Before Sunday Mass this week, I slipped into the hall to turn on the hot water machine. Last week I didn't turn it on, and the earlier Mass group didn't either as, "for seasonal reasons," they weren't having their coffee hour. Thus, I discovered that the machine needs time to warm up, and it does not just gush out boiling hot at once. This is an issue when you have to set out the tea for dozens of people in 10 minutes or less.
Anyway, I glanced in the window of the hall as I went towards the door, and there were three or so masked women counting money. I assumed they had not robbed a bank but were officially totting up the proceeds of the offertory baskets. I knew that they had not had tea this Sunday either, and the hot water machine in the kitchen was cold and dark. After turning the machine on, I left a little note on it asking the ladies not to turn it off.
Right. So word had gotten out that we are leaving the little wooden church, and people who attend the TLM but rarely joined the regulars. They streamed up the drive, past the hall, and into the church. I gave up counting at the congregation at 100; someone else counted 110.
There were many children, of course. I found one of these children, attended by his veiled mother, at the door of the church hall, desperate for the loo, after Father had covered the chalice, my personal signal for skiddoodling to the hall. The church hall door had been locked.
"Oh, what good timing," the mother rejoiced as I appeared. "They must not have known we had Mass today."
"I'm sure they did," I said grimly as I fished in my handbag for the magic and sacred Key of Hall Access.
I unlocked the door and marched in. Mother and child disappeared into a loo. I began to set out tea for the multitude and had no more time to ponder the door locked against us.
I have time now, however.
Perhaps, not having had tea (nor breathed freely in over an hour), an absentminded key holder assumed we were not having tea and forgot that human beings need access to loos, even during the Traditional Latin Mass. It could be that, so few children attending the earlier Mass, she could not imagine that so many children attend the later. It is very possible that, being a woman of iron-clad habit, she did not realise this is not a universal gift. At any rate, I can imagine a set of charitable explanations for the locked door, any of which might be true. And certainly a locked door does not have the same drama as a hysterical parish council member shrieking "Just get out! Get out!"
Still, there's a symbolic solidity about a locked door and a distressed mother and child on the wrong side of it. But, happily, there's a symbolic solidity also to a key. And as this is not a spiritual but a physical key, it belongs (for the rest of the month) to ME.
Is there, in the theology of the Priesthood of the Laity, space for the Papacy of the Tea Lady?
Write 250 words, citing the Second Vatican Council. Use both sides of the paper if necessary.
UPDATE: Morning_star, that is indeed still my email, so write away!
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