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Monday, 21 December 2015

The New Normal, and Performing Acts of Mercy

A man sitting in church.

Not very well dressed, sloppily, even, but that is not uncommon in a vacation area approaching its peak of attractiveness to those who live elsewhere where the weather is other.
Wearing a hoodie. Okay, unusual, but there is no longer a canon law proscribing hats on men.
Reading before Mass.
Reading from an electronic device, not common, but not unheard of, either.
Reading aloud. Quite loudly, in fact.
Also, alas, not unheard of in this parish, where one man finally needed to be asked to stop proclaiming the Liturgy of the Hours deliberately seated in the midst of the regularly scheduled, daily, and noted-in-every-bulletin public recitation of the Rosary.

Reading about murder and massacres and gunshot wounds and blood and devastation. Aloud.

Now, it's strange.

One pew-sitter glances at him, and decides just to give the head usher, back in the sacristy, a heads up.

Several of us exit the sacristy and see the stranger exit his pew, stride up to the front of the nave, genuflect deeply, but instead of making the customary sign of the cross, he bows his head profoundly, and stretch out his arms, like the Crucified One, like a martyr.

This satisfies most of the ushers, who return to their pre-celebration tasks. One, however, exits the church by the same door, and sees the man make a circuit of the cloistered garden and duck in a back door. Alarmed, he gets the attention of another usher, an extremely large man, whether chosen by accident, or design, who knows?
They follow, and find the fellow in the wash room, albeit, not using the facilities.
Warily, they welcome him, ask him if he doesn't want to come in a find a seat, and tell him that Catholic men do not customarily cover their heads in Church.

Nervously, tensely, everyone finds himself a seat, and Mass begins.

Later, another usher tells us that she has seen him around, he is a schizophrenic in the neighborhood, she thinks he is harmless.
If a stranger dwell in your land, and abide among you, do not upbraid him: But let him be among you as one of the same country: and you shall love him as yourselves: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

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