Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Sapristi alors!

Our church has one of those huge baptismal fonts made of stone or concrete or such like material. Why it’s so big beats me. It’s an old church and I reckon babies in olden times must have been born really big which must have been an ordeal for their poor mothers. Either that or perhaps in olden times they put the whole baby in the font rather than just wet his head.

Anyway, that aside, it has become a habit in our church to baptize babies during Sunday Mass rather than at a private service at some other time. Just after reading the Gospel, the priest moves to one side near the font and baptizes the child whilst the whole congregation witnesses and joins in the event. It’s rather nice I think.

This week Father Gaston celebrated Mass. He is a temporary priest whilst our priest is away. He is French, severe looking with a gaze that would turn you into stone before you even thought of sinning, and a monosyllabic conversation only used on rare occasions when he has something to say.

He also uses reading spectacles which he balances precariously on the end of his long aquiline nose; and looks at you from above them whilst speaking to you. I believe he looks at people from above the glasses so as not to wear out the lenses.

He stood by the font reading from his book whilst the proud parents and god-parents waited patiently as they handed the baby to each other. He was a lively little mite; the baby that is … about eight or nine months old. You could hear him gurgling and laughing throughout the church.

At the appropriate moment the mother held him on top of the font and as Father Gaston poured water on the child’s head he raised his hand out and hit the priest in the face knocking the spectacles in the font.

The priest stopped and said something in French which is not in my Missal. He then reached into the font for his glasses forgetting that his vestments had long and wide sleeves.

He withdrew his hand and put the wet glasses on. As water dripped on his face he realized his sleeve was soaking wet. He tried as best as he could, with as little dignity as remained in the situation, to squeeze the water from his sleeve back into the font. He then dried his face and glasses; and continued with the Baptism.

I felt sorry for the poor parents.

But not so much for Father Gaston.

Is that a sin?


  1. Hilarious. Wish I could have been there.

    1. It's very difficult to remain solemn with wet sleeves, Sarah.

      God bless.

  2. This is funny, Victor! Though, I can't help feeling a wee bit sorry for poor Fr. Gaston;-)

    He's probably missing his Continental snails and cultured conversation. And, I imagine the only word he understands from those mean, old Brits is 'Frog' - which his limited grasp of English undoubtedly informs him is the ultimate British insult;-D

    As the mother of two disastrous altar boys, I can relate to this story. We have had singed hair and a holy water soaking, one fell asleep during the homily (in full view of the congregation), another fainted during the consecration and, once, the pair of them had a public squabble.

    Another time, the eldest had everyone in fits of laughter as he used nearly a whole box of matches in trying to light one altar candle and there were even times when he sprinted down the aisle trying to catch up with the priest:-/

    They no longer serve and I don't think anyone misses them!

    Thanks for the laugh, Victor:-)
    God bless:-)

    1. Brilliant reminiscences, Vicky.

      They remind me of when I was an Altar boy. We used to fight as to who will hold the incense burner, or who will ring the bell at Consecration.

      God bless.

  3. A sin? No, that's hilarious! The more solemn the occasion the funnier things are when stuff goes wrong:)

    Did you stifle your laughter with the cough/choke/cry

    I told you about the time when Michaela was a tot and I caught her drinking out of the Holy Water font, didn't I ? UGH!

  4. You're lucky I don't attend Mass with you - I would be "nudging" (dare not use the other word anymore) you and waggling my eyebrows like my brother does to me :)

  5. Mary I see what you mean about stifling a laugh. I suppose the fact that he was French and very severe looking made it funnier.

    I remember about Michaela drinking from the font.

    By the way, doing the other word during Mass would be definitely wrong.

    God bless.

  6. I found my way here through Mary's blog comments and have to say how much I enjoyed reading this post!:) Thank you for the laugh...and like Mary, I have a history of stifling my laughing at rather inappropriate things during mass so I feel for you! :)

    You have a wonderful writing style, I look forward to reading more.

  7. Thank you Colleen for visiting me and for taking the trouble to write. I'm so glad that this story made you smile.

    There are other humourous (and serious) stories in the FREE E Books which you can download from the right hand side column.

    God bless you Colleen.

  8. Very funny and not a sin to not feel sorry for the priest.

    We had a Requiem High Mass for my dad's funeral at my parents' home parish. The local pastor of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter parish came to celebrate it and their choir sang beautifully. A great deal of incense was used, filling the apse with fragrant smoke. As the Canon of the Mass commenced the fire alarm went off loudly and insistently. After about five minutes somebody shut it off. But we heard the fire engine sirens on their way. If my dad hadn't been in the coffin he would have had a good laugh because Requiem Masses are very solemn.

  9. What a story Barb.

    One of the priests in our church does tend to over-use the incense. Often the church is totally full of smoke on Sundays.

    As you say, your father would have laughed. I'm praying for him, Barb.

    God bless.



God bless you.

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