Had an interesting conversation last night with my two beasties, I usually pick them up after church and have them for the rest of the weekend but last night they were a bit late as the priest asked them to do Altar Service. They’ve done it lots of times before, the price they pay to get into a good church school, and I asked them how they felt about having to altar serve. Well, that was an interesting conversation, it seems that whilst everyone else is sitting there quietly praying or listening to the sermon, the six altar boys, whom should also be doing the same, are actually doing very much the opposite.
Like all 13 & 11 yr olds, they are easily bored and if left to their own devices will create their own amusement. So whilst they are sitting there in two rows of three pretending to be solemn, what’s actually happening is a range of stealth games are being played.
First game is to elbow the server sitting beside you in the ribs – hard – during the prayers when everyone is staring at the floor. Then they have to get their own back on you, and then there is ‘pass it on’ when they have to pass the elbow in the ribs on, this can be a bit difficult when the other three servers, the ‘opposing team’, are on the other side of the alter but when it comes to actual serving then they do an intricate set of choreographed moves and tasks that provide ample opportunity for them to dig the opposing players in the ribs. Oh, whilst I’m on the choreographed tasks they have to do, it seem they also make deliberate attempts to block each others way and will try to hide particular object that the other team are meant to hand to the priest at specific times..
Then they have to make the opposing team laugh when they are sitting facing each other across the alter. This usually involves pulling faces at them mostly during prayers but sometimes they do it openly whilst everyone is watching the priest, it’s all a question of timing.. The other thing they did, only once, was to play football all through the service. One of them brought in a small marble and accidently dropped it onto the middle of the carpet early during the start of the service. There was great excitement from all six boys as they took turns in kicking it across the alter into the opposing side every time they got up to do some specific task. So as the boys were milling around and giving the impression that they were attending to their alter duties, what was actually happening was that they were actually playing footie with a marble..
Church, in theory, plays a big part of their lives, they go to a church school as it is by far and away the best school in the Wimbledon but as much as their mother and grandparents think they are going to turn out to be little angels I suspect the truth is somewhat different. They have to specialise in four particular subjects in school, the choice is large but were complaining to me that Religious Education (RE) was compulsory, they’d rather do another subject than RE, in fact they rather do ANYTHING than RE, they’d even do Drama or Cookery than boring RE. So I explained to them that the school is obviously a church school and run by Jesuits and this is the price you pay for a good education, the Jesuits hope that enough of their teaching will get through and you decide to become a member of the Order of Jesuits. The first born said to me that they had to sit through a boring lecture and video occasionally about the work of the Jesuits and everyone switches off during that lesson.
So, he suggested that perhaps that’s exactly where the Jesuits are going wrong; they should tailor their presentations to their 13yr old audience. They should start the presentation with explosions and Jesuit priests swinging down onto the stage on ropes and attacking evil anywhere it rears its ugly head. They could have their own division of the Special Forces, the Jesuit Kickass Corps, and these priests could be parachuted into trouble spots wearing their dogs collars and AK47’s. They could kick the stuffing out of the enemy and pray for their souls at the same time. Really, the Jesuits are missing a whole marketing opportunity, this is what 13 yr old boys are interested in, not dry lectures about having to get up at 4am to pray and study the bible.
Oh, the first born thinks there should be an X-Box game, Call of Duty; Jesuit Ops..
I’m not entirely sure what you lot think but I suspect my boys may be taking after me.. I pity the entire world.