Gentle Readers... today's post is a sobering reminder of how wonderful it is to have St. Ann's in Charlotte available to us.
My Labor Day weekend worship experience....
While away on vacation, I drove 19 miles to try a
different parish to see if I could avoid putting myself through another Memorial Day experience, but not only did I cross as state-line, but I
must have driven through a time warp back to 1968.
I sort of knew
I was in trouble when I walked in there was the large, communal bath
tub, err, baptismal font in the middle of the doorway... a lovely older
women in a tie-dye dress welcomed everyone and announced that since it
was summertime, that that we would only be reciting the Gloria (little
did I know at the time this was probably a good thing!) I'm guessing
the guitarist was on summer holiday as well.
I searched in vain
to find the Tabernacle to reverence it before entering my pew but to no
avail other than I think it was the little square thing hidden behind
the altar covered in a polyester green tablecloth, but I was not sure
since there was no Sanctuary torch.
Ms. Tie Dye then announced
that our "Gathering anthem" would be "Let there be Peace on Earth"...
which seemed innocent enough, but there was to be a theme... for our
"Presentation anthem" was a song I have never heard before, but it was
in the "Peace" category of the hymnal and was a lovely dittie about God
saving us from "bombs dropping" and "release us from the labor of our
work and its injustice" to which was add that Catholic classic for
"Communion anthem"... "We Shall Overcome"... which was actual in the
Now, in fairness, there were two Communion anthems, the
first one which was sung after the 18!! Extraordinary Ministers of
Communion mounted the Altar (and help themselves to the ciborium and
chalices on the Altar so that they could commune simultaneously with the
Celebrant) was "Let us break bread together on our knees".... However,
the irony that seemed lost on everyone in this parish is that the entire
congregations STANDS! the the momemt when the Council of 18 Elders mounts the Altar
and REMAINED STANDING during the entire communion rite. Talk about
disconnected from reality... "let us break bread together on our knees unless we are actually standing"!
The Celebrant, dressed under his
Chasuble, in a lovely kaki pants, black shoes, and no Roman collar was
very conscious that it was "summer" and so did not waste much time on
his Homily which was limited to "Jesus wants us to be humble and the
rich CEOs need to take care of the poor in their company". Literally,
end of sermon.. on to the Creed, the Apostle's Creed! (it is summertime after all). In addition to
condensing the homily, he could not be bothered with Eucharistic Prayer
I, so EPII was used, but was shortened by eliminating his genuflections
after the consecration.
At the end of communion, the 18 Elders
placed all of their sacred vessels on an airline food cart and one of
them wheeled it down one aisle, around the corner, to the back of
the Altar, up the handicap ramp, and to the cube covered in the green
polyester tablecloth confirming my earlier suspicion that it was the
Mercifully, Father stood to offer the post communion
prayer and end my suffering (or so I thought), but as he stood, a glow
and joy that I had now seen all though the Mass came upon his face and
said... "Alright, it's Birthday time!... who as a birthday today?" for
the next 10 minutes, he ran throughout the congregation shaking their
hands and everybody clapped each one! Finally, it ended and he returned
to the Sanctuary, turned and said..."And now... any Anniversaries!"
followed by another 8 minutes of greeting and applause. (we had now
just spent more time celebrating ourselves than the entire readings,
homily, and eucharistic prayer of the Mass combined). For once I was
envious, instead of judgmental, of those who left after communion... Oh
if I had only known!
Fortunately, we ran out of things to
celebrate, and the TieDye cantor mounted her podium to announce that we would have TWO "Sending
Forth anthems".... "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America"...
which were ended with thunderous applause.
I quietly said my
thanksgiving prayers... (at least I think I did, I couldn't really hear
myself amongst the great clamor of greeting congregants)... and made my
way home, longing again for the peace, grace, and solitude of St. Ann's.
As I left Mass I looked for the Communist Party USA signup table, but I
couldn't find it, perhaps since "it was summertime" they were not
signing up new members.
Lastly, as I was pulling out of the parking
lot, a car cut me off causing me to swerve to miss it... on its bumper
was the sticker ... "Pro-Obama Pro-Choice"! sort of summed up my whole
59 minutes ago