The New Springtime

El Indigente was a simple diocese basking in the new springtime of the Church following the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican sent the diocese two liturgical experts to update the liturgy yet again for the 60th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Missae. The diocese would never be the same again.

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chapter 6 - A Carousel of Presiders

With Sonny's arrest, the Cathedral was left without a Rector for the second time in a week, and George Yessman was recruited to parish work for the first time since Bill Clinton was president.

Adding to the difficulty of George's return was the fact that Luvmuffin was implementing the new liturgy and now had less than 24 hours to get George up to snuff. Finally, Luvmuffin resigned himself to using cue cards and using George as his straight man - contrary to sound liturgical principles.

The procession carried on as usual. But when they came to the stage, George, forgetting himself, wandered from the spotlight, being manually pulled to his spot by a nervous Luvmuffin, who was wearing his new Advent vestments, which featured three Disco Angels dancing somehow on a globe, reading "Boogie Advent".

Before beginning the liturgy, the Luvmeister had a private word for George. Covering the microphone clipped to his groovy threads, he whispered, "Just read your lines on the cue cards."

As Luvmuffin began speaking, George said right into his microphone "Oh, the cue cards. Right."

Luvmuffin at this point silently told George to shut up. George said, again into his microphone, "What?"

Now ignoring him, Luvvy began the liturgy. "Welcome to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brought to you by..."

George smiled and said into his microphone, "Oh, I get it. You were upset with me for speaking into the..."

Luvmuffin said with a quiet ferocity, covering his microphone, "Cover your mike, chump!"

After getting himself together, Luvmuffin resumed the liturgy. "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is brought to you by Ed's Lunch Meat."

Blanche brought out a pudding for Luvmuffin and a sandwich for George. George said, "Oh, thanks." at this point in the liturgy. Luvmuffin said, "Say, George, I'll trade you my dessert for your sandwich."

After a pause, George said, "OK, that sounds good..."

Luvmuffin now yelled the first word before catching himself. "Dammit..." Now covering his mike, he said, "Just read your damn lines, fool."

George looked confused. Luvmuffin buried his head in his left hand and shook his head. After a pause, George said, again into his mike, "Oh, you mean the cue..."

Luvmuffin was by now screaming, "Will you shut the hell up!"

George adjusted his glasses, as he does often when he's nervous. After a pregnant pause, George showed that Luvmuffin's lessons were finally sinking in. Aloud, he said, "Oh, you mean..."

George caught himself and now covered his mike and said quietly, "You want me to read the cue cards."

Luvmuffin, with a look of disdain despite his pupil's progress, said quietly, "Let's try this again."

Again pitching Ed's lunch meat, Luvmuffin could get out, "Say George..." before George interrupted him, covering his mike and speaking quietly, "Try what again, chief?"

At this, the Deacon politely told the congregation, "Excuse me, folks." and turned toward George, face to face. Nobody could hear exactly what was said, but Luvmuffin emphasized his point at the end by stomping on George's foot with his heel.

The liturgy proceeded above the din of George whining and jumping around on his good foot. Luvmuffin began, first to the congregation then to George, "I apologize for that... shut up!" With that invocation, George said, "Oh," adjusted his glasses and became quiet.

Luvmuffin, again trying to patronize the sponsor, said, "George, I'll trade you my pudding for your sandwich."

After a nervous silence, George focused in on the cue cards, adjusting his glasses, and made a gesture to Luvmuffin whether he should read his lines now. Luvmuffin responded only by burying his head in his hands. George stepped forward, and after about 40 seconds of focusing in on the cue cards, covered his microphone and started to read quietly.

Luvmuffin slapped George's hand away from his mike.

George said aloud, "But I thought..."

Luvmuffin then grabbed George by the scruff of the neck, and with his voice cracking from frustration, said, "Read your damn lines!"

George again adjusted his glasses and now spent over a minute focusing on the cue cards. Finally, he said aloud with a monotone, "Luvmuffin: Say George, I'll trade you my pudding for your sandwich. George: No thanks, Loovie, my sandwich is..."

Luvmuffin threw up his hands, and said as he stormed off, "The hell with you. I am NOT going to work with this jackass again."

Now alone in the sanctuary, George again adjusted his glasses, focused again on the cue cards, took a deep breath and passed out. At this point, a voice came on the intercom saying, "The Mass has ended, let us go in peace."

The next priest to take over at the new St. Francis Cathedral was Fr. Xavier Self, a religion teacher at St. Gregory the Rich High School. Sugarloaf and George were concerned at first that he despite his sterling reputation, he might have integrist tendencies, as he was reaming out a student for using the name "Jesus Christ" after he dropped his books. Fortunately, Fr. Self was only carefully weeding out any antiecumenical spirituality in a Catholic high school.

The first complete liturgies were performed at the new Cathedral that weekend. But Bishop Sugarloaf was flooded with complaints about the new priest, so he called him to a private meeting before the Diocesan Curia met Tuesday morning. Fr. Self knocked at the door to Bishop Sugarloaf's office a little before 10:00.

"Come in," responded Sugarloaf.

Xavier asked, "You wanted to see me, Bish?"

Sugarloaf replied. "Yes, Xavier. Have a seat. I want you to listen to this."

Fr. Self sat down in a leather chair across the desk from his Ordinary. Adjusting his glasses, Bishop Sugarloaf read directly from a paper without commenting.

"Whereas of late many rebellious riots and tumults have been in divers parts of this kingdom, to the disturbance of the publick peace, and the endangering of his Majesty's person and government, and the same are yet continued and fomented by persons disaffected to his Majesty, presuming so to do, for that the punishments provided by the laws now in being are not adequate to such heinous offences; and by such rioters his Majesty and his administration have been most maliciously and falsly traduced, with an intent to..."

Fr. Self cut in. "Why are you reading me the Riot Act, chief?"

The bishop then threw the paper aside and said, "I promised some people I would. Look, I haven't gotten so many complaints in one weekend in all my time as bishop."

Fr. Self looked aghast. "What could they possibly be complaining about, chief?"

Sugarloaf leaned back in his chair and looked very uncomfortable, as he was reticent to discipline his priests. He hesitated, but said, "Oh, just a few things. First, a few people freaked about the plans for drive-through Mass."

Fr. Self, looking confused, said, "What problem could they possibly have with that?"

Sugarloaf turned red as he became more animated. "Xavier, do you know that red book they put on the altar? They call it a missal."

Fr. Self looked puzzled, "Yeah, I was wondering what that was."

Sugarloaf replied, "I think the Church would like Mass to last more than three minutes. Omitting the Scripture readings and nearly all the prayers, including the Eucharistic prayer, is not what the people came to see."

Fr. Self fidgeted and said pensively, "What's wrong with it?"

The Bishop just laughed and said, "Look. If you don't want to go rigidly according to each liturgical guideline proposed by Rome, that's fine. But you could at least act like you're not bothered by the inconvenience of having to say Mass. As the bishop of this diocese, I have to step in. This is unacceptable."

Fr. Self looked somewhat rebellious, but did not raise his voice. "So what are you going to do, chief?"

Sugarloaf replied, "What any self-respecting bishop aware of his immense responsibility would do: transfer you to a parish that would appreciate your style."

Fr. Self looked quizzically at his prefect. "So basically, you want me to go back to my old job."

Sugarloaf replied, "That's right, Xavier." With that, Sugarloaf shook his hand and sent him off, leaving the Curia to search for yet another presider at St. Fran's Cathedral.

They settled on Father Zapp, one of the leading charismatic priests in the diocese. After noticing that Hap’s old parishioners were not very open to being moved by the Holy Spirit, he utilized for Christmas a time-tested method to help parishioners to receive the charisms offered by the Holy Spirit: he hooked up live electric wire to the pews. This worked very well, as nearly the entire congregation, packed for Christmas Mass, broke out in tongues. In addition, two persons were slain in the Spirit, and fourteen others were hospitalized in the Spirit. As spiritually enriching as that episode was, the police had another opinion, and Father Zapp was arrested.

So the diocese had to look yet again for a new Rector. Just after the New Year, Sugarloaf decided to take Les’ hunch and visit “that darling monathtery” at the edge of the diocese to see if they could find a permanent replacement for Hap.


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