Monday, November 02, 2009


Home at All Souls

As I mentioned in the last entry, my schedule has been erratic, my attention span more than erratic. So much so that this morning I'd not only forgotten that the school's second grade "All Saints Pageant" was TODAY, but I looked at watches that I'd not set back an hour on Saturday, called the school in a panic only to realize the time frame was still good! The kids were precious.
But somewhere in all the mix I didn't learn until verbal announcements yesterday that for the first time an ALL SOUL'S Mass would be held at our civic cemetery. So, I emailed the pastor and asked if he would like music ministry. Some of you might say, "Well, that's expected, C., why would you have to ask?" We have a lot of Masses among four parishes now, Christmas (and the school play doth approach as does the choral seasonal concert) and I'm bushed! How's that?
Anyway, the pastor was kind enough to reply in the affirmative. And he indicated one of our resident associates would be presiding at the cemetery.
So this morning, after the second grade, I hop to putting together THE ORDER OF MUSIC! I figured that a reasonable crowd of 50 folks would show; they're used to some Latin- heck, we're going for the whole enchilada!
So I use MS Pub and master up "Requiem aeternam" (Introit), provide the translation for the Offertorio, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from "Jubilate Deo" (which conveniently are from the Requiem, the "Lux aeterna" for the Communio and "In paradisum" for the dismissal. We run off 100 copies and I figure we're locked and loaded. Then Father Dan comes in as we're running the second page of the back to back, and mentioned he'd envisioned a Spanish/English bi-lingual service with some "familiar" songs, title's unspecified.
The really cool thing is that we COLLABORATED; he got my thrust, I got his.
When Mass time began in the midst of the mausoleum at 12:15pm there were at least 150 people. The sun was brutal on the north half of the atrium, but the 40-50 seats somehow shifted to the shade and everyone found their, ahem, comfortable niche.
One of the speakers of the PA provided was in the corner of the mausoleum where my grandparents are interred, so I set up my stand there next to them. I can't describe the feeling I had throughout the Mass singing the chants and hymns with my namesake's remains within touching distance. And my crypt is a diagonal stone's throw across from their little cremation niches. The karma, the karma!
My Franciscan schola buddy, Ralph, joined me for a duo schola.
And off we go! The Mass has joined the ranks of those where purpose, intent, participation, spirituality, mystery and liturgy have locus together. Father Dan even went tri-lingual. His collects, prayers, homily and blessings flowed flawlessly from English to Spanish and, gasp, LATIN! It only reaffirmed to me a maxim that I posted here some time ago: when people mean to be there for the right reasons, they are engaged. And that doesn't just mean vocally.
We've been concluding funeral Masses with "In paradisum" consistently for a number of years now, but we've always had just a cantor or a small schola render the chant. What a moment to have the folk make their best attempts at joining in that beautiful commendation.
And as Father Dan said, this "new" tradition for us in this town simply is a natural grafting upon those primitive gatherings in the burial catacombs of our forebears millenia ago.
God bless the souls in Purgatory. Pray for them as the Saints pray for us. If we forbear, our reservation to finally see our Heavenly Host and His hosts will always be honored.

2 comments:

Anne said...

Great post Charles! Made me want to be there.

Charles said...

Thank you, Anne.
How are things at RPInet going?