|banner over the road for the occasion|
Palm Sunday Processions in Cange
I didn’t have time to post anything earlier on Holy Week and Easter, but there were quite a number of amazing things I would like to share with you.
Right now, however, I would like to focus on two amazing parts of the Palm Sunday liturgy. Palm Sunday is the anniversary of their founding, so they always have a special thanksgiving as part of the service – and do they know how to give thanks! And, so very Episcopalian of them, they can process. The Palm Sunday procession with the palms and the offertory procession were like nothing I have ever seen.
|lining up in the yard behind the church|
I was toward the back with the clergy, so by the time we reached the highway, traffic had long since been stopped we all processed down the street. Mind you, this is the main north-south highway in the area, not a side street. People were standing on rooftops and hanging out windows to watch.
Then there was the offertory. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. I’ve gotten accustomed to beautiful offertory processions on patronal festivals, but this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Not only was it beautiful and colorful, with the offerings slowly danced up the aisle, usually on baskets carried on the heads of the parishioners, but also it was incredibly varied – and it just kept coming.
My first surprise was a series of items that were completely practical and nothing I had seen in a procession before. These, too, were laid at the foot of the altar as something that could be immediately of use to the church. Items I noticed included packages of copy paper, a mop, and a large jug of Clorox (essential in these days of cholera). I was impressed.
|live turkey and chicken in offering baskets|
Then there was the livestock. In the baskets along with the vegetables were quite a number of chickens. Live chickens. Afterwards in the sacristy, some of them were still sitting in their baskets on top of the vegetables. Others may have come up separately (I couldn’t see everything), as I saw a few handed off from acolyte to acolyte, wings flapping.
|escaped chicken exploring the altar area|
One got loose and proceeded to walk around clucking in front of the altar until someone noticed and scooped it up. There was a good-sized turkey as well. But what really astonished me was the goat, who was remarkably calm, all things considered.
|live goat in offering basket|
very calm, don't ask me how
I lost all sense of (American-mannered) propriety and began taking photos, something I would never do at home – but I was so far from being the only one. I did ask first, just in case. Most, including the clergy, were on their feet, craning their necks, laughing, admiring, enjoying the music, the thanksgiving and the praise. Picture-taking here is not often considered inappropriate in such circumstances, and even one of the other priests had a camera phone in use.
|preparing the elements using wine brought up|
Of course, there were the usual offerings as well, both the special offerings collected elsewhere in honor of the occasion and brought up in decorated boxes, and the plates that were passed.
|offerings in decorated boxes|
Later that day, I was remarking to a sister what an amazing offering that was, and I said, “… and it must have lasted at least twenty minutes!” She stared at me. “Twenty minutes??? Sister, it was an hour!” Time flies when you’re having fun, I hear. I shouldn’t be surprised. The 9AM service, which started around 9:30, lasted until around 1:30. Even with the procession down the highway, the time had to have gone somewhere. It certainly didn’t seem that long; I would have guessed two hours.
|the clergy afterwards|
So what happened to all those offerings?
|offerings being sold behind the church|
After the service, what usually happens is that the produce and animals are sold out back and the proceeds are given to the church. There was so much to sell that I actually saw the sale in progress.
|Looks like we'll be bringing home some shopping, too. Easter dinner?|
On the way out, we picked up two seminarians who were waiting for a taptap back to Port-au-Prince. Remember the live turkey I mentioned? He had been bought after the service and was already settled in the back of our vehicle, where we have fold-down benches.
The seminarians rode back with him, and there was no pecking.
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|Welcome to Mirebalais|
This is the town where Partners in Health now has a second, much larger hospital, state of the art. What an amazing ministry that is. By the way, there is a link to donate to them off on the right side of my blog.
|Not too many of these houses anymore, but they're still around.|