Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live with a Franciscan focus.
(And one of these days I'll fix the template and add a Search feature. :-P)

15 January 2008

Hey, is he on fire? Or, How Franciscans Get Ready for Mass 

While it's amazing and awesome to be in your own Profession Mass, it's a Totally Different Experience when you're on the other side o' things; namely, making sure everything goes off without a hitch. Which is the situation I found myself in last night, a mere almost-2 years after my own Profession.

I'm currently serving on my local fraternity's council, and as the Minister (our Order's term for "president" or "superior") and I work closely together on everything, I participated in all the behind-the-scenes grunt work for this Mass, in which two of our Candidates (novices) were going to make their permanent Professions. One of my jobs was designing and printing up copies of the program -- involved emailing the thing around to the other council members for their input, verifying who was doing what, and verifying the music selections with the music ensemble. And then copying/folding/stuffing said programs; about 30 of 'em, which we naively thought (ha-ha!) would be enough.

Mass was at 7 p.m., so the Minister, myself, and the other council members figured we'd show up at 6:30 p.m. to set up/organize/etc. How involved could it be? We usually have Mass at our monthly gatherings, anyway.

I arrived at 6:25 p.m. and lo, nearly everyone else thought it'd be A Good Idea to show up way early, too. Which meant I was pinballing among guests and various secular brothers/sisters ("Oh, hello Sister C! Sogoodtoseeyou! GottaruncatchyouaftertheMass!") while trying to get everything ready.

Before the Mass

Why aren't the chapel lights on? Who has the keys for that?

Have you seen [concelebrating guest priest] Fr. J? He isn't here yet? Hey, who's the Dominican friar over there? Oh, he's a guest of Sister B. [one of the two about-to-be-Professed Candidates]. Wait, he's also concelebrating? Why didn't anyone tell us he was gonna be here?! He's not in the program!

What do you mean, Fr. J. isn't doing the Gospel reading? We were told he was -- he's listed in the program for that!

Is Brother D. [a deacon and our also fraternity's Formation Director] going to assist at the Mass or not? Well, can you let me know as soon as Fr. K. makes up his mind?

Has anyone put out the Gifts for Sisters S. & B. to bring up to the altar? No? Hey, Brother D., we need a table on which to put the Gifts. [Subsequent fruitless search for suitable table. Instead, lugged table, used for leaflets, from back of chapel up the aisle.]

Hi, Guest. Can you please move back a few pews? These are reserved for the Professed brothers and sisters. Thanks so very much!

OK, Sisters S. & B., you'll sit in the front pew so that you can easily come up to the altar when you make your Profession promises. What? No, don't worry, you'll be cued in on everything.

Sister M., you'll sit next to me, since you're serving as one of the Witnesses for the Order and the Church. Right over there, near the front. See? On the side aisle. Yes, you'll be cued when you have to go up, don't worry.

What do you mean, Brother D. can't serve as the other Witness for the Order? He can't because he's also the Formation Director and that isn't allowed? Well, it didn't say anything about that in the Ritual, how were we supposed to know?! And we've got him listed in the program as a Witness! Who'll be the other witness, then?

We're out of programs already?!

All right, I've put the text for the Welcome, the readings, and the Franciscan Litany of Saints up on the podium. Is it time to start now?

The Mass

Me: Hey, why is the congregation standing? I haven't read the Welcome yet, and y'all haven't processed in!

Brother D.: They're confused.

Me: Okaaaaay. I'll go up now and read the Welcome. [Hurrying to front of chapel while motioning for folks to sit back down.]

Read the Welcome (even though I was out of breath, managed to not sound like it. Go, me!) and then Mass was off to a good start. After that, I only had one other part in the Rite, which was to lead the congregation in the Franciscan Litany of Saints, which went OK ... though Fr. K. read a completely different "let us pray" ending from (all together now) what was in the program. And the music ensemble decided, on the fly, to sing a different hymn for the recessional. :::sigh:::

It really was a lovely Mass, and folks say it all went quite well; the Minister and I were just too frazzled to fully appreciate it. But, we're told it was great.

Oh, yeah, our Historian managed to set himself on fire while taking pictures -- backed into one of the altar candles. Was unharmed, but his shirt sported a Big Honkin' Hole on the back.

And there you have it. Just yer typical Comedy O' Controlled Chaos, otherwise known as A Franciscan-Run Event. :-P

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Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, it is amazing how perception/reality come together when God is involved. Great job on the service and glad that you and the minister were the only 'stress casualties'.


15 January, 2008 18:10  
Blogger Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Wow, a fire. Nice touch! I'll bet the Holy Spirit jokes were flying....

Congratulations to your 2 newly professed members. I've been in your shoes during most of our events, since many of our members are aging and not everyone is ambulatory!

15 January, 2008 18:11  
Blogger Lisa, ofs said...

Barb, you're totally on target with the Holy Spirit jokes. They were indeed flyin' everywhere! :-P

15 January, 2008 23:23  
Blogger Lisa, ofs said...

Oh, I forgot to ask -- Barb, did you know about the whole Formation-Director-can't-also-be-a-Witness bit? Do you know where it says that?

I checked again in the Ritual and can't find it stated anywhere. Just don't want to run into the same problem during future Profession Masses.

16 January, 2008 09:47  
Blogger Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the post, Lisa. You really had me cracking up-it's so close to home. I do this same job for the funerals of our brothers, as well as the occasional profession, and I know just how you feel!

Here are some of my pet sufferings:

"Brother Deacon, presuming you are of the Roman rite, yes, you must kneel from the epiclesis until the memorial acclamation."

"Forgive me Father, but I didn't know you would pray the 'prayer after communion' not after Communion [where it belongs], but after the announcements."

"Dear brothers, would you please wait until the priests with the cups are ready before you go down for holy communion, so that the faithful are not denied the Precious Blood like last time."

"Concelebrants please sit on the right side of the church, no, not the right side from the clerical perspective, but from the perspective of the building and of the people of God. Thank you for your cooperation."

But, as has been noted, the miracle is that everyone then says how wonderful and organized things are, even after it seemed like such a wreck!

16 January, 2008 10:07  
Blogger Melissa said...

You Franciscans sure know how to party!

17 January, 2008 14:35  
Blogger Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Not sure about the formation director thing.

But I'm gonna have to look it up. Just got some news here that has me shaking in my boots....

15 February, 2008 13:29  
Blogger Lisa, ofs said...

Eeep -- Barb, what do you mean by "Just got some news here that has me shaking in my boots...."?

If you don't feel comfortable posting it here, can you email me (email AT franciscanfocus DOT com)? I'm really curious, now! And a mite concerned.

15 February, 2008 13:56  

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