Asher at the Ambo

October 12th, 2021

I took our grandson to church on Sunday. There is nothing unusual with Asher going to Mass. Karin and I take him with us whenever we go to St. Rita. What was different this time was that I was the only one of us to be with Asher on Sunday. Karin was down in Texas visiting with our other two grandchildren.

Generally, when Karin and I are attending the Sunday liturgy, we take turns watching over Asher. Asher is only ten months old. He is not hard to handle, but babies need some care. This is especially true when I am scheduled to serve as lector during the Mass (a lector reads aloud from the Scriptures to the entire congregation). On Sundays when I am called to proclaim the Word, it is helpful when Karin can hold and cuddle Asher for a while.

This Sunday I did serve as lector, but I was Karin-less. One of my duties was to carry the Book of the Gospels up to the altar at the beginning of Mass. This is not a big deal, unless, of course, you are carrying a 26 pound baby in your right arm while trying to hold the book in your left. I managed to do that.

I was supposed to do the first reading from the Book of Wisdom. Normally, I would hand Asher over to Karin before I went up to the ambo (“ambo” is Catholic for “lectern”). Clearly this was not going to happen, seeing as Karin was absent. Georgiana, another reader, offered to hold the lad while I did my thing. I told her not to worry.

When my time came, I walked up to the ambo with Asher in my right arm. He didn’t seem bothered at all. If anything, he wanted to know how the microphone worked. With some difficulty I kept the boy from messing with the mike or with the book with the Scriptures. Actually, Asher was pleased with the fact that all eyes were upon him. Everybody in the church was looking directly at Asher.

They like Asher.

They like Asher because he is beyond cute. I suspect that they also like him because he is one of the few people in the church is less than sixty years of age.

The truth is that almost everyone who comes to our church on a regular basis is old. There is often a procession of cars at the entrance of the church just prior to the service. Old people get out of these cars to help even older people with their walkers and wheelchairs. The demographics are not good.

After Mass a lady came up to me and told me that, by taking Asher up with me to the ambo, I had inspired Catholic families in the church who have small children. I would have been more impressed with her comments if there had been more families with small children in attendance. There weren’t. There are very few young people at Mass. There were perhaps a dozen children.

After this woman made her remarks to me, I told her,

“He (Asher) is the future. We are not.”

If we take Asher to Mass every Sunday, will that ensure that he becomes a Catholic?

No.

In our time, I have no idea what would convince a young person to be a Catholic. Karin and I have three grown up children, and none of them go to Mass. They have some very good reasons for not going. I won’t go into details here, but the Church (which includes me) cannot satisfy their spiritual needs. All of our kids are spiritual people. They are all actively seeking God, but they don’t Him with us in our church.

What will Asher be? It’s hard to tell. He has a Hebrew name. Asher means “happy” or “blessed”. The boy’s mother has his name tattooed on her arm in Hebrew. When I visited with my rabbi on Monday, he gave Asher a blessing, the same that he gives to his own children. The Birkat HaKonahim:

“The LORD bless you and protect you!
The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!
The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!”

הוהי ךכרבי ךילא וינפ הוהי ראי ךנחיו םולש םשיו ךילא וינפ הוהי אשי

Transliteration Yeh-va-reh-cheh-cha Yahveh veh-yeesh-meh-reh-cha Ya-air Yahveh pa-naiv ay-leych-cha vee-chu-neh-cha Yee …

That’s a good blessing. At one time, I gave that same blessing to our kids (in English).

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