Sunday, February 25, 2007

Celebration Mass - Stephanie Martin Style

Today was a full day at SMM. I arrived at the church at 5:50 A.M. and was going non-stop until 2:45 P.M. The main reason I had to arrive so early was to assemble the leaflets for the Celebration Mass.

Fr Harold celebrated the 8:00 AM Mass, which was good since it gave me time to finish some urgent paperwork and a few other loose ends before it was time to set-up for the 9:30 Celebration Mass. The Celebration Mass is the new name for the old SMM "Folk Mass." The Folk Mass has a long history at our church. It's been an expression of the playful and experimental side of SMM. Pretty much anything goes at this service, and the parish is very fond of recalling some of the more spectacular Folk Mass liturgies.

For the last few years, however, the Folk Mass has struggled to redifine itself. These things have a lifespan, and clearly this was the end of it. Time for death and rebirth. So I've worked hard in the last year or so to make that happen. Part of that revisioning included changing the name. But there are other changes we've begun to make in the service, too. Much will depend on the musical vision of the new Music Director, Stephanie Martin.

Today was Stephanie's first celebration mass. For that matter, it was the first time she has lead worship at the 9:30 service. She managed to pull it off quite well, which was all the more impressive when you consider how much new stuff she had to deal with. I was quite proud of her. She has recruited some excellent musical talent to play alongside her: clarinet, recorder, cello, violin, and piano all acompanied our worship. This is huge progress towards my vision of what this service can become. I'm sure I'll be writing more about that soon.

Anyway, I celebrated that Mass and then was the Assisting Priest (a.k.a. liturgical deacon) for the Solemn Mass at 11. People said my singing of Gospel went particularly well. One of the biggest challenges of being at one of the flagship Anglican Churches in Canada has been learning to sing. I started working with a voice teacher, Hallie Fishel sometime ago and that has helped a great deal.

The Toronto U2charist is gaining momentum. A small committee has gathered around this idea and we are making plans. Right now it seems probable that this liturgy will take place at the Anglican Cathedral in Toronto. It's going to awesome.

That's it for now. Lots happening.

Friday, February 23, 2007

You Tube Binge

Yesterday I ended up spending a good hour or two productively trolling You Tube for Anglican/Episcopal Content. I ended up finding the most amazing and entertaining stuff. In particular, I recommend the following...

OK, that last one wasn't church related, but it's still pretty awesome. What I love about all of these is that they really speak against the unfortunate misconception that Christianity is untrue, irrelevant, and boring. Far from it, and cudos to those folks for showing it so.

Two other things to mention to the blog-o-sphere: Parkdale Deanery and the U2charist. The Parkdale Deanery, which is a group of seven Anglican Churches in downtown Toronto, is working hard to reorganize and regroup after years of slow decline. Check out our website at It was coded by yours truly.

A U2charist is basically a modern language Eucharist with the music of U2. The money raised has to go to some charity (other than the church). It's pretty awesome and is becoming popular in Episcopal circles south of the 49th Parallel. Now it's spreading to the UK and Canada. I'm working with a couple of other folks in the Diocese of Toronto to pull one off here. Stay tuned to find out more.

That's it for today's update. I have to rush off to me singing lesson. (You would be taking singing lessons, too, if you had to do as much liturgical singing as I do here!)

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Well, I finally did it.... I created a blog. I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, and finally it took three things to push me over the edge. First, my spiritual director, Bede Mudge, started a blog. I figure, if my friend the monk can do it, so can I. The second thing was that my wife starting bugging me to start a blog--probably because she is tired of hearing me tell her things that I should probably be telling other people, anyway.

The person that really through me over the edge, though, was Henry David Thoreau. Lately I've been re-reading Walden. I'm convinced that it is an American masterpiece of spirituality. It struck me that way the first two times I read it, as well: in high school and then in college. Thoreau simply reaches out toward the divine.

What else is there? Quite a lot, actually. I find it incredibly easy to distract myself with all kinds of seemingly important tasks. And unlike the things that kept Thoreau busy around Walden, my tasks seem more sisyphean. I spent most of Ash Wednesday in tasks related to the Parkdale Deanery initiative. The website is now looking pretty good. Getting the search function working required learning some new Perl tricks. I also created a postcard to promote my church's music program. Then I had a little time to practice my music for the Ash Wednesday Solemn Mass at SMM. Kind of a tricky liturgy, in a way, because we do it only once a year. The Mass itself went well enough. And that was my day until I managed to get home around 9 p.m.

Or this Lent I'm hoping to follow Thoreau's example and look for what is true and essential in life. This may lead me back to editing perl code and donig ad layouts, or it may not. Only one way to find out!