Sunday, December 16, 2007
5:15 Gaudete Sunday pre-Mass *ritual* - ICC, San Diego
I suppose every church has their unwritten customs. For the past 30 plus years, I have been privileged to be an active participant in the following pre-Gaudete/Latare Sunday "ritual."
The Sainted Msgr. S. hustles in to the sacristy, having prayed on his drive over we will somehow have forgotten this is a "Pink" Sunday. In vain he tries to convince himself it is a "dusky Rose" vestment -- but deep in his heart, he knows this particular vestment is closer to pink. Father comes from a place near Chicago where in his youth, there would have been a guaranteed fist fight should he have appeared in that color in real life.
He puts down his bag and hangs his purple vestment (having brought it, in hopes that the pastor's dog ate the "Rose" ;-D vestment) and his heart sinks as he sees the "Rose" vestment laid out elegantly on the vesting bench. Normally, because he brings his own chasuble, he doesn't get the full vesting bench treatment, there not being enough time - but Gaudete and Laetare Sundays are two exceptions. He eyes the garment suspiciously, as one would a $100 bill bearing the likeness of Malcolm X, rather than Benjamin Franklin. The exchange begins:
The Sainted Msgr. S: Is that thing clean?! I'm not wearing it if it's not clean and it smells!
Karen: Of COURSE it's clean -- why would we give you anything else?
TSMS: [stalks over to the bench, picks it up by the collar, and inhales deeply] Harrump! [much to his disappointment it's clean]
Karen: Offer it up. [triumphant smile, and exchange with all other witnesses, including servers. If male, servers are thinking "ha-ha Father has to wear pink" -- if female, servers are thinking "Father looks just like my stuffed Easter bunny when he has that on. He is soooo cute."]
Today is Catherine's turn to witness this "ritual" for the first time as it's her turn to serve. Our other server, Francis, has participated in this before, him being in the sacristy prior to Mass many times before, as his sister, who went off to college, used to serve Mass, and his dad is head usher. Francis's mom will likely also be around to watch the ritual.
A few years back I emailed this exchange to Father's younger brother who lives in a distant state. He said "That's JUST like him!" I've grayed out Father's face in the above photo, because I promised him I wouldn't post him in his Gaudete togs. The photo was taken last year in the sacristy. As you can see, by hand on heart - he is gathering strength.
After Mass, all the ladies will compliment him on how nice he looks. All the men will give him that "better you than me" look of male bonding and have the grace not to say anything. Truth be told it compliments his skin tone beautifully. The garment itself is almost like a watered silk consistency. The true color all over is the color of the collar, the flash makes this garment seem a little lighter in shade than it is in real life.
I said before it isn't often a priest even gets to wear the Rose vestments, so I've always used them mentally to mark the passage of time. Father's been a priest now for almost 54 years. So out of the close to 20,000 Masses he's said in the course of his lifetime, this is "only" the 105th time he's gotten to wear this color. I consider myself very privileged to have been around for a little more than 60 of these Sundays.