Being meaningful

[from the “US Catholic Investigator”, reproduced by permission]
‘We all know the life of a Catholic priest can sometimes be very stressful, but here is a warning from Father Hank Doode (53), parish priest of Flashville, Minnesota. Father Hank is so concerned he has bravely bared his soul and told us his story more or less as he told it on his psychiatrist’s couch:
“It was Sunday, August 16, 2009, the 32nd. anniversary of the death of Elvis, and I had decided to celebrate an Elvis-theme Mass; we had had one before, very successfully. [We were supposed to be celebrating the Assumption, but I decided to let “The King” take first place instead].
To my horror the Parish Council said: “What, another! But we’ve had one already!” I then realised that I always had to give them a new theme.
I went to seminary in the ‘good old days’ after Vatican II and we always learnt to say themed Masses. I’d had a Mississippi Steam Boat Mass, a cowboy Mass with me wearing chaps and a Stetson and with a straw stuck in my mouth (and its jolly difficult to say the Eucharistic Prayer like that, I can tell you); we’d had an American Independence Mass where the youth group mimed the Boston Tea Party instead of a homily – though I got into big trouble with the cleaners – a Broadway Mass where the names of the members of the choir all came up in flashing lights, and a skate park Mass where all the altar servers were on roller boards.
I cherish the memory of our Baseball-themed Mass, even though I managed to break a stained glass window of St. Charles Borromeo, and I personally still enthuse over our Rodeo-themed Mass, where I came out of the sacristy twirling a lasso and riding on the back of dear old Father Ignatius who played the part of a bucking bronco, though most unfortunately he suffered a slipped disc in the process.
But then to my horror I realised I was trapped in a vicious circle of my own inventiveness. If I ever did anything twice, it was ‘just boring’. I heard an alarming story about my colleague Father Cy who decided just to say Mass according to the Missal, and found a poison pen note stuck on the church door: “Unimaginative Priest Says Theme-less Mass!” And that was when I cracked!”
And tell us, Father Hank, did the therapy work?
“Oh, I should say so, I am completely transformed. I went to our Parish Council and said: ‘Next week I will say Mass all in Latin, exactly according to the book”.
And what was their reaction?
“They said: ‘Oh gee, Father, that’s great! A Roman-themed Mass! We can all come dressed as centurions!’”