Sunday, June 30, 2013

Letter on Changes and Needs

To the Faithful of Holy Trinity and Holy Rosary,

By now you have probably noticed a few small changes around the Church at Holy Trinity. They always used to tell us in seminary, “Don’t change anything in your first year!” But, as I said in my homily my first weekend, liturgy is my highest priority. The more beauty and excellence we give to liturgy and worship, the more glory we give to God. Everything else we do will flow out of that. Therefore, I hope that these will not be too disturbing to you.

I have moved the presider’s chair from the right side facing the altar (the “Epistle side” as they used to say) to the left side (the “Gospel side”) and scooted the credence table beside the side altar. It seemed a little awkward to have the servers crossing the sanctuary each time to hold the Missal (even though I have been impressed with how they bow to the altar each time they pass). Being on the Gospel side with the servers puts us closer together and makes it easier for them to bring the Missal. I have also moved out their kneeler (or “prie-dieu” – French for “pray to God”) so that they can now kneel on the step of the altar on the Gospel side, facing the action of the liturgy head-on, with their bells still close at hand. Bringing them closer to the altar will bring them nearer to the sacred mysteries and help them learn the Mass. I would like to lead a server training workshop soon to brush up on some things, teach them about the items used at Mass, and build up their number. With the chair moved over to the Gospel side, I will not be using the mic stand. I will try the clip-on wireless mic for a while to see how that works. Hopefully you will still be able to hear the prayers well.

On the high altar, I have moved the two gold candles that burned before the tabernacle to the back and moved the flowers and adoring angels up a level. I am thankful for those who have donated money in the past to replenish these candles. I believe that was not done this year though. The two gold candles, while beautiful, had broken vases and were unnecessary given the presence of the red tabernacle lamp (that signifies Christ’s Presence in the tabernacle) and the candles that burn for Mass on the freestanding altar. I moved the flowers and adoring angels up a level to highlight the fact that while the high altar may not be used, it is still an altar (it still has its relic) and so should be prepared as if it is still used. If you would like to donate money toward new altar linens for the high altar and the freestanding altar – that will have lace in the color of the liturgical season, but will not cover the beautiful engraving – please let me know.

A couple other things we need are a new funeral pall and a thurible stand. I want to thank whoever made the funeral pall now used – please introduce yourself! It’s vibrant colors remind one of the happiness of the eternal life we hope for and it has seen many years of faithful use. But it has gotten stained over the years and is fraying in places so it is time for a new one. I would like to get a purple one in beautiful purple damask material with a large cross in the center. I tend to wear purple vestments for funerals rather than white because purple is the color of mourning and its use shows us that suffering is not taboo, that the Church suffers too and wishes to walk through suffering with the family of the deceased. Eventually I would like to bring back the use of black vestments for funerals and All Soul’s day but that’s a reflection for another letter! The aforementioned “thurible” is the metal object that holds incense burned during Mass. We need a stand for it so that the servers can use the thurible during Mass and have somewhere to hang it near the sanctuary when it is not in use. If you would like to donate toward a purple pall, black vestments, or a thurible stand, please let me know this as well.

Another small change regards the baptismal font. Fr. Chris acquired the modern fount a few years ago and it sits with the paschal candle at the back of the Church to symbolize one’s entry into the Church through Baptism. I have put the brass lid onto the fount to highlight its purpose for baptism rather than as a Holy Water receptacle. The receptacles near the doors are still present, filled, and refreshed periodically. The lid also keeps dust and germs out of the fount and the water used for baptisms.

Finally, I have moved the tables and chairs that were stored in the confessional into the space next to it. This helps to preserve the primary purpose of the confessional and gives priority to the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Toward that end, beginning the First Saturday of July, namely July 6, 2013, I am expanding the times for confession. Right now, confession is heard for 15 minutes, starting 30 minutes before each daily and weekend Mass. So, for example, from 9:30-9:45am before the 10am Mass on Monday and Wednesday; from 4:30-4:45pm before the 5pm Mass on Saturday, etc. Fr. Chris was very generous in offering to hear confessions every day, before every Mass. But I think expanding the time offered will make the sacrament more accessible and available to you. So, like most parishes in the Archdiocese, I will be offering a confession time from 3-4pm on Saturday afternoons. To give both parishes equal access, on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month I will be at Holy Rosary in Manton and on the 2nd and 4th (and 5th) Saturday I will be at Holy Trinity in Fredericktown. I will be keeping the 15 minute confession times before each daily Mass but discontinuing the times before each of the weekend Masses. 6:30am on Sunday is too early (!), 8am at Holy Rosary is impossible to make, and 10:30am at Holy Trinity is not enough time.

At the end of the day, these are small changes, but I know that change can sometimes still be tough. And it does seem early for changes to be made. Please know that these are being made not to suit my own preferences. Rather, they are being made out of my devotion to God and to this parish, my love for you, and my desire to do what’s best for the liturgy and for our spiritual lives together. I thank you for your understanding and patience and hope that you will lend a hand on some of the items we still need. I am open to your constructive criticism and feedback.

In Jesus and Mary,

Fr. Hardesty
Pastoral Administrator
Holy Trinity, Fredericktown
Holy Rosary, Manton

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