It was Tuesday last week when I woke up early to prepare myself for a final interview at a reputable financial institution I applied for. I was in my black pencil skirt, white long sleeve, black blazer, skin tone stockings, and black flats. I was edging a chic banker’s outfit. I was already feeling the moment as I went out of our house because people thought that I was already working. Haha. So breezy! Anyway, I was waiting for a jeepney or a motorela for my commute. A few minutes waiting, a motorela arrived and I rode it. Eventually, I saw Tita Langging, who is our neighbor and who is also a companion of my parents in Couples for Christ. She asked me where I was working. I was hesitant to tell at first because there were also several people who were listening to us. Damn. Buking na akong banker’s aura. Haha. I then said that I was going for a final interview at a certain bank. Tita Langging was happy because she said that I am making my parents proud. We chatted on other things such as my plans and my family. Ultimately, she asked me if I wanted to become a reader and commentator at our parish at Immaculate Conception. Hearing this, I didn’t hesitate to say that big yes! I was really at awe since it has been my goal for almost 1 year to serve our church. We ended our conversation as she was already going for her work. In the evening, I asked my father regarding Tita Langging’s cellphone number and texted her regarding my interest to serve our parish as a commentator and reader.
I started my task by Saturday. I was assigned for the Prayers of the Faithful. I woke up at 4:45am since it would take a long time for me to prepare. By 5:25am, I went to our parish. It’s just a walking distance from our house. There are many things that are running in my mind while I was walking in my white long sleeve and black skirt. I was fidgety. When I went inside the church, I saw my ex-boyfriend’s mom as she was also a commentator/reader at our church. Tita Mercy was assigned as the reader for the mass. I sat beside her near the front altar where the reader’s and commentator’s sits are situated. She gave me the prayers I would read. After practicing, we talked about our families. I was apprehensive at first because she might ask me regarding her son, who was my ex-boyfriend and is currently a cadet at the Philippine National Police Academy. Thank God, she didn’t. I bet she understood the sensitivity and confidentiality of our past relationship which ended last October 2015. Haha. Well anyway, if the other way happened, I would just answer the questions she might ask regarding her son. Anway, a few minutes later, Tita Langging came. She introduced me to Tita Mercy, but Tita Mercy mentioned that she already knew me, without saying a word that I am her son’s ex-girlfriend. Haha. Tita Langging gave me instructions on when to go the altar, the dos and don’ts, and other important matters. Then, Father Nino came and the mass started.
Honestly, it was really different being on the front as a reader and commentator compared to just being on the sidelines attending the mass. As a first-time reader in a mass, I felt nervous because all eyes would definitely be in you. Yet, in my mind, I was always thinking of Our Lord, silently praying that He may guide me as He would use me as His instrument to spread the gospel to the people during the Holy Eucharistic celebration. I observed Tita Mercy on how she is doing it as a reader. After Father Nino had his homily, it was already my time. I went in front and I just put my mind into it and read the Prayers of the Faithul. Then, I was relieved that I eventually finished it. Phew! After the mass, Father Nino, Tita Mercy, and Tita Langging congratulated me for the job well done. Then, Tita Langging told me that she is assigning me for the readings and for the Prayers of the Faithful during the morning mass on Tuesday.
Tuesday came. Yesterday. My nervous level went higher than Saturday. Tita Langging’s husband went to the house the night before that day in order to provide me the readings during that day’s mass. I practiced the readings and the Prayers of the Faithful during that night. On that day, I also went early at the church at 5:30am. No one was still around in the place, so I took the opportunity to practice the readings and the Prayers of the Faithful. I speak Visayan very well, but when it comes to reading Visayan, I’m really not fluent especially in deep Visayan words. I feel like I’m reading tongue twisters. One really needs to stretch its mouth and to consistently twist your tongue. It was already nearing 6am when a parishioner approached me that Tita Langging needs help. She was already going to the church when she complained regarding her difficulty to walk to the church as a result of her high uric acid level. She felt pain on her knee while walking at the road. She was already distance away from the church but she cannot go further. My nervous level even came higher because she has not given me any instructions yet, as the the reader. In my mind, I was saying, “Nice one Satan. You really did your job in this time, but I find my strength in Him.” I’m thankful that Nanay Carmen, one of the old readers, taught me instructions as a reader. I was anxious because if you’re a reader, you would carry the Ebanghelaryo, the book that contains the gospels for the year, during the processional. While walking towards the altar, I was saying in my mind, “Please lang Lord!” I did my task and went to the area for the readers and commentators. I was alone there. My time came and I recited the readings. I was not nervous but I realized that all eyes were definitely on me. After the homily, I then read the Prayers of the Faithful. I was likewise apprehensive since during the recessional, I would get the Ebanghelaryo again and carry it as we would have our exit. After the mass, the deacon and Father Nino, who was the presider of the mass ,tapped my back. I smiled. I then approached Nanay Carmen and told me that I did the job well, but there are minor errors I’ve committed such as my mistake of not giving the Leksyonaryo the sakristan after the reading and my failure to not read a certain prayer after the communion. After the mass, deep inside, I felt relieved and overjoyed.
With that experience, I realized that being a reader and commentator is not an easy task. When we are just in the sidelines attending a mass, we think that reciting the readings to the audience is just a child’s play. In fact, it’s not. I realized that to be a reader, you must have the understanding and the heart regarding the gospel. One does not become a reader for show-off or for exposure. Just like in any service, it requires commitment. I also realized that God answered my prayer to serve our church as a reader just after a year because my commitment during those time was still not that strong. My mind was still not transformed to do His will. I’m truly grateful to Him right now as He used me during this perfect time. To become a reader is to allow one’s self to be used by Our Almighty Father for His glory to proclaim the gospel to the people. I admit that I am weak when it comes to facing a lot of people and to speaking in front of a crowd, but I believe that God used my weaknesses so that I would not depend on myself but on Him. Through these weaknesses, I know that one day, I would be able to use it as a strength and as a stepping stone towards greater things in performing the ministry He assigned to me to the believers and in fulfilling the mission He gave to me to His lost sheep.