Friday, December 19, 2014

O Radix Jesse: Watch Out!

Greetings on this third day of the final days of Advent. O Radix Jesse!

"O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Today's O Antiphon immediately brings me a chuckle as I remember an event in my childhood. At my home parish, Saint Charles in Woburn, Massachusetts, we had quite the weekend Mass schedule throughout the 1960's, 70's, and early 80's.

With four priests in the rectory, our pastor, Monsignor Christopher C. O'Neill, believed in serving the people by providing as many Masses as possible. This was the weekend schedule (and I am not joking here!)

Saturday: 4:00, 5:00, and 7:00 P.M.
Sunday Morning: 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 Noon in English, and 12:00 Noon in Spanish
Sunday Evening: 4:00, 5:15, 7:30 P.M.

That's right, 14 weekend Masses. And there was music at every one of them except the first three Sunday morning Masses. We had a cantor who sang most of the Masses; his name was Mark.

I will never forget the Fourth Sunday of Advent one year.

Standing tall, next to the ambo, was the large Jesse tree, basically a giant, dead, leaf-less tree, with lots of Jesse tree ornaments all over it. For some reason, as Mark was singing the responsorial psalm on that day, the tree started to bend in his direction, until it finally began to fall right on top of him as he chanted the psalm. He very calmly put up his left hand and held the tree up and never missed a word or a note of the psalm. When it was finished, the altar servers came to his aid and all was well with Mark and the Jesse tree again.

"Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Liam said...

One of then Abp Law's first liturgical reforms after he came to Boston was effectively to prohibit multiple Saturday evening Masses except in cases of grave pastoral need (the most common approved reason, IIRC, was for Masses for other vernaculars, like Spanish or Vietnamese).

And consider that, for a few centuries before the 1950s, there was no Mass permitted to begin after noon and before midnight.

Consider also that Christmas Eve was a day of fast (until the 1950s) and abstinence, and that the Eucharistic fast ran from midnight (again, until the 1950s), and one can see why Christmas Midnight Mass became popular - you could have your festive main meal of fishes on Xmas Eve, the go to Mass, receive communion, and continue feasting for the rest of Christmas Day. Few today understand that context.....

jdonliturgy said...

That reminds me of the tale told at my original parish. One of our lectors, Pat, was reading during Advent with the lit wreath on a stand right in front of the ambo. The story goes that the wreath caught on fire, but he just kept right on reading, with his eyes getting bigger and bigger. The cantor jumped up, ran to the sacristy for water and doused the wreath. Meanwwhile, Pat never missed a beat! Let's hear it for lectors and other ministers who keep it all together!

Mark Hoggard said...