And by he, I mean the octogenarian who sits quietly in the second pew every Sunday. He stood to give his seat to the obese woman in the two-size-too-small dress dragging four impeccably dressed hellions behind her. The oldest — he can’t be older than 6 — swings his sister’s stuffed bunny by the ears, as his younger sister bleats like a gored sheep. The third child has already slipped from his seersucker jacket and is choking himself trying to shed his tie. The baby pukes down his mother’s back.
When the father returns from circling the parking lot looking for a place to stable the mini-van, they cram themselves into the old man’s seat and watch as he and his walking cane shuffle to the back to stand.
Across the aisle, two kids hopped up on Peeps trample the toes of everyone in the pew as they run from end to end, their parents either oblivious to their behavior, or so enraptured by the Holy Ghost as to be blind to the commotion surrounding them.
Two pews back an eight-year-old girl had decided her shoes fit better on her hands, and is clopping them down the pew, while her mother looks on adoringly, and her father scratches at his new polyester blend. And so it goes throughout all the way to the back of the sanctuary where all the regulars gaze in wonder . . . standing, waiting for the Mass to begin.
This is Easter Sunday in every Catholic church in the country, and that’s why I quit going.
I know what you’re thinking. But Rick, it’s the holiest of holy days. I get that. But I’m not showing up three hours early to get a seat only to give it up, to a single mom carrying twins ten minutes before the service begins, as a true Christian does.
About now your thinking, But Rick, standing through a little noise sounds like a small price to pay for someone who had railroad spikes driven through his flesh and died a torturous death for you. Correct again. Then again, I’m not the Son of Man. And I don’t go to church for the forgiveness of mankind. I go to pray.
I haven’t quit all together, mind you. Most Sundays you can find me and the missus, our heads bowed and our butts firmly planted on the hardwood. But not Easter. Or Christmas for that matter. We leave those masses to the amateurs.
Who, but a rookie, would take children wired on sugar, caffeine, and visions of the latest toys waiting at home, into a foreign ceremony where they have to sit in reverent silence for sixty minutes? It’s hard enough for kids who go every weekend. Why would one reasonably expect a child used to running amok in his natural environment to enter a sacred place an hour before the service to get a good seat, and sit, quit as an angel, for 60 minutes while waiting for the Mass to begin, and another 60 minutes for the service itself?
Parents make almost as much noise shushing as the cherubs themselves.
I’m not saying these people don’t belong in church. They do. Hell, there’s room for everyone in God’s house. It would be nice if we saw more of them. But what is it these parents think they’re teaching their children about their faith by only showing up in church two days a year, and constantly fussing at them while they’re there?
Perhaps it is because it is such an onerous experience that it should only be practiced two hours per annum.
So, please forgive my family’s absence from this Sunday’s holiest of Liturgies. On days like this we prefer to reflect and honor our God in more peaceful surroundings, like a rock concert, NASCAR race, or riot.
We’ll be back next week when the church is, once again, empty.