A priest, who recently conducted a session on preparing for the Liturgy, told us that every celebration of the Eucharist should be a ‘Wow’ moment – we should come away feeling that the experience had been awesome, out of this world, each and every time.
And I found myself thinking: Like yeah – prayers routinely muttered in monotone with spattered responses, everyone doing their own thing, boring sermon and really bad singing. So, where’s the ‘Wow’?
Then I was hauled up to play keyboard at a funeral. What hymns? The usual. Who’ll be singing? Not known: whoever turns up. Oh dear!
I dutifully trotted to the church, set up the keyboard, arranged the music and waited. One ‘singer’ turned up and with her help I set the pitch. She was soon followed by a few others – all altos – who insisted that I keep the pitch low. My heart sank proportionately. Gradually, the group grew – a motley crowd indeed. They arranged themselves around the microphones and waited for Mass to commence.
The celebrant was young and as we launched into the entrance hymn, he joined in from the altar - fresh voiced and exultant - adding to the unexpected four voice harmony that emerged from the ‘cobbled together choir’. It sounded amazingly beautiful, as did all the hymns and Mass parts that followed. Our celebrant led us encouragingly through the various parts, enjoining us to ‘please stand, be seated, kneel’ for the purpose intended. This unified the congregation in gesture and response. He preached a homily that spoke to the heart, referring to the deceased as if he spoke of his own mother – gently, affectionately and appreciatively. Each part of the Eucharistic celebration segued with the next: each crested wave, higher than the last. Uplifting, illuminating, fulfilling, invigorating. Every response carried an inbuilt ‘hosanna’. This, indeed, was a funeral Mass with a difference. This called for complete and unconditional presence.
The deceased may have been quieted in death, but she was a vibrant personality in life. Perhaps her spirit infused the celebration of this, her final Eucharist?
I’m still feeling that ‘WOW’.