God Versus Instagram

, , , , , , , | Working | January 30, 2019

(As a Navy chaplain stationed nearby, I have been asked to do a wedding at a church in Coronado, a rather ritzy suburb of San Diego and home of the famous Hotel Del. The couple are quite well to do, their parents VERY well to do, and they want the perfect wedding and reception. To ensure it, they’ve paid for the perfect wedding coordinator. At the rehearsal the day before the wedding, this coordinator makes it clear that she is very much in charge, and starts organizing the wedding party, lining people up for the procession, etc. I am happy enough to let her do her thing, until, as I am walking the wedding party through the service itself, which will include a Nuptial Mass, she starts to challenge me.)

Wedding Coordinator: “No, we can’t have them kneeling at the rail with their backs to the congregation; it won’t look right in the photos.”

Wedding Coordinator: “No, when they exchange the rings, they should face the congregation, so it can be seen.”

Wedding Coordinator: “No… this.” and “No… that.”  

(Each time, I patiently instruct the couple and the bridal party to do it my way. Finally, she screams at me that I am interfering with her job, that she is a professional and knows what will work best, and that she will instruct the wedding party to do it HER way. I finally lose it.)

Me: “Ma’am, we are talking about a Sacrament of the Church, one which isn’t about getting the perfect pictures but about binding a man and woman together in Holy Matrimony. Outside the church, before the service or at the reception, you are in charge. Once they come into the church, then I am. Can you live with that?”

(She can’t, and again starts giving me orders.)

Me: “Ma’am, if you insist on being in charge of what happens during the Nuptial Mass, I wish you luck. I can have no part of it.”

(I start to gather my gear to leave.)

Wedding Coordinator: “What are you doing? You can’t leave! The wedding is tomorrow!”

Me: “True, but I won’t be here for it.”

Wedding Coordinator: “You can’t do that!”

Me: “And how do you mean to stop me?”

(She caved. I walked the party through the rehearsal again, while she glowered in a rear pew. The next day the wedding went off without a hitch, and the bride and her mother were very happy. The wedding coordinator was paid over $5,000, plus expenses. The photographer was paid as much. I was given a $100 honorarium in an envelope by the groom, and got to eat at the reception — at the table with the elderly aunts!)

Jesus Is Watching Your Ugly A**

, , , , , , | Learning | January 25, 2019

Our church had to move due to renovations and our new chapel does not have enough classrooms. My brother and I were in our confirmation class, sitting up on the stage, near a crucified Jesus.

We were talking about the deadly sins, envy specifically. Our head teacher and his assistant were acting out two women walking by each other. When we discussed how women actually judge each other, our teacher accidentally said, “She has some ugly a**…” and stopped himself in immediate horror, turning to look at Jesus with a horrified expression. Immediately after he said it, the whole class burst into laughter.

Turning Water Into Milkshake

, , , | Friendly | December 29, 2018

(I’m a youth group leader at my church. My parish holds several potlucks throughout the year. One time, I am sitting with the pastor when I see one of my younger kids come by, looking very pouty.)

Me: “Hey, buddy, what’s wrong?”

Kid: “The ‘panish ladies won’t give me a milkshake!”

(Our parish is very diverse, almost like a small UN. I’m surprised that someone refused him, though.)

Me: “You said the Spanish ladies won’t let you have a milkshake?”

Kid: “Yeah!”

(He points to a table, where two Hispanic-looking women are standing, although they’re hard to spot as they’re somewhat behind a potted tree. They have a one-gallon milk jug at their table, several cups, and nothing else.)

Me: “What did they tell you?”

Kid: “They said I can’t have a milkshake until I’m twenty!”

(My pastor sits up at that. Our branch of Christianity doesn’t mind imbibing, but the pastor specifically asked for non-alcoholic drinks and food, as this is a family event.)

Pastor: “They said the milkshakes are only for grown-ups?”

Kid: “Yeah!”

(The pastor excused himself and headed over to a parish council member. After he spoke with her, the council member visited the two women. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but the council member was clearly furious, and the women looked humiliated. They quickly packed up and left. I later found out the kid had misheard “michelada,” a Mexican cocktail, as “milkshake.” The pastor didn’t shut down the potluck, but he did speak sternly at services the next weekend, reminding everyone about family versus adult events.)

Don’t Have A Cow; Be A Cow!

, , , , , , | Related | December 24, 2018

(While my mom is very pretty, she does have a much smaller frame than I do. This conversation occurs as we are dressing up for a pantomime-style play of the Christian Christmas story at our church.)

Mom: “I’ll be a ram.”

Me: “I’ll be a cow; I have the chest for it.”

(Mom started laughing.)

This Church Is Grassroots

, , , , , , | Related | December 13, 2018

My family lives right down the street from a large church, which we pass on our way to our own church, school, and the store where we shop; basically, we pass it pretty much every day.

When I was in grade school, the church began a large expansion project to add a new wing onto the building. They dug a large hole in the ground next to the building, which I figured was going to be the basement for the new wing. Every day when I passed by the church, either in the car or the school bus, I would look at the hole to see if they had started building the new wing in it yet. Several months went by, and I saw nothing — still just a hole in the ground, even though there seemed to be workers there every day.

One day, while I was riding in the car with my mom, I said to her, “They still haven’t started building that new church yet!” And she responded, “Yes, they have; what do you call that?” She pointed to the side of the church opposite from the hole… where the new wing stood, completely finished.

Yes, that’s right: I had been so distracted looking at the hole every time I passed the church that I had completely missed the new wing going up right before my eyes. It turns out that the hole was actually just a large drainage ditch, which they just happened to be digging at the same time the construction was going on. In hindsight, I should have been clued in by the fact that they had spread grass seed in the hole, but my only thought upon noticing that was, “Why do they want grass in the basement?”

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