Monday, June 04, 2007

My Lwanga Memory

Though it got bumped by the Sunday precedence, on June 3rd the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, who were martyred in Uganda in the late 1800s. The more ecclesiatically astute of you probably did a "double take" at that title, since the story of the martyrdom of St. Charles et al. involved their refusal to participate in, shall we say, Buggery. Relax, that's not why I bring it up.

My memory goes back to my college seminary years. By June, I was home from college seminary, and attending daily Mass at my home parish. My pastor was away and had arranged for visiting Priests to come in for the Masses that week. Knowing I was always there (and knew my way around the sacristy), he asked me to set up for Mass each day for the visitor.

One day, the feast of St. Charles Lwanga, 8am came and went and no Priest showed up. So after allowing a little time in case Father arrived late, it was time for me to lead my first (and only) Communion Service. I put on an alb, brought the ritual book out, and nervously made my way through the rite. Truthfully, had I known ahead of time I was going to have to lead a Communion Service, I'd have been more nervous than I was having it land in my lap at the last minute.

My pastor was good for giving me experiences that would help me later on. Wake services at funeral parlors, cemetery committals after funerals, they were a great help later on, since I had already experienced these things that many of my my classmates only learned as they got closer to Priesthood. He even knew how to handle me when I made the blunder of telling him to "give me something to do" the summer I was an indentured servant under his employ (paying back the debt I incurred by borrowing money for the Rome trip I mentioned in a previous blog). He handed me a bucket, a bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap, and told me he wanted every pew in the (un-air conditioned) church cleaned, top and bottom. I deserved what I got. You'd be amazed how much chewing gum accumulates underneath church pews.

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