Friday, June 14, 2013

Priest Hard to Understand

I've been to many churches and listened to many sermons.

Since Hubby and I have started going back to church, we've noticed our Pastor has been absent often and another Pastor substitutes.

This past Sunday, when a substitute Pastor was walking to the altar, I noticed he walked very slowly with maybe a limp. Wasn't sure with the robe covering up. I didn't have a second thought about it at that time. He was an older gentleman. As he began mass, I assume he was summarizing what the mass is about as it is usually done, I could not understand what he was saying. No one did. We were trying so hard.

At first I thought it was a heavy accent or he was talking Latin as Latin Masses are popping up more. I kept trying to understand him but it was no use. I couldn't even follow him by the Missalette for the most part.

Then I thought well maybe he has a really bad speech defect, which I can relate.  I gave him compassion.  And I tried harder.

For his sermon, the normally attentive elders were falling asleep and reading the bulletin. Although that is not all that unusual in itself because every week you see people nodding of. I felt sorry for him.   I was concentrating to try to understand him but it was impossible. He made the sermon a very short 5 minutes vs the usual 15 minutes.

Maybe he knew or saw that he lost most of the congregation's attention.

During the Eucharist Prayer, I was able to follow him in the Missalette and noticed the pronunciation of his words were a little off and he skipped some words.

Three thoughts came to mind: 

1) He was an older Priest. As we grow older, everything slows down. Maybe had a stroke or something that affected his speech. 

2) It did not look like he was from here so maybe he had a heavy accent. 

3) As No. 1, maybe he had a speech defect of some sort because of another cause.

When mass was ended, everyone was asking each other, if they understood the Pastor. No one did.

In my religion, except for the Readings and Sermon, everything else is repetition and easy to follow in the Missalette.

I felt so much compassion and empathy for him because I know how it feels to be misunderstood. 

It made me think. As a young girl I always wanted to be a Reader but never volunteered. The reasons were:

I) I know I have a speech defect.  You see I have the annoying "CP drawl" you may already know if you have read some of my previous posts. People who don't know me sometimes have a hard time understanding me although to me I talk reasonably well.

I would be disappointed and embarrassed if the people didn't understand me. They can read along silently but if I would go up to read I would want to be understood completely and there is a chance of that not happening.

My mom put me through years of speech therapy. I hated it with a passion but thankfully she made me go!

2) The big deal breaker is walking to the altar for the readings. There are 2-3 stairs without rails and I could just see myself tripping and tumbling down. I would be royally doomed because when I am nervous, my spasticity goes haywire causing me my coordination a lot more than normal.

Anyway I admire this Pastor for the courage to be up there to say a mass even if he had an idea he may not have been understood.

Have any of you encountered a service such as this? I would love for you to share your story.


  1. In my old parish... the one I miss every day. We have a young gentleman with Downs Syndrome as a lector about once or twice a month. He spoke slowly and you could tell he had to practice a bunch. However the look of joy on his face as he read and the joy of his parents blew me away every single time.
    For me, it did not matter whatsoever how he sounded... it was that his sound made me appreciate all sound and not take it for granted. The first lectors of the Faith were poor fisherman, mostly uneducated yet look at the mark they left on the world with the aid of the holy spirit!
    No matter that they use the words of men of labor... and not men of means.
    In California it is not uncommon to have a foreign priest because, especially where I live because the Seminary is so close. When the young foreign Seminarians lector or even at the end when they preach it is very exciting, because hope and optimism are still running very deep in their hearts and it really shows in their speech.
    In short, I have heard all kinds of folks speak and preech and I absolutely enjoy the good, the bad and the quirky. And I hope one day you have the opportunity to step up to that ambo and give it a shot.


    1. Pam, Wow thanks for sharing the story. What an inspiration.

      Everyone should have a sweet disposition such as yourself.

      Thanks for the encouragement. MAYBE one day...who knows what our GOd has planned : )

      As always thanks for dropping by AND commenting!



Go ahead say whatever is on your mind after reading my post. I'm not easily offended and even if you want to disagree. I 'm opened to any comments. If nothing else, say Hi. I appreciate all of you who read my blog!