Monday, February 21, 2011

Tantum Ergo... Benediction... Adoration... huh?

I'll never forget the first time that I came to Mass one weekday during benediction and exposition. I had no clue what the parishioners and priest were doing, nor what they were saying. I also had no clue how lucky I was. The parish I attend offers perpetual (24/7) adoration of the blessed sacrament and this blessing is one I came to truly appreciate as time went on.

One of the examples that relates to this was given by Jeff Cavins. He mentioned that when he was a protestant, he mentioned something to the effect that if they announced they were having a 24 hour prayer session and said Jesus would be present,  the whole world would come. Many churches advertise the heck out of it, make a big deal of it,etc . I've even seen an advertisement for "Burn 24-7" where Christians do 24 hours of constant praising of the Lord in music,etc. That's great! Amen to praising the Lord and giving thanks.

Yet, adoration and prayer happen around the world 24-7 in the Catholic faith and it goes unnoticed by many, including Catholics themselves. It is essentially unadvertised, and not boasted. It just happens. Faithful spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, praying for the world and those in need, some who don't even know that they are being prayed for! I am so fortunate to have a local parish with 24-7 adoration. What a blessing!

Lest we also forget that somewhere in the world, there is a Catholic Mass being held this very instant! 

Some good commentary:

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Come, come. Can you lector?"

"Come, come. Can you Lector?". These were the words coming from one of the religious sisters, as she motioned me her way. What could I do? God had called, even if I didn't think I was ready...

That's how the 5:00 Mass began for me that day. Except the Mass had not started and it was 5:02pm. The next thing I know, I was genuflecting as I exited the church and on my way into the sacristy.

It was an interesting day as I ended up lectoring twice this day, having never lectored before in my life. The first time was in the morning for about 60 young boys at a retreat. The second was later that evening at the Pentecost vigil in 2010. Talk about baptism by fire!

I had always wanted to lector at some point in my journey of faith. I have had significant experience talking in front of crowds, from small groups of 50-100 at local club/organization meetings to an outdoor event with 1000+ people. Sitting in the pews, I had thought that there would be a time where I could lector as God calls us to use our talents to serve his Kingdom. I prayed about it, and when I wasn't expecting it (like many other occurrences), the Lord called.
Indeed, the Lord prepares us and calls us for his will. He prepared me for this in the morning, when I was asked to do the readings for confirmation students at a morning retreat. In fact, I had a distinct feeling that I would lector again that evening. This feeling is one that I've had several times since my return to the faith. While a private revelation, I firmly believe these events have done nothing but strengthen my faith.

On Saturday mornings, I would normally be at another parish teaching catechism, but since the parishes are run by the same religious order, I was asked to help at the retreat. This day, back at the other parish, our students were taking their midterm, and the retreat needed assistance.  After the retreat ended, I called my friend who I teach with, asking how the students did on the midterm. During the discussion I mentioned that I had lectored and then said to him, "Brian, I have a feeling that I will be lectoring again really soon.  I don't know what it is, but it is that same feeling that I've had before with other things in the faith".

That same Saturday evening, something prompted me to go back to the 5:00 vigil Mass. I sat in the pews, praying in front of the blessed sacrament. Something just felt odd. At that point, I decided to look over the readings, realizing that the Vigil ones were different than the Sunday readings for Pentecost. I also noticed that it was quiet at the Ambo, as no lector had come to prepare the readings. Instead, I noticed one of the sisters who sets up the sacristy running around, seemingly looking for someone. As the time ticked off, I essentially heard a thought to myself "Michael, you will lector tonight". Shrugging it off, I told myself "Nah, not possible". I turned my head and glanced around the church, looking toward the entrance. Something definitely felt weird. I noticed a few of the religious sisters sitting in their typical position, a few pews behind me.

I kept kneeling and praying.

It was now 5:00 and something was amiss. No lector to introduce the procession. 5:02 rolls around and one of the sisters comes running up the isle, looks at me, looks back to the other sisters, goes back to them, comes back up to me, turns and says "Come, come. Can you Lector?"


What could I say? I knew God had called and he had prepared me that morning to lector. I was whisked back into the Sacristy (I had never been there before), when the sister realized the procession had already gone to the entrance of the church. No training or instructions for me tonight from the priest! Luckily, the cantor introduced the first song, and asked everyone to rise. I felt like I was on stage at a major event, but hadn't had proper time to read the script.

It then came time to do the readings. I of course, was literally shaking the entire time and felt like 1000 people's eyes were on me. As I got up to do the first reading, all I could hear were pages turning in the Missalettes in the pews. One feels like all eyes are on them, and since you are elevated compared to the congregation, you can hear all the noise, even a pin drop.

Luckily, I survived the evening and life has continued on... It was just another page in my personal faith journey.

The Lord does answer our prayers. I prayed about lectoring, as I saw my talents able to help in this ministry. I soon inquired about becoming a lector at this parish (which is quite large, and has seven Masses on Sundays!). A few months later,  when I was not expecting it, the head lector contacted me and the next thing I knew, I was officially being trained to be a lector.  In fact, the greatest honor thus far in lectoring is being asked to lector the Midnight Mass at this church on Dec 24, 2010. This date was very special to me. It was the three year anniversary of my coming home to the Catholic Church. What an honor! Thanks be to God for all he has done in my life!

If you feel that you have a talent that can be used at your church, do not be afraid.  Offer to help. God uses all of us in different ways to build up his Kingdom.