Sunday, March 31

Well, here we are outside Harrisburg, PA

As Michael wrote in his blog, Easter Mass this morning was something else. I have literally never seen anything like it - and I've been going to Mass since 1965. Even during the 70's - I never saw anything even close.

The priest was a visitor, and I promise from the bottom of my heart I'll never complain about our pastor ever, ever again.

Actually, he's not a complete stranger to the area - apparently he taught at one of the local high schools for ten year a while back, and was popular. I guess.

How can I communicate what this liturgy was like? Egomania 2002? Would that do it? As Michael noted, this priest literally made up every prayer from the opening sign of the cross to the closing blessing, including much of the Eucharistic prayer. He eliminated every "negative" word - for example, replacing "with humble and contrite hearts" with "humble and blessed hearts." He waxed eloquent at the presentation of the gifts, relating how the various people in the parish made the money they had offered. During the Eucharistic prayer, he added the name of the choir-directing nun, but included no saints. He even did some extemporaneous work with the consecration, which he was sort of chanting, but not really chanting - jazzily ad-libbing would be more like it. He sang out "shed for you, shed for you, shed for you, shed - for - yooooooooou!" He sang during the homily. He had the children come, not around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, but in front of him, so that he was behind them during it, and kind of had to fight his way forward during the consecration, making for a bit of laughter. Hah. Hah. Hah.

Add to that his rather extraordinary story about how in a week of being depressed and sad about the Current Situation, Jesus surprised him in the form of a 6th grade altar server after Holy Thursday Mass, a boy with an "angelic face" who gave him a big hug....you have a Portrait of an Insane Priest.

It was simply awful. I was half praying for Joseph to act up so that I would have to leave, and half praying he wouldn't so I could remain and watch the train wreck.

Our pastor has been fretting over the past year about dropping Mass attendance and its companion, dropping offertory collection. I wonder if he thought this would help. I hope not. I hope he doesn't think this is what is going to help rev up his parish. God help us if he does!

We are heading to Philadelphia in the morning to see some interesting stuff, I hope.

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