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Hit or Miss

In which Matt reflects on bowls of water, toe jam, and ringing that bell Last night I alter-served at a Holy Thursday Mass for the first time.

I’m sure I’ve been to a Holy Thursday celebration before, because I remember having seen people getting their feet washed. But I didn’t really remember what else to expect.

I got to the church late and just had time to pull on a robe before Mass. Instead of 1 priest and 2 servers, we had 2 priests and 3 servers, and were thus short on robes. One of the other servers had already put on the one I normally wear, so I had to rifle through the ones left and ended up wearing a robe that was a slight cream color. I felt like I stood out standing next to the others all night.

I ended up sitting in a chair behind the priest, and all night he would lean back and give me sudden instructions. Right before we starting singing the “Glory to God in the Highest,” he turned around and told me to pick up this bell on the table and ring it throughout the song. Uh, okay.

We got to the foot washing part, and was dismayed that the priests were pretty insistant upon washing my feet along with the other alter-servers. Fortunately, I didn’t have any sock fuzz on my feet.

But as the rest of the congregation began to wash their feet, I was instructed to run back and forth between the sacristy, refilling the pitchers of water and emptying out the basins of water the feet were being washed in. Ugh. Lots and lots of icky toe jam floating in the basins.

At the end of the Mass, the priest explained that we would be marching around outside the building to the basement in a kind of mock funeral march. Fortunately the storms which plagued the Midwest yesterday had cleared and it wasn’t raining any longer. We slowly marched around to the back of the church as the choir followed us, singing in Latin.

I was pretty clueless about everything going on last night. I have to admit that I don’t know as much about my faith as I should. And I have to admit that I like being an alter-server because I get off on getting to wear the robe and sitting on the alter — I was the same way about fraternity initiations and getting to participate in the rituals.