Thursday, June 22, 2006

LS Mass of the Holy Spirit

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I attended the traditional Holy Spirit Mass of the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University less than an hour ago. I did not come in with much expectation yet somehow I came out slightly frustrated.

The servers did not seem well-prepared. In fact, they seemed very stiff, tense, even clueless about what to do. As a result, not only were they very distracted themselves, they looked very distracting to others as well. Servers should not be overly concerned about performing their roles as much as about worshipping the Lord with the community. Coming unprepared that leads to confusion, as well as being overly picky that turns to obsession, both ruin the internal disposition to prayer that must always come first in liturgy. All ministers should come to Church prepared enough to minister their roles properly in a spirit of prayer, not in a travesty of bloopers unending, and also not in a proud display of prowess. The Psalmist, although an excellent singer, appeared very self-absorbed complete with clearing of the throat (Please don't do it there at the ambo. And not on the microphone!) and stretching of arms before he began what was rather good as a performance but poor in the context of liturgy.

What made matters worse was that the Master of Ceremonies was not only going around and everywhere as if it was only the first rehearsal and he had to be directing everything, he was also apparently scolding (okay, instructing) the servers in front of everybody, within the celebration, with glaring gestures that were not only unceremonious and indecorous but almost thoroughly tactless and unthinking. (Remember what was done recently to the Education Secretary? How lacking in delicadeza!) That is probably one of the worst things that can ever happen in liturgy. Times like this, the best thing is to let go and let God and not let your anxiety, panic and disappointment ruin your composure and worst, ruin the liturgy.

No congregation wants a distracted service; no server wants a traumatic liturgy; and the dignified ministry of Master of Ceremonies does not deserve to be reduced to Monster of Ceremonies.

Saving grace was as usual, the natural and gracious presiding of the Very Rev. Daniel Patrick Huang, SJ, Provincial of the Society of Jesus that came of course with a very good homily. Also noteworthy was the markedly stronger Jesuit presence in the sanctuary as well as the confessional compared to other celebrations in the recent past.

While the Vice-President called on everyone to join the community whenever we gather for Eucharistic celebration, it remains a challenge for those in charge to make these celebrations truly meaningful, spiritually enriching and pleasantly memorable for everyone.