Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Just lead..., we will follow
And so it came to pass, our group had six members make Perpetual Promises on this past Sunday - Pentecost. This is our patronal feast and the Holy Spirit did indeed descend.
That being said, I was not quite in tune to that fact at about 1:50PM. To set the scene, we have processed from the chapel to the front door of the cathedral. Mass starts promptly at 2PM, with the additional blessing of Msgr. Slade Crawford and Msgr. Michael Tugwell con-celebrating the mass with our Religious Advisor Fr. John Cayer. I am standing just inside the cathedral. Between me and the altar is my brother Mr. William Cowdrey, OP standing with our processional banner. To my right, the priests and their procession are exiting the sacristy ready to start mass. Sitting in the pews are about double the amount of people I thought would be here. In the entry of the church is a broken line of Lay Dominicans trying to enter the church while being pushed around by folks arriving just in time for mass.
The idea is to chant the Litany of St. Dominic while processing up the aisle to our seats. Due to the fact that the best voices in our group are making promises, I decided a while back to lead the litany myself. I have never been a cantor - even when I lead the Liturgy of the Hours in community, I have never toned the readings or prayers. After surveying the situation, my only thought was "I am going to start singing and NOBODY is going to sing the responses." I turned around and tried to get everyone's attention to no avail.
At this point, my brother Mr. Fred Salancy, OP, casually looked at me and said "just lead..., we will follow," which is exactly what I did. I made an about face, touched Br. Cowdrey on the shoulder to start him walking and sang out. I felt very shaky at first, but as we started walking toward the altar, I felt a power lifting me outside myself. I heard the group get stronger with each step. Judging by the eyes looking at us from the pews, I thought that if I turned around I would see the tongues of flame on the heads of all in our procession. The Holy Spirit was there - over and within that procession. St. Dominic and St. Catherine were lined up before us, as were the countless Holy Dominicans who have gone this way before. They have led us, and we heeded their call to follow. By the time I got to the front of the cathedral, I felt like we had joined the heavenly host under the mantle of our Blessed Mother, singing the most divine of praises arm-in-arm with our brothers and sisters who have gone before.
In retrospect, Fred's few words could be a charge to all of us in our Dominican charism. We are called to preach. Preaching means leading. If we do not do this, we are failing both our promise to the Rule and to our heavenly Father. Today's secular society is teeming with lost people looking for direction. Even those who are regulars at church need some direction. Just lead, they will follow.