Recognize who puts everything in place

By Pat Wettstein | For The Compass | August 5, 2016

The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.

I have always been intrigued by today’s Gospel (the long version), especially the last phrase: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

I have an old Queen of the Apostles prayer book that highlights this very phrase in a reflection for the third sorrowful mystery, The Crowning of Thorns: “This mystery can best be contemplated by people who carry the burden of grave responsibility of caring spiritually for others … which is the duty required of those who are more gifted …. (S)uch people must reject temptations of pride, egotism and that dissension which destroys.”

What does that mean for us? I am often reminded of the unselfish contributions of those who work behind the scenes. The church always looks clean when I arrive. Who does that? The music is always ready to go. Who spends time reading through those Scripture passages to determine what music fits each particular Mass? The offering is collected and placed in a secure area until it gets to the bank. Do I know that person?

Every church, business and even our homes hum along because someone works behind scenes to make sure things get done. Sometimes those people are appreciated and recognized, but most times it never gets acknowledged — until something goes wrong.

There is one ministry that quietly gets done every week that is taken for granted by most of us because it does flow so smoothly, (until that one time when it becomes so obvious that everyone sees it). It’s the sacristan, the person responsible for the care of the sanctuary and of everything needed for the liturgy. This person takes care of the sacred vessels, vestments, altar linens, candles, oils, holy water, and orders the hosts and wine. The sacristan may be a lay person, religiously professed, ordained or a combination of all these. In most parishes, this person(s) is a volunteer, although larger parishes may have a paid staff person. Do you know who performs this ministry in your parish?

We are all influenced by what we see and experience. That is especially true of the vision we have of the sanctuary, and especially the altar, when we enter the church for Mass. Everything is in its place, the altar linens are draped, the credence table holds the sacred vessels, the offerings of wine and hosts are set to go. Does it invite you in and get you ready for our Lord? There are dedicated people, quietly behind the scenes, who make it happen. Pray for them and let them know they are appreciated; much has been entrusted to them.

Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.

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