Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's Like Coming Home

“No! It’s a ( uh ) reading … not a ( ay ) reading … “

During the last years of Loretta’s life, because her energy level varied widely, we never knew until the weekend which Mass on which day we’d be attending. Going to our parish frequently required more energy than Loretta had to give. We would wind up going to Mass at a different parish; it was closer and the Masses were shorter. She could participate fully.

Though she had this limitation, Loretta never failed to lector ( proclaim Scripture from the pulpit during Mass ) when her monthly turn came. She almost always made it to the required rehearsal the Tuesday evening before and always made her scheduled weekend Mass.

I, too, am a lector. For over twenty-five years I had been a regular at our prior parish and had discovered, as Isaiah says, “The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue.” I was eager to lector at the Basilica, but the problem of never knowing which Mass I’d be at deterred me.

I eventually sought to be on the substitute lector list. My twenty-five prior years, my “well-trained tongue,” meant nothing; I’d have to audition. The audition was in the form of proclaiming both readings for a Sunday, doing so to a group of lectors, after their rehearsal for the same Sunday, and their judgments would be part of the overall evaluation. “No problem,” I said confidently, “I’ll be there.”

When my turn came, I strode confidently to the podium, looked out at the large church containing less than twenty people, and noticed that my knees felt a bit rubbery. ( What if I hadn’t had that twenty-five years of experience! ) I managed to ignore the rubber and proclaimed well enough to pass the audition. There were no full-time openings, so I joined the sub list. I proclaimed not even once as a substitute.

Shortly after Loretta’s death, several full-time positions opened. I jumped. At my first rehearsal, I was both eager and nervous. The purpose of the rehearsal was to both practice the proclamation, and to give and receive feedback. The team leader, whom I knew, was warm and inviting. She was also pretty demanding, expecting us to have looked at the material before the rehearsal and to be prepared to proclaim it as though doing so at Mass … and to meaningfully comment on others’ proclamations.

There were all sorts of things said after their delivery. “The list of attributes can be boring to read and listen to; you’ve got to change something for each item.”

 “After the very first line you didn’t pause, and that failed to set up the rest of the first paragraph.”

“You kind of swallowed ‘testament’ after Old in the second paragraph.”

After my turn I heard an unusually eloquent young male tell me he thought I varied the pitch, speed and volume when delivering the list of attributes and that, “I’m not sure how, but it worked well for you.”

The last, and likely least significant, item we discussed was how the lector ought to introduce the reading; is it, “A ( ay ) reading from …,” or,
“A ( uh ) reading from ….”? The overwhelming consensus is that it is, “A
( uh ) reading from … “. Nonetheless, I heard more than one lector introduce the reading with, “A ( ay ) reading … “ and I heard myself saying, “No, Tom ( not real name ), it’s uh reading not ay reading  … .”

I suddenly realized I was where I love to be … giving and receiving coaching for oral delivery of the Sacred Scripture during liturgy; I had dearly missed this and was enormously grateful to be at it again.
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