Tuesday greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois.
This weekend was filled with some household projects, card-playing, beer-drinking (I have become a liker of porters these days), Mass-going, and fireworks-watching.
Speaking of Mass-going, I woke up very early on Sunday morning and had a project I needed to jump into (caulking a shower in a bathroom, what fun!), so I went to the 7:00 A.M. Mass at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's in the West Loop of Chicago. The church was about half full, perhaps a little over 200 people.
It was what we in the liturgical/music "biz" would call a "quiet Mass."
Simply put, no music. I have not attended a "quiet Mass" in many, many years. When I first began my music and liturgy ministry at Saint Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg, Illinois back in 1992, one of my tasks was to introduce music to the 7:45 A.M. Mass community. I attended that particular Mass for about a month to get a feel for the assembly. In the pre-renovated church, there was a "Captain Kirk"-like console next to the presider's chair and the celebrant would push buttons on the console to activate the cassette player during the preparation of the gifts and during communion. The only music that ever played was Gregorian Chant.
I began very slowly to introduce music at that Mass. First few weeks: just a sung Sanctus. Gradually added a sung Gospel Acclamation, then the rest of the eucharistic acclamations. Eventually we began to sing the responsorial psalm (I was the organist/pianist and the cantor). Finally, after several months, that 7:45 community was singing the same music as the rest of the folks attending other Masses. I heard a few grumblings at the beginning, but I thought it all went pretty smoothly. I will never forget the morning, after we had been singing the responsorial psalm for several months, when I played the introduction and sang the refrain, then did not sing the refrain again into the microphone. The assembly was left to sing it on their own. There was this weird hesitancy at first, but by the time the psalm was finished, the folks were singing that refrain quite well. One of the parish staff members who attended that Mass regularly came up to me after Mass and said, "I was really scared when you didn't sing with us, but I thought we all did pretty well, didn't you?"
Well, Sunday at Old Saint Pat's was definitely an out-of-the-ordinary experience for me. We did not recite the Gloria, for which I was grateful. Reciting a hymn like the Gloria just seems wrong, kind of like reciting "Happy Birthday." The lector was great, the homily was a good one, we received under both species, but was it short! There was that teeny-tiny part of me that said, "Wow, in and out in under forty minutes, I could get used to this!" I know this will be a rare experience for me, but it was interesting nonetheless. At the end of Mass, the pastor invited us to sing the first verse of America the Beautiful. Thank the Lord he has a great voice and knows how to start a hymn in the appropriate key for congregational singing. It was actually quite lovely.
I was seated at one of my favorite breakfast places by 7:55. Oh, what a morning!
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.