On Sunday I attended my niece (and God daughter's) confirmation (my sister is RC.) Just before the service began, the elderly priest asked if anyone had a spare hymn book. I was sat with my son and his girlfriend and we had a book each so I offered one. "Ha" says Father ***** "Go to the back of the church and get some hymn books and hand them out to those who have none." I kind of go "Huh?". He goes, "Yes, you, go and get some hymn books and pass them around." I only attend this church for family occasions like confirmations, funerals, weddings, etc and had never clapped eyes on this priest before, nor he me.
Anyways, I went to the back of the church where there were quite a lot of hymn books. I am joined by my brother-in-law's friend. "Go on," said his wife "Go and help Joan." Another gentleman joined us and I started to give out hymn books at the back of the church. "Madam," shouted the priest, "Come down here, madam, and distribute the books." I did and gratefully got back into my pew.
The service was powerful and rather charismatic (as is the aging Father) but the best bit came after a parishioner had read aloud 'the fruits of the spirit' from Paul's letter to the Galatians and the father, after an impromptu prayer, said "The fruits of the spirit are..oh dear..oh dear." He looked down at his notes, "I've lost the fruits. I must go and find them." He ambled back to the altar, found his notes and went on to enthuse about the 'wonderful value' of love, gentleness and self control. My son, his girlfriend and me were all grinning wildly by this point.
Then he asked us to hold out our hand to direct the holy spirit towards the children and almost everyone, except my brother who reckoned the Father has temporarily lost more than his fruit, followed this command. Later at the buffet, people complained about holding up their aching arm (it was a long prayer). One said he felt as if he'd accidentally joined the Nazi party. My sister shook her head and said that they can't get a priest, since the last one was taken off the job and the old guy's looking after two churches. He didn't seem daunted by the task. I'm amazed. The priest is in his seventies and has recovered from an aneurysm.
Though I don't think my brother will enter a church again, my son and his girlfriend are looking forward to an entertaining First Communion in about a months time. On reflection, it was probably for the best that my husband was playing cricket.