "y" cross on the front and back, made of yellow-gold banding. It's lined, so it's rather heavy, but at least it hangs properly, and it's warm for those winter-time martyrs!

For the Passion, we did it this way (at both parishes): it was read in parts, I read the parts of our Lord, and the people took one of the parts. I am not sure we're supposed to do that, based on a 1988 letter on the celebration of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. What gives me a little pause is that Monsignor Peter Eliot, who is pretty conservative and strict about rubrics, in his Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, recommends it for Masses using the "simple" entrance (more about that in a moment). Anyway, I figured I can't fix everything that needs fixing all at once, so if that needs fixing, we'll get to it. For all I know, there may be a lot of the faithful who would prefer listening.

The Gospel Books we use at both parishes actually have the text set up for reading in parts, so I decided it would look a lot better if the priest proclaimed the Gospel from the Evangelarium, rather than from a pamphlet! So that's what I did on Saturday evening. I will explain, here, that at St. Boniface, we don't have missallettes--at least, not more than a handful--so for Palm Sunday and Good Friday, we have booklets one of my predecessors prepared. We have three sets, so we're covered for each year on Palm Sunday.

But what I didn't know, until we began proclaiming the Passion last night, was that the text of the booklets does not match that of the Gospel Book! Most likely, my predecessor used a previous edition of the lectionary; but it was a bit awkward. At St. Mary, no problem, as they do use missallettes. There, because I was proclaiming the Gospel from the chair, I had no place to set the Gospel book. No problem: I had a server hold it; and as we had four servers, they took turns. That may sound hard, but I have them rest the top of the book under their chins, and it's not all that taxing (that's how I learned it in the seminary). As I say, it was a lot classier way to do it than to have me fiddling with a cheap missallete!

At the 7 am Mass, we used the "simple" entrance. I've never used that before, so I'm not sure I did it correctly. You see, when one uses the other forms, the penitential rite is omitted; but in the "simple" entrance, there is no blessing of palms (they were blessed the night before anyway), and no first Gospel. And it said, "begin in the usual way." So that's exactly what I did, including a penitential rite and kyrie. Anyone have anything to offer on that subject?

At the 9 am Mass, with the procession, I also used the option of wearing a red cope, which I borrowed from St. Boniface. After all, other than that procession, and Stations on Good Friday, when else is a parish priest likely to wear a red cope? (Yes, I know, for vespers and lauds, but these are seldom celebrated solemnly in a parish. Someday, I hope!) For those who wonder how that works, what you do is wear the stole, under the cope, and have the chasuble waiting at the celebrant's chair. Then, upon arriving in the sanctuary, the priest takes off the cope, and puts on the chasuble. At least, that's what I did. And I did it after incensing the altar and crucifix. No, I didn't have the server hold the edge of my cope, that would have been nice, but the poor kids had enough work to do (and they did well, they seemed to enjoy it).

I did have a moment of panic as I tried to find the clasp on the cope, and couldn't see it! By the way, to priest-readers and others knowledgeable about this--I did this vesting with my back to the people, as they sang "All Glory, Laud and Honor," because that seemed right. Comment on that?

I used the Roman Canon (EP I) for all Masses; I realize it's longer, but it only adds a couple of minutes in and of itself, and anyway, Palm Sunday is supposed to take longer! My homily, as you can see, was short; I could have been shorter, but--readers, please say if you agree--I figure, after all that standing, the faithful would like to sit down for a few minutes anyway.

Now, for the Eucharistic Prayer, I was going to chant part of it, but I had the wrong missal last night (you see, the missal isn't set up very helpfully in this regard--you have to flip the pages around to use the chant for EP I, and I think that's disruptive to the prayer; so I have one I marked up myself), and there were a number of babies crying at 9 am Mass, that I decided not to, even though chanting does not add any time, people think it does, so I thought it would be a negative.

We ended Mass with no hymn; so that meant, practically, a short exit, out to the sacristy.

As it was, the 9 am Mass, with its procession, ended at 10:15, without any rushing (and, I might add, two dismissals! One for the children's liturgy of the word, and then for the elect and candidates for full communion).

For those interested in the music, click on our music director's blog, listed at your right in the links column, labeled "Piqua Catholic Community Choir" or something like that. The choir was very good at 9 am, making me look forward to the rest of the week.


Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Fox,

A possible reason that chant seems to take longer is that it moves us from regular to more profound.

Anonymous said...

No penitential rite? Ooops! I did it and I wasn't sure I was not supposed to. I should read Msgr. Eliot's book more often. I certainly will for Holy Thursday in which I will be the principle celebrant.

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

As a musician it has always dismayed me when people don't want music at Mass....when we started singing the Responsorial Psalm (the parish hadn't been doing that for a while) people complained that it took too long. Then we had a wonderful priest who chanted the "Last Supper" section of the consecration, and they complained that it took too long. I like Brother Andrew's take on it. For me, listening to the chant forces me to focus MORE on the words.

Anonymous said...

Barb - music, like art and literature, is appreciated in different ways by different people. Those who are musically gifted (you are clearly in that group!) seem to like most kinds of music and the more of it the better. The rest of us seem to have specific preferences, and when we are exposed to forms we do not care for (I happen to like chant, but I know so very many folks who don't)it can have a negative impact ranging from boring to annoying. For instance, I love Mozart, Bach, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel - but "show music", with very few exceptions, is so irritating that it sometimes even makes me feel angry if I can't get away from it. I know, I know, some people pay to hear it! But many of those people hate Mozart, Bach, the Beatles, and
S & G! It's just a personal thing, unless you are lucky enough to enjoy all music. For the numerous people who do not like chant, a little can be too long. For me, the more chant the better. For those who aren't into chant, a little moderation is good.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, you are so so so right about people needing some moments to sit down after the reading of the Passion! Probably unknown to young and healthy churchgoers, standing in place can be extremely taxing and painful for many over 50 (even a few who are younger?) Medical conditions like diabetes, neuropathy, varicose veins, blood clots, vasculitis, arthritis, flat feet, edema - well, many, many conditions! - are quickly aggravated by standing in place more than a few minutes. I recall a collective sigh of relief when the older folks finally got to sit down! It's hard for people to feel spiritually uplifted when they are dealing with alot of pain.
annie again