It has long been said that if you don’t like “organized religion” our parish is the perfect place for you. There are Sundays when it’s like amateur hour. “Has anybody here ever done this before?”
At one of our mid-week Masses, Fr. Matthew couldn’t find the wine. The cruets weren’t on the altar. He looked into the little ceramic vases that take the place of flowers during Lent, thinking maybe one of our more creative types might have stuck them over there. No joy. So before anybody from the Altar Guild could move, he charged down the side aisle to the sacristy, and came back with the entire fifth of wine! He filled the chalice and then sat the bottle on the edge of the altar.
It is hard to be serious at a time like that, but it was just so Resurrection!
He had announced some time ago that he would be having a footwashing on Maundy Thursday. Now, I don’t know about you, but my first thought when he asked if I would participate, was PEDICURE!! Apparently, all the other ladies had the same idea. The four of us came up and sat on chairs in front of the altar, one shoe off and one shoe on, and tried to act as if we did this all the time. When he washed my feet, he said, “Good Heavens! What’s that.” It was supposed to be a flower, but it really did resemble a heart. He asked another woman if that was her natural color, and then said, “Ah, purple for Lent.”
After all of the foolishness of the footwashing, we got down to the seriousness of the Mass. I would imagine that even though Jesus knew what was coming there was, as there generally is, some laughing and joking at that Seder, too. We used Rite C, which is not my favorite, but it is the most penitential of the services, and very appropriate.
The altar was stripped and scrubbed, the lights were dimmed, Psalm 22 was read, and then Fr. Matthew did something I have never seen. Each of the five incised crosses on the altar top were gently anointed with oil, and then he kissed the altar and walked out. The crucifer and I turned off the sanctuary lights, and followed – in darkness and in silence.