Friday, July 11, 2008

Catholic Karaoke

Having arrived at the 12:10 Mass as the opening antiphon is ending, I slide into the nearest pew instead of scanning the church. I'll have more to say about church seating maneuvers in another post. This post is about the octogenarian seated in front of me. Feature this: The senior citizen seated in front of me is lip-syncing the entire liturgy.

I notice this especially after the Liturgy of the Word is completed and the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. Yep, no doubt about it. She is not praying the Rosary. She is lip-syncing the entire liturgy. Entire. Liturgy. All the words. In order. Along with the septuagenarian priest.

Try as I might, I cannot place my thoughts elsewhere. I think, "Good thing you're not getting captured on hidden video in the Archdiocese of St. Louis."

So at this point during Mass, as is often the case for many Catholics except I write about it, I'm struggling to pay attention. But hey, at least I am not getting all distracted by screaming infants. No, I am getting all distracted by thoughts about Church history, in part because I'm currently reading Women in Christianity by Hans K
ΓΌng. I figure I'll get back in line -- so to speak -- when it's time to receive Communion.

It's time to receive Communion. I go up. She stays put and I think, "Wow! Are you excommunicating yourself for lip-syncing the consecration?" I'm dying to ask her -- an idiom I don't at all mind using given my belief in the Risen Lord. Instead, I decide to mind my own beeswax, especially on this feast day for the patron saint of beekeepers.

After the dismissal (which she lip-syncs) she turns to me and asks, "Why weren't you the lector today?" I tell her I wasn't on the schedule and ask, "Why didn't you receive Communion?" She tells me why. By now our hands are clasped together. Christ is present. I decide not to ask her about the Catholic karaoke thing...just yet.


  1. Very impressive. Almost scary.
    I have a hard time remembering when to respond during Mass and what to say, and I always flub up the Nicene Creed. But I still consider myself a newbie so I have a good excuse (I know. I know. It's not really a good excuse.)
    I could not even imagine being able to "lip synch" the entire liturgy. Are you ever going to ask her about it? Do tell when you find out.

  2. I may indeed ask her about it but am hoping to get to know her better first. BTW, love the flip flops pic!

  3. Has anyone ever done a study correlating how close you live to the church with how late you typically are?
    Now that we live a brisk five minute walk from St. John's, we are usually five minutes late. Whereas when we lived a 20 minute drive away, we arrived early with all six kids in tow. I can't figure it out.

  4. I believe this is an unstated law of physics: the closer you live in proximity to church, the later you will arrive. Six kids? I'm imagining a sweet row of ducklings!

  5. Because I lead four Word and Communion services on Sundays at the prison, I sometimes have to bite my tongue when I'm at Mass in the parish. All too often, I'm ready to say the presider's words!

  6. Lip-synch!
    I took a quick tour of your blog. Love it. You seem to have the perfect mix of moxie and faith to be a prison chaplain.

  7. Sometimes the problem with knowing the words so well is that they remain words and seldom permeate through to the heart. I'm not saying it's bad to memorize though.

    Loved how the blog post ended.

  8. Wow. You know, I'm not even sure I want to know why she didn't take the Eucharist. A beautiful, nuanced essay... I teared up about her lip-synching the presider's part, and I'm not even totally sure where I stand on ordination of women. Thanks for sharing the story, Mere. Hugs, Mel

  9. I'm sure this was just her style of paying attention. Some people move their lips when they read. I taught a couple of deaf kids long ago, who communicated by signing, and noticed one of them moved his fingers when he read.

  10. Really, Jonathan, you're "sure"? I'll grant you it's a possibility and I like my interpretation much better!


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