A gripping moment in the Mass.
1. Before the service. Obviously, for a 10 a.m. service you shouldn't turn up at 10 a.m., on the dot. Sometimes the priest is too quick off the mark, and will already be galloping down the aisle; in any case it may be difficult to get seats together, if you are coming as a family. So you turn up at 9.30 instead, and - according to taste - gossip with your neighbours, play with your phone, pray quietly, read the newsletter, or sit thinking holy thoughts. By 10 a.m. all these sources of spiritual nourishment are over, and you're getting bored.
2. A bad hymn. You may not get one of these. Moreover, if you do, you experience a mixture of irritation and boredom. If only I had the courage to kneel down during "Walk in the Light" with my hands over my face in a "Lord, forgive them" attitude.
"No, not 'If I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear, I'd thank you, Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair'!"
3. Firing up the thurible. This will not apply in many churches, but watching the priest doling out a spoonful of gunpower - or whatever it is - into the thurible, about 20 minutes into the Mass, is very boring, and I don't know why he couldn't have done it beforehand.
Of course, there's always the possibility that Fr Bunsen will make a mess of it and set fire to his chasuble, but I've never seen it happen. The nearest I've ever got to that was when a priest I knew conducted a funeral at a crematorium and scorched his cassock - but it was on an electric fire after the service.
4. The sermon. Many priests are boring, we have to admit. Even (especially) when they steal their homilies from Fr Hezekiah Snoring's Collected Victorian Sermons in 12 bulky volumes. This year, Mercy is the big theme for us, and I never realised before just how boring it could be.
A variation on this is the Bishop's Letter, perhaps giving us even more Mercy ("This week we painted the Door of Mercy with rainbow stripes to show our commitment to the LBGT community, as its previous colours - red and white - suggested a commitment to St George, which many found offensive"), or What I Did This Month ("On Wednesday I enjoyed tea and Eccles cakes with the Medium-Sized Sisters of the Beretta"), or simply the bishop's strategy document ("Here is a list of churches that I am closing down this year").
The Medium-Sized Sisters of the Beretta
5. The kiss of peace. Again a mixture of irritation and boredom, especially, when someone else is trying to beat last week's record of 23 victims. I've said enough on this topic already.
6. Blessing of altar servers / candles / new hassocks / pets. Yes, all these are worthy of blessing - indeed, most things are blessable unless they actually lead one to sin (e.g. copies of the Tablet). But it's a distraction from the service. Also, bringing pet hippopotamuses into church, although not exactly boring, is too "modernist".
7. An end-of-service chat from a representative of CAFOD / the Freemasons / our very own Kate Drivel who spent her gap year ecumenically working with ISIS. The aim here is to drum up support, or possibly money. GO AWAY.
Next week's preacher.
8. Final announcements. Next week the Bishop will be visiting, and there will be a special puppet mass. Tina Beattie's lecture has been cancelled again. There are coffee and cannabis in the Church Hall. All these things are in the newsletter, Father!