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Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Calgon Moment at the Funeral Mass...

They may be smart but owners aren't always!..
One of the things that most annoys me, aside from my wife’s condescending tone when she asks me to do something and I forget, is when, at the most inopportune and solemn point of a Mass, just as I am immersed in silence, peace and reverence; praying and focusing on our Almighty God, a cell phone goes off.  It totally kills the moment!

In fact, that’s why I usually leave my cell phone in my car when I go into Mass (just in case).

Unfortunately, I broke my own unwritten rule Wednesday, and I got a taste of my own contempt in the process.

I was at a funeral Mass in Coconut Grove. The church packed to the extent that the doors had to stay open to accommodate the huge crowd that did not fit into the sanctuary.

As in any funeral Mass, it was a very somber and sobering affair.  Anytime death afflicts a family it is difficult but when it involves the unexpected death of a 29-year-old man, it may be even harder.  He was the son of a very well known and well liked public figure, who happens to be my wife's boss.

As the liturgy concluded, and before the priest’s final blessing, the father got up to say a few words of gratitude for the outpouring of support and to remember his son’s memory. All of a sudden, as he begins to speak, I hear a phone start to ring.

Are you kidding?  I thought.  It rang once. It rang twice. I rang three times. By now, I think most people standing in my area in the back of the church were starting to get uncomfortable.  I'm not sure if the father heard the phone ringing but he continued speaking without disruption.

It rang four times. What’s going on here?  Why doesn’t that person turn it off?  I started glancing back over my shoulder.  It rang a fifth time.  Seriously people, what’s happening? Turn off that darn phone!  We’re in God's presence for Christ sake!

I was starting to get upset.  It rang a sixth time. This is getting ridiculous.  The man is pouring his heart out and he's being interrupted by someone's ringing phone! 

Then I noticed another man looking at me. What? You've got to be kidding! I specifically remember putting my phone on vibrate before going into the church. But, at that point, just to be safe, I stick my hand in my back pocket and, suddenly feel the vibration.  Oh!

It was my alarm!  I felt like I was in one of those Calgon commercials, where the person in the middle of an embarrassing situation looks at the camera and says, "Calgon, take me away!"  Only there was no camera and I had so many people around me that I couldn't go anywhere!

It just so happens that I set an alarm for noon everyday to remind me to take a moment to pray the Angelus (or the Regina Caeli during the Easter season). But, since the ring tone is different from my regular cell phone ring, I didn't recognize it!  As soon as I realized what it was, I quickly pushed the off button at the top of the phone.  And, there was peace again.  The tension around us subsided; at least temporarily!

About 10 minutes later, as now the younger brother of the deceased started speaking, I hear the ring start again. Fortunately, this time, I had put the phone in my front pant pocket and kept my hand near it just in case, and was able to shut it off on the first ring. Whew! I guess I had only hit the snooze button first time but, now I also realized that I didn't know how to turn off the alarm!

I started sweating.  I began trying some preemptive button pushing to avoid the annoying alarm from going off again.  Luckily, while I stood there avoiding eye contact with anyone around me, the Mass ended and the casket was wheeled off for a final blessing before exiting the parish.

What a relief!  Listen, I’m still new to this iPhone thing.  I had no idea that when you put the phone on vibrate, the alarm will still ring.  Moreover, as I found out after talking to some of my co-workers after the fact, I didn't even know you could shut off the phone completely!  I thought it had a life of its own and was always on!

I guess you can say that, like the old United Negro College Fund commercial used to say about the mind, technology is a terrible thing to waste!

In any case, I was foiled by my own piety.  Fortunately, I was standing in the back of the church, and blended into the standing room crowd. Hopefully, nobody in the front, not even my wife who was several rows of people standing in front of me, noticed who the culprit was; at least until now...





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