Concelebrating From The 15th Pew

Everywhere I go lay Catholics are concelebrating at Sunday Mass.I've noticed it for years now. I notice it more in the summer when, for various reasons, we're often at a different parish and/or in a different part of the country. By now I've noticed it in so many different kinds of parishes---large, medium, small; urban, suburban, rural; affluent, middle-class, working-class, poor; across a wide range of ethnicities, racial identities and liturgical styles---it's become something I look for when I'm in a new (to me) parish: who's concelebrating Mass here?Almost always the answer is---somebody. Usually (but not always) elderly. Usually (but not always) female. When the priest prays over the bread and wine, she'll have a hand slightly extended, palm up, towards the altar, and she'll be quietly reciting the prayer of consecration with the priest.Or at least that's what it looks like to me. Generally it's the kind of thing that's done so quietly and unobtrusively that you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. (You also wouldn't notice if you were praying more intently yourself, but that's a different story.)Anyway, has anyone else noticed this? How long has it been going on? What (if anything) does it mean?

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 

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