One of them is a very devout Catholic. He LOVES nuns and priests and monks and will talk about them nonstop. We have a volunteer who comes every so often who is a Jesuit and this core member will ask him all sorts of questions and talk forever about the nuns at a local convent that he knows.
He also enjoys worship and singing. His singing is fairly high pitched and when he enjoys the song he is singing, he can get pretty loud.
Well, this evening he especially enjoyed the hymn choices.
I go back and forth about this. On the one hand, I appreciate that he is enjoying himself. I like that he is having a good time and engaging in worship. I also know him and his personality and I know that he is a man with some developmental disabilities and so I have some understanding about why he is singing the way that he is. Also, his singing doesn't bother me, personally. I actually get kind of a kick out of it.
But, I also understand that there are many other people in that sanctuary. There are many people who do not know him, who might not know that he has developmental disabilities, and so they don't know why he is singing that way. Some people might find it loud and think it interferes with their ability to worship (in fact, I was told that a previous assistant was asked if, on days that choir sang, they would sit on the other side of the sanctuary because his singing has been known to make it difficult for them).
So, I struggle with whether or not to say something to him. Do I ask him to not sing so loud? Do I tell him that the volume of his singing might interfere with other people? And if I do, what affect will this have? Will it make him self-conscious? Will he be less likely to engage in worship at all? Will it make him feel uncomfortable in that setting? Or will it even have any effect at all? He has been know to be stubborn, and to do what he wants to regardless of how much you beg or plead or try to bribe him with the promise of chocolate cake. So, it might not even do any good to say something to him about it.
Or, do I let him sing as loud as he wants? Do I go with the line of thought that he has every right to participate in worship in a way that is meaningful to him and if he sings a little high and a little loud, it's not that big of a deal, especially because he only sings during the appropriate times. It's not like he's singing loudly while the priest is preaching.
So, anyway, all this was running through my head tonight at mass while he was getting into one of the hymns. He was singing and bouncing back and forth on his feet and every once in a while he'd throw in a snap or two. It seemed a little loud to me, and I was worried what other people were thinking or saying. Or maybe they were even laughing at him. But I couldn't bring myself to say anything because he was enjoying himself so much.
But then, after mass as we were headed out of the sanctuary, a man who was two rows behind us during the service tapped me on the arm and said, "I think we all should worship like that."
And that was just what I needed to hear tonight.