From Cantor to Usher

O.K., so some readers may recall that I cantor--as in lead the singing, not ride a horse ("canter")--at Mass most weekends at my home church, and about once a month along with the occasional wedding or funeral at another parish. At the other parish, I'm required to do a few extra things. One of them is that I have to read specific wording from a sheet at the beginning of Mass to welcome people and then during Mass to introduce the songs/parts of the Mass.

I knew something was up when the supervisor of the cantors sent around an e-mail last week saying there would be a new sheet we had to use from that point on.

I got the new sheet today in my in-box and started skimming the welcome segment.


"Good evening and welcome to [the parish]."

O.K., that's the same.


"Please take a moment to silence your cell phones."

Uhhhhh, say what???


Really? Do I really have to say that? Has it come to this?

It's so. . . profane. It kind of makes me sound like the bad guy, too.

OTOH, I've been to enough Masses where at some point during the biggest part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is usually the most silent, most reverent, most awesome part--and a phone has rung out of somebody's purse or pocket. More than once.

I know, I know--people forget their phones are on. That's why churches tried putting discreet signs in the vestibules asking for phones to be silenced. But let's face it--people don't read signs. So now we cantors have to announce it.

I'd rather drive it home, touch people's hearts and minds, so instead they're just already aware of what they're entering into when they come to Mass. For about 45 minutes (we keep things moving at my church), it's Heaven on Earth. Just as parents put down the phone and devote their full attention to their children, that's the least we can do for the Lord and for our faith community. That we should be moved to do.

I wish I had words like that on my sheet instead.



Comments

I think it's appropriate to make that announcement before Mass begins and really drive home the point (say to shut them off and explain why). Hopefully, it will train people and over the course of time, people won't have to be reminded (we can only hope).

I find it even more unexpectedly inappropriate when phones go off during daily Mass, when one would expect the attendees to be more mindful (unless maybe they don't know how to properly operate their phones).
Dave E. said…
Obviously you have the right approach to the cell phone issue, but I can't help but imagine staging a fake lightning bolt and a pile of smoking clothes as an alternate.
Kate P said…
Christine--I just think it's going to get old really fast. (That said, I have to do it only once a month!) Good point about the people who don't know how to silence their phones. But seriously, how horrible would it be to turn the darn thing OFF in that case? For less than an hour?

Dave--Heh. On a similar note, one time my brother went to a church that must've had problems with people ducking out early--the priest commented, "Judas was the first person to leave the Last Supper." Everybody stayed to the end that day!
Lindsay said…
It really is unfortunate that such an announcement has to be made. I pretty much always silence my cell phone the moment I leave my apartment as I'm headed to Mass. Then I pop in my earphones and listen to something on my iPod on my walk over to help transition me into "Mass mode" so I'm ready to leave the cares of this world behind and try to focus on God. Not saying I'm always successful (I'm a visual person to begin with, so following along with the passages without seeing it written down is difficult for me), but I at least make the attempt. I like to think it's one of those instances where I get an A for effort. I hope.

Then again, going to Mass feels more like an obligation for a lot of people than a sacrament. It's just something they do, and I understand that; I understand how it can seem like just another commitment, but it's one that really does enhance our existence. Hmm. Maybe I should write a blog post on this. Need more NaBloPoMo fodder...
Lindsay said…
It really is unfortunate that such an announcement has to be made. I pretty much always silence my cell phone the moment I leave my apartment as I'm headed to Mass. Then I pop in my earphones and listen to something on my iPod on my walk over to help transition me into "Mass mode" so I'm ready to leave the cares of this world behind and try to focus on God. Not saying I'm always successful (I'm a visual person to begin with, so following along with the passages without seeing it written down is difficult for me), but I at least make the attempt. I like to think it's one of those instances where I get an A for effort. I hope.

Then again, going to Mass feels more like an obligation for a lot of people than a sacrament. It's just something they do, and I understand that; I understand how it can seem like just another commitment, but it's one that really does enhance our existence. Hmm. Maybe I should write a blog post on this. Need more NaBloPoMo fodder...
Kate P said…
Transition--that's a good word for it. Something we probably need to foster.

Oh, do they not have missalettes with readings at your church, either? Ever since they eliminated those at my church in favor of some lousy universal missal with the wrong translation, it's been rough. I try to read ahead in the Catholic newspaper or sneak a look at the complete one my dad keeps on the organ.

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