Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Second Collection
My sister and I have a long standing joke about our 'fear' of attending a musical theater performance and being overcome with a compulsion to stand up and start singing along. That fear also extends to any opportunities that could present an urge to extemporaneity. (Karen must have had that well under control to survive twenty plus years as a trial lawyer...) But there are some situations in which I do not want a door left open to improvise; not even the slightest. Which leads me to this morning.

This morning began yesterday afternoon. Fran and I were scoping out a neighbors frigid yet promising garage sale. She called her father to find out if he would be interested in more/cheap shelves for the St. Is office. Which is how he was able to catch my ear and "ask" if I could sub as a lector at Noon today for a friend of ours. The word ask is disputable, as Rick wouldn't take no for an answer. He meant well, but I was at the point of shouting "If you think being helpful is so @#%&# important, take the lector's training and start helping." This is a good example of why I prefer not to have a cell phone. For my benefit and that of the rest of the world.

Which is why I am sitting here now. Offering up my vexation. Goofing around. Waiting until the last possible minute to put on my lector-worthy outfit lest it become cluttered with dog hair. It's almost ten-thirty. I should have been home from Mass two hours ago. And I would be about my happy Sabbath pleasures, not stuck in a holding pattern.

This holding pattern is giving me time to think. It wasn't easy to make the rounds of the church entrance's distributing the CCHD envelopes while holding my nose. Whoddya think I am, David Blaine? I've always found the CCHD suspect; what with their brochures touting their nebulous programs. This year it has truly come to the fore... articulated by better minds
here and here.

What gifts to bring as a lector? I can enunciate and project my voice. And I have a strict, strict, strict policy of permitting as little as possible of "ME" into my duties. No flourishes, no extra words, no riffs on the announcements*. It's not right. And if I cross that line, who knows where I would go? But omissions? Lectors quite often fail to read the line about the second offerings. (Since I'm also the person who types this stuff, I notice when it is ignored.) So, what if I fail to announce the CCHD?
But then... people should know just what that second collection is. In an extemporaneous dream world, I might just tell them.

*Perhaps I could 'fix' my lector career with some improv announcements. Like, "Hey, you guys all appear to be extremely literate. So why don't you just read the bulletin!" In my dreams.

I'm so happy that the 'success' of Mass is not dependent upon me. Jesus was present. All is good.
Which is good, because if it were all about 'me,' we'd have to grade this a very low C-.
I had decided to wear the all forgiving/all seasons/all occasion shapeless red dress. (I bought it for $5 in 2000. The cost per wear has now dropped into fractions of a cent.) The neck felt funny but it wasn't until I was at church and adjusting my necklace for the 100th time that I felt the tag - IN FRONT! There was enough time to run to the washroom and turn it around.
That left me a bit off kilter. It could have been worse. It could have been inside out. Then I would have had to feign faintness and let the ushers dial 911 so I could be removed from the whole situation.

After all my ruminations, I forgot to announce the second collection. It wasn't intentional. Honest. At that point I was reeling from forgetting it wasn't 7:30 and almost bungling the particular intentions for the Mass. (God might understand. Parishioners are not so forgiving.)

Everything else was by the book. And I didn't step out of my shoes (which are way too big or just right, depending on forces which I cannot adequately predict) or crash into an altar server.

Not so fast. I couldn't get away without being accosted by a parishioner who claimed I misread the name of her recently deceased sister. Followed complaints about the general low performance of all the lectors. And so on. And on. Her rant stopped long enough for her to grab an usher by the arm and complain about the fact that she saw a "retarded child in a wheelchair receive communion." And she knew, most definitely, that the witless cannot receive. We tried to gently disabuse her of this notion - neither of us wanting to do the right thing and tell her to check with Father. (Father didn't deserve all this venom. But I'm afraid she found him anyway.) My usher friend, tried so kindly to ask her look into it further and temper her judgment, especially in light of today's Gospel. My kindness was not as much Christian charity as restraint; the restraint of someone who is not just a parishioner, but also an employee. An employee without a lot of other salable skills.

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