A grandmother’s challenge inspires a life changing faith experience


BY CAITLIN CALAZZA

“You can do it!” my grandmother Annie said. These four small words mean so much more now than they ever had. As a child and young teenager I was always the one not to speak up. I believed life had restrictions and limits already set for me. I would always be the one to take the back seat and be okay with that. My timid nature held me back from so much I was capable of doing. During March of my eighth grade year I was put in the position of having to do a reading at my grandfather’s funeral Mass.  My stomach dropped! How was I, the girl who was afraid to raise her hand in class, going to stand up in front of an entire church Mass? I trembled at the thought of this imposed task.

Annie has always been involved in the Church and its activities.  She was always the one to include faith in our family lives.  Annie felt this task I was dreading could actually be a great learning opportunity. Little did I know where it would lead. I told her I was incapable of doing this. The thought of speaking in front of crowds made me very uncomfortable. She calmed my fear and would not accept any excuses.  She volunteered to help me prepare for the reading. Preparation called for breaking down the reading and explaining the message it was intended to convey.

When the time came for me to walk up to the pulpit, my knees were shaking.

I was so scared that I needed my 10-year-old sister to walk up beside me for support. To my surprise, as I began the reading, my feelings began to change. A breath of confidence suddenly replaced my fears. As I stood there, I understood the reading and finished it with confidence. I walked off the pulpit a changed person.

A few days later I saw Annie and she congratulated me. She said I did a great job. “Would you consider being a lector?” Annie asked. I responded, “Are you crazy?” I was not qualified for that job! Speaking in public was one of my biggest fears. I only did the reading out of respect to my family. I would rather not ever do such a reading again. She assured me that I was capable of being a very good lector. After a long conversation she convinced me to give it a go. After all, it was always difficult to say no to Annie. I would never let her down.

I quickly learned that to be a lector at St. Pius X in Plainview one must spend time training. This was a long process. My grandmother took me to many Masses where we observed the lectors. We closely watched the experienced lectors and pointed out little details that made them successful. We noticed how the lector was able to connect the message of the day’s reading to the parishioners. I also discovered there was so much more to lectoring than just reading a passage.  It is the lector’s responsibility to relay the message of God to the people attending Mass. Annie explained to me how people depend on the word of the Lord to get them through the week. It is the lector’s task and responsibility to project the importance of the message.  It was clear to me that one must spend time preparing for a reading.

When I stepped to the pulpit officially as a lector, I was completely confident in what I was reading. Thanks to Annie and the preparation skills she taught me, I was able to project the word of God. I was able to connect to the people at Mass. I finally got over my fear. What I also learned was the power of preparation. With the acceptance of a job comes a responsibility. I have come to realize that this is the essence of the Christian work ethic. Preparation allowed me to project a clear message to my audience. I learned that this is the key ingredient to success. My studying and hard work helped me achieve a level of excellence that would be appreciated by many. This life changing experience has shown me how to take on new challenges. I now realize that hard work gives me a sense of integrity that will allow me to enjoy my life with a God-given purpose.

Caitlin Calazza, a 2012 graduate of Half Hollow Hills East High School in Dix Hills, will be attending Molloy College on an academic and athletic scholarship. She has been a lector for four years at St. Pius X Church in Plainview.