This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The eight most boring moments in church

Clearly, we don't go to church to be entertained (unless we're in the Calvary Chapel), but rather to worship God, and thereby to become more saved. However, there are parts of the service that count as "fatty tissue", and definitely waste our time.

sleeping in church

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.

Pope Francis facepalm

"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").

nuns duelling

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.

puppet mass

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!

Any more?


  1. re 'before the service .' You forgot to mention doing a crossword. Yes I actually saw someone do this last month whilst waiting for Mass in a well-known European cathedral.
    What on earth are those nuns doing - they look as if they are fighting a duel. A good picture for a caption contest I think.

  2. And then there's 'the boring bit in the middle' as an unsaved Catholic of my acquaintance once referred to the Offertory and Consecration.

  3. We are increasingly indebted to third-world nations whose priests we have poached to come and fill our vocations gap in the parishes. But call me ungrateful, OK I'm ungrateful, but there is nothing so calculated to make me aware of the slooow passage of time as listening to a ten- or fifteen-minute homily and not understanding one word of it, due to the strength of Father's accent.

    And before anyone calls me racist, this can apply to the Geordie accent too.

    1. I do so agree about the homily being less than understandable and for that same reason.
      As an aside, I well remember being taken to Whitby by my mother and telling her that there were many foreigners around us. She, of course, pointed out to me that they came from Northumberland.

    2. I get what you mean, Charles Dawson. However, I can't help wondering what the'natives' in Africa felt the same way, when they evangelized by white priests with incomprehensible accents. ....yet they persevered in the faith...

  4. Is that the Queen in the first picture (2nd row). I think we should be told.

  5. Remember to switch off your hearing aid for the pre and post Mass chats.

    Give the kiss of peace lot a polite bow, and a Jack Reacher stare until they get the message. That means they will sit somewhere else the next week and you have more space to stretch out and snooze while the wifies all play their little parts at the pulpit!

  6. Paula N Wood specifically composed for those who are fed up with the NO - "Our Eyes are Turned to the Bored".