Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kneel Here, Please

Ordination of Fr.Michael Galbraith October 23rd, 2015
Laying-on of Hands by the Priests of the Diocese
Photo by Brian Wallace

As a kid I grew up around the theatre.  My dad taught drama and stagecraft for a living as a high school and then a college teacher.  He did summer theatre too, and when I was old enough, I got to help out with putting together stage platforms, painting flats and hauling lights up and down ladders.  The aspects of theatre that appealed to me most had to do with all aspects of painting -- mixing colors, applying paint, texturing, working really big.  I tried acting in a few plays (such as the older of the murdered princes in Richard III) which was always problematic, combining acute anxiety (stage-fright) with a lack of coordination and an alarming but predictable tendency to step off the stage due to extreme nearsightedness (the little princes didn't wear glasses, it turns out.)

But really I admired and appreciated too all of the men and women working behind the scenes - the folks operating the sound and light boards, the costumers, the prop masters and most of all, the stage managers, whose role is to somehow to hold the whole everything together at rehearsal and especially during the performance.

I cherish the time I spent with my dad helping out in the summers but I never felt called to a life in the theatre (unlike my sister, Margaret, who became a circus clown and a tap dancer- she's really good, too!)  Which is why, I suppose that I could never imagine that as a deacon I'd find myself serving as a master of ceremonies (a stage manager of sorts) at the liturgy.

The sacred liturgy isn't theatre, of course, but in Catholic ritual, everyone has a particular part (ministry) assigned to them that they perform in the liturgy.  The MC's job is to make sure that the liturgy, especially a complex liturgy like an ordination, seemlessly unfolds according to the rite, with everyone involved standing, kneeling, moving, processing, praying at the appointed time.

Ideally, if the MC is doing his job properly, two things occur: 1. the assembly and ministers don't have to worry about what comes next, which allow them to enter more profoundly and prayerfully into the ritual action and 2. regardless of what might go ary, the MC remains calm,reassuring and encouraging.  And just as with iconpainters, an MC ideally disappears so that the icon of Christ (in this case, the Body of Christ at worship) takes, as it were, center stage.

Last Friday, I had the privilege of serving as MC for Deacon Mike Galbraith's ordination as a priest for the Diocese of Juneau.  Fr. Mike, who will be serving as an associate pastor at Holy Name Parish in Ketchikan, will be a great addition to the presbyterate of our diocese and has all the signs of being a wise and compassionate pastor of souls.  Ad multos annos, brother!

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