I wonder if I get to use prose this time.
Prose, my old friend!
The deal is this.
If you try to get a sacrament from the Catholic Church, you need a great deal of patience these days. You see, there’s a whole crappy industry covering the Church in a thick blanket. It goes like this.
If you want, say, to get your child baptized, you don’t just go up to the priest and tell him so.
Well, I suppose you could.
But this is what you may be in for:
1. “Father, I want to have my baby baptized.”
2. “Alright, just phone the parish office on Monday; they’ll tell you what to do.”
3. You wait until Monday. You forget. You keep trying to remember. (Newborn baby – well, need I say more?) It’s Thursday; you find a moment to phone.
4. The office has closed. You go online to the parish website; there seem to be certain requirements but you see that phoning is still one of the first steps. You put a big note on your fridge. A big note. Won’t forget tomorrow.
5. Friday comes. You phone again. But you dolt, don’t you realize the parish staff leaves early on Fridays?
6. Wait til next week.
7. The priest is there, on Sunday, greeting the parishioners after Mass. But you don’t speak. You walk by because you know what he’ll say. You admit, you haven’t called. (Though you tried.)
8. (You’ll call this week.)
9. It’s Monday, mon, you take the phone.
10. The office lady boredly tells you to leave a voice mail for the Special Worker (she’s not in.)
11. You wait ’til Wednesday afternoon, now she’s back.
12. Some forms please, you need to fill.
13. Where are these forms now, you want to know.
14. Download them or come pick them up.
15. You go back online. Didn’t see them the first time, no.
16. Print them off.
17. Attach a photograph (as if you have a large selection just sitting there). But choose one first. Print it off. But, oh man, buy more ‘magenta’ first. A trip to the store, husband dear. How could you forget? That cartridge’s dead! What, have you been having sleepless nights with your newborn baby? Oh well. Get the new cartridge, undo the package, set it up, print it off, cut it out. You’re all set now. Only 2.5 hours of your life, mon.
18. They have a wall, see, some design, babies glue-sticked onto grape clusters – some kind of theme. That’s real important, right? Stupid ugly tree painted on the wall.
19. Get some glue-stick, choose a nice pic, it’s craft time! You’re twenty-nine, but you’re in class now. (You finally got yourself enrolled.)
20. Do what they tell you.
21. Newborn baby is with baby-sitter, first time tonight. Used the pump, first time this afternoon. (Stressful.) Well, now we’re here, all dressed up. We speak briefly to other stressed out couples, who’d rather be almost anywhere else. Pass the pencil crayons; I have to draw a picture for my newborn; Special Worker says.
22. Stupid course now, taught by someone you don’t know, or ever want to.
23. Special Worker turns on the music box, standing around now, there’s some rocks, symbol of what?
24. All in a circle please, this means what now? (You don’t want to know.) (It’s something Special Worker recently made up.)
25. State your child’s name and why you chose that one for your child. Please announce to the others ( – strangers, yes, but now this topic you will discuss).
26. “Well, my wife Tammy and I, well, um, we chose the name Louis because we once had a good friend of the family named Louis, and when he passed away – just soon before the birth, actually – we decided to name our child after him.”
27. “Thank you, I see, how lovely. And the next person, you in the green shirt, what name did you choose, for your child?” Says Special Worker with a fake smile.
28. Nowadays what I’d say is, “I really don’t see why I must disclose.”
29. Nowadays what I’d say is, “What does this have to do with the baptism of my own?”
30. Some more koom-ba-ya time and some more colouring.
31. What an embarrassment to the Church.
32. Here’s a video, a short video, so unmemorable that it will leave you faster than you’ll leave the Church. As if you ain’t got YouTube on your own phone. As if Fr. Larry Richards can’t deliver one hundred million times better. Or Fr. Barron. Man.
33. Here’s a hand-out, so long and dull, you’ll leave it in the car or on the window sill.
34. You don’t even notice then that there are some words there on that blue sheet.
36. Hey those little words are what you’ll promise in a few week’s time.
37. Small little words see.
38. Something about the devil you will forsake.
39. Something like that.
40. Nobody really made a big deal about that sheet. Not Special Worker nor the Priest (who did stop in, once, for a minute.)
41. It was underneath. Underneath some poem written by someone somewhere that Special Worker thought did inspire (though it didn’t).
42. Oh well, what can you do now, nobody asked you whether any of it made any sense, and Special Worker seems there to stay.
43. She must know what she’s doing. She took some ‘Div’ course – yeah paid some cash once, wrote an essay too. Woo-hoo. If you weren’t so unholy you’d know “Div” means Divinity. Closer to God, see. What’s it this time? Bachelors? Masters? Something like.
44. Yeah man, who cares.
45. Doesn’t mean Special Worker knows what she’s doing.
46. It’s just you and me, hey, we know what she’s doing.
47. She’s makin’ y’all not want to come back! That’s what she’s doing! Can’t blame you.
48. I’m sorry.
49. I’m sorry for the Special Worker you meet at the door. Nobody asked me if she was a good choice. (I’m like you, see, no Div after my name neither, just a spent ol’ LL.B.)
50. But lean here, I’ll whisper to you, “It’s an industry.” This free gift, Jesus wants for your little child, that the Church wants for your child, has been surrounded by puffs of wheat. Puffs of nothing, of red tape, of koom-ba-ya courses left and right, making no sense, just pure nonsense taught by someone who should just be quiet. And hey, it’s the same gang that will come up with activities for you if you want your child to receive First Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation. Want to get married? Oh my. The courses are enough to make you want to, well, elope.
51. But please don’t. Please wade through it, please come through it, to the other side. The sacrament is worth it. The sacrament is real.
52. Please bring your child to baptism and to First Communion. Please get married in the Church. It’s your church. It doesn’t belong to the Special Worker. She’s not in charge.
53. She’s not the doorkeeper of this great Church. Those stupid courses taught by full-paid workers mostly shouldn’t exist. A big industry of courses delivered ’round the world, by those who wanted a cushy job. Big puffy mess of this form and that. All crap. Or, to be fair, mostly crap.
54. If I had my way, I would, in the first place, encourage parents to attend any relevant courses or whatever prior to the birth of the child! Life won’t get quieter when baby is born, it’ll be fuller, (joyfully fuller) but 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night won’t feel the same as it does before baby arrives.
55. This is what I’d do if I had my say, if I had my way. I’d give you my email. You’d use it. And guess what: you’d get me the very first time. Bull’s Eye. I’d reply. Within hours, maybe minutes, I’d say, “Hello.” We’re on our way.
56. I’d say, “Want your son baptized? Wonderful! Please state his name, give a copy of the birth certificate, let’s make it happen. God’s free gift, mon, (just as Lance P. said.) Here’s one paper, it’s what you’ll say, on Louis’ behalf, this Sunday. Read it carefully, it’s the main thing for you to be prepared. If you want more, I can provide.” Something like that. I’d also say, “I’ll meet you after Mass. A group of two parents or twenty, I don’t need no head count; bring your baby; I’ll bring the donuts. Give me twenty minutes, maybe thirty. I’ll explain the nuts and bolts. We’ll go through those vows. See you then. (Something like that.) You’re on your way.
57. No construction paper, no glue stick, no koom-ba-ya, no poemity poems.
58. Just prose.
59. Ah, prose. Thank you, Lawd.
60. Prose, my old friend! Long time no see, heh heh.