In a couple of weeks, I lector at an 8am Sunday Mass. There are a few things that the lector does differently at that Mass, and I’ve goofed up once or twice. I don’t like goofing up while in the direct service of God, so this morning I was going over a mental checklist of what I have to remember for the ‘special’ 8am Mass a few weeks from now.
For one thing, the priest, deacon, and lector don’t do a full procession down the center aisle, we simply come in from the side and bow to the altar. At a normal weekend Mass, the lector has two short readings, as well as a few other responsibilities — but at the 8am Mass, the lector also leads the responsorial psalm in between the first and second readings – and then says (or sings) the Alleluia after the second reading, just before the Gospel is read. That makes four separate things to do – in a row – before sitting back down. To me, it always seems like ‘a long time’ up there, and I feel like I should be ‘getting out of the way’ to let the Mass continue – so towards the end I mentally rush. In fact, I have been known to forget the Alleluia all together – which leaves the priest (or deacon) walking across the altar to read the Gospel in an awkward silence.
So – that explains why the Alleluia was on my mind this morning before Mass. Now, I happen to like singing the Alleluia (along with the aptly-titled ‘Alleluia verse’) – but that means I need to know what that verse is ahead of time, because it changes each week and I have to make up a little tune for it. As I was still getting ready for Mass, I couldn’t look up what the verse was going to be, but because of my own ‘hardness’ lately, I was really hoping the verse was ‘If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart’. I even started making up a little tune for it.
So when I get to Mass this morning, guess what the ‘response’ to the responsorial psalm was? You guessed it! (Or, if you didn’t guess it — well, c’mon…catch up!)
Everything I’ve typed so far is simply lead-in. For me, the phrase ‘harden not your heart’ reminds me of when God tells Moses to offer Pharaoh a choice: free the Israelites, or else suffer terrible consequences. Now, we all know the story of the confrontation and the plagues, but what strikes me is that God tells Moses that he will ‘harden Pharaoh’s heart’. Continue reading