Friday, April 06, 2007

Blown away

We're now fully into the Triduum and posting will be light as I seek time to spend in prayer rather than online. But I simply had to come and post on last night's Holy Thursday Mass at my parish. To put it bluntly, I was blown away. First, the place was packed (when we later left, we noticed people triple parked, just to give you an idea). Second, Fr. Paul knows how to put together a beautiful Mass.

We had not one, not two, not even four but ten altar servers. Right from the initial procession I knew this was going to be something special. They proceeded to a small ceremony to receive the oils from the Chrism Mass. One thing I found intriguing (being a nit as I am) was the split in duties between the deacon and the priest - the deacon provided the introduction to each oil, the priest received it from the parishioner who held it, handed it to the deacon who then put it on a table; the priest then gave a short but deep explanation of what that particular oil was used for and what it meant. The division struck me as a representation of both their respective consecrated duties (the deacon to service and preaching and the priest to sacramental duties and fullness of preaching) and also a reflection on the roles they fulfill in the proclaiming of the Gospel (deacon) and the homily reflecting on it (priest). Maybe that was intentional, maybe it wasn't - maybe I'm reading something into it that wasn't really there. Who knows.

I won't continue on for the whole Mass or I'd be here for a while. Suffice it to say we had incense. Lots of incense - the Gospel was incensed before it was proclaimed, the altar was incensed and Father as well. They even incensed the congregation after the mandatum (I think that's when they did it). Father used a humeral veil as well for the procession. And the choir actually used Latin for the procession - my heart positively lept. Fortunately after the terrible storm we had, the parking lot to the school was clear or the procession would have been treacherous - I think God may just have made sure of that.

Father is doing something right - two things tell me that. One, a parishioner turned to me during the procession and said, "we haven't had anything like this in years" - that's not a complaint about times past but a reflection on the gifts of the new. Two, my wife absolutely loved the liturgy and she said something quite profound: "I had no idea we had all these things" - meaning the candelabras, the thurible, all the trappings that made it such a beautiful and moving experience. Then there was my son, whose eyes were fixed on Father when we reached the end of the procession and I picked him up so he could watch. When a (almost) seven year-old is transfixed even well after bed time, you know something was done right.