Monday, June 18, 2012
I am very nervous to become a lector at my parish. I am not technically one yet; I just went to the training yesterday - on the day of my wedding anniversary. My husband trained the same day to be a Eucharistic Minister. We felt it was completely appropriate to give a portion of our day to God, especially since we made our commitment before our Heavenly Father in the Catholic Church 11 years ago.
The lector reads the Word of God from the ambo in a Catholic Church. Usually there are two lectors for each mass, one to read a passage from the Old Testament and the other to read the New Testament. The first lector carries the Gospel Book up to the altar ahead of the priest. After the lectors return to their seats, the priest or deacon reads the gospel while everyone stands.
The idea of standing before my church to read God's Word is both an exhilarating and terrifying prospect. What if I make a mistake? What if I trip on the way up? Heaven forbid, what if I mispronounce those strange Old Testament names? Yet, haven't I been familiar with the Word since childhood, particularly the Gospel? Didn't my dad teach his children to read the Bible, memorize the Word, and ask for understanding? I am honored to have the opportunity to proclaim God's Word in His presence, and I hope He will free me from vain consideration for my own image while doing so.
My reasons for becoming a lector are many. I love to read, and I read well. I was just confirmed this Easter. Our parochial administrator had a training class to introduce the newly confirmed to their many service opportunities in our parish. Our parish ministries are suffering from a lack of participation, too. The deciding motivation, though, may just be my sister Vinca.
Our family met in San Antonio - a very pretty city with its lush, undulating landscape - this past March. Vinca and I were unable to go to Mass on Sunday, but fortunately she had brought a missal with her. She recited the readings for that week, and together we did the responsorial hymns. Afterward, we got to talking about her small parish in Virginia and her role there as parish secretary.
I knew Vinca was parish secretary, but what I had not known until our conversation was that the deacon at her church asked her repeatedly to consider taking the position for a few months before she accepted. He is a no nonsense, ex-military man, and he must have recognized my sister's superior organizing skills.
As parish secretary my sister does not simply answer calls, deliver messages and monitor mail. She pays the bills, reads at daily mass, does the responses and prayers of the faithful, helps to make sure the church is in good order, and just about anything else necessary. I was astounded by her commitment, because while I have been attending mass for over ten years, my sister only began attending three years ago, confirmed that first Easter. Already she is hugely more involved in her parish life than I am in mine, and as I already mentioned, attends daily mass.
Granted, Vinca's parish is smaller, because she lives in the Bible Belt where Protestant churches far outnumber Catholic. But because it is smaller, those who garner spiritual nourishment from it must invest a greater portion of their time to keeping their spiritual home healthy and active. Did I mention that Vinca also instated and headed a proper children's Christmas pageant last year?
So if my big sis can be parish secretary, lector, sometime cantor, and events coordinator for her parish, what should I be doing for my larger spiritual community? A heck of a lot more than I'm doing now. I thank God for those people in our lives who can help point us on the path we should go, and I thank God for the beautiful opportunity to read His Word with joy for all who'll listen.