Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday 16th August: Not funny

I am on the readings roster at my church. I only do the readings once every 4 months, and it was my turn yesterday. When I got on the net on Saturday night to check what the readings were, I found this:

Reading 1 Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child
and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God and the authority
of his Anointed One.”

What a shocker. I planned to get to Church early and ask someone else to do this first reading for me, but I ran late and arrived just in time to read. As I approached the lectern I was hissing "This is not funny God. Not funny at all'. I did read it. I got teary while reading it, and I did not read it well, but I got through it. It was a very uncomfortable experience. My parish was of course understanding, and if I had really started crying I know someone would have stepped in to do the reading.

I think this reading comes up once every 4 years (for the Assumption of Mary). What are the odds of me getting stuck reading it, the person in the congregation most likely to be upset by it. No, I don't think God arranged for me to do this reading. I don't think God arranges any of this stuff, not the appearance of parking spots or the occurrence of my name on a long-standing reading roster or the growth of bacteria in an unborn child's bloodstream. That's not how I see things these days.

Positives coming out of this : the expressions of concern for me from parishioners after Mass, and their assurances that they still pray for me. Also the Mons who was doing Mass commended me on doing well with the reading and told me he was worried for me when he realised I was doing that reading (this was the first time this man had spoken to me or even made eye contact with me since Salome was born). Negatives: a well-meaning parishioner telling me something along the lines of "God must love you very much to have taken your daughter and to have caused you so much pain to draw you closer to him" or such like. My brain didn't hang around to hear the details. I have had very few comments like this from people since Salome died, so the odd one here or there doesn't upset me too much. A few weeks ago a workmate told me Salome's death was God's plan. I wish I'd come up with something sleek to say to her in response, but all I could think of to say was "Well God can shove his plan up his arse." I don't think she was too offended.


  1. The chaplain that came to the hospital when I was there saying goodbye to my daughter pulled out the "She's in a better place," line. I wanted to slap him. I can't think of any parent who would be comforted by that within an hour of losing a child. Maybe eventually, after wrestling with faith, and if they come to a certain understanding. I will never be comforted by that phrase, and I am so sorry someone said the line you posted here.

  2. I hope my story helps restore your faith because God is the only one who could have performed such a miracle. Only God could have made it that my son was untouched by such a terrible infection especially considering it originated in the placenta and my blood . It had to be God's work.