After my dad’s recent death and ahead of his funeral, I decided to secretly visit the Catholic church he attended every Sunday for mass.
Compared to when I regularly attended mass as a child, I found this whole new atmosphere ridiculously relaxed.
I sat at the back, directly behind two women with their young daughters and found it really difficult to concentrate on the church service when the little girls started playing with toy giraffes. Half of me wanted to be conscientious and holy and listen to the priest and the other half wanted to know how the giraffe fight in front of me was going to end.
At the giving of the Holy Communion, I stupidly thought, Oh, I’ll be okay sat here with my head bowed. No one will notice if I don’t take communion and then I looked up and realised the whole congregation had risen as one and left their pews to receive it and I was left sat on my own, gently shuffling along my empty pew to embarrassingly hide behind a statue of Mary.
Once, not so many people were interested in the wafer, now it was like their Sunday dinner.
Thankfully, the taking of the wafer has changed. Years ago, you’d receive it by poking your tongue out at the priest. But now for hygiene – or health and safety reasons because A&E departments were full of priest with bitten fingers on Sundays – he puts the wafer into your cupped hand and you feed it to yourself.
At the end, I think I made an impression on the Father when I met him outside.
On shaking my hand he yelped: “Holy Christ, your hands are freezing!”
I instantly decided that now was not a good time to mention how his cold church and my malignant hypothermia are not good bedfellows nor ask him
if he brings Christ into every conversation or what exactly are his views on casual blasphemy…?
I think it’s going to be an interesting funeral service.