When P. met the mayor in town last Saturday, he invited us to attend mass at six o’clock that evening. We like to see how the community lives, so we went. Mass is read only once a year in our village church, a beautifully small and intimate building of the Romance period, bordering on Gothic, judging from the slightly pointed windows. We were greeted by the mayor at the gate, chatted a bit and went inside, where it was cool after the warm evening. We sat in one of the old pews, and were soon greeted by a lady, who said she recognised us from other events and who asked us if we would like to read the reading.
Read the reading? It seemed convenient for us, non-Catholics, to have a text to read along, but we didn’t want to inconvenience the lady. However, it seems she wanted to be inconvenienced, for soon she came with a friend and a slip of paper, and asked us to move more forward for us better to see. We obliged and there followed instructions about the text, but it seemed complicated, so I promised to follow the congregation, and we would be fine.
And so we were: fine. There was singing, and prayers and a few ladies read from a folder. We could follow everything nicely, and dutifully rose and sat down with everyone else. Then I discovered the priest started to read his part form the paper I had been given. O, excellent, we were there now. Then the priest stopped and one of the ladies nodded vehemently and insistently towards me. So that was the meaning of reading the reading: reading aloud!
I stifled a giggle and began, faltering, but doing the best I could. I pride myself in having a good reading voice, so I should be alright. Soon it was over, and the priest did his bit again.
But no, I was to read all four parts that were on the paper, so I braced myself and did. I can’t remember what I read, but it didn’t matter. I suppose we should be honoured that we were asked. And everyone else seemed to think it was perfectly normal!