There are three moments during Sunday service that I detest.
The first, of course, is the Sign of Peace. It’s bad enough I have to wish the open-mouth coughers and snifflers goodwill but now I have to shake their hands, too? A Germ-ridden ham sounds horrible but that’s just one of the hands you could encounter. Warm hands. Cold hands. Dry hands. Moist hands. Dead fish. Vice grips. Why are you trying to crush my hand in church, man? We get it. You’re the strongest Knight of Columbus. Let’s see if you’re this tough when you’re serving me cold doughnuts and coffee after Mass.
While I despise the Sign of Peace, I’d rather shake a wetnap of a hand than give the two-fingered peace sign to someone in another pew, as if I’m some Catholic Spok transmitting peace vibes from across the room. It’s never multiple people giving the two-fingered peace sign, either. It’s just one person who is usually dressed like Professor Trelawney, looking each person in the eye and pushing out their peace sign like they’re hitting a beach ball.
That’s why if I ever shake a person’s hand at peace, I look directly at the ceiling lest I lock eyes with the peace sign person.
The second moment I despise is when we all give tithing. It’s not the donating I abhor but how we execute it. Let’s break it down:
- First off, if we’re passing around baskets let’s get a uniform snake path established before we suffer an utter crowd fail. Print basket directions along with the readings on the weekly pamphlets. That way, I don’t have to intercept basket after basket and send them back in the right direction. “I shouldn’t have to do your job,” I say to a completely befuddled elderly woman who brought out the baskets in the first place.
- Secondly, we need to abolish the old men in suits walking up and down the aisle with lacrosse stick baskets. If it’s not a guy dipping his basket into every. single. pew. it’s another guy grazing my head to reach the $1 in the middle of the pew.
- Thirdly, kindly place the donation in the basket in a gentle manner instead of trying to recreate the Air Jordan logo and you dunk your handful of nickels.
Finally, the thirst moment I despise: The handholding during the ‘Our Father.’ The Our Father is a wonderful prayer and it’s one I recite at my own pace. While I’m not trying to race a room full of slowpokes, it’d be nice to finish the prayer TODAY.
When it’s time to say the Our Father as a collective, some people choose to lock hands and create a human chain amongst their family or pew group. That’s fine. Whatever. That doesn’t bother me. I might mumble, “hippies” under my breath when I see you do it, but I won’t stop you.
However, I will object to you trying to hold MY hand. I’m all for loving thy neighbor, but do not try to hold my hand during the Our Father. This is Mass. Not a drum circle.
Hand holding during the Our Father is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a thing for as long as I can remember. However, there’s a new thing where literally everyone joins hands. Every row connects and then reaches across the aisle to connect. I was dumbfounded when I first saw this happen. I’m standing in church, shoulders squared up, arms at my side, ready to roll and all of a sudden I get taps on both hands. One, from some weirdo. The other, my girlfriend.
“My God,” I said. “Not you, too.”
“What?” she said. “My family does it all the time.”
Of course, like I good Catholic, I left her high and dry as I did the other goofball. Did I feel bad that, in a room full of hand-holders, I was the only person not holding hands? Not at all. Still don’t and still won’t if you try to hold my hand, too.