A religious experience


I ALWAYS enjoy serving as a Scripture reader at my Roman Catholic church. It puts me up close to see the details of the Mass as it unfolds. But, on a recent Sunday, I found it holds some unexpected joys, too.

Just before the Mass started, I suggested to the organist that he play something during the collection because it always seemed so embarrassingly quiet and long. Need I say that the sound of coins falling was not music to the ears of the finance committee?

The liturgy proceeded along beautifully, beginning with the priest using the censer to incense the altar. The smoke from the censer arose with delicate little arabesques of gray ribbons curling up to the painted ceiling with the strangest pungent aroma that tickled the nose and invited coughing.

Then, the usual prayers, the readings, the gospel and the homily. And on to the collection.

A mirthful moment

The organist began playing ever so softly -- da da da da da -- and then a little quick fugue stuff. Then more -- da da da da. Overcome with mirth, I realized that he was playing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

Completely distracted from the solemnity of the mass by this time, my mind began to turn out suggestions for future little musical breaks -- "Pennies from Heaven," "Three Coins in the Fountain," and then at Christmas, "I Found a Million Dollar Baby in the Five-and-Ten-Cents Store." For weddings, "I Married an Angel," "You Are My Special Angel" -- and more.

Riding home in the car, my husband commented that I looked inordinately happy and relaxed during Mass. He said he wished that he could feel as relaxed during public speaking engagements. I just smiled and said that today had been a different religious experience for me. As I told him of my xTC meditations, I asked him if he thought I might have been irreverent.

His reply? "Heavens, No."

Edith M. Maynard, a literature and poetry instructor at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, writes from Sparks.

Pub Date: 7/13/98

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