This poem is inspired by a true story that happened to a colleague of mine many years ago. He celebrated Holy Mass in a community of adults with learning difficulties. There was an older man there who was very proud of his role as sacristan – the person who looks after the chapel and all the paraphernalia for celebrating the services. However on this one occasion, for reasons unknown, he decided to set things up for Mass somewhat differently.
The poem is facetious in tone and some may find it irreverent, but for me it touches on many issues, from what is at the core of what the Mass is, to the huge area of conflict between those who stress the law and those who stress the spirit – those who would insist on every word and action being precisely correct, and those who hold that as long as the essential core is there they can express the celebration in fluid and dynamic ways, adapting to local circumstances and communities.
The sacristan was normally so reliable,
And did his church duties assiduously;
So much so that there was no indication,
No, not the slightest hint of raspberry.
Whatever the reason on this occasion,
This old chap had a bout of blasphemy:
Instead of the altar wine in the cruet,
He poured in a fair drop of raspberry.
The priest only knew at communion time:
Instead of the familiar flavour of sherry,
Imagine his shock on raising the chalice,
To find that Jesus’ blood was raspberry!
What should he do? What could he do?
This Holy Mass was invalid, surely?
Everyone knew Jesus used bread and wine.
Hardly cordial to substitute raspberry…
The priest looked at the earnest faces,
All partaking in the joy of community.
Well, God makes up our shortfall:
United with Christ…
…in and through raspberry!