At mass recently we had to do, the introduction (me), the second reading (herself), the prayers of the faithful (all of them and some other children rounded up on the morning).
The reason for this was that a number of our choir members sing in a national youth choir and they were singing at mass so regular readers were thin on the ground (either singing or preparing tea for the singers). The regular reading organiser asked me to round up children to say the prayers of the faithful. A number of novice readers I approached in the church shrank back in horror and I was left to fall back on my own brood. Daniel and Herself are regulars but Michael has only done it once before. I had him practice two prayers. Just before mass, one of the regular young readers turned up and I nabbed her and said to Michael, “OK you only need to do one now.”
I did my introductory bit and I thought that considering how bad previous attempts of mine have been, it wasn’t too awful but my family said I looked pale and shook like a blancmange. Can this be true? Hey, don’t mock until you’ve had a chance to bore a church full of people yourself. The Princess missed her cue for the second reading as she was distracted by the really beautiful responsorial psalm sung by the choir and had to zoom up to the altar with the speed of a coursing hare. She was fine once she got there – she has nerves of steel.
And then I found myself worrying – when are the prayers of the faithful? When do my little readers need to be shepherded to the altar? The Princess and I exchanged agonised glances. The priest paused. “Is it now?” I hissed at Mr. Waffle. “I don’t think so,” he said. Oh the agony. There was a really meaningful pause after the creed and the Princess gathered the children together and brought them up to do the prayers of the faithful. Michael was up first. Although he has read less often than the others, he is a clear and confident reader from the altar so, once he was there, I entertained relatively few fears. He began. It was the wrong prayer – he had got confused in the messing about before mass. He realised this. Instead of ploughing on, he put his hand to his forehead and said, “Oh no, oh no, it’s not this one.” Alas. Poor Michael, he was very cast down, though nobody minded at all, on the contrary, I imagine that they welcomed the variety from the standard prayer for vocations (singularly ineffective).
In other religious news, this Sunday, I will be operating a slushy machine for the Church Garden Party. The early Christian martyrs have nothing on me.