Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joys from Serving Alone

This post will seem like gibberish to anyone who isn't at least slightly familiar with the Tridentine Mass.

This morning, I was sheduled to serve alone. Fr. Willis had set up the altar in a manner that prepared to celebrate the Mass with no server. That is, the cruets were up on the altar and the Lavabo dish and finger towel was on a small stand directly next to the altar. So when I bursted into the sacristy and he was about half way done vesting, I had to hurry to get my cassock and surplice on. I ended up putting on a surplice that was a bit too long for me, but whatever.

So we went out to the altar and Father went up to put the chalice with the paten and host up on the altar along with opening the missal. I did my bit of putting his biretta on the sedilia and then going over and shutting the doors to the sacristy. Then after the prayers before the altar, I had to go over and get the bells which are kept near the credence table.

Everything is good until the washing of the hands when I realize I have my cruets and finger basin (aka "Lavabo dish") alright but I don't have the communion paten. Remember that Father was planning on not having anyone to serve for him and thus no one would be there to use the paten and it would be useless to bring it out.

So I go up to the altar with the water and wine cruets and then come down to get the finger basin. We don't have the communion paten, but I know what I'll do. After the server washes the priests hands, they will give a small bow. When the time came, I walked up and wash Father's hands. When we were giving each other the small bow, I whispered "I'll go and get the paten", and he nodded as if to say "good idea".

But then I realized I had to wait a bit because after the server(s) have put the cruets, Lavabo dish, and finger towel back, they go back to their spots and almost immediately after getting there have to say the "Suscipiat" prayer. Not long after that, the priest and server say, in respective order, "Dominus vobiscum", "Et cum spiritu tuo", "Sursum corda", "Habemus ad Dominum", "Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro", and finally "Dignum et justum est."

So I stuck around and did that prayer and then got up and darted back to the sacristy to find the communion paten. Luckily, it was right by a stand that was right next to the doors. I took it and practically ran back to the credence table with it and had to go back to my spot because after "Dignum et justum est", the priest says a prayer that's not very long and at the end of which I have to ring the bells.

He finished that prayer about a second before I actually knelt down again, so I was there to ring the bells.

That should be the end of it but for the fact that I left the side doors to the sacristy standing open which they really shouldn't be. I should have gotten up right there and then and done it because the prayer he says after the "Sanctus" and before the "Hanc Igitur" is long enough and would afford me enough time to have shut the doors. But no, I waited.

Then the "Hanc Igitur" came, and at that time, as it's probably known to whoever knows enough to bother reading this, I ring the bells again. So I did so (RRRIIIIIINGG!!!! I like to get the best out of those things) and then transported the bells to the top step where I will use them to ring during the Consecration.

This was the window of opportunity I was shooting for. After I moved the bells, I went over and shut the doors and then went back and assumed my proper position on the top step of the altar waiting to lift the chasuble and ring the bells! Mission accomplished!

Now in retrospect, I might wonder why closing doors was so important to me? Well, because that's the way it's supposed to be, and I think that the first step to liturgical decay is giving a pass on the little things. "It starts with the little things" are very wise words and I've always found them to be true.