Sunday, December 14, 2014

Altar Boys and Other Thugs

"Pink today is for bully-awareness," a school teacher quipped to me today just before mass began.

Priests bullied by altar boys? At our church, the seventeen altar boys that served today (my kids always count them) could have pulled this off, I guess.

For your information, the color coordinates for rose are #FF007F, and those for pink #FFCBDB, which would look like this:

As you can see, priests have every right to insist on us using the correct terminology.

Speaking of boys, altar boys or what have you, as I looked out on all our fine young men and boys serving holy mass, I thought, to write them a letter,

"Dear boys between the ages of 12 and 17. No one likes you. Sure, you are wonderful, sweet human beings, worthy of God's love, but the rest of us just don't like you. You bother us. Your testosterone-filled bodies cause you to be so annoying. We know you can't help it, but that doesn't make us less annoyed by you. In another time and place, you would have been the pride of the village. We would have had little else to talk about than how fine you are: how strong, how fast, how hard you can work, how far you can throw a spear or a rock, how quickly you can till the ground. But that is not this time and you do not till, you direct your energy futilely towards imaginary foes on Call of Duty. You come away from that worse than when you started: you expended no kinetic energy at all, and just had your minds revved up even more. Twice as annoying now as you were before you started. This is not your world, I'm sorry. 

"What we require of you is to sit at a desk all day, next to beautiful and often scantily clad young women, get on a bus - not walk home, do your homework - again, sitting down, and then reward you with your preferred form of leisure: Xbox. But don't be loud, don't run around the house and wrestle with your siblings. And don't go outside, you might get hit by a car or make noise which will disturb the neighbors. This is not your time. It sucks to be you. Surely you've heard the Psalm:

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the sons of one’s youth.
 Happy is the man who has
    his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame

    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

"Not anymore, my friend. I've even noticed that many modern translations do not have "Sons" at all but "Children." Yep, it sucks to be you.

"So, take your pills to calm your hyperactivity, and make sure you too wear pink on no-bully day. And make sure you become soulless, emasculated adults, ASAP.,"

Sincerely Yours, a guy who has learned to love to sit still all day long

Speaking of manliness, a friend wrote this to me the other day:

Like Christ. You will suffer lots more than you already have before the end of the path you're on. You will lose even more than you already have. You will not escape prison before death. But you will be rewarded. I hope it helps to know these things. Then you can face the future without fear of the consequences. We will all be tested, but you will pass the test. Have confidence. It's actually a happy fate.

This hit me like on tonne of bricks.Why? Not because I have not ever considered it before. These were words from a person who doesn't know me all that well, one who is a lot more worldly-wise than I, not to mention holy and knowledgeable. How do I come across anyway? I figure no one ever takes me seriously, like a voice crying in the wilderness. But what if someone does?

I guess I never realized how much my prognostications about being persecuted were idle fantasies. But my friend's words frightened me. I don't have much to lose, sure. I have my family, but to know their husband/father suffers for Christ is gain, not loss. I have my plans, my literary plans, which, if I am not ready to give them up for Christ are not actually in my heart intended for Christ, then. I have my little hovel here and my happy little life, and, for as much as I see it as a glass half-full, I am very comfortable and content with this happy little life. Being misunderstood, coming off as a fanatic, frightens me, but I must give that over to God too.

I take the world very seriously. I am not joyless. I love to laugh. But I am very serious on the inside and about why God put me in the world. This friend is right that I am constantly getting into trouble (and being surprised by the trouble I get myself into). It's my character. In school it was a problem, but I see know that being a contrarian is necessary for my life.

But, but, one might also get delusions of grandeur as a persecuted follower of Christ, using it as an excuse for one's personal failings.

Manhood: suffering for Christ. That is why boys 13-17 are annoying, and why even those kids who were most obnoxious in school might be meant for something good.


  1. Please add sardonically to what that school teacher said;). Also, don't give them the Xbox. It's actually possible to raise them without the electronics. It really is.

  2. did I get this message via smoke signals? lol

  3. Yeah, I have an app for smoke signals.