In my twenty-one years of full-time parish ministry (plus the ten or so before that) only once have I been out of commission for Holy Week. I injured my back moving a church piano in 1993 and was ordered to bed at the beginning of Lent to await surgery. I didn’t return to work until after Easter Week. It was very much a trial for me, especially as it came during a personal crisis involving my reexamination of ministry compounded by a time of moral danger.
As for the parish, we were fortunate to have an outstanding church musician on hand to cover my musical duties. He succeeded me at the parish and continues as music director there to this day.
I noticed Cardinal Egan is home from the hospital, but still burdened with an unknown abdominal ailment. As of today they seem unsure if he will preside at the cathedral Triduum liturgies. I’m sure I join with other Catholics of and not of his flock who wish him healing and peace in recovery. But it does bring a question: If he were unable to preside at the Easter Vigil, let’s say, or judge it to be too demanding a liturgy to risk personal injury or discomfort or be the focus of speculation from the pew (“The cardinal looks like he’s going to keel over!”) would he just attend for as much as he could?
We know St Patrick’s will have no problem enlisting the rector or an auxiliary bishop for the Triduum liturgies if they need it.
Maybe this is a question for any clergy out there: If you weren’t well enough to preside at a really important Mass, but felt well enough to attend, would you go? Would Cardinal Egan just sit in a concelebrant’s chair and duck out if he felt ill? Or is it too much of a distraction? And if he decides to rest in his apartment, who do you suppose gets the ministry of bringing him Communion? Or does he just preside at an Easter Mass for himself? Ever wonder how that all happens? … Or maybe not.