Mixing the new with the old…and taking some risks!!!

Happy Easter!  We made it!

While I’m glad that all the meetings, scripts, setups, decorations, and rehearsals are over, I am so happy that all of our planning for Holy Week and Easter Sunday yielded some wonderful liturgies.  From what I have heard, people were moved by the music, the environment, the beauty of the rituals, the excellent proclamations of the Word…so many things.  As the title of this post suggests, we went ‘all out’ this year, taking some risks along the way while holding true to our roots and traditions.

Years ago when we renovated our nave, we invested in something new…and risky: projectors and screens. We weren’t sure how they would go over, but they were a huge success, so much so that we upgraded them a few years later. Since then we use them for every single liturgy, and we use them for everything:

Projecting lyrics to hymns and songs – everyone is looking up, so their heads are raised and their voices can be heard even more

Announcements before Mass – we create customized screens announcing upcoming events, Mass times for Holy Days, registrations…anything you might find in the bulletin.  They rotate for around 30 minutes before Mass, then change to a WELCOME screen which cues the 1st lector to go up and read the greeting, which introduces the Mass.

Videos – what a fantastic way to show videos during a liturgy, whether it be for a homily, a message from the archbishop, a ministry announcement at the end of Mass (so they don’t have to attend every Mass and the message stays consistent…and short!).

The list of applications goes on and on. It’s hard to imagine NOT having them anymore.  We’ve gotten so used to them.

So, this year, we wanted to go even further in ‘setting the tone’ for our Holy Week liturgies.  We rented 3 additional projectors which were linked together via software to create environmental projection. This basically enables you to project anything…pictures, words, backgrounds…on the walls of your church. We had seen pictures of other churches using them so we knew it would be dramatic. The challenge for us was to make it so they would enhance the liturgy and not distract from it.  We wanted people to see it and think ‘this is beautiful’ while allowing them to enter deeper into the liturgical experience. Here’s what we did for our first ‘go’ at this:

HOLY THURSDAY – during the Washing of the Feet, we projected an image of The Upper Room. In this picture you can see the image along the back wall. Our regular screens show a closeup of the foot-washing so everyone can see, no matter where they are in the church or narthex.

Holy Thursday 2

HOLY THURSDAY – during the consecration, we projected an image of the Last Supper on the back walls. In this picture you can see Jesus in the center.  Very moving. (notice how the computer software enables you to choose where to project and where NOT to project.  We were able to ‘mask out’ the screens and reredos in the back of the sanctuary.)

Holy Thursday

GOOD FRIDAY – When people walked into the dark nave (windows blocked out) they saw a red, textured image (with very subtle movement) projected along the back walls. The screens had a separate image.

Good Friday 2

During the Veneration of the Cross, we used this image: (Jesus on the Cross)

Good Friday

(this particular photo has a filter applied to it as well)

At one point, we sang the song ‘Jesus Messiah’ which contains the lyrics “name above all names” and used the following projection.  The text slowly moved up the wall for 4 minutes during the duration of the song.

Good Friday 3

This was the most talked about moment.  It was emotional. At one point we stopped playing music and just all sang.  Simple and beautiful.

EASTER VIGIL – as people walked into the darkened church they were greeted with the evening sky, as you can see from this image. It looked like the whole room was actually outside.

Vigil Pre Mass

During the blessing of the Easter Fire and Paschal Candle, everyone who didn’t go outside was able to view the entire ritual on the screens. That takes a bit more work as well, but so worth it.

EASTER VIGIL – we used this video image at the top of the walls as candles were lit throughout the nave while we sang the Exsultet.  The candles lit one by one on the projected video image.

Vigil Candles

Vigil Candles 2

All in all it was a lot of work…but so worth it.  It was risky because we didn’t really know how people would react to it. But the risk paid off. People are still talking about how much it added to the Holy Week liturgies.

Of course, now this means we’ll probably be doing it at Christmas, too!  Can’t wait.