When I was growing up in the ’70s, my brother was an altar boy at our parish church, Our Lady of the Lake. Back then there were only altar boys, not altar servers like we have now which includes girls. I would always read the bulletin to see who was serving which mass the next week to make sure I went to the mass with the cutest boys.
My brother and his best friend, Mike, served together often. This was time when the Church still had Communion rails. The following photo is from ipadre.net and is not of our church but is very similar.
Mike and John were serving a Christmas season mass and were supposed to light the Nativity candle. I’m sure neither one of them had been paying attention to any instructions prior to mass, so had no idea where the Nativity candle was. The two of them wandered around the altar lighting any candle that wasn’t already lit. My brother left the altar out the swinging communion rail gate and lit some candles that you light for people who had died or you’re praying for, which are typically at a side corner of the church. Mike went backstage and lit some wedding candles. I’m sure the priest was watching their performance in total disgust.
When John and Mike reunited on the altar, Mike said, “we beefed it.” A phrase my family uses to this day.
My father was an altar boy back in the 1930s when there were many altar boys serving every mass. One Christmas Eve mass, there was something like 20 altar boys in the processional for opening mass. See those boys in the front of that group holding the candles? Well, that Christmas mass in Belleville, Ontario in probably 1936, ALL of the altar boys were carrying those candles.
My dad was 12 and one of the head altar boys. There were two brothers in the procession, who fought with each other all the time, that night one of them purposefully tilted his candle forward and lit his brother’s hair on fire. My dad ran up and started beating the kid on the head to put out the fire and before you can say, permanent scarring, there was a Christmas Eve altar boy brawl going on.
One of my pals, AVC just commented on Facebook with this story:
At my Grandpa’s funeral, my brother was an altar boy, standing up there near the casket. It was hot, he locked his knees and went down like a tree. Totally passed out. I was 11 and thought he died. Commence freak out. Father Ansgar didn’t miss a beat and just said, ‘take him away’.
Most any cradle Catholic you talk to is going to have stories of ridiculous things that happened at church. Catholicism is an endless trove of good comedy material.
Last evening after work, the girls and I went to mass at St. John Fisher, where I have never been before, simply because they had a 6:00 mass.
This is what we saw there. Brigid took the photo on Annie’s phone because she could get the best angle. Yes, I allowed Brigid to take a picture on her phone in Church because, of course, what choice did we have? I’m giving up bread for Lent, it will all even out.
That is the actual church and the actual altar boy out cold during mass. Best performance by an altar boy on Ash Wednesday….EVER.
It should be a meme, right?
Well, happily I have twisted friends who have already gotten that ball rolling.
There it is the new viral altar boy meme. Take it. Make it yours.