Another week without cartoons! Things are just too busy around here.
I readily admit that I am not a very social person. It takes an awful lot of energy for me to be with a large group of people. Interestingly enough I find most of my priest friends to fit into the same category.
Before I was a priest I used to have a little (not too much - but a little) anxiety about going to another parish for Mass. “How do they do things at this other parish and will I stick out like a sore thumb?” I would wonder. One time a remember going to a parish at which you were supposed to take a pair of tongs and put your unconsecrated host in bowl to be brought at the presentation of the gifts. I did not realize this and then worried that if I went to Communion would that mean somebody else couldn’t. Or going to another diocese where people stand and kneel at different times, or coming across a priest that has a stern policy about only receiving in the hand (or on the tongue – I always seem to be doing the very thing the locals are working against no matter how hard I try.) One time while in Switzerland I actually walked out of Mass to confirm that it was indeed a Catholic things seemed so strange to me. And the ultimate fear was in a parish where Father is walking about asking questions and my entire prayer becomes, “Please don’t come by me, please don’t come by me!” (Locals might notice I don’t to any of these things because I so loathed them as a lay person.)
Well, things have not changed much. Priests are asked to go to different parishes now and then to help out. Once again I am faced with the distress of “how do they do it here?” I envy guys that just go and do it and don’t sweat it in the least. I do. I want to know how we go in, where I am to be, how do you do Communion here, how you get out, etc. I hate to have to be thinking these things out while trying t pray the Mass.
Sometimes I purposefully ignore the “way we do it here”s. For example, if I am told that they leave out part of the required part of a Mass in a particular place I will simply say, “Well, today we are going to do it.” Other times it is not so easy. In wondering how to distribute Communion to the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion I’ll be told, “Distribute to the people on your right first, and then the left . . .” Now, I am a little dyslexic (dyslexics untie!) and so start to sweat it out at Communion, “hand with index finger and thumb extended forms an “L” and that is your left.”
Even typing this I feel ridiculous. “Why the anxiety?” Part of it is not wanting to be a distraction – wanting the focus on the Mass and on Jesus, not on me – part of it is not wanting to look like an idiot. Interestingly the only part that does not bother me is preaching and doing the Eucharistic prayer. I always feel at home there.
How about you?