Sunday, January 6, 2008

Liturgical Musings ... or not ...

At my Faith Sharing group this morning, we had an interesting side-topic of discussion. I'll have to admit to having missed the 7.45 am Mass this morning. The Presider du Jour elicited just about as much discussion as did the Readings of the Day. I will call him Fr. A to protect his privacy.

It looks to me that people either love him or hate him. Upon first meeting, you get the impression that he looks like Santa Claus in a Franciscan habit. The very picky are discomfited by the fact he doesn't wear an alb underneath the chasuble. The even more picky criticise his tendency to ad-lib during Mass, cracking "need coffee" jokes to the 7.45 am folk, and ad-libbing some of the basic texts from the Order of Mass. (Interestingly enough, when he presided over the Filpino community's 5.30 am Misa de Gallo, he made no such comments, and he kept his ad-libbing to an absolute minimum ... actually, more like zero.)

They liked his homily, however. (We're pretty blessed in that this current group of Friars are also excellent homilists. Fr. Dan should be so proud of his charges; he was an academic at Washington Theological Union before he was assigned Pastor at Immaculate Conception.)

The largest protest came from his, er, introduction of sorts, before praying the Lord's Prayer. Let's see, how does it go ... oh yes, "Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us. Now, Whose Father?"

And then the people reply (with a little bit of nervous laughter): "Our Father, who art in heaven ..."

The first time I heard that, I just rolled my eyes.

So a couple of people were excoriating Fr. A over his liturgical ... er ... improprieties. However, he did get major points for helping the lone altar server fold the long cloth that covers the altar after Communion and before the Prayer After Communion. The other Friars would just return to their stone throne, watching the altar server struggle to fold the thing by himself.

Where Fr. A may lack in liturgical rubrics, he makes up for it in his pastoral approach. Most I've talked to say of all the friars, he would be the one to whom they would be more willing to confess their sins. When one woman expressed fear of some sort of ghost or demon taking up residence in her place, Fr. A comforted her and blessed her house. I know he spends lots of time in the hospital, visiting parishioners and giving them comfort. He will be taking a trip to New Orleans soon ... I think he mentioned looking forward to a Habitat for Humanity-like project whilst there. I've shared a couple of meals with him myself, planning for the Misa de Gallo, and I found him very easy to work with, and very flexible. He was also very knowledgeable about the little liturgical points I was bringing up to him. In short, I was very impressed by him.

One thing that I am curious about though - I noticed when he takes communion, he does it by intinction - he will dip the host in the chalice and then consume it. It raised a flag in my mind. First of all, I didn't think Catholics took communion by intinction. Or rather, I have never seen communion by intinction in any Roman Catholic church I've been to. Secondly - and I'm sure this is a valid concern - what if the priest is a recovering alcoholic. Would he need some sort of special dispensation or something similar to take communion in such a manner?

Ah well, enough of my blather. I have a Chemistry 101 syllabus to finalize. Classes start Tuesday ... !!! ...

Edit, 8 January 2008:

I posed a simpler question on the RPInet Boards, and thus far, the discussion has been very interesting. Naturally, it's taken off in a different tangent (when do discussions ever not do so?) but illuminating discussion nontheless.

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