As you know by now, my wife and I keep our dead horse in the barn on our stately 1.25 acre farm. Considering his deceased state, he is somewhat difficult to maintain. In fact, you might say he is somewhat “needy.” For some reason he wants to live in the past in a time when we sheep at St. Peter’s entertained the hope that our Pastor might be willing to consider favorably the simple request made by over a third of our parishioners in the “Petition.” So you see, our dead horse has some trouble “living” with reality. Perhaps that explains why he is dead. It also explains why we call him “Petition.”
My very close friend Fre3d (the 3 is silent) Capra is one of the sheep of St. Peter’s. Perhaps more correctly, he is one of the goats. Fre3d is an elderly gentleman and, if you were talk to him after Mass, you would say he is a pious and easygoing kind of guy. With regards to his understanding of Church teaching, however, I guess the best I can say about Fre3d is that he was aware that there were CCD classes at his parish when he was young, but he never attended. His motto was and continues to be: “If it’s good enough for Father, it’s good enough for me.”
Fre3d is a compassionate person. After all, he has been influenced recently by a pastor who is very deep into Social Justicism. I suppose that explains why lately Fre3d has been visiting me quite frequently. When he comes over, he always asks to go down to take care of Petition. He has cautioned me about beating the poor creature and he feels obligated to minister to the beast. We know that Fre3d is truly a considerate soul, especially when we realize that the family of skunks that used to reside in the barn moved out because of Petition’s advanced post mortem condition.
A few weeks ago, June 7th to be precise, Fre3d came over to visit with Petition. He seemed to be filled with joy and floating on a cloud and he told us he had to share some good news with Petition and tell him about a wonderful idea that had been inspired by our Pastor during Mass. I told Fre3d, “Go on down. Petition is somewhat under the weather today and could use some cheering up.” With that, Fre3d ambled quickly off to the barn.
Being somewhat curious, I followed him down to the barn and, remaining several yards away pretending to be pulling weeds, I overheard the following conversation.
“Petition, Petition! What a stroke of joyous luck I had today while I was at Mass!
Petition responded with his usual sullen silence. “Huh?”
“Yes, it’s all become clear to me now. I’ve learned that the Mass doesn’t have to be the same every week!”
“That’s right. Someone left a big brown missal in the pew and while looking through it I found that all the words of Mass are actually there.” Obviously, Fre3d had forgotten that over a year ago St. Peter’s used to have missalettes – perhaps he had never opened one and used it.
Fre3d continued, “So, as I was following along, I realized something. Yup, I realized that our Pastor wasn’t saying the words the way that they are in the missal. He was changing them and using his own words – even during Eucharistic Prayer II.”
“That’s right! In fact, I wrote some of it down so that I could show you.” Fre3d pulled out a neatly printed sheet of paper with writing in red, black, and purple. “You see, Petition, the black is what Father is supposed to say; the red is what Father is supposed to do, and the purple is what Father actually said. – Here take a look for yourself.”
After reading the notes, Petition responded in a somewhat more animated fashion, “Oooh!”
“So, Petition, there it is Father can say what he wants during his part of the Mass. Isn’t that great! And you know something else? Where the red said that Father should genuflect, he only bowed.”
“That’s right! You know what I always say, ‘If it’s good enough for Father, it’s good enough for me.’”
After pausing, Fre3d said, “Don’t you see, Petition? If Father can change his part of the Mass, then we can change our part too. Think about it. We can have our own Our Father, we can have a “Holy, Holy, Holy” with six or maybe even seven “Holies!” There’s no end to the creativity we can bring to our parts of the Mass. Just think about how we won’t have to sit or stand simply because that’s what we’ve always done.”
“You betcha, Petition. I’m going to go home right now and start to work on composing a new “people’s” Mass! Boy, this is going to be fun. I’ll bet more people will start coming to Mass once they learn that they can be just like Father, and do what they want to do.”
And with little more than a quick goodbye to Petition and me, Fre3d was in his car and driving away to his home.
Meanwhile, back in the barn a forlorn, moaning voice simple said, “Say the black, do the red – forget the purple!”
And I said, “Amen.”