Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Easter and Holy Week Reflections

Well, considering it is still the Octave, I can say, "Happy Easter!" for a few more days without fear of being late!

My Holy Week was actually quite refreshing for a priest.

I started out with Palm Sunday Celebration on Saturday afternoon at Visitation Catholic Church in Camanche, Iowa. We started in the Parish Hall/Cafeteria/Bingo Hall. I have to say that the Permanent Deacon was absolutely clueless as to why there were two Gospel readings for this liturgy. In his defense, he is like 85 years old. Aparently, Kayla, my beloved niece, was imitating every posture and hand gesture that I made during Mass. She is adorable, for sure! My brother, Kurt, read the Narrator portion of the Passion while I read the Christ parts. I am not sure what the people thought, but oh well. (In a side note, I think Kayla only got us mixed up once. She was being carried down the steps by her mom, when she saw me sitting at the computer and said: "Daddy!" When I turned around, she realized her mistake and was quite upset about it.

Tuesday evening was dinner with our College Seminarians and the Archbishop at the Cathedral before the Chrism Mass. It is always good to dine with the Big Boss, and to see his interaction with others. (I tried to pump him for gossip from Bishop Murry's installation in Youngstown to no avail.) Two of our four College guys served the Chrism Mass, and did a wonderful job. As always, the music was fabulous.

Wednesday evening was Tenebrae here at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. At one point, five of the choir went to the back balcony/loft. The remaining choir began a piece that was good, however the echo was soon taken up by the five in the rear. The soprano took the lead, until the Ultra Soprano took it even higher. Let me tell you: "Voice of an Angel!!!!" She hit a note that I think is not even on a keyboard! B-E-A-utiful!

Thursday evening was Mass of the Lord's Supper. During Holy Week, the guys from the seminary are responsible for serving the liturgies at the Cathedral, so they are well trained and into the whole celebrations. I think that there is no greater place to celebrate the Holy Week liturgies in our diocese than the Cathedral. The music is typically fantastic, as well as are the minor ministers. Bishop Moeddel was supposed to take the liturgy, but his health is still shaky at best, so Archbishop Pilarczyk took all the Holy Week liturgies. After Mass, we had dinner together, a total of eight: Archbishop, Frs. Bramlage, Snodgrass, Binzer, Smith, Schnippel, Larger, and Deacon Dave Klingshirn. All in all, a great dinner (Prime Rib) and fun conversation.

Good Friday was very prayerful, for sure. The Passion was chanted by three wonderful musicians. Instead of the crowd reading the parts, Richard Proulx has composed choral motets for the rest of the choir to sing. Wow, really added quite the dimension. In the later afternoon, we celebrated the Stations. I carried the Cross while Fr. Bramlage led the stations. It was very nice to lead the crowd as we all followed along with the stations and walked around the Cathedral.

Holy Saturday is always the most interesting day of the year. I am scheduled for the First Saturday observance at Holy Name Church and the procession to the (un)Planned Parenthood clinic/mill. Because we could not have Mass, it was (just) the rosary. Well, to set the tone, I read the second reading from the Office of Readings before starting the rosary. If you have not read it, it is a great meditation on what Christ was doing while he slept in the tomb.

For the Vigil, unfortunately, we did not have any baptisms, conversions, or confirmations at the Cathedral. But, we did do all seven Old Testament readings. (It was the first time I actually heard the Baruch reading at the Vigil.) For the last five years or so, I have heard the Exodus reading chanted instead of just read. This year, the reading was proclaimed in the normal way, but the Cantor who chanted the reading was fabulous! There is one man in the choir whose major in college is Operatic Studies at CCM. He chanted this setting for the Exodus which I am convinced only an Opera singer could pull off. WOW! Words fail to describe!

You know it is a good liturgy when you get to the Opening Prayer an hour and 45 minutes in to the prayer! The whole Vigil took about 2.5 hours. A Frosh in College was sold on the Vigil by his mother by saying that there were no conversions, so it should be short. He was not too happy afterwards! (Don't worry, Alex, you got some time off of Purgatory, at least I think so!)

Well, after hitting the sack about midnight, I had to leave for three Masses in Oxford by at least 6:30 the next morning. Hence an early 5:45 wake-up call. (It is a good thing I shaved the head before the Vigil, otherwise it would have been an earlier alarm setting!) The last Mass at St. Mary's, Oxford, was fantastic! The Church (which sits 250) had about 400 mostly college students! Wow, to preach to that crowd every week! Fantastic! I really enjoyed being there for Easter, I hope to go back at some point!

I did wear my cassock during all of the Holy Week liturgies, including Sunday. I kept it on by the time I got home to see what my nieces would say about it. Only Paige (the 7th grader) looked at me and quipped: "Uh, Kyle, why are you wearing a dress?" I love you, Paige, you little turd!"

About six thirty, I was so tired, I crashed upstairs at mom and dad's. By the time I woke back up, nearly every one had left (sorrry!) I think they understood, at least I hope so. I made it back to the Cathedral on Monday and had dinner with two seminary classmates last night, in our annual Easter Monday celebration. Quite fun to share stories about Holy Week with each other.

All in all, it is the greatest week in the Church year. I have to say that I had it very easy, as I got to sit back and actually enjoy Holy Week, unlike most of my brother priests.

I hope all had a truly wonderous and blessed Christmas, I mean Easter. (The snow through me off!) May we all bask in the glow of the Resurrection of Our Lord!


Alex said...

Even if I didn't get any time off in purgatory, I did enjoy the luminous glow around your head during the Vigil Mass!! Happy Easter

Jackie said...

Nice to hear about your Holy Week, Father but hey - what about the nice former parishoner that took you to lunch on Saturday? And walked downtown in the FREEZING COLD??

Father Kyle said...

Jackie, that was truly a highlight! Plus, it wasn't that cold, I mean it is only April and still below freezing. I don't know what everyone is complaining about! (Sarcasm over)

Kelly Benjey said...

I am truly jealous... oh to have experienced only one of those wonderful liturgies! Holy Week has been quite the adjustment for me these past two years as a mom (vs. a single person with time to devote to prayer and liturgies)

By the time I wrestled Owen and Jackson through two passes of the "Living Stations of the Cross" while coordinating the choir (Mom picked a terrible week to go out of town) I didn't have energy to take on Holy Thursday or Good Friday liturgies.

We were up as late as the Vigil Mass... but we were filling baskets and hiding eggs...

I truly miss quiet, reflective prayer and celebratory beverages after the Vigil!