A scary moment during a Good Friday service

I didn’t see the boy fall, but I did hear the thud.

During the reading of the Passion at one of my Good Friday services, an altar server passed out. Apparently, on his way down, his head smacked the solid wood stair, and he was unconscious for a little while. A cry went through the congregation as everyone realized what had happened. And everything stopped.

A nurse was summoned. The paramedics were called. The two priests on hand went over to check on the boy, after which the pastor called for a prayer to be said on the boy’s behalf.

There’s not much in the book, I’m told, on what to do in these circumstances. Do you stop Mass for a few minutes? Do you keep going while the injured or ill is attended to? It’s a question you don’t want to address, though you know you likely will have to at some point, if you’re a priest.

In this case, after a few minutes, the Passion resumed. But few truly could pay attention, as the boy remained motionless. (I think; I couldn’t see him from where I was stationed.) The boy was down throughout the homily as the paramedics arrived and surveyed the situation. He was still down as the long intentions began, the ones where you seemed to be getting up or kneeling every thirty seconds for 10 solid minutes. The paramedics worked slowly, semiquietly, and gingerly as they assayed the boy’s condition, determined he needed to have his body stabilized (I got the idea he might have fallen in a way in which he could have injured his neck as well as his head), rendered him immobile, stretchered him, and wheeled him out. At that point, I could finally see him — he showed no emotion and looked either confused or dazed. (Maybe it was both.)

After he was taken out of the church, the service continued about as normally as possible. I played Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” for the first time at church, as well as a very pretty version of “Adoramus Te, Christe,” and things ended normally as far as Good Friday is concerned.

So is there some big takeaway from this? Something to unite this poor kid’s suffering with the cross of Christ? Something about how anything can happen at any time? No idea. What I know is that it’s something I will never forget, and maybe it’s a good idea just to leave it at that than to try to force some “deeper meaning” into everything.

The kid is expected to be fine, by the way.

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