Friday, September 7, 2012


In the course of celebrating any particular Mass, the priest is certain to experience any number of distractions.  For instance, I am convinced that a certain number of Catholics have never heard the introductory rites of the Mass.  They generally arrive somewhere during the opening prayer or first reading.  Likewise, there are babies.  Babies should be at Mass, and I have grown largely accustomed to the chorus of shrill and full-throated unhappy baby noises; they are par for the course.  I am typically undaunted by plastic dinosaurs, Lego men, cars, and baby dolls making war along the backs of pews.  I remain unflustered when servers occasionally pass out, and I maintain my calm when the elderly collapse in the aisle.

I am utterly ill-equipped, however, to deal with clowns.

In training to celebrate the Mass, we were instructed that the priest should generally not look at the people as he recites the prayers of the Mass.  These prayers, after all, are not addressed to the people, but to God himself.  Thus, one should choose a focal point somewhere at the back of the church and above the heads of the people.  God is "out there".  It is Him to whom we are speaking.  One cannot help, however, catching peripheral glimpses of other things.

Today, while celebrating the Votive Mass of the Most Sacred heart of Jesus at a local nursing home, as I prayed "Through Him and with Him and in Him . . ." I saw a glimmer of yellow hair and red polka-dots.  I ignored it.  Then a glimmer of bright red hair.  "What the Hell is this?" I thought.  "White face paint?  I must have lost have lost my mind," I conjectured.  The people responded "Amen!" and I looked down the aisle out the door.  I was right.  The place was infested with clowns -- Crazy hair, big shoes, and terrifying painted-on grins.  Why on earth are there clowns in a nursing home?  Images from the film adaptation of Stephen King's It danced through my head, leading me to speculate that the whole situation seemed like a macabre commercial for euthanasia.  By the time Mass was over, they had disappeared.  I found excuses to wait around, hoping they would reappear for interrogation.  They did not. 

Coulrophobia n. - an abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns.

Wailing mourners, shrieking children, and tardy parishioners are one things.  But clowns?  I cannot abide clowns at Mass.    

1 comment:

  1. Dirty stinking clowns! What are yuh gonn'a do.........


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