Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Liturgist as T-----ist, or some other unsavory character, a myth partially exposed
Here's another dilemma for you armchair liturgists. At the second of three funerals we planned today, the family thought it important to list all readers, giftbearers, singers, etc. in the funeral program. They insisted nicely, and I caved.
With our former pastor, this was something of an unnegotiable. He and our receptionist (who produces these programs) were concerned about the domino effect (if one family gets one, all the others will expect them) and also the hurt-feeling symdrome (if somebody doing something doesn't get mentioned, they will get upset). Then you have our staff member's concern about the family waiting for the morning of the funeral to nail down who's actually bringing up the gifts and who might be singing that special song. The issue of the Notre Dame Fight Song came up, too. What d'you do?
When the liturgist/t-----ist joke was making the rounds eight, ten years back, I joked with my parishioners in Iowa that even though I flunked the t-----ist cluster in grad school, I was able to sneak away with a diploma anyway. And they laughed louder than at the original joke.
So when your doctor prescribes bed rest and plenty of fluids, does he rate derision because he advises against cross-country skiing, or your putting in a 70-hour work week? Your accountant demurs when you suggest an iffy tax deduction, do you call him a dictator?
Good ol' Catechism 2478 tells you a positive presumption is expected from a person's words, deeds, or actions, unless you know otherwise. Even if the previous nine parish liturgists have indeed been holy terrors, you are obliged to think well of number ten, unless and until you learn differently. I didn't make that one up.
I'll clue you in: liturgists tell jokes too. Sometimes about ourselves, and we laugh pretty loud. Sometimes about you. Sometimes it's in good taste. Sadly, sometimes it's not, and is more informed from bad experiences. My little brother, who considers himself a "Recovering Catholic," told me once he didn't understand why I put up with the crap (except he used a slightly stronger word) from the church that threw monkey wrenches in my relationships, indulged in dirty unfounded rumors that hurt me and my friends, mistreated my wife, and generally underappreciated what I did or could do for them. It was a struggle to find an answer that satisfied him, and I don't think I succeeded. Some days I simply don't have an answer.
Some of my colleagues are indeed holy terrors, but you know what? They're just like everyone else in that regard. Many confident professional people have a clear idea of what they can do, based on their training and experience. That bothers some people who have their own ideas, but you know what? The better course might be to take the time to work it out. Harder than telling jokes, but more rewarding, more Christian, in the long run.

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