Sunday, March 09, 2008

Town Mouse, Country Mouse, Church Mouse, Turkey Lurking

Easter is almost here, and thank goodness.

My husband and I gave up red meat for Lent, and it's been fish, chicken, and ground turkey everywhere I look.

It's been like that book that tells you to sneak pureed spinach into your children's brownies--ground turkey is showing up where you'd least expect it. For tacos, meatballs, meatloaf, you name it--where ordinary people use ground beef, the Buxoms have resorted to turkey. I am SO TIRED of ground turkey.


That's the good side of Easter coming. Meat, glorious meat, in all its splendor. Beef, lamb, pork, num num num, I can hardly wait.

The bad side of Easter coming is that it is the single busiest time in the life of a church mouse. And this, unfortunately, is what I am.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I sing with a church choir. A cathedral choir, actually.

This may or may not mean we're a bigger, better choir. The jury is still out about that. But one thing I do know: it means that we have more services than a normal parish church. Like priestly ordinations. And an annual chrism mass, where they bless all the chrism oil.

Chrism oil is a holy salad dressing made of extra-virgin oil and balsam. It's used at christenings, confirmations, ordinations, and consecrations. I don't know how often it gets used, but let me tell you, on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday, the bishop of Chicago blesses enough of the stuff to daub everyone in the diocese several times over.

I don't know how often you get daubed with holy oil, but I think it's happened to me twice at the most. Which leaves me wondering what they do with it all.

You had no idea I was this fascinating, did you?

Anyway, last year was the first time I had attended a chrism mass. I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't expect to see a huge glass bottle in the middle of the altar, the size of a moderate aquarium, with what looked like five gallons of olive oil in it.

"Must be extra-extra-extra virgin olive oil," I said to the woman who sits next to me. And then tried not to laugh.

So anyway. This means that after next Sunday, I'm going to have to be at the cathedral for the Chrism Mass, something on the Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday.

For you Unitarians out there, Maundy Thursday is the origin of the Last Supper. I admire--nay, revere it.

However, Maundy Thursday is also when all the liturgical rinkydinks crawl out of the woodwork and volunteer to help with the service. Which is fine. Except that in this service, the priest copies what Jesus did that night. And Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. And that means the rinkydinks let the priest wash their feet.

OK, I'm sorry, but I have a problem with feet. Therefore, this service makes me extremely uneasy. Thank goodness we sing throughout the whole procedure, so I can keep my eyes on my music. And not look up. And see anyone's large, pale, not particularly well-groomed feet waving around.

Right. Then there's Good Friday, which is positively awash in more lugubriousness. And then the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. And then two services on Easter Sunday.

Now all of this involves being in church and singing and all the stuff I usually do. But it also involves a lot of driving back and forth. Because I am a country mouse, and my cathedral is in the city. So it's drive drive drive, sing sing sing, listen to sermons sermons sermons. And? Hire babysitters to watch the kids while I do it.

On Easter Sunday I plan to leave church, get drunk, and eat a veritable buffet of mammals: wooly, cud-chewing, or cloven-hoofed--it's all good.


  1. I thought Passover was the origin of the Last Supper.

    Thanks for educating me on the blessing of the oil and the washing of the feet.

  2. You're right--Jesus and the apostles were celebrating a Passover Seder.

    All I meant is that we call "The Last Supper" took place on what my church calls Maundy Thursday.

  3. Reminding me once again why I am so happy to have sworn off my Southern Baptist past.

  4. You are truly suffering - I despise ground turkey.

  5. I can tell that you are Episcopalian. I sing in a Catholic church choir, and everything sounds the same except that we call it Holy Thursday.

    I don't sing at the cathedral, so I don't have to do the chrism mass, but I will be at Good Friday's 3-hour midday Mass, the 3-hour Easter Vigil, and then one service Easter morning.

    Our church has two choirs, so the other choir does Holy Thursday, Good Friday's evening mass, and one service Easter morning.

    I always feel like I need a vacation at 11:00 am on Easter morning! But these services are so beautiful, it just might be worth it.

  6. This is 3/4 of the reason why I'm a godless heathen.

  7. Don't forget, Chrism oil is also used in services of healing and in the last rites and....the FOOT WASHING!
    As a teenager I always got the giggles during the foot washing because Sister Caroline explained that "foot" was often used in the Bible as a euphamism for the male member.
    Actually, I still get the giggles.

  8. You are a busy woman and MAJOR church mouse!

  9. I thank God I was raised a wishy washy (no feet washy) Presbyterian. Our ministers remind us that it's Lent, just so we know. We sit in our pews thinking about our Mimosa-and-red-meat brunch reservations for 11:00 and thinking Those poor Catholics and Episcopalians.

  10. Alas, down heah, since there is an archbish AND about 5 other auxiliary bishops bishing around there are Chrism Masses all ovah the place. lest there be a shortage of the stuff

    One such place is our humble little suburban parish church.

    Oh, and a couple of years ago, I was among the footwashees. (Dunno how the Episcopalians do this, but Catholics have 12 men whose feet get washed by the priest.) You will be pleased to know my feet were impeccably -- albeit in a decidely masculine way -- groomed. Which is not saying much as teh foot is about the ungainliest part of the human anatomy, but there ya go.

    Shall we have Kobe beef for our first dinnah togethah in California?


  11. Thanks for the lesson.
    I sent you a snarky Lent e-card. Did you get it?

  12. I'm just cracking up at the idea of you pulling over to the side of a road, getting out of your car and BITING A COW. Those cows and pigs better scurry when you come through in your surry.

  13. bb: Yes, I got it, and because it's Lent and I'm trying to be all filled with charity and suchlike, I did not send you an equally snarky reply.

    Joke: I'm afraid to say, my friend, that of the liturgical rinkidinks of my acquaintance, you are by far the rinkidinkiest, and 20 bucks says that in the next 10 years you will be ordained to the diaconate.

    But I have learned something new today. Since the 12 pairs of feet in the Episcopal service don't need to be male, I might just convert to Roman Catholicism in order to avoid being asked to do it.

    And I ate steak last night for dinner, so Kobe beef is not strictly necessary, although I'm sure it would be delicious.

  14. I am so glad badger said it first; at least there will be someone for me to share the fiery afterlife with. I'll bring the margaritas. And isn't pork supposed to be the *other white meat*?

  15. melissa: we are fairly short of cows in the immediate vicinity, but there is a little historic farm not too far away. And their guernseys had better WATCH THEIR BACKS.

  16. Maundy Thursday - noted. Thank you.

    There is no way I could watch all those feet get washed.

  17. flutterby and Badger: you will no doubt be partying with some of my favorite people.

    blackbird, for example.

    And me.

    I can sing in a choir all I want--I'm not fooling anyone.

  18. "I can tell that you are Episcopalian. I sing in a Catholic church choir,"

    When I said that before, I was sure making an assumption. And I'm the last person who should, seeing as how I am Not Catholic (but rather a heathen), yet sing in a Catholic choir!

    Everyone around these parts things I'm crazy, but it's just a good opportunity to sing on a regular basis! Since having three kids makes it hard to go off and do theater anymore!


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xxx, Poppy.