CMR is known for its parodies. But I promise you, this is not a parody. It comes from a book published by the Liturgical Conference in 1969 called Manual of Celebration by Robert Hovda (who is also widely known as one of the chief authors of the 1978 bishops’ document on church architecture, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship.) If you think the choices in your parish are bad today, here’s a real trip to 40 years ago…

“A Scriptural Service for a Community Experience of the Sacrament of Penance”
(The following is a more ambitious penance service than is usual. It was prepared for St. Brigid’s parish in Detroit by Fr. James C. Scheik and Sr. Mary Louise Femminineo…)

Prenotes: This service… calls for the film “Universe” as well as someone who can use an opaque projector and a movie projector. It also calls for one man to manage the spotlight and another to handle audio. Ideally there should be an organist as well as someone who can take care of the tambourine….

Commentator: In our service tonight, we use all the different media and means of our modern age, an electric age, to build up our theme. In an age that is plagued by an eerie feeling of loneliness, amidst all the electrophonic and psychedelic intimacy, many people stand in darkness….”

Directions for the electrician: Pitch dark church as the service starts. Eerie sound of an oncoming train over the P.A. (there are many sound effects records with train whistles). Spotlight initially pinpoints on a screen and begins to grow and move to give some impression of an oncoming train. (A big flashlight could probably be used…)

The record “Eleanor Rigby is played over the P.A….Train whistle and sequence is then repeated.

First reading (taken from The Estranged God by Anthony Padovano, pp. 89-90
Second reading (Isaiah 40:25)
Third reading (selection from Dr. Martin Luther King’s address from the Birmingham Jail)
Fourth reading (Isaiah 59:9b-14)
Fifth reading (John 1:1-14)

Priest in surplice and stole at the pulpit. A yellow spotlight on him. Begin to show the film “Universe” (begin at the spot where they start to show outer space… no sound). Soft background music by the organ ‘We Shall Overcome.”

Sixth reading (Isaiah 60:1-2)

Directions: The church is still in darkness except for a spot on the reader. During this reading, pictures of astronauts and Apollo 8 should be shown on the opaque projector.

Commentator: Matislav Keldych, head of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, says: “Men will always strive to take a direct part in scientific space research. Automatic devices can never fully replace man”

Seventh reading (Isaiah 60:4-5)

Directions: Show a picture or several pictures of heart transplants from Life magazine. This or these should continue on into the next reading from Time, December 6, 1968.

[reading from Time magazine about heart transplants]

Eighth reading (Isaiah 60: 19-20)

Directions: The church is still in darkness except for a spot on the reader. As the reading ends, a picture of Beethoven is shown on the opaque projector while the last part of his Ninth Symphony is heard over the P.A. At this time, at least two priests dressed in surplice and stole will begin to hear confessions for those who wish to do so….There were very few confessions, but a very large attendance for the service itself.

Ninth reading (selection from That Man is You by Louis Everly)
Tenth reading (selection from That Man is You by Louis Everly)

People’s response: “Clap Your Hands” by Ray Repp. (use the tambourine to encourage the people to clap their hands in approval of God’s forgiveness)

Eleventh reading (selection from That Man is You by Louis Everly)
People’s response: “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music

Twelfth reading
(selection from The Future As the Presence of Shared Hope by Maryellen Muckenhirn)
Directions: Organ background to this reading: “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha

Common penance for the faults of the parish, given with explanation by the priest… the words of absolution, proclaimed by the priest over all present.

Directions: The priest will take a light from the Christ candle which has been burning in a prominent place since the church lights went on and will pass this burning light to all those in attendance…Then the lights in the church are slowly turned off. The organ plays and the people begin to sing “The Impossible Dream,” and the film “Universe” is shown on the screen.

I’m glad those days are over, but I’d be particularly interested to read comments from someone who lived through this period and thought this was pretty groovy. What was on your mind in those days?