Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Day I Ruined Mass

The end of the world got me thinking about the time that I screwed up communion for an entire church full of Catholics.  Because I just know that God is going to bring it up.

My first job during high school was working after school and on the weekends at our church.  I know, I'm such a good girl.  I'm glad you think that, because you are about to see how I screwed up  and made a liar out of a perfectly good priest.

During the week my evening hours consisted of answering the phone and taking messages.  This usually turned into me transferring the call to the wrong person, because I never really figured out how to get the transfer part of the phone to work.  

I figured as long as the person got to someone's voice mail box then things were good because the offices were so close to each other they could really just shout down the hall and deliver the message to the correct person.  I'm sure they seriously appreciated my handling their phone calls in that manner. 

We also stuffed envelopes and got 4,004,493,000,930 bulletins stuffed and ready for church each week.  OK, it may not have been that many, but when you are sitting in a freaking quiet church office after regular hours, well let's just say things get a bit long and monotonous . I mean, I totally had the Lord with me, but for the most part it felt super quiet and alone.

The weekends were an extra special time.  It meant that I got to open the church up at the butt ass crack of dawn using a skeleton key.  In case you are not familiar with skeleton keys, they are a special kind of key that don't actually work.  

There were a series of things you needed to do in order for the skeleton key to actually work and keep the doors opened.  You had to tap something and bang on something like The Fonz and then use the key and wah la!  I'm not as cool as The Fonz, so I don't think that I ever ever ever ever once opened the doors successfully.  Sooner or later someone else with a skeleton key and a Fonzie-esque nature would show up and open the door for the people gathering in wait to enter the church.  But each week, I dutifully went to every.single.door and thought I was correctly unlocking them.

Next, we would prepare a few things for the upcoming Masses.  We needed to make sure that wine and communion wafers were present and ready to bring  up for communion.  We also, and here's where it got tricky for me, check this special little area of the church, called the Tabernacle, where any remaining consecrated communion wafers were put if they were not used during a mass. 

If there were no Eucharist in the Tabernacle, it was a sign that we needed to send up more than usual in the plate that was brought up during mass.

In my head, I got that a little wrong.

This one particular morning I checked, and there were no Eucharist in the Tabernacle.  So I went back to the office, grabbed a bag, tore it open and put some wafers in the Tabernacle.  If there are any true blue Catholics reading this you already know what I did wrong.

So the morning moved along and several masses took place.  Hundreds of people received communion, which in the Catholic church is a very big deal as we believe it actually becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  

Afterwards I asked the priest if there had been enough communion to distribute, and he answered yes.  He said that there were Eucharist in the Tabernacle so it had not been a problem, when he ran out he just brought those out.  

I said, "Oh, I know.  I put those in there because I saw it was running low."  

This is when the priest just stared at me.  He asked me to repeat what I just said.

Apparently.....the Tabernacle is a very special place.  The ONLY thing to ever reside within it's walls are consecrated communion wafers, meaning they have undergone transubstantiation which is the complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood by a validly ordained priest during the consecration at Mass.  It's pretty big stuff.

So, thanks to me,  a large percentage of the Catholics who went to Mass that day, hoping to receive the sacrament of communion, basically received a plain wafer that I had torn out of a plastic bag that we ordered in bulk.  In other words, I ruined it.

The priest at first looked perturbed, then he just laughed and said there was nothing to be done about it now.   He then asked that I please not leave the church unlocked like I had the previous week.  Stupid skeleton key.

So, there you have it.  That has been weighing on my conscience since I was 15.  

Well, that and the time I was 5 and tried to steal a pack of fruit stripe gum by putting it down into my tank top while shopping with my mom after I saw Daisy Duke put stuff down her shirt on the Dukes of Hazzard.  

And that, my friends, is what Catholic guilt is all about.

14 comments:

Megs said...

Dear Amanda,
Thank you for your blog. It is a true source of hilarity that I always look forward to and this one went above and beyond in it's awesomeness. Those stupid, freaking skeleton keys. If it makes you feel any better, you were not alone in your tabernacle confusion. I'll leave it at that :) Love, Megs

Mindy said...

I die. I literally die. I think I peed my pants. Again. Actually, I thought you were going to say when you tore the bag of wafers open that they went flying out like when you open a bag of potato chips. That's probably the only thing that would've made that story funnier. Maybe only a sinner like me would think of that. Glad the end didn't come on Saturday so I got to read this post. Catholic guilt's a bite in the ass, huh? :)

Amanda M. said...

OMG. When you said you just "refilled" the Tabernacle, I about died. For some reason I did in fact remember that the Tabernacle was a seriously holy place that you don't just go throwing wafers into. I could totally have seen myself doing that at 15, too. Thankfully, we had a priest in high school who sounds much like yours and he probably would have laughed at it a bit, too. :-) OMG. You are SO funny.

Babymama said...

I am so happy to now that right now...an angel got her wings.

New follower from bloggymom's.

Catholic guilt definitely bites.

xo
babymama
avagracescloset

M. Hicks said...

I'm not Catholic at all, but this made me laugh. It made me think of Frank McCourt's novels. In either Angela's Ashes or 'Tis, he talks about his guilt over throwing up his first communion, saying (approximately) "I threw up God all over the backyard." He runs to the church to ask for holy water to clean it up, and like your priest, his is kind, laughs, and let's some of the guilt out.

I really loved this post. I'll visit again!

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

As a former catholic school girl, I can fully appreciate the catholic guilt. :) I am feeling guilty right now laughing at your tabernacle faux pas. If it makes you feel any better, my parish was one of the modern parishes and allowed girls to be altar boys. Mom made me be one. One time I almost lit the priests robes on fire when I lit a candle, and another time I dropped a consecrated Eucharist on the floor. My mother's audible gasp could be heard throughout the church.

Angie said...

So what about the time my family got to carry the gifts up during mass and I dropped the hosts all over the floor right in front of the priest? Oh my parents were SO proud! We all (priest included) got on our hands and knees and picked up my mess. But the best part has to be that I know the entire congregation was cringing as they received "the body of Christ" with a side order of dirt! Catholic guilt rules! Thanks for the hysterical laughing fit this post induced :)

Julie said...

So we both blogged about jobs as 15-year-olds today...

I'm feeling you, sister.

At least you didn't serve cheap wine to the priests like I did to the men at the hair salon.

I'm not sure HOW God's going to feel about that one...

You. Are. Funny. and I love your blog, girlfriend.

No guilt. Just smiles.

Joann Mannix said...

I gasped when I got to the part where you refilled the hosts in THE TABERNACLE! Holy Jesus, Mary and Joseph! As a girl raised in the rigid dogma of the Catholic church, I know what a biggie that one is.

The only Communion story I've got for you is my middle girl was a toddler and having a lot of trouble being quiet in Mass. I kept shushing her and pointing to the large crucifix behind the priest and the altar and telling her that Jesus wanted her to be a good girl and be quiet. At Communion time, the priest saying Mass gave Communion on our side of the church, right in front of our pew. As soon as my toddler noticed him she started yelling, "HEY JESUS! JESUS! HI JESUS!" We were trying our best to shush her but she was so excited to show Jesus how good she was behaving.

1 Funky Woman said...

I'm so surprised they even let a girl do as much as you did! I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school all the way. Once in a blue moon could we girls even set foot up there! I'm sure the priest looked like a ghost when you said you just ripped the bag open and dumped them in!

I'm still carrying Catholic guilt. I swear in third grade I was for sure planning on being a nun when I got older!

Megan

1 Funky Woman said...

Amanda, I gave you an award today! Head on over to http://1funkywoman.blogspot.com

Megan

Shanda said...

This is sooo funny. I am glad you had a priet that didn't get angry to take himself to seriously!!! loved it.

laci512 said...

I love it. I mean, as a good Catholic girl myself, I was rolling. I remember in grade school when we would have to open up the church with a skelton key before mass. Uhhh it was horrible.

sabrina0024 said...

This post could not have come at a better time. I, mind you I know NOTHING of the church or Catholic faith, was just talking to someone a few days ago and I said "I just don't understand it - those wafers have to come from somewhere so why is everyone so convinced it's the body of christ - now....now that I know that there is an act of turning it into the body...I guess my question is answered. Thanks for the giggles. :)