This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 30 June 2013

NO 3: the Liturgy of the Word

Continued from Part 2.

This is the third instalment of our guide to some of the delightful things you may expect to see in the Ordinary Form Mass. It's time for the Liturgy of the Word, and today we're sending all the children out into the church hall so that they can receive their own instruction, while the grown-ups get a slightly more advanced version.

This Sunday we have the story of St Peter in prison, so the little darlings are going to draw a picture of him.

St Peter in prison

St Peter in prison, by Phil Evans (age 6).

For the grown-ups we have three readings, concluding with the Gospel, and then we come to the most exciting bit of all, the homily or sermon. Settle down, now, and let's see what spiritual delights are on offer.

preparing for the homily

I think I'll turn my hearing aid off now.

Now there are three options for the homily, and you may experience any of these.

1. The Bishop's Letter. Once a month +Fred sends out a letter to be read by all parishes. Bishops are often quite intelligent people, so this may be the best option - but if you're unlucky it will be about +Fred's holiday at the seaside: "I was walking along the beach at Hunstanton, and I thought of Jesus, who also used to go to the seaside, although it was at Galilee, and they didn't have seaside rock and donkey rides."

sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee - no candy floss available.

More likely, the bishop will impress you with his learning. "I was reminded of the words of Chesterton, who quoted Aquinas as pointing out that St Matthew had reported Our Lord as saying 'Lo! The people have no candy floss.'..."

2. The priest makes up a homily himself. This can be very good, or it can be very bad. At least if he's reading his own words the priest won't roll his eyes and talk in a silly voice.

3. Worst of all, you may just get: "One of our parishioners, Antonia Flannery, has recently been to India for three months, helping in a hospital there, and she's going to tell us of her experiences."

So Antonia tells you all about the hardships in Indian hospitals, where they don't have all the NHS facilities such as managers, equality and diversity coordinators, health and safety officers, etc. and have to make do with doctors and nurses.

holiday snaps

Oh good, Antonia's going to show us her holiday snaps.

Antonia went to Mass in India, but it was in Tamil so she didn't understand much. Do NOT at this point shout out "Why didn't you go to a Latin Mass?"

All too soon, the homily is over, we say the Creed (Nicene if there's time, Apostles' if the priest thinks we're running late). There's a bit in the book about bowing when we talk about the Incarnation; don't do that, as you'll probably be the only one, and people will look at you wondering whether you've just had a heart attack.

Well, that's about it for the Liturgy of the Word, so let's welcome back the children with their pictures of St Peter in prison.

Now, Daryl, how did St Peter get out of prison? 
No, Daryl, try again. Didn't God send someone to rescue him?
No, Daryl you imbecile. You weren't paying attention.
Saint Andrew

Mission Impossible - St Andrew infiltrates the prison.

Eventually, you do get some meaningful responses from the children, and the Mass continues. More next time.


  1. You forgot the traditional mumbling of the Psalm - and in the more adventurous parishes - the singing of six "Alleluias" followed by two lines of mumbling then another six alleluias.

    What a Jew would make of it I dread to think.

    1. True, I did forget the specially chosen bits of pslam - never more than 4 verses allowed. Thanks.

  2. darling eccles, nice to see phil had some little talent, once. When I go to my local Catholic chapel they have a special thing where ladies wearing skinny jeans and beachwear read the lessons - and as this is not near the sea-side, that is all in the spirit of Vatican II, I am told xx Jess

  3. Eccles, you've missed a can save a lot of time by starting the Eucharistic prayer during the Offertory hymn and then having the chat with the children when the music has stopped and you're half way through said prayer. This way, the congregation can leave the building around 2 minutes 30 seconds earlier.

    1. Of course you could also use that 2 minutes and 30 seconds later on to gallop up the aisle and shake the hands of everyone in the back row as well as everyone in the aisle seats near the front

  4. Dear Sir,

    I would like to protest in the strongest possible terms about your suggestion that there were no donkey rides at the seaside in Galilee. As a Biblical historian in these matters I would like to point out that it was entirely due to an ill-judged seaside donkey ride in Galilee, where the apostles put Jesus on a colt called Flossy after a rather rowdy lakeside barbecue, that he was accidentally delivered to Jerusalem.

    Who could have known that this poorly trained beach donkey had no sense of direction?

    Disoriented of Tunbridge Wells

  5. I love your picture of the Taj Mahony in Indianapolis or somewhere like that. he made it out of chocolate & put it in a famous film but I can't recall the name.

  6. There is a fourth option for the sermon and that is an ecumenical visitor such as the local Anglican ordinary whatever or even a recently ordained woman priestess just to show how open-minded and diverse we are.

  7. Some of the readings leave out the nasty bits about hell, judgement and sin. This shortens the NO service even more.

  8. Of course if you are in a more upscale ‘Faith Community’ – most likely in the US - you will get +Fred’s video instead of a letter. Letters are so Tridentine.

    The sight of +Fred’s well-fed, jovial, smiling face together with lots of warm and cuddly images of ‘Faith in Action” (or was it Acton?) are designed to open the purse strings and ensure that ample funds will be available to pay off the lawsuits against the diocese.

    And now, pass the hat please…