Monday, June 24, 2002

The Power of Prayer
or: "What would've happened if Mark hadn't jumped on the mic?"

From Mark, at the Contemporary Catholic Music group over at


After the baptism I played on Saturday, and before the Mass was going to get
its late start, I started playing my before-Mass songs. Dan Schutte's "What
You Hear in the Dark" went without incident. I was then playing Carlos
Rosas' "Santo, Santo, Santo/Holy, Holy, Holy" -- and was not pleased with
how it was going -- when a woman approached me and appealed to me to ask the
assembly if there was a doctor in the house; the baptismal recipient's
great-aunt (maybe great-great aunt) needed medical attention. I asked for a
doctor or a nurse or anybody who know something about medicine; I saw no

Not knowing the nature of the problem, I went into my next song, Taize's
"Jubilate Deo." I figured the woman was old enough to remember Latin and at
least might be comforted by hearing that old language in church. But a big
squeak and a couple of squawks from the front pew indicated she had taken a
turn for the worse. I stopped playing, checked to see whether anyone had
called 911 (they had), and stood stupefied for a couple of minutes. I heard
one of the woman's relatives say to her. "Keep breathing. Keep breathing."

Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be a scandal if everybody just stays in their
seats gawking at the front pew and this woman dies?" So I got up to my
micrphone and said, "Church, let's pray." I went through five Our Fathers,
Hail Marys and Glory Bes -- pretty darn fast, my wife told me later -- and
as I was wrapping up the fifth Glory Be, D.C. emergency medical personnel
came into the church and attended to the woman. She revived, with the same
kind of squeak and squawk and a couple of "Jesus, Jesus"es. The pastor came
out, vested for Mass, and gave the woman the Sacrament of the Sick and
prounced blessings on her and on us. We started Mass a half-hour late,
without an entrance procession. I think everyone was off their stride during
the Liturgy of the Word, but got it back again by the offertory.

Thanks, Mark. I'll know what to do when it happens on my watch now.

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