The bigger kids do religious ed. before church. There is a Catholic church nearer to us, but the only Mass time is 7:30pm Saturday (past two kids’ bedtimes) and, uh, those two very same kids are the ones who have the most behavior issues during Mass. I’m no fool; that would never work. So it’s off to the other church, 25 minutes south of us, every Sunday. It’s too far to go back home after dropping them off at class. I spend a little time goofing off in the rectory, checking my phone and chatting. Then I make my way over to the church.
So far, I’ve always been the only person there a full hour early for Mass. The building is unlocked, the candles lit, the lights are on so someone must have been there first but I’ve never seen them. I’m very cautious about where we sit during the actual Mass. You can tell from the personal objects in the pews (reading glasses, missals, rosaries, kleenex) that people have staked out their pews and I don’t want to mess that up. I’ve chosen a pew near the back for us, one with a support columns right in the middle which, I assume, makes it undesirable and not likely to be someone else’s. The church is old enough that there could even be people who have sat in the same pews all their lives, or maybe their family has sat there for multiple generations. Hopefully no one has inherited the inconvenient column pew as their family legacy.
But in the early morning I sit up front, so as less to look like a suspicious ne’er do well. I figured I had a lot to pray about and the total silence of the early morning church was easier on my gnat-like attention span.
Lord, help me to find my path in this place. Help me to figure out what it is I’m supposed to do. More than anything, please let me hear your words.
Then, out of nowhere, I heard a very loud man’s voice: “TESTING, TESTING. 123. CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
I simultaneously jumped out of my skin, had a heart attack, and passed out.
Instead of being told next to go to Ninevah or free the Jews or sacrifice my first born, I got silence. Then the sacristy door popped opened and an older man walked out. “We’ve just got a new microphone this morning, could you hear it?”
“uuuhhhhh. uuuuuuummmm. Yeah”
Despite so carefully choosing a “respectable” pew position, I think I still came off as totally suspicious because of my stammering. I bet I was white as a sheet and stunned looking too. Probably one of those heroin addicts Vermont is supposed to be full of.
After getting the microphone sorted out, he came out and sat. Other’s showed up and started saying the rosary. He led, slowly and carefully saying each word. A woman behind me responded. I assume she must be an auctioneer of some sort as I simply could not keep up with her. “holyMarymotherofGodprayforussinnersnowandatthehourofourdeath” It reminded me of the rosary CD from the Mary Foundation, where the lady announcing the third set of mysteries sounds exactly like Huckleberry Hound. She throws me off each and every time, even though I know it’s coming. Clearly, I have ADD-type issues with group prayer.
The rest of the morning went on without incident, except that the priest ran out of Eucharist during communion, his count was probably thrown off by having a new family. One other little boy and Owen were left in line while he went back to the alter for more. But everything was normal and I’ve managed not to hear disembodied voices for a couple hours now.