This Christmas I made my greatly anticipated return to church. I guess you can say that 12 years of Catholic schooling may have burnt me out of the whole "mass" thing. A realist since conception, I've always been of the belief that everything truly is better in moderation, especially religion. Had my time at church as a youngster been more evenly spread out, maybe I would have continued to attend services on a more regular basis. However, the fact that early on in my life I was carted off to these unbelievably dull praise parties once, twice, sometimes even three times a week during school greatly contributed to my eventual departure from the church.
But on Christmas Eve, I returned. Like I said, it's been years since I attended Catholic services, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. However, everything was just as I left it. It would be ridiculous, but I wouldn't be surprised if they (The Catholic suits) were using the same Mass today as they were five or six years ago, verbatim. I know the Catholic Church has never been big on change, but come on! The Vatican goes half a decade with the same old song and dance and then they have the audacity to wonder why they're having membership problems?
Anyway, I digress. It was during this service that I remembered how church had always served as a muse of sorts for me. This divine inspiration never lent itself to artistic masterpieces or moving poetry; rather, this divine inspiration manifested itself in the form of ways to fuck with people during the service. Sitting there during Christmas Eve Mass, the hilarity of these ideas hit me so hard that I had to leave the building, or I would've lost it completely and gotten kicked out of "God's House" for the second time in my 25 years. Anyway, I went outside, huffed some raw ether and gathered myself enough to make it back just in time to give out some awkwardly long hugs to my fellow churchgoers during the Sign of Peace. Below, I've included some surefire ways to spice-up your ordinary celebration of the Catholic Mass:
The Stunt: 100-percent Jesus Juice
What you need: 14 handles of red "Mad Dog" wine (just to be safe) and more balls than a driving range.
How it works: When it comes time for communion, position yourself in an unoccupied area of the church. When people start leaving the pews, start yelling out (make sure you're loud because the music will be playing), "don't drink their wine, it's only 25-percent Jesus juice; drink my wine, it's 75-percent Jesus juice and it fucks you up!" Proceed until a mob of blue haired women starts coming your way with walkers and canes raised in disgust, or until moderate bodily injury is sustained.
The Stunt: Needs Something
What you need: salt, pepper or any seasoning and/or condiment of your own preference. A complete disregard for everything that devout Catholics hold sacred.
How it works: (Tip: do not take Communion orally even if this is your custom) After receiving Communion, calmly step to the side (but still in plain sight of the majority of the congregation) and begin to season the Eucharist with salt, pepper, ketchup or whatever you choose. Offer to pass your seasoning/condiments to the next patron in line, and then get the fuck out without ever turning back. Warning: If hell exists, this will probably ensure that you'll up there.
The Stunt: That Guy
What you need: sunglasses, a newspaper, an iPod or discman, and a natural talent for pissing people off.
How it works: Arrive fashionably late (after the opening procession is complete). Sit down somewhere in the first pew for maximum visibility. (Note: This is extremely important. No matter how crowded the first pew is, find a way to squeeze in. The success of this stunt depends upon it.) After your bothersome entrance, proceed to put your headphones on and pull a carefully folded newspaper out of your inside coat pocket. Hum or even sing along to whatever tunes you're listening to, loudly crinkle the completely open paper, and mumble inappropriate comments about different headlines in the news: "Looks like they got another nancy priest in Boston." Do not stop just because people start to cough and moan; proceed until you are asked to leave the premises.
The Stunt: "You Shouldn't Have"
What you need: A white rob similar to in appearance to those of the time period 6 BC - 39 BC with a matching maroon or red sash, sandals (preferably without a visible Abercrombie log), two and a half months without a haircut and a beard you can hide entire meals within.
How it works: (Note: Again, entrance is key. Try to arrive fashionably late, possibly right behind the entrance procession.) Walk into the church in awe at what you're seeing. Comment out loud to yourself as you loudly take your seat, saying things like, "would you at this," or "Well, I'll be darned." As you take your seat, tap the congregation member directly next to you on the shoulder and state, "All this for me and my pops? Wow! You guys shouldn't have. I mean I know I died for your sins and all, but this is pretty amazing. How many of these, what you call them...churches...are there anyway?" Maybe as an afterthought add, "that's a pretty good picture of me up on the altar, huh? The halo's a nice touch; hope Dad gave the artist a pretty nice suite in the afterlife." Warning: The warning from stunt #2 to the 10th power applies for this one.
The Stunt: Swan Song
What you need: The ability to con an entire church, the ability to remember and reenact an entire Catholic Mass verbatim and a don't-give-a-fuck attitude that stretches all the way to the consequences this act will have on your friends and loved ones, plus one government-issued priest costume.
How it works: When I was an altar boy, occasionally we would have visiting priest come and say the Mass. No one knew exactly who the guy was or where he came from, but he had uniform, so he had to be legit, right? Wrong. Before I die, I want to visit Lochness Lake and see the monster, I want to run with the bulls in Spain, and I want say a Catholic Mass with everyone in attendance thinking I'm a certified, Grade-A Father. There are a lot of variations that can take place with this particular stunt. For me, personally, I want to say the mass the regular way right up until the homily. At this point, the sermon will become my stand-up comedy act; I figure if I can get the blue-haired codgers and bible-banging do-gooders to laugh at my jokes (after I fooled them into thinking I was a priest), I can probably even get a standing-O on "Showtime at the Apollo," you know? But that's just me. There some other variations that should work just as well, if not better:
1.) During the sermon, casually juxtapose ridiculous notions and thoughts with the typical, mundane love-your-neighbor Sunday dogma. For example, something to this effect may work: "When I think of what my duties are to the Lord sometimes I'm overwhelmed with stress. Sometimes I get an aching in my ample loins and sometimes I want to hit an elderly man with my automobile for no apparent reason, but everyone reacts to Lord's call in different ways. Remember children, it's not how we feel but how we act that determines our fate." The most important part of this is to keep a perfectly straight face and move from topic to topic as if something is amiss about what you are saying. This is a lame example to illustrate the point, but remember, it's your church when you're wearing the collar. Be creative and let the spirit move you.
2.) Say the ENTIRE mass, from the opening prayer until "you may go in peace to love and serve the Lord" and then tell the congregation that you have an announcement. At this point, thank everyone for coming out to the service and then tell them that it did not count because you are not an official priest. Then, strip off you're priestly robes and reveal your true occupation by showing the parishioners the uniform you wear to your work on a day to day basis (Note: this works best with well-known, easily recognizable work uniforms. Think trash collector or UPS driver). After this startling revelation, march off the altar and off into the sunset or, more likely, the ensuing lighting bolt that will strike you dead.
Well, those are the ways to spice up the Catholic experience. Now go out and give them a shot if you like to have some good, clean fun or, if you believe in that "Catholicky" stuff, go out, try these things and ensure yourself a fate of eternal damnation.