Last week, SPC C and I took off for a town not too far away from here (though it takes some 45 minutes to get there) so that I could concelebrate Mass in a Catholic parish there. Our translator (who was not with us for this trip) had told me I was invited to the church as the parish celebrated its patronal feast day, but as it was the Feast of St. Sebastian, and the church is named in honor of St. Anthony, I was a bit confused.
(Actually, I'm a bit confused a lot these days. Must be the creeping Alzheimer Disease or something....)
The church was PACKED. There were at least as many people there at 1100 hours on that Wednesday as there had been at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It was bedlam.
Even more surprising to me were the eight other concelebrants who were there. Though I didn't speak any Albanian, and they didn't speak much in the way of English, they made it clear that I was supposed to be one of the three principal concelebrants.
When the pastor had called our translator to invite me, he made sure I knew I was supposed to sing something for them, preferably after Communion.
I'd brought along some sheet music, hoping their very accomplished keyboardist might be able to accompany me, but she begged off. This left me in a bit of a quandary as to what to sing.
Imagine my surprise as I found myself singing a song, the words of which I'd set to another tune (which lends itself to unaccompanied singing), in its original setting, but without accompaniment -- something I'd not done in perhaps a decade. I managed to quell the onslaught of panic as I realized what I was doing, and made it through the song without any major mishap.
It was a very odd experience.
Fr. Tim, SJ