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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fallout over rusticating

OK, that was one of the most vitriolic house meetings in recent memory.

The dining room was abuzz long after the cease-fire was declared and, while respecting anonymity, I shall try to capture the spirit of the meeting. Remember those cantankerous town hall meetings last summer, when Tea Partiers shouted down all opposition? Child's play. Amateurs.

Things went downhill after Fr. José Aramburu delivered the dictum from the Super-G that the ambo experiment be postponed for one year to allow centenary celebrations to go on without distraction. About half the assemblage applauded. Normally that would make further discussion moot, but adrenaline and testosterone were already rampant. Later, one member of the liturgy committee vented his frustration with the General Council for waiting till the very last minute, literally, to quash the experiment. "How dare you? How dare you?" Chalk this up to yet another egregious lack of communication from on high.

When one member of the retirement community demanded to know who were the members of the liturgy committee, the man sitting next to him interrupted with "Expletive deleted, George, we just stood up and were introduced. Why don't you pay attention for a change instead of just mouthing off?"

That same man later apologized to George in front of the membership, but then added how George has been a "festering wound" in his side for many years. As of this posting, he didn't apologize for that back-handed apology.

But the fireworks didn't stop there. After several members pontificated about the ambo being a countersign to our service to the poor, a member of the liturgy committee vented how he was sick and tired of hearing guys complain about the cost of the ambo but no one wants to discuss the millions of dollars Maryknoll spends so its many retirees can "rusticate in Westchester". The murmurs were loud and long.

Only later at supper did I Google "rusticate" and learn it simply means to dwell in the countryside. By then, the damage was done and considerable umbrage taken by people who strongly resented the homophonous albeit unintended insult.

That being said (and much more was), discussion at my table went to a deeper level, namely, what is behind the strong emotions and vehemence over a piece of liturgical furniture?

One member inquired what the difference was between a pulpit and an ambo, and apparently the former is Protestant and the latter older and Catholic. In addition, I Googled ambo and learned it was Latin from the Greek amphi (as in amphitheater) and it meant a circular or semicircular place to speak...or run. So in a way it means to talk or run around in circles.

Check in next year for Ambo 3.0

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