Raised in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic School 1st – 12th Grade I used to be able to recite every part of a mass other than the Homily. You know, the Part where the Priest (or Deacon) uses the scripture we had just heard and tie it back with a modern-day example. The rest, traditions. The telling and re-telling of the stories of Jesus.
This past weekend was Palm Sunday, in the Catholic Church this is the day that we celebrate Jesus at the pinnacle of attention among his believers, and within a few days, he is crucified for the same attention.
Every year on Palm Sunday, at our local Parrish, we start in a gathering space of the church instead of the normal church pews. Our Priest leads us in prayer and talks about this Pinnacle of Jesus’ life. He then leads us into the church, newly blessed palm leaves in hand to symbolize Jesus entrance into Jerusalem.
Being creatures of Habit we normally sit in the same “area” of the church. We have the same vantage point to the Priest, to the Alter, to the Choir. Being as tall as I am, I usually can see over most people. People that I know are usually in their same place too.
But on this Sunday, because of the Palm Sunday celebration, we entered into the church into an unfamiliar place. A spot in the church, off to the side and with the layout of the church we were behind the lectern. Although still the same church we have been coming for fifteen years, something was different.
Looking out at the people attending this mass, I saw new faces. I also saw people that I know, but never knew they were members of our church. I could hear the beautiful choir much better, and at the same time based on where I was sitting, I saw the process of Mass.
The Process of Mass. I hadn’t been that close to the inner workings of a Mass since I was 13 years old.
Back then, I was an Alter Boy. Attending a Catholic School, every boy knows that the call-up happens in 5th Grade. The first couple of weeks of school, one of the priests comes in and gives his pitch to only the boys (in my day) of the class. He explains our duty to God and the ability to start serving your church at an early age, and the perk I liked the best. If you become an altar boy, sometimes you get to get out of class!
Reflecting on this experience of behind the scenes made me realize something. Being an Alter Boy was my first experience for being a part of the process, the person or group that was moving something from A-B-C all the way to Z. The steps were already laid out, I just had to learn to add efficiency and execute in the best manner that I could.
As silly as it sounds, I became a very good Alter Boy. Not because I showed up because I added my persona and efficiency to a set of static actions to make myself stand out. During fifth to eighth grades, I was frequently asked to serve at Funerals and Weddings, which was a perk often meaning getting out of class and or getting paid.
It is funny how sitting in an unfamiliar place within a space you have known for years, can give you a different perspective of the present as well as the past.
What small thing can you do differently today that opens your eyes or mind to see a whole new world?