Time to share Holy Week reflections!
  • JesJes
    Posts: 374
    G'day!

    Just thought I'd love to hear everybody's stories for their Holy Week reflections. Highlights, train wreck moments, prayerful insights, amusing things that happened etc.

    So of course just starting this one off.

    The week began with rain. And it pelted down like we hadn't seen rain in a month haha. I woke up that morning and prayed for my old parish which I left a month ago to manage the study of two courses. I thought about my nomadic Lenten movements where I've been to some amazing hidden treasures, Latin masses in the wee hours of the morning, novus ordo done ad orientem, beautiful adoration days. I also reflected on some of the atrocities I've seen in what I think were Catholic Churches, and survived.
    And I missed my friends at my old parish and prayed for them all, hoped that all was well with the new organist there.

    Then I arrived at a reasonably distant church I'd been asked to sing at, late to the rehearsal due to the shock of driving in the rain, which took me a whole hour and 15 to get into the church when it should be a half hour drive. It was beautiful, brand new tiling, nicely decorated altar of palm leaves, wonderful traditional priest and a group of dedicated elderly ladies and gentlemen who sang probably the best I've ever heard them sing. Our procession was wet in the rain but we could actually start outdoors under a sort of outdoor awning. A deacon played a beautiful accompaniment to some chant at communion and I was very impressed by his knowledge he'd picked up in just a couple of years.

    Monday I visited some young adults and went to their ad orientem mass.
    Had my choir rehearsal and it was awful, how was I going to do Easter with this, we couldn't get even a unison note between the four of us? That night I called up the countryside priest and said "please tell me you desperately need another server." And so strategically off was sent the chorister into the serving team. Phew!

    Monday I was also visited by my childhood parish priest who went through his sub deacon singing parts for my most recent parish. He and I had a great time catching up and I felt I had the chance to give something to my old parish for their years of support and wisdom which they shared with me by helping him to learn his chants and epistles etc.

    Tuesday I attended a funeral, was visited by more priests who wanted a workshop and was honoured to be asked to do a Skype session with an overseas priest who would be chanting the Gospel for the first time, so in the middle of the night he logged on and I at 7am was singing him the Gospel with him. Then I had a beautiful experience attending an underground Latin mass. By underground I mean in political terms not physical however might as well mean that. There we were, around 20 students, in 1st world persecuted student style, in an old physics stinky room, using a desk as an altar, wheely chairs as pews and iPads as missals celebrating Latin mass between classes whilst a perfectly beautiful high altar in the neighbouring empty chapel lay bare.

    Wednesday I attended my local and was again asked if I'd like to be one of the people whose feet would be washed... to which I again said "no, thanks!"
    That night I went to tenebrae and sang tenor with two women and a priest. It was my first time singing the lessons (not sure if girls are supposed to sing the lessons but it was fairly informal) one girl who is new to reading music almost sight read all the polyphonic responses it was incredible.

    Maundy Thursday I had a beautiful discussion at my catholic uni with the lovely priest there as for the first time in my life university classes were not running during Holy Week! OMGSH!!! Yesss! That evening mass was stunning and tenebrae again but this time three people sang the responses and I juggled the tenor and alto lines with the priest who juggled tenor and bass. And it was during this that I realised there was anothed voice out there singing too. For the building is like a carpeted cardboard box with the reverb quality of a sponge. During the lessons I could have sworn there was reverb in the room. Eventually as my friend sang I looked around me and there was a small toddler on his mothers lap singing the notes of the lessons pitch perfect to the cantor. Yay! Adoration in a different location til midnight was beautiful, torches lead you to the entrance and in the room were beautiful candles and it was like a garden, it could have been gethsename it was so amazing how the room had been transformed. An incredible 200 people stayed and adored til midnight when the blessed sacrament was put away in the blessed sacrament chapel of the church.

    Good Friday was eye opening. In a low socio economic area some of the most devout parishes can spring up. I went to stations of the cross and discovered that the parish were around 600 booklets short for their mass, I was handed a key to the presbytery where I printed booklets and got them to people just before mass where I saw 800 people packed and spilling out of this small humble church and my friends and I wept together for the Lords suffering. Tenebrae was sung that night with a priest, a brother and my friend and I and for the first time in seemingly ages I got to conduct some real polyphony again! That little voice of the toddler could be heard again, it turns out this little boy loved tenebrae so much on Wednesday night that he forced his parents to go to the next two, he dragged them to each tenebrae.

    Saturday I woke up at sparrows fart and saw the pitch black outside and boarded a train to head to a remote country town near the border of NSW. A town of only 3000 people. I arrived to find out that the parish priest there has just been given another parish to look after meaning that he will have to manage two parishes now. With a significant amount of between country town kms between them. After having a successful choir rehearsal with my band of troubadours who traveled a whopping 3-4 hour drive to be with me to sing I attended the OF easter vigil.
    I helped to start and burn the fire before mass and in my best easter dress I was feeding old holy oil into a wok of pine cones, twigs and small logs burning up a small bonfire when 15 townsfolk rocked up and brought candles and the priest tapped me on the shoulder to hold up the missal for him while outside as his only server was also his thurifer. He also handed me an OF missal with the litany of the saints and asked me to sing it for him haha. Heaps of notice right?
    It got to the 2nd reading inside the church and I began to cough. I had caught the flu Palm Sunday and thought I was past it but clearly something just affected me and I was having a full blown coughing fit. I had to actually leave the church run to the presbytery and grab a glass of water and a box of tissues. It was so dramatic and embarrassing. I got back just in time to sing the litany of the saints.
    It was a small crowd much different to the 800 I saw on good Friday.

    Finally Easter Day we had our first ever sung EF Latin mass in the lovely remote town. We sang my mass setting and organum world premieres and the people were amazing. I've never ever in my life seen more children at a Sunday mass it was fantastic and young and vibrant and okay there were kids using the pews for hurdles but they were in the church on Sunday, on Easter Sunday and they were gorgeous. People stayed behind and played in the playground and ate hot cross buns.
    Father asked me to cook for him that evening and I got to cook him a beautiful quiche style thing in a ramikin and he thought I was a genius. I also cooked him some hot cross buns but they caught on fire and weren't so successful.
    Stay tuned for octave reflections.
  • I have one thing of note I can share that happened during the Easter Vigil. Our Pastor and Parochial Vicar and I had all sat down and determined the readings so that I could prepare the choir with the appropriate psalms. We determined which three we would do, and all were satisfied. But apparently there was some miscommunication with the lectors. They not only read the wrong readings (they were supposed to have read 1, 3 and 5 but read 1, 2, and 3 instead), but added a fourth reading as well! After the third reading, I thought Father would intone the Gloria, but the lector stood up again right after the prayer and started reading. I looked at the choir member closest to me with big eyes and my mind started racing...I hadn't prepared the choir to sing a fourth psalm and I couldn't bolt out of the church to the choir room (the choir area is up front to the right of the altar). So I calmly got up, walked over to our organist and said quietly to him. "They are reading the fourth reading." He replied "I know." And I asked, "what should we do?" We use the Breaking Bread misalletes and he grabbed one, turned to the reading that was being read and the response that was written for the psalm and said "I'll intone this, you sing it, and by the time it's time for the congregation to respond, I'll have a simple accompaniment ready." By the time he had said that, my mind had calmed down and remembered I knew the psalm tones and could just chant the appropriate tone with the text unaccompanied and it would end up ok. So that's what we did. Thankfully, it sounded like we had planned the whole thing. The choir members that knew what was going on had to pick their jaws up off the floor because they thought I was improvising the whole thing. I quickly informed them after the Vigil about psalm tones and that I wasn't making ANYTHING up. I told them our organist was the one who was improvising and deserves the credit.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,846
    Nice story.
    I don't want to harp (heh heh) on it, but it does prove that Alstott's sweet nothings can indeed be handy on occasion, right Jackson?
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • Here's a bizarre Good Friday occurrence: we chanted the Gospel, and I came down with laryngitis the night before. So I had the high voice cantor sing both the narrator and the Voice parts. The congregation had a readings booklet (no musical notation) with the Crowd part marked.

    I've never seen this happen before, but for some reason, the congregation began chanting the Crowd part along with the cantor!! Maybe because there were only two singers, unexpectedly. We chant the gospel every Palm Sunday and Good Friday, and they have never tried to join in before.

    The really interesting thing was that the congregation learned the chant tone quickly, with no notation. By the end of the gospel, the congregation was anticipating the correct flexes and cadences in the chant tone. It was pretty neat to witness!
  • ContinuousbassContinuousbass
    Posts: 292
    For Resurrection Sunday, one of our priests homilized that "Easter is a fraud." and prefaced that remark by saying "I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this..."
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 4,708
    What was his point?
    There must be more...
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,660
    A fraud upon the devil, perhaps?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,075
    I know this is amazing, given some catastrophes we have had in the past. Nothing went wrong this year. Everyone was in their place, on time, and did a superb job. It is truly a sign of the apocalypse.
  • Well I guess we have some good confirmation that North Korea is nuking the US now...
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,846

    I've never seen this happen before, but for some reason, the congregation began chanting the Crowd part along with the cantor!! Maybe because there were only two singers, unexpectedly. We chant the gospel every Palm Sunday and Good Friday, and they have never tried to join in before.

    Jared, this "phenomenon" has happened in our parish in the last two years. I canted 'N', associate pastor 'C', my wife 'V'. The folks just sort of slip-stream into the turbae following my wife's lead, and it's been most sublime.
  • ContinuousbassContinuousbass
    Posts: 292
    The homilist who uttered that Easter is a Fraud was of course a Jesuit, and he meant it in the sense that "The body was on the loose", and he was just sick of the way Holy Week is portrayed by commercial culture as marshmallow bunnies, etc.