Another Priest Weighs in Against Blessing Kids

After reading Fr. Cory Sticha’s opinion piece on blessing kids in the Communion line, I wrote a priest friend to ask his own opinion. It turned out that the gentleman — who describes himself as a “fearless truth-teller, defender of orthodoxy, voice of decency in a decadent age and living, breathing affront to relativists everywhere” — has some very pronounced views on the sujbect:

Kids. Can’t stand ‘em. Monsters of ego, every one. You know how you can tell a kid from a leech? That’s a trick question: you can’t. Well, actually, you can. If a leech gets hold of you, you can burn it off with a Bic lighter. Try that with a kid, and sure as you’re born, the little bastard will scream and cry like a Templar at the stake. Then he’ll tell his parents and you’ll get a nasty letter from your vicar general.

Small wonder nobody wants to have ‘em anymore. They’re plumb useless. In the old days, you could put ‘em to work — small hands were made for cleaning out machinery. You could send one off to the army, to be a drummer, or to the navy, to be a powder monkey. If the kid was a girl, you could marry it off, although I’m sure those dowries tended to eat into the old retirement fund. I’m not sure I completely hold with that dothead practice of eighty-sixing girl children, but then, every man of affairs has to cut down on his overhead somehow. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

So, I take it upon myself, as a pastor and catechist, to strip these little maggots of any illusions about the world, specifically, about their own significance in it. Whenever one tells me, “Good morning, Father,” I’ll ask, “What have you done for me lately?” Or I’ll say, “You want it to be a good morning? Wash my car. That’d be good.” And then, to drive home the point — because, God knows, this is an ignorant generation — I’ll flip the bird.

I think it’s a shame that bullying’s gotten such a bad name lately. It’s a useful practice. First, it serves as a sop for kids’ ambient annoyingness; every hour that kids spend picking on each other is an hour they don’t spend bothering me. Second, it teaches kids deference to people bigger than themselves, which may be the only hedge against complete anarchy. Finally, it inculcates values. If there were no bullies, how would kids know that being ugly or fat or a homo is a bad thing? If you just said, “From their parents,” then by all means, let’s check your credit so we can get you into that beachfront condo in Yuma, Arizona with all deliberate speed.

Blessing kids in the Communion line? I found a way to put an end to that particular brand of post-Conciliar idiocy. My friend Dave, a Navigator in the K of C who sings tenor in the choir, picks off the grubs with a wrist rocket. Nothing makes for good catechesis like a stainless-steel ball-bearing in the face. How the Council Fathers at Trent failed to come up with that one I’ll never know — they must have been having an off day.

Every now and then, some hand-wringing liberal sob sister will try to argue that Jesus loved kids. I always tell ‘em the same thing: “Screw you, buddy, and the hybrid car you rode in on. Did Jesus pick any kids to be His Apostles? I don’t think so. When He raised that kid from the dead, did He mollycoddle her with a lot of baby talk? Hell, no; He told her, “GET UP!”, plain and ugly. I’m sure his next words were, “Make yourself useful — set the damn table, or I’ll take the skin off your ass.” If the Son of Man was Mr. Rogers, then how come you never see him in a cardigan sweater? Riddle me that, Batman.

Hey, I’m sold. I’ve decided, however, not to disclose Father’s full name or his whereabouts. He sounds awfully prophetic, and we all know what happens to prophets.

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  • Luna

    I’ve come out of combox retirement to tell you that I enjoyed this priest’s letter WAY TOO MUCH. Thank you so much for this, Father, and thank you, Máximo, for printing this.

  • Rambling Follower

    LOVE IT! A modernday Jonathan Swift. And a Catholic one at that.

  • brandy101

    You might be shocked to learn that I never took my little one up in line when I went to get communion; I had her wait in the pew. I’m not a fan of the communion family parade.

    I’m a jerk, I know.

    [Stick with me and Father, Brandy. We'll lick these commie-liberal pantywaists yet.]

  • Joanne K McPortland

    The wrist rocket thing could really, uh, take off.

  • Creighton

    Wow, what a terrible response. As an Episcopal/Anglican Priest I see children as a great joy in worship. If they are not old enough to have proper table manners, I bless them but look to the parents for guidance. Children are children and will do unexpected things, but I can role with those challenges and embrace these children as God’s future in building His Kingdom here on earth.

  • bones

    brandy101, I’d prefer that we, collectively, simply left our kids in the car during Mass. Roll the window down a crack, maybe leave them a bottle of water and a few spears (to police themselves with).

  • Will

    Come on. You made this up. If not, please let me know the parish so I will not go.

  • molly

    This is horrific. As a parent of small children, I am completely offended by this. What a terrible witness, irregardless of whether this is a joke or not.

  • Peter

    I assume it is a joke.

  • Peter

    Although, on second thought maybe George Pell wrote that.

  • Catholic Dad

    I love a priest with a sense of humor just as much as I enjoy reading comments of those few people who don’t have one. Well done, Father.

    [I hope you like bloggers with a sense of humor, too. "Father" is my intellectual property, my sock puppet, a figment of my imagination. His views don't reflect mine, though, so get his voice down, I imagined Adam Carolla in a clerical collar.]

  • Romulus

    Can’t wait for the send-up of the opposing viewpoint.

  • Catholic Dad

    Even better that you pulled one over on me, Max! Although my earlier post still stands. Good humored priests: Love. Good humored bloggers: Love. Reader comments evidencing a total lack of humor: Love.

  • Luna

    Dang! You fooled me.

  • D’Arcy

    I was ready to guess it was ghost written by John Zmirak. Well played.

  • will

    Adam Corolla is an atheist, you know. I’d hope you could find a better and less devisive role model. Joining the “not funny” camp.

  • terry nelson

    I think the Deacon identified the priest correctly, Monsignor W. C. Fields. LOL!

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Oh, yes, Max, DO write the opposing viewpoint sometime!

    [But, consarn it, Elizabeth, that's YOUR job!]

  • Chris

    Although ministering in Arizona, I suspect Father would rather be in Philadelphia…

  • Patrick

    No, no; John Swift proposed *selling Irish babies for food*, and that’s funny because it’s ludicrous. A fictional old priest complaining about darn kids with their no manners isn’t funny, because it’s, well, actually lots of old men do that. Like, half. “Grumpy Old Man” is so cliche that you can capitalize it. “Kids these days…” is so common that nobody need end the sentence to know what you mean.

    As for “not having a sense of humor”: no, it’s because we have a sense of humor that we can distinguish between what’s unserious-and-funny and what is unserious-and-not-funny. It’s actually the people who find every hack attempt at satire equally funny that have no “sense of humor”. It’s the fellow who mistakes Boone’s Farm for fine wine that can be said not to have a refined palate, not the fellow who points out that Boone’s Farm isn’t very good.

    [I never saw him as old, more like a young (or young-ish) fogey. But it's true that the grumpiness from a lot of people in Catholic circles -- priestly and lay alike -- is so over-the-top it's almost impossible to exaggerate to the point of satire. A lot of people mistook this for a real letter from a real person.]

  • Jerseydan

    Way to go Father! Reminds me of my trig teacher, Father Jim. “Father why did you give me a failing grade on my test? Why don’t you put a plastic bag over your head and stop taking up valuable resources like oxygen? I don’t have to give you an answer…you aren’t even human [until you are at least thirty]…” Father was a crank but we adored him – somehow we knew that he loved us very much. We always thought him a master of wit and sarcasm and all if us high school boys ate it up. The wilder his comments the better! (PS I eventually received a 100 on my Regents Exam no doubt due to his extraordinary patience and skill. I’ll never forget when he called out my score. “Dunce (that was my nickname) 100…now go cure cancer.”

  • Bender

    Yeah, that Father Strawman is great!

  • Deacon JT

    Max… you had me spitting soda out of my nose (which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is not a pleasant experience – as it also makes the keyboard quite sticky!). However, as one who is blessed (or cursed, depending upon your viewpoint) to be ordained, and can offer a blessing within the liturgy, the timing of your post was impeccable, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! As the Anchoress sez, I can’t wait to read the opposing viewpoint!! Keep up the good work!

    [I'm actually thinking about developing this guy as a character -- giving him a soft side, and maybe backstory that will explain his crankiness -- and keeping him in rotation. Keep your eyes peeled!]

  • Manny

    LOL, oh Max. That’s hilarious! It’s even funnier that some people belived it.

  • Anna

    Apparently you’ll need to follow this up with a column like Dave Barry used to do when he got fed up with people writing him angry letters: write a column for the humor-impaired where you provide a sort of closed-caption explanation for each bit of humor.
    I may never hear that Gospel about Jairus’ daughter the same way again…

    [That's the problem: I don't get that many angry letters. I think I give the (correct) impression of being so far off the res that any fraternal correction would be totally lost on me. And I wish I knew how to say, "STOP CRYING BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!" in Aramaic.]

  • Carol Clark

    I enjoyed this WAY too much! Put me in the the camp that thinks it’s funny. My favorite comedians are George Carlin, Lewis Black, Bill Maher and Denis Leary so
    a curmudgeonly crank of a priest would be someone I would find extremely amusing.

  • Tim

    National Review just fired you.

    [No, no. Lowry canned Father. But that's okay; he's happy on Taki's editorial board.]

  • Mike E.

    Thank you so much for this. This piece in concert with Fr. Jim’s yesterday gave me some much needed laughter.

  • jp

    I nearly dropped my monocle into my sherry, from laughter. (Yes, we take our sherry early in these parts.)

  • Kristen indallas

    :) My son is 2 and your “preist” is dead-on. Booger-filled, selfish mongrels all of them! ;-P
    However, I’d still recommend the blessing- aka an excuse for the parent to hold the little twerp down and get some holy up in there rather than letting them run rampant in the pew for a full 5 minutes. God knows that mine would end up splashing in the baptismal font with that much liberty. :)

    Riddle me that Batman… classic!

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    I think you’ve found a niche, kid.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    And I like the idea of you developing this guy.

  • Calah

    This was awesome, but the comments were even more awesome. And really sad. I think Papa B should ask every American Catholic to sit down and read through the entire Western Canon until A) we remember what satire is and B) we remember how to laugh. (Chaucer, anyone? That dude was really offensive! And hysterical.) Well done!

  • daisy

    I loved, loved, loved this.

  • Holly in Nebraska

    Well, I guess I hang out at a nice church. I didn’t for one minute think this might have been real. I can’t imagine a priest acting half that mean. Our guys are a super bunch! I guess I’m the grumpy one. (But only on the internet!)

    As for children at mass, I gave up my seat at the Vigil mass so a family could sit together. (I did sit, just 2 rows back.) My seat was taken up by a sleeping child of 3. He was carried in by his father, sleeping, and he slept through the whole thing even when his father picked him up a carried him up when he went for communion. Since we started at 8:30 pm, I was thinking that was planned by mom and dad. Better than 9 am hopped up on chocolate. Such consideration!

    I hope Father returns but only if he has a foil. In my weird brain, I once envisioned a puppet skit (Yes. Puppets.) of two priestly brothers: one an old crank, (think Statler), the other a hippy (think Floyd, both of the Muppets.) The hippy priest was filling in for his brother. Let’s just say there was some of the previously mentioned liturgical dance and a sitar. The reverse has potential too. With brothers, you get a backstory and all sorts of family hilarity. I hadn’t thought about that for years. Now if I could only work Madam in there somewhere…

  • smiley007

    have you ever tried drenching the kid with holy water. being a sacramental that removed venial sins, evey kid needs to be soaked with the stuff regularly(if not hourly). next time (especially since the new holy water is full since its still easter) just drench the kids as soon as they step foot in the church, that will kid them something to ponder about during mass, or better still they will want to go home and you will have a nice silent respectful mass sans the eating, belching, crying, noise at elevation, general annoyances etc.

    (for those lacking a sense of humour tongue firmly in cheek here)

  • Nina Evans

    I by no means believe the slop that children are little angels. My mother, good Calvinist Scot that she was, raised my brothers and I with this credo: children come into the world as hellions and it is the parents’ responsibility to civilize them. Well, mom did civilize us but we lost a certain amount of joie de vie in the process. I vowed to find a better way. Firmness is love, I had no doubts(probably because I was a Navy brat as well). Firmness not intractability. The latter is childish. The former is disciplined hope, or love that looks to the future not the immediate result.
    I approach crone-hood, yet I find that the older I get the more childish my behavior can be. If your fictional sock puppet of a priest dislikes children, I give him another place to vent on childishness: senior citizens! This has frustrated me more than when I was a parent of small children. At least I knew that the struggles of will and ego were all apart of the maturation process. And God willing in the fullness of time a responsible adult would emerge. I however am not too sure what will emerge as I descend into the murky environs of physical dependency and an ever diminishing circle of friends and peers. Accommodate children now, “Monsters of ego”, that they may be,Max. For as you age, you will find one still exists inside of your own soul.

  • Katrina

    It sounds a lot like what my sainted mother would say. She’d always say, “You’re a good kid” and before your head could expand she’d always follow it up with a good “But who likes kids”.

  • joe

    The piece is fun, but it fails to in the least answer the any part of the piece that prompted it, which was actually very level-headed. For once a priest wants to obey the rubrics closely, and he is skewered with something too heavy-handed to be much very humorous.

  • Fr. Peter

    Lost in all of this is the fact that five minutes later everyone receives the solemn or simple blessing at the end of Mass. No one is being denied anything. Since the practice has now become embedded in the American Catholic scene I have no problem reminding everyone that a blessing will be received by all. If a child or anyone not able to receive Communion for other reasons, cohabitation, breaking of the fast, not in full communion with eh Catholic Church, presents themselves for a “blessing” I place my hand over them and say “Receive the Lord in your heart.” It is an invitation for them to make a spiritual Communion which is what the liturgical guidelines actually say to do.
    What saddens me is the fact that some people – w/ accommodation of priests and some bishops – have created a rite within the rite and now demand that it be followed by the priest or deacon or special minister of Holy Communion or he or she will be attacked as a curmudgeon – uncharitable etc. So essentially people who demand this are saying to the minister I demand you accommodate me even though what I want is not in the liturgy and your conscience has no say in the matter. I demand that you respect my “right” to change the “rite” but if you seek to follow your conscience and adhere to the rite i will smear you and denigrate you and employ my best rapier wit against you.
    So we kill each other. Satan laughs.
    You attack a priest because he wants to celebrate Mass as the rite is written. At least I know where you stand. I am disappointed and pray for all of us. I am asked to be respectful of those who invent rites; at least be respectful of those who want to follow them.

  • Elizabeth

    Too good Max! Had a perfectly dreadful day with my own dear teenage maggots and this has been a tonic! More please, it may prevent me from carrying out my too frequent fantasy plots against them!

  • WobblyWonk

    I used to think the same way about children and here’s why. By the time my son was 9 or 10, I wanted to get off the parent merry-go-round desperately. This motherhood stuff wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, and I couldn’t believe that people actually LIED to me about how wonderful it was to have a child. After all the pyromania (Yes, our house was set on fire TWICE!), sleepless nights, the many trips to the emergency room, tantrums, hyperactivity, hitting him over the head with a baseball bat to get his attention, speech delay, the long road to toilet training, and fond memories of his love of painting on the walls of his room with the contents of a diaper, I was DONE! As we watched him swinging from the nearest chandelier, my mother-in-law would lovingly say, “His father was just like that. I don’t wish my son anything bad, my only wish for him was to have a child just like he was!” Huh?! REALLY??! But then a strange thing happened to me on the way to Shady Acres Rest Home. My spawn of Satan turned into a dream kid at puberty. Go figure! The above is a true account of raising my son, who is now 37 and a productive member of society. He’s not a serial killler, a stalker, or a bum, so I did my job, and parenthood was actually rewarding from then on. That is all. I’ll shut up now. =:o]

  • dianathetraveler