There’s a visiting priest scheduled for one of your Sunday Masses. Fifteen minutes, ten minutes before Mass; no priest, and the sacristan and head usher are getting nervous. Five minutes before and a call to the pastor’s cell phone goes unanswered. Then I arrived, just planning to come to Mass with my family.
I dialed our parish’s retired priest … answering machine–no luck there. The lector, who does prison ministry, says he has a homily on the readings he can give if called upon. But at one minute past Mass time, the guest priest does show up, fully vested, exiting from his car in front of the church. He trades his car keys for the wireless mic, and we’re off within thirty seconds. The handoff was pretty sweet!
But suppose for the sake of the purple chair it’s more than a minute and you have about five-hundred people already at Mass. Do you start a liturgy of the word and hope the guy shows up? Sing all the verses? How long would you delay starting a liturgy? How many phone calls would you make to priests you happen to know who might be otherwise at home? Do you call it off? Would you be prepared to SCAP* it?
*Sunday Communion in the Absence of a Priest