Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Way Sunday
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how the Word of God dismantled my shell ... one 'peck' at a time
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It was 7 or 8 years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. Parishes world-wide were still trying to deal with the reality of offering Mass in the local language [the vernacular]. In the parish I was living at the time, we were still being 'led' through the new order of the Mass [novus ordo] by way of a commentator whose job was to keep us on the correct page of the missalette in use at the time, and to help identify which specific prayers and readings were assigned to this particular day of the year.

Ever used the words 'shy', or 'timid', or 'reclusive', or 'a loner', or 'introvert', to describe someone. They paint an image, at least to me, of someone who makes little effort to connect with the rest of humanity around him. That is how I viewed myself - not very complimentary, is it?

I was married. We had one child and another on the way. I was gainfully employed. I did my job fairly well. I was scared to death of meeting people and having to have conversations, or of having to make a presentation of some sort, or of being in front of people to talk to them. The problem, while personal, was beginning to affect my job - I was assuming more responsibility that included talking with and working with other people.

At one point in my work career I was being promoted to a job that involved a lot of customer face-to-face contact. My wife commented, "You're no salesman. You can't do that job." I had to come out of my shell.

The Novus Ordo gave me my chance to come out of my shell. Being extremely introverted did not make that an easy thing for me. One Sunday at Mass, I thought, as I listened to the reader / commentator / lector, something along the line of "IF I could do that, just get up there and read these passages from the Bible, at Mass, in front of all these people, maybe I could get over being shy."

I signed up. The first Mass I was assigned to do was an utter fiasco. As the commentator, I 'started' all the parts that were read or prayed by the congregation, like the Lord's prayer, Holy Holy Holy, the Lamb of God, etc. Well, at one point I turned one too many pages in the missalette and started with the next thing I had highlighted on that page - I skipped everything on the previous two pages. The celebrant then had to bring it all back together after I finished messing everyone up.

The celebrant was a visiting substitute filling in - and while I had been introduced to him before Mass, I didn't know him and he didn't know me. After Mass he really let me have it verbally, like I had done it on purpose or something. I was so nervous as a first timer, I didn't even know I had skipped anything. But I didn't give up - I went back determined to do it right eventually. And I still remember his name.

Did it help me? I say "Definitely, yes!" It took a long time, but I did gradually get more and more comfortable with people, which really helped me with my employer and socially. Today I'm hard to keep quiet. Now when I enter a room of people, I don't go off to the nearest corner to hide anymore. I can now meet people and speak with them - actually have conversations. I give talks at retreats and give presentations at various functions. I teach youth and adult religious formation classes. None of this was possible before I started reading the Word of God as a reader at Mass.

It was through this that I became interested in knowing more about the Bible. It got me involved in studying the Bible. It got me reading from it daily. That has been a blessing of my lifetime.

God used a different way to attract me to His Word. My original motive may have been ulterior, but it got me where I needed to go. That is how the Word of God dismantled my shell.

uncle jim
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2 comments:

Adoro te Devote said...

Uncle Jim...I can't wait to meet you!

uncle jim said...

whuh???

was it something i said?