Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm NOT Catholic

Which will be quite obvious after this story!

When I was newly married, my husband and I worked part time as janitors in the evenings, to pay our school bills. One of my first jobs was to clean a Roman Catholic church. Prior to this, I had never stepped inside a Roman Catholic church! The only Catholic I knew was an uncle and we only spoke of that in hushed, pained voices. I come from a long line of Baptists and am the fifth generation of Baptist preacher's kids...we just never met many Catholics .

On my very first day, I was diligently vacuuming the multi purpose room which was where Mass was held and also used for other meetings including Bingo on the weekends. They had a rather ornate communion table with red velvet curtains which fell from the table top to the floor. Striving to do a thorough job, I pushed aside the curtains to vacuum under the table.

The sight I saw under the table turned my blood ice cold! I saw a pair of lifeless, bloody feet! I threw my hands up and screaming, ran off the platform into the arms of my husband! The priest and a nun came running to see what the commotion was all about.

I told them! There was a dead body stashed under the communion table! You should have seen their faces! Apparently, the church had a life size crucifix which they hung on the wall during Mass, but hid under the communion table during Bingo, not deeming it proper for Christ to look down upon such activity.

Oops! My bad. The priest was very kind when he realized my ignorance and he chuckled a bit about it.

A few weeks later, I decided to clean a small basin I had noticed. It was gold plated and a bit scummy to my eyes. I scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and rinsed until it shown!

Then I was given a lecture about Holy Water and how it had to be procured and blessed by a Bishop as it was the only water to be used for baptizing. It seems one does not wash it down the drain!

Oops! My bad. The priest was very patient as he explained but he did not find it funny at all.

The final straw happened a few weeks later. The church had a small break room and the priest had told us to help ourselves to any food there. Often we would find donuts or pastries and being poor college students, we did help ourselves! But on this day, there were no snacks out...except for a box of some kind of strange wafers. My husband and I both grabbed handfuls of the crackers to snack on as we worked. They did not have much flavor but did have a curious texture and way of melting on your tongue.

This time the priest was not even polite. I guess one should not snack on the Lord's body! For these curious wafers were the Host. In our defense, they were very different from the unleavened bread used by baptists in our communion services!

Oops! My bad. We never were sent back to clean that church but were reappointed to a bank.

I wonder if that priest remembers me?

(This is my light hearted attempt to remember this event which recounts my true ignorance at the time. I mean no offense to anyone and certainly no disrespect to the Communion or Lord's Table or even the Priest as he was truly kind to me.)


Mountain Mama said...

I'm not Catholic either but if I were I'm absolutely certain that I would have laughed my head off if I had been the Priest. My goodness, what is funny is funny!

The Localmalcontent said...

Wow! Excommunicated, before you even converted!!

I imagine that the life-size crucified Christ was hidden, NOT because he could possibly look upon such activity as Bingo, but to keep parishiners from devoutly praying, "Come on, come on, give me B-14. BEEE-FOUR-TEEN, JESUS!"

This post was sure funny to me, thanks!

On a side note, our pastor at First United Methodist uttered the words "non-leavened", instead of unleavened" bread yesterday, Easter Sunday, and I REALLY thought he said
"Nine-Eleven-d" bread...
Weird, eh?

MightyMom said...


the Priest really should have given you a better orientation.

Brenda said...

That is pretty funny. I would have never known that about the baptismal water either. Especially since our baptismal water just goes down the drain. . . how would we ever guess?

Joy said...

My cousin cleaned a Catholic Church for a while too. They would tell her to go to a certain room or do some cleaning in a particular part of the church and she would tell them "You have to remember I'm a Baptist girl and I don't know what that stuff is" Hopefully things worked out better at the bank for you.


Tammy said...

Aww, we Baptists pick on ourselves, too. I doubt any good-natured Catholics will be offended.

Couldn't have been any worse than the time my brothers got caught swimming in the baptistery by the preacher. (Now THAT would never happen in a Catholic church!) ;o)

Pam said...

Oh that's hilarious! bless that little priest's heart! You were a handfull even back then!

Tori said...

Okay now that was so funny! Stashing Jesus under the table so they could play Bingo, well!

John said...

Hilarious! Reminds me of my youngest asking what the baptismal font was when he first encountered one (I think it was an Episcopalian church) and after I explained it was where they baptized his quizzical expression was priceless. "What do they do, just stick their heads down in there?" I still laugh!

Thanks for sharing this priceless piece of your story!

Amanda said...

We are Baptist but my dad's side of the family is very Catholic. I am actually going to a funeral today for my dad's aunt and there's going to be a mass and everything. I was already thinking this morning that I hope I don't do something ignorant and embarrass myself. I will remember not to eat any wafers that I stumble across.

Gayle said...

Mighty Mom is right, the priest should indeed have given you a better orientation. It really was his fault for taking it for granted that you would know what the little wafers were for!

I'm Episcopalian and we also use them in our church. They are treated very reverently and if one is dropped on the floor one must pick it up and eat it, but that's the only time it is to be eaten other than during Communion. I remember reading a true story where a teenaged boy took the wafer he was given during Communion home with him instead of eating it. He was found out (I don't remember how) and the entire congregation was mad at him! That was a Catholic Church.

Rita, I'm positive the Priest remembers you! LOL!

Amanda, you won't "stumble accross" any little wafers. They aren't left lying about. :)

Jungle Mom said...

it was the previous janitor that showed us around. Most people in New England are Catholic so I guess he never assumed I was so dumb.

MightyMom said...

ah well...made for a great post huh??

off's something you'll enjoy.

Pilar Stark said...

Too funny :)

Ellen said...

Both Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict have said that Catholicism is the one true Christian religion.

You disagree?

You know more about Christianity than the Pope?

Subvet said...

Hey "Ellen", as a devout Catholic I'd say you need to get a grip on reality girl.

JM, your story reminds me of one my father told of how his buddies convinced a Jewish friend to attend Sunday Mass with them. Seems "Ari" was told it was polite to stand and applaud after the homily. Yes he did, briefly.

For some reason he never went back.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! It's funny how different demoninations have different traditions. I'm not catholic or baptist, but I'm pretty sure I would have been right there with you...oops!

Jungle Mom said...

Sorry If I offended you. I actually sent this story around to a few people before posting it to try and get feed back as to whether or not it would be considered offensive. Even a priest read it.
The post is not about Christianity, it is about my ignorance of Catholic traditions at the time.

Leigh Anne said...

That is hilarious!! I too have been sheltered in my Baptist world. I was 35 before I ever met anyone who was Catholic. Since then I have been education on many different demoninations and met some wonderful Christian brothers and sisters from all. I always say I am a Christian first and a Baptist very close 2nd.

Kathy said...

I loved these stories and would have made the same mistakes you made! :)

Thursday's Child said...

I love that story. My husband was raised Maronite Catholic so he had a special appreciation of some of the mishaps.