Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Chrism Mass

I had the opportunity to attend my first Chrism Mass this evening. It was rather spectacular. The Columbus cathedral is beautiful: gothic with stunning stained glass, an impressive baldechino, and an even more impressive canopied cathedra. The only unimpressive part was the ambo -- it was made of clear plastic and what appeared to be the remnants of the communion rail, which itself gave every appearance of having been a 50s or 60s replacement, as it was of oddly cut marble that matched nothing else in the entire church. The choir was seated in the apse, and the screens placed behind them looked as if they might have been stalls at one point -- there is a loft, but it is undergoing renovation in preparation for the construction of an enormous new organ.

The Mass itself was beautiful. The choir sang Virginia and Palestrina, but insisted on keeping those to themselves and demonstrating that they could sing harmonies (which they did quite well). Bishop Campbell's homily was excellent and the rite of the blessing of the oils was beautiful, as was the renewal of the priests' vows. The oils, rather amusingly, were carried forth in containers that looked exactly like the large spigoted metal coffee pots you see at catering events. There's actually an odd logic to that, come to think of it . . . The readings, of course, were from Isaiah, about the one annointed by the Lord, and from Revelation about the power and priesthood of Christ, and from Luke where Christ reads the passage from Isaiah in the synogogue. The second reading was in Spanish, although I saw all of four hispanics, all the same family, in the whole church (talk about things that need desperately to be suppressed: bilingual masses; if you can't settle on one language, use Latin, because otherwise you accrue no benefit from using the vernacular(s)). Because almost every priest in the diocese was there, there were plenty of (ordinary) Eucharistic ministers, which was a unique and welcome change. And they had spare chalices prepared for when the Precious Blood ran out, which struck me as a wonderful bit of forethought and planning. The recessional hymn was "O God Our Help in Ages Past," a very nice hymn I haven't heard in a very long time.

I'm sure there is something else of note I could say about the Mass, but I can't think of what it would be at the moment. Tomorrow: Spy Wednesday!

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