by Angela Orlando
When you attend Sunday Mass or Weekday Mass, do you give of your talents? No, we don’t mean your treasure.
There are over a hundred parishioners who help you celebrate Mass and you probably don’t even think of them as ministers to you. They are the Mass Coordinators (who set up and clear up the altar), the Lectors (those who proclaim the sacred scripture), and the Extraordinary Ministers of Communion (EOM – they help the priest and/or deacons distribute the Eucharist). They are part of the assembly; they sit with you in the pews. Commissioned every few years, they are scheduled every couple of weeks to serve. With their help, they are the living body of Christ.
Mass Coordinators arrive at church about a half hour before the scheduled celebration. They prepare for the Mass in their own order but they really do need to pay attention to what they are doing. First things first. Let there be light, yep, they turn on the church lights. The coordinator starts assembling a tray. Which priest is celebrating? Each has their own Chalice. Is a Deacon is assisting? Their chalice is also placed on the tray. Then they check on the hosts available in the Reservation Chapel Tabernacle to estimate how many hosts will need to be consecrated. (Yes, we’ve all received a broken host at times when they run low.) How much wine will be ready? A purificator for each chalice is placed on the tray. Part of the Mass, originally called the Lavabo, is the washing of the hands. This is a continuation of our Jewish heritage when you would not eat without first purifying. The finger washing bowl is added to the tray as well as a small hand towel. These are carried out to the table behind the Presider chair. Finally, the candles are lit on the altar. After Mass, these items are returned to the cabinets in the back sacristy.
The Lectors or Proclaimers of the Word are members of the assembly who are trained (and continue to learn) to proclaim the Sacred Scriptures. Lectors are encouraged to start reading the scripture early in the week and continue to read those scriptures out loud daily so when they proclaim, there is no doubt in their proclamation of the story of our faith. They arrive at church about 20 minutes before the start of the Liturgy to set up the Lectionary to the correct page and place the book on the ambo. If there is no Deacon, the Lector must also check the petitions and practice the pronunciation of any deceased parishioners’ names. A few minutes after the Mass begins, the presider will read the Collect (the opening prayer) and then the Lector proceeds to the ambo. After the Psalm is sung or recited, the second reading is proclaimed. After the Homily and the recitation of the Creed, the Lector again returns to the ambo and reads the petitions. The Lectionary and Book of the Gospels are returned to their respective places after the celebration.
Extraordinary Ministers of Communion (EOMs) are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the celebration. After the Consecration and Our Father, the EOMs are called on to extend the ministry of the clergy. One of the EOMs is designated as Captain who makes sure all assigned ministers are present and finds subs if someone is not there. The Captain goes to retrieve consecrated hosts from the tabernacle in the reservation chapel and returns any not consumed after distribution. Each EOM has an assigned station. Carefully distributing the consecrated hosts and blessing those children who approach is one of the blessings of this office we share with the clergy.
When we review our Time, Talent and Treasures each fall, these are members who have found the answer to the question, “What do you want of me, Lord?” Have you?