Happy Easter, everybody! It’s been an amusing day so far.
I decided last night that I was going to try to get up early and go to the first Mass today. Well, I didn’t quite make it. I drove over to Church at around 8:00 am (which is when Mass starts), and there was not a parking spot to be had within 4 blocks of the place. So, I admitted defeat and came home to wait for a later Mass.
I decided against going to the 9:30 Mass. It’s always ALWAYS packed, even when it’s not Easter Sunday, and I just knew that the 8:00 crowd would still be getting out when the 9:30 bunch was trying to get in and park. Not a battle I wanted to fight, so I decided to wait for the 11:30 Mass, which is the Mass I usually attend.
So I got to Church, and as luck would have it, Father Dennis was the celebrant. I hate to poke fun at the man, but he really is a riot, mostly because he’s not the most graceful person in the world, and he’s very absentminded. So Mass gets started, and we get all the way through to the usual Easter Sunday renewal of Baptismal promises. For the non-Catholics out there, this is essentially a chance for the priest to ask the congregation all the questions we couldn’t answer when we were Baptized as infants, i.e. –
Priest: Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth?
Congregation: We do.
And so on all the way through the usual Profession of Faith. This exchange is followed by a sprinkling with water, reminiscent of Baptism. This is usually accomplished by the priest handing a small bucket of holy water to one of the altar servers before taking a dipper in hand. The two of them then make their way around the Church, and the priest uses the dipper to fling drops of water over the congregation, usually to the accompaniment of the cantor singing an appropriately-themed song.
Sounds pretty unexciting, doesn’t it? Maybe a bit weird if you’ve never been to Mass before, but hardly earth-shattering. Well, not today! Today, the whole water-sprinkling thing turned into a race! Father Dennis was apparently familiar with the song the cantor was singing, and he realized that he didn’t have a whole lot of time before she got to the end. Our Church is fairly large, so he had a lot of ground to cover. So, what does Father Dennis do? He dunked his dipper in the bucket and took off like a shot around the Sanctuary, a hapless altar girl jogging (yes, jogging!) in his wake and trying not to slosh all the water out of the bucket. He got back to the altar (before the end of the song!) all flushed and out of breath, and he was so flustered that he lost his place three times in the next prayer.
But the fun didn’t stop there! Easter being one of the High Holy Days, most churches trot out all the trappings of the pre-Vatican II Mass, which includes incense. Today, I learned that Father Dennis wields a censer like a bullwhip. Most of the spreading of incense takes place before Communion, so we were all kneeling, waiting for him to get started on the consecration. Well. He picked up that censer and started flinging it around like he was trying to smack pigeons out of the air, or something.
First, he swung it over the altar (clink!clink!clink!, clink!clink!clink!), and then he walked around the altar to the front (clankity, clankity, clankity, clank!), then faced the altar and swung it about again (clink!clink!clink!, clink!clink!clink!, whoooshCLONK!, whoooshCLONK!), and then he faced the congregation and swung it at us (clink!clink!clink!CLANG!), at which point the entire front row ducked and covered, and then back around the altar (clankity, clankity, clankity, clank!) to where he started. And he then proceeded to lose his place in the Eucharistic prayers five times. *sigh*
But we all managed to get through the rest of the Mass without serious injury. And THEN, on my way home, I had the radio on – Thistle and Shamrock is on NPR right after Mass, and I usually tune in on my way home. The first piece I heard was a gorgeous melancholy air for cello and violin that immediately made me think of Aubrey and Maturin from Master and Commander. The second piece I heard was the National Youth Band of Scotland playing “We Will Rock You.” On bagpipes. That was surreal, let me tell you, but they did a really good job with it.
And then, when I got back to my apartment building, I ran into one of the other tenants, who was carrying an unwieldy bundle under one arm. At first, I wondered what the heck he was doing bringing all that wood into the building, but then I realized he was carrying a half-dozen practice swords (katanas, mostly) and trying to look nonchalant about it.
Like I said, it’s been a funny sort of morning.