Dogma Alert

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bribing the Alterboy

Reflections of a Pragmatic Gnostic - part two

This a continuation of a series of my own personal experiences with spirituality, religion and the Church that I began in March. My next recollection of time spent in St. Joseph's Catholic Church was the time I was conned into signing up as an alterboy to help out the priests during Sunday services.

Before we were "allowed" to perform during an actual mass, we were forced to meet at the church several times after school to practice the appropriate rituals and movements. There were about half a dozen of us impressionable twelve year olds, 5 boys and 1 girl, and although my memory of these meetings are for the most part hazy, there are a couple incidents that stick out vivdly in my mind.

One is the "ringing of the bell" during certain points during the service whenever the Priest would hold up the communion host over his head and echoing Jesus's (supposedly) famous words... "do this in memory of me". Thinking back now, the only reason I volunteered to become an alterboy was to be the one who rang the bell, because for some reason I thought it would be cool to do so. So, when faced with weeks of practicing all these ridiculous stagnant rituals that seemed so nonsensical and devoid of life and passion, my entusiasm for the job quickly waned.

The kicker came one afternoon when the priest, giving us a pop quiz about some arcane fact or motion we were supposed to remember, said the person who got the answer right would be given a dollar bill as a reward. I had no idea what he was asking for, even though we'd been told probably a hundred times and I obviously wasn't paying attention. So, when the lone female of our group came up with the right answer and was given a dollar for her efforts, my alterboy experience became completely soured and I never went back.

The thought of this creepy priest dishing out money as a bribe to a 12 year old girl for remembering some inconsequential fact just turned me off to the whole experience even though at the time I couldn't really explain why. Needless to say, after that incident when we were finally allowed to go home, I walked out of the church into the bright sunlight and never regreted not finishing my training, nor ever having participated in a Catholic mass.

Hallelujah and praise Beezus for that!


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