Thursday, April 28, 2011

What One Person Can Do!

What One Person Can Do!

I went to Mass this morning, as I like to do on weekdays whenever I am home.   Fifty or sixty people gather in a small chapel next to the main church for the service.  Many, like myself, are regulars and most sit in the same pews everyday.

Since there are no alter servers during the week, volunteers from the congregation assist the priest.  The hand-held bells, which are rung during the consecration, are placed on a bench in front of the first pew, and Norm, who likes to sit up front, always rings the bells.

But Norm was not there today.  The front pew was empty. 

When it came time for the consecration, I looked at the empty pew, and looked around.  Sometimes John or Marianne or Susan, or someone else nearby will step up to the front and ring the bells.  Today no one stepped up.  I thought about moving up to the first pew, but kept my seat, reluctant to step up in front of everyone.

At the consecration there was silence!  A deafening, soul-piercing silence!  Any one of us could have stepped up.  Anyone one of us could have filled the church with the sound of beautiful chiming bells -- but no one did. 

In the guilt-filled emptiness of that silence I thought about how often I have hesitated to step up -- how often so many of us hesitate on much more important things.  We hesitate for many reasons: because we are too busy or too shy; because we are fearful of consequences or uncertain about whether one little action can make any difference.

Sitting this morning in that silence I wondered how different the world might be if we did not hesitate to step up and take action. We might find out just how much one person can do!