Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A HOH goes to Church

I'm definitely a blessed mama, even if life doesn't always seem that way.

Having a hearing loss and going to church is another challenge, given that there isn't ample funding for captioning or a loop system at most churches. In fact, from time to time, people will ask me if I actually understand anything that's being said during the homily, which varies at each mass.  Often, when I was younger, I would ask my parents what was said. Unfortunately that method isn't sustainable!
For those that aren't Catholic, the mass is the same EVERYWHERE. Whether you're in Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia or Africa - the beginning, the middle, and the end are essentially the same. The only difference is the language. Same liturgy, same traditions, same everything throughout the world. Truly, it is an amazing experience when you realize that there are hundreds of thousands of masses taking place throughout the world at the same time and everyone's receiving the Eucharist.  However, there is one slight variation at each mass that I go to - and that's the homily (in case you don't know what that is, it's pretty much the priest explaining the Gospel Readings and applying it to our daily lives).

I have struggled before in the past to follow the homilies. I'd move up to the front of the church and attempt to lipread the priest - if he was easy to understand. The easiest priest that I was able to understand was Father Vincent Hawkswell. He hit all the ingredients for being an eloquent, engaging speaker, and most importantly, he:

-Enunciated his words carefully and precisely
-Spoke in a normal pace, sometimes I actually find it harder if people speak too slow!
-Used facial expressions often, this is a wonderful clue to help guide me through. (to the HOH, facial expressions are EXTREMELY helpful).

Fortunately, I've always found a way around it, thanks to the Internet. Homilies from various priests can be found online - all with the same message, of course, but it's always nice to get the verbatim version. Now, as a mama with a now-fidgety baby girl, following homilies are doubly harder! My attention span isn't as focused as it was before. Sigh.

Before I get into my current state of affairs, I should give you an idea of how I came to write this article. Since moving to the Island, I sort of 'hopped' between St. Patrick's, St. Joseph's, and finally settled on Sacred Heart Parish. There was nothing wrong with the other parishes, but I was particularly drawn to Sacred Heart  - after all, as G.K. Chesterston writes: 

"Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair"

Like any love affair, I've found a sense of community at Sacred Heart, and they in turn have gone out of their way to help me. I'll give you a little bit of background information.

Beautiful, inside and out!
Our new priest, Friar Dan (a Franciscan Priest)  is not your typical priest, he's young (not even 40, I think), super energetic and LOVES to go around the church while giving his homily. I'm not complaining, I think it's awesome that he really wants to be a part of the community, not just standing up at the pulpit and delivering his homily. However, it does lead to some neck craning experiences for me, and I don't have eyes in the back of my head. I think anyone who has a hearing loss can sympathize with me in this instance.
After a few masses, I decided to speak up and ask the Katherene, the Church secretary if there was any way for me to get the 'cliff notes' from Friar Dan - better to have them than to be completely and utterly lost every time I listen to a homily. Shortly after my request, I received a surprise message in my inbox. It wasn't the cliff notes, it was the full-on homily prepared by yours surely, Friar Dan. The best part of it all? It was  practically verbatim! 

So, that is my inspiration to write this article. I felt compelled to share this with those who have a hearing loss (and those who don't), to practice the following (from Matthew 7:7, NIV) regardless of your surroundings. Whether it be at church, at work, or even in your everyday life. Even I have to remind myself from time to time.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Faith is an important part of my life, and so is being able to understand what's going on. After all, I'm not about to go into something blind. In closing, I'd like to share another favorite quote from Chesterston:

"What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century"

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