There was a fussy comment on a conservative Catholic web site a week or two ago about the way some of us liturgists go hyper when one person is signed on for more than one ministry at a single Mass. I was thinking about that as I was copied an email from a lector substitute for tomorrow who also happens to be on board as a greeter and usher for the same Mass.
These instances don’t bother me unless they become a habit.
Over the years and many parishes, I’ve known people who defined all their Christian activity in terms of liturgical service. And as a starting point, that’s not totally a bad thing. A willing believer and disciple must start somewhere. Nearly every active Christian worships regularly on Sunday. Many liturgical roles lend themselves to visibility. And visibility is a big part of how modern human beings engage in and with the world.
One observes a Communion minister or a lector and one knows what they do. A social justice committee, perhaps not so much. Is it about church social life? Is it about charity? Is it about politics? Or something else?
Even within the range of ministries I oversee, there can be a lack of clarity. At one art and environment meeting, a newcomer showed up. As I chatted with her, it became clear she was seeking a connection between her faith and the Earth’s environment. Not church building environment. An understandable mistake.
I think the liturgy is better served by having thirty to fifty people involved in thirty to fifty small tasks, and each of them doing their one task with attention, quality, and preparation. Three to five people in three to five jobs each–not so much. Sometimes everything gets done well. But sometimes not. The person who is reading the prayers of the faithful may have a brisk walk to get the collection started. And if the sacristan is also serving as a communion minister? What if there’s a spill and everybody’s busy? Not so good then.
One person/one ministry is not a hard-and-fast rule in my book. It’s a useful guideline. And when the semester draws to an end and people need a substitute, I don’t monitor those communications and throw up a red flag when a person lands double duty. I say a prayer of thanks. And hope the next person to get involved is as dedicated to worship.