Now that the vestments are prepared, the homily nearly finished, the prayers and chants prepared, comes the joy of the all-important telephone (because nobody wants to keep their bulletins or swing by the unlocked church to pick one up).
Ringing incessantly with callers seeking the times of the Christmas Masses, some of these callers are prepared to speak to a person and others are not. Some are prepared to listen to the answers given and some are not. Some know what to say, and others do not. Some are thinking as they speak and some are not. (I've just answered three calls in the last minute alone. It's hard to get anything done around here.)
Now don't get me wrong. Of course I'm happy they are calling and are seeking to attend the Holy Mass, but a bit of common sense is always helpful. For example:
- If you are calling to find out all of the Mass times, be sure to have a piece of paper handy and a pen or a pencil (or a marker, crayon, tube of lipstick, chalk, etc.) in hand when you call so that you can jot down the times as Father gives them.
- Please don't stammer away because you expected a recording. While the thought of not disturbing Father is kind, the thought that he might not answer his phone is a bit insulting, even if not intended. Father doesn't call your house not expecting you to answer.
- Don't call them "services." They are "Masses," or maybe even "Liturgies."
- Don't question the times of the Masses that Father gives you; he knows what he's talking about.
And perhaps most important of all, remember how a clock works and that there are twenty-four hours in a day. What do I mean? Take this conversational gem from yesterday afternoon:
Caller: What time are your services on Christmas Eve?
Me: Mass is at four, seven, and midnight.
Caller: That's twelve, right?
Me (quite shocked and baffled): Yes...
Another bizarre call just came in: What time should I come for the four o'clock Mass to get a seat? I'm sure the same applies in every church in the United States today: the church will be full at least twenty minutes before Mass begins. If you want your favorite seat come an hour early and prayer. That's really a good idea for everybody.