Monday, June 08, 2009

Sacristan's Secrets

Crash has his first job - as a weekend sacristan at our parish, Our Lady of the Railroad Tracks. He spent Sunday morning learning the ropes. Last night as I tucked him in, I asked what secret lore had been passed on during his initiation. Not much, as it turns out, but he did tell me how the number of hosts to be sent up in the offertory procession is computed. The formula is:

where ho is the number of hosts to be brought up, ht is the number of consecrated hosts in the tabernacle, and n the number of people over 4' 5". The funky brackets

represent the ceiling function (not to be confused with ceiling cats!), which means take the nearest integer larger than the value inside the brackets. (So for x = 17.4, the result would be 18.)
There were 179 people at the 11:15 Mass, so Crash set out 160 hosts.

[Math in translation: Take the number of people who look old enough to go to communion, round it up to the next highest 10 (so if there are 197 people at Mass, round up to 180). Subtract the number of consecrated hosts reserved in the tabernacle (in our example 20) to get the number of hosts to send up to the altar to be consecrated at this Mass.]

If Nike+ used the ceiling function on my mileage, I'd be at 900 miles now. As it is, I must take another walk.


  1. I don't understand a word of this except for the part about needing a walk!

  2. I added a translation ;). It's easier than Hebrew, I think!

  3. I'm amused.
    Everything, it turns out, can be understood through math.

  4. Crash was amused, too, and pointed out that the more compact you get with the notation, the harder it is to figure out! So much for simplicity?

  5. Alas for me, I am a math incompetent.

  6. Wow. I think we just count and add some extry.

  7. I have to show this to Ms. Math. Too good.

    And ohmigoodness, it's been forever since I heard that parish referred to OLO the Railroad Tracks! (And that's exactly how we would refer to it when giving people directions.) Thanks for the laugh!

  8. HUH??? I didn't get it in translation either.

    Stasa, my parish could be called the same thing. Our "parking lot" is the dirt (and puddles) along the tracks.