Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Altar Boy

When I was old enough to start remembering things we were attending a church that was new and closer to where we lived than the one we had been going to. It was a small church with not very many families who came as regulars, but it was near a lake, so in the summertime all the Catholic campers came and it was always full. My two older brothers had had their catechism classes in the other church, which was much more organized than this new one, and they both had been taught how to, and had served as, altar boys. When I started going to catechism in the new church the teachings were a little... looser I think. For one thing, there was a high turnover of priests, or it seemed that way, and each one handled catechism differently. I'm not sure why not, but somehow I never got the training to become an altar boy. I was both glad and a little disappointed. It seemed like a cool job, but having to perform in front of a church full of people plus the priest wasn't something I was eager to try, since I was pretty shy back then, so all in all I felt like I had dodged a bullet, and was content to sit amongst the congregation.
One very harsh winter night we went to church (I think they only had mass on Saturday nights at the time) and there were only about six or seven people there, minus any altar boys. All eyes turned to the one boy in the church who was altar-boy aged. Me. I had seen what went on enough that I knew most of what I was supposed to do. The priest was very anxious to get on with things and be one his way, as he had to travel thirty or more miles back in the storm after mass. To hurry the process along I didn't have to get into the robe that was always worn, instead keeping on my black leather jacket... it might have been vinyl, not sure. So anyway, I tried to do keep things as holy as I could. When it was time to go from one side of the priest to the other I did as I always saw the other altar boys doing, crossing in front and bowing in front of the crucifix. This was something that you had to do a few times during the mass, but after the first time the priest was waving his hand behind his back at me to just go behind him... something that was never done, but with this being an emergency situation I guess it was ok to bend the rules. I made it through and the few people there told me I did a good job, although their smiles at one another told me that they were probably a little amused at the Clouseau-like altar boy. I think that was the shortest mass I ever went to and, thankfully, it was the only time I was ever asked to fill in.


Blogger Laura said...

My daughter was an alter server. She loved it until we got a new priest and the new priest said the bells were not a necessary part of the service any more because the mass wasn't done in Latin and the bells were to remind people that this was the time of the consecration. Well Sheila questioned the priest on this. And I guess she didn't like his answers because she quit serving after a few times with the new guy.

7:46 PM  

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