Yup, it really was after the 5:15 PM Vigil Mass. Thanks to the heat, mugginess, and a bunch of thunderstorms being scheduled to roll through (and possibly the time change from Sunday afternoon to Saturday evening), attendance was lighter than in previous years. I figured that the beautiful street designs would be ruined, but I went anyway.
We did have a pretty good cloudburst in Dayton at 3:45 or so. But it turns out that using colored wood shavings instead of petals or sand gives your street decoration designs powers of anti-wind, anti-rain resistance. By the time Mass was over (it was fairly elaborate, and must have lasted at least an hour and a half), the sawdust wasn’t too soppy for the canopy bearers and Father to process through. It also cooled things down for a few hours, making the procession reasonably pleasant instead of unbearable.
The Corpus Christi Mass was very nice. Apparently the pastor of the parish was ill, so they grabbed the young priest from my parish, up the hill! He did a nice job and gave a good homily (despite some very determined babies). It really was elaborate. Besides deploying every server, some adult servers, priests and deacons, and the Knights of Malta, there was much incensing. (With a bizarre silent swinging thurible. I thought you wanted your thurible to clink gently, but I guess not.) There was a concert instrument piece before Mass, a good chunk of chant in Latin, some really gorgeous motets for the Offertory and Communion, and the sinking sun periodically glowed golden through the stained glass windows. I was very glad I’d gone.
The procession was also very nice. There’s something very profound about following Jesus as we walk down the street singing, and about kneeling in the street to acknowledge the Real Presence passing by. The First Communion kids were part of the procession (including the requisite petal-scattering flower girls!), and also shouted “SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS!” at three designated spots. (I think that’s new.) Then we went back into church for the end of the Benediction, said the Divine Praises and sang the Te Deum in its usual translation… and went back outside, only to discover that the rain had returned. It kept off just long enough.
I’m often very distressed by feelings of cognitive dissonance, which one feels all the time in modern life. But there was something very right about that Mass and procession, something that lightened my heart and strengthened me.
Make that Someone.