Microphones at church

An announcement prior to Mass at many parishes these days politely reminds members of the congregation to turn off their cell phones or pagers.

But often no one seems to remind lectors or priests to turn on the lowly microphone or have it at the right setting. A story in the Catholic Register, a Toronto-based Canadian weekly, examines this very issue.

Photo by Michael Swan, Catholic Register

Photo by Michael Swan, Catholic Register

“If every modern church has a box full of microphones and a covey of speakers perched around the sanctuary, why do so many people complain they can’t hear the readings, the prayers or the homily?” it asks.

The story highlights a day-long workshop called “What is a microphone doing at church?” The seminar is meant to get people thinking about how they use modern technology in liturgies and to give people some basic skills so that microphones and the equipment that goes with them don’t become maladjusted distractions at Mass.

Something to think about next time the microphone lets out a high pitched squeak during a homily.

Pope going to Cyprus

VATICAN CITY — It looks like Pope Benedict will be getting lots of nice views of the sea next year! He is set to visit Malta, Britain, Portugal, and now Cyprus.

Head of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, informed us today that the pope has accepted an invitation from President Demetris Christofias to visit this Eurasian island sometime in early June.

The Cypriot leader said he invited the pope during his visit to the Vatican in March.

It’s not the first time Pope Benedict has been asked to visit. Then-President Tassos Papadopoulos urged the pope to go to Cyprus during his papal audience in 2006.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is shown meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2006. (CNS/Reuters)

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is shown meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2006. (CNS/Reuters)

I was there covering that meeting and will never forget the pope’s reaction when he looked through a thick leather-bound photo album that the president had given him. It contained dozens of color photographs of Christian churches, monasteries and other sacred sites that had been destroyed or desecrated after the Turkish military occupied northern Cyprus in 1974. The pope was visibly struck by the severity of destruction that befell these places of worship.

Meanwhile, church leaders in the region are thrilled about the pope’s visit. In a brief communique sent to the Vatican on behalf of  Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem, Maronite Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus, and Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa — head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land — it said:

with great pleasure [we] announce that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, accepting the invitation addressed to him by the president of the republic and of their local churches, has the intention to visit Cyprus at the end of next spring, probably at the beginning of June.