I’ve been going to Mass at this certain National Shrine most days since last Holy Week. I immediately saw a spot for me to volunteer, and did so. The Shrine underwent a lot of changes over the last 8 months. Rector got sick and couldn’t direct the Shrine, so a new rector was appointed. In the meantime, it was a lot of coming and going of different priests with different ways and so on. But consistently, in all this time, there’s always been a priest. Until today. I was out the week between Christmas and New Year with a respiratory issue, except that New Year’s Eve, I met my wife in the Big City and wanted to show her a different Church, and take her to meet the new rector of the Shrine. On the door of the Shrine was a poster stating that there would be no Mass on Jan 2. Father told us that he would be out of town, and there was no one available to cover for him. I let that sit for a couple of days, but on Friday, I asked him if there was any willingness to allow Communion Services to be held when there’s no priest. There’s a small but faithful core group that attends daily Mass, and I thought that a Communion Service would serve them. Father said that, if there was someone trustworthy to do the service, he’d certainly be open to it. I told him I volunteered. Father told me that he had this week covered, because he was going to be out of town. But apparently, someone forgot. Today I got to the Shrine, got everything opened up, had the altar set up, the candles lit, the Sacramentary and Lectionary set up, and no priest.
I know the basics of a Communion Service. Opening Prayer, Readings, Removal of the Ciborium from the Tabernacle, Lord’s Prayer, Distribution of Communion, Closing Prayer. It still felt lumpy. So I began researching what a lay person can and can’t pray in a Communion Service. I’ll follow up when my research is complete.