Reprinted here with permission by Regina Clancy Hiney. Hilarious and all-too-true stuff.
of all, here is what the Mass is: The Catholic Mass is the formal,
official worship service of Catholicism. It is the most important and
sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church. Going to Mass is the only
way a Catholic can fulfill the Third Commandment to keep holy the
Sabbath day and the only regular opportunity to receive the Holy
Eucharist which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ
truly, really and substantially present under the appearances of bread
and wine. Mass is the central act of worship in the life of a Catholic.
is what the Mass isn’t: entertainment for you and your family, a
social event, a talent show, your gift to God, an act of personal
sacrifice for which God should be grateful because you are “basically a
good person,” a liturgical or linguistic experiment, a mere remembrance
of something done long ago, a mere ritual or symbol, albeit a very
ancient one and most importantly, Mass ain’t optional.
So here are a few helpful hints this Christmas season:
DO NOT USE A RESTROOM IN A CATHOLIC CHURCH BETWEEN ADVENT AND THE
CHRISTMAS SEASON. There is a well-established, well known fact that
Roman Catholic restrooms contain the Fukashima, Hiroshima bird swine
diarrhea-vomit norovirus at this time. There is an old Hiney saying
that it ain’t Christmas until someone throws up. And invariably this
vomit occurs on Christmas eve. Avoid the Restroom. The reason I say
this is just from experience. Just about EVERY MOM I KNOW HAS SICK KIDS
AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME. And every mom will tell you that once a nasty
stomach bug is in the house, it is just a matter of time before someone
else in the house gets it. . .Generally speaking. . .Catholic families
tend to be larger. . .sooooo. . .that means around this time of year. .
.some one is using the restroom that has come from a house with a
stomach bug. And if its one of MY kids, I can't promise they are
washing their hands for 30 seconds under hot water including their wrist
and under their fingernails. At best, you are getting cold water and a
bit soap that may or may not have reached their skin. The reason I
write this guide, is to save you, my gentle reader, the germs. Avoid
the Restroom in a Catholic church. More Sanitary AND less distracting
for the folks.
Silence is Golden. So, everybody please, shut up. I mean this in the
kindest, nicest way possible. Actually I don’t. I mean it in the most
obnoxious way possible. TALK at home. TALK outside. TALK after Mass.
If you want to GET something out of Mass, YOU HAVE TO SHUT UP. There
is enough noise in the world. There is noise on TV. There is noise in
the stores, in the mall, on facebook, on our phones. . .everywhere. Let
Church be a silent place. . . especially BEFORE MASS. I beg of you to
do this. . . BEGGING. Even you grandparents whose kids and grandkids
are just coming for the first time in two years. . .don’t talk to them.
Don’t play with them. Don’t tell them how much you LOVE their
Christmas outfit. They truly are the most adorable kids on the planet.
Spoil the crap out of them. After. Mass. Right now: Shut up. Let
them see that SOMETHING is different about this place. IGNORE THEM.
(don’t be uncharitable. . .just close your eyes, kneel if you can and
just be silent) If everybody stopped talking. . .this would go a LONG
WAY to making a more meaningful Mass experience for EVERYONE.
Take a back seat to God and everyone else. Accept the fact that you
are not going to get the coveted “end of the pew” seat. I don’t care if
you got to Mass four hours early. It will happen, either two minutes
before the priest processes in or five minutes after. . .a 90 year old
pregnant woman on oxygen is going to need your seat. Deal with it, and
dress accordingly. This means that it will 106 degrees in the middle of
the pew. . .don’t wear a sweater and if you live in Virginia, leave the
winter coat in the car. . . Also, if you want to demonstrate your
Catholic chops. . .plan on having at least three children sitting on
your lap so that the 90 year old pregnant woman on oxygen can also
squeeze in her mother, a one legged leper (who just happens to have a
walker) into the same pew as you. If you are sitting BEHIND the 90 year
old pregnant woman on oxygen and her one legged leper mom, the toddler
sitting on your lap is going to grab their hair. This is where you MUST
have some sort of silent plush toy at the ready. The only way you
can handle this with Christian grace and charity. . .is if you prayed
SILENTLY before Mass. Prepare accordingly.
Hotter than Hades. Don’t wear the Christmas sweater knitted by your
Nana. You can wear it when you get home. If she is insulted, Pray that
she be given the spirit of understanding (you can do so silently BEFORE
MASS). Because if you wear your itchy, hot Christmas sweater at any
Christmas eve Mass, even the sheep in the manger will be looking at you
and saying it was a BAAAAAd idea. If you did not heed my advice to
leave your winter coat in the car, and IF you have enough room to
physically remove that winter coat before Mass, at some point during
Mass, the coats only act as an insulation to prevent air from flowing
in the sanctuary. The aggregate temperature in the sanctuary is about
106 degrees. Even the statues are perspiring and it’s not a miracle.
When Hell freezes over. On the other hand, because the church that was
built to accommodate a few hundred of your co-religionists is now
forced to house several thousand people in bulky coats and sweaters. .
.all of whom have decided to come and adore the baby Jesus, your Pastor,
in his wisdom, may decide to turn on the air conditioning. It’s a crap
shoot. If this be the case and you left your coat in the car. . .you
can always leave to go get it. You might be able to get back in. You
might not. At least you have a choice. You can offer it up for the
poor souls in purgatory, or the poor souls in the parking lot.
Birds of a Feather Flock together. Choose a Christmas Eve Mass where
your left eye won’t twitch (cause I think you have to gouge it out if it
does) and where your vein doesn’t pop in vexation. And in that spirit,
I give you the Mass Guide to Holiness:
First Mass of Christmas Eve: It is the earliest Mass, on Christmas
Eve. Generally it is between 4:00 pm and 6:00. Sometimes this is
referred to as the “Children’s Mass.” Now, technically, there is NO
SUCH THING as a Children’s Mass. But here’s the deal. It’s the
children’s Mass. It’s generally where the children sing in the choir.
But even if there are NO CHILDREN SINGING, and it is NOT called the
Children’s Mass: IT IS STILL THE CHILDREN’S MASS. It is the Mass
where YOUNG optimistic parents bring their young children with the idea
that if they get their children to bed early; they get stuff done. Be
it wrapping, shopping, baking, assembling Chinese toys using Japanese
translated instructions, canoodling, whatever. . .young optimistic
parents have plans. This is their mistake. This is the Mass of young
optimistic parents who don’t know any better. I speak now to the young
optimistic parents who don’t know any better: Your four year old is
jumping off the walls at 10:00 pm tonight. This isn’t going to NOT
happen just because you put Tiny Tim to bed at 7:00 and told him that a
kindly saint in a red suit riding a flying sleigh with eight magical
reindeer is not coming if he isn’t a sleep. You ain’t canoodling till
New Years. Accept it and move on.
Mass of Christmas Eve: This is for the slightly more savvy parents of
slightly older children. They learned their lessons the hard way. This
Mass contains different demographics. The young optimistic parents who
are too new to parenting and couldn’t get their gear together in time
for the 4:00 PM Mass. These dear young souls who got to the church at
3:50, decided that their little babies in their car carriers and their
kangaroo carriers ought not attend Mass in a parking lot because they
got to said parking lot at 3:50, and saw that folks were standing
outside on the lawn and decided to try for the next Mass. This Mass
also contains the slightly more experienced parent who didn’t even try
for the first Mass, but still hopes to get some stuff done and have
Christmas Day “to relax.” This tends to be the traditional hymns.
There will be singing. Lots of singing. If you are hot, itchy or did
not heed my advice and used a Roman Catholic Restroom during Advent. .
.you may not be enjoying the singing at this time. And while this choir
maybe very talented, they aren’t as cute . . And if they deviate in
ANY way from the traditional hymn, you may find yourself vexed. Don’t
be vexed. The only way to avoid vexation is to PRAY SILENTLY BEFORE
MASS. And to not use the restroom during Advent.
Mass on Christmas Eve: This may or may not be the Midnight Mass (I
will have a separate post for the Midnight Mass) This is Mass is
slightly less crowded. It is attended by older couples, daily
communicants and homeschooling families. The music tends to be more
simple. It is calmer Mass and a quieter Mass. In my experience, as it
is later in the evening (somewhere between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm) it is
the Mass where you notice more of your own family’s foibles. This is
Mass where the family of 13 sitting two pews ahead of you are able to
get their boys to wear three piece suits and the girls in matching
dresses. This is the Mass where you where you see that your child, in
your haste to get everyone out the door in a timely fashion, is wearing
mismatched open toed sandals. This is the Mass where families own
individual subscriptions to the Magnificat, and are reading the
scriptures from them. My family, off medication, are flinging boogers at
one another. This is the Mass where you can actually pray silently
before Mass but don’t because someone got their foot stuck under the
kneeler and has let out a scream and so you have to carry them out in
hysterics down the main aisle. But this is a good option for someone
who is looking for less chaos, more prayer.
personal favorite option is go to Mass on Christmas day. We have a
tradition that we open NO presents until AFTER we come home from Mass. .
.it starts the day correctly. The children are forced to have their
priorities organized for them.
Sometimes I use hyperbole to emphasize a point.