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A blessed 14th Monday in Ordinary time to you and your family. And also a blessed memorial of the Japanese Martyrs include St. Augustine Zhao Rong.
Today I’m going to talk about my first Mass assisting by myself. Last week’s Mass we had a special feast with both priests and all 3 new deacons. This Sunday it was just me and (by the way) the newly ordained priest who was just assigned to our parish. So it was kinda the new squad just up from “triple A” and now playing in the “majors. He has been ordained for a month so he’s a bit more veteran that I, but we’re both still pretty fresh.
A couple of mistakes right off the bat…
I was worried about this from the beginning, but the sleeves on our dalmatics and albs are so big and bulky. Particularly as men we’re not used to clothing with extra parts on it. So, sure enough, in the sacristy, my arm catches a ciborium full of hosts and sends them flying on the floor. They had to be thrown away. Thank God they were not consecrated so they could be thrown away as opposed to have to bury or consume them. So Mass hadn’t even started yet and I’m already blundering away.
My 2nd big mistake was, and it was kinda something I had heard what they had done with past deacons and hadn’t realized there had been a change… it used to be that the main chalice that the priest used that was they lone chalice filled by the deacon, was used for the entire congregation after it was used on the altar. There had been complaints that the deacons weren’t filling it all the way and so there wasn’t enough (precious) blood for the congregation from that chalice.
Well, apparently that had changed and now just the priest and deacon are taking from the celebrants chalice. All the additional chalices that have always been there are the ones used for the congregation. In any case, I took all of the wine and poured it in its entirety into this chalice not realizing that it was going to be for me and father. So he just took a little. Then because of a much smaller mistake on my part I ended up taking from another chalice and so we had this nearly full, I mean 3/4ths to the top, chalice of precious blood.
Then I kinda panicked (not as far as the congregation saw) because I didn’t know what to do, so I ended up having someone take it down to the congregation. Then it wasn’t brought back (to the altar) because of the way we do things at our parish they are cleaned afterwards in the sacristy, so the celebrants chalice didn’t make it back onto the altar because that one is usually cleaned (by the priest on the altar)… Oy!
There’s all these little details!
And it can’t be part of the training because it is specific to each parish. And then dominoes fall if you don’t get it right.
But I think I did learn, or I had learned in the past and it helped yesterday, that I knew to just roll with the punches. Take it peacefully. Not worry too much about it. Just make sure that perhaps after the fact the right things were done to make sure the chalice was properly purified and all of those sorts of things. Thus 99% of the congregation had no idea what was going on. It was just the few Eucharistic ministers, the priest and myself and our liturgy coordinator who were in the know.
Then afterwards we talked it over, we understood that in the future I just need to put enough wine in there for father and I. So these are all the little details that make… I don’t even think this is a new deacon thing, this is kinda a new to a parish or with a new priest kind of problem that of course when you’re serving as a new deacon is going to be the case. So I learned that one the hard way.
The other pieces, I could already feel it’s week 2, I’m remembering my lines better. I’m more comfortable. I know what to do. Even though I was doing all the parts of the Mass that the deacon does, unlike the prior week where it was spread out (between us 3 new deacons), I could just feel myself slowly getting more comfortable with that. I can imagine 3, 4, or 5 weeks from now, so much of this is going to be… 2nd nature is too strong… but easy to remember and not something I get stressed about. I think you just have to be patient with yourself and let it develop. See how it goes and not worry too much.
Again, love to keep these short. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about my spiritual director because my meeting with him is today. But I want to say:
God bless you! To all of you who made it to Mass yesterday I hope it was a blessed experience. Even with the little debacles it was a blessed experience for me. I will pray for you and for your families. Pray for me and my ministry. And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.