When in Rome…

…do as the Romans.

The new year is off to a rough start. I was off between Christmas and New Year’s, and as tradition, I wasn’t well for most of it. I had a flu like thing hit before Christmas, and it really hadn’t gone away until a few days ago. Add to that the late meals with more carbs than I’ve eaten all year, and you got disaster. Now that I’m back on my routine, the ship’s righting pretty quick.

Needless to say, not much got done. My driveshafts are sitting in the garage still, and not on my car. The new router I bought some time ago is on my desk. The guns from my last shooting trip are still dirty. One of them is stainless steel, so I have some time. Not much though.

End of the year us Catholics spend quite a bit of time in Church. Not to mention a couple funerals I attended leading up to the Holidays. Both events mean a lot of non Catholics and those that have actively retired from the faith, if they ever had it to begin with, darken the doors of the Church.

Do I care if non Catholics visit for a funeral or other Mass? No.

Do I care if they misbehave and become a distraction? Yes. Yes I do.

So let’s cover what to do when you’re at your neighbor’s funeral, or a holiday mass.

First off, the sanctuary, and especially the Altar are considered holy. If you look past the Altar in some Churches, you may see a candle burning in a red lamp. That is to signify the presence of God in the Tabernacle, which would be close by. Looking around you’ll see people kneeling and praying.

So Rule #1 is shut your pie hole. You have no idea why those people are praying. They may be just getting in the proper frame of mind for the mass. Or, they may be going through some rough times and are seeking guidance. Whatever, it’s rude as hell to distract them. Same goes with your mobile. Shut it off, or mute it. Surely the world won’t burn down in the hour you are off line.

At the part where the priest is on the Altar, that’s the time to be especially quiet.

Christmas, I went to the vigil (not the midnight mass, but the good old fashioned hour long one). Behind me were a gaggle of yentas, sisters I’m guessing, that yammered throughout the mass – homily, consecration, communion. We’re blessed with male cantors. One of them was doing a decent rendition of “Oh Holy Night” during communion. Couldn’t hear much because the ‘view’ was going on behind me. It was so bad the old lady next to me did the slow turn to stare at them the same time as I did.

It was unbelievably rude. But par for the course. It’s especially bad on holidays, but any given Sunday there’ll be some idiot adult children that decided to go to mass with the parents sitting right behind me, talking.

Rule #2: When the congregation kneels? Please kneel.

You know why?

Because otherwise it’s like being on a plane with the person in front in full recline. You sit down, and that someone behind, who is trying to kneel and pray, is Joe-Biden-Hair-Sniffing close to your melon. And let me tell you, ladies, you didn’t think your hair needed washing that day? Let me assure you, it did. The woman in front of me at a funeral was R-I-P-E funky.

The biggest part to kneel is during the consecration – a pretty important part. Sitting with your stinky hair and jabbering pretty much ruins it for anyone faithful. Kneel for those five minutes. It won’t kill you.

Rule #3: At communion, if you aren’t Catholic you aren’t supposed to go up to the Altar to receive. Normally, the priest will announce on holidays, and especially funerals, that if you aren’t Catholic, you can come to the altar with your arms crossed for a blessing. Implied in that is you aren’t supposed to be partaking. The biggest reason being that Catholics believe you are receiving the body of Christ, and you should be a believer, and have met certain conditions, like having been to confession, to receive. The other reason is to not offend the devout.

And we all know you aren’t Catholic. You’ve jabbered through the whole ceremony, didn’t say prayer number one, and sat with your stinky hair in someone’s face instead of kneeling. Way to honor your dead devout friend by desecrating his Church and offending his Catholic friends and family. There’s a number of priests I’ve met that said it’s a sin, but it’s on them. They can’t police everyone.

But there are many more that will refuse. 50% chance someone says something. And FFS, if you do go up and receive, stuff it in your gob, do a sign of the cross (You’ve seen it more than once at that point), and go back to your seat. You carry it away and you probably will be confronted. I’ve seen a priest stop what he’s doing and chase down someone who did that – twice. Don’t be that guy.

I’ll round it up with Rule #4: Dress appropriately. T-shirt and Jeans are not appropriate for a holiday mass. Neither is that party dress or miniskirt. A good third of the women (girls) I saw on Christmas were wearing outfits that I’d not let my daughters out of the house had they dressed like that. Totally inappropriate for any religious service, let alone a Catholic mass. And I shouldn’t have to say this – but the dress code for funerals – everywhere – is dark suits or dresses. At very least, a dark sportscoat if you’re a guy. Khakis, Jeans, pastel golf shirts, and tennis shoes are woefully inappropriate for a funeral, especially if it’s your parent or grandparent.

And it’s not because I’m old and crabby that I’m carping. Even when I was far younger, I knew how to act even in others churches, and I could spot the godless any time I found myself in a Catholic church even having not been there for years. There’s an ettiquette that’s long forgotten to not only act properly in a church setting, but also to not interfere and distract others.

Now I know why the older folks go to mass at the crack of dawn.