For those Catholic Irish among you, the contents of this series of sketches may bring back memories. Mass is a strange affair. We Irish are essentially a pagan people who wear a veil of Christianity when it suits. We go to mass but usually it’s only so that you can say you were there, and to avoid your granny giving out to you.
Mass is also a good place to check out the local talent. The men among you will have to admit watching the asses of the girls of the parish as they sashay down the aisle on their way to get communion, acting as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. The females among you will have to admit to exploiting this weakness inherent in all us poor men. It’s not our fault.
The supposedly serious nature of this Catholic ceremony makes it a fertile ground for wind-ups and piss-taking. The more you know you’re not meant to laugh, the more you want to do it. If someone turns up with a hair-dye job gone wrong, as happened in a Church in south Derry, then children and teenagers will be heard chuckling, giggling and eventually snorting as they fight to restrain their amusement. If the victim is an older man, as was the case close to Lough Neagh, then it’s worse.
If someone trips and falls on their way to communion, even old women will crack a wide grin and bury their heads a little bit further into their rosary beads. Shaking shoulders are a good way to identify those who are struggling to keep their laughter quiet. Altar servers are another source of great humour. If, like this author who was an alter boy, you would have been tempted occasionally to take a swig of altar wine and wolf down a few unleavened wafers with it, it made serving mass all the more interesting. Altar servers could write a book on their exploits during mass.
The following collection looks at the lighter side of mass. It demonstrates that this particular ceremony can be a place of great fun, but only if you don’t let the priest see you enjoying yourself. You wouldn’t want to be seen doing that in mass now, would you?