Saturday, 17 August 2013

Three new churches

In an unusual flurry of activity, another three churches have now been added to my list!

Thursday, 1 August
The first church was St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, the collegial church of Saint Louis University.   I happened to be in that area and stopped into the church for a minute before its 17:15 Mass, but noticed there was no server.  So when the priest arrived I volunteered, but instead his reply was, "Well, thank you for the offer, but I'm not the priest saying Mass."  Back to my pew I go, covertly awaiting the next priest so that I could make my move.  But by 15 minutes after Mass was to start, there was still no priest!  As the people began to become discouraged and leave, the first priest decided to step up and fill in, so in the end I was able both to lector and serve.  "You were very prophetic with your offer," he said to me, after the Mass.

It is not exactly a new church for my list, as I have lectored there once in the past, but now it can move to the "served" list from the "lectored-but-not-served" list (a fine distinction, I know), leaving only one church now on that list, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church . . . in Cookeville, Tennessee.  Some day!  Some day.
Thursday, 8 August
The second church was Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, a regular parish church, and the story behind it is equally regular.  I decided to go for 8:00 morning Mass, with vestments in tow (as is my custom when attending a church outside of my circuit).  Observing that the usual servers were not present, I volunteered myself, and Father accepted.  Mass was served, all went well.  +1!

Saturday, 17 August
The third church was the chapel of the White House Retreat Centre, a retreat centre south of St. Louis run by the Jesuits.  This one has a bit of a story behind it.

The occasion was a weekend retreat for the Spirit & Truth young adults group at St. Bernadette's Catholic Church.  For months it was preparing*, but I was the only member not to register.  I was happy to join them for the liturgies, but lacked interest in the retreat itself.  For months we debated it, with them saying I may not unless I come to the whole retreat (in hopes of convincing me to sign up, of course), but I held firm, and ultimately gave up on the idea.  A shame, not an unavoidable one, so I put it out of my mind.  But then the night of the retreat, I receive a text message: "Our server is AWOL, can you come serve Mass in the morning?"  I was in!

I still served 8:00 Mass at St. Mary of Victories Chapel, but since the retreat's Mass was at 11:00, I stayed in church for a while as I waited.  Father left in the meantime.  I had my schedule planned perfectly: stay and pray until 10:15, then stop for a quick breakfast and arrive around 10:50.  Which sounds good, until I go to leave and discover the door dead-bolted.  (Just three weeks prior I was locked out of church needing to get in; now, I was needing to get out but locked in!)  As the time ticked by, I made phonecall upon phonecall attempting to find someone who had a key, and finally got out at 10:26 Doing the maths, that then put my arrival time at . . . 11:01.

I decide to grab breakfast to-go and eat it later to save time, but, as may be expected in any story in which someone is running late, there had to be a traffic jam on the way.  Arriving finally at 11:10, totally frazzled, I run into the church to find . . . everyone still praying quietly, and the priests hearing confessions.  Very anticlimactic.  So I make my way to the sacristy, vest, and prepare and eat my breakfast (in that order).  Each priest in turn enters the sacristy, does a double take, and then questions, "Are you not receiving Communion?"  "No," I respond, munching on my bagel.  Then one follows up, ". . . do you need to go to Confession?"  A very generous offer . . . but also quite awkward!

Mass itself went well, with a Benedictine altar arrangement, Latin ordinary and Communion along the altar step, kneeling.  The chalice was dressed with a veil and burse (the very same ones mentioned in my previous post), and it was my duty at the Offertory to undress it.  Having been intensely studying the rubrics for it just a few days prior, I had it down to a science, and it was nice to have a chance to practice.  But in the meantime the other server (who in the end did show up) comes with the ciborium, so I take the veil to the Epistle-side to fold it . . . which is where he went with the ciborium, leading to a near-collision, and totally negating the precision and reverence seen in preparing the chalice.  Oh well.

Another nice aspect of being there for part of the retreat was that all events were announced by the tower bell, and being on hand, I was summoned as the "expert bell ringer" to do the honours!  That being said, I was only welcome for lunch and afternoon recreation, and then left when the actual retreat continued.

So now, my count stands at 50 total, or 49 with the exception mentioned supra.  Yes, 50!  I had been attempting to make my 50th be a special upcoming Mass (wait for it in mid-September), but letting it be a speical Mass with friends works nicely, too.

Datum S. Ludovici, die XVI mensis Augusti, in festo S. Zephirini Papae et Martyris, anno MMXIII.

*If this phrasing confuses you, I would encourage you to familiarise yourself with the English passival.

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