by Louise Haggett
An incredible happening took place at our home about a week ago. Our dear friends Donna and Bill Podobinski came for a visit and I scheduled a home Mass among a few of the people we know in Maine. As it turned out, the only couple who were able to come on short notice were two individuals who had attended the CITI Boston Forum in November, 2005.
When Brian called to confirm their being with us, he related to me the spiritual transformation he experienced listening to the talk by married priest Ron Ingalls at the Boston Forum. I have always found Ron's knowledge and insight on the cosmic Christ and "progressive spirituality" (almost post-denominational) profound and had hoped others would experience it as well, but this was the first I had heard from anyone attending the Forum in Boston. (Ron's talk is in the current Come As You Are newsletter being mailed in a few days.) After the call from Brian, I phoned Ron and he decided to join us for the Mass.
We have a very small living room in our new home and seating was in a circle with the bread and wine on a small coffee table. Since it wasn't near where Bill (presider) was sitting, I offered to move the table to be in front of him. He said, "No. Leave it where it is." There were 7 of us.
We had a shared homily based and not based on the readings that lasted over an hour.
No one touched the bread or wine during the Eucharistic Liturgy, and we all read the words of the consecration with outstretched hands towards the table. Communion was shared one to another rather than from Bill.
Something happened and we all felt it. Because people did not focus on the bread and wine, we automatically focused on one another. We each experienced Jesus in each other. The interconnectedness of our souls became the magic of the Liturgy.
We were all in awe after the Liturgy, unable to speak. It was so powerful that we (Ron and the Podobinskis and I) discussed the "Holy Spirit" happening for two hours the following morning, later on the phone with Brian and Celeste.
Ironically, Celeste (daily communicant) was attending a Mass at her parish the following night when no priest showed up. Unbeknownst to her as she went to check with the priest at the rectory (who said, "not available. I did it this morning"), the congregants set up the altar with bread and wine. When Celeste returned to the chapel, she was wildly tempted to repeat the previous night's Mass with no priest, but was uncomfortable because the others hadn't had the same experience.
I am sharing this story with you because 1) it is Advent and 2) I want to remind you that you are not just priests, presiders, but in today's times, you are also rabbis (teachers) who can teach by doing in assisting lay groups to celebrate with a presider who doesn't necessarily have the clerical credentials but is also a person of Jesus.
I applaud Father Bill Podobinski for his courage and avantgarde priesthood.