We have a supply priest at our parish, and after looking at the attendance from the last two year’s Ash Wednesday services, it was agreed that it really wasn’t worth her coming all the way from Hagerstown, especially in view of the fact that there are several other churches in the area that were “doing” ashes.
I went up to St. Alban’s, a small 1928 parish not too far from home. It was wond-erful! I have absolutely no problem with female clergy, same sex marriage, and most other things that come along, but when it comes to liturgy, I am, to quote an old friend, a flaming conservative. Sort of “Give me ’28, or give me death”. Well, maybe not that bad, since I’ve been managing for decades now, but you get the idea.
We had been told the service was at 10:30, but it was at 10, so I managed to be late in spite of my best efforts, and walked during the sermon, which was quite good. The celebrant was fairly young (although I am of an age where most professionals resemble Doogie Howser.) It was the assistant who caught my eye.
The church apparently has two assistants. One is a man who recently retired from a parish where he had been since the days of the Ark – and the Dove. (Marylander inside joke; look it up.) The second is the elderly priest who was “on” today. The dear man has Parkinson so badly that he looked as if he was disagreeing strenuously with every point in the sermon. He was also in charge of ringing the Sanctus bells (the only thing I didn’t enjoy) and they tinkled almost constantly.
Everything else was very High-Church. The celebrant had a maniple, and wore a black zucchetto for most of the service. When the two men processed out, they both wore birettas. (Biretti?) The assistant’s surplice was lace, and the priest’s vestments were beetle backed. Good Heavens!
Biretta and Zucchetto. Sounds as if it might be a law firm – or a pair of gangsters? (Is there a difference? Oh, be nice!)