I would like to think that when I am up on the altar as a lector, I am focusing on Jesus. Instead, all sorts of thoughts, some procedural and others anxious, come to mind. Other times, my altar view is distracting.
A lector reads Scripture passages from a lectionary. I have served as a lector for many years; I do not know how many.
I usually read the second reading and my husband reads the first. In our parish, the second reader also leads the prayers of the faithful. I always study the prayers before Mass posted in the vestibule to make sure I know how to pronounce each person’s name who is sick or has died. I want to make sure that I say people’s name correctly.
One time, I was leading these prayers and had a sad experience. As I was reading higher up on the page, I caught sight of a friend’s name. The priest had written his name in that morning; the rest of the page was typed. I could not tell if we would pray for him because he was sick or because he had died. I was praying that he was only sick and reading the prayers simultaneously. Unfortunately, he had died in his sleep the previous night. The news likely surprised other people at Mass too.
the Altar View: Potential Disasters
Recently, the priest trained some young altar servers. During the proclamation of the Gospel, two of them stand on either side of the lectern, holding candles. Several times recently, I thought that the kids might be standing a little too close to the priest or deacon. I asked myself what I would do if a candle lit the priest’s robe on fire! My husband and I are the adults closest to the ambo. I doubt the robe is fireproof although maybe that would be a good idea. Luckily it has not happened yet.
Our pastor is a very active person. I recently learned that some parishioners and staff use his name in the plural because he gets so much done. Until a few years ago, he spent his day off hiking or downhill skiing, depending on the season. When he took the youth group hiking, they were in for some fast movement. He fell while hiking and rolled down a slope before being stopped by rocks or something else.He was out for a while and then used a walker and cane. Now, he does not use anything.
Recently, he was ascending the three stairs from the church main floor to the altar, holding two patens in hand. When he arrived at the top, he teetered a bit before regaining his balance. I expect many eyes in the church were praying with me that he did not fall!
The Altar View: Kids and the Elderly
I am not concerned about parishioners being late for Mass but I can see them clearly. I can also see parents who have taken their squirmy children to the vestibule in the back during the homily, especially. Was someone watching me in the days when my daughter was getting exercise in the back of the church?
About twenty years ago, if a person fell ill at Mass, it seemed like half of the congregation rose to help because so many were medical profesionals. There are some still there. Recently, I noticed that a woman about five rows back was starting to lean and then keel over. Is someone going to see if she is OK? Yes, they spoke with her and called an ambulance. When this happened to my mother last Fall, she had not eaten breakfast and her low blood sugar caused her to slump on the fellow next to her. She too had a ride in the ambulance and we spent several hours in the Emergency Department.
I try not to get distracted by the small events happening in church while being a lector. Sitting on a platform above everyone else can be distracting.