“Thank you for your kindness”

30 Oct

At the end of 8:00 a.m. Mass, I thanked the young woman for her kindness to me. She was in the pew next to me this morning at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C. Yes, I know that I probably should have been concelebrating with the priests, but sometimes it is helpful for a priest, and in this case it was helpful for me, to experience Mass from viewpoint of the congregation.

The Franciscans, for what reason I do not know, are further along in using the new English translation of the Mass. I must have looked lost when, not singing the Gloria, everyone starting speaking the words of the “new” Gloria. The young woman moved closer, and held between the two of us a card on which all the people’s parts were printed, with the “different” words in a heavier, bolder font. As I looked around, everyone seemed to know where to find that card, except me.

That young woman, in her kindness, helped me through the Mass. Two thoughts come to my mind.

It will be important, come November 27, for the people in the pews at St. Andrew to help each other through Mass, until we all settle in with the new translation. Expect others to help you. And make it your own intention to help others. Get yourself as ready as you can. And then look for ways and means to help those who are sitting near you, especially those who look as lost as I must have looked to the woman next to me this morning.

The other thought that came to mind was that you will be helping me, or whoever the priest happens to be at the altar. For some weeks now, I have been thinking about what Father Ken and I need to do, right now and on those first Sundays of Advent, to help the transition be as smooth as possible, in other words, to help you make the transition. But wait a minute. We’re all in this together, aren’t we? We’ll work together, each doing what each of us can do. It is a relief for me to realize that it is not totally up to me and Deacon Tim – and Dovile and the choir – to make this transition happen. The Mass belongs to all of us. This new translation is given to all of us. You’ll help me as much as I help you. You’ll help the choir as much as the choir helps you. Phew! That feels much better. The tension is leaving the back of my neck.

At the end of Mass, you might hear, either from that “lost but now found” person who sat next to you or from me in the sanctuary, “Thank you for your kindness.”

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