Just an aside

Instead of writing a blog, I was a substitute teacher today. Fridays start with Mass and, when I took the students I was responsible for over to the church, I felt a bit of homesickness. I spent nearly 12 years going to Mass in that church, on Fridays, with students. I spent nine of those years also attending 3 or 4 daily Masses, whatever I could manage in a given week.

As a result I am familiar with nearly all the daily readings in fall and spring, since they move around over the course of several years. But I know almost none of the summer readings, especially July, and very few of the daily Christmas readings. This produced a curiosity when I was doing both Dante and the Bible in a Year. King Hezekiah was a complete mystery to me because his readings come late in June.

In the first reading this Friday, the words are addressed to the children of Abraham and to me – “those others among you who are God-fearing,” but the ones that struck a remembering chord were ” … the oracles of the prophets that are read sabbath after sabbath.” I can’t tell you why that’s the bit I remember most clearly…

“My brothers, children of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent. 
The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him,
and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets
that are read sabbath after sabbath.

Acts 13:26

And the Gospel

“I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14: 6

Jesus tells the disciples that they will know the way where he is going. Thomas says they don’t know where he is going, so how can they know the way. I realized as never before, that Jesus is saying that you are going to be with Me and therefore, you DO know the way because “I am the way”.

For ten years I was responsible for arranging for lectors from among the students; in fact it was a requirement for the 8th grade for many of those years that they lector at least once. I sat on what would be called the Gospel side of the church, or the left as you face the altar. In this church that meant I was sitting where I could look straight across the sanctuary, past the altar, to the chairs for the presider. The marble was polished to such a high luster that I could see the presider and his chair reflected upside down. It was a good place to fix my eyes if my latest protege struggled to get through the reading.

The crucifix is hung in front of the altar so that from my position I was looking at the back of it. This is the view that the priest offering the Mass also has, and the crucifix has an inscription on the back — In Hoc Signo Vinces. So when he lifts the host and chalice at the consecration he looks up at those words. And I did too.

Being there today and, as it happened, sitting near that same spot made me feel how much it had been a home. I don’t miss grading but I do miss teaching. (And I know that without accountability of some sort learning does not occur!) I don’t miss getting up early but I do miss new children. I miss the other teachers I knew and shared time with, though I don’t miss doing bulletin boards. In fact, I like sharing information and it isn’t always socially acceptable to do so!

I had a discussion with a student about hands in the pockets when you are at Mass. Someone has to say, don’t do that. No-one had said it to this child and we had an interesting discussion about it. Ronald Reagan had a comment about how to hold your hands in public if you are feeling self-conscious so I passed on that information to Pocket Man. But in this case I’ll probably never know if he listened.

I’ve watched a hundred altar boys light the candles on the high altar at that Friday Mass. It’s no longer done and I find that sad. Children were achieving competence in a small area. First they were frustrated, but within a few months they were passing on tips and tricks for getting the job done. Last Sunday, the MC just lifted the tall candlestick down for the altar boy to light. Oh well. (That’s not really a good solution. Moving a lighted candle isn’t the best, specially when it is VERY heavy, and it’s bad for the candlesticks to be handled too much without gloves. They end up needing to be polished much more often.)

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3

3 thoughts on “Just an aside

  1. Yes, there was a church in California once, that I went to often, and after a while, every time I passed it my heart jumped. My heart went and thought it was home 🙂


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