Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The Great Chrism Mass Catostrophe (Actually it was perfect but it sounds more exciting this way)
Last night was the Diocese's annual Chrism Mass. The Chrism Mass is the annual Mass held during Holy Week in which the Sacramental oils (baptismal, anointing of the sick, confirmation, Holy Orders/ordinations...)used throughout the year are blessed. It is a wonderful evening as representatives from all the parishes in the Diocese attend, and many of the priests and deacons. It is a wonderful night to get an understanding of the wider reality of the Church, and its large presence in the state. As a seminarian it is also fun to be back in NH, and to serve a Mass with all of the other NH Guys (seminarians), especially the ones that go to other seminaries. Serving the Chrism Mass is always a little nerve racking as the Bishop , most of the priests, deacons, etc... as well as tons of awesome people from all over the state are present and the seminarian servers are front and center!
Father Jason Jalbert, the director of Worship for the Diocese does a really nice job of laying out all the instructions for us on paper. It is great stuff and a huge help. At these Masses he organizes everything, and works with Father Richard Dion. They are behind the scenes making sure everything runs like clockwork and solving problems when things don't. I give both these guys a lot of credit for really pulling everything together in a beautiful fashion, and for dying a job that would make me go crazy or insane.
My job this year was pretty simple, process in and direct the priests and deacons to their seats. There were five or six rows in the front reserved for priests. My job was to guide the priests around the front of the pews, down a side aisle, and guide them to fill in the rows, from the back all the way to the front. This might seem simple enough, but there was one catch, one more critical instruction I was given, "no matter what fill the front row." I can't blame them for such a request, after all it makes perfect sense, the front row should always be filled.
Now there is a simple little saying that is important to make note of, "details, details, details." I have always been told that I am a big picture guy, I look at things, and get a general sense of what needs to be done, and go from there. When I look at a problem or see an opportunity, I dream big, and fill in the details after. Such an approach is important when plotting a vision, planning for the future or brainstorming for exciting projects. However, such a big picture approach is slightly less helpful when one is filling pews, or perhaps more accurately, when one has an endless stream of priests processing towards you. When people are filing toward you, and you need to seat them, it is important to pay close attention to the rows in which you are working with. For example, if the front row must be filled, and you are in charge of seating people in a long procession, it is helpful to notice the giant pillar that cuts the row in half. A details person would notice that the aforementioned pillar is so large that only Flat Stanley (see Awesome Books Second Graders Read)could squeeze by it to reach the other side. A big picture guy would blindly send several older priests down the aisle, tell them to be sure to go all the way to the end, no matter what, and then look up seconds later and realize the ridiculousness of such a request. Luckily for me a few younger priests figured out what was going on, hopped up on top of the pews and dashed around the older priests and the pillar, to fill in the entire front row, and prevent disaster.
After that initial mix-up the evening, everything was smooth sailing. and a lot less stressful. As the rest of the Mass continued it was smooth sailing and a beautiful and prayerful experience. I am not sure what it is about a beautiful liturgy, but it truly speaks to the human heart and soul.
With the Chrism Mass safely behind us it is off and running to the busiest part of Holy Week, the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil). In Seminarian-speak we refer to this as the week in which we earn our keep. In past years I have helped at different parishes in any way I could, trying to provide extra hands to anyone who needed them. This year I am excited to be at Ste. Marie's and helping out on my home turf. There is something to be said for praying together with a faith community that knows you, prays for and with you, and one that is filled with joy.
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