Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unforgettable: The Archbishop's Installation Mass

Today, I picked up the sitters at noon, dropped them and the kids back at the house, and headed to the Cathedral Basilica for the Installation Mass of our new Archbishop, Robert Carlson. I've never been to an Installation mass before, and I put this date on my calendar when it was scheduled in the beginning of May.

I had every intention of parking in the garage three blocks from the Cathedral, but when I arrived there, only those with Archdiocesan passes were being admitted. Hmmm... not looking so good. Street parking is limited, and mostly meters with 2-hour limits, which would not work for this event... promised to be about 3-3.5 hours. I knew that if I were lucky enough to grab a seat, I wouldn't be able to leave to plug a meter.

Resigning myself to the fact that it just might not work out for me, I drove over closer to the Cathedral. Stopped at a traffic light, I said a quick prayer, "Lord, if I am supposed to be here today, please help me find a parking space." Right in front of me, a woman crossed the street, got into her car and pulled out of the space. I was one block from the Cathedral, on a side-street with free parking. Score!

I parked and headed up the Cathedral steps. To my great surprise, I ran into several people I knew from the parish. Unfortunately, there was very little seating that wasn't reserved... and it was all taken. I finally found some folding chairs set up off to one side, in front of a projector and screen. Worked for me... I would be able to see and would still be physically present. About 10 minutes later, after all the chairs were filled, an usher came by to tell us that, regrettably, those chairs were all reserved for the Knights of Columbus. We would need to vacate.

I stood up and wandered back over toward the center sections. I leaned against a column, and chatted with a woman who looked familiar. (Turns out we'd both attended the same lecture a month ago). At least I could see better from here.

About 15 minutes later, a young man sitting in the pew next to me looked up and offered me his seat. I don't usually take those offers (at least, not when I'm not pregnant), but this time I did. It was a generous offer, and very much appreciated by me. I sat down, closed my eyes and began to pray in thanksgiving for all the blessings coming my way today. Within a minute, everyone stood and the procession began. It went on for about 30 minutes. Hundreds of Deacons, Priests, Religious. Absolutely impressive. I saw some familiar faces... our deacons, our priests, some other priests I know. Finally, Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Burke, and Archbishop-elect Carlson entered and the mass began.

The mass was everything I love most about being Catholic: pagentry, ritual, incense. The mass went on for 2 hours, following the 30 minute procession, and it felt like 45 minutes tops. Archbishop Carlson's homily was unitive and uplifting. I have been praying for our new Shepherd to be the unifying Pastor we so desperately need; my initial impressions are positive, and I will continue to pray that he will be guided by the Holy Spirit in carrying out this office.

One of the absolutely most amazing moments for me was the Consecration. The entire middle section of the Cathedral was priests. During the Consecration, as the rest of us knelt, the priests remained standing... hundreds of them... and recited together, hands raised. I was overwhelmed. It is a moment I will keep in my heart forever.

The mass ended right at 4:00, and I needed to scoot out of there, to make it home by the time I promised my sitters. I was floating the rest of the afternoon, and couldn't wait to get home and fill DH in on all the details. I feel so blessed to have had the chance to attend the mass today. In telling the kids about it, I was brimming over with excitment. So much so that Princess asked if I would take her with me next time. I promised that I would... but we would need to get there a lot earlier if we are all going to get seats. I pray, however, that Archbishop Carlson will have a long and Spirit-filled run as our Shepherd, and it will be quite some time before I have to make good on that promise.

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