I can hear some of the initial reactions to the title of this post.
Most likely you’re thinking, “Bah Humbug to you too, pal,” or… “Is your real name Ebenezer San Giacomo? After all, your initials wouldn’t change.”
To save myself from the holiday madness:
I can avoid crowded stores and traffic by shopping online.
I can avoid spending lots of money by hunting for bargains or doing the shopping earlier.
I can avoid cooking for hours on end by enjoying a simple dinner with my wife and no guests.
I can avoid the anti-religion ad campaigns by Atheist groups by simply ignoring them.
I can avoid (place any other pet peeves about the holidays here).
However, the one thing that I wish I could avoid, but can’t, is going to church.
That’s one incredible thing for a devout follower of Catholicism to say, but it’s true. In fact, you can toss in Palm Sunday and Easter as well.
***If only I had the ability to photograph your wide eyes and gaping jaws at this moment.*** 🙂
But that’s the truth. Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas are the three days of the year that I’d like to avoid going to Mass.
Why? Because of all the PECs. “What’s a PEC?” you ask. It’s what regular parishioners call those people who attend Mass three times a year. PECs only go to church on Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. Although I think crediting them with three church attendances per year is being nice. I’m sure the majority of PECs actually score only one or two out of three.
I agree with most clergy on this matter when they say things like “Well…they (PECs) are better off in church than not.” Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back for more and become a regular parishioner. It’s possible, and I’m hopeful for such things.
So it’s not their presence that bothers me. Nobody’s presence bothers me in church; those doors are always open to all. Which naturally begs the question, what bothers me about PECs?
It’s their attitude.
I’m sure at some point, you’ve seen video footage from stores where people get trampled or fight over that toy in short supply. How depressing it is to witness something like that. Well, that’s the same attitude that the PECs bring into church, treating communion like a first-come, first-served “free for all.” The clergy have wised up over the years, and now give out instructions that communion is dispensed row by row. Imagine the PECs’ disappointment over the fact that they got to the church early in order to be the first in line for the communion and “beat the crowd”, only to find out that it’s done in an orderly fashion. It’s as if they are on line at Best Buy for the latest iPhone gadget.
Oops, I almost forgot something important about Catholicism. If you’ve ever missed a Mass, then you can’t receive communion until the sacrament of reconciliation (confession and absolution) has been dispensed to you by a priest. But don’t try to tell that to a PEC.
I don’t mind standing in church; sometimes I actually think it’s a good thing that the pews are full. However, on the three days in question, I know that it is not a good thing. PECs cram into the front pews as if they’re lucky to get a better seat for a concert. Like I said, I really don’t mind standing, but what about the little old lady with the walker and the oxygen tank that shows up faithfully every week? Why should she have to stand?
I would get up and offer her my seat. PECs don’t.
Next comes the unruly PEC children. Sometimes they play with toys and games. I remember one kid crawling up to the podium with a toy truck imitating engine sounds, while the priest was giving his homily. The PEC parents were smiling and laughing at their adorable child, and made no effort to stop him.
How I just wanted to tell them that not everybody thinks their child is a bundle of joy, especially when said child is interrupting a solemn ceremony.
And then there are the dreaded cell phones. There’s nothing like having a bright light jiggling around in your peripheral vision, or hearing that ring tone during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, or their chattering.
In all fairness, I do have to say that not all PECs are created equal. The San Antonio PECs are much better than the New York City PECs. I have not yet experienced or witnessed the behavioral pattern of the typical Idaho PEC, but I’ll find that out tomorrow at Midnight Mass. Yes, I now only attend Midnight Mass for Christmas and Easter, because they are fewer PECs.
O Lord, please give me patience…right now!